The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Shiva’s Attendants Go to Varanasi which is chapter 53 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-third chapter of the Uttarardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 53 - Śiva’s Attendants Go to Vārāṇasī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śiva’s Attendants Go to Vārāṇasī

Agasti said:

1. O Lord who are the foremost among the knowers of Brahman, an unusually interesting story of Brahmā has been narrated. What did Śaṃbhu do, when Brahmā too stayed there itself?

Skanda said:

2. O Agastya, O blessed one, when Brahmā too stayed at Kāśī, Giriśa who was extremely afflicted in mind, began to think.

3. ‘That city of Kāśī is a fascinating place. Such a city has never come within the range of my vision.

4. Whoever goes to that city stays behind. Indeed the Yoginīs having come into contact with Kāśī have become Ayoginīs (non-Yoginīs).

5. Even the thousand-rayed Sun has become ineffective. Even Vidhi, clever in arranging everything, has not been able to accomplish my object.’

6-7. After thinking thus, the Lord of Devas called many of his attendants and sent them saying, “Oh, go quickly to the city of Vārāṇasī. After going quickly, find out what the Yoginīs do. What is that Sun-god doing and what Vidhi is doing.”

8-15. He called them by their respective names and sent them with due honour. O Śaṅkukarṇa, O Mahākāla, Ghaṇṭākarṇa, Mahodara, Somanandin, Nandiṣeṇa, Kālapiṅgala, Kukkuṭa, Kuṇḍodara, Mayūrākṣa, Bāṇa, Gokarṇa, Tāraka, Tilaparṇa, Sthūlakarṇa, Dṛmicaṇḍa, Prabhāmaya, Sukeśa, Vindati, O Chāga, Kapardin, Piṅgalākṣaka, Vīrabhadra, O Kirāta, Caturmukha, Nikumbhaka, Pañcākṣa, O Bhārabhūta, Tryakṣa, Kṣemaka, Lāṅgalin, Virādha, Sumukha, Āṣāḍhi—all of you are my sons just as these Skanda and Heraṃba, like this, Naigameya, like this Śākha and Viśākha and Nandī and Bhṛṅgī. Despite your presence, though you possess excessive valour, I do not get any news of Kāśī, nor of King Divodāsa, nor of the Yoginīs, the Sun and Brahmā. Hence let two of you go. This Śaṅkukarṇa and Mahākāla are capable of making even Kāla tremble. Let them go to find out the news of Vārāṇasī and let them return hurriedly.”

16-17. Taking a vow accordingly, they quickly reached the city of Vārāṇasī. Just as one, howsoever clever he may be, gets deluded the very moment he sees the tricks of a juggler, so were Śaṅkukarṇa and Mahākāla enamoured as soon as they saw Kāśī.

They thought thus:

18. Oh, how wonderful is the great power of delusion! Oh, what a misfortune! The unwise go away elsewhere after attaining Kāśī, the mass of liberation.

19. Even the salvation which has been achieved slips out of the hands of those persons by whom Kāśī, the ground of great blessings, has been abandoned.

20. If one takes bath even with hot water at Kāśī even the valedictory baths of all Yajñas are excelled. Who shall abandon (such) Kāśī?

21. Even if a single flower is offered on the top of Śiva Liṅga at Kāśī the merit thereof is the same as that of a gift of ten gold pieces? Who shall leave that Kāśī?

22. They say that even the position of Indra is insignificant (in comparison with the status) one obtains by means of a single prostration in front of Siva at Kāśī. Who will forsake that Kāśī?

23. By feeding a single Brāhmaṇa to his satisfaction at Kāśī, one gets more merit than that of Vājapeya (sacrifice). Who will forsake that Kāśī?

24. By duly making the gift of a single cow to a Brāhmaṇa at Kāśī, one gets the merit of gifting ten thousand cows. Which sensible man forsakes that Kāśī?

25. By installing a single Liṅga at Kāśī, one establishes the lordship of three worlds. Who will forsake that Kāśī?

26. Both of them resolved thus; they installed two meritorious Liṅgas and permanently stayed there. They have never left (Kāśī) till today.

27. By visiting Śaṅkukarṇeśvara Liṅga adored by the attendant Śaṅkukarṇa, a creature is never born in the great womb of any mother.

28. By worshipping Śaṅkukarṇeśvara on the north-western side of Viśveśa, a man never re-enters the terrible ocean of mundane existence.

29. Where can one have any fear after bowing down to, adoring and eulogizing Mahākāleśvara Liṅga adored by the attendant Mahākāla?

Skanda said:

30. Śaṅkukarṇa and Mahākāla were late by a great deal of time. Knowing this the omniscient Lord despatched two other Gaṇas.

31. “O Ghaṇṭākarṇa, you come. O highly intelligent Mahodara, both of you go to Kāśī quickly to know the situation there.”

32. Thus, these two Gaṇas after reaching the great city Kāśī, have not returned till today. They remained at some place there itself.

33. After duly installing Ghaṇṭākarṇeśvara Liṅga at Kāśī, the excellent Gaṇa Ghaṇṭākarṇa took excessive delight in it.

34. He dug a sacred pit there itself for performing the

rite of ablution of the Liṅga and meditating upon the Liṅga in the usual manner does not leave Kāśī till today.

35. To the west thereof, Mahodara became engrossed in meditating on Śiva. Even today, O Pot-born Sage, he meditates on Mahodareśvara Liṅga.

36. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, after visiting Mahodareśvara in Vārāṇasī, one never enters the cavity of a mother’s belly.

37. After taking the holy dip in the Ghaṇṭākarṇahraḍa and visiting Lord Vyāseśvara, if a devotee dies elsewhere, he will be deemed one that has died at Vārāṇasī.

38. After duly performing Śrāddha in the great Tīrtha, a devotee shall redeem seven ancestors, even if they are suffering in hell.

39. Even today, after dipping down in that holy pit, if one becomes very attentive for a moment, he surely hears the ringing sound of the bells of the great worship of Viśveśvara.

40-41. O Pot-born One, the ancestors say: “Will not there be one offering gingelly seeds and water in our family in the pure waters of Ghaṇṭākarṇa?” Persons belonging to their family, after performing the libatory rite in the great Hrada Ghaṇṭākarṇa at Kāśī have attained great supernatural powers.

Skanda said:

42-43. When the Gaṇa Ghaṇṭākarṇa had gone and when Mahodara too had gone, the Enemy of Smara (Lord Śiva) became wonderstruck. Shaking his head frequently and smiling again and again, Hara said in his mind: ‘Oh Kāśī! I know you well that you have a great power of bewitching others.

44. Those who are conversant with the affairs of yore praise you as the destroyer of great delusion. But they do not know this aspect of Kāśī that it is a place possessing a great power of creating delusion.

45. I shall be sending all others and you will enchant them. Thus I know, Kāśī, you, the enchanting herb.

46. Still I shall send all the attendants I have. Wise men do not stop their endeavour in a task that has to be accomplished.

47. Stopping of endeavour should never be resorted to by wise people. Their continuous endeavour can even avert adverse fate.

48. The Sun and the Moon in the firmament, though assailed by Svarbhānu (Rāhu) never abandon till today their endeavour in regard to what they have undertaken.

49. Being adverse in one place, fate frequently frustrates actions. In another place all the actions become fruitful by concentration on adequate effort.

50. It is the Karma performed before (in previous birth) that is called Daiva (fate) and not anything else. Effort should be made by a sensible man to eradicate it.

51. Foodstuff that is kept in a vessel does not enter the mouth merely by force of fate. By the actions of hands and mouth, it shall enter the cavity of the belly!

52. After justifying endeavour as one that certainly triumphs over fate, the Lord sent five Gaṇas of great impetuosity.

53. They were Somanandī, Nandiṣeṇa, Kāla, Piṅgala and Kukkuṭa. They too have not returned till today, just as dead Jīvas do not.

54. With a desire to propitiate Śaṃbhu, they too installed Liṅgas after their names and stayed at Kāśī, the source of origin of salvation.

55. By visiting the great Somanandīśvara Liṅga in Nandavana, a man with devotion shall attain the greatest bliss in Somaloka.

56. By visiting Nandiṣeṇeśvara to the north thereof, a man shall get an Ānandasenā (immense delight) and instantaneously conquer even death.

57. By bowing down to the great Liṅga Kāleśvara to the north-west of Gaṅgā, one shall avert being bound with the noose of Kāla for ever.

58. By adoring Piṅgaleśvara, a little to the north of Kāleśa, one shall obtain knowledge of the form of Piṅgala and attain identity therewith.

59. Those who display devotion to Kukkuṭeśvara Liṅga having the shape of hen’s egg will never be born in a womb.

Skanda said:

60. When the five Gaṇas, O sage, beginning with Somanandī stayed on at Ānandakānana, Sthāṇu said:

61-63. “This alone should be done by us, if due reflection is made. Let these persons of mine stay there under this pretext. Even if the Pramathas of greatness and virility enter Vārāṇasī, it is beyond doubt that even (it is as good as) I have entered it. I shall send successively whatever attendant I have. When all have gone, I shall also go.”

64. After deciding thus within the heart, four of his Pramatha Gaṇas were sent by the Trident-bearing Lord of Devas.

65. The Gaṇas named Mayūra, Kuṇḍodara, Bāṇa and Gokarṇa resorted to their Māyā power and entered Kāśī.

66. They employed hundreds of means, but none of them was capable of making Divodāsa agitated or confused.

67. ‘By which action does the Lord become satisfied, if hundreds of offences were committed.’ Pondering thus, they carried on the excellent propitiation of the Liṅgas.

68. If a single Liṅga of Śaṃbhu was duly adored here, the Three-eyed Lord may forgive a hundred offences and bestow salvation.

69. Śaṃbhu is not satisfied with Yajñas, Dānas, Tapas and Vratas to the same extent as when a Liṅga is duly adored even once.

70. If he is conversant with the procedure of Liṅga worship and is always engaged in the worship of the Liṅga, even if the man possessed two eyes he should be directly conceived as three-eyed.

71. Neither by the gift of a hundred cows nor by the gift of a hundred gold pieces, is that benefit obtained by men which they get by worshipping the Liṅga once (only).

72. That benefit is not obtained by Yagas like horse-sacrifice, which is obtained by men by worshipping the Liṅga always.

73. After duly bathing the Liṅga, if the devotee sips thrice the water with which it is bathed, the three types of his sins perish quickly.

74. He who bathes his head with the water of the ablution of the Liṅga gets the benefit of holy dip in Gaṅgā, and he becomes free from sin here itself

75. After visiting an adored Liṅga, if anyone bows down to it even once, doubt arises in respect to his becoming embodied (in the next birth, i.e. he is not born again).

76. If anyone instals [installs] a Liṅga with devotion, there is no doubt in this that he becomes free from sins committed in the course of seven births. On being purified, he attains heaven.’

77. After thinking thus, Liṅgas that destroy great sins were installed in Kāśī by the Gaṇas for quelling the offence against the master.

78. By visiting Kuṇḍodareśvara Liṅga near Lolārka, one becomes rid of all sins and is honoured in the world of Śiva.

79. One is never conceived in womb, if one adores Mayūreśvara on the banks of Asi to the west of Kuṇḍodareśvara Liṅga.

80. The great Bāṇeśvara-Liṅga is to the west of Mayūreśa. Merely by visiting it, one is liberated from all sins.

81. To the west of Antargeha (inner shrine) a devotee should worship the great Liṅga Gokarṇeśa in Kāśī at its very entrance. He is never assailed by obstacles.

82. When the devotee of Gokarṇeśvara dies, wherever he dies, he does not experience loss of knowledge.

Skanda said:

83. While these four attendants were delaying, the Lord of Gaṇas described the greatness and importance of Kāśī.

84. ‘The whole universe is deluded by the Māyā of Viṣṇu. Indeed, this Kāśī is the personified form thereof. It is the sole enchanter of the universe.

85. Setting aside brothers, wives, son, land, house and wealth, even facing death, all resort to Kāśī.

86. While there is nothing to fear from even death at Kāśī, why should the Gaṇas staying there be afraid even of me?

87. To which can Kāśī be compared, where death is an auspicious thing, ashes an embellishment and a loincloth a silk garment?

88. There the maiden (in the form) of Salvation chooses everyone having Prāntyabhūṣaṇa (the Tāraka Upadeśa at the time of death as an embellishment), whether he is rich or poor, a Brāhmaṇa or a Cāṇḍāla.

89. Even Śakra and other Suras are not on a par with a ten-millionth part of the creatures meeting with death at Kāśī and attaining salvation.

90. A creature that dies at Kāśī is bowed to intently by Brahmā, Nārāyaṇa and others with joined palms on their heads.

91. In the state of a corpse, the creature does not become unclean in Kāśī. Hence I myself touch its ear.

92. A meritorious person who repeats twice or thrice the word Kāśī is holier than all holy things. He is the greatest (of all).

93. I have been meditated upon in the heart, I have been served always by that person by whom Kāśī has been meditated upon in the heart and by whom Kāśī has been served.

94. If a living being serves Kāśī with unfaltering mind, I retain him always in my heart assiduously.

95. If one is unable to stay personally, one should make at least one person stay there by hiring him as a resident of the holy place. Certainly, he gets the benefit of the one who resides.

96. Those intelligent men of fortitude, who resolve to stay in Kāśī until death, should be known as liberated ones even while alive. They alone are venerable and adorable.’

97. After reflecting thus on the merits of Vārāṇasī many times, Sthāṇu called other Gaṇas and joyously sent them.

98. “O Tāraka come on; O clear-minded one, go to that city which Divodāsa, the abode of righteousness, rules.

99-101. O Tilaparṇa, O Sthūlakarṇa, O Dṛmicaṇḍa, O Prabhāmaya, O Sukeśa, O Vindati, O Chāga, O Kapardin, O Piṅgalākṣaka, O Vīrabhadra, O Gaṇa named Kirāta, O Caturmukha, O Nikuṃbhaka, O Pañcākṣabhāra, O Bhūtakya, O Tryakṣa, O Kṣemaka, O Lāṅgalin, O Virādha, O Sumukha, O Āṣāḍhi, let all the Gaṇas, the blessed ones devoted to their master and of steady resolve, go separately.”

102. Desirous of finding out a vulnerable point in the king, they kept awake with winkless eyes. Those clever Gaṇas adopted many Māyās, forms and shapes.

103. Unable to find out his weakness, they wasted the wealth of their reputation and they uttered in disgust, “Ah! What has befallen?” They censured themselves.

Gaṇas said:

104. Fie upon us who were always honoured by our Lord! It is however pitiful indeed that not even a single man could be brought under our control here.

105. Fie upon us who have failed to do the duty toward the Three-eyed Lord who has bestowed favours upon us along with great honour, gift and friendship!

106. What fate shall befall us, since we have blundered in our duty towards our master? Certainly, our residence shall be in a world full of blinding darkness.

107. Alas! At every step those persons will suffer, who do not fulfil the task of the Lord, yet continue to live with unimpaired activities of the sense-organs.

108. The desires of the servants who take a lot after being honoured, but who spoil the task of the Lord, become frustrated.

109. This earth becomes burdened with those servants who do not fulfil the task of their masters and who shamelessly stand in front of the Lord and stare at his face!

110. The earth, the mother of living beings, does not have great unbearable burden, because of mountains, oceans and huge trees but due to that of the traitors to the Lord.

111. Ha! A famous ancient Gāthā (verse) has been remembered by us. It is for that purpose that we will stay here with steady resolve to stick to it.

112. The city of Vārāṇasī is the refuge unto those who have not acquired Puṇyas, whose wealth and longevity have become reduced and who are devoid of all means.

113. The city of Vārāṇasī is the refuge unto those who are depressed due to the weight of sins, who experience repentance and who move up and around everywhere.

114. There is no refuge anywhere except at the city of Vārāṇasī to those who are disloyal traitors to their masters, who are ungrateful and who kill treacherously.

115. After deciding this to be the meaning (implication) of the Gāthā, the Pramathas remained there without their forms being known to King Divodāsa.

116. Though that king was extremely intelligent, he did not come to know (the existence) of those sensible Gaṇas stationed there in various forms and shapes by the power of Īśa.

117. It is surprising that not even Citragupta knows those creatures stationed in Vārāṇasī. Nothing need be said about others residing in the mortal world!

118. Dharmarāṭ (Lord Yama) never gauges fully persons of unbroken power and influence, of unlimited brilliance, who have installed the Liṅgas.

119. Thus, O Pot-born Great Sage, all those Pramathas who have been regularly worshipping Liṅgas do not leave even today Kāśī, the bestower of welfare.

120. O sage, the excellent Gaṇa named Tāraka worships even today the great Liṅga Tārakeśa that bestows the redeeming Tāraka Jñāna.

121. After showing steady devotion to Tārakeśvara Liṅga, Tāraka knowledge is easily acquired by excellent men.

122. By visiting Tilaparṇeśvara Liṅga installed by Tilaparṇa, there cannot remain sin, even of the size of a gingelly seed sticking to one.

123. After duly performing the worship of Sthūlakarṇeśvara Liṅga, a man attains excellent merit. He never attains a wretched state.

124. To the west thereof, the devotee should propitiate Dṛmicaṇḍeśvara Liṅga and Prabhāmaya Liṅga. He is never assailed by sins.

125. After visiting Prabhāmayeśvara Liṅga, even if the devotee dies elsewhere, he shall go to Śivaloka through a Prabhāmaya (refulgent) vehicle.

126. After adoring Sukeśeśvara in the Harikeśa grove, the devotee does not bear the Ṣāṭkauśika (‘made of the six dhātus’) body repeatedly.

127. By adoring Vindatīśa near Bhīmacaṇḍī, the man casts off even the most horrible sin and attains eternal salvation.

128. By visiting the great Liṅga Chāgaleśa stationed near Pitrīśvara, no one touches even Prākṛta sin like a brute.

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