by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 1,344,335 words
This page describes The Assembly of Sixty-eight Holy Spots which is chapter 69 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-ninth chapter of the Uttarardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
2. The spot where the hide was sportingly worn by the Lord, is well-known as Rudrāvāsa. It accords all spiritual powers.
4. “O Lord of the chiefs of Devas, O Lord of the universe, sixty-eight very fascinating and charming mansions full of jewels have sprung up here.
6. Which has been brought from where, which has been installed in what place, I shall describe, O Lord. Be pleased to attend for a short while.
9. Whatever holy rite is performed there, say, holy bath, offerings, Japas, penance and monetary gifts, by those who seek welfare, shall truly be crores of crores (of times) more beneficial than those at Kurukṣetra.
11-17. To the northern side of Ḍhuṇḍhirāja is the Liṅga called Devadeva (Lord of the Devas) which bestows all spiritual powers on the aspirant. Beyond it is the excellent well, well-known as Brahmāvarta, which dispels the likelihood of coming back (into this world) in the case of men. A devotee should take his bath in the waters of that well and adore Devadeva. The merit thereof is known as crores of crores of times that at Naimiṣāraṇya.
From the shrine and holy spot of Gokarṇa has sprung up here voluntarily the great Liṅga named Mahābala in the vicinity of Sāṃbāditya. By visiting and touching it, every powerful (great) sin is thrown far off like a mass of cotton wafted by wind.
By visiting Mahābala Liṅga in front of Kapālamocana, a devotee attains great power and he will attain the city of salvation.
The Liṅga named Śaśibhūṣaṇa has been installed here to the east of Ṛṇamocana. It was brought from the excellent holy spot Prabhāsa. By resorting to that Liṅga a man will attain the state of the Moon-embellished Lord (i.e. Śiva).
18. He attains crores of times more the merit from the religious festival at Prabhāsakṣetra.
19-23. Merely by remembering his name, a devotee ceases to have the fear of Kali and Kāla. This Liṅga named Mahākāla is situated to the east of the great Liṅga named Praṇava. Through its visit, it bestows great salvation and it destroys all sins.
Ayogandheśvara Liṅga has manifested itself here from the excellent Puṣkara Tīrtha along with Puṣkara (holy lake). A devotee should visit Lord Ayogandha in the northern side of Matsyodarī and take his holy bath in Ayogandhakuṇḍa. He redeems his ancestors from the worldly existence.
Mahotkaṭeśvara Liṅga has come here from the holy spot Marutkoṭa. It is to the northern side of Kāmeśvara. When visited, it accords spiritual powers devoid of impurities.
24. Vimaleśvara Liṅga has come here from the holy spot Viśvasthāna. It is to the western side of Svarlīna. If visited, it accords spiritual powers devoid of impurities.
26-29. In the course of the first Yuga i.e. Kṛtayuga when the groups of celestial sages were reciting the prayers, a great Liṅga appeared after piercing through the ground which was very difficult to break through. Since their desire was fulfilled, they proclaimed it “Mahādeva”. Ever since then, it became Mahādeva in Kāśī. It was by that great Liṅga that Kāśikā was made the holy spot of salvation. A man who visits Mahādeva here in Avimukta, shall surely go to Śaṃbhu’s world wherever he may die. That Liṅga should be assiduously resorted to in Avimukta by those who desire salvation.
30. Ānandakānana has never been given up by Mahādeva in the form of Liṅga even in the course of other Kalpas.
31. Its shrine (of the Liṅga) of auspicious form is incomparable. It consists of all gems. It is the favour of that Lord Mahādeva.
32. That is the presiding deity in Vārāṇasī fulfilling all desires. It is in the form of all Liṅgas and is named Mahādeva.
33. Undoubtedly all the Liṅgas of the three worlds have been seen by the person who has seen Mahādeva having form of Liṅga in Vārāṇasī.
34. By worshipping Mahādeva once in Vārāṇasī, a man will joyously reside in Śiva’s world until the annihilation of all living beings.
