by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Worlds Of Indra And Agni which is chapter 10 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 tenth chapter of the Purvardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
1. What is this excellent city that accords much delight to the eyes and a great deal of pleasure to the mind? Who is the Lord thereof?
The attendants said:
2. O glorious Śivaśarman whose pilgrimage to sacred places (v.l., people whose pilgrimage to holy places) has become a fruitful tree sport about in this world. O Brāhmaṇa, this is the city of the thousand-eyed Indra.
3. It has been built by Viśvakarman through the great power of penance. The places hereof have the splendour of the moonlight even during the day.
4. Whenever during the New-Moon day (and other occasions) the moon becomes invisible, he sends (secretly) his wife Jyotsnā (Moonlight) to move about among these mansions.
5. It is surprising indeed that an immature lady among the celestial women sees her own reflection in the excellent walls of (her house) and begins to suspect that another lady has already come in, and therefore (feeling jealous) she does not enter her own apartment.
6. Even during the day time, darkness stays in this city without fear, after transferring its own blackness on the mansions built of sapphire.
7. People here in this city, collect in their pots the pure water oozing out of the Candrakānta Crystals (moonstones) and never desire any other type of water.
8. There are neither weavers nor goldsmiths here, because the wish-yielding Kalpa-tree supplies clothes and ornaments.
9. Astrologers clever in the art of calculation are not present here, because the fabulous philosopher’s stone (Cintāmaṇi) calculates and understands quickly the innermost thoughts and desires of everyone.
10. There are no cooks here efficient in the art of preparation of beverages and juices, because the cow Kāmadhenu alone yields all types of juices by way of milk.
15. Nothing is more excellent than the status of Indra in the heavenly worlds. Whatever glory and prosperity is in the three worlds, cannot be on a par with his (Indra’s) prosperity.
16. What else can be as holy and as great as that which is acquired in exchange for a thousand horse sacrifices?
19. The seven (other) Guardians of the world serve and adore him. He is honoured with blessings by the excellent sages, Nārada and others.
20. The stability of all the worlds is wished for through the stability of this (lord). All the three worlds will be defeated at the defeat of Mahendra.
23. Whoever keeps all his senses under control and performs a hundred sacrifices without any hindrance on the earth, gets Pulomajā (Śacī) in the city of Amarāvatī.
26. Bold men never uttering timid words, those who never turn back in battles and those who lie down in the battlefield (lit. hero’s bed)—those kings stay here.
27. Thus, in general, the situation of the city of Mahendra has been recounted. Those who invariably perform sacrifices, are experts in the science and technique of sacrifices reside here.
28. See this splendid Arciṣmatī, the city of the Fire-god. Those who are devotees of Fire-god and observe excellent vows, reside here.
29. Persons with steadfast Sattva quality and with control over the organs of sense and action entering the blazing fire (for self-immolation), women richly endowed with Sattva quality—all these possess fiery splendour.
30. Brāhmaṇas engaged in Agnihotra, men observing the vow of celibacy, keeping the sacred fire blazing, those who observe the holy vow of Pañcāgni—all these attain the region of Fire and possess fiery splendour.
31. He who makes a gift of bundles of fuel in winter season for the purpose of warding off cold as well as of ovens of fire, shall reside near Fire-god.
32. He who, with great faith, performs cremation and consecration with fire of a helpless person or, if he is incapable himself, urges others to do so, is honoured in the world of Fire-god.
35. A man of meritorious soul who gives a person of chronic indigestion, medicines kindling the gastric fire, shall live in the world of Agni for a long time.
34. He who offers in accordance with his capacity, articles essential for a sacrifice or money for the sake of sacrifice, shall reside in Arciṣmatī.
35. Agni alone is the greatest god bringing about salvation to Brāhmaṇas; he is the preceptor, God, religious vow, holy spot. Nay, Agni is decisively everything.
36. All unholy and unclean things become purified in a moment due to contact with fire. Hence Agni is spoken as Pāvaka (‘purifier’).
