by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Religious Vow to be Observed on Mondays: The Story of Simantini which is chapter 8 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 eighth chapter of the Brahmottara-khanda of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
1. Those who know the truth called ‘Śiva’, who is eternal bliss, quiescent, devoid of doubts, free from ailments, and bereft of beginning and end, have reached the highest state.
2. Those who have no worldly entanglement, those who are free from attachment to the enjoyment of worldly pleasures and lustful pursuits, those who have devotion to Śiva with no ulterior motive, are the wise ones. They attain salvation.
3. Those who direct their love towards Śiva even with the worldly pleasures in their mind, are not adversely affected by those worldly pursuits, even as they enjoy their benefits.
4. A man endowed with devotion to Śiva, irrespective of the motive thereof, does not perish. He attains the greatest goal in due course.
5. Desirous of ascending the highest region, a man attracted mentally to worldly pleasures, should worship Śaṃbhu along with regular activities. When the enjoyment of pleasures ends, he shall attain Śiva.
6. Generally no one is capable of renouncing entirely the keenness to enjoy worldly pleasures. Hence, the adoration in happy combination with regular activities, acts as the very wish-yielding divine cow unto all embodied beings.
7. This is the religious duty ordained for those who seek salvation at the end of the mortal body, after enjoying happiness for a long time, sporting about in the world, albeit, it is a creation of the illusive Māyā.
8. The worship of Śiva is always the cause of heavenly pleasures as well as absolute salvation, particularly when it is performed on Mondays associated with Praḍoṣa and such other auspicious occasions.
9. Nothing is difficult of access here and hereafter to those who perform the adoration of Śiva even on ordinary Mondays.
10. The devotee should restrain all sense-organs, observe fast and be perfectly pure on Monday and duly worship Śiva by means of Vedic hymns or ordinary prayers.
11. A religious student or a householder, a virgin or a married girl or even a widow obtains the desired boon by worshipping Śiva.
12. In this context I shall narrate a story that delights all those who listen to (it). On hearing this attentively they will have devotion to Śaṃbhu engendered in them and will attain salvation.
14. He was a protector of all religious institutions, chastiser of those who take to the evil path, performer of all types of Yajñas and saviour of those who seek refuge.
16. He begot powerfully brilliant sons of his wives faithful and favourably disposed towards him, and after a long time, a girl of excellent countenance, eagerly awaited for a long time.
18. Once he invited a good many excellent Brāhmaṇas conversant with the (astrological) characteristics of the newly born and prompted by curiosity asked them about the (future) events associated with the nativity of his daughter.
19-22. An excellent Brāhmaṇa among them, deep in knowledge, spoke thus: “This daughter of yours, O king, Sīmantinī by name, shall have everything auspicious and splendid like Umā; she will be having the beauty of form like Damayantī; conversant with all fine arts like Goddess Sarasvatī and endowed with greatly auspicious qualities like Lakṣmī. Like the mother of Devas, she will have excellent progeny; be steadfast in vows and observances like the daughter of Janaka; brilliant with excellent lustre like solar splendour and charming like moonlight. She will rejoice in the company of her husband for ten thousand years. She will beget eight sons and attain great happiness.”
23. The king honoured with monetary gifts the Brāhmaṇa who spoke thus and had the greatest pleasure by imbibing the nectar of his sweet words.
24. Another bold Brāhmaṇa of unmeasured splendour said: “In her fourteenth year she will be faced with widowhood.”
25. On hearing these words, cruel like a stroke of thunderbolt, the king became excessively agitated in his mind for a while.
26. All the Brāhmaṇas were sent off by the king who was favourable and friendly to them. Considering that everything was the handiwork of adverse fate, the king became free from anxiety.
27. The girl Sīmantinī passed the stage of childhood. From one of her friends she heard about her destined widowhood.
29. “O mother, I am extremely frightened and have sought refuge in your lotus-like feet. It behoves you to suggest some rite that will enhance my Saubhāgya (conjugal felicity).”
