The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Glory of Setu which is chapter 52 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-second chapter of the Setu-mahatmya of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 52 - The Glory of Setu

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Sūta said:

1. Out of deference to you, O prominent sages, I shall recount the glory of Setu further. Listen.

2. Of all the holy places this is the greatest. It is said that Japa or Homa performed here is everlasting. Penance performed and charitable gift made here are of everlasting benefit.

3. By taking the holy bath in Dhanuṣkoṭi in this great holy spot, one shall attain the merit of staying in Vārāṇasī for ten years.

4. After taking the holy bath in Dhanuṣkoṭi in that sacred place and after visiting Lord Rāmeśvara Śiva, O Brāhmaṇas, one should reside there for three days with great devotion.

5. Thereby, O eminent Brāhmaṇas, one attains that merit which results from staying for ten years in the city of Puṇḍarīka.[1] It is destructive of great sins.

6. By reciting the original six-syllabled Mantra (oṃ namaḥ śivāya) one thousand eight times in this place with devotion, the man shall obtain Sāyujya with Śiva.

7-13. If a man joyously takes his holy bath in the month of Māgha in the glorious Dhanuṣkoṭi, there is no doubt about it that he will get the merit of staying for a year in the following holy spots of Śiva or Viṣṇu:[2] Madhyārjuna, Kuṃbhakoṇa, Māyūra, Śvetakānana, Hālāsya, Gajāraṇya, Vedāraṇya, Naimiṣa, Śrīparvata, Śrīraṅga, the glorious Vṛddhagiri, Cidaṃbara, Valmīka, Śeṣādri, Aruṇācala which is the glorious southern Kailāsa, Veṅkaṭa mountain, the holy spot of Hari, Kāñcīpura, Brahmapura, Vaidyeśvarapura and other similar places sacred to Śiva or Viṣṇu, O excellent Brāhmaṇas.[3]

There is a Vedic verse beginning with “dvau samudrau”. It refers to Setu. It is eternal and is the mother (as it were). O eminent sages, there is another Vedic verse, beginning with “ado yaddāru”. It describes the activities of Viṣṇu and praises the Setu. There is another verse too beginning with “tad viṣṇoḥ”.

14. Itihāsas, Purāṇas and Smṛtis, O ascetics, confirm the glory of Setu in similar statements.

15. One who takes the holy bath in the Setu during eclipse of the Sun or the Moon, shall attain the merit of taking the holy bath in Gaṅgā for ten years in Avimukta (i.e. Kāśī).

16. Sin acquired in the course of a crore of births (by him) perishes instantaneously. He gets the excellent merit of a thousand horse-sacrifices.

17-19. Merely by visiting the Setu on the Viṣuva days (equinoctical days), on the days of the transit of the Sun (from one Zodiac to another), on Mondays and on Parvan days, the sin acquired in the course of seven births perishes. O eminent Brāhmaṇas, he attains heaven.

By taking the holy bath in Dhanuṣkoṭi for three days when the Sun has just risen, in the month of Māgha, when the sun is in the Zodiac Capricorn the man becomes free from sins. He shall attain the merit of taking the holy bath in all the Tīrthas including Gaṅgā.

20. The man who takes the holy bath in Dhanuṣkoṭi for five days, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, shall obtain the merit of a horse-sacrifice, etc.

21. He shall obtain the merit of performing Cāndrāyaṇa and other Kṛcchra rites of atonement. Similarly he will attain the merit of reading (reciting) the four Vedas.

22. By having the holy bath in Dhanuṣkoṭi for ten days in the month of Māgha, ten thousand sins of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter will perish. There is no doubt about it.

23. The man who performs the holy ablution in Dhanuṣkoṭi for fifteen days in the month of Māgha shall obtain Vaikuṇṭha.

24. One who takes the holy bath in Rāmasetu for twenty days in the month of Māgha, attains the Sāmīpya (proximity) (salvation) with Śiva. He rejoices along with Śiva.

25. One who takes the holy bath for twenty-five days shall attain Sārūpya type salvation. One who takes the holy bath for thirty days shall certainly obtain Sāyujya.

26. Therefore, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the learned man should take the holy bath certainly in Rāmasetu in the month of Māgha when the Sun has risen a little.

27-28. The man who takes the holy bath in Rāmasetu during a lunar or solar eclipse, at the time of Ardhodaya or Mahodaya, does not suffer from various distresses which one undergoes in the womb. It is glorified as destructive of Brāhmaṇa-murder and other sins.

29. It is glorified as annulling (the stay in) all the Narakas. It is proclaimed as the cause of all the riches.

30-34. It yields Sālokya (i.e. stay in the same world) with Indra and other gods.

A holy plunge in Dhanuṣkoṭi during lunar as well as solar eclipse and during Ardhodaya and Mahodaya is definitely certain (to lead to salvation). This was formerly created by Rāma for the sake of destroying Rāvaṇa. It was resorted to by Siddhas, Cāraṇas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras and serpents. Bathing here was performed by Brāhmaṇa-sages, celestial sages, saintly kings and groups of Pitṛs. It has been devoutly performed by groups of Devas including Brahmā.

