The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Pancanada Comes into Being which is chapter 59 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-ninth chapter of the Uttarardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 59 - Pañcanada Comes into Being

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

[Note: Pañcanada is Pañcagaṅgā, one of the five sacred-most Tīrthas on Gaṅgā. Before Gaṅgā was brought there by Bhagīratha there were two streams (rivulets)—Dhūtapāpā and Kiraṇā, joining the pool called Dharmanada. At Prayāga Gaṅgā was joined by Yamunā and Sarasvatī. These three rivers coming from Prayāga, assimilated the local two rivulets Dhūtapāpā and Kiraṇā. The confluence of the five rivers at this place became known as Pañcagaṅgā Tīrtha and the fine Ghāṭa here is known Pañcagaṅgā Ghāṭa. (BCL, p. 237)

Today, to the north of the bathing Ghāṭ is a trickle of water called Dhūtapāpā. To the south (of what is called Lakṣmaṇa Bal Ghāṭ), there is a rectangular Kuṇḍa opening towards Gaṅgā and it is called the “river” Kiraṇā. In fact these Purāṇic ‘rivers’ are symbolically represented today.

The present chapter describes how this spot became “Pañcanada” (Pañcagaṅgā).]

Agastya said:

1-3. O Six-faced Lord, O delighter of the heart of Sarvajña (Omniscient Śiva), whose hairs have been kissed by Gaurī, O slayer of Tāraka, O storehouse of all knowledge, obeisance to you, the son of Sarvajña, the cause of welfare and the redeemer. Obeisance to the noble-souled Kumāra who conquered Māra completely in every respect. I offer obeisance to you who, after perceiving Kāmāri (enemy of Kama, Śiva), Ardhanārīśa (the Lord half of whom is female) as brought about by Kāma (Love) conquered Māra though yet a Kumāra (a person of tender age)

4. O Lord Skanda, it has been mentioned by you that Hari with a sham physical form of a Brāhmaṇa, occupied the extremely holy Tīrthas (called) Pañcanada at Kāśī.

5. Kāśī is the most sacred Tīrtha among all the regions of Bhū, Bhuvaḥ and Svaḥ (the three worlds). Even therein the extremely sacred Tīrtha called Pañcanada came to be known by Hari.

6. Whence, O Six-faced One, is the name Pañcanada (was given) unto that Tīrtha? How did it become the holiest of all Tīrthas?

7-8. Lord Viṣṇu is the immanent soul, the Lord of the universe, the protector, the creator and the playful destroyer of all the worlds. How did he happen to have a form though he is formless? How did he, the unmanifest one, become manifest? How did he, one without shape, happen to be one with shape? How did he who is transcendent, happen to be immanent in the world?

9-11. He who has no birth, took many births; he who is nameless, took many distinct names; he who has no support, is the supporter of everything; he who is devoid of attributes, became the basis of attributes; he who has no sense-organs, became the Lord of sense-organs; he who has no legs, has become the traverser of all places. How did the omnipresent Janārdana withdraw his form and station himself at Pañcanada, the most excellent Tīrtha, in the form of being the soul of all?

O Six-faced Lord, narrate this as it has been heard by you from the Five-faced Lord.

Skanda said:

12. After bowing down to Maheśvara, I shall tell this story that subdues all sins and brings about all welfare.

13. I shall tell how the Tīrtha called Pañcanada at Kāśī became well-known. Merely by repeating its name, sin gets shredded into a thousand bits.

14. Prayāga is the Lord of all Tīrthas. It forcibly draws out the sins of sinners through its own power.

15-17. It is by the power of Prayāga that all the Tīrthas remove the sins of sinners. In the month of Māgha when the Sun is in the Zodiac of Capricorn they come into contact with the king of Tīrthas (i.e. Prayāga) every year and get rid of their impurities. Prayāga, the Lord of all Tīrthas, gets rid of all the impurities dumped into it by all the other Tīrthas and also the great sins of great sinners, thanks to the power of Pañcanada. Throughout the year the Tīrtha Nāyaka (‘Lord of the Tīrthas’ i.e. Prayāga) gathers together masses of sins. In the month of Kārttika, by a single dip into Pañcanada, all those sins are dispelled.

18. I shall mention how Pañcanada originated. O blessed son of Mitra and Varuṇa, listen.

19. Formerly there was a sage of great penance named Vedaśiras, born in the family of Bhṛgu. It was as though he was another embodied form of the Vedas.

