The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Description of Dashashvamedha 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 Uttarardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 52 - Description of Daśāśvamedha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: Daśāśvamedha Ghāṭa is the most popular Ghāṭa in Vārāṇasī. In ancient times it was called Rudrasarovara. But it got its name Daśāśvamedha when God Brahmā performed ten horse-sacrifices here under the sponsorship of King Divodāsa. The Brahmeśvara Liṅga established by Brahmā is in a low-lying building inundated every year in floods. The Daśāśvamedheśvara Liṅga is in the compound of Śītalā Devī. Godāvarī (now called Goduliā Nālā) joined Gaṅgā at this Ghāṭa and this had additional sanctity due to this confluence.—The original Ghāṭa is the southern side of the modern Daśāśvamedha Ghāṭa. The northern Ghāṭa was formerly called Prayāga Ghāṭa and was an independent one. (BCL 226-8)

Skanda said:

1. After the Sun had gone to Kāśī that is fascinating to all the three worlds, O sage, Hara who was stationed in Mandara reached a high degree of anxiety:

2. ‘The Yoginīs have not returned till this day. Nor has the fierce-rayed Sun-god. It is surprising that I have no tidings about Kāśī. It has become very difficult to get.

3. Or, what is surprising in this: If Kāśī makes even my steady mind fickle and unsteady, what then is the position in regard to other Suras?

4. I burned down Kāma, the conqueror of the three worlds, by my glance. Alas! the desire for Kāśī burns all the more and torments me.

5. Whom shall I send next to seek the tidings of Kāśī? Brahmā alone is capable of knowing it because he is four-faced (or clever-faced).’

6. After thinking thus, Śrīkaṇṭha invited the Creator (Brahmā) with great deal of respect. After he had taken a seat, he spoke to him:

7. “At first the Yoginīs were sent. Then the thousand-rayed Sun was sent. Till today, they have not returned from Kāśī, O Lotus-born One[1].

8. O Lord of the worlds, that Kāśī creates eagerness in my mind like a tremulous-eyed girl in that of an ordinary man.

9. Though Mandara here abounds in beautiful caves, I do not feel drawn towards it like a crocodile which does not revel in a small lake where the water is shallow as well as turbid.

10. That burning sensation arising from the poison Halāhala did not so torment me as this one arising from the separation of Kāśī which afflicts me very much.

11. Though the cool-rayed Moon is situated on my head and sheds nectarine drops as it were, it is not capable of dispelling the distress arising from the separation from Kāśī.

12. O Brahmā, O highly intelligent one, O foremost among noble ones, go hence to Kāśī quickly and do an investigation for me in this regard as desired by me.

13. O Brahmā, you alone know the reason for my leaving Kāśī. Even a dull-witted one may not leave Kāśī. What to say in the case of one who knows something!

14. O Brahmā, why don't I go myself to Kāśī along with my Māyā (Pārvatī—the Śakti) today itself? But I am not eager to assail Divodāsa who abides by his Dharma.

15. O Brahmā, since you carry out everything that has to be done, the instruction ‘Do this and this’ is entirely meaningless in your case.

16. Go safe without any ill-luck. May your path lead to auspiciousness.”

Brahmā took the order with a bowed head and went joyously to Vārāṇasī.

17. The Self-born Lord with white Swan as his vehicle reached the city of Vārāṇasī quickly and considered himself blessed, as one who has done his duty.

18. ‘In this contact with Kāśī, I have gained the benefit of having the Swan as a vehicle, since they say that there are obstacles in regard to the attainment of Kāśī at every step.

19. The root dṛś (to see) has become meaningful in regard to my Dṛśau (eyes) since this Ānandavāṭikā has come clearly within the range of my vision.

20. The celestial river itself waters it with its own current. The trees are blissful here. The people are full of bliss here.

21. All the fruits in Kāśī give delight for ever. Kāśī is a perpetual source of delight. Śiva is a perpetual bestower of bliss.

