The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes In Praise of Jnanavapi which is chapter 34 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 thirty-fourth chapter of the Purvardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 34 - In Praise of Jñānavāpī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Skanda said:

1-2. O Pot-born One, again the slim (slender-limbed) lady saw in the painted canvas, in front of Svargadvāra, the glorious Maṇikarṇikā where Śaṅkara touches with his right hand the ear of the creatures bitten by the serpent of worldly existence and instructs Brahma-knowledge to them.

3. This holy place of salvation shall grant that goal which cannot be attained by men either by Sāṃkhya imparted by Kapila, or by Yoga or by holy rites and observances.

4. Even in Vaikuṇṭha, the abode of Viṣṇu, those engrossed in devotion to Viṣṇu engage themselves in the Japa of the glorious Maṇikarṇikā for the sake of liberation.

5. This is that glorious Maṇikarṇikā which excellent Brāhmaṇas ultimately resort to for attaining salvation, even after performing Agnihotra throughout their life.

6. This is the glorious Maṇikarṇikā which Brāhmaṇas who, after duly reciting the Vedas, engaged themselves in Brahmayajña in this world, resort to for the sake of liberation.

7. After performing many Kratus with profuse monetary gifts the blessed kings resort to Maṇikarṇikā for the sake of excellence.

8. Chaste women too, always devoted to their husbands, resort to Maṇikarṇikā for salvation, by following (in death) their husbands (here).

9. Vaiśyas too who have accumulated wealth through legitimate means, entrust (by Dāna) their riches to holy men in the end and serve the glorious Maṇikarṇikā.

10. Excellent Śūdras treading the path of the moral code, leave off their sons, wives etc., and resort to this Maṇikarṇikā for the attainment of salvation.

11. Those who have conquered the sense-organs and practised celibacy throughout their life, resort to this glorious Maṇikarṇikā for the sake of salvation.

12. Even those persons in the householder’s stage of life, who propitiate guests (by due reception) and who are engrossed in the performance of Pañcayajñas do not abandon this Maṇikarṇikā.

13. Those who have adopted the stage of life of the Vānaprastha resort to Maṇikarṇika [Maṇikarṇikā?] after controlling all the sense-organs and knowing (it to be) the means of salvation.

14. From the diverse scriptural texts they know that salvation cannot be attained by any other means. Hence Ekadaṇḍa sages who desire salvation resort to Maṇikarṇikā.

15. Tridaṇḍin sages suppress their mind (by Prāṇāyāma), speech (by silence) and body always and resort to Maṇikarṇikā to attain the glory of salvation.

16. Persons observing the holy rite of Ekadaṇḍa, who have forsaken all activites and suppressed the fickle mind, resort to Maṇikarṇikā for attaining salvation.

17. Whether he be Śikhin (having tuft), or Muṇḍin (shavenheaded), Jaṭin (having matted hairs), Kaupīnin (having a loin cloth) or nude, which holy man desirous of salvation does not serve (resort to) Maṇikarṇikā?

18. Those who are unable to perform penance, or to make holy monetary gifts, those who do not have the practice of Yoga—to all these this Maṇikarṇikā accords salvation.

19. There are a thousand means of salvation, O sage. But none of them bestows salvation as easily as this Maṇikarṇikā.

20. Maṇikarṇikā bestows equal salvation in the end on both—on him who has undertaken the vow of fast and on him who takes food thrice a day.

21-22. A person may practise Pāśupata Vrata with great steadfastness in accordance with injunction as laid down in scriptures. Another person may continuously remember Maṇikarṇikā in his heart. If the body is cast into the river at Maṇikarṇikā, the goal attained by both is the same. Hence Maṇikarṇikā should be resorted to quickly after forsaking everything else.

23. Those who dive into Maṇikarṇikā and enter Svargadvāra become rid of all sins. Heaven is not far from them.

24. This Maṇikarṇikā is the gateway to heaven. It is the ground leading to both heaven and salvation. Heavenly goal as well as salvation is accessible here itself, neither above nor below.

25. After making many types of gifts and taking a bath in Maṇikarṇikā, people shall enter Svargadvāra. They shall never go to hell.

26. The meaning of the words Svarga and Apavarga has been settled by learned people: Svarga means happiness and Apavarga, great happiness (i.e., Mokṣa).

