The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Secret of Jyeshtheshvara which is chapter 64 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 sixty-fourth chapter of the Uttarardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 64 - The Secret of Jyeṣṭheśvara

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Agastya said:

1-2. O Six-faced One, what did the Brāhmaṇas say on seeing Śaṃbhu? Tell me also what different Liṅgas are there. What miracle happened in the highly meritorious holy spot Jyeṣṭhasthāna much appreciated by the Lord of the Devas? Tell me, O Six-faced One.

Skanda replied:

3. Listen, O Agastya. I shall tell you what has been asked by you. In deference to Brahmā, the Lord went to Mountain Mandara.

4. Then those Brāhmaṇas, the sinless Sannyāsins of the holy spot (compelled to) desist from accepting monetary gifts, became bereft of support.

5. They sustained themselves with bulbous roots etc. Digging incessantly the ground with the tips of thick sticks, they created a beautiful pond named Daṇḍakhāta.

6. Around that holy Tīrtha, they installed many great Liṅgas. Eager to propitiate Maheśa, they assiduously performed penance.

7. Always smeared with holy ash and wearing Rudrākṣa, they were ever engaged in the adoration of Liṅgas. They regularly repeated the Śatarudriya passages also.

8. O sage, when they heard of the return of the Lord of Devas, though they were lean due to austerities, they became filled with pleasure.

9. Five thousand Brāhmaṇas who were practising severe austerities, came from Daṇḍakhāta, the great Tīrtha, for the vision of the Lord.

10. From the holy spot named Mandākinī Tīrtha the Brāhmaṇas engaged in Pāśupata Vrata, solely propitiating Śiva, came there in a body numbering ten thousand.

11. Ten thousand three hundred sages reached there from Haṃsa Tīrtha. One thousand two hundred came from the Tīrtha of Durvāsas.

12. Six thousand Brāhmaṇas came from Matsyodarī; seven hundred came from Kapālamocana.

13. One thousand two hundred came from the Tīrtha named Ṛṇamocana. O sage, five thousand came from Vaitaraṇī.

14. From the holy pit named Pṛthūdaka caused to be dug by King Pṛthu, one thousand three hundred Brāhmaṇas set off.

15. From the holy pit named after the celestial damsel Menakā, two hundred came. From Urvaśī Kuṇḍa one thousand two hundred came.

16. Similarly from Airāvata Kuṇḍa three hundred Brāhmaṇas came. From Gandharvāpsaras Tīrtha, nine hundred Brāhmaṇas came.

17. From Vṛṣeśa Tīrtha, three hundred ninety came. From Yakṣiṇī Kuṇḍa came one thousand three hundred.

18. From Lakṣmī Tīrtha came one thousand six hundred. Seven thousand excellent Brāhmaṇas came from Piśācamocana.

19. From Pitṛ Kuṇḍa, a few more than a hundred came; From Dhruva Tīrtha, six hundred; five hundred from Mānasa Saras.

20. From Vāsukihrada ten thousand Brāhmaṇas came. Similarly from Jānakī Kuṇḍa eight hundred Brāhmaṇas came to see the Lord.

21. They all came to the Lord of Kāśī, the bestower of supreme bliss. Similarly from Gautama Kuṇḍa nine hundred Brāhmaṇas came.

22. From the Durgatisaṃhartṛ Tīrtha one thousand one hundred Brāhmaṇas came there to see the Lord, Consort of Umā.

23. O Pot-born One, the Brāhmaṇas residing on the banks of Gaṅgā from the confluence of Asī till the Saṅgameśvara Tīrtha, came there.

24. Eighteen thousand five hundred fifty-five Brāhmaṇas came there from the banks of Gaṅgā.

25-26. With auspicious Sūktas (hymns) Śaṃbhu was eulogized by the Brāhmaṇas shouting slogans of victory. They had wet rice-grains and Dūrvā grass, flowers and fruits and garlands of fragrant flowers in their hands. He was bowed down to repeatedly. After granting them freedom from fear, Śaṃbhu gladly enquired after their welfare.

27. Thereafter with the hands joined in reverence, the Brāhmaṇas said: “O Lord, to us the residents of the holy spot, there is always increase in happiness and welfare.

28. Particularly you have been made visible to our eyes, you whose real form even the Śrutis did not know really.

29-30. Those who are averse to your holy spot will not have happiness at any time. All the fourteen worlds will always turn away their faces from them. O Lord who have serpents as bracelets, if Kāśī is always in the hearts of people, the poison of the serpent of worldly existence will not be effective in regard to them anywhere.