22-25. Hence, all the creatures in Kāśī become bliss embodied. Only those feet that traverse the ground in the city of Viśvabhartṛ (Śiva) and become blessed, know how to traverse. Only those ears of great learning, of persons well-versed in the Vedas here know how to hear, because Kāśī has been heard by them once. Only the mind of diligent person here meditates properly because Kāśī, the source of all authorities, is pondered over by it. The intellect of intelligent persons here comprehends everything, because the abode of Dhūrjaṭi has been made its object.

26. Better indeed are those grains and grass blades, even though wafted by wind and fallen within Kāśī, than those people who have not seen Kāśī.

27. Today, my life-span extending over two Parārdhas has become fruitful, because in the course of that period the city of Kāśikā, rare to be visited, has been attained by me.

28. Wonderful is my asset of righteousness, astonishing is the weightiness of my fortune, since I have seen Kāśī today that has been thought over for a long time.

29. The tree of my austerities sprinkled with the water of devotion to Śiva, has borne the abundant fruits of all cherished desires.

30. Various things have been created by me in the course of my creative activities. But Kāśī that has been created by Viśveśa is unique in itself.’

31. Brahmā, who was delighted in his mind after viewing the city of Vārāṇasī, assumed the form of an aged Brāhmaṇa and visited the king.

32. With raw rice-grains wet with water in his hand, he proclaimed Svasti unto the king. He was saluted by the king and offered a seat which he occupied.

33. The king duly honoured him by standing up and offering the seat and the like. On being asked the purpose of his visit, the Brāhmaṇa said to the king:

The Brāhmaṇa said:

34. O king, I am an aged person staying here for a long time. You may not know me but I know that you are Ripuñjaya (in your previous birth) or conqueror of enemies!

35. Hundreds of kings have been seen by me. They distributed much by way of monetary gifts. They successfully fought many battles. They regularly performed sacrifices. They controlled their sense-organs.

36. They eschewed the group of six enemies (lust, anger etc.). They were of excellent conduct. They possessed Sattva quality. They mastered learning. They were experts in statecraft and polity.

37. They are clever yet merciful and chivalrous. They abide by the vow of truthfulness. They are on a par with the Earth in forbearance. By their majesty and gravity they have excelled oceans.

38. They have conquered anger and are brave. They are the source of origin of gentleness and of handsome features, being richly endowed with these and other good qualities. Thus they have amassed good reputation as their asset.

39. But, O saintly king, generally among these kings, two or three of your extremely sacred, good qualities have not been seen by me.

40. You consider your subjects as members of your family. You consider Brāhmaṇas as your deity. You have great austerities to your credit. In this regard the other kings are unlike you.

41. O Divodāsa, you are blessed. You are worthy of honour due to your good qualities. You are worthy of the adoration of all good persons. Afraid of you, even the Devas do not go astray.

42. Of what avail unto you, O king, is the panegyric of Brāhmaṇas like me who are devoid of desires? What can we do? The group of your good qualities makes us your eulogizers.

43. May this chitchat be set apart. I shall state the thing relevant at present. O king, I am desirous of performing a sacrifice. Hence I seek your help.

44. O king, this kingdom has a benign king in you. It is the receptacle of all prosperities. I have some assets in the form of great wealth accumulated by legitimate means.

45. In this land of Karmas, the capital city is the most excellent one. Even on the day of annihilation, there is not reduction in the power to yield benefits in the case of the holy rites.

46. The wealth amassed by persons abiding by the righteous path, should be utilized in Kāśī. Otherwise it will be conducive to pain and distress.

47. O king, no one understands the excellent greatness of Kāśī, except the three-eyed Śaṃbhu, the bestower of all wisdom.

48. I think that you are highly blessed since you rule Kāśī, the excellent Tanu (physical form) of Viśvabhartṛ (Lord Śiva), as a result of merits incurred in the course of many hundreds of births.

49. This has been decided by great sages that Kāśī is the essence of the three worlds, the essence of the three Vedas and the greatest essence of the three aims of life.

