The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Omkara (Continued) which is chapter 74 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 seventy-fourth chapter of the Uttarardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 74 - The Greatness of Oṃkāra (Continued)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Skanda said:

1. Listen, O destroyer of Vātāpi, to the story of Damana, a Brāhmaṇa. The story is capable of dispelling sins. It took place in Kāśī in the Padmakalpa.

2-3. The son of Bhāradvāja was called Damana by name. After the sacred thread ceremony had been performed, he learned all lores. He realized that the worldly existence was full of misery and life was transient. After realizing this, the learned scholar Damana set out from his house.

4-6. In utter disgust for all worldly pleasures, he proceeded in some direction aimlessly. He wandered from penance grove to penance grove, mountain to mountain, sea to sea, forest to forest, Tīrtha to Tīrtha and river to river practising austerities. With the sense-organs and the mind fully controlled he stayed in everyone of all the holy spots and shrines all over the world. But he could not obtain steadiness of mind anywhere.

7-8. A person who could instruct and guide him in accordance with his desire was also not seen anywhere. Once by chance that ascetic named Damana saw the Tīrtha called Amarakaṇṭaka on the banks of Revā. There was the great meritorious shrine of Oṃkāra also there.

9-11. On seeing it he became pleased in his mind. His mind attained steadiness.

There he saw the ascetics of the Pāśupata cult. They had embellished their bodies (smearing them) with holy ash. They regularly worshipped the Liṅga. They sustained themselves by means of alms. They pondered over and discussed the Āgama scriptures. They were seated before their preceptor with their minds steady. He too bowed down to him and sat in the vicinity of the preceptor.

12-14. With the neck bowing down very low and with the pair of hands joined together (in reverence), he sat there. The great sage named Garga, the preceptor of the Pāśupata cult had a very slender physical frame due to the continuous performance of austerities and also because of the onset of the old age. He was considered the most excellent one among all ascetics engaged in propitiating Śaṃbhu. He asked Damana thus: “Who are you? From where have you come here? Though you are young, you are not drawn towards worldly pursuits. How is it so, tell me, O excellent one.”

15-27. On hearing this speech full of affection, Damana said: “O venerable one, O Preceptor of Pāśupatas, O Sir who are fond of propitiating the omniscient one, I shall tell you truthfully what is in my mind. I am son of a Brāhmaṇa. I have put in adequate efforts in (studying) the Vedas and scriptures. After realizing the worthlessness of the worldly existence I have resorted to Vānaprastha (‘Forest recluse’) stage of life. I desired to attain spiritual powers with this body itself. I took holy ablution in many Tīrthas; I have recited Mantras crores of times. Many deities have been resorted to. Many Havanas (sacrifices) have been performed. Many teachers have been served for a long time. Many nights have been spent in great cremation grounds. Peaks of great mountains have been indeed resorted to by me. Many thousands of medicines of divine potency have been adopted and made use of by me. Rasāyanas (life-prolonging medicines) have been taken in plenty by me. Caves of terrible appearance like jaws of Death, wherein Siddhas stayed, have been entered by me fearlessly. Great penance also has been performed with the requisite observances and restraints, O Lord. But nothing bringing about Siddhi has been sighted by me. Now after wandering over the entire earth, I have approached Your Holiness. It appears as though my mind has obtained steadiness, as if the Siddhi has been obtained. Indeed the words that will issue forth from your louts-like mouth will grant me Siddhi. Surely not otherwise. So, in this very earthy physical form.” On hearing this utterance of Damana, Preceptor Garga spoke these words narrating an excellent miracle seen by him directly, even as the disciples were desirous of salvation and so had adopted the great Pāśupata Vrata.

Garga said:

28-35. If you are desirous of Siddhi with this very physical form, listen attentively. I am recounting it to you. O highly intelligent one, I am narrating what has been directly seen by me in the great holy spot Avimukta. It is the bestower of all Siddhis on good persons. It is the great mine of the jewels named Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣa.

To all the creatures resorting to it, it is like a burning lamp unto the locusts of all their Karmas; it is the great dispeller of the mass of darkness. It is like a forest fire unto the trees of Karmas; it is a flame of the submarine fire unto the ocean of worldly existence; it is the veritable ocean of milk for the glory of salvation; it is the home of highest bliss and happiness. It accords the greatest awakening to those who are in the prolonged slumber of ignorance. To living beings in utter fatigue due to (incessant) coming and going (birth and death) it is like a (shady) wayside tree. It is like the thunderbolt for the mountains of great sins accumulated in the course of many births. It accords the great Śreyas (good) to the persons who utter its name. It is the greatest abode of Viśveśa. It is the limit of heaven and salvation. Its ground is washed perpetually by the rolling waves of the celestial river. It is the dispeller of all miseries. What happened in the holy spot of such a nature, I shall tell you.