31. The two-syllabled Mantra KĀ-ŚĪ is the jewel which destroys rebirth (i.e. leads to Mokṣa). How can then be the negation of welfare, if it is retained in the throat?

32. He who always drinks the nectar in the form of the two-syllables KĀ-ŚĪ, gives up (six) changes such as old age and becomes immortal and liberated.

33. He by whom the pair of syllables acting as nectar unto the ears, namely, KĀ-ŚĪ has been heard never hears the story arising from conception.

34. If the dust of Kāśī, being wafted by the wind, were to fall on a head, that head becomes characterised by the digit of the moon, O Moon-crested Lord.

35. Even if casually, Ānandakānana were to come within the range of the vision of people, they are not reborn here (and hence) they never see the cremation ground.

36. If anyone were to repeat this great Mantra, namely Kāśī, while moving about, standing, sleeping or walking, he becomes free from fear.

37. If the two Bījākṣaras Kā-śī ( is the Bīja of Kāma and ŚA is the Bīja of Śrī) were to be retained in the heart, all the Karmabījas (seeds of Karmas) become ineffective in regard to him.

38. If anyone were to die muttering Kāśī-Kāśī-Kāśī even while staying elsewhere, salvation shines in front of him.

39. This Kāśī is weal incarnate. O Bhava, you are the weal in person. The triple stream Gaṅgā is the form of weal. This triad of weal exists nowhere else.”

40. On hearing these words fully expressive of devotion to the holy spot from the Brāhmaṇas, Hara, the lover of the Daughter of the Mountain, became highly pleased.

41. The Lord, delighted within, said: “Blessed are you, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, since you have such a devotion to my holy place of excessive sanctity.

42. I know that you have all become fully endowed with Sattva Guṇa by resorting to this holy spot, free from Rajas and Tamas and hence capable of crossing the ocean of worldly existence.

43. Those who are devotees of Vārāṇasī are certainly my devotees. They are certainly living-liberated ones, the objects of the benign glances of the glory of salvation.

44. Those by whom the meanest of creatures stationed in Kāśī, has been antagonized, have actually antagonized the entire earth along with me.

45. He who rejoices on hearing the eulogy of Vārāṇasī has actually congratulated joyously the entire cosmic egg.

46. Those men who reside in this Ānandakānana are free from sins. They will reside within my mind.

47. Those who stay in my holy spot and do devotional acts unto me, those who bear the distinguishing marks of my devotees, only to them do I impart the means of salvation.

48. I do not impart to them (salvation), to those who neither stay here, nor are devoted unto me, nor bear the significant marks.

49. If Kāśī, the city of salvation, shines in the hearts of people, they shine before me and are enveloped by the glory of salvation.

50. Those to whom this Kāśī, the glory of salvation, does not appeal are undoubtedly fallen ones, inferior to those who desire the glory of heavenly pleasures.

51. The four aims of life of those who eagerly wish for Kāśī, shall stand in front of them like servants, O Brāhmaṇas, with my favour.

52. I am the blazing fire of forest in the Ānandakānana here. I burn down the seeds of Karmas of the creatures; I do not let them grow.

53. One should always stay in Kāśī. I should be adored assiduously. Kali and Kāla should be overcome. The lady Mukti (Salvation) should be enjoyed.

54. Even after reaching Kāśī, a man of evil intellect, who does not serve me properly (will find) that the glory of salvation though within the grasp of his hands, perishes quickly.

55. Blessed are you Brāhmaṇas, residents of Kāśī, noted prominently for devotion. I am not far from your thoughts nor is so Kāśikā.

56. What boon should be given to you here? Choose it from me as you please, since you, the Sannyāsins of the holy spot, are my favourites.

57. On imbibing the nectar emanating from the ocean of milk of the mouth of Maheśāna, all the Brāhmaṇas became satisfied. They chose an excellent boon.

The Brāhmaṇas said:

58. O omniscient Maheśāna, consort of Umā, this is our boon. Kāśī, the dispeller of the distress of the worldly existence, should never be abandoned by you.

59. In view of the prayer of the Brāhmaṇas let not any curse pronounced by anyone be an obstacles unto salvation, at any time; let is not be effective in Kāśī.

