The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Episode of Balahaka: The Glory of Govatsa Linga 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 Dharmaranya-khanda of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 27 - The Episode of Balāhaka: The Glory of Govatsa Liṅga

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:

1. There, very near it (Dvārāvatī), is the holy place named Govatsa, seen by Mārkaṇḍa. It is well-known all over the earth.

2. The Lord of Aṃbikā, the lord of the worlds, had incarnated in the form of a calf of cow and stayed as a self-revealed Liṅga.

3. There was a king named Balāhaka. He was a devotee of Rudra. He was extremely mighty. He, a subjugator of enemies’ cities, was keenly engaged in hunting.

4-5. An infantryman of the king saw a cow-calf standing in a herd of deer. The king was informed: “A curious, thing was seen by me, O excellent king. A cow-calf was seen by me standing in the middle of a herd of deer. It had no mother and it was attached to these deer.”

6. The king was eager to see it (that curious phenomenon). He asked the infantryman standing in front him to show the cow-calf.

7-8. They went to the forest. The calf was pointed out by the infantryman to the king. The herd of deer became frightened by the soldier. The cow-calf went towards a grove of palms. Eager to capture it, the king entered the grove carefully.

9. The king himself saw the cow-calf standing there. When he attempted to catch it, it turned into a brilliant Liṅga.

10. On seeing it, the king was surprised and thought, ‘What is this?’ Even as he thought thus, he cast off the body and went to heaven.

11. In the meantime, all around under the sky, the word “Victory” pronounced by Devas was heard. A shower of flowers fell from the sky and instantaneously the king went to the region of Śiva.

12-13. There he saw the cow-calf of Śiva stationed as a child. (He thought:) ‘Certainly this is the great Lord Maheśvara in the form of a calf.’ Bent upon taking it away, the king lifted it but that divine Liṅga could not be lifted up. Thereupon the Devas along with him (the king) prayed to the Lord.

The Devas said:

14. O holy lord, lord of all the Devas, your lordship, desirous of the welfare of all the worlds should stay in the form of this white Liṅga.

The great lord said:

15-18. O gods, I shall stay here permanently in the form of a Liṅga. Since ṃis day is the new-moon day in the month of Bhādrapada, if people take their holy bath in accordance with the injunctions and worship the Liṅga, they shall never have anything to fear.

In case some of their ancestors have fallen into the terrible hells of Raurava and Kuṃbhīpāka or in many other hells because of the omission of the offerings of balls of rice and have been rotting there for many years, or have taken birth as brutes, they will have everlasting benefit by offering the balls of rice here once.

19-20. Then King Balāhaka, accompanied by all the Devas, installed that Liṅga in the presence of all the Devas. With a desire for the benefit of all the people, he made many gifts. Even as he was adoring, Rudra himself came there.

Rudra said:

21-25. Never-ending is the merit of those men who worship the lord of Devas on this night with faith and devotion. Those men who keep awake the whole night singing and discussing the scriptures shall uplift hundred and one members of their families.

The holy spots Naimiṣa, Puṣkara, Gayā, Prayāga and Prabhāsa, Dvārakā, Mathurā and Arbuda (Mount Abu) roar (glorify themselves) only as long as the Liṅga, Govatsa (cow-calf), the extremely miraculous Liṅga, is not seen.

Even when some scion of the family feels the inclination to go to Govatsa, all the ancestors of that member certainly feel delighted and dance.

Sūta said:

26. O Brāhmaṇas, listen to another wonderful event that took place there. Merely by listening to it, all sins will be destroyed.

27-28. When the ancient Liṅga was installed by all the gods, due to the merit of the installation by Viṣṇu and all heaven-dwellers, it began to increase everyday. Thereupon men and gods who became afraid sought refuge in him.

Devas said:

29. Check and withdraw your growth (in size), O lord of the worlds. That will bring in the welfare of all the worlds.

When this was requested, an unembodied speech emerged from the Liṅga.

Śiva’s Speech said:

30. O people, do not be afraid. Let this remedy be heard. Let a Cāṇḍāla be brought and settled before me permanently.

31. They brought Cāṇḍālas and placed them in front of the deity. Still its growth in size did not stop.

The Speech said:

32-33. May someone who is a Cāṇḍāla by his mean action be placed in front of me, O people.

On hearing that extremely surprising pronouncement, they intended to find one. Searching villages and cities, they saw a sinner of mean action, a sham and a mere namesake of a Brāhmaṇa.

34-35. At midday the cruel fellow used to load bullocks (though) emaciated due to hunger, thirst and fatigue and made them work. Without taking bath, that Brāhmaṇa used to eat stale articles of food. The Devas took him to the place where the lord of the universe was installed.

36-38. Eagerly they made him stand in the foreground of the shrine. Viewed in front of the cow-calf, he became reduced to ash instantly. This spot shall become famous in the world as Cāṇḍālasthala. Even today the palatial shrine is not seen by the people standing there. Thenceforth, the Liṅga always assumed its normal state in size. The Brāhmaṇa who had become cleansed of all sins by viewing the Liṅga went to the holy pool.

39-40. After the sins had been removed, he worshipped Govatsa everyday. He went there particularly on the fourteenth day of the miraculous act of the Trident-bearing Lord. He who listens to this story devoutly becomes rid of all sins.

Sūta said:

41-42. This shrine, well-known as Govatsa, is highly conducive to the merit of all men. It has been declared by Mārkaṇḍeya as one that destroys the sins of many births. Holy ablution, had even once in that holy pool, accords the world of Rudra to men. It is to be resorted to for the purpose of purifying the sinful body of those people who are polluted by sins.

43. In Kali age, one gets satisfaction even at the end of a fortnight by performing the Tarpaṇa (libation) at the well and Śrāddha at the shrine, especially in the month of Bhādrapada.

44. The great satisfaction obtained by the Pitṛs when the Tarpaṇa is performed twenty-one times at Gayā, is obtained by doing it only once in Gaṅgākūpa.

45. In the vicinity of Govatsa itself stands Gaṅgākūpaka. Those who are propitiated by libations of gingelly seeds therein, attain beatitude.

46. The Pitṛs go to heaven from hell on account of the excellent merit and superior intellect. Great sages praise the gift of cows in that holy spot.

47-48. Making a gift of gold to a Brāhmaṇa takes a man to the region of Rudra. River Sarasvatī, the shrine of Śiva and Gaṅgā at Gaṅgākūpaka—all these three are in one place, and they are the causes of heaven and salvation. This holy spot resorted to by sages and Siddhas it well-known everywhere.

49. There are two Pīlu trees (variety of palm) in that holy spot. It is resorted to by sages. By taking a holy dip here, one goes to heaven. If the water is drunk, it removes sins and sanctifies the man.

50-53. By glorifying it, one gets more merits. By resorting to it becomes extremely conducive to salvation. Sinners of various sorts such as a Brāhmaṇa-slayer, mother-slayer, killer of children, cow-slayer, murderer of women and Śūdras, one who gives poison, one guilty of arson, those who are bent on tormenting elders, those who censure ascetics, those who commit perjury, one who magnifies the defects of others in his speech and one who wilfully conceals good qualities of others, in fact, one who is guilty of all these sinful deeds, become released (from the sins) by visiting the Liṅga.

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