30. Thus, when the princess sought refuge in her, the chaste wife of the sage spoke to her: “O lady of tender limbs, seek refuge in Pārvath in the company of Śiva.
31-33. With mental and bodily purity, worship Śiva and Gaurī on Mondays. Observe fast, after taking the holy ablution and wearing dust-free (clean) garments. With steady mind and restrained speech, perform the befitting adoration, feed Brāhmaṇas and propitiate Śiva ardently.
By bathing (the Śiva Liṅga) there will be destruction of sins; by worshipping the pedestal one can gain an empire; by offering sweet scents, garlands and raw rice, one shall get complete happiness and conjugal bliss.
34. By offering incense one will get sweet odour; by offering lamps one will get brilliance; by offering foodstuffs one shall get enjoyment of pleasures; by offering betel leaves one will have prosperity.
35. By offering obeisance one gets religious merit, wealth, worldly pleasures and salvation. Japa alone is the cause of the achievement of the eight kinds of supernatural powers.
36. By performing Homa one will have increased realization of all cherished desires. By feeding Brāhmaṇas all the Devas will be propitiated.
37. Thus on Mondays propitiate Śiva and Śivā also. Even if you were to face great adversity, you will be absolutely free.
38. Even if you find yourself involved in the most terrible distress, you will cross the great danger by the power of the adoration of Śiva.”
39. After adominishing[?] and instructing Sīmantī thus, the chaste (wife of the sage) went away. The princess of great beauty did so (as she was advised).
41. At the instance of his preceptor, the excellent king Citravarmā invited that prince and gave his daughter Sīmantinī in marriage to him.
42. There were great festivities at the time of the celebration of her marriage. There was a great gathering of all kings at the time.
43. After the marriage, the satisfied Candrāṅgada spent a few months in the abode of his father-in-law.
44. Once the prince wanted to cross Yamunā. The mighty prince sportingly got on to a boat along with some of his friends.
45. While the prince was crossing Kālindī (Yamunā), the boat got caught up into a whirlpool and it drowned along with the boatmen.
46. There was a loud cry of lamentation on both the banks. The wailing of the soldiers who were watching the accident rose up to the sky.
47. Some were drowned. Some were swallowed by crocodiles. The prince and some others disappeared in the great expanse of water.
48. On hearing about it, King Citravarmā became bewildered and stunned. He came to the banks of Yamunā and became (unconscious and) motionless.
49. On hearing about this, the wives of the king swooned and fell. Sīmantinī too fainted and fell down on the ground.
50. Others too, the chief ministers, the ladies and the preceptors became worried and dismayed. With hairs dishevelled, they wailed and shouted.
51. On hearing it, the eminent king Indrasena became miserable for the accident that befell his son. He lost sense and fell down along with his queens.
52. His ministers, his citizens, the inhabitants of his realm including children, women and old men became grief-stricken and lamented.
53. Some beat their chests out of grief. Some hit their own heads. “Alas! O Prince! O dear one, where are you?” Saying thus, they wandered here and there.
54. Thus the city of King Indrasena and that of Citravarmā became agitated all of a sudden, involved as they were in the wretched state of grief.
55. Consoled by elderly people, King Citravarmā slowly returned to the city and tried to console his daughter.
56. With the help of the kinsmen who had come, the king performed all the obsequies of his son-in-law who was drowned.
57. The chaste lady Sīmantinī was at first thinking of going to the region where her husband had gone. But out of love, her father prevented her. Hence she resigned herself to the widowhood.
58. Despite the fact that she had become a widow, the princess of splendid behaviour did not abandon the excellent Monday Vrata (holy observance) as instructed by the wife of the Sage.
59. Thus she faced the terrible misery in her fourteenth year. Meditating on the lotus-like feet of Śiva, she passed three years.