20. While that sage was performing the penance, Śuci, the most excellent one of the celestial damsels, endowed with beauty and well-shaped limbs came into his view.

21. Merely at her sight the mind of the sage became extremely agitated. He had an emission of semen immediately. The excellent celestial damsel became frightened.

22. She bowed down to him from a distance. Śuci’s limbs shook excessively due to her fear of the curse of the sage. She spoke to him:

23-24. “O storehouse of extremely rigorous penance, I have not committed even the least offence. (If so) I should be excused. O receptacle of forgiveness and forbearance, ascetics are personified forgiveness. The minds of sages are generally softer than even a lotus. O extremely good one, in their own form, women are hard-hearted.”

25. On hearing these words of that celestial damsel Śuci, the sage curbed the flow of the great current of anger by means of the dam of discrimination.

26. Pleased within himself he said: “O Śuci, you are indeed Śuci (pure). In this matter there is no fault on my part nor on yours, O fair lady.

27. ‘Young maidens are of the form of fire and men are like butter’, so say those who are less informed. If we ponder there is a great difference.

28. Even butter melts only on coming into contact with fire, but it is wonderful that man melts even from a distance, merely when the name of a woman is mentioned.

29. Hence, O Śuci of pure mind, you need not be afraid, Since you came unexpectedly, I had the emission of semen.

30. If a sage is free from lust there is no harm in this emission of semen as much as there would be from a fit of anger which is inimical as well as blinding within a moment.

31. The power of penance accumulated with very great difficulty becomes reduced due to anger, like the lustre of the sun and the moon when covered with a patch of cloud.

32. How can wealth and human aspiration flourish, should there be anger, the cause of ruin and disaster? How can good people prosper if wicked people gain the upper hand?

33. When anger grips the mind, how can love stir out? When Rāhu completely eclipses the Moon, how can there be the moonlight?

34. When the forest-fire of anger blazes, how can the tree of peace stand safe and sound? Has the safety and soundness of a baby elephant been seen anywhere by anyone when a lion is nearby?

35. Hence anger which is antagonistic to and destructive of the four aims of life should be eschewed by a sensible man.

36. Now, O fair lady Śuci, listen, what should be done by you. Our semen never goes waste. Hence accept it (within you).

37. Should this semen that got emitted at your sight be taken care of by you, an extremely pure jewel of a female child will be born of you,”

38. On being addressed thus by the sage, that celestial lady was reborn as it were. “This is your great favour”, saying so she swallowed the semen of the sage.

39. In due course of time the celestial lady gave birth to a jewel of a female child that was the storehouse of loveliness, delighting much the eyes of onlookers.

40. Leaving her in the hermitage of Sage Vedaśiras, Śuci, the most excellent one among the celestial damsels, went somewhere as she pleased.

41. By means of the milk of a doe in his own hermitage, Vedaśiras affectionately brought up that doe-eyed girl.

42. The sage gave her a meaningful name Dhūtapāpā (‘One who has shaken off sins’) by merely uttering which all the clusters of sins quake (through fear).

43. She had all the characteristic features of brilliance. She was beautiful in every limb. The sage did not keep her away from his lap even for a moment.

44. Looking at her growing steadily day by day, he was extremely glad like that Ocean of Milk looking at the beautiful digit of the moon at night.

45. On observing that she reached the age of eight, the great sage thought within himself: ‘To whom is she to be given?’ and so asked her directly:

Vedaśiras said:

46. O my blessed daughter, O Dhūtapāpā of splendid eyes, to which bridegroom shall I give you? You yourself tell about that bridegroom.

47. On hearing this utterance of her father whose mind was drenched with excessive affection, that girl Dhūtapāpā said with her face lowered:

Dhūtapāpā said:

48. Dear father, if you consider that I should be given away to a handsome bridegroom, then give me unto that person of whom I am telling you now.

49. He should appeal to you too, dear father. May you be pleased to listen attentively?

He should be the holiest of all. He should be one devoutly bowed to by all.

50. He should be one whom all love, from whom all happiness originates, who never perishes and who continues to be ever present.

51. He must be one who certainly guards from the rise of great calamities here in this world as well as hereafter, by whom all cherished desires get fulfilled.

52. He must be one in whose presence conjugal bliss shall increase day by' day and by continuously carrying out whose service, there should be nothing to fear.

53. He should be one on mentioning whose name, no one can harass and with whom as support, the fourteen worlds stand steady.