37. Even after studying the Vedas, if one abandons sacrificial fire and cultivates interest elsewhere, he is not a genuine Brāhmaṇa knowing the Vedas.
38. Certainly Fire-god is the immanent soul. It may very well burn (reduce) the external flesh in the belly of women but not the foetus in the womb.
39. The fiery form of Śaṃbhu is of scorching feature. It is the creative, destructive and sustaining force. What is there to be seen without it?
40. This Citrabhānu (Fire) is the eye of the Lord of the three worlds himself. In the world of blinding darkness who else is the illuminator excepting him (Fire)?
42. Who is this Kṛśānu (Fire)? Whose son is he? How is this fiery region obtained by him? Recount this to me.
The attendants replied:
43. Listen, O highly intelligent one. We shall describe duly who he is, whose son he is and how the city of Jyotiṣmatī was obtained by him.
45. He was in the Brahmacarya (celibate) stage of life firmly established therein. He was always engaged in Brahmayajña [the holy Yajña (adoration) of the study of Vedas]. He belonged to Śāṇḍilya Gotra. He was pure, a storehouse of Brāhmaṇical splendour, a man of great self-control.
46. He had understood the meanings of all scriptural texts. He was an expert in social conventions and pious practices. Once he meditated on Maheśvara and thought in his heart thus:
47. ‘Which among the four stages of life, is more conducive to the welfare of good people, by properly practising which a man attains happiness here and hereafter?’
48. He pondered over everything carefully and from several points of view: ‘This is beneficial’, ‘This also is beneficial’, ‘This may be easy to do’, and ultimately praised the stage of a householder.
49. To the religious student, the householder, the forest-dweller or the recluse, it is the householder who acts as the supporter and no one else.
50. Devas, human beings, manes and lower animals—all depend upon the householder everyday. Hence the householder is the most excellent one.
51. The householder who partakes of food without bathing, without performing Homo or without making any gift becomes indebted to Devas and others and falls into hell.
52. One who eats without bathing, eats dirt; one who takes in without performing Japa, drinks putrid blood; one who eats without performing Homa, eats worms; and one who eats without making a gift eats special diet of faeces.
53. Celibacy in the course of a householder’s life is free from self-deception. How can such a celibacy be found in a bachelor whose mind is naturally fickle?
54. A bachelor adopts celibacy out of circumstantial compulsion or fear of the public or for some selfish ends. If he indulges in thinking (about wedded bliss), the celibacy adopted by him is no better than non-existent.
55. A householder is considered to be a celibate if he avoids (contact with) other men’s wives, is fully satisfied with his wife, carnally enjoying her only on stipulated days after the menstrual bath.
56. A householder who is without undue attachment and hatred, who is devoid of lust and anger, who has a wife and who maintains sacrificial fire, is far better than a forest-dweller.
57. After leaving the house with a feeling of sudden disgust and strong aversion (to householder’s life), if a forest-dweller ruminates over the pleasant features of a domestic life, he becomes fallen from both; he is neither a true forest-dweller nor a householder.
58. A householder who maintains (himself and his family) through a means of livelihood that has come to his lot and which does not involve begging, is contented with whatever is received, is far better than a religious mendicant.
59. A recluse who happens to request (beg) at any time for anything even if it be difficult to obtain, if he be discontented with his victuals, he becomes fallen.’
60. After considering the various merits and demerits thus, the Brāhmaṇa Viśvānara married a girl from a good family befitting him, in accordance with the injunctions (in the Śāstras).
61. He was regular in attending to the worship of the sacred fire. He regularly performed the five Yajñas; he engaged himself in all the six duties laid down in the scriptures; he was devoted to gods, manes and guests.
62. The couple had perfect mutual adjustment, free from any apprehension. He thus earned piety, wealth and love in their respective stages of life. He was always in a proper communion with the Supreme Soul.