60. Let our devotion to the pair of your lotus-like feet be unaffected by the opposing pairs of entities. Let our stay in Kāśī be continuous till death.

61. Of what avail is another boon. This boon itself should be given to us. But, note, O Slayer of Andhaka, still we shall choose another boon.

62. Let there be your presence in the Liṅgas as your representation installed by us, purified by the devotion unto you.

63. On hearing these utterances of those Brāhmaṇas the Pināka-wielding Lord said: “So be it”: and another boon was also granted, namely “You will be endowed with knowledge.”

64. The Lord of Devas said further: “O Brāhmaṇas, listen. I shall tell you what is beneficial to you. Let it be certainly carried out.

65. The north-flowing river (Gaṅgā) should always be resorted to. The Liṅga should be assiduously adored. Self-control, offering gifts and compassion for others should be practised always by those who desire salvation.

66. This alone is mentioned as the secret of the inhabitants of the holy spot. Thoughts for others’ welfare should be entertained. Words causing grief and affliction should not be uttered.

67. Sins should not be committed here by persons desirous of eminence, since good and evil deeds committed here are everlasting.

68. The sin committed elsewhere perishes in Kāśī. The sin committed in Vārāṇasī perishes in Antargeha (Inner sanctum Sanctorum of Kāśī).

69. The sin committed in Antargeha causes Paiśācya (state of being a vampire) and downfall in hell. If the sin is committed outside, the attainment of vampirehood and hell goes away (after entering Antargeha).

OR: If a man commits a sin within Antargṛha and goes (out of Vārāṇasī), he gets the vampirehood and hell.

70. A Karma done in Kāśī is not wiped off even in crores of Kalpas, but to those who die here Rudrapiśācatva happens for thirty thousand (divine years).

71-72. If a person staying in Kāśī is always engaged in sinful activities, he attains the species of Piśācas continuing for thirty thousand years. Thereafter he continues to stay here. He will attain excellent knowledge. Therefore, when knowledge is attained, he will attain perfect salvation.

73. In the case of those who commit sins here, but die elsewhere, I shall tell you the goal reached by them. Listen, O Brāhmaṇas.

74. There are some Gaṇas of mine called Yāmas. They are ferocious and hideous in forms. At the outset they put evildoers of the holy spot in a crucible and blow.

75. Thereafter, in rainy season they take the persons of evil action to the eastern marshy places rarely accessible (to others). They then put them in the vast expanse of water.

76. They are bitten day and night by winged leeches, aquatic reptiles and mosquitoes that cannot be warded off.

77. Thereafter in the season of winter, they are taken to the Himālaya mountain. They [are?] deprived of food and clothing, are subjected to great distress day and night.

78. Thereafter, in summer season, they are kept in desert region devoid of water and vagetation [vegetation?]. They are (continuously) kept thirsty and scorched by the rays of the sun.

79. They are tortured and harassed by the ferocious Gaṇas all-round in this manner for an unlimited period of time and ultimately brought here.

80-81. Those Yāmas convey the information to the presence of Kālarāja. Inspecting them Kālarāja reminds them of their sinful actions. He unites them with other Rudrapiśācas keeping them naked, distressed by hunger and thirst and having the skins at the belly and back touching each other.

82. Thereafter, those Rudrapiśācas continue to be the attendants of Bhairava and endure much fatigue arising from the severity of hunger and thirst.

83-84. Occasionally they get some food and that too contaminated with blood. Thus, they remain there in an excessively miserable condition for a period of thirty thousand years. With cords round their necks, they are taken around the impaling stake in the cremation ground. Although very thirsty, they do not get any opportunity to even touch water.

85. When ultimately at the sight of Kālabhairava their sins become destroyed, they are born here itself and become liberated at my behest.

86. Hence one should not feel drawn towards sinful activities, thoughts and utterances. Those who desire to attain great benefit, should always abide by the path of purity.

87. No sinner dying in Avimukta falls into hell. With my favour, he attains the greatest goal (Mokṣa).

88. If my devotee of excellent holy vows observes fast, he will not return (to the worldly existence) even in the course of a hundred crores of Kalpas.

89. Realizing that the life of human beings is not permanent and it is full of sins, Avimukta should always be resorted to. It causes release from the fear of worldly existence.

90. Excepting the city of Vārāṇasī that suppresses all sins, I do not see any other means of expiation in the Kali age for the creatures.