Even if a person remembers Rāmasetu, the meritorious holy spot, O Brāhmaṇas, and takes his bath in any lake or other water reservoir, he will never incur any sin.

35. By giving handfuls (of grains) in the Tīrthas stationed in the middle of Setu, all ailments disappear. So also the sins of foetus-murder, etc.

36. If a man sees the holy line drawn by Rāma by means of his bow, he will never return from Vaikuṇṭha.

37. It is destructive of sins. It is well-known in the world as Dhanuṣkoṭi. This was made by the intelligent Rāma at the request of Vibhīṣaṇa.

38-41. Dhanuṣkoṭi is highly meritorious. After devoutly taking the holy bath therein, the devotee should make charitable gifts of money, lands, cows, gingelly seeds, rice-grains, food-grains, milk, clothes, ornaments, pulses, cooked rice, curds, ghee, water, vegetables, pure sugar, greens, honey, sweetmeats, sweet pies and other things. The charitable gift of these things in Rāmasetu, O Brāhmaṇas, is mentioned as yielding all desired things.

42-45. Hence one should make gifts in Rāmasetu without any covetousness for wealth. The gifts made, the Homa performed, the penances performed, the Japas, the observances of restrictions, etc. at Śrīrāmadhanuṣkoṭi shall yield infinite merit. Thereby the Vedas are pleased, the Pitṛs become contented and all the sages are satisfied. Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva are pleased. Serpents, Kiṃpuruṣas and Yakṣas are certainly delighted. By visiting Dhanuṣkoṭi one shall become purified oneself. He shall sanctify all the men born in his own family. He will sanctify his grandfathers.

46-50. By visiting Dhanuṣkoṭi he shall liberate (from Saṃsāra) the entire family. By taking the holy plunge in the line drawn by the tip of Rāma’s bow crores of the five great sins shall certainly perish at that very moment. He who sees the line drawn with the tip of Śrīrāma’s bow never undergoes stay in the womb that is full of distress.

If anyone takes holy plunge in the Kuṇḍa where Sītā entered the fire, hundreds of the sins of destroying foetus perish, O Brāhmaṇas, within a moment. As Rāma, so is Setu; as Gaṅgā, so is Hari. If a man utters “O Gaṅgā, O Hari, O Rāmasetu” and takes the holy bath anywhere in the open, he attains the greatest goal.

51-53. The devotee should take his holy bath in the Setu on the Gandhamādana mountain at the time of Ardhodaya (Parva) and offer piṇḍas of the size of mustard seeds to the Pitṛs. Then the Pitṛs become contented as long as the Moon and the Sun (shine).

if the Piṇḍa, even if it be of the size of a Śamī leaf (Mimosa suma), is offered by a Brāhmaṇa with the Pitṛs in view, if it is offered with devotion, he shall be rid of all sins. The Pitṛs in the heaven attain salvation and those in Naraka shall go to heaven.

54. In the holy spots of Setu, Padmanābha, Gokarṇa and Puruṣottama the holy bath can be taken in the waters of the ocean at all times.

55. He who desires for progeny should not take his bath in the saline waters on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays anywhere else except in the Setu.

56. One who has not concluded the obsequies or one whose wife is pregnant should not knowingly take bath in the ocean anywhere else except in the Setu.

57. In regard to the Setu, there is no question of waiting for any particular time. Taking the holy bath in it everyday is praiseworthy. The rules and restrictions in regard to the days of the week, the lunar days and the Constellations, O Brāhmaṇas, are applicable to the seas elsewhere except in the Setu.

58-65. One can take the holy bath on behalf of another living man and not of a dead man. He should make the replica of the person concerned with Kuśa grass and bathe him with the waters of the Tīrtha uttering the following Mantra with calm sense-organs and mind:

“You are Kuśa. You are holy. You were formerly held by Viṣṇu. If you take your holy bath, he too has taken the holy bath—he who is represented by these tied knots (of Kuśa grass).

Everywhere the ocean is holy at the time of Parvan days. In the Setu, in the place where a river joins the ocean, the place of confluence of Gaṅgā and sea, in Gokarṇa and in Puruṣottama (Jagannātha Purī) daily bath is laid down. In other places, one shall not touch the ocean except on Parvan days.

Even as the Pitṛs, all the Devas and the Sages were listening, Rāma, accompanied by Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa, took a vow:

“All those men who take their holy bath here in this Setu built by me will with my favour never have rebirth. By visiting my Setu all the sins do perish. Even in the course of hundreds and crores of years I cannot (adequately) describe the glory of Rāmanātha and the power of my Setu.”

66. On hearing these words of Rāma, the Devas and the great sages became delighted. They praised his words saying, “Very well! Very well!”.

