The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Glory of Mandakini-Kshetra which is chapter 26 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 twenty-sixth chapter of the Avantikshetra-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 26 - The Glory of Mandākinī-Kṣetra

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Vyasa said:

1. O sage, sacred shrines in Guhya Sthāna have been described by you. Now tell me the dimensions and extent of Mahākālavana.

Sanatkumāra said:

2. I shall tell you as was heard by me formerly when Brahmā himself was saying. Listen to me as I say it.

3-4. Upto the extent of a Yojana, it shines splendidly in the four quarters by means of golden ornamental gates and arches from where pearl-strings are suspended. There are golden waterpots with white lotuses on their tops (mouths). And the gates are adorned with a number of precious stones.

Pañceśānī Yātrā:

5. At the portals, powerful doorkeepers employed by Maheśvara[1] shine splendidly. They render great favour unto all the worlds.

6. Piṅgaleśa, in the form of a boy, is stationed in the east. He is (brilliant) like fire. Fair-complexioned and majestic, he stands facing the Tīrtha followed by Gaṇas.

7-13a. The great Yogin, Kāyāvarohaṇeśvara (Nakulīśa) is stationed in the south. In the west, facing the holy spot, is stationed Bilveśa. Appointed by Maheśa, he has occupied the western quarter.

Uttareśvara stands stationed resorting to the northern direction. He has been ordered by Śaṅkara to accomplish all tasks. Righteous men who stay here in this holy spot, go to Rudrapura on death by means of aerial chariots going everywhere as desired.

The devotee should bow down to Pañceśānī (‘the group of five Iśāna deities’) either on the fourteenth day in the dark half or on the new-moon day when the Sun and the Moon come together. They can be bowed to in the due order or in the reverse order. He should observe fast for a day meditating upon Maheśvara. He is liberated from all the sins committed in the course of many births.

O Brāhmaṇa, thus the devotee who begins the pilgrimage of Pañceśānī goes to Rudraloka with this body of his.

13b-16. I shall explain to you another Pañceśānī Yātrā to facilitate its smooth performance. Listen. It is destructive of all sins.

The devotee takes his holy bath early in the morning on the eleventh day (of the lunar month) with great mental concentration and purity. After the performance of Śrāddha, he bows down to Mahākāla, Īśāna, Īśvara. Thereafter he should go to Piṅgaleśa for taking his holy bath and perform Śrāddha. Then he approaches Lord Gaṇeśa Piṅgaleśvara. After worshipping the deity with scents, incense and flowers, he should return.

17. Again he goes to Mahākāla and takes his holy bath. With the sense-organs under control, he adores the self-born eternal Lord of the chiefs of Devas.

18. He should spend the night at Iśāna after dinner. Meditating on Maheśāna, he should lie down on the ground.

19. On the twelfth day, the man takes his morning bath as before and goes to Kāyāvarohaṇa, where he offers worship as per procedure as in the case of Piṅgaleśvara.

20. On the thirteenth day, he should worship in the same manner Bilveśa in the west. So also on the fourteenth day, he should worship Uttareśvara in the north.

21. On the new-moon day, he should take his holy bath. Thus becoming clean he should worship Mahākāleśvara with scents, incense and flowers as well as food-offerings (Naivedyas) of diverse kinds.

22. After the performance of music, dances, etc., he should bow down and crave pardon (for omissions and commissions). After performing the pilgrimage as mentioned before, he should go home.

23-26. He should feed five Brāhmaṇas devoutly attached to Śiva. Then he should bow down to the Brāhmaṇas, the residents of Mahākāla deemed to be the deity himself. He should adore and propitiate them with gold and fresh clothes of nice texture. The gift to be made at Piṅgalaka is a chariot, that at Kāyāvarohaṇa is an elephant, a horse at Bilveśvara and a bull at Uttareśvara. The gift at Mahākāla is a cow. Everywhere the usual appertenances should be given too. Listen to the benefit and merit of the person who does like this, O Vyāsa.

27. He rejoices in heaven along with all the members of his mother’s and father’s families accompanied by dance and music etc. of the celestial damsels and also aerial chariots that can go wherever one pleases. Here ends the greatness of the Yātrā of Pañceśānī.

Seven Names of Avantī

28. If anyone regularly circumambulates Kuśasthalī, it is (as beneficial as though) the entire earth consisting of the seven continents has been circumambulated.

29. The man who visits Padmāvatī and adores her with lotuses, offering incense along with Naivedya, shall go to Brahmapura on death.