91. Whatever sin has been incurred and accumulated in the course of thousands of previous births, becomes dispelled entirely as soon as one enters Avimukta.

92. On death here itself the greatest salvation is obtained, which the Yogin is likely to get after practising Yoga in the course of thousands of births.

93. Animals of the lower strata having their habitation in Avimukta attain the greatest goal (Mokṣa) after meeting with death in due course.

94. Those deluded ones enveloped in darkness (ignorance) who do not resort to Avimukta, frequently stay in the midst of faeces, urine and seminal fluid (in the womb).

95. If a sensible man reaches Avimukta and installs a Liṅga, he has no rebirth even in the course of hundreds of crores of Kalpas.

96. Certain indeed is the downfall of planets, constellations and stars in the course of time. But there is no problem of a downfall in the case of those who die in Avimukta.

97. After committing murder of a Brāhmaṇa, if one later repents and gains mental control and meets with his death in Kāśī, he undoubtedly becomes liberated.

98. Chaste women with mental purity and concentration due to devotion unto me, attain the greatest goal, O Brāhmaṇas, if they die in Avimukta.

99. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, at the time of death I myself impart Tāraka Brahman whereby an embodied soul becomes identical with that (Supreme Soul).

100. Nowhere else does anyone attain Mokṣa like my devotee here itself, with the mind centred round me and all his activities dedicated to me.

101. After realizing that death is certain and inevitable, return (to life) is full of misery and every created thing is unsteady (i.e. what comes surely goes away) one should resort to Kāśī.

102. The Glory of Salvation will resort to those men of pure intellect by whom Kāśī is resorted to in thought, word and deed.

103. It is as good as the entire three worlds including me have been pleased by him, if a person could please at least a single person residing in Kāśī through wealth legitimately earned.

104. If a meritorious soul propitiates a man of the City of Salvation, through abundance, by granting (four) aims of life, O Brāhmaṇas, I too propitiate him.

105. The saintly king Divodāsa, righteously protecting Kāśī, has attained my region along with his physical body. There is no return from that region.

106. Here within a single birth, Yoga, knowledge and salvation (are attained). Hence after reaching Avimukta one should not go to another penance-grove.

107. After fully comprehending that salvation is difficult to attain, and the worldly existence excessively terrible, one should hit (one’s) feet with a stone and wait for Kāla, here.

108. When men of defiled intellect leave Avimukta and go elsewhere, Bhūtas (living beings, spirits) will laugh clapping the hands together (at that).

109. Which creature will be mentally inclined to go out after coming to the meritorious Vārāṇasī, the most excellent holy spot?

110. The benefit obtained by men through Mahādānas (most valuable gifts) elsewhere is obtained when (only) a Kākiṇī (20 Varāṭikās, 1/4th (one fourth of a Paṇa) is given away in Avimukta.

111. One man may worship a Liṅga. Another may perform penance. Between these two, he who worships the Liṅga is superior.

112. One has duly gifted away a crore of cows in the other holy spots. The other stays in Kāśī for a single day. Between these two, the resident of Kāśī is better.

113. The benefit that is obtained by feeding a crore of Brāhmaṇas elsewhere, can be obtained if a single person is fed in Vārāṇasī.

114. Giving alms in Kāśī shall be on a par with Tulāpuruṣadāna (giving things equal in weight of the devotee as a gift) on Sannihati in Kurukṣetra when there is solar eclipse.

115. Here my great luminous splendour is established from Pātāla. It has gone beyond the seven worlds. The infinite firmament has taken the form of Liṅga.

116. It is certain that those who remember my Avimukta Lṅga even at an extremity of the earth, are liberated from great sins.

117. One by whom I am seen, touched and worshipped in this holy spot, acquires Tāraka Jñāna. He is not reborn.

118. One who worships me here but dies elsewhere, attains me in the next birth. He will then be liberated.”

119. After telling the greatness of the holy spot before the Brāhmaṇas, Hara vanished there itself even as they were watching.

120. Those Brāhmaṇas too, after seeing the Three-eyed Lord directly, became extremely delighted in their minds. They then returned to their respective hermitages.

121. After thinking over the speech of Śaṃbhu, the storehouse of mercy, the Brāhmaṇas abandoned other activities and worshipped the Liṅgas.

Skanda said:

122. By reading and causing the excellent narration of the secret to be read, a faithful devotee becomes rid of the sins and is honoured in the world of Śiva.

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