67. At the bidding of Īśvara, the Four-faced Lord in the company of all Devas, occupies the middle of the Setu for the sake of protecting it always.

68-71. For the sake of guarding Rāmasetu, Mahāviṣṇu occupies it by the name of Setumādhava. He is bound by fetters as it were.

Great sages, Pitṛs, expounders of Dharmaśāstra, Devas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras, great Serpents, Vidyādharas, Cāraṇas, Yakṣas, Kiṃpuruṣas and all other living beings stay here day and night.

This Rāmasetu, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, protects (all) from all the sins, if it is seen, heard, remembered, touched or plunged into.

72. The holy bath in the Setu at the time of Ardhodaya causes the attainment of joy. It yields salvation. It is highly meritorious. It is destructive of great Narakas.

73-79. In the month of Pauṣa when the Sun is in the Constellation of Viṣṇu (i.e. Śravaṇa), on Sundays when the Sun has risen a little, if it is in conjunction with the new-moon day, if there is Vyatīpāta, and on the Constellation of Viṣṇu, there shall be the meritorious Ardhodaya. During Ardhodaya the bath in the Setu is conducive to the achievement of Sāyujya.

One new-moon day is remembered (i.e. held) to be on a par with a thousand Vyatīpātas. If that is a Sunday, the merit is that of ten thousand new-moon days. If the Constellation of Śravaṇa is in conjunction with Sunday, it should be considered highly meritorious due to the mutual contact. Each of these yields immortality through the holy bath, charitable gifts, Japas and worship. When all the five are in conjunction, nothing need be said in praise of its sanctity.

Śravaṇa star is the most excellent of all luminaries. The new-moon is the most excellent one among the lunar days. Vyatīpāta is the most excellent one among the Yogas. The day of the Sun is the most excellent among all the days of the week. If all these four came together when the Sun is in the Zodiac of Capricorn and if the man takes his holy bath in Rāmasetu at that time, he never stays in the womb of a mother thereafter. He shall attain salvation of the type of Sāyujya.

80. A holy time on a par with Ardhodaya has never been before nor will there ever be (hereafter). Similarly the time of Mahodaya is proclaimed to be a sacred period.

81-85. Charitable gift in the Setu during these holy periods is glorified.

A Brāhmaṇa having the following good qualities is said to be a person who deserves charitable gifts: good conduct, penance, Vedic knowledge, listening to Vedāntic discourse, worship of Śiva, Viṣṇu and others and the ability to expound the topics of the Purāṇas.

In the Setu, the devotee should make charitable gifts to that deserving Brāhmaṇa.

If a suitable person endowed with good conduct is not available in the Setu, the devotee should mentally decide upon another deserving person and hand it over to him after returning to the village.

Hence no gift should be made to a base man by persons who deserve merits. The excellent (treatise on) the glory of Setu should be given to the expounder and not to anyone else.

In this connection I shall recount a traditional legend mentioned by Vasiṣṭha. He told this excellent legend to the great King Dilīpa who wanted to know the person deserving charitable gifts.

Dilīpa said:

86. To whom should gifts be made, O son of Brahmā, O my priest. Recount this factually, O great sage, to me, your disciple.

Vasiṣṭha said:

87. The most excellent one of all deserving persons is one who is devoted to good conduct and study of the Vedas. A person still more deserving is one who has not partaken of food of Śūdra.

88-89. A person who has mastered the Vedas, Purāṇas and Mantras, who worships Śiva, Viṣṇu and oṃers, who regularly performs the duties and observes the rules pertaining to his caste and stage of life, who is poor but has a large family, is mentioned to be the most excellent and deserving person. What is given to that deserving person bestows virtue, wealth, love and salvation.

90. (Defective Text) Particularly in a holy spot, charitable gifts should be made to a very deserving person. Otherwise it is despicable. The guilty person will be a chameleon during ten births.

91. He shall be a donkey during three births, a frog during two births, a Cāṇḍāla during a single birth and then he is born as a Śūdra.

92. Thereafter, he is successively born as a Kṣatriya, a Vaiśya and a Brāhmaṇa. Then he shall be poor and afflicted with many diseases.

93. Thus there are many kinds of defects resulting from making gifts to undeserving recipients. Hence, by all means, one should make gifts to the most deserving ones.

94-95. If a deserving person is not readily available, the devotee should think of a very deserving person and pour water on the ground with that person in view. If that person is dead, the gift should be handed over to his son. If he too dies, the gift should be dedicated to Mahādeva. Hence no gift shall be made to a base recipient, and particularly so in a holy place.

Śrī Sūta said:

96-99. On being told thus by Vasiṣṭha, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Dilīpa, from that time onwards, gave the excellent charitable gifts to the most deserving person.

Hence in a sacred place, here, in the Setu too, if a deserving person is available, one should make monetary and other gifts. If he is not available, the devotee should think of a very excellent deserving person. He shall with great devotion pour water on the ground with that person in view. Afterwards on returning to his own village, he should hand it over to that deserving person.