63. Well-versed in Karmakāṇḍa (Section of Rituals in scriptures), he performed all the rites pertaining to the Devas in forenoon, those connected with human beings in midday and those with Pitṛs in afternoon.
64-65. Thus a long time passed by. The Brāhmaṇa’s wife named Śuciṣmatī continued to observe holy vows like the wife of Kama (Rati). She could not see (i.e. beget) a son that could have been a means of attaining heaven. She realized that her husband was her sole benefactor. (Once) she bowed down to him and submitted:
66. O son of a noble family, of noble intelligence, O Lord of my vital breath, O my beloved one, fond of holy observances! Due to the worship of your feet, there is nothing inaccessible to me.
67. All the enjoyment which women usually take pleasure in, have been enjoyed by me, with your favour. I had the fullest enjoyment of these and I shall recount them.
68. The enjoyments are of eight varieties: good garments, good houses, good bedsteads, good female attendants, garlands, betel leaves, food and beverages usually enjoyed by persons who perform their duties.
69. But, O lord, one unfulfilled wish has always been within my heart for a long time. It is something in which householders revel. It behoves you to give it to me.
70. O lady of fair hips, O lady desirous of my pleasure and welfare, what is there that cannot be given to you? Hence do request me. O auspicious lady, I shall give it without delay.
71. O auspicious lady, with the favour of Lord Śiva, there is nothing that I cannot get here or hereafter, since I work for the welfare of all.
72-73. On hearing these words of her husband, she who considered her husband as a divine being, became glad. With a beaming face she said: “O lord, if a boon is to be given to me, if I am considered worthy of a- boon, I don’t wish to choose any other boon. O sinless devotee of Maheśvara, give me a son like Maheśa himself.”
74. On hearing these words spoken by Śuciṣmatī that virtuous one meditated for a moment and thought thus in his heart:75-76. ‘Alas, what is this? A rare thing has been requested for by this lady; it is far away from the path of (i.e., beyond the ken of) even mental wish. Or let it be. He is the creator of everything.
It is by Śaṃbhu himself that these words were uttered by staying in her tongue in the form of Goddess of Speech. Who can make his utterance otherwise. It is bound to happen’.
77. Then that glorious sage Viśvānara who strictly adhered to the vow of having a single wife, told his wife: “O beloved, this will happen.”
He repeatedly bowed down to all the Suns—the chief of whom was Lolārka; without any lethargy, he offered balls of rice in all the holy spots.
He pleased ascetics and Brāhmaṇas through Sahasra-bhojana etc. (feeding a thousand persons, simultaneously) and devoutly he worshipped all the Liṅgas with all the requisite services due to great Pūjās.
Thereafter, he continuously pondered over the question: ‘Which Liṅga will accord the accomplishment of desires immediately? Where will the austerities performed with the desire for a son be steady throughout?
[The enumeration of the various Liṅgas:]
[Note: For their locations vide Infra Ch. 73.]
86-96. Is it the glorious Oṃkāranātha or is it Kṛttivāseśvara? Kāleśa, Vṛddhakāleśa, Kalaśeśvara, Kedāreśa, Kāmeśa, the thre-eeyed Lord Candreśa, Jyeṣṭheśa, Jaṃbukeśa, Jaigiṣavyeśvara, Īśāna of Daśāśvamedha, Drumicaṇḍeśa, Dṛkkeśa, Garuḍeśa, Gokarṇeśa, Gaṇeśvara, Ḍhuṇḍhyāśāgajasiddheśa, Dharmeśa, Tārakeśvara, Nandikeśa, Nivāseśa, Patrīśa, Prītikeśvara, Paśupati in the form of Parvateśa, Brahmeśa, Madhyameśvara, Bṛhaspatīśvara or Vibhāṇḍeśvara i.e., Tilabhāṇḍeśvara? Is it Bhārabhūteśvara or Mahālakṣmīśvara? Marutteśa, Mokṣeśa, Gaṅgeśa, Narmadeśvara, Mārkaṇḍa, Maṇikarṇīśa, Ratneśvara or Yoginīpīṭha that bestows good results on the aspirant, Yāmuneśa, Lāṅgalīśa, the glorious lord, Viśveśvara, Avimukteśvara, Viśālākṣīśa, Vyāghreśvara, Varāheśa, the bull-emblemed lord, Vyāseśa, Varuṇeśa, Vidhīśa, Vasiṣṭheśa, Śanīśvara, Someśvara, Indreśa, Svarlīna, Saṅgameśvara, Hariścandreśvara, Harikeśeśvara, Trisandhyeśa, Mahādeva, Upaśāntiśiva, Bhavānīśa, Kapardīśa, Kandukeśa, Makheśvara, or is it Mitrāvaruṇeśa?