60. Already King Indrasena was more or less out of his senses due to the death of his son. Further his kinsmen forcibly occupied his realm consisting of the usual seven constituents.
61. The king who had no other progeny was deprived of his throne by his powerful kinsmen. Moreover, he was confined in prison along with his wives.
62. His son Candrāṅgada who had drowned in the waters of Yamunā went deep into the river and saw serpent damsels.
63. They were engaged in aquatic sports. They were surprised on seeing the prince. They then took him to Pātāla, the abode of serpents.
64. Hurriedly led by the serpent maidens, the prince entered the wonderfully beautiful city of Takṣaka.
65-72. The prince saw that city resembling the abode of Mahendra. It was illuminated by rays issuing from big jewels. There were hundreds of palaces made of diamonds, Lapis lazuli and crystals, with the main gateways made of rubies. They shone with pearl necklaces. The ground was paved with Candrakānta slabs and the doors were made of gold. The brightness was enhanced by thousands of gemset lamps.
There in the midst of his assembly he saw Takṣaka, the king of serpents, seated on a gemset throne. His hundreds of hoods shone brilliantly. He was clad in divine garments. He appeared brilliant with gemset ear-rings. Crowns set with many jewels added to his lustre.
Innumerable excellent serpents who radiated rays from the gems in their hoods and who were themselves adorned with gems, attended on him with palms joined in reverence. He was surrounded by a thousand Nāga maidens remarkably shining with beauty, youth, sweetness, seductive charms and amorous gaits. His limbs glittered with divine ornaments. His body was smeared with divine sandal-paste. He was formidably unassailable like the all-destroying fire at the end of the world. In ḥīs brilliance he vied with the sun.
73. On seeing him the bold prince bowed down to him in the assembly hall itself. Then he got up and stood with palms joined in reverence. The brilliance (of Takṣaka) dazzled his eyes.
74. On seeing the charming prince, the king of serpents asked the serpent damsels, “Who is this? Where has he come from?”
75. They said: “He was by chance seen by us in the waters of Yamunā. We do not know his name or family. He has been brought into your presence as he is.”
76. The prince was then asked by the noble-souled Takṣaka: “Who are you? Whose son? What is your native land? How did you happen to come here?”
77. Hearing his words the prince said:
The Prince said:
78-81. There is on the earth a kingdom named Niṣadha. A famous king named Nala ruled it. That king of meritorious renown was the splendid husband of Damayantī. A son of great might was born of him named Indrasena. I am his son named Candrāṅgada. Soon after marriage, I was staying in my father-in-law’s abode. While sporting about in the water of Yamunā, I got drowned as was destined. I have now been brought near you by these serpent damsels, that I could see your lotus-like feet. I am blessed; I am blessed today. My parents also are blessed, because I was seen and talked to by you out of pity.
82. On hearing these exquisite, unflurried, pleasing words, Takṣaka was prompted by curiosity and he asked the prince:
83. O scion of the family of a king, do not be afraid. Be bold. Among all the Devas which Deva is always worshipped by you?
The prince said:
84. The Lord who is remembered as Mahādeva among all the Devas, that cosmic-souled Śiva, the consort of Umā, is worshipped by us.
86. That Śiva from whose parts the eternal Viṣṇu possessed the divine quality of Sattva and is able to sustain the universe as the Bhūtātmā (‘Immanent soul of all living beings’), is worshipped by us.
88. The Śiva is our ultimate goal, who is the creator of Creator Brahmā, the cause of all causes and the greatest refulgence of all refulgent luminaries.
89. That Śiva is our greatest goal who, though existing very near, appears to be far off unto those whose minds are affected by sins, and whose power is unlimited.
90. That cosmic-souled Sadāśiva is worthy of being worshipped by us, who abides in the elements such as Fire, Earth, Wind, Water and Ether.
91. That Śiva is being worshipped by us who is the eternal witness unto all living beings, is immanent in the soul as the unsullied one, and whose will controls the world.