100. He should hand over the sum thought of before to that person. Otherwise he shall be guilty of omission of duty. (By making the gift) he will never again be miserable. He shall attain Sāyujya.

101-106. A period on a par with Ardhodaya has never been before nor will there ever be.

Shaving off the head and observing fast have been glorified in the following holy spots: Kuṃbhakoṇa, Setumūla, Gokarṇa, Naimiṣa, Ayodhyā, Daṇḍaka forest, Virūpākṣa, Veṅkaṭa, Śāligrāma, Prayāga, Kāñcī, Dvārāvatī, Madhurā, Padmanābha, Kāśī the abode of Viśveśvara, all the rivers and oceans and the mountain Bhāskara.

If a man does not do so out of greed or delusion, and goes back to his abode, all the sins accompany him to his house.

There are twenty-four Tīrthas on the Gandhamādana mountain. Shaving off the head there in the Lakṣmaṇa Tīrtha is said to be meritorious by the sages. The hair should be cast off on the banks of Lakṣmaṇatīrtha according to the command of Śiva.

107-110. After shaving off the head alone and after making monetary gift, the devotee should take his holy bath in Lakṣmaṇatīrtha and visit (Lord Śīva [Śiva?] called) Lakṣmaṇa Śaṅkara. Thereby, the man becomes liberated from all sins and he attains Śaṅkara.

At the time of Ardhodaya the devotee should always take the holy bath in Setu thus.

There is no Tīrtha on a par with Setu. There is no penance on a par with Setu. There is no merit on a par with Setu. There is no goal on a par with Setu.

Ardhodaya is said to be an auspicious time on a par with a thousand eclipses. There is no other period on a par with Ardhodaya, a period that liberates one from the worldly existence.

111. According to all scriptures, there is no bath as auspicious as the holy bath that is taken on Rāmasetu at the time of Ardhodaya.

112-113. By taking a single holy bath, particularly at the time of Ardhodaya as well as Mahodaya, in Rāmasetu, one shall certainly achieve as much merit as one is able to achieve by plunging into Bhāgīrathī for sixty thousand years, O eminent sages. The merit is declared as much by the sages.

114-115. There is no doubt about this, O Brāhmaṇas, that a man by taking a single holy plunge in Rāmasetu at the time of Ardhodaya, obtains that merit which one obtains by means of a thousand holy baths during the holy months of Māgha when the Sun is in the Zodiac of Capricorn at Prayāga which is destructive of sins.

116. By taking the holy bath only once during Ardhodaya in Setu one gets the same merit as is obtained by the people who have taken their holy bath in all the Tīrthas existing in the three worlds.

117-123. It is certain that the following sinners can atone for their sins in the Setu by bathing at the time of Ardhodaya: those who are devoid of the knowledge of Brahman, wicked and ungrateful persons, great sinners, as well as other types of sinners.

In other holy spots, ungrateful and treacherous people do not get any redemption of any nature. By taking the holy bath in the Setu at the time of Ardhodaya, even they can have redemption.

Those who do not take the holy bath in the Setu at the time of Ardhodaya, due to delusion, get immersed in worldly existence. They meet with downfall like blind men.

By taking the holy bath in the Setu at the time of Ardhodaya, the devotees can break (their way) through the solar disc. They then go to the world of Brahmā. No doubt need be entertained in this regard.

When there is Ardhodaya, a man should take the holy bath in the Setu, the bestower of salvation. He should then properly meditate on Rāghava, the lord of the universe, along with Sītā. He should meditate on Mahādeva called Rāmeśvara and the monkeys, chief among whom were Sugrīva and others.

After meditating on these the devotee should offer water libations to the Devas, the sages, as well as the groups of Pitṛs. He should propitiate them all for getting release from his own impoverished state.

124. The devotee should worship the Lord of the universe who is devoid of impurities and who is called Ardhodaya. He should worship him at the time of Ardhodaya. Keśava is delighted thereby.

125-130a. He shall offer Arghya at the time of Ardhodaya with separate Mantras as follows:

“O Divākara (Sun-god), O mass of brilliance, O lord of the universe, obeisance to you.”

“O Sudhākuṃbha (Pot of Nectar i.e. the Moon-god) born of the family of Atri, O Brother of goddess Lakṣmī, O holy lord, accept the Arghya. Obeisance to you.”

“O Vyatīpāta, the great Yogin, O destroyer of great sins, O thousand-armed, one identical with all, accept the Arghya. Obeisance to you.”

“O great lord, the deity of lunar days, constellations and days of the week, O lord in the form of months, accept the Arghya. O lord in the form of Kāla, obeisance to you.”

After offering the Arghyas separately thus by separate Mantras, the man should offer presents to Brāhmaṇas in accordance with his wealth. He should propitiate fourteen, twelve, eight, seven, six or five Brāhmaṇas, offering them food and drink in accordance with his capacity. He should repeat the Mantras separately.