97. ‘Which among these bestows a son soon?’ Thus the wise sage Viśvānara pondered for a moment.
98. ‘Oh! I have recollected what was forgotten. My desire is fulfilled. The Liṅga resorted to by Siddhas is the greatest and it causes the fulfilment of all (desires).
99. By visiting it and touching it, the mind becomes exhilarated. Here the portals of heaven are always kept open.
100-105. Goddess Vikaṭā, the manifest personification of all Siddhis, is present in the great pedestal Pañcamudrā which bestows Siddhis on all living beings. She urges the Lord of Devas (Indra) day and night, for the requisite worship.
Siddhivināyaka himself removes all the obstacles of the devotees staying here, and accords all Siddhis. That Siddhikṣetra is the greatest holy spot in Avimukta. It is there that Vīreśvara Liṅga is present, which is considered to be possessing great secrets. There is no ground to the extent of even a gingelly seed in Kāśī, that is without a Liṅga. But there is no other Liṅga on a par with Vīreśa bestowing Siddhi soon. It bestows piety, wealth, love and salvation perfectly. Certainly, there is no other Liṅga like Vīreśvara in Kāśī. Formerly, a Gandharva Pañcasvara attained great Siddhi here.
106-112. A Vidyādhara became one with excellent learning. The king of Yakṣas became fully enriched. Formerly, the most excellent one among Apsarās of a sweet voice like a cuckoo, began to dance with great feeling and fervour and got merged in the middle of the Liṅga along with her body.
Numerous Siddhas, thousands of them, have attained Siddhi here. Hence Vīreśvara is stated as the greatest Siddhaliṅga.
116. I too shall propitiate Vīreśa thrice (a day) and shall soon beget a son as desired by my wife.’
117. After mentally resolving thus, the intelligent Brāhmaṇa Viśvānara became contented. He took his holy bath with the water of Candrakūpa-well and decided to observe a holy vow.
118. For one month, he took only a single meal a day; for (the next) one month he took food only at night; for (the next) one month he never begged anyone for food and for (the next) one month, he completely eschewed intake of food.
119. For one month he observed the milk-vow (took in only milk); for (the next) one month he had greens and fruits for food; for (the next) one month he took a handful of gingelly seeds everyday as food; and for (the next) one month water alone was his intake.
120. For one month he took in Pañcagavya; for (the next) month he observed the rite of Cāndrāyaṇa; for (the next) one month he drank water through the tips of K uśa grass; and for (the next) one month he had air alone as his diet.
121-122. Then in the thirteenth month, the Brāhmaṇa took his bath in the waters of Gaṅgā early in the morning. By the time this devotee with austerities as his wealth came to the shrine of Vīreśa, he saw in the middle of the Liṅga an eight year old splendid boy beautified by the application of Bhasma.
123. His eyes were large, extending to the ears. His lips were perfectly red in colour. He had beautiful, tawny, matted hairs on his head. He had a smiling face. He was naked.
124. With some ornaments befitting childhood, he captivated the minds of the onlookers. He was repeating Vedic hymns, even as he sportingly displayed broad smile.