50. This city is protected, thanks to the blessings of Viśveśa, by you. By the protection of even one in Kāśī (it is as good as) the three worlds protected.

51. O sinless one, I shall mention another thing conducive to your welfare if it appeals to you. Viśveśa alone should always be propitiated by means of all rites.

52. Never look upon the Lord of the universe like other gods, O king. Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Indra, Candra and Arka are mere playthings of Dhūrjaṭi.

53. What is conducive to your welfare has been told by me, since kings should be properly advised by Brāhmaṇas desirous of their ultimate benefit. Otherwise what have I to do with such (anxious) thoughts?

54-57. When the Brāhmaṇa kept quiet after speaking this, the excellent king replied:

The king said:

O excellent Brāhmaṇa, whatever has been spoken by you has been grasped by me in the heart. I am at your service in the matter of helping you who are desirous of performing sacrifice.

Take away all the requisites for the sacrifice from my treasury. Whatever I have in the kingdom consisting of seven constituent elements, you are the lord unto that entirely. With single-minded attention go ahead with the sacrifice. Consider that everything you desire has already been accomplished. In my rule over the kingdom, O Brāhmaṇa, I have no selfish interest. I do endeavour for helping others with my own person, sons and wives.

58. It has been said by learned men that for kings the sole duty is the protection of the subjects. It is far superior to sacrificial rites and even Tīrthas.

59. The fire arising out of the suffering of the subjects is fiercer and more terrible than the fire of thunderbolt which can reduce to ash two or three persons (only) whereas the former destroys the kingdom, the family and the physical frame (of the king).

60. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, whenever I feel the desire for having the valedictory bath after a sacrifice, I bathe myself with the waters from the feet of Brāhmaṇas.

61. The offerings I make in the mouth of a Brāhmaṇa, O excellent Brāhmaṇa of high intelligence, are, I think, better than sacrificial rites.

62. Among all the desires in my heart, this one is more dominant that at least someone should be seen today requesting for something, even my own body.

63. Oh! Good! My desire has become fulfilled after many days that today you have come to my abode begging for something, O Brāhmaṇa.

64. With the mind concentrated, O Brāhmaṇa, perform many sacrifices with ample monetary gifts. Take it that assistance in everything has been rendered already.

65. On hearing this speech of the virtuous and highly intelligent king, Brahmā, the Creator, became pleased in his mind. He gathered together the requisites for sacrifice.

66. Getting the help of the saintly King Divodāsa, the Lotus-born One performed in Kāśī ten great horse-sacrifices.

67. As the interspaces of the firmament were pervaded by the columns of smoke from the Homas, the firmament has not given up the bluish colour ever since.

68. Since that time onwards, that Tīrtha has become well-known all over the world. The Tīrtha named Daśāśvamedha in Vārāṇasī is the bestower of auspiciousness.

69. Formerly that Tīrtha was known by the name Rudrasaras. It later became ‘Daśāśvamedhika’ due to its taking over by Brahmā.

70. Thereafter, the heavenly river came into contact with it in association with Bhagīratha. Hence that excellent Tīrtha became extremely meritorious and sacred.

71. After installing the Liṅga Daśāśvamedheśa there, Brahmā stayed there itself. Even till today he has not left Kāśī.

72. He did not find any vulnerable point in that king who was extremely interested in pious acts. Hence what could Brahmā have said after going to Lord Śiva?

73. He realized the power of the holy place. Meditating on Śiva, the Lord of the universe, Brahmā installed Brahmeśvara and remained there itself.

74. It is certain that Kāśī is the supreme form of Viśveśa. Since I serve it, Śambhu will not get angry with me.

75. Who is silly enough to leave after arriving at Kāśī capable of removing Karmas acquired in the course of many births?

76. It is but natural that the body of the Lord of Viśva, the annihilator of the distress of the universe, should feel all the more distressed through the great fire of separation from Kāśī.

77. After attaining Kāśī, the destroyer of masses of sins, if anyone, leaves it, he should be known as a human beast, averse to the supreme bliss.