130b-132. The devotee should take a new brass vessel or a wooden vessel and fill it with milk. He should place it in front of the Brāhmaṇas along with fruits, jaggery, ghee, betel leaves and monetary gifts. He should make a gift of this to the Brāhmaṇas along with a sacred thread and a milch cow together with her calf. The Brāhmaṇas should be adorned in accordance with the capacity of the donor. He should repeat the following Mantras:

133. “O Keśava, O lord of the universe, let what has been offered by me to the suppliants bring everlasting merit. It has been offered on the day with the Śravaṇa Constellation, the Constellation of your birth.

134. O lord of the Constellations, O bestower of nectar to the Devas, O lover of Rohiṇī, save me, O (lord) of entire digits. Obeisance to you.

135. O lord of the universe, O lord of the poor and wretched, O lord of digits, O merciful one, let my devotion to the pair of your lotus-like feet be steady.

136. O Vyatīpāta resembling the moon, the sun and fire, obeisance to you. Whatever has been given, such as charitable gift, etc., let that bring inexhaustible merit.

137. O Hari, O Vāsudeva, O Janārdana, you are the (wish-yielding) Kalpa tree unto the suppliants. O lord of the units of Time, viz. month, season and (half-yearly) transit, quell my sin.”

138-139. After having worshipped thus, O eminent Brāhmaṇas, the devotee should perform the Śrāddha with gold, uncooked (rice, etc.) or cooked food as offering.

Thereafter, he should perform the Pārvaṇa (pertaining to the holy Parvan days). He should not hesitate to spend money. Afterwards, he should worship (i.e. honour) the Ācārya (Preceptor) with clothes, ear-rings and other ornaments.

140. The replica should be handed over to him. A cow, an umbrella and a pair of footwear should also be given to him. Thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the devotee should perform the holy rite on the Setu during Ardhodaya.

141. He may be contented with that alone. There is no further duty binding him. Even in other holy spots, the devotee should perform the holy rite during Ardhodaya.

142-143. The Setu was made by Rāma on the ocean on Gandhamādana. By glorifying its name, by repeating “Setu”, O wise men, at the time of bathing, crores of human sins perish instantaneously. The devotees go over to the region of Acyuta.

144. The servants of Yama are incompetent to come within the range of vision of a man who stands on the Setu for even a moment or half a moment.

145-147. One shall be liberated from all miseries and one shall attain the greatest region by mentally remembering Rāmasetu, Dhanuṣkoṭi, Rāma, Sītā, Lakṣmaṇa, Rāmanātha, Hanumān, Sugrīva and other monkeys, Bibhīṣaṇa, Nārada, Viśvāmitra, the Pot-born Sage (i.e. Agastya), Vasiṣṭha, Vāmadeva, Jābāli and Kāśyapa as also other devotees of Rāma.

148-153. Sins perish by having holy baths in the following holy spots: Satyakṣetra, Harikṣetra, Kṛṣṇakṣetra, Naimiṣa, Śālagrāma, Badarī, Hastiśaila, Vṛṣācala, Śeṣādri, Citrakūṭa, Lakṣmīkṣetra, Kuraṅgaka, Kāñcika, Kuṃbhakoṇa, Mohinīpura, the meritorious Śvetācala pertaining to Indra, the great holy spot Padmanābha, the holy spot named Phulla, the mountain Ghaṭika, Sārakṣetra, Haristhala, the great holy spot Śrīnivāsa, the great holy region of Bhaktanātha, the great holy place named Alinda, Śukakṣetra, Varuṇa, Madhurā, Harikṣetra, Śrīgoṣṭhī, Puruṣottama (Jagannātha Purī), Śrīraṅga, Puṇḍarīkākṣa as well as other holy spots of Hari. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, all those sins (perishing at the above holy places) certainly perish due to the holy bath at the Setu.

154. If men do not take their holy bath in the Setu made by the scion of the family of Raghu and resorted to by great sages, they do not get rid of the ocean of worldly existence.

155-161a. O eminent sages, those men who never listen to, utter or remember the auspicious five-syllabled Mantra namaḥ śivāya, those who do not remember or recite the eight-syllabled Mantra, namo nārāyaṇāya, along with Praṇava (i.e. oṃ namo nārāyaṇāya), O excellent men, those who do not recite, listen to, or remember the six-syllabled Mantra of Śrīrāmacandra shall take their holy plunge in Rāmasetu. Their sins do perish thereby.

Those who do not observe fast on the auspicious day of Hari (Ekādaśī), those who do not apply Bhasma all over their bodies or in the form of three parallel lines on the forehead, or on their heads, etc. by reciting the seven Mantras of the Jābāla Upaniṣad, O eminent Brāhmaṇas, those who do not worship Siva, Keśava or other Suras in the way prescribed in the Vedas, should take their holy plunge in Rāmasetu. Their sins get quelled thereby.

