The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Pishacamocana Tirtha which is chapter 54 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-fourth chapter of the Uttarardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 54 - The Greatness of Piśācamocana Tīrtha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This tank [viz., Piśācamocana-tīrtha] is on the western skirt of Vārāṇasī. By performing Śrāddha of a person who died in an accident etc., the (dead) person becomes free from the state of a goblin. People drive spike in the trunk of a tree in the temple area. (BCL 267-268)

Skanda said:

1. O Pot-born One, I shall narrate the greatness and importance of Kapardīśa Liṅga. May Your Holiness kindly listen attentively.

2-3. A certain leader of the Gaṇas named Kapardin, a very great lover of Śaṃbhu, installed the Liṅga of Śaṃbhu to the north of Pitrīśa. In front of it, he dug a pit named Vimalodaka. The very touch of the water thereof makes man free from impurities.

4. I shall narrate a traditional legend exactly as the events took place there formerly in Tretā Yuga. O Kuṃbhayoni, listening to it dispels sin.

5. There was an excellent Pāśupata (devotee of Paśupati) named Vālmīki. The sage performed penance adoring Kapardīśa.

6-7. Once in the Hemanta season in the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, that ascetic took his bath in the holy Tīrtha Vimalodaka at midday and then took Bhasmasnāna (smearing holy ash) all-over the body. He performed all the midday holy rites on the right side of the Liṅga.

8-9. He placed (applied) the holy dust on the forehead, he meditated on the identity of the soul and the Absolute, repeated the Pañcākṣarī Vidyā (namaḥ śivāya) and then pondered over Lord Kapardin. After making the prescribed number of circumambulations along the Saṃhāra Mārga (Apasavya or anticlock-wise direction), he then loudly uttered ‘Oṃ huḍuṃ’ thrice.

10-12. Prefixing the Praṇava he uttered the Svaras (musical notes) Ṣaḍja etc. and sang. With great delight he danced depicting the Hasta Mudrās, Aṅgahāras, delightful Cārīmaṇḍalas etc. The sage of great penance then sat for a short while on the banks of the lake. Then he saw a terrible Rākṣasa of hideous features. The bones at the temples and cheeks were dried up. The whole face was pale. The tawny eyes were sunk in their cavities.

13. The ends of hairs were rough and dishevelled. The neck was very long and lean, the nose flat to the extreme, the lips dry and the teeth long and projected.

14. His head was very huge. The hairs on the scalp stood erect. The lobes of ears were hanging loose. He was terrible with his tawny moustache and beard.

15. The lolling, hanging tongue was fearful; the back of the neck was very rough. The bones of the collar region were stout, tough and the two broad shoulders increased his ferociousness.

16. The armpits were deep; the pair of arms were dry and short. The fingers of the palms were separated. The big nails were depressed.

17. The chest was excessively rough and dusty and slightly protruding; the skin of the belly seemed to touch the back. He was fierce with the ample waist and hips. The sacral bone was devoid of flesh.

18. The two buttocks were loose and suspended. The penis was short with shrunk testicles. The thigh-bones were free from (i.e., without) flesh and long. The stout bones of the kneecap appeared like a cage of bones.

19. Mere skin and bones had remained in his body; the entire physical form seemed to be full of sinews and tubular vessels. The shanks were long. He was terrible with the big bones of the ankles.

20. The feet were very broad. The toes were long, thin and crooked. The entire body was prominent with the skin and bone over-spread with sinews.

21. He was awful, terrible in size with thick growth of hairs. He appeared to be very hungry. He looked like a tree burnt in forest fire. The eyes were rolling and unsteady.

22-24. He looked an embodiment of the (poetic) sentiment of fear (Bhayānaka). He struck terror in all living beings. On seeing that ghost terrifying the hearts of onlookers though piteous in the face, the old ascetic boldly asked him: “Who are you? Whence have you come here? Wherefore is this condition of yours? O Rākṣasa, I am asking with a compassionate heart. Speak out without fear. We ascetics are adequately protected with the holy ash as a coat of mail. We repeat the thousand names of Śiva (for welfare).”