30. O Vyāsa, by worshipping Svarṇaśṛṅgāṭikā with flowers resembling gold with great devotion, he goes to Śiva’s palace.

31. He who visits Goddess Avantinī well-known all over the three worlds, goes to the city of Purandara by means of an aerial chariot able to go anywhere as one chooses.

32. He who devoutly worships Goddess Amarāvatī with lotuses, becomes highly delighted and always rejoices in heaven with the immortal ones.

33. He who visits Goddess Ujjayanī with devotion, mental concentration and purity, becomes honoured in Rudraloka richly endowed with all amenities of affluence.

34. He who has become pure due to the devotion to Rudra and visits Viśālā becomes rid of the three types of sins. No doubt need be felt here.

Thus Ends the Greatness of Sri Kalpasaptaka (‘Seven names of Avantī in seven Kalpas’).

35. Listen, O Vyāsa, to the description of the great Tīrtha formerly adored by Brahmā. It is named Akrūreśvara and there Pitāmaha became a Siddha.

36. A person should worship the deity there after observing fast on the eighth lunar day in the dark half, with sense-organs conquered, mind subdued and body kept clean. He shall attain Rudraloka.

37. While staying in the house in the morning the man should not speak to anyone. By visiting Lord Akrūreśvara he shall attain the fruit of the gift of gold.

Thus ends the Greatness of Akrūreśvara

38. The devotee should take the holy bath, keep himself clean and control his sense-organs and visit Brahmā. He is liberated from terrible sins. On death, he goes to Brahmaloka.

39. Brahmā seated himself in Padmāsana posture meditating on the highest state. He was approached with a request by Vasiṣṭha and other sages regarding Karmas and Saṃbhava (birth).

The Sages said:

40. Ādityas, Maruts, Sādhyas, two Aśvins, and Pitṛs of the worlds—all these are worshipped on the earth by human beings.

41. It is said (in scripture) that planets, sun, stars, Yakṣas, Diggajas, fire, wind and all of us, Devas, are parts of yours.

42. Tell us how do you meditate, O Lord of Devas?

Brahmā said:

43. There are essentially two Vidyās. They are Parā and Aparā, Both of them are eternal and corporeal. They are my forms.

The Sages said:

44. O Pitāmaha, how shall (can) we know you, the greatest Lord, whereby the greatest Siddhi can be achieved at your sight?

Brahmā said:

45-47. The holy spot called Kuśasthalī is very great. It was requested for by me who was desirous of performing a Yajña. Lord Śrīkaṇṭha, the consort of Pārvatī, was requested. I was told by that Lord Parameṣṭhin: “O Pitāmaha, this holy spot extending to more than a Yojana all-round has been given to you except the Mahākālavana.” Though restrained I remained hidden there in the forest. I was told angrily by Kapardin (Śiva), “We shall not come near you.”

48. Thereupon the Yajña was begun by taking (the help of) Nārāyaṇa. Still my Yajña came to be known by Śaṃbhu, the Lord of Devas.

49. Lord Kapardin came to the Yajñavāṭa (enclosure of Yajña) for the sake of alms. He was told there by the Yajña priests, “Do not stand here, you despicable one.”

50-51. Those persons there were told by Kapardin, “Then I shall come again.” After saying this he placed the skull on the ground. The great Lord Kapardin went to river Śiprā for bathing. After Kapardin had gone to Śiprā, the Brāhmaṇa said:

52-53. “How is the Homa to be performed? The Kapāla is in the sacrificial hall. Learned men of yore have said that purity is spoilt by skulls (Kapāla).”

The Kapāla (skull) was lifted up by the Sadasya (member priest) himself with his hand. When it was lifted another Kapāla occupied its place. When that was removed another came up.

54. Those excellent sages could not see the end of these Kapālas. Thinking that the Kapardin (‘man with matted hairs’) was Rudra, they sought refuge in him.

55. Thereupon Maheśvara who was pleased with their devotion made himself visible. The Lord with Kapāla in his hand said to me:

56-57. “O Brahmā, choose a boon, whatever may be in your mind. There is nothing which cannot be granted to you. I shall actually give you everything. O Four-faced One, this place called Brahmottara has been given. Get everything done as you please in regard to the four castes.”