161b-164. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, those who do not devoutly offer incense, light, sandal-paste and flowers to Śiva, Viṣṇu and other deities, those men of sinful minds who do not perform the rite of ablution to Śiva, Viṣṇu and other Devas through the Mantras of Śrīrudra, Camaka, the holy Puruṣasūkta, Pāvamānya and other Sūktas (hymns), Trimadhu, Trisuparṇa, the five Śānti Sūktas as well as other Mantras should take their holy plunge in Dhanuṣkoṭi. Their sins perish thereby.

165-167a. Those men whose intellect has been sullied by sins and who do not make obeisance to or circumambulate Śiva, Viṣṇu and other Devas devoutly, those who do not perform the worship of Śiva, Viṣṇu and other Devas along with great Naivedya offerings early in the morning in the month of Dhanus, shall take their holy plunge in Rāmasetu. Their sins perish thereby.

167b-171a. Those who do not glorify the names of Viṣṇu or Hara, those men who, out of delusion, do not worship Śāligrāma stones, Śivanābha (particular form of Śivaliṅga) or Dvārakācakra, O Brāhmaṇas, those deluded men who do not apply on their chest and forehead the clay from Gaṅgā, the mud (from the roots) of Tulasī plant, one who does not wear Rudrākṣa bead or Tulasī twig cleanly round the arms and the neck for subduing all the multitudes of sins, should take their holy plunge in Dhanuṣkoṭi and their sins perish thereby.

171b-177a. O Brāhmaṇas, one should get up from sleep in the Brāhma Muhūrta. With a delighted mind one should meditate on the names of Hari and Śaṅkara and recite the hymns pertaining to them. One should always think of the special Mantra. One should then take the holy plunge in Dhanuṣkoṭi. Thereby one’s sins perish.

O excellent sages, a man should go to a tank (river, etc.) early in the morning, take his holy bath and ceremoniously sip the water with purified intellect. He should be delighted in his mind. If any man does not perform his Sandhyā prayer and the worship of Gāyatrī, the mother of the Vedas, if men do not perform carefully the rites of Aupāsana both in the morning and in the evening, if those who are sullied by the sins, do not perform Mādhyāhnika (midday) rites, if they do not perform Brahmayajña, Vaiśvadeva and the rites of honouring guests at midday and if they do not worship guests in the evening too, they should take their holy plunge in Dhanuṣkoṭi and their sins perish thereby.

177b-183a. Those men who do not offer alms to ascetics at midday, O Brāhmaṇas, those evil-minded ones who forget the Vedic text learnt by them, those who do not study the Vedas or the ancillaries to the Vedas, those who do not perform the annual Śrāddha of their parents, those who, out of covetousness, fail to perform the Mahālaya Śrāddha, the Aṣṭaka Śrāddha as well as other types of occasional Śrāddhas, those persons whose intellect has been vitiated by greediness and who, for the gratification of Citragupta, do not offer Brāhmaṇas sweet drink, ripe plantains, milk puddings with sugar and jaggery, mango fruits along with jackfruits and other types of sweet fruits, betel leaves, sandals, umbrella, clothes, flowers, sandal-paste, etc. on the full-moon day in the month of Caitra, should take their holy plunge in Dhanuṣkoṭi. Thereby their sins get destroyed.

183b-186. Whether he be one of good conduct or one of evil conduct, one who resorts to Dhanuṣkoṭi is not born again. The worldly existence is cut off from him.

O eminent sages, if anyone wishes to cross the ocean of worldly existence, let him go to Rāmacandradhanuṣkoṭi without any delay.

I speak the truth; I speak what is beneficial; I speak the essence of what is conducive to (your) welfare: go ye to Rāmacandradhanuṣkoṭi for the sake of achieving salvation. One shall take the holy bath in Rāmacandradhanuṣkoṭi for the sake of liberation.

187-191. O Brāhmaṇas, there is no other means (of liberation). I say again and again. If men take their bath in Rāmacandradhanuṣkoṭi, they can, without any exertion, achieve the destruction of the fear of worldly existence.

There is no doubt about this that by taking the holy plunge in Dhanuṣkoṭi one shall attain the perfect eternal Brahman which is truth and (spiritual) knowledge and is infinite.

Śrī Sūta said:

Thus, O Brāhmaṇas, the excellent glory of Setu has been narrated to you.[4]

It subdues great misery. It dispels great sickness. It destroys bad dreams. It is meritorious and it prevents premature and accidental deaths. It causes great peace unto the men who read and listen to it. It bestows heavenly pleasures and salvation. It is meritorious. It bestows the merit of all Tīrthas.

192. He who glorifies this meritorious (text) or listens to it with great concentration and mental purity, obtains the complete merit of Agniṣṭoma and other Yajñas.

193. By glorifying the greatness of this (Setu), one obtains that merit which is obtained by reciting a hundred times the four Vedas along with their Aṅgas (ancillaries).

194. By reading or listening to a single chapter in this text, O eminent sages, one obtains the full merit of a horse-sacrifice.