36-57. Accompanied by Phalgu and other Tīrthas numbering eight and a half cores, Pitāmaheśvara Liṅga came here from Gayā Tīrtha at the place where Dharma performed austerities for one million Yugas keeping as witness the great Liṅga named Dharmeśvara.
38. A man should joyously worship Pitāmaheśvarā Liṅga there. There is no doubt about this that he gets liberated along with twenty-one generations of his family.
39-43. From Prayāga, the kings of Tīrthas, Maheśvara named Śùlaṭaṅka came here by himself accompanied by the Tīrtharāja himself and stayed south of the beautiful Nirvāṇamaṇḍapa. The pure mansion of that Lord excels Mount Meru. It is refulgent like gold. It is a boon granted by the Lord himself in a previous Yuga. Maheśvara should be worshipped at the outset in Kāśī. He dispels all sins.
One who takes his holy bath in Prayāga (stationed) here, bows down to Maheśvāra after adoring in accordance with the injunctions, with elaborate requisites of services, and visits Śūlaṭaṅka undoubtedly obtains merit crores of times more than that arising from the holy bath at (the original) Prayāga.
45. His mansion is the storehouse of great splendour. It is extremely pure. It pervades the sky with its sparkling flame-like splendour. It is (as if) solely constructed with rubies.
46. By visiting, touching, eulogizing and adoring that Liṅga, that greatest region is attained, on reaching which no one comes to grief.
47. By adoring Mahātejas to the east of Vināyakeśvara the devotee goes to the region of Maheśvara in a fire-like resplendent vehicle.
48. The great Mahāyogīśvara Liṅga revealed itself from the extremely sacred Tīrtha named Rudrakoṭi.
49. It is in the vicinity of Pārvatīśvara Liṅga. It bestows all miraculous powers. By visiting that Liṅga, men get the merit of (visiting) a crore of Liṅgas.
50. All-round the mansion thereof, mansions of beautiful structure, about a crore in number, belonging to Rudras, have been erected by Rudramūrtis.
51-54. That is called Rudrasthalī at Kāśī by expounders of the Vedas. Those who die in Rudrasthalī, whether they be worms, insects, locusts, animals, birds, beasts, men of barbarian descent or learned Dīkṣitas, become Rudras. They (who have become Rudras) do not have any return to the world. All the sins accumulated in the course of thousands of births, become entirely destroyed as soon as the devotee enters Rudrasthalī. The devotee may be desirous (of fruits) or free from desires or one born as a brute (non-human being), but if that being dies at Rudrasthalī, he will attain the supreme liberation.
58. He who visits the great Caṇḍīśvara Liṅga in the vicinity of Gaṇādhyakṣa, armed with the noose, attains the greatest goal.
60. Those devotees by whom Nīlakaṇṭheśvara Liṅga in Kāśī has been duly adored, shall themselves become blue-throated moon-embellished ones.
61. The Liṅga with the epithet Vijaya has come down here from Kāśmīra. (It has stationed itself) to the east of Śālakaṭaṃkaṭa and always bestows success on men.
62. By adoring Vijayeśa, men become always victorious in battle, royal palace, gaining table and scholastic disputation.
64. By viewing Ūrdhvaretas a devotee attains an elevated status. There is no question of going downwards (in status etc.) in the case of the devotees of Ūrdhvaretas.
66. Men who are devoted to Śrīkaṇṭha are Śrīkaṇṭhas themselves. They are not. short of glory and fortune either here or hereafter.
68. One who assiduously worships Kapardīśa, does not fall into hell, nor does he become a vampire even if he commits the most heinous sin.
72. One who takes his holy bath in the splendid waters of Gaṅgā and visits Jayanta shall attain the miraculous powers desired. He will be victorious everywhere.
If a man worships with great devotion Lord Tripurāntaka on the western side of Viśveśa, he does not enter a womb.
80. Hareśvara has come here from the holy spot Hariścandra (and is) in front of Hariścandreśvara. If worshipped, he always bestows victory.