78. If Kāśī is attained by the blessings of Īśa, it should not be abandoned by a person desirous of the glory of liberation after discarding the hellish worldly evils.

79. If anyone of wicked intention abandons Kāśī and goes elsewhere, the outcome of the fruit of the four aims of life surely slips down from his hands.

80. Who is silly enough to abandon it after attaining Kāśī, the destroyer of mass of sin, the heightener of excellent merit and the bestower of the bliss of salvation?

81. Where does one get that happiness in Satyaloka? Where is that happiness in the region of Viṣṇu—the happiness that is obtained in Kāśī even after resorting to it for half a minute.

82. After having come to this decision about the various good qualities of Vārāṇasī, O sage, Druhiṇa (God Brahmā) did not return to Mandara mountain.

Skanda said:

83. O son of Mitra and Varuṇa, I shall narrate the greatness of Daśāśvamedha in Kāśī, the crest-jewel of all holy spots.

84. Whatever sacred rite, even if it is very small, is performed after reaching Daśāśvamedhika, the most excellent of all excellent Tīrthas, it is said to be everlasting.

85-86. Holy bath, liberal gifts, Japa, Homa, Svādhyāya, worship of a deity, offer of twilight prayers, libation and Śrāddha in veneration of the ancestors, everything in Daśāśvamedha is holy. By taking a single bath in Daśāśvamedha Tīrtha and by visiting the Lord of Daśāśvamedha, an excellent man is rid of all sins.

87. On the first day of the bright half of the month of Jyeṣṭha, the devotee should take the holy dip in the Daśāśvamedha Tīrtha. He is rid of congenital sins.

88. By taking a holy dip in the Rudra Sarovara on the second day of the bright half of Jyeṣṭha, the sins committed in two births perish instantaneously.

89. An excellent man, taking bath on the days in the following order (i.e. third day, fourth day etc.) till the tenth day in the bright half of the month shall get rid of the sins of as many births (e.g. second day—two births, third day—three births, fourth day—four births etc.).

90. On the Daśaharā day that removes the sins of ten births, the devotee should take his holy dip in the Daśāśvamedhika Tīrtha. He shall never experience the torture of Yama.

91. By visiting Daśāśvamedheśa Liṅga on the Daśaharā Tithi, one is undoubtedly absolved of sins acquired in the course of ten births.

92. If one takes his holy dip on the Daśaharā day and worships the excellent Daśāśvamedheśa Liṅga with great devotion, the fate of being conceived in a womb never touches him.

93. In the Rudrasaras, the man should perform the annual pilgrimage extending over the whole of a fortnight in the bright half of the month of Jyeṣṭha. He is never assailed by obstacles.

94. Certainly, one obtains the benefit of the valedictory baths of ten horse-sacrifices by taking the holy dip in the Daśāśvamedha Tīrtha on the Daśaharā day.

95. On the western bank of the celestial river, one should bow down to Daśahareśvara. He is the holiest of the holy. He never experiences wretchedness.

96. What is glorified as the southern door of the inner shrine at Kāśī, there the devotee should visit Brahmeśvara. He shall be honoured in the world of Brahmā.

97. Thus till the arrival of Viśveśvara, the highly intelligent Druhiṇa stayed in Vārāṇasī in the guise of a Brāhmaṇa.

98. The eminent king Divodāsa got a Brahmaśālā built for the sake of Brahmā in the guise of an aged Brāhmaṇa, when he concluded the Yajña.

99. The beautiful Brahmaśālā is near Brahmeśvara. Brahmā set his abode there making the atmosphere reverberating with the recitation of Vedic passages.

100. Thus, O holy Brāhmaṇa, the extremely great importance of the Daśāśvamedha Tīrtha has been recounted to you. It is destructive of all sins.

101. By listening to this holy chapter and narrating it with faith (Śraddhā), an excellent man obtains the world of Brahmā.

Footnotes and references:


The reading ‘Kamalasaṃbhava’ is more appropriate than Kalaśasaṃbhava’.

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