by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Glory of Kotitirtha: Krishna Atones for His Sin of Killing His Uncle which is chapter 27 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the twenty-seventh chapter of the Setu-mahatmya of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Śrī Sūta said:
2. Koṭitīrtha is extremely meritorious. It is well-known in all the worlds. It is pure. It causes (confers) all fortune. It is destructive of all sins.
3. It dispels (the effect of) evil dreams. It is destructive of great sins. It suppresses great obstacles. It accords great peace to men.
4. Merely by remembering it one can get rid of all sins. It was created by Rāma himself sportingly with the tip of his bow.
5-11. Formerly, after killing Rāvaṇa in battle, Rāma, the son of Daśaratha, installed a Liṅga on the Gandhamādana mountain to get rid of the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter and with a desire for the welfare of all the people. He searched for fresh and pure water for the ablution of the Liṅga. The son of Daśaratha did not get water nearby. He thought thus, ‘Where is the water fit for the ablution of the Liṅga? I must bathe the Liṅga with fresh water.’
After deciding thus, remembering Gaṅgā, the scion of the family of Raghu pierced the earth with the tip of his bow immediately. At that time the tip of the bow of Rāma reached nether worlds. Thereafter, the most excellent one among the wielders of bow drew up the bow. While the bow was being lifted up by Rāghava, Gaṅgā who had been remembered by Kākutstha, came out of that hole. The scion of the family of Raghu bathed that Liṅga with that water.
13-16. The devotee should at the outset take his holy baths in all theTīrthas on the Gandhamādana mountain and get his sins dispelled. The man should then take his holy bath in Koṭitīrtha to get rid of the remaining sins.
The mass of sins that cannot be destroyed by means of the holy baths in the other Tīrthas and the sins clinging to the bones having been acquired in the course of many crores of births—all these perish, if the devotee takes his holy bath in Koṭitīrtha. There is no doubt about this.
If, O Brāhmaṇas, a man takes his holy bath here in Koṭitīrtha at the outset, he becomes liberated and all the other Tīrthas cease to be of use to him.
The sages said:
17-19. O Sūta, the knower of all topics and principles, O disciple of Vyāsa, O great sage, dispel a doubt of ours, O most excellent one among people conversant with the Purāṇas. If bath in other Tīrthas does not serve any purpose of the person who has taken his holy bath in Koṭitīrtha, why do men take their holy baths in the Tīrthas such as Dharmatīrtha? Why do they not bypass all those Tīrthas and take their holy bath here in this Koṭitīrtha itself? Tell us.
Śrī Sūta said:
20-21a. O eminent sages, a great secret has been asked by you all. Formerly, Śaṃbhu spoke this to Nārada when he asked him about it. I shall tell it, O excellent sages. Listen to it, with great faith.
21b-25. Going along the path casually or engaged in a pilgrimage, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, if a man sees on the way a Tīrtha or a temple or hears about it (he must visit it). If, out of delusion, the base man does not resort to it, there is no redemption from sin for him. So say the great sages.
If a man who is on his way to Setu, does not take his holy bath in the other Tīrthas too, he will be defiled by the defects of transgressing a Tīrtha. He must be excommunicated by Brāhmaṇas.
Hence, O Brāhmaṇas, one must necessarily take the holy bath in Cakratīrtha and others. After taking the holy bath in these Tīrthas, men should, with great purity, take their bath in Koṭitīrtha for getting rid of the lingering sins.
26. After taking the holy bath in Koṭitīrtha, the pilgrim should not stay on Gandhamādana any longer. After getting rid of the sins, he should return from Gandhamādana immediately.
27-28. Formerly, after bathing Rāmanātha with the waters of Koṭitīrtha, Rāma himself took his holy bath there and became liberated from the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter (i.e. killing of Rāvaṇa). At the same instant, Rāma got into the aerial chariot Puṣpaka accompanied by his younger brother and the monkeys.
29. Therefore, like Rāma, the son of Daśaratha, the man who has taken his holy bath in Koṭitīrtha and who has got rid of the lingering sins, should return immediately.
30. Indeed this is the most excellent of all Tīrthas, well-known in all the worlds. It was created by Rāghava for the sake of the ablution of Rāmanātha.
31. It is the place where Goddess Gaṅgā is present. It is the place where Rāma, the Tārakabrahman (identical with Brahman that redeems) had taken his holy bath with great respect.
32-33. By whom can the glory of that Koṭitīrtha be recounted? It is the spot where formerly Kṛṣṇa took his bath for the welfare of the world. He was liberated from the sin of killing Kaṃsa, his (maternal) uncle. By whom can the greatness of Koṭitīrtha be described?
The sages said:
34. Why did the scion of the family of Yadu kill Kaṃsa, his uncle? (Why did he commit this sin) for quelling which, O Sūta, the noble-minded lord, took his bath in Koṭitīrtha?
Śrī Sūta said:
35-39. In the family of Yadu, there was a son of Śūra, well-known as Vasudeva. He married the daughter of Devaka, renowned as Devakī. After marriage, he got into a chariot and set out for his city. Kaṃsa was the charioteer of Ānakadundubhi (i.e. Vasudeva). At that time, an unembodied voice spoke to Kaṃsa who acted as the charioteer and took his sister and her husband in his excellent chariot and drove it: “There is no doubt in this that the eighth child from the womb of this (lady) whom you are driving in your chariot, is going to kill you, O suppressor of enemies.”
On hearing this celestial voice, O eminent Brāhmaṇas, Kaṃsa took out his sword and attempted to kill his sister.
40-41. Thereupon Vasudeva pacified Kaṃsa and said:
O Kaṃsa, I shall give away the sons born of this (lady) to you. Do not harm or injure this sister of yours. Indeed there is nothing to fear from her.
On hearing his words, Kaṃsa refrained from killing her.
42-44. He went to his own city along with Devakī and Vasudeva. Kaṃsa, the vicious one, placed Devakī and Vasudeva in prison with their feet fettered. After a long time, O eminent sages, Devakī bore to Vasudeva six sons in succession. As soon as they were born, they were handed over to Kaṃsa by Vasudeva and he (Kaṃsa) killed them all.
45-48. After all these six sons born of Devakī had been killed, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, by the ruthless, cruel-hearted Kaṃsa, Śeṣa became the seventh child in the womb of Devakī. Urged by Viṣṇu, Goddess Māyā transferred that child in the womb of Devakī to that of Rohiṇī in the abode of Nandagopa.
By the grace of Viṣṇu a rumour gained currency in the world that the seventh child in the womb of Devakī was aborted. Afterwards, Viṣṇu came into the womb of Devakī.
49-51. When ten months elapsed, the immutable Hari was born of Devakī. He became well-known as Kṛṣṇa.
He manifested himself in his divine form with the conchshell, discus, iron-club and sword shining in his four arms. He had a crown on his head. He wore the garland of sylvan flowers. He dispelled the grief of his parents. On seeing Lord Hari, Ānakadundubhi eulogized him (thus):
52-54. You are the universe. You alone are the lord of the universe. You are the source of origin of the universe. The universe rests in you. You are the great Pradhāna. You are Virāṭ (cosmic-formed). You are Svarāṭ (Supreme Being). You are Samrāṭ (universal Ruler). O Lord, you are everything.
Obeisance, obeisance to Nārāyaṇa, the splendour that is the cause of the universe, to the Lord of boundless valour, to the Lord holding the conchshell, discus, sword and iron club. Obeisance to the Lord who has assumed the form of a human being.
As Vasudeva, the son of Śūra, eulogized thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Hari spoke thus, delighting him and Devakī:
55-56. I shall kill Kaṃsa, O my parents, do not be afraid. Yaśodā, the wife of Nandagopa, has given birth last night to my Māyā who enchants all the worlds.
Place me on her bed. Take that daughter of Yaśodā, O excellent scion of the family of Yadu, and place her on the bed of Devakī.
57-59. On being told thus by Kṛṣṇa, O Brāhmaṇas, he did the same. The daughter lying on the bed of Devakī, who was Māyā herself, began to cry.
On hearing the cry of a child, Kaṃsa became excited in his mind. He came into the lying-in-chamber and took up that girl. The shameless and ruthless fellow then smashed the child on a rock. (The child) got out of his hand forcibly (and appeared in the sky as) the great goddess with eight well-armed hands of great power. She furiously challenged Kaṃsa and spoke these words:
60-62. O sinful, vicious Kaṃsa, of deluded mind, your enemy, the destroyer of your life, is present somewhere else. The destroyer of your life has appeared. Search for that enemy, O Kaṃsa. Do not delay. He is the death unto you.
After saying thus the goddess went back to the divine abodes. If she was adored by human beings, she became the bestower of everything desired (by them).
63-66. On hearing the words of the goddess, Kaṃsa became extremely perplexed and excited. He dispatched Pūtanā and many other evil spirits to attack his enemy as well as other children in different parts of the land. All those evil spirits, child-catchers, went to the cowherd colony of Nanda. They were killed and despatched to the abode of Yama by Kṛṣṇa.
After the lapse of some days, O eminent Brāhmaṇas, the boys Rāma and Kṛṣṇa grew up in the cowherd colony. The suppressors of the enemies sported about with many games and plays befitting children.
67-71. For some time they tended the calves and played on their flutes. For some time they tended cows embellishing themselves with Guñjā and Tāpiccha, i.e. red and black berries and the flowers of Tamāla plant, a dark-barked and white-blossomed tree. Rāma and Keśava sported about in the cowherd colony for a long time.
Once, Kaṃsa sent Akrūra to the cowherd colony, O eminent Brāhmaṇas, to take Rāma and Keśava from the cowherd colony (to Mathura). Akrūra took Rāma and Kṛṣṇa from the cowherd colony, at the bidding of Kaṃsa, to Mathurā which shone with gold festoons and ornamental geteways[?].
After bringing Rāma and Keśava, the son of Gāndinī (i.e. Akrūra) went ahead to the city. He met Kaṃsa and intimated everything to him. Afterwards he went home.
72. In the afternoon, the next day, the sons of Vasudeva went to the city of Mathurā along with their dear friends, the cowherd boys. They went to the city of Mathurā which had tall towers and minarets and where tall slakes had been fixed on the ground.
73. Listening to the songs of praise of the young damsels of the city, Krṣṇa and Rāma went ahead and entered the hall of bows. There they saw a huge bow with the string tied firmly.
74. They drove away all the guards of the bow. Kṛṣṇa sportingly took up the bow. In order to fix the string to it, he bent it. But it broke into two in the meantime.
75. On hearing the sound that rose when the bow broken into two, the guards rushed at them in order to kill them.
76-77. Then, in an instant, Rāma and Kṛṣṇa of great power and valour killed Kuvalayāpīḍa, the elephant that stood at the entrance. They extracted its tusks and held them in their hands. Presently they placed the tusks on their shoulders and entered the arena.
79. They swiftly climbed on the lofty platform. They went near Kaṃsa who was seated on the lofty seat and stood there treating him with contempt like lions that ignore an insignificant animal.
80. Kṛṣṇa dragged Kaṃsa who was seated on a raised seat. Catching hold of his feet, he whirled him in the sky.
81. He thrashed him on the ground and left him on the ground bereft of life. O Brāhmaṇas, with his fist, Balarāma slew the eight brothers of Kaṃsa.
82. After slaying Kaṃsa, Krṣṇa, the suppressor of the army of the enemies, released his parents who were extremely sad and miserable, from their fetters.
83-84. Accompanied by Balarāma, Mādhava established all of them (in their respective places). On hearing that Kaṃsa had been killed by Śrīkṛṣṇa all those kinsmen who had been formerly harassed by Kaṃsa at Mathurā, returned to that city. Further, Keśava re-established Ugrasena in the kingdom.
85. Unable to hear the heinous sin committed by Kaṃsa against his parents, he slew his maternal uncle Kaṃsa who was a thorn to Devas and Brāhmaṇas.
86. Once thereafter when Nārada and other sages came to see him, Kṭṣṇa the excellent (lord), asked all of them thus:
87-88. My maternal uncle Kaṃsa who had committed many sins was killed by me, O Brāhmaṇas. If the uncle is killed one incurs sin. This has been said by those excellent persons who are conversant with the scriptural texts. Hence tell me the means of expiation for dispelling this sin.
Thereupon, O Brāhmaṇas, Nārada spoke in sweet voice, with devotion and affection to Kṛṣṇa of wonderful exploits.
89-95. You are always pure. You are ever liberated. You are ever good. You are the eternal Supreme Soul of the form of Existence, Knowledge and Bliss. O Kṛṣṇa, the scion of the family of Yadu, you have neither sin nor merit. Still in order to guide and instruct the common people, O Garuḍa-emblemed Mādhava, the rites of expiation must be performed by you in accordance with the following injunctions. You must perform what is conducive to the welfare of the world now.
Formerly the Liṅga named Rāmanātha was installed by Rāma on Rāmasetu on the Gandhamādana mountain. For the sake of the water for its ablution, the scion of the family of Raghu, created the Tīrtha well-known as Koṭitīrtha by piercing the ground with the tip of his bow. It is the Tīrtha made by Rāma himself, your previous incarnation, of unimpaired activities for the sake of the purification of the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. You do take your holy bath there in that sanctifying Tīrtha, destructive of sins.
96-98. Thereby your sin due to the slaying of your uncle will perish quickly. O Hari, the holy bath of Koṭitīrtha dispels the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter, etc. It bestows heavenly pleasures and salvation on all men. It increases longevity and good health.
On hearing these words of Sage Nārada, Mādhava bade farewell to all those sages. At the very same instance, O Brāhmaṇas, he hurried to Rāmasetu for the sake of dispelling his own sins.
99-100. The scion of the family of Yadu went to Koṭitīrtha in a few days. He took his holy bath there along with the requisite Saṃkalpa rite and made many charitable gifts. Instantaneously, he was liberated from the sins arising from slaying his own uncle. After serving Rāmanātha he went to his own city Mathura.
Śrī Sūta said:
101. Koṭītīrtha has such power. It is meritorious, O great sages. A man is immediately released from Brāhmaṇa-slaughter and other sins. There is no other Tīrtha on the earth on a par with this.
Thus the wonderful glory of Koṭitīrtha has been recounted to you all. On hearing this a man on the earth is liberated from all sins.
By listening to this meritorious chapter, O eminent sages, and by reading this, a man is really liberated from Brāhmaṇa-slaughter and other sins.
Footnotes and references:
VV 5-12 narrate why and how Koṭitīrtha came to be created by Rāma. The Tīrtha is called Koṭitīrtha as it was created by the tip (Koṭi) of Rāma’s bow.
Bath in Koṭitīrtha is the last bath in this pilgrimage. After this bath the pilgrim should leave and go back from Gandhamādana.
The story up to Kaṃsa’s killing is based on BhP but Kṛṣṇa’s pilgrimage to Koṭitīrtha for expiation of Kaṃsa’s killing has no basis in BhP and Mbh. It is contributed by the Purāṇa to glorify Koṭitīrtha.
There is another version in VāP 11.134.212-15. As the child was a girl, Kaṃsa spared her and she grew up as a Goddess among the Yādavas. BdP 184.108.40.206 supports this version.
The author’s mention of Rāma being Kṛṣṇa’s previous incarnation shows that īhe present belief in the ten incarnations of Viṣṇu was prevalent at the time of the Purāṇa.