81-82. Sarva has come here from (the holy place) Madhyamakeśvara. It is established keeping (itself) in front of Caturvedeśvara Liṅga. The Liṅga Sarva in Kāśī bestows the highest attainment (Mokṣa). By worshipping the Liṅga called Śarva no man falls into the status (category) of a lower being.
84. By worshipping Mahā Liṅga, a devotee having great faith attains great glory in this world as well as in the other.
86. By visiting Lord Sahasrākṣeśvara (which is) to the south of Śaileśvara, a devotee can cast off the sins of hundreds and thousands of births.
87. From the holy spot Harṣita has appeared the Liṅga Harṣita that dispels darkness. On being visited and touched, it bestows delight on men.
88. The mansion (shrine) of Harṣiteśvara is in the vicinity of Mantreśvara. By visiting it men will always enjoy series of delightful events.
89. Rudra himself has come here from Rudramahālaya. By visiting it men clearly pass on to the world of Rudra.
90. There is no doubt in this that those men by whom Rudreśvara Liṅga here in Kāśī has been worshipped should be known as embodiments of Rudra.
91. If Lord Rudreśvara is visited in the vicinity of Tripureśa, those devotees are to be known as on a par with Rudra, whether alive or dead.
93. The Liṅga named Īśāneśvara has come here from the holy spot Kedāra, That should be visited in the west of Prahlādakeśava.
94. A devotee who takes his holy bath in the waters of the north-flowing (Gaṅgā) river and worships Īśāneśa, shall stay in the city of Īśāna with splendour like that of Īśāna.
96. It is to the east of Kharvavināyaka. If worshipped it will be conducive to all Siddhis. Saṃhārabhairava in Kāśī shall destroy series of sins.
98. Ugra Liṅga should always be resorted to. It is to the east of Arkavināyaka. Even very fierce obstacles shall perish on its being worshipped.
99. O Lord, the Lord named Bhava has manifested himself from the great holy spot Vastrāpatha here in the vicinity of Bhīmacaṇḍī.
100. If a man worships Bhaveśvara, he never appears again in the world. He will become the lord of all kings carrying out his behests.
102. It is to the east of Dehalivināyaka that Lord Daṇḍīśvara should be worshipped. If men worship him, their rebirth never takes place.
103. From the holy spot Bhadrakarṇahrada Śiva came here directly followed by the pool Bhadrakarṇahrada. He is the bestower of happiness on all when worshipped.
104-105. That excellent Tīrtha is to the east of Gaṇapati named Uddaṇḍa. A devotee who takes his holy bath in Bhadrakarṇahrada and adores the Liṅga named Śiva, attains welfare everywhere. By worshipping Bhadrakarṇeśa, the devotee shall hear the welfare of all living beings; he sees the wellbeing of all with his own eyes.
106. Sankara has come from the holy spot called Hariścandra and shines in front of you. By worshipping him there occurs no rebirth from the womb of a mother,
107. Kāla Liṅga, well-known as Kalaśeśa has come from Yama Liṅga, a great holy spot. It is stationed to the west of Candreśa.
109. He who conducts his pilgrimage there on Narakacaturdaśī day will not proceed to Yama’s abode, even though he may be a sinner.
110-111. From the great holy spot of Nepāla, Paśupati came here where the system of Pāśupata Yoga was imparted by you, the Pināka-wielding One, the Lord of Devas, to Brahmā and others for the sake of salvation. Merely on visiting it one is rid of the brutish bonds.
112. From the holy spot Karavīraka Kapālīśa came here. He should be assiduously visited in the Kapālamocana Tīrtha.
113. Merely by visiting it, the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter is dispelled.
114-117. Visited to the east of Paśupati, he dispels sin accumulated in the course of a long time.
The Liṅga named Dīpteśa has come here from Maheśvarakṣetra (Kailāsa). He stands near Umāpati for the purpose of illumination. The Liṅga (named) Dīpteśa situated in the middle of Kāśī bestows enjoyment of pleasures here and salvation hereafter.
Ācārya Nakulīśvara (Lakulīśvara) has come from the holy spot Kāyārohaṇa (Baroda Dist. in Gujarat). He stands surrounded by his disciples observing the great Pāśupata Vratas. Visited to the south of Mahādeva, he bestows knowledge. He destroys quickly the Ajñāna (Ignorance) that causes conception and worldly existence.