58. I said, “So be it” to Īśāna Parameśvara who said thus in the open assembly. No other boon was chosen by me.

59. The name Ujjayinī was given to Kuśasthalī. Thereafter the holy pit called Mandākinī was made there by me.

60-63. O Brāhmaṇas, if the holy bath is taken there, one is liberated from all sins. The devotee should place four auspicious Arthaghaṭas (waterpots of specific purpose) in the four quarters filled with gingelly seeds and wrapped in clothes along with fruits and baked cakes in the festival days in the month of Kārttika or Māgha. They are to be given to scholars of the four Vedas. The first (eastern) one (is to be given) to Ṛgveda, the southern one to Yajurveda, the western one to Sāmaveda and the northern one to Atharvan. He should utter this Mantra: “This has been gifted with the Vedas in view; thus may Pitāmaha be pleased.” Listen attentively to the merit, if this is done.

64. The benefit derived from all other Tīrthas becomes increased thousand-fold in the case of holy bath and hundred thousand in the case of Japas.

65. The gift should be known as increased ten million times in Mandākinī undoubtedly. In the month of Kaumuda (i.e. Kārttika), the devotee should make the gift of a cow.

66. In the month of Kārttika, Ghṛta Dhenu (cow made of ghee) should be gifted; in the month of Māgha that of gingelly seeds, of Jaladhenu in Vaiśākha (or the articles referred to are gifted along with a cow). Thereby the devotee shall be rid of sins.

67. By the sight of Mandākinī all sins, verbal, mental and physical, perish.

68. A Tīrtha on a par with Mandākinī is not seen on the earth. The devotee rejoices in Brahmaloka merely by seeing it.

69. One who takes the holy bath in Mandākinī and performs Śrāddha on the full-moon day and on the new-moon day rejoices in the world of Pitṛs.

70-72. A man who sees Pitāmaha everyday, becomes united with (i.e. gets) the benefit of a thousand horse-sacrifices and a hundred Rājasūyas. There is no doubt in this, O ascetics. This is the truth. After the Manvantara came to a close and Vaivasvata Manvantara arrived again, Maheśvara entered the sacrificial hall of Brahmā with the same guise of an insane person with erected penis.

73. Those Brāhmaṇas began to curse; others censured him. Still others struck the penis with dust. The Brāhmaṇas cursed his (activity).

74. Others, haughty with power hit him with lumps of clay and sticks. Others caught hold of his crown-like matted hairs and pulled him.

75-77a. Others asked him whether it was one of his Vratas and if so by whom was it demonstrated. They continued: “There are women here. How is it that this has been committed by you? Was an action like this committed by Brahmā? Or by Viṣṇu himself or by the Lord Giriśa? By whom has this evil action performed? Do not deride and deceive the Lord of Devas. You are worthy of being killed by us today.”

77b-80. On being hit and hurt by the Brāhmaṇas thus, Śaṅkara, the great holy Lord, smiled and told all those Brāhmaṇas: “Why do you hit me—a lunatic who has lost his senses? All of you are compassionate, and well-established in a friendly attitude.” Even as Lord Hara in the form of a contemptible man said this those Brāhmaṇas overwhelmed and enchanted by the Māyā of the Lord hit the matted-haired Lord with their hands and kicked him with their feet.

81-86. On being struck by those Brāhmaṇas, he became angry. Thereupon they were cursed by the Lord: “You shall be bereft of the Vedic study. Your tuft will be tied upwards. You will be armed with sticks. You will sustain yourselves through other men’s wives. You will be addicted to the game of dice and to prostitutes. You will neglect your fathers and mothers. The wealth and learning of the father will not pass on to the son. They by whom my penis was hit shall become ineffective in all their sense-organs. They will be begging for alms in a terrific manner. They will sustain themselves through other peoples’ balls of rice. Devoid of wealth and grain, they will be muttering about themselves and their sufferings.

In the case of those who showed pity while I was being hit by the Brāhmaṇas, all of them will have wealth, sons, slaves, servants etc. With my favour, their women shall be of exalted families.” After granting the boons and cursing them Īśvara vanished.

87. After the Lord had gone, they realized that it was Lord Śaṅkara. Carefully searching for him, they went to Mahākālavana.

88. After taking the holy bath in Rudrasaras, they began to utter the Śatarudriya Mantras. At the end of the Japa, the Lord told them by means of unembodied speech:

89-92a. “Falsehood has not been uttered by me even wantonly. Where is the happiness therein, O Brāhmaṇas? I shall bless you further. Neither the race, nor the wealth nor the progeny becomes broken in the case of those Brāhmaṇas who are quiescent with control over the sense-organs and who remain devoted to me. Those who strictly adhere to the performance of Agnihotra, those who are devoted to Janārdana, those who worship Brahmā and Divākara (the Sun-god), the heap of refulgence, will never meet with inauspiciousness. Those whose mind is cool and equanimous will never meet with disaster.”