195. By reading as well as listening to two chapters one obtains the excellent merit of the Yajña named Gomedha (cow-sacrifice).

196. He who devoutly reads or listens to ten chapters attains the heavenly world and rejoices with Indra.

197. By reading or listening to twenty chapters, O eminent sages, one attains the world of Brahmā and rejoices along with God Brahmā.

198. By reading or listening to thirty chapters, O eminent sages, one attains the world of Viṣṇu and rejoices with Viṣṇu.

199. He who reads or listens to forty chapters, attains the world of Rudra and rejoices with Rudra.

200. He who reads or listens to fifty chapters attains Hara accompanied by Aṃbā, the crescent-moon-crested Śiva.

201. He who reads or listens to this entire excellent glory (i.e. 52 chapters) shall attain the same world as that of Sāṃba Śiva. There is no doubt about this.

202. He who reads or listens to this twice, O excellent sages, attains the vicinity of Śiva, riding on an excellent aerial chariot.

203. He who reads or listens to this three times with great concentration and mental purity, attains Sārūpya (identity of form) with Śiva, and Śiva is pleased with him.

204. He who reads or listens to this excellent glory four times, attains Sāyujya (union) with Śiva, the Lord of the Daughter of the Mountain.

205-208. If any man regularly reads everyday one verse, half of a verse, a quarter alone, a syllable or even a letter, his sin committed on that day perishes instantaneously.

If this entire Setu-māhātmya is read or listened to, as many sins of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter as there are letters in these verses perish instantaneously. Also, so many sins of imbibing liquor, so many sins of stealing gold, so many sins of carnally approaching the wife of the preceptor and so many sins of associating with these people perish instantaneously.

209-210. By reading or listening to this text, one obtains the merit of taking the holy bath in the twenty-four Tīrthas as many times as there are numbers of letters in this (text) of great merit, and also in the other Tīrthas situated in the middle of Setu.

211. He, by whom the excellent glory of the Setu has been written devoutly, shall attain Sāyujya with Śiva. All his ignorance shall be destroyed.

212. If this splendid (text) of the glory (of Setu) is kept in manuscript form in any one’s house, there is no fear from evil spirits, vampires, etc. in that house.

213-214. There is no affliction there due to sickness; there is no fear from thieves; there is no harassment by the Planets, the most important ones among them being Saturn and Mars.

O eminent sages, know that house to be Rāmasetu itself, in which this meritorious and excellent (text of the) glory (of Setu) is present.

215. All the twenty-four Tīrthas are present there itself. There itself is present the meritorious Gandhamādana mountain.

216. Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśa are present there with great respect.

One should write out the glory of the Setu and offer it to a Brāhmaṇa. (It is as good as) the earth extending as far as the four oceans, has been gifted away by him.[5]

The mantra for the gift of Setumāhātmya:

217. All other charitable gifts do not deserve to be equal to even a sixteenth part of the gift of Setumāhātmya. Hence grant me peace. Of what avail is much talk? The three worlds are present in this.

218. If anyone reads out one chapter from (this text) at the time of Śrāddha, all the deficiencies of the Śrāddha are dispelled (compensated). The Pitṛs too get extremely delighted.

219. If at the times of holy Parvans, anyone reads out this text to the Brāhmaṇas, even an Adhyāya (chapter) or a verse of it, his cows and buffaloes become harmless. They will yield much milk. They will have many calves.

220. This meritorious (text) should be read in a holy temple, monastery, banks of rivers and lakes, or a holy forest region or in the house of Brāhmaṇas well-versed in the Vedas and never in any other place.

221. This should be particularly read on equinoctial days and on the days of the transit (of the Sun), on the holy Hari’s day (i.e. Ekādaśī day), on the eighth and the fourteenth lunar day.

222. This should be read in the months of Śrāvaṇa, Bhādrapada, Dhanus as well as in the Uttarāyaṇa (northern transit of the Sun).

223. O Brāhmaṇas, this glory should be read while observing certain restrictions (i.e. restrictions should be observed while reading). The listeners shall also observe those restrictions and listen to this excellent (text).

224-227. In this (text of the) glory, many holy Tīrthas are praised. So also excellent saintly kings of meritorious conduct are commemorated. In this excellent text, sages of great fortune are glorified. Dharma and Adharma are described in this meritorious text, O eminent Brāhmaṇas. The three deities Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra are praised in this. This is sacred. This is destructive of sins. This is supported by the meanings of the Śrutis. This is approved by the writers of Smṛti texts. This is liked by Sage Dvaipāyana. It should be listened to and read by one who desires his own welfare.

228. Something such as gold, etc. should be given to one who reads, in accordance with one’s capacity. One should not be fraudulent in the matter of expenditure in this connection.

229. This Śrāvaka (the man who reads and expounds) should be honoured by giving clothes, gold, grain, plot of land or cow in accordance with their capacity by the people who listen to (him).