92. That Śiva is our goal, whom they speak of as the (only) one, ancient, primordial Puruṣa, untouched by the aberrations of the Guṇas, whom some call Kṣetrajña (‘knower of the field i.e. body’), others call Turīya (‘the fourth one’) and still others Kūṭastha (‘the immovable, unchangeable Supreme Soul abiding in the heart’).
93. That Supreme Śiva is worthy of adoration to us, whom mental operations cannot touch, whose ultimate (real) truth is incomprehensible, whose brilliance is beyond any limitation, whose real form is of the nature of ‘not that’ (expressed in words ‘neti neti’), (who is beyond the reach of) the activities of the mind and speech of individual souls.
94. That Śiva is our goal, after getting whose favour good men never desire even the glamorous post of Indra and they move about fearlessly after transcending the wheel of time and warding off the fastening bolt of mundane activities.
95. We perform the adoration of that Śiva always, whose (mere) remembrance immediately eradicates all the ailments resulting from sins in their entirety, of even those who are born as Pulkasas, and whose real form is worthy of being sought by the Śruti.
96. That Lord with the crescent moon for his crest-jewel is our ultimate goal, on whose head the celestial river has found a niche, whose body is shared by the Goddess, the Mother of the universe, and whose ear-rings are constituted by Takṣaka and Vāsuki.
97. That Īśa who has conquered the creations of the Guṇas, whose lotus-like feet reign gloriously on the top of the sacred scriptures, whose form is ever present in the hearts of Yogins and whose divine features illuminate all the principles, is being worshipped by us.
98. On hearing his words, Takṣaka became delighted in his mind. With his devotion to Mahādeva kindled, he spoke to the prince:
99. O son of an eminent king, welfare unto thee. I am pleased with you, because though yet a boy, you know the highest truth of Śiva that is greater than the greatest.
100. Here the world is full of jewels. These girls have charming eyes. These are all wish-yielding Kalpa trees. These wells have nectarine juice for their water.
101. Here there is no fear from the terrible death; there is no afflication due to old age and ailments. Sport about here as you please. Enjoy all the pleasures as you deem fit.
102. On being told thus by the king of serpents, that prince of large-hearted nature, stood with palms joined in reverence and spoke with delight:
103. “I was married with a wife at the proper time. My wife observes religious vows and restrictions regularly. She is always devoted to the worship of Śiva. I am the only son of my parents.
104. They are, to be sure, overwhelmed with great grief considering me to be dead. Most probably, they too are dead or luckily they might have somehow managed to be alive.
105. Hence, I must not prolong my stay here. Kindly take me back to that world.”
106-107. When the prince spoke thus, the king of serpents fed him with excellent divine food offered by the wish-yielding celestial trees. He made him happy further by means of excellent scents, garments, garlands and divine gemset ornaments of divine characteristics. He pleased him with all types of enjoyments and spoke, “Whenever you remember me, I shall gladly reveal myself to you.”
108-110. Takṣaka gave the prince a horse that could go wherever one wished it to go, and which went unhindered over different continents, oceans and worlds. He gave him jewel-set ornaments and fabrics of divine and superhuman origin. The serpent king presented him with a Rākṣasa who would carry (his luggage). There was a serpent boy to assist him. After offering all these, Takṣaka sent him off with great delight.
111. Thus Candrāṅgada took with him all those rich presents. Seated on that horse able to move as he pleased, he set off accompanied by those two attendants.
112. In a short while he rose up from the waters of the rivers, and could sport about on the beautiful banks seated on the divine horse.
113. At the same time his slender, chaste wife Sīmantinī came there to bathe, surrounded by her female companions.
114. On the banks of the river, she saw the prince sporting about accompanied by the Rākṣasa who had assumed a human form and the son of a Nāga.
115. He was adorned with divine jewels, divine garlands and ornaments. The divine fragrance of his body spread over ten Yojanas.