36. Who is competent to extol adequately the greatness of that holy place where there is no fear of the god of Death and where there is no fear of sins.

37. All the Tīrthas all-over the world that dispel the sins of creatures, always come to Kāśī for the sake of (their) purification.

38. Even one eating all (including prohibited) things and selling everything (including his own daughter) attains that meritorious position in Kāśī which cannot be attained by performing sacrifices, giving gifts, or otherwise.

39. The great tree of worldly existence originating from the seed of passionate attachment does not grow in Kāśī. It is cut off by the axe of Dīrghasvāpa (death or long absorption in the meditation of Viśveśa).

40. Of all barren lands Kāśī is the most barren where the seed in the form of Karma, even if sown, does not grow.

41. Certainly those who remember Kāśī here are good people. Rid of all the masses of sins they will attain excellent goal.

42. The attainments of all the worlds including Satya are destructible but those of Avimukta cannot be destroyed and they can be had only at the behest of Śiva.

43. In the whole cosmos where can one see that distinction which even worms, insects and locusts attain on giving up their bodies in Avimukta?

44. If Kāśī is somehow reached after a long time, means should be found out whereby there is no exit therefrom.

45-48. Maṇikarṇīśa is in the East; Brahmeśa is stationed in the South; Gokarṇa is in the West and Bhārabhūta in the North.

Thus is this excellent holy spot Avimukta the bestower of great benefit. If a devotee takes his holy bath in the whirlpool of Maṇikarṇī, visits Lord Viśveśvara and circumambulates the holy spot, he obtains the benefit of Rājasūya sacrifice. The ancestors of one who offers Śrāddha there get liberated.

A holy spot on a par with Avimukta does not exist anywhere in the Cosmic Egg, conferring Siddhi on the aspirant. It is true (certainly), it is true.

49. Mahāpāriṣadas (‘Great attendants of Śiva’) equipped with noose and swords in their hands, always protect the holy place there. They are fierce to cruel people while kindly disposed to others.

50. The terrible attendant (named) Aṭṭahāsa surrounded by a crore of Gaṇas, protects the Eastern Gate day and night, from evil ones.

51. Similarly, Bhūtadhātrīśa is the protector of the Southern Gate of the holy spot. Gokarṇa surrounded by a crore of Gaṇas, protects the Western Gate.

52-53. Ghaṇṭākarṇa, the great Gaṇa, protects the Northern Gate. Chāgavaktra protects the North-eastern corner. Bhīṣaṇa protects the portion of South-eastern direction. Śaṅkukarṇa protects the South-west direction and Dṛmicaṇḍa protects the North-west. Thus, these highly brilliant Gaṇas always protect the holy place.

54. Kālākṣa, Raṇabhadra, Kauleya and Kālakampana are the Gaṇas stationed on the other bank of Gaṅgā according protection from the East.

55. Vīrabhadra, Nabha, Kardamāliptavigraha and Sthūlakarṇa of powerful arms are posted on the other side of Asi.

56. Viśālākṣa, Mahābhīma, Kuṇḍodara and Mahodara are stationed at the entrance to the region. They protect the Western Gate.

57. Nandiṣeṇa, Pāñcāla, Kharapāda, Karaṇṭaka, Ānanda, Gopaka and Babhrū protect on the banks of Varaṇā.

58. In that holy spot of great merit, there is the Liṅga named Oṃkāra. Aspirants have attained great Siddhis there with this physical body.

59. These Pāśupatas, Kapila, Sāvarṇi, Śrīkaṇṭha, Piṅgala and Aṃśumān have become Siddhas due to the propitiation of that Liṅga alone.

60. Once all these five performed the worship of that Liṅga and began to dance, making the noise of a bull. Thus they got themselves merged into that Liṅga.

61. I shall mention another miracle that happened there. Listen to it, O Damana, O highly intelligent and most excellent Brāhmaṇa.

62. O sage, once a she-frog lingered around the Liṅga circumambulating it always and eating the rice grains from the remnants of the materials of worship.