230. If the Śrāvaka is honoured, the Trimūrtis (Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva) adored too are worshipped. If the Trimūrtis are worshipped, the three worlds are honoured.

231-234. Rāma, the son of Daśaratha who is Hari himself, incarnated on the earth accompanied by Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa, always bestows worldly pleasures here and salvation in the end, on the listeners and the expounder.

This extremely splendid Setumāhātmya has issued forth from the lotus-like mouth of Dvaipāyana. Accompanied by all his younger brothers, Bhīmasena and others, Dharmarāja Yudhiṣṭhira listened to this everyday along with his army even as the great sage Dhaumya, his priest, read it out. He strictly adheres(-ed) to the code of good conduct and holy observances.

Śrī Sūta said:

235-237. O ye ail ascetics, residents of Naimiṣa forest, this sacred Māhātmya which is on a par with the Śruti has been heard by you all from me. You were observing all the restrictions. Read this respectfully always. Teach this always to your disciples who too strictly observe the restrictions.

After saying this to those sages, Sūta who experienced thrill and had hair standing all over his body, mentally remembered Vyāsa, his preceptor. He began to dance shedding tears (of joy).

238. In the meantime, the excessively learned great sage, the son of Parāśara, appeared there suddenly with a desire to bless his disciple.[6]

239-240. On seeing that the sage, the son of Satyavatī, had come, Sūta prostrated at the lotus-like feet of Vyāsa along with all those residents of Naimiṣa forest. The tears of joy flowed from his eyes.

241. The sage lifted up his prostrating disciple with his hands. He uttered words of blessings. He embraced him again and again.

242. Dvaipāyana, the ascetic of great splendour, sat on the excellent seat brought by the sages of Naimiṣa forest.

243. When the sages had reoccupied their seats, when Sūta too sat down at his bidding, the grandson of Śakti spoke to all those sages including Śaunaka:

244. “O residents of the Naimiṣa forest, all this was known by me that the excellent glory of Setu has been recounted to you all by Sūta, my disciple. It is destructive of sins.

245-246. This is the full and ultimate meaning of Śrutis, Smṛtis, Purāṇas, other Śāstras and Itihāsas. This glory (of Setu) is great. This is honoured by me in all the Purāṇas.

247-249a. At my bidding, Dharmarāja (Yudhiṣṭhira) listens (used to listen) to this always from Dhaumya. Hence you too should always read and listen to the excellent glory of the Setu. Teach this unto your disciples too.”

On hearing these words of his, they said, “So it shall be, of course.”

249b-250. Thereafter, accompanied by his disciple Sūta, Vyāsa took leave of all the sages and went to the Kailāsa mountain.

The sages with their abode in the Naimiṣa forest became contented. They listen to and read Setumāhātmya everyday.

:: End of Setumāhātmya ::

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

As will be seen from the list, most of these places are in Tamil Nadu and Andhra. It shows that the author is a southerner.

Puṇḍarīkapura also mentioned in NP 11.73 is noted for the Liṅga of Mahādeva installed by Jaimini. But De 147 identifies it with Pandharpur in Solapur District of Maharashtra. But Pandhapur is famous for its Viṭṭhala (Viṣṇu) shrine and not for Jaimini’s Mahādeva.

[2]:

The following are the locations of the holy places mentioned here:

Madhyārjuna: Tiruvidaimaruḍūr, six miles east of Kumbhakonam and 20 miles from Tanjore, Tamil Nadu. It is famous for its temple. It was visited by Śaṅkarācārya (De 116).

Kuṃbhakoṇa or Kuṃbhaghoṇa: An ancient centre of learning in Tanjor District, Tamil Nadu. A celebrated temple of Śiva and a sacred tank called Kuṃbhakarṇa Kapāla are the special features of this sacred place (De 107).

Māyūra: Māyāpurī or Haradwar U.P. (De 129).

Śrīparvata: In Karnool District, Andhra Pradesh.

Vedāraṇya: A forest in Tanjor with the hermitage of Agastya. It is 5 miles north of point Calimere (De 28).

Śrīraṅga: Two miles north of Trichinopoly, Tamil Nadu. It is famous for the Viṣṇu (Śrī Raṅgam) Temple.

Cidaṃbara: Tamil Nadu. It has the sky (Vyoma) aspect of the Śìva-Liṅga.

Aruṇācala: Tiruvannamalai in South Arcot Dist., Tamil Nadu. The Śiva Liṅga hereof is the Teja (Fire) form of Śiva.

[3]:

Most of these places are identified previously. A few more are added here.

Kuraṅgaka: Koringa near the mouth of Godāvarī (De 109).

Madhurā: Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

[4]:

The following verses give the detailed Phalaśruti of reading/reciting/hearing this Māhātmya.

[5]:

The fruit acquired by one who gets this Māhātmya written and gifts this (as a dāna) to a Brāhmaṇa is described in this chapter.

[6]:

VV 238ff: an apt concluding glorification of this Māhātmya.

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