by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Glory of Ankapada (Restoration of Sandipani’s Son) which is chapter 27 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-seventh chapter of the Avantikshetra-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
2. O great sage, how did they go to the holy spot named Aṅkapāda? How is it that one who sees them does not see Yamaloka even if he were a slayer of a Brāhmaṇa?
3. In order to lighten the burden (on the earth) Lord Rāma and Janārdana incarnated in the family of Yadu. They were endowed with great lustre and divine forms.
4-5. After killing Kaṃsa along with Cāṇūra and crowning Ugrasena as the king, the lion of the family of Yadus (i.e. Kṛṣṇa) asked him, “After your son has been killed what else remains for me to do?” On being asked thus, King Ugrasena said as follows:
6-10. “O Kṛṣṇa, everything will be realized (by you). Nothing is inaccessible to you. Both of you will learn all lores. Go to Ujjayinī. You will be masters of all learning.”
Then Rāma and Keśava went to Brāhmaṇa Sāndīpani. They learned by heart all the Vedas and all the Ācāras (Smṛti scriptures). They learned Dhanurveda along with the secrets and the technique of (discharging and) withdrawal. They learned all these things in the course of sixty-four days and nights. That was really a miracle, O Brāhmaṇa. Sāndīpani pondered over their superhuman and almost impossible achievement and thought that Candra (Moon) and Sūrya (Sun) had come to him. So he did not say anything. Both of them went to the Tīrtha to bathe.
11-14. The Brāhmaṇa entered Mahākālavana along with the disciples. Both of them, Rāma and Keśava too, entered along with the disciples and stood making obeisance to Mahākāla. He said to Keśava: “Since you, the Lord of Devas, incarnated as a man, good people as well as those without sense have become happy for ever. Those who had harassed the people and were always arrogant due to their strength, all those kings, the chief of whom was Kaṃsa, have been killed by both of you. Now, O sinless one, the sustenance of sages, Siddhas, Suras and others should be undertaken by you.”
15-21. (Probably some lacuna here) “I shall do so,” saying to
him thus, he bowed down and went away, looking at Sāndīpani. The disciples said this everyday. No one believed in their words (of the disciples) because it was wonderfully mysterious. Therefore he himself went (out) to see the miracle as expressed by the disciples. Then a sound arose when both of them came together. They came home. The preceptor then spoke these words: “I did not know them as the heroic scions of the family of Yadu and Vṛṣṇi.” Thereupon Kṛṣṇa who had done his duty, spoke these words to Sāndīpani in a delighted mood: Along with Balarāma, he asked, “What shall I give as the fee unto the preceptor?” On hearing those hearty words, the delighted preceptor said: “Through your effort I wish to get back my son who died in the salty sea. Only one son was born to me. He too was swallowed by a whale at Prabhāsa while I was in my pilgrimage. You do get him back.” Kṛṣṇa said, “So be it” and went away with the permission of Rāma.
23-28. Then he killed the excessively powerful Pañcajana who was in the form of a whale. He took out the conch from within him. Formerly this conch was taken away sportively by the whale from the house of the Lord of Waters.
When Janārḍana did not find the boy within his belly, he thought that he had gone to the abode of Yama. Then he said to Varuṇa: “O Sir, O Lord of aquatic beings, may a great chariot be given to me. Let me be given that chariot whereby Daityas and Dānavas who were haughty due to their strength were killed by me formerly in the course of a battle. After the enemies had been killed, the chariot had been kept with you as a deposit. O Lord of the Waters, let that be returned to me justly. With that chariot I can go and subdue the king of the departed ones in battle.”
29-33. Hari along with Rāma rejoiced on seeing the chariot. It was embellished with jewels and covered with the hide of tigers. It was surrounded by groups of tigers. Its various parts were shaped wonderfully. It shone with Garuḍa as the emblem on its banner. The horses Śaibya, Sugrīva, Puṣpadanta and Balāhaka were yoked to it. It could not be conquered by Devas, Devendra, Dānavas, Asuras and Rākṣasas. It was equipped with complete sets of many weapons. It was embellished with jewels and corals. It shone like a thousand suns dazzling simultaneously. Its four yokes had beautiful faces (tips). Hundreds of tinkling hells increased its beauty. The bells and chowries shone like discs of the moon. It was tough and rugged in form like Saṃvarta (cloud at the time of annihilation). The Lord of birds acted as its banner. On seeing this, Kṛṣṇa and Rāma rejoiced without being surprised.
35. Then Janārdana, the abode of the entire universe, hurriedly proceeded towards the southern direction to the city of Yama, enveloped in thousands of rays. Acyuta held up his conch and blew it.
36. The Lord holding the Śārṅga bow, blew his conch-shell. By that sound the residents of the abode of Yama became terrified.
37. Men devoted to sinful activities and hence confined within hells became delighted and happy. The fires blazed at the sight of Kṛṣṇa.
38. The missiles and the machines (of torture) of diverse kinds (in hell) became blunted and crushed by the sight of the Lord of Devas.
39. The (hell) named Asipatra became shorn of (swordlike) leaves. The hell named Raurava lost all its terrifying nature.
40. That which is called Bhairava (terrible) became Abhairava (non-terrible), Kuṃbhīpāka (hell) became Avācika (name of a hell, speechless). Śṛṅgāṭa (hell) became like a Śṛṅga (horn); Lohasūci (hell with iron needles) became Asūcika (needleless).
41-43. The impassable Vaitaraṇī river became easily fordable to men. When Viśveśvara went there all the Narakas (hells) ceased to be. Thereupon all the men who were consigned to the hells became liberated as their sins perished at the sight of Viṣṇu, the destroyer of Tamas (darkness, sin).
On seeing the lotus-eyed Lord, they became rid of all sins. They attained the immutable position. They got into thousands of aerial chariots all-round.
44. Thereupon, O sage, the entire zone of Nirayas (hells) became tenantless, due to the sight of that Lord Viṣṇu identical with the universe (or having multiformed features).
45. Then the extremely Fierce messengers of Yama restrained Kṛṣṇa who was entering the Narakas fighting (on the way).
The Servants of Yama said:
46-49. O honourable warrior, do not bring the chariot this way. Those who disturb the peaceful sleep of other men’s wives fall deep down in hell. The men of great sins specially ordered by Yama cannot be released even in the course of millions of years. They too, on seeing you, have become liberated. They have gone to heaven immediately.
On hearing these words of those servants the Slayer of Madhu was much overwhelmed with pity. He said again: “I have come here for the liberation. I am the bestower of heavenly bliss on all. I am one who wards off Yamaloka. O messengers of Yamarāṭ, convey quickly my word (message) to Yama.”
50. On hearing these words the messengers hastened to Yama. They conveyed to him the report regarding the release from Narakas.
51-52. Then Yama got enraged and ordered the servants: “If any man transgresses the limit and comes here, go and withhold him; seize and bring him here. Let this Narāntaka go along with the other servants.”
53-58. On being ordered thus by Yama, that servant Narāntaka went and restrained Acyuta with overbearing words. When he could not be checked, Narāntaka got furious. Then Keśava was hit with very fierce arrows. In the course of the battle Baladeva too was struck with various kinds of arrows. Both of them struck by the terrible servants lifted their divine bows and hit the servants of Yama with many thousands of arrows. On being attacked by the powerful Bala (Rāma) in the battle Narāntaka fell down. Split in the head by the mace, his eyes came out. When the heroic servant of Yama, named Narāntaka, fell down, the entire army of the servants became distressed. They withdrew from the battle.
59-62. Those messengers became frightened when struck down by Rāma and Kṛṣṇa. They said to Yama that Narāntaka had already been struck down.
Thereupon Yama himself proceeded ahead furiously, surrounded by servants all-round. The angry Yama said then, “I have never been subdued before by enemies.”
Accompanied by the loud reports of the war-drums and other musical instruments, the tumultuous sounds of Ānaka and Gomukha and various sorts of Ḍamaruka, Citragupta too proceeded ahead. Devas, Vidyādharas and Siddhas watched the vast army of Kṛtānta (Yama) proceeding against Kāmapāla (i.e. Balarāma), the Lord of the world who was never agitated in the course of war.
63-70. Then, urged by Citragupta all the Kiṅkaras (servants of Yama) surrounded the chariot and attacked with volleys of arrows Bala and Keśava. They hit both of them in the course of the battle by various kinds of arrows even as Citragupta continued to watch it. Piercing and splitting thousands of the Kiṅkaras all-round in the midst of the vast army of Kṛtānta, Keśava the unassailable in battle wandered about well-guarded by Kāmapāla (Balarāma).
On seeing Kiṅkaras and others pierced in the battle, Citragupta raised a huge cry of distress. With five arrows he hit Kṛṣṇa who was rushing against him in the battlefield, but he himself was pierced in his face with eight arrows. Distressed due to the arrows, he sat back in the driving box of the chariot. On seeing him distressed and bereft of consciousness, Kṛtānta himself proceeded ahead in his chariot. Citragupta lay down distressed with arrows and lost his martial fame. (The leader too) became afraid and agitated along with the entire army. Being frightened, he simply sat down. Then, seeing Citragupta shattered, the different important persons of the army too remained shaken. On seeing the enemy of the demons (i.e. Kṛṣṇa) coming (towards him) Kāla fought like the Vāḍava (marine) fire blazing furiously for annihilating the living beings. On seeing the fierce Kāla with the army rushing at him, (Kṛṣṇa), covered Antaka with arrows as terrible as Kāla himself.
72. Then the Devas, Gandharvas, Yakṣas and leading sages became surprised beyond measure when they saw Rāma. Rāma who was a form of Ananta (the Serpent King) sportingly caught hold of the blazing Kāladaṇḍa.
73. The Kāladaṇḍa was caught by Bala in the battlefield. When he was about to hurl it back for destroying Kāla, the Lotus-born Lord came hurriedly in between and restrained him and Kṛṣṇa from fighting further.
74-82. Vedhas (Brahma) said (to Balarāma): “Do not hurl the weapon of Kāla against Kāla. The earth that holds the mobile and immobile beings is held (supported) by you, the powerful warrior, on the head. O Lord, there is no one equal to you in the whole world. Viṣṇu, the Lord of the universe, is always borne by you in the lap. O Rāma, who else can be equal to you who are one capable of burning the universe. You are the creator, the protector and you are the supporter of the universe. You are the Lord of the universe. In view of the fact that Viṣṇu, the sole leader of the universe, is being protected by you, who can adequately eulogize you? Who deserves (i.e. is capable) to comprehend your Guṇas? More so because we are born of the navel of Viṣṇu, who is seated in your lap.” After saying thus to Baladeva, he spoke to Viṣṇudeva the following words. On being surrounded by Suras, with adequate praise, the Four-faced Lord said: “O Kṛṣṇa, O Kṛṣṇa, take pity on the terrible Kāla, since he did not know when you came that you are Viṣṇu, the sole leader of the universe, the Lord of the universe who redeems people and takes them across the ocean of Narakas. It was by you, O Lord, that Yama was installed in his office formerly for the purpose of consigning men perpetrating crimes to hell. Hence, O Lord of the universe, O Puruṣottama, let him be forgiven. O Lord, have mercy on him. Tell me what you wish to speak.”
83-85. On hearing this Kṛṣṇa said: “O Brahmā, listen. The son of my preceptor Sāndīpani has been brought here. Hence both of us came here. Let the due fee be paid to the most excellent one of all preceptors. It has been promised by both of us. O Lord, let it be honoured.”
On hearing this, Pitāmaha called Yama, the vanquished one in the battle, and said to him, “Carry out what Viṣṇu says.”
86-91. On hearing that, Dharmarāja spoke thus to Brahmā: “O Lord, O creator of the universe, this is not the procedure laid down by you in the world. An embodied being enters Yamaloka without a body. This is not accepted here that he goes out also without a body.”
On hearing it, Brahmā said again: “He is the Lord of this universe. He is the creator of the universe. He is the heart of the universe. Hence do what he wishes. You give him back the son of Sage Sāndīpani. O highly intelligent one, keep him in hell once again; bring him here (now).”
On hearing that, Dharmarāja created the son of Sāndīpani in the form of a boy. He handed over the beautiful boy to Kṛṣṇa. It was something like a miracle to all the Devas.
92-96. Then, after the receipt of the preceptor’s son the delighted Kṛṣṇa said to Prajāpati (Brahmā): “O Brahmā, the son of the Brāhmaṇa has been obtained by me in his physical form. O Lord of the world, from now onwards, those who die in the place called Aṅkapāda in Avantī will not see Yama. Those men who see the five Mūrtis (Idols), the primordial Lord Puruṣottama in Mahākālapura as well as Viśvarūpa, Govinda, Śaṅkhoddhāra and Keśava in Kuśasthalī, O Virañci, will never go to hell. Similarly, due to the arrival of mine and that of Rāma, the Nārakas (those who had been cast into hell), shall become liberated from the terrible sin and let them all attain heaven,”
97-100. When these words were spoken, the delighted Vedhas said to Hari: “O Kṛṣṇa, let the words uttered by you be always true. Those who bow down to you, the Ādipuruṣa, the first Puruṣottama, at the outset and then see Mahākāla with flames blazing below after taking bath in Śivasaras shall attain the fruit of a horse-sacrifice.”
On being told thus, Hari took the boy with him. After duly honouring Vedhas and Kāla, he accompanied by Balarāma, got into the chariot, the valiant one. After finishing his task Janārdana blew the conch.
101-102. The sound of the conch was conducive to the liberation of the men who had committed sinful activities and therefore had been consigned to hells. Due to the sound of the conch and the recollection of Acyuta, all of them got into divine aerial chariots and went to heaven. That region (of hell) became a void, due to the contact with Nārāyaṇa.
103. After regaining his Daṇḍa from Baladeva Kāla entered his city once again. Thereupon, Dhātṛ (Brahmā) vanished there itself.
104-106. The mighty intelligent Kṛṣṇa accompanied by Baladeva reached the city of Ujjayinī by means of the fast and quick moving (chariot). Then Keśihā (the killer of demon Keśi i.e. Kṛṣṇa) gave Sāndīpani his son. He became free from indebtedness to his preceptor after carrying out what had been promised.
On seeing the son who had come back, Sāndīpