The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Pilgrimage to Setu which is chapter 51 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 fifty-first chapter of the Setu-mahatmya of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 51 - Pilgrimage to Setu

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Sūta said:

1. Henceforth I shall recount the procedure for pilgrimage to Setu, O Brāhmaṇas. On hearing it, one is liberated from all sins instantly.

2-6. The intelligent devotee should remain pure in soul. He should take his holy bath and perform the Ācamana rite as well as all the routine duties of the day. For propitiating Lord Rāmanātha as well as giving delight to Rāghava, he should feed some Brāhmaṇas in accordance with his capacity. He should feed those Brāhmaṇas who have mastered the Vedas. He should smear the body with Bhasma (holy ash) and have the Tripuṇḍra mark on his forehead. Or he can smear his body with Gopīcandana and sandal-paste and have the Ūrdhvapuṇḍraka on his forehead. He should wear a necklace of Rudrākṣa beads and have a Pavitra (ring made of kuśa) round his finger. Making himself pure thus, he shall devoutly perform the rite of Saṃkalpa, ‘I shall perform the pilgrimage to the Setu’. Without speaking anything (to anyone), he should set off from his house. He should repeat the eight-syllabled Mantra (oṃ nārāyaṇāya namaḥ) (or) the five-syllabled Mantra (namaḥ śivāya) with perfectly controlled mind. He should take food only once a day. He should take the Haviṣya (food) only. He should subdue and control anger and the sense-organs.

7. He should not have (any) footwear or umbrella. He should avoid chewing betel leaves. He should not take oil bath. He shall never have physical contact, etc. with women.

8. He should strictly adhere to the norms of cleanliness and good conduct. He should regularly perform the Sandhyā prayers. He should repeat the Gāyatrī Mantra during the three junctions and meditate on Rāma.

9. On the way, he should respectfully read the glory of Setu everyday. Or he should read the Rāmāyaṇa or any of the Purāṇas.

10. He should avoid unnecessary talks and utterances. He should thus proceed to the Setu for the sake of purity. He should not accept any monetary gifts, nor should he give up any of the good customs and manners.

11. He should perform the worship of Śiva, Viṣṇu, etc. on the way in accordance with his capacity. He should perform the holy rites of Vaiśvadeva, etc. according to his capacity.

12. He should perform the sacred rites of Brahmayajña, etc. and worship the holy fire. He should offer food, beverage, etc. to guests as much as he can.

13. To the ascetics too he should give alms without being stingy. On the way, he should repeat the names of Śiva, Viṣṇu, etc. and recite the hymns and prayers.

14. He should always do what is righteous and avoid prohibited activities. Strictly adhering to these and other restrictions and observances, he should go to Setumūla.

15. At the outset, he should offer pieces of rocks (stones) with great concentration after going there. He should invoke the Ocean there, and bow down to it thereafter.

16. He shall offer Arghya to the sea. Thereafter he should offer prayers. Then he should have the Anujñā (formal granting of permission by the Sea). Then he should take his bath in the great sea.

17. He should mentally meditate on Hari and offer libations to the sages, Devas, monkeys and Pitṛs, O Brāhmaṇas.

The number of pāṣāṇas (pieces of rocks):

18. The devotee should offer seven Pāṣāṇas or (at least) one, O eminent Brāhmaṇas. By offering the Pāṣāṇas the holy bath shall become fruitful and not otherwise.

The mantra for offering the pāṣāṇas:

19. “O Kṛtyā (Evil Spirit), O terror of all the worlds originating from Pippalāda, the Pāṣāṇas have been given to you. May these be utilised for your meal.”

The mantra requesting for the presence:

20. “You are Viśvācī, you are Ghṛtācī, O Viśvayānā (‘Having the universe for the vehicle’). O lord, O king, for my sake, be present in the briny sea.”

The mantra for offering namaskāra:

21. “Obeisance to you, the lord remaining hidden in the universe. Obeisance to you, O Viṣṇu, O lord of the waters. Obeisance to the lord with golden horns (?). Obeisance to the lord of rivers. Obeisance to the munificent ocean.”

After uttering thus the devotee should prostrate (himself).

The mantra for arghya:

22. “O glorious one, O great sea, O mine of all gems! You are the chief one with all gems. Accept the Arghya.”

The mantra for anujñāpana (offering the formal permission):

23. “O lord, the support of the entire universe, O lord holding the conch, the discus and the iron club, grant me permission to resort to your Tīrtha.”

The mantra of prayer:

24-27. “One should remember Sugrīva in the East, Nala in the South, the one named Mainda in the West and Dvivida in the North. One should remember Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa, Sītā of great reputation, Aṅgada, Hanumān, the son of Wind-god, and Vibhīṣaṇa in the middle.”

O great Sea, grant me the merit of holy bath in all the Tīrthas of the earth that have entered you. Save me from all the sins.

With the two (?verses) beginning with “Hiraṇyaśṛṅga” the devotee should remember Nārāyaṇa in the navel.

28. Meditating upon Lord Nārāyaṇa in the rites such as the holy bath, etc., one attains the world of Brahmā. He is not reborn here.

29. Thereby one would have done atonement for all the sins. The devotee should with single-minded devotion think about Prahlāda, Nārada, Vyāsa, Aṃbarīṣa, Śuka and other devotees of the Lord.

The mantra for the holy bath:

30-36. “You are the source of the Vedas (?), the origin of Veda and Vasiṣṭha, O Ocean, you are the lord of the rivers, the origin of all gems. (You are) fire, the refulgence, the earth, Viṣṇu, the navel of Amṛta (?), the lord discharging the Retas (semen). This water of yours is not like other waters, those waters that enter the ocean. Having approached (and immersed) my head, I shall cast off all my sins from the body like the serpent that casts off the decaying slough.”

Again, O Brāhmaṇas, he should make obeisance to the munificent ocean. Then he should utter thus: “One should bow down to the pure Ocean, the lord of rivers, who is full of all Tīrthas. There are two oceans.” After uttering this, he should take the second bath.

“O Sun, O harbinger of the day, all the Tīrthas within the Cosmic Egg are touched by your rays. Due to this truth, grant me the Tīrtha on the Setu.” Then the devotee should remember in the order mentioned before, ‘Sugrīva in the East’, etc. Thereafter, O Brāhmaṇas, he should take the third holy dip.

If the man undertakes the pilgrimage starting from Devīpaṭṭaṇa, he should take the holy bath in the ocean in the middle of the nine rocks in Setu, the bestower of salvation. He should take the holy bath for quelling his sins.

37. If he goes to the Setu, the bestower of salvation, through the path of “Darbhaśayyā” he shall take his bath directly in the ocean for attaining salvation.

The procedure for offering libations:

38-43. The devotee should offer libations to the following,[1] three times for each[2], uttering the Mantra: Pippalāda, Kavi, Kaṇva, Kṛtānta, Jīviteśvara, Manyu, Kālarātri, Vidyā, Ahargaṇeśvara, Vasiṣṭha, Vāmadeva, Parāśara, Umāpati, Vālmīki, Nārada, the sages Vālakhilyas, (the monkeys such as) Nala, Nīla, Gavākṣa, Gavaya, Gandha, Ṛṣabha, Sugrīva, Hanumān and Vegadarśana. Then to Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā, the highly fortunate and exceedingly renowned. The names should be uttered in the Dative Case, O Brāhmaṇas. The libations unto Devas, Sages and Pitṛs shall be duly offered with water and gingelly seeds. The names may be uttered in the Accusative Case also, O Brāhmaṇas, and the libations can be offered.

44. The devotee should stand in the water with a pleasant mind and offer the libations with a Pavitra round his finger. By the offerings of the libations, he shall attain the merit of holy bath in all the Tīrthas.

45-48. After the Tarpaṇa rites, he should come out of the water. Casting off the wet clothes he should wear dry clothes. He should perform the Ācamana rites and wear the Pavitra. He should then perform the Śrāddha duly. He should offer rice-balls to the Pitṛs in accordance with the injunctions along with gingelly seeds and raw rice-grains.

This is the Śrāddha of the weaker man (a poor one) in the society that I am describing, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. A rich man should perform the Śrāddha by means of cooked rice with (dishes of) six tastes. The prosperous and the rich man should make charitable gifts of cows, plots of land, gingelly seeds, gold, etc. In Rāmacandra Dhanuṣkoṭi also he shall do like this.

49. He should perform everything beginning with the offerings of Pāṣāṇa and ending with Tarpaṇa, O Brāhmaṇas, exactly in the same way as he performs in Setumūla in accordance with the injunctions.

50. Then he should go to Cakratīrtha[3] and take the holy bath there too. Then he should see Lord Hari, Nārāyaṇa, the lord of the Setu.

51. Going along the western path, the devotee should take the holy bath in Cakratīrtha there itself. Then he should devoutly see Lord Darbhaśaya.

52. Then he should go to Kapitīrtha and perform the rite of ablution there. Then he should proceed to Sītākuṇḍa and take the holy bath there too.

53-54. Then he should proceed to Ṛṇamocanatīrtha that grants great merit and take his holy bath. After bowing to Lord Rāma, the lover of Jānakī, he should go to Lakṣmaṇatīrtha. Shaving off all the hair above the neck he should take the holy bath there too thinking about his evil deeds.

55-56. After taking the holy bath in Rāmatīrtha he should proceed to the temple. Then he should take his holy bath in Pāpavināśa, Gaṅgā, Yamunā, Sāvitrī, Sarasvatī, Gāyatrī and Hanumatkuṇḍa granting great merit, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. Thereafter he should go to Brahmakuṇḍa and perform the rite of ablution in accordance with the injunctions.