63. In view of the fact that she ate Śivanirmālya, she did not die there. Due to this sin (of voracious eating) her death took place out of the region of the holy spot.

64. One shall rather imbibe even poison but should not eat Śiva’s belongings. Poison kills only one (person) but the possessions of Śiva kill sons and grandsons also.

65. People who develop their limbs by means of Śivasva should not be touched by good men. As a result of their sins, they become dwellers of the hell Raurava.

66. A certain crow saw the frog hastily hopping about here and there. It seized the frog with its beak and went out of the holy spot.

67-69. The frog was cast off outside the holy spot by the crow. In course of time, due to the merit as well as sin committed by her, she was born as daughter in the house of Puṣpabaṭu with some physical defects. Her merit was due to the circumambulation of the Liṅga and touching the same. Her limbs were splendid and proportionate. She had all the auspicious characteristics, but her face resembled the face of a vulture due to the sin of eating the raw rice grains among the remnants of the materials of worship of Śiva.

70-76. She had a very sweet voice and she was perfectly conversant with the intricacies of music such as the seven notes, three Gramas, twenty-one Mūrcchanās, forty-nine Tānas, one hundred and one Tālas, six main Rāgas each having five Aṅganās (Rāginīs, wives etc. etc.) (six Rāgas and thirty Rāginīs in all). Thus the thirty-six Rāgarāginīs delighted persons in love with music. Based on the distinctions of place and time, there are sixty-five other Rāgas (such as Mālava, Śrī etc.). Others think that there are as many Rāgas as there are Tālas (i.e. one hundred and one). With the secrets of Gīta (song) understood perfectly that girl (named) Mādhavī of sweet voice and excellent Vratas worshipped Oṃkāra always. Though in her excellent prime of youth, the daughter of Puṣpabaṭu considered Oṃkāra with great honour, due to the fine impressions of the previous birth. Her mind though fickle by nature, O Damana, attained stability due to the service of that Liṅga like that of a noble-souled (sage) with mind absorbed in the Supreme Absolute due to the practice of Yoga. Neither hunger nor thirst worried her during the day nor sleep during the nights.

77-80. Her mind was free of lethargy in viewing that Liṅga. By day or by night she had perforce to wink her eyes. That chaste lady considered those occasions as great obstacles. She thought thus: ‘How can I expiate for the time spent in vain in winking and not being able to see the Liṅga?’ With this thought she never desisted from the service rendered to Oṃkāra. Urged by the desire for water, she drank the nectarine name of the Liṅga. Her long eyes reaching the ears of either side did not desire to see anything else except the Oṃkāra Liṅga stationed in the ether of the heart of good persons.

81. Her ears were not interested in listening to other words and sounds. Her hands became very efficient in making the excellent garlands of the Lord.

82. Her feet did not wander elsewhere for pleasure abandoning the precincts of the shrine of Oṃkāra occupied by the glorious goddess of salvation.

83-89. Her organ of speech pronounced the names of Oṃkāra refraining from uttering other names. (She uttered names of) Oṃkara. Īśvara is Praṇava. It is Sāra (permanent) even in Pralaya. It is Para (greater than all). It is the illuminator of Brahman. It is the embodiment of Śabdabrahman as the three Vedas. It is the abode of the Kalās of Nāda and Bindu.

It is the excellent immutable one. It is the primordial form. It is in universal form. It is in the form of Para (cause) and Avara (effect). It is the most excellent of all. It is Vareṇya (worthy of being desired). It is Varada (bestower of boons). It is Śāśvata (eternal), Śānta (quiescent), Īśvara (the powerful Lord).

It is the sole creator of all the worlds; it is the sole protector of all the worlds. It is the sole annihilator of all the worlds; it is the sole adored one of all the worlds. It has neither beginning nor end; it is everlasting; it is auspicious. It is Śaṅkara (benefactor). It is Avyaya (unchangeable). It is one. It is beyond the three Guṇas. It is embodied in the minds of devotees.

It is unconditioned. It is Nirākāra (free from forms or shapes), Nirvikāra (free from modification); it is Nirañjana (free from the limitations of causes), it is Nirmala (devoid of passions or impurities), Nirahaṃkāra (devoid of the ego), Niṣprapañca (devoid of ramifications), Nijodaya (ever rising and flourishing), Svātmārāma (rejoicing within itself), Ananta (infinite), Sarvaga (moving everywhere), Sarvadarśin (seeing everything), Sarvada (bestower of all), Sarvabhoktṛ (enjoyer of all), the all, the abode of all pleasures.