54. For your welfare as well as that of mine, dear father, give me unto that Vara (excellent one, bridegroom) who possesses these and other good qualities and whose activities are excellent.

55-57a. On hearing this, her father experienced great joy: “I am blessed. My ancestors are blessed in whose family there is a daughter like her. Certainly this girl whose intellect is thus inclined is verily (as her name indicates) Dhūtapāpā (‘one whose sins are shaken off’). Who can he be here who is really endowed with qualities like these. Or, how can he be obtained without the appearance of the fruit of great merits?”

57b-58. Then the eminent sage concentrated his mind for a while and visualized by his spiritual knowledge, a bridegroom with such good qualities. Then he spoke to the blessed girl:

The Father said:

59. Listen, O wise girl! Verily there certainly exists a bridegroom, the receptacle of the good qualities as enumerated by you.

60. He who is extremely handsome in his features, cannot be easily obtained. He should be purchased (won over) by means of penance as the price in a market in the form of some excellent Tīrtha.

61. O (my) daughter, he cannot be easily obtained through a lot of wealth, ör through nobility of birth, or by the study and practice of the Vedas and Scriptures or through the power of prosperity.

62. Neither by the beauty of physical form can he be obtained, nor by intellect and never by valour. The only means (to obtain him) is the purity of the mind through subduing the sense-organs.

63. That befitting husband of great intellect is to be obtained with the help of great austerity together with Dama (controlling the sense-organs). Dāna (gifts) and Dayā (compassion).

64. On hearing these words that girl bowed down to her father. Having decided to perform penance, she requested her father for the requisite permission.

Skanda said:

65. On being permitted by her father, she performed a great penance in the extremely sacred spot (of Avimukta)—a penance not easily performed even by ascetics.

66. (What a great contrast!) Where is that girl of exquisitely soft limbs? Where is such an uncommon penance of that sort which can be performed only with a sturdy physical frame? Wonderful is the fortitude of persons of excellent mental setup!

67. In rainy season when there was continuous downpour together with violent gusts of wind, she spent many nights on large slabs of stone.

68. She did not tremble even slightly when she heard the terrible thundering sound, nor when she saw the dazzling streaks of lightning and when she got drenched in torrential downpour.

69. During dark nights there were frequent flashes of lightning in the penance grove. It appeared as though it passed to and fro inspecting her practice of penance.

70. Verily the season of summer itself had come down to the penance grove under the guise of that girl and started performing penance with five fires all-round.

71. Though scorched by the five fires the girl never felt thirsty for water, nor did she drink even a drop from the tip of a Kuśa.

72. She appeared to be wearing a shawl in the form of horripilation; her very skin trembled; she was lean and emaciated through the penance. Thus she spent the early wintry nights.

73. In late winter during the nights she resorted to the lakes, when she was thought by the Sārasa birds there as though a new lotus-plant had sprung up.

74. Even the minds of ascetics become passionate during spring but the passion of her mind and the reddish tinge of her lips were taken over by the sprouts of mango trees.

75. During her stay in the forest in spring season, that girl kept her mind steadily engaged in penance though she heard the Kākalī sound of the cuckoos.

76. In autumn she became engaged in the penance, after depositing as it were the lustre of her lips in the Bandhujīva (China rose) and the charming gaits in the swan.

77. The ascetic girl Dhūtapāpā who had eschewed all contacts with pleasures resorted to the practice of Bhogins (‘those who enjoy’, serpents) (i.e. the only intake was air) in order to prevent the rise of hunger.

78. Just as a jewel when whetted on a whetting stone attains greater lustre, so also her body, though lean on account of the penance, shone all the more.

79. On seeing her in continuous penance with purity of mind, Brahmā approached her and said: “O girl of excellent intellect, I am pleased. Choose a boon.”

80. On seeing the Four-faced Lord seated on his vehicle, the swan, she became delighted. Bowing down with palms joined in deference, she spoke to the Grand Patriarch:

Dhūtapāpā said:

81. O Grandfather, O bestower of boons, if a boon is to be granted to me, make me the purest of all pure ones.

82. On hearing of her desire, the Creator was excessively delighted and contented in his mind. He spoke in reply to that pure girl seeking purity:

Brahmā said:

83. O Dhūtapāpā, by my boon, do become the most sacred and purest without parallel of all the pure things here all-round.

84. O girl, there are three and a half crores of pure Tīrthas in heaven, on the earth and in the atmosphere. They are capable of purifying more and more.