57-59. Then the man should proceed to Nāgakuṇḍa that is destructive of the tortures received in the Narakas. Gaṅgā and all other rivers and all the Tīrthas stay in Nāgakuṇḍa always for quelling their own sins. This salvation-granting excellent Tīrtha has been made by the eight great serpents Ananta, etc. It is a Tīrtha on Rāmasetu and it causes welfare.

Thereafter the devotee should go to the very excellent Agastya Kuṇḍa and take his holy bath.

60. Then he should go to Agnitīrtha which is destructive of all evil Karmas. The devotee should take his holy bath, offer libations to the Pitṛs, duly perform the Śrāddha rite and remember the Pitṛs.

61. By making the charitable gifts of cows, plots of lands, gold, food-grains, etc. to Brāhmaṇas in accordance with his capacity on the banks of Agnitīrtha the devotee is liberated from all sins.

62-63. Or the devotee can take his holy bath in due order in those Tīrthas, the chief one among them being Cakratīrtha, as spoken before, O Brāhmaṇas, or in accordance with his taste he should take his bath in any of them. After taking the holy bath in all the Tīrthas thus he shall perform Śrāddha and other rites.

64-67. Afterwards he should go to Rāmeśvara and resort to (i.e. worship) Parameśvara. He should then come to Setumādhava (and visit) Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa, Sītā, Hanumān and other excellent monkeys.

After taking the holy bath in all the Tīrthas there in accordance with the injunctions, he should bow down to Rāmanātha, Rāmacandra and others. After performing the obeisance the man should go to Dhanuṣkoṭi for taking the holy bath. There he shall observe the rites of offering stones, etc. as mentioned before. He should make charitable gifts in Dhanuṣkoṭi in accordance with his monetary capacity.

68. He should respectfully give pieces of land, cows, rice-grains, clothes and other things to Brāhmaṇas well-versed in the Vedas in accordance with his financial position.

69. Then he should go to Koṭitīrtha and take the holy bath in accordance with the injunction. Then he should bow down to Rāmeśvara, the Bull-emblemed Lord.

70-74.. If one is affluent, one should give gold as monetary gift. In accordance with one’s monetary capacity one shall make gifts of gingelly seeds, food-grains, cows, pieces of land, rice-grains, clothes and other things. One should not be greedy or stingy.

He should offer incense, lamps, food, accessories to worship, etc. to Lord Rāmeśvara according to his wealth.

After eulogizing Lord Rāmeśvara and devoutly bowing down to the lord, he should take the formal permission and go to the presence of Setumādhava.

After offering him incense, etc. and taking the formal ritualistic permission of Mādhava strictly adhering to the holy observances mentioned before, he should come back to his own house. He should feed Brāhmaṇas fully with cooked food consisting of the six tastes.

75. Thereby Lord Rāmanātha will be delighted with him and give what he desires. He will never fall into Naraka (Hell). His poverty will perish.

76. The line of progeny of that man increases, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. He shall get rid of worldly existence quickly and attain Sāyujya form of salvation.

77-80. If anyone is unable to come here, O Brāhmaṇas, he should read or make others read, those collections of texts and passages in Śrutis, Smṛtis and Āgamas that are highly meritorious, that glorify Setu and destroy great sins. Or he should read with great devotion this glory of Setu (given here).

Thereby he obtains the merit arising from holy bath in the Setu. There is no doubt about it. This has been recommended by learned men to the blind, the lame, etc.

Śrī Sūta said:

Thus, O Brāhmaṇas, the procedure of the pilgrimage to Setu has been recounted to you. One who reads this or listens to this, shall be liberated from all miseries.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

It appears that there were two ways of starting the pilgrimage VV 15ff show that one starts from Devīpaṭṭaṇa (called Devīpaṭnam), a coastal village about ten miles from Rāmanāthapuram [Rāmanāthapura]. It is so-called as there is a famous shrine of Devī in the village. The village is called ‘Navapāṣāṇam’ [‘Navapāṣāṇa’] as nine stones (one for each Planet) were installed here by Rāma to formally inaugurate the building of the Setu. Hence pilgrims are asked to deposit one stone here.

It is generally after the pilgrimage to Rāmeśvaram that pilgrims go to Darbhaśayanam or Tirupullaṇī, a coastal village about 7 miles from Rāmanāthapuram railway station. Here Rāma is said to have stayed on a bed of Darbha grass to propitiate Sea-god to give him the way to Laṅkā through him. From v 37, it appears that people started from Darbhaśayanam also at the time of the Purāṇa writer.

[2]:

The list of libations includes ancient sages as well as prominent figures from Rāmāyaṇa.

[3]:

The locations of the Tīrthas mentioned here are indicated in the respective chapters of their glorification.

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