27. Though Indra is seated on a throne, where has he that happiness which one sitting in Maṇikarṇikā attains?

28. In the glorious Maṇikarṇikā, one gets naturally that great happiness which has been indicated in the meditation of those who forget themselves in contemplation.

29. To the east of Svargadvāra and to the west of the celestial river, there is a great territory, the sole storehouse of blessedness and good fortune.

30. As many sand particles shining due to the touch of the Sun (light) (are there, so many) Brahmās (the creators of the universe) passed away, but Maṇikarṇikā did not.

31. Around Maṇikarṇikā there are as many Tīrthas as would leave no space of the size of a gingelly seed vacant.

32. If a person in a certain family is liberated by attaining to Maṇikarṇikā, his descendants become worthy of being respected by even the heaven-dwellers due to his power.

33. Twenty-seven generations of his ancestors are redeemed by a man who offers libations to the Manes after reaching Maṇikarṇikā.

34. Maṇikarṇikā lies between the middle of the celestial river and Hariścandramaṇḍapa, between Svargadvāra and Gaṅgākeśava.

35. Even the three worlds do not attain equality with even a particle of this Maṇikarṇikā. All the beings stationed in the three worlds endeavour to attain this.

36. Looking the painted canvas thus frequently, Kalāvatī spotted Jñānavāpī to the south of Śrī Viśveśvara.

37. Daṇḍanāyaka, Saṃbḥrama and Vibhrama make the evil-minded ones extremely confused and protect the waters of Jñānavāpī from them.

38. This Jñānavāpī, the bestower of knowledge, is the aquatic physical form of the eight-formed Mahādeva cited in the Purāṇas.

39. After viewing Jñānavāpī, Kalāvatī experienced horripilation all over her body like the flowers of a Kadaṃba tree.

40. Her limbs experienced tremor; the region of the forehead was profusely covered with perspiration and her eyes were filled with tears of joy.

41. Her creeper-like body became rigid; the face lost its colour; the voice became choked and the painted canvas fell down from her hands.

42. For a moment she forgot her own self. She did not know “Who am I?” “Where am I?” In that state of deep sleep, she was as motionless as the great soul.

43. Her attendants hurriedly moved about here and there and asked one another, “What, what is the matter? What is this?”

44. On seeing her in that plight, those wise and experienced women understood everything through those psychosomatic emotional expresions, and told one another thus:

45. “Some object of her love in a former birth has been seen by her. After coming into contact thereof, she has reached an ecstatic state.”

46-47. If it is not so, how did she swoon all of a sudden? While viewing this picture-canvas in secrecy, they carefully pondered over the primary cause of her loss of consciousness and administered pacifying remedies calmly to her.

48. One of them fanned her with plantain leaves. Another one embellished the blessed lady with circular garlands of lotus fibres.

49. Another attendant sprinkled her with profuse flow of sandal water. A certain attendant removed her sorrow with tender foliage of Aśoka.

50. With the sprays of water from the fountain pavilion, a certain attendant sprinkled the creeper-like tender body of that lady emaciated through separation, in order to get the desired effect.

51. A certain attendant covered her body with a wet cloth. Another smeared it with the paste of camphor powder.

52-58a. A certain attendant arranged a soft bed of lotus petals. Another attendant removed all diamond ornaments from her body and embellished her chest with pearls. Another moon-faced woman made the slim-bodied lady lie down on the ground paved with lunar stone slabs, cool on account of flowing cool water.

A certain attendant named Buddhi-śarīriṇī (‘Intellect-bodied’) saw the queen being served thus. Distressed very much, she told her companions: “I am aware of a great remedy for the suppression of her excessive distress. Do not delay. Set aside all these modes of remedy. I shall make her immediately rid of all distress. Watch the wonderful feat. It was after seeing the painted canvas that she suddenly became excited. Certainly some object of her love is here itself. Hence she will become rid of her distress at the touch of the painted canvas.”

58b-59. At the instance of Buddhiśarīriṇī the other attendants placed that painted canvas in front of Kalāvatī and said: “See here, Kalāvatī. There is your favourite deity here, the cause of your delight.”

60. On hearing the name “favourite deity” and on seeing the painted canvas, she appeared to have been sprinkled with nectar. She regained her consciousness and got up quickly.

61. It was like the revival of a herbal plant scorched by drought by means of heavy downpours of shower. Again she began to look at Jñānavāpī, the bestower of knowledge.