119-120. Lord Bhīmeśvara from Saptagodāvarī Tīrtha shines here in the form of a Liṅga for the sake of (granting) enjoyment of pleasures as well as salvation of all men. If a devotee visits Lord Bhīmeśvara in front of Nakulīśvara, even terrible sins perish instantaneously.
121-122. From the holy spot Bhūteśvara, (the Liṅga named) Bhasmagātra manifested itself here. A devotee shall assiduously worship it on the southern side of Bhīmeśa. By visiting Bhasmagātra, that merit is attained which one usually acquires after a perfect practice of Pāśupata Yoga for a hundred years.
124. A devout man should take his holy bath in Siddhahrada and worship Svayaṃbhū Liṅga in front of Mahālakṣmīśvara. He will never be reborn.
125-127. Very near Prayāga Tīrtha is a palatial mansion with the lustre of corals. This is the great palace of the Lord named Dharaṇī Varāha. He has come down from Vindhya mountain after hearing that Your Lordship have come down to Kāśī from Mandara having caves full of jewels. He was accompanied by the Gaṇas, sages and gods. That Lord Dharaṇīvarāha should be assiduously visited. He will redeem one who is immersed in the ocean of disaster and seeks refuge.
129. By worshipping Gaṇādhyakṣa stationed to the west of that deity Dharaṇīvarāha a devotee shall obtain the status of Gāṇapatya (‘leadership of the attendants’).
131. From Gaṅgādvāra, the Liṅga (named) Himastheśa (has manifested itself). It is conducive to the attainment of miraculous powers. It should be visited to the west of Brahmanāla.
132. O Lord, from Kailāsa Gaṇādhipa has come. Other Gaṇas of great strength numbering seven crores have come from Kailāsa mountain.
133-135. Seven forts have been built by them. They are on a par with seven heavens. They have huge doorways fitted with mechanical devices and panels fixed intricately. They are richly endowed with all requisites. Each of them contains a crore of warriors. (The forts were) respectively made of gold, silver, copper, bell metal, brass, lead and lead stone. They are firm and reach as far as the sky. Thereafter a big fort was made allround Kāśī (as huge as) a mountain by them.
136. A moat was also made by them below, with the water of Matsyodarī flooding it. Matsyodarī was split into two, the external one and the internal one.
137-139. Mixed with the waters of Gaṅgā it became famous as a great Tīrtha. When the waters of Gaṅgā begin to flow in the opposite direction i.e. southwards, the Matsyodarī Tīrtha is obtained due to the weightiness of the merit. If the festival of the Sun and the Moon occurs (i.e. eclipses or entry into a new Zodiac sign), then the merit thereof is hundred crores of times. When Gaṅgā and Matsyodarī join together (i.e. waters of Gaṅgā enter Matsyodarī), all the festivals, all the Tīrthas and all the Liṅgas are there.
140. Devout men who take their holy baths in Matsyodarī at any time and offer balls of rice, will never again lie in the belly of a mother.
142. Those men who take their holy bath in Matsyodarī, are the best among men. Even after committing many sins, they will never see the city of the god of Death (Yama).
143. Of what avail is the bath in many Tīrthas? Of what avail is the performance of difficult austerities? If a devotee takes bath in Matsyodarī, whence need he fear a chance of being conceived and born?
144. One who takes one’s bath wherever there are Liṅgas installed by men, Devas or sages, and in Matsyodarī, attains salvation.
145. There are many Tīrthas present in Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ or Svaḥ (in the three worlds), but it is certain that they are not equal to a ten-millionth part (of Matsyodarī).
146. Thus, O Lord, the Tīrtha has been rendered very great by that resident of Kailāsa i.e. Gaṇādhipa of esteemed and exalted activities.
148. After visiting the Liṅga called Bhūrbhuvaḥ men become meritorious enough to stay for a long time far above the worlds of Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ, Svaḥ and Mahaḥ enjoying divine pleasures.