85. At my behest may all those Tīrthas reside in your body in every pore of hair. Be the most sanctifying of all.

86. After saying this, Brahmā vanished. That girl Dhūtapāpā whose sins had become dispelled went to the hut of Vedaśiras, her father.

87. Once Dharma who had been attracted by her power of penance, saw her sporting about in the courtyard of the hut. He requested the girl:

Dharma said:

88. O fair lady of splendid countenance, O slender-bellìed one of huge buttocks and large eyes, ī have been bought as it were by thy richly beautiful form; grant me the pleasure of secret intercourse.

89. O fair-eyed One, thanks to thee, the Lord of Love harasses me excessively.

Thus she was often requested in secret by that (Dharma) whose name she did not know.

She said:

90. My father should be the giver. O wretch of wicked intention, request him because a girl should be given in marriage by her father. This is the injunction of the eternal Sruti.

91. After hearing these words, Dharma continued his importunity to that girl of forbearance, he himself having lost it due to the gravity of what was destined to happen.

Dharma said:

92. O beautiful girl of great fortune, I do not (wish to) request your father. Carry out my desire through the Gāndharva form of marriage.

93. On hearing these importunate words, that girl wished to pay regard due to her father because of her being a daughter. She therefore, spoke to the Brāhmaṇa thus:

94. “O dull-witted one, do not speak thus again. Go away from here.” Though admonished thus by the girl, he did not remain quiet because he was utterly afflicted by god of Love.

95. Then the girl cursed him, having become powerful due to her penance: “Since you are utterly insensible, become a river, a receptacle of water.”

96. Cursed thus by her he too became angry and cursed her thus: “O wicked-minded one of hard heart, become a rock.”

Skanda said:

97. Thus on account of their mutual curse, O sage, Dharma became a river in the great Tīrtha named Avimukta. It became well-known as the great Dharmanada.

98. Very much frightened, she told her father the reason of her becoming a rock. By means of his meditation, the sage understood that it was Dharma and said to his daughter:

99. “Do not be afraid, dear daughter. I shall do unto you everything that will end in an auspicious result. His curse cannot become otherwise. Become a lunar stone.

100. When the moon rises you will become melted, dear daughter, and be a river, dear chaste one, well-reputed as Dhūtapāpā.

101. O girl, that Dharmanada is your splendid husband. He possesses all those good qualities as expressed by you.

102. O wise one, listen to one thing more. By the power of my penance there shall be two forms of both of you, the original and the liquidized.”

103. O scorcher of enemies, thus the father consoled the daughter. The wise sage blessed her duly when she became a lunar stone.

104. Ever since then, O sage the Hrada (still Pond) became famous as Dharmanada in Kāśī. In the liquid form Dharma is the destroyer of great sins.

105. That splendid river Dhūtapāpā consists of all Tīrthas. It shall remove masses of great sins as though they are trees growing on its banks.

106. Before the advent of the celestial river Bradhna (the Sun-god) performed a penance in that Tīrtha called Dharmanada along with Dhūtapāpā.

107. The Ray-garlanded Lord (the Sun-god) meditated on Maṅgalā Gaurī in the presence of Gabhastīśvara (Siva) and performed his fierce penance.

108. While he was performing the penance in the name of Mayûkhāditya, great sweat issued forth from his rays due to the strain involved.

109. The continuous perspiration that issued forth from the rays, became a holy river named Kiraṇā.

110. In conjunction with Dhūtapāpā, the river named Kiraṇā shall destroy the darkness of the mass of great sins merely through the holy bath therein.

111. At the outset, the holy Dharmanada joined Dhūtapāpā whereby all sins were destroyed because it consisted of all Tīrthas.

112. Kiraṇā augmented by the Sun joined with her. Merely by remembering the name of Kiraṇā great delusion becomes destroyed.

113. Kiraṇā and Dhūtapāpā fall into the auspicious Dharmanada. These two rivers in Vārāṇasī with their holy waters destroy all sins.

114. Thereafter Bhāgīrathī arrived there along with Bhagīratha, son of Dilīpa. Yamunā and Sarasvatī came there like Bhāgīrathī.

115. Five rivers are glorified here: Kiraṇā, Dhūtapāpā, Sarasvatī of holy waters, Gaṅgā and Yamunā.

116. Hence the Tīrtha became renowned in all the three worlds by the name Pañcanada. A man who takes his holy dip therein does not take up a physical form consisting of the five elements.