62-66. By touching the Vāpī in the picture, Kalāvatī obtained the knowledge of the previous birth and of everything that happened in the previous birth.

Again she pondered over the excellent greatness of the Vāpī: ‘How wonderful! This Jñānavāpī in the picture when touched by me has produced in me the knowledge of what happened in the previous birth.’ Thereupon, the delighted beautiful lady spoke these words in front of those attendants, regarding the events of her previous life as a result of the power of Jñānavāpī:

Kalāvatī said:

In my previous birth, I was a Brāhmaṇa girl. I rejoiced and sported about in Jñānavāpī near Viśveśvara in Kāśī. My father was Harisvāmī and mother Priyaṃvadā.

67-68. My name was Suśīlā. A Vidyādhara abducted me. While on his way near Malaya mountain, that heroic person was killed by a demon at mid-night. He also killed the demon. Freed from his curse, the demon attained a divine body.

69. This Gandharva was born of Malayaketu. I became the daughter Kalāvatī of the king of Karṇāṭa.

70-71. This knowledge came to me instantaneously on seeing Jñānavāpī.

On hearing these words of hers, the attendant Buddhiśarīriṇī and the other attendants as well, became delighted as was evident from their beaming faces.

They bowed down to that meritorious Kalāvatī and said:

72-75. “How can it be made possible to attain Jñānavāpī whose power is like this? Fie upon the life of those persons in this mortal world, by whom Jñānavāpī is not seen!

Obeissance to you, O Kalāvatī. Carry out our wish too. Make our birth fruitful by requesting the king to take us there. Beginning today, O Kalāvatī, this shall be our main observance. We will experience the delightful pleasures of great magnitude after visiting Jñānavāpī. Necessarily it must be a Jñānavāpī true to its name. It is wonderful that it bestowed on you the knowledge even when painted on a canvas!”

76. She assented to their request. She then got over the excited feelings and controlled them adequately. After carrying out everything pleasing to the king, she, fully conscious of the proposal to make, submitted to the king:

Kalāvatī said:

77. O lord of my life! Nowhere do I have anything more pleasing than you. By having you as my husband, O king, everything desirable and desired has been obtained by me.

78-79. I have a desire to request for, O dear lord. On being pondered over, it will be conducive to your great good too. Since I am dependent on you, it is extremely inaccessible to me. Since you are capable of acting independently, this desire is as good as realized.

80. O dear lord, of what avail is talking too much? If there is any purpose to be served by my being alive, grant me that desire. Otherwise my life will cease to be.

81. On hearing the words of his beloved, dearer to him than his own life, that king spoke as follows pleasing to her as well as to himself:

The king said:

82. O my beloved beautiful lady, I do not see anything that cannot be given to you. Even my very vital breaths have been bought over by you through your decent qualities and skill in arts.

83. Do not delay any longer. Tell me, O Kalāvatī, and know that it is carried out. I think that nothing is inaccessible to chaste ladies like you.

84. Who is the person to be requested? What is it that is sought? Who is the person making the request? My dear Kalāvatī, the relationship between us both is not like that of the common-folk.

85. O beautiful lady, the whole realm, the entire treasury, the vast army, the fort, and whatever else is here is yours and not mine. I have only a nominal ownership thereof.

86. My ownership extends only to those things other than you. O goddess of my life, O honour-loving lady, I shall consider the kingdom on a par with a blade of grass and cast it off at your instance.

87. On hearing these words of King Mālyaketu, Kalāvatī spoke these sweet words in a voice that was full of gravity:

Kalāvatī said:

88. My lord, formerly different kinds of subjects were created by Brahmā at the outset and for their good the four aims of life.

89. A life bereft of them is futile. Even one among them shall therefore be achieved for the sake of welfare here and hereafter.

90. What, those conversant with the ancient traditions say, namely that Trivarga (the three primary aims of life) prospers there where is affection between husband and wife, has been seen (to be) true.

91. There are hundreds of slaves like me in your palace here. Still my lord’s love is prominently seen for me.

92. Even the lowly slave of yours enjoys full pleasures, what then to speak of the lady revelling on your lap! Over and above there is an exclusive possession not available to others, viz. having the husband under one’s control.

93. A sensible man shall amass wealth for the purpose of pious rites in the form of Iṣṭa and Pūrta. He shall keep his life free from hindrances for the sake of austerity and maintain his wife for the sake of progeny.