90-92. Her tongue tasted the juice of the syllables constituting its name day and night. It did not know any other Rasa. Mādhavī swept the space round the palatial shrine and the hall of pictures. She washed all the utensils of the worship. She devoutly served all the Pāśupatas who were engaged in adoring Praṇaveśa considering them like her father.

93-95. Once on the fourteenth day in the month of Vaiśākha, Mādhavī observed fast during the day and kept awake at night. When the pilgrims and devotees who had gathered there for the festival had gone away in the morning, she swept everywhere and joyously worshipped the Liṅga. She sang sweet songs and danced gracefully. Meditating on Oṃkāra Liṅga, she got merged within the Liṅga.

96-98. The highly intelligent lady merged into the Liṅga with this physical body itself, even as the ascetics, the chief of whom was my own preceptor, were watching. A radiance issued forth from the Liṅga pervading the sky. The girl also assumed the form of a luminary and merged into it. Even today the residents of the holy spot celebrate great festival with pomp and ceremony on the fourteenth day in the bright half in the month of Vaiśākha.

99. The devotees who observe fast then and keep awake at night on the fourteenth day attain great knowledge wherever they may die ultimately.

100. All the Tīrthas in the entire universe arrive there on the fourteenth day in Vaiśākha to visit Oṃkāra.

101. In front of the Liṅga, there is the most excellent cave named Śrīmukhī. It is the doorway to Pātāla. Indeed Siddhas stay there.

102. Those who observe excellent Vratas and stay in that cave for five nights, will see Nāga Girls who will recount auspicious and inauspicious things.

103. To the north of the cave there is a well with tasty juice for its water. One who drinks it for six months actually drinks Brahmāmṛta (elixir of Brahman).

104. By visiting Nādeśvara Liṅga, the cause of Nāda (divine sound), there one can hear the entire world of sounds.

105. By taking the holy ablution in Matsyodarī mixed with the waters of the celestial river and Varaṇā a devotee shall become blessed and contented. He never grieves over anything anywhere.

106. Innumerable devotees serving Oṃkāreśvara have attained Siddhi with their earthy body transforming itself into divine one instantaneously.

107. Avimukta is the greatest sacred place in the entire cosmos. Even greater than it is Oṃkāra on the banks of Matsyodarī.

108. Alas! What for are they born, those by whom Praṇaveśvara is not worshipped in Kāśī? They have merely caused the youth of their mothers decline.

109-110. Ever since Viśveśa came from Mandara mountain to Ānandakānana, O excellent one, all other holy places along with the oceans, mountains, rivers and Tīrthas and continents went there itself.

111-112. O sage, it is my good luck that I have been reminded now by you. I shall also come. We shall go to Kāśī slowly. All these disciples of mine who observe the great Pāśupata Vratas are desirous of going to Kāśī because all of them desire salvation.

113. If after attaining old age, Kāśī is not visited, how can they have the great happiness after the rare human birth is lost in vain?

114. Before the weakness of the sense-organs takes place, before the span of life comes to a close, Śaṃbhu’s Ānandakānana should be assiduously resorted to.

115. If people resort to Ānandavana of Śaṃbhu, the abode of glory, steadfast Śrī (Wealth or Glory) will never leave them. They will be inexhaustible store of happiness.

116. After narrating this exquisite story, Garga, the most excellent one among Pāśupata devotees reached the city of Vārāṇasī along with Bhāradvāja.

117. Accompanied by Gargācārya, the pious-souled Damana propitiated the glorious Oṃkāra and merged into that Liṅga.

Skanda said:

118. O sage, O enemy of Ilvala, Oṃkāra is a great shrine in Avimuktaka. Many Sādhakas have attained Siddhi there.

119. The greatness of Praṇaveśvara should never be recounted in the presence of men of vitiated minds in Kali age and not at all in the presence of heretics.

120. Those who censure Mahādeva, those senseless ones who censure the holy spot and those who censure the Purāṇa, should never be talked to.

121. “There is no Liṅga like Oṃkāra anywhere on the earth.” Thus the Lord of Devas has decisively told Gaurī.

122. After listening to this chapter with the mind completely engrossed in it, a man will be rid of all sins. He will attain Śiva’s world.

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