117. In this confluence of five rivers that destroys masses of sins, one should take one’s ablution whereby one passes off splitting the pavilion of the cosmos.

118. There are many Tīrthas here in Kāśī at every step, but they are not on a par even with a ten-millionth part of Pañcanada Tīrtha.

119. By taking the holy dip on a single day in Pañcanada at Kāśī that benefit one certainly gains which one gains by taking sedulous bath in Prayāga for the whole of the month of Māgha.

120. After bathing in Pañcanada Tīrtha and offering libations to the forefathers, a devotee should worship Bindumādhava. He will not be reborn.

121. The contentment of the forefathers shall be for as many years as there are gingelly seeds in the libation to the forefathers in the holy Tīrtha of Pañcanada.

122. If Śrāddha is offered with great faith in the splendid Tīrtha of Pañcanada, the forefathers shall become liberated, though they might have taken birth in different species of creatures.

123. On observing the greatness of Pañcanada in respect to the injunctions regarding Śrāddha this Gāthā (folk rhyme) is being sung by the groups of ancestors in the world of Yama.

124. “Will someone belonging to our family come to Pañcanada at Kāśī and perform Śrāddha whereby we shall get liberated?”

125. This Gāthā pertaining to Pañcanada at Kāśī is being sung everyday in front of Śrāddhadeva (god of Death) by the forefathers.

126. If even the least of money is given away there in the Pañcanada Tīrtha there shall be no reduction to that Puṇya (merit) even if the Kalpa comes to a close.

127. Even a barren woman shall certainly give birth to a son after taking a holy bath in the Pañcanada Hrada for a year and worshipping Maṅgalā Gaurī.

128. If the deity of one’s own choice be bathed with the holy waters of Pañcanada filtered with a cloth, the devotee shall attain great benefit.

129. A drop of water of Pañcanada when weighed against hundred and eight potfuls of Amṛta has excelled (those pitchers of Nectar).

130. By taking in a drop of Pañcanada water with faith, one gets as much purity as is cited as the benefit of taking in Pañcakūrca (Pañcagavya).

131. By taking the holy bath in the waters of Pañcanada one gets hundred times the benefit that one gets after Avabhṛtha (valedictory) baths after Rājasūya and Aśvamedha.

132. Rājasūya and Aśvamedha may very well be the means of achieving heaven; but the holy bath in Pañcanada is conducive to salvation for two Ghaṭikās of Brahmā.

133. Coronation in the heavenly kingdom is not as much worthy of honour to good people as the holy dip in Pañcanada which accords immense pleasure.

134. Better to go to Vārāṇasī and be a servant to those who sprinkle themselves with the waters of Pañcanada than be a king elsewhere with million kings as servants.

135. Those who do not take their holy dips in Pañcanada in the month of Kārttika that removes all sins, continue to stay in a mother’s womb even today. They are doomed to be in the womb again.

156. In Kṛtayuga the Tīrtha is named Dharmanada; in Tretā it is Dhūtapāpaka; in Dvāpara it is Bindu Tīrtha and it is remembered as Pañcanada in Kali age.

137. What is obtained as benefit in Kṛtayuga after performing penance for a hundred years is obtained as benefit by a single bath in Pañcanada in the month of Kārttika.

138. By performing holy ablution in Dharmanada in the month of Kārttika, one shall get the same benefit as is obtained elsewhere by performing holy rites such as Iṣṭāpūrtas for the whole life.

139. There is no Tīrtha anywhere on the earth like Dhūtapāpā where a single holy dip destroys sins accumulated in the course of three births.

140. By gifting gold to the extent of a Kṛṣṇala (a Raktika) in Bindu Tīrtha a man is never kept in want of gold. He will never be poor.

141. At Bindu Tīrtha any of these things can be gifted: a cow, a plot of land, gingelly seeds, gold, a horse, clothes, cooked food, garland or ornaments. Thereby one gets those things perennially.

142. By offering a single Āhuti in a well-kindled fire in accordance with the injunctions at the holy Tīrtha called Dharmanada, one obtains the benefit of ten million Homas.

143. No one is capable of extolling adequately the infinite greatness of Pañcanada Tīrtha which is the splendid abode of all the four aims of life.

144. By listening to this meritorious narrative and making others listen devoutly, one becomes purified in the soul of all sins and is honoured in the world of Viṣṇu.

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