94. O my beloved lord, all these you have, due to the favour of Viśveśa. If my desire is to be fulfilled I shall mention it, please listen.

95. Send me immediately to the city of Viśvanātha. My vital breaths have already left. I remain behind only in the form of the physical frame.

96. On hearing these specific words of Kalāvatī, King Mālyaketu thought for a moment within himself and said to his beloved:

97-100. “My dear Kalāvatī, if you have to go, of what use is the transitory royal glory unto me when it is bereft of you too?

The mere territory is not the kingdom, they say. Certainly a beloved queen is the glory of the kingdom. The kingdom with all the seven constituents is no better than a blade of grass without her.

The kingdom has been made free from enemies. After enjoying pleasures continuously, the sense-organs having experienced the objects of pleasure have become gratified. An all-round contentment has been realized.

Children are already born. No further task awaits me here. Both of us shall certainly go to the city of Vārāṇasī.”

101-102. After consoling his wife thus, King Mālyaketu who decided his course of action called astrologers and honoured representative of the citizens. He entrusted the kingdom to his son. Taking the requisite money and jewels from his son, he proceeded towards Kāśī.

103. After visiting the city of Viśveśvara, the king experienced horripilation (of joy) and considered himself blessed, having reached the other shore of the ocean or worldly existence.

104. Due to the impressions of her previous birth Queen Kalāvatī could recognize the roads of the city like one coming from a village nearby.

105-110. They took their bath in Maṇikarṇikā and offered much wealth as gifts. They propitiated Viśveśvara with diverse kinds of jewels and made gifts of jewels, elephants, horses, herds of cows, silk clothes of various colours, utensils and things of adoration. They gave pots of gold and silver, lamp sticks, mirrors and chowries, flag-staffs and banners and canopies of diverse sizes and designs. After circumambulating the shrine, the king entered the Muktimaṇḍapa. There he listened to the discourse on piety and made monetary gifts there also. After performing the great Pūjā in the evening, he kept awake the whole of the night with festivities accompanied by instrumental music. The next day in the morning he got up and performed the routine duties of cleansing. The king went to Jñanavāpī along the path pointed out by the queen.

111-116. The king joyously took his holy ablution along with Kalāvatī there. He offered balls of rice and faithfully propitiated the Pitṛs. To deserving persons there, he offered gold, silver etc. He made poor people, blind persons and miserable and helpless ones, delighted by gifting precious gems. The king then performed the Pāraṇā rite. Kalāvatī renovated Jñānavāpī with steps paved with jewels. She took great delight therein in the company of her husband, leading a life of austerity. That sinless lady spent the remaining period of her life like a mere moment by engaging herself in various vows and rites such as fasts on alternate days or some casual fasts. She practised observances by taking meal once in six days or once in a fortnight. She observed fast for a week sometimes. Sometimes she observed fast for even a month. She performed Cāndrāyaṇa and Kṛcchra rites. All along she continued to serve her husband.

117. Once, both of them had their morning bath in Jñānavāpī. While they were resting, someone with matted hairs came there and handed them holy ash.

118-119a.With a delighted face, he blessed them and said, “Get up and have the Mahānepathya (the great adornment) now itself. Within a moment you will have the Tāraka instruction.”

119b-122a. Even as the man with matted hairs spoke these words, an aerial chariot with jingling bells arrived. While people stood watching, the Moon-crested Lord descended from the aerial chariot. He whispered the Mantra of the: great brilliance which transcends words, into their ears. The aerial chariot took off immediately illuminating the path of the firmament. The Lord too went to his abode (along with Kalāvatī and Mālyavān—Comm.).

Skanda said:

122b. Ever since then, Jñānavāpī is (considered) unique and superior to all important holy Tīrthas.

123. O sage, it is the bestower of direct knowledge. It is excellent, full of perfect knowledge, identical with all Liṅgas.

124-125. Jñānavāpī is the Cosmic Form of Śiva himself. It generates Jñāna (perfect knowledge). There are many Tīrthas that sanctify (devotees) immediately. But they are not equal to even a sixteenth part of Jñānavāpī. If anyone listens to the origin of Jñānavāpī with great attention, his knowledge does not become extinct even on death anywhere.

126. This great narrative is meritorious. It is destructive of great sins. It increases the delight of Mahādeva and Gaurī.

127. By reading or causing to be read or listening to the auspicious narration of Jñānavāpī one is honoured in the world of Śiva.

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