125. On seeing him (the Brāhmaṇa) experienced horripilation (of joy). He gladly eulogized and exclaimed “Obeisance to you” again and again with a choking feeling.
126. The entire universe is Brahman itself, the one having no second. It is true, true; there is no diversity of objects here. Rudra is alone and single. There is no one second to him. Hence, I seek refuge in you, Maheśa, alone.
127. There is only one creator. O Śaṃbhu, you are the sole creator of all. You are devoid of form (really) and you appear to be of one form among the different forms like the same Sun appearing as many in different waters. Hence, I do not resort to any other īśa except you.
128. I resort to that Maheśa, on the realization of whom, this apparent universe vanishes even as the (appearance of a) serpent when the rope is known, as silver when oyster shell is known, as watery pool when mirage is known.
129. O Śaṃbhu, I resort to you who are coldness in water, power to burn in fire, warmth in the Sun, delightfulness in the Moon, fragrance in flowers and ghee in milk.
130. Who can perfectly comprehend you? You are without ears yet you perceive sound; you are without a nose yet you smell; you are without foot yet you come from afar; you are without eyes yet you see (everything); you are without tongue yet you (can) taste. Hence I resort to you.
131. The Vedas do not comprehend you directly, O īśa; nor Viṣṇu, nor the Creator of all, nor the leading Yogins, nor Devas, the chief of whom is Indra; but a devotee comprehends. Hence I resort to you.
132. O īśa, you have neither a family nor nativity, no name, no form, no habit, no native land. Even though you are of this nature, you are the lord of the three worlds. You will fulfil all my desires. Hence I worship you.
133. Everything originates from you, O enemy of Smara; you are everything. You are the Lord of Gaurī; you are naked and highly quiescent. You are aged, and you are the youth and child. What is it that you are not? Hence I bow down to you.
134. After eulogizing thus the Brāhmaṇa fell down on the ground like a log of wood with great delight. By then the boy, more aged than all the aged ones, spoke to the excellent Brāhmaṇa: “Choose a boon.”
135-136. Thereupon the contented sage Viśvānara got up with a delighted mind and replied: “O lord, what is it that is not known to you, the omniscient one? You are the innermost soul, the Lord; you are everything and the bestower of everything. Why does the Lord urge me for a humiliating importunity that causes mental anguish?”
137. On hearing the words of Viśvānara of pure vows and purity, the Lord, the child, smiled pleasantly and said:
The boy said:
138. O pure one, the desire created by you in the heart of Śuciṣmatī will be fulfilled ere long. There is no doubt about it.
139. O highly intelligent one, I shall be your son born of Śuciṣmatī, pure and fond of all immortal ones and well-known as Gṛhapati by name.
140. The prayer uttered by you, called ‘Abhilāṣāṣṭaka’ (‘a prayer in eight verses for the fulfilment of one’s desire’) is meritorious. By reciting it in the presence of Śiva three times everyday for a year, all desires will be obtained.
141. The recitation of this prayer bestows sons, grandsons and wealth. It causes all peace and quells all calamities.
142-147. There is no doubt about this that it is conducive to the attainment of heaven, liberation and wealth. The devotee should get up early in the morning and take his holy bath. Then he should worship the Liṅga of Śaṃbhu. He should recite this prayer for a year. A man without sons will become a father. In the months of Vaiśākha, Kārttika and Māgha, he should observe special vows and rites and recite this prayer at the time of bath. He shall get all benefits. As a result of propitiation in the month of Kārttika, I, the immutable one, shall become your son. So also, in the case of anyone else who reads this. This Abhilāṣāṣṭaka should not be given to anyone and everyone. It should be strenuously kept a secret. It can cause even a chronic barren woman deliver. Whether a woman or a man, the devotee should recite this for a year invariably in the presence of the Liṅga. Undoubtedly it bestows a son.
After saying this the boy vanished. The Brāhmaṇa too went home.
Footnotes and references:
Cf. Śvetaśvatara Up. 3.19.