92b. After saying this much, the Lord, the Lord of the Devas, became silent.

93. After obtaining the curse and the boon from Maheśvara, the Lord of Devas, all of them came to the place where Pitāmaha was present.

94. Propitiating Viriñci too by means of the Japas, they stayed in front of him. The pleased Brahmā told them: “May the boon be chosen and received from me too.”

95. All those excellent Brāhmaṇas were delighted at those words of Brahmā. They thought, ‘O Brāhmaṇas, what boon should be requested for when Pitāmaha is satisfied?’

96-104. Some of the Brāhmaṇas said: “Let us choose the Vedas.” Others said: “Let wealth and grain be requested for unhesitatingly.” Others said: “Of what avail are riches unto us, when Pitāmaha is pleased? May the Agnihotras, the Vedas, the different Śāstras, quiescent and affluent worlds belong to us through the grant of the boon.” Speaking thus, those Brāhmaṇas became indignant. For the sake (of the specification) of the boon, they attempted to fight with one another. Some of them took up arms and started fighting. Others fled from the scene. Some of the Brāhmaṇas were indifferent. Some remained silent observers.

On seeing them fighting thus, the Lord spoke to the Brāhmaṇas: “Even at. the very outskirts of the Śālā (Sacrificial Hall) the ill-advised Brāhmaṇas became angry. They began to fight and flee. The group of people who were indifferent shall become deprived of their jobs. The third group that remained tacit observers shall become learned in the Vedas. The group that took up arms and was ready to fight shall become always addicted to game of dice, prostitutes, thievery and other men’s wives. All the four types of Brāhmaṇas shall be deprived of their jobs.”

After saying this, Brahmā went to his excellent abode Vairāja.

105. Thus, O sages, is my greatest holy spot in the zone of Avantī. Men on the earth call this a divine city.

106. Nothing will be difficult of access in my world to those quiescent Brāhmaṇas who permanently reside in the holy spot.

107-109. There are these holy Tīrthas, viz. Kolāmukha, Kurukṣetra, Naimiṣa, Puṣkara, Vārāṇasī, Prabhāsa, Badarikāśrama, Prayāga, Gaṅgādvāra, the confluence of Gaṅgā and the ocean, Rudrakoṭi, Virūpākṣa and Mitravana. The Siddhi that is achieved by men in these holy shrines in the course of twelve years, can be achieved here in Ujjayinī in a month if the mind is steadfast in celibacy. There is no doubt at all.

110. O excellent sages, this is the most excellent one of all Tīrthas: it is the most excellent holy spot. This is always pleasing to me.

111. The greatness of Mandākinī, the excellent origin of the holy spot (has been heard). What else do you wish to hear, O excellent Brāhmaṇas?

Sanatkumāra said:

112. All these sages beginning with Vasiṣṭha heard this statement of Brahmā, O Vyāsa. Thereupon, they entered the greatest meditation.

113. After meditating for a long time, they became inclined to live there. They went to Avantimaṇḍala along with their wives to continue their Agnihotra rites.

114-115. On seeing Mahākālavana, the great river Śiprā, the Śmaśāna, the Ūṣara (barren land) and the river Gandhavatī, they fixed their residence there after taking the holy bath in Koṭitīrtha. Their interest enhanced on frequently remembering the words of Brahmā.

116. On being urged by Arunḍhatī to go there the noble-souled Vasiṣṭha spoke to his wife, O excellent sages:

117-120. “O wide-eyed lady, who will not like to stay in Ujjayinī? We have Mahākāla, the river Śiprā and a goal free from impurities. A man who takes his holy bath in the great river and bows to Mahākāla who is difficult of access, will never bewail death. The dead one whether a worm, or a locust shall become a follower of Rudra. Where it is heard that salvation is obtained thus (i.e. easily), how can I forsake it.” After saying this, the chief of sages remained there itself. He stayed there with other eminent sages praising the beauty of the forest.

Footnotes and references:


The Dvārādhyakṣas are as follows: Piṅgaleśa (east), Kāyāvarohaṇeśvara (south), Bilveśa (west), Uttareśvara (north). These four shrines with the addition of Mahākāla constitute the five shrines in Pañceśānī Yātrā.

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