116. On seeing that (prince) of unusual form and features riding a divine horse, she stood frightened as though stunned and rendered out of senses with her eyes fixed on him.
117-119. On seeing her, the prince seemed to remember her as one seen before, though she was now devoid of all ornaments round her neck, without even the auspicious (marital) thread (Maṅgalasūtra). Her tresses were dishevelled and uncombed. She had no unguents on her body. There was no blue collyrium in her eyes. She was lean and distressed with grief.
On seeing her, he got down from the horse and sat down on the banks. He invited her to him and spoke to her as she was seated:
120. “Who are you, O chaste lady? Whose wife are you? And whose daughter? Why are you so much distressed with unbearable grief at this early age (not yet out of teens)?”
121. On being asked so lovingly, the lady stood bashfully shedding tears. As she was unable to speak, her female companion spoke everything.
122-123. “This is the daughter-in-law of the king of Niṣadha, Sīmantinī by name. She is the crowned queen of Candrāṅgada and daughter of Citravarmā. As fate would have it, her husband drowned in the waters of this great river. Hence the girl obviously widowed, has become emaciated due to grief.
124. Thus she has spent three years bearing the excessive grief. Today being Monday, she has come here for her bath.
125. Her father-in-law, the great king, has been deprived of his kingdom by his enemies. He has been imprisoned along with his wife and kept under their control.
126. Still she continues to observe her splendid religious vows. The lady of pure heart worships Maheśvara in the company of Aṃbikā with great devotion.”
127. After thus intimating everything to him through her companion, Sīmantinī of great pious observances addressed the prince herself.
128-130. “Who are you? A Deva? A king? A Sidḍha? A Gandharva? Or a Kinnara? You are verily like Kandarpa (god of Love). Who are these two attendants of yours? What prompts you to enquire about me so lovingly? O mighty one, do you happen to know me? Have you seen me anywhere? You appear to be one seen before as though a near kinsman. Kindly narrate everything truthfully. Indeed good people give weightage to truth.”
131. After saying this much, the princess cried for a long time with her throat choked with tears. She fainted and fell down on the ground. Her female companions crowded round her. She could not utter anything further.
132. On hearing everything that caused grief to his beloved, Candrāṅgada kept silent for a short while, himself undergoing excessive grief.
133. He consoled his beloved wife by means of different words cleverly expressed. “Indeed we are Siddhas and Devas with ability to move about as we please”, he said.
134. Then he dragged her to him with force while she hesitated when he caught hold of her hand. Hairs stood on their ends all over her body. He spoke thus into her ear.
135-137. “O lady of excellent countenance, somewhere in this world your husband has been seen by me. He is delighted with your observances of vows. He will come quickly. Within two or three days he will surely remove your grief. I am a friend of your husband and have come here to tell this. In this respect no doubt need be entertained. I promise by the feet of Śiva. But let this be a secret well kept in your heart. It should not be revealed to anyone.”
138. On hearing his words flowing like nectar in hundreds of torrents, she looked at him frequently with dismay and excitement.
139-140. She carefully noted his loving words sweet like honey. Noting carefully his sweet side-glances and graceful charm, his body which was thrilled (with hair standing on their ends) at the touch of her hand, the characteristics of his person, tone, age and complexion, she suspected and thought:
141-146. ‘Surely this is my husband. It cannot be anyone else. My heart is agitated with love and is attached to him. How has he come here from the other world? How could he assume such a form as this? Unfortunate that I am, am I destined to see my lost husband? Is this a dream? No, no, this is no illusion. Is he a rogue? Is he a Yakṣa or a Gandharva? The wife of the sage had advised me to continue this pious observance even when I am in great adversity. Is this the fruit of that observance? An excellent Brāhmaṇa had predicted my conjugal bliss for ten thousand years. Indeed, have his words come true? Excepting Īśvara who will know these things? Everyday good omens forebode auspicious future. If the Consort of Pārvatī is pleased, what is impossible to be achieved by embodied beings?’
147. After pondering thus for a while, she became free from all doubts. While she stood with the face down due to bashfulness, he disclosed into her ear what he intended.
148. “Let us go near my parents who are grief-stricken to communicate this news. O fair lady, hail unto you! You shall get your husband soon.”
149. After saying thus, the prince mounted his horse and accompanied by both of them reached his kingdom in a trice.
150. He stood near the garden at the outskirts of the city and sent the son of Nāga to his kinsmen who had usurped the royal throne.
151-153. He went and informed them: “Let Indrasena be released quickly. Candrāṅgada, his son, has come from the world of serpents. You may soon abdicate the throne with no further hesitation. If not, the arrows of Candrāṅgada will take away your vital breaths. Diving into the waters of Yamunā, he went to the palace of Takṣaka. After getting his assistance, he has come here from that world.”
154. On hearing these words intimating the details, the enemies became agitated and said, “Very good!”
155. Everything was conveyed to Indrasena such as the return of the lost son and other things. They congratulated him on his regaining the throne. The kinsmen, as expected, became frightened inordinately.
156. All the citizens met the prince at the garden and conveyed the news to the king. They were sumptuously rewarded.
157. On hearing that the prince was approaching, the king’s eyes welled with tears of joy. Due to great joy, the queen too did not see properly things (in front in the) world.
158. All the citizens, the elderly ministers, the priests received him, embraced him and took him to the king.
159. With great festivity and pomp, the prince entered the palace, bowed down to his parents and shed tears of joy.
160. For a moment, the king could not recognize his son who fell at his feet. Reminded by his ministers, he somehow raised him up and embraced him with a melting heart.
161. The prince bowed down to his mothers in due order. With increased affection, they offered their blessings to him and embraced him. He then duly honoured all the citizens.
162-163. Seated amidst them, he reported everything that happened to him, to his father, such as the friendship of Takṣaka, the jewel and other rich presents given by the king of serpents, all those divine things brought by that Ṛākṣasa and similar things.
164. On seeing and hearing the incidents in the life of his son, the king became thrilled. He thought that the conjugal bliss of his daughter-in-law was a thing acquired by propitiating Maheśvara.
165. The king of Niṣadha conveyed this good news of great auspiciousness to King Citravarmā through his spies and errand boys.
166. On hearing the delightful news soothing like ambrosia, he got up with excitement. Rewarding them with adequate monetary gifts, he began to dance with joy.
167. With eyes brimming with tears of joy he called his daughter to him and adorned her with ornaments removing the signs of widowhood.
168. There was a great celebration and rejoicing in the cities and villages of the country. Everywhere the people praised the pious conduct of Sīmantinī.
169. King Citravarmā invited Indrasena’s son and offered his daughter to him going through the rites of marriage all over again.
170. With the jewels and other valuable things brought from the abode of Takṣaka, which were rare and inaccessible to human beings, Candrāṅgada adorned his wife.
171. With the divine unguent shining like molten gold and sweet scent spreading its fragrance ten Yojanas all round, she looked splendid.
172. Decorated with a never-fading garland having the colour and filaments of lotus coming from the wish-yielding Kalpa tree, the chaste lady shone all the more.
173. Having been reunited with his wife on an auspicious occasion, Candrāṅgada went back to his city blessed and congratulated by his father-in-law.
174. The eminent King Indrasena installed his son in his kingdom, propitiated Śiva by means of penance and attained the goal of those who practice self-control.
175. For ten thousand years King Candrāṅgada enjoyed various worldly pleasures along with his wife Sīmantinī.
176. She gave birth to eight sons and a beautiful daughter. Worshipping Maheśvara, Sīmantinī sported about with her husband. Day by day the conjugal bliss got augmented due to the Monday observance (worship of Śiva).
177. This wonderful narrative has been told by me. I shall further recount the greatness of the pious Monday observance.