151. That Liṅga is made entirely of gold and equipped with necklaces of jewels. It is to the east of Īśāneśvara. It should be adored assiduously.
152. A devout man should worship that Liṅga with great devotion. He will become blessed with all prosperity. After enjoying numerous pleasures, he will attain salvation after death.
154-156. Tārakajñāna (Knowledge of redemption) shall be obtained by worshipping that Liṅga. A man should take his holy bath in Jñānavāpī, visit Tārakeśa, perform all the due rites at twilight after offering libations to grandfathers and observe the vow of silence till the Liṅga is visited. He is liberated from all sins and he attains perpetual merit. At the end of the life, he gets Tāraka Jñāna through which he gets liberated.
157. From the holy spot of Kirāta where formerly the Lord became a hunter, Kirāteśa has manifested here.
160. That Liṅga named Nairṛteśvara is in the south-western quarter. Worshipped after Paulastyarāghava it destroys all evils (men and things).
162. Its (mansion or shrine) is very wonderful. It is seen in the middle of Gaṅgā. It is very excellent and consists of all metals. It is splendid and is full of all jewels.
163. Even today it is seen by a few due to the weightiness of merit accumulated.
164. By visiting that Liṅga one attains the merit of visiting ten million Liṅgas. The Liṅga (named) Śreṣṭha is behind Jyeṣṭheśvara. It bestows excellent Siddhis.
165. The Liṅga (named) Analeśvara has come out of the mouth of Vaḍavā (submarine fire). Worshipped here in front of Naleśvara it bestows all Siddhis.
168. That is the first Liṅga with Tāraka (Praṇava) as its source while Gaṅgā had not yet arrived at Kāśī. However, it had manifested for the sake of uplifting the three worlds.
169. A great Liṅga with its (Praṇava’s) shape manifested itself therefrom. None other than our Lord knows its greatness.
170. O Lord, I brought these great Āyatanas (holy spots) after leaving only a part in the different original holy spots.
171. All those meritorious ones have arrived with great fervour, not otherwise. O Lord, all the places all-round are beautiful in every respect and are capable of scraping the sky.
172. They are constructed of many metals and are brilliant with all variegated jewels. Merely by viewing their pinnacle, salvation is attained.
173. O most excellent one among Suras, if the names of these Liṅgas are heard, heaps of sins arising in thousands of births perish.
174. O Lord, what behest is to be carried out now by me? The Lord may be pleased to utter it and it should be considered as fulfilled.
175. On hearing these words of Nandin, Hara, the Lord of the chiefs of Devas, joyously commanded Śailādi (Nandin) and said thus, O Pot-born One:
Śrī Devadeva said:
176-178. O Nandin, you have done well. O perpetual performer of what is pleasing, carry out this behest. Employ the Caṇḍīs now. There are nine crores of Cāmuṇḍās accompanied by their deities, Bhūtas, Vetālas and Bhairavas. Their forms are impossible to be assailed. In order to guard the city, post them all-round in every fort along with their vehicles, armies and weapons.
The son of Śilāda took up the behest of Īśa on his head, called the Durgās and established them in every fort. By listening to this chapter describing the sacred Āyatanas, in due order, with great faith, a man will attain heavenly pleasures and salvation. If a man listens to this group of sixty-eight great Āyatanas, he will never enter the cave of the belly of a mother.
Footnotes and references:
These verses describe the condition of the last millennium. Matsyodarī: Formerly i.e. a thousand years ago, Matsyodarī was a rivulet flowing into Varaṇā. Rarely Gaṅgā over-flooding into the course of Varaṇā swelled Varaṇā so much that it pushed back the waters of Matsyodarī in the opposite direction. Hence the propriety of v137b-138a and also v 141. The mingling of the backward flowing waters of Gaṅgā, Varaṇā and Matsyodarī was regarded very auspicious. Matsyodarī Tīrtha was a big lake. This great Tīrtha was drained in 1826. Today Matsyodarī is a small park with a pond called “Machodarī” just to the south of Oṃkāra. (BCL 116-118)
This happened when Gaṅgā was over-flooded.