25. On hearing the utterance of the ascetic joyously, the Rākṣasa said to the sympathetic sage, with palms joined in reverence:

Rākṣasa said:

26. O holy Sir, O excellent ascetic, if you have any sympathy, listen for a short while with great attention. I shall recount the facts about me.

27. On the banks of Godāvarī, there is a region named Pratiṣṭhāna. I was a Brāhmaṇa living there on Tīrtha-pratigraha (‘monetary gifts from pilgrims’).

28. As a result of that act, I have attained this miserable plight in a desert region which is highly terrible, devoid of water and trees.

29. O sage, I have spent a great deal of time in residing there, hungry, distressed with thirst and enduring chillness and heat.

30. When huge clouds shower great downpour day and night, when the wind blows in the rainy season, I do not have anything to cover myself.

31. Those who do not make monetary gifts on festive occasions but accept Tīrtha-pratigraha (Dakṣiṇā from pilgrims) attain birth like this, involving great misery.

32. After a great deal of time had elapsed, O sage, once a Brāhmaṇa boy was seen arriving there at the desert region.

33. At the time of sunrise, he did not perform the Sandhyā rites. After urinating and voiding the bowels, he did not perform the purificatory rites of Śauca and Ācamana.

34. On seeing him devoid of Śauca and Sandhyā Karmas and behaving like a Muktakaccha (Buddhist heretic) I passed into his body for the purpose of enjoyment.

55. O sage, because of my ill luck that Brāhmaṇa boy came to this holy city along with a merchant due to greed of wealth.

36. O excellent sage, that Brāhmaṇa went into the interior of the city. Along with his sins I came out of his body instantaneously.

37. By the command of Śiva, O storehouse of austerities, we ghosts and great sins do not have the right of entry in Vārāṇasī.

38. Even today those sins wait outside for him to come out. They are afraid of the Pramathas guarding the border.

39. O ascetic, till today we stood waiting with the hope that he would come out today, tomorrow or the day after.

40. Even today he has not come out. Even today our hope does not cease to be. Thus, fettered by the ropes of hope, we stay on though without any ground to stand on.

41. I shall speak of today’s miracle. O ascetic, listen to it now itself. I think something very good is bound to happen.

42. Everyday with great hunger we go as far as Prayāga with a desire for something to eat, but we do not get it anywhere.

43. Everywhere, in every forest, there are fruit-bearing trees. There are reservoirs with clear water on the earth at every step.

44. There are other types of foodstuff easily accessible to all. There are plenty of varieties of beverages everywhere.

45-47. But, the moment they come within our sight they move far away. Fortunately, O sage, on seeing a pilgrim today afflicted with hunger as I was, I approached him thinking that I should eat him forcibly. I was about to seize him quickly when words purified by the name of Śiva came out of his lotus-like mouth—words which removed all obstacles.

48. By remembering Śiva’s name, my sin too became reduced. Hence I got entrance here.

49. I was not immediately observed by the Pramathas at the border, since Yama too does not see those who have Śiva’s name always sounding in their ears.

50. Now I came as far as the border of Antargeha (Inner Shrine) along with him. That pilgrim went into the inside. I have stayed behind.

51. O sage, having seen you, I regard myself honoured now. O merciful one, save me from this terrible state.

52-54. On hearing these words of the ghost, that compassionate ascetic thought in his mind: ‘Fie upon those men who work only for their own sake! All the beasts, birds etc. are mere fillers of their own bellies. In this world only he is blessed who is always engaged for the sake of others. With my power of penance, I shall undoubtedly redeem this sin-distressed ghost who has sought refuge in me.’

55-56. After reflecting thus in his mind the excellent sage said to the Piśāca: “Take bath in this lake Vimaloda for the sake of quelling your sins. By the power of this Tīrtha and the visit paid to Kapardīśa, O Piśāca, your Piśācahood will become weak and then perish.”

57. On hearing these words of the sage who was delighted in his mind, the ghost with joy in his heart, bowed down to him. With the palms joined together he said to him:

58-59. “O excellent sage, O my lord, I do not get water even to drink, where then is the possibility of bath? As the deities of water will protect it, there can be talk of drinking here? Even the touch of water is very difficult to get.”

On hearing this statement of the ghost, he experienced great pleasure.

60. The ascetic who was capable of redeeming the whole universe said: “You take this holy ash and apply it to your broad forehead.

61. Due to the greatness of this holy ash, O ghost, no one anywhere will harass or create obstacles to even great sinners.

62. On seeing the forehead of even a sinner whitened by the Vibhūti (holy ash), the servants of Yama become terrified of the Pāśupata missile and take to flight.

63. On seeing a pond marked (spoiled) with bones, banners etc., wayfarers keep themselves away from them, and similarly the servants of Yama from one who is marked with holy ash and flowers.

64. Even the beasts of prey all-round never approach an excellent man fortified with Bhūti as a protecting coat of mail and guarded by Śivamantras.

65. If anyone devoutly smears with Bhasma sanctified by Śiva Mantra, the forehead, the chest, the root of the arm, cruel beings do not injure him.

66-67. The holy ash is declared as Rakṣā because it guards us day and night from all the wicked animals. Since it causes prosperity it is called Vibhūti. Since it illuminates (Bhāsana) the world or dispels (Bhartsana) Avidyā and its creations, it is called Bhasma. Since it minces sins it is called Pāṃsu. And since it eradicates (Kṣāraṇa) sin, it is called Kṣāra. The terms are thus (etymologically) explained by scholars.”

68. He took the Bhasma from its receptacle and placed it in the hand of the ghost. He received it with veneration and applied it over the forehead.

69. On seeing the Piśāca marked with Vibhūti, the deities of waters did not prevent him as he was ready to dive into water.

70. By the time he took his bath, drank water and came out of the lake his Piśācahood disappeared. He attained a divine body.

71. Wearing divine garlands and garments, applying divine scents and unguents he got into a divine vehicle and reached the aerial path.

72. As he went along the sky that ascetic was bowed down to by the Piśāca. He spoke loudly, “O sinless holy Sir, I have been liberated by you.

73. Thanks to the greatness of this Tīrtha. I attained a divine physical form far different from that miserable birth extremely censured (by all).

74. From today onwards, this Tīrtha shall be known by the name Piśācamocana. Through ablution, this Tīrtha shall eradicate Piśācahood of others as well.

75-76. If in this highly meritorious Tīrtha, men take their holy dip, offer balls of rice along with Sandhyā prayers and libations, their Pitṛs and Pitāmahas who by ill-luck had acquired Piśācahood will cast off the same and attain the greatest goal (Mokṣa).

77. Today, O ascetic, on the fourteenth lunar day of the bright half of the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, the rites of ablution etc. should be carried out (as they are) conducive to the eradication of Piśācahood.

78. Those men who perform annual pilgrimage here will be liberated from the sin of Tīrtha-pratigraha (acceptance of dāna in a Tīrtha).

79. By taking the holy dip at Piśācamocana, worshipping Kapardīśa and making gift of cooked food there, men can be fearless elsewhere (i.e. there is no need to be afraid of death elsewhere).

80. On the fourteenth lunar day in the bright half of Mārgaśīrṣa, if a devotee takes his holy dip (in the Tīrtha) before Kapardīśa, he shall not attain Piśācahood even if he dies elsewhere.”

81. After saying thus the divine person bowed down to that ascetic again and again. The blessed one attained divine goal.

82. O Pot-born One, after witnessing that great miracle, the ascetic propitiated Kapardīśvara and attained salvation in due course of time.

83. Beginning with this, O great sage, the Tīrtha at Vārāṇasī, Piśācamocana, the destroyer of all sins, attained great renown.

84. If in the Paiśācamocana Tīrtha one feeds a single Śivayogin, one attains the benefit of feeding ten million persons.

85. By listening to this holy chapter with restrained mind, a man is never attacked by goblins, ghosts and vampires.

86. This great narrative should be assiduously read to bring about peace and quiescence among children attacked by Bālagrahas (‘goblins attacking children’).

87. If a man proceeds to another land, after listening to this narrative, he will be nowhere assailed by thieves, tigers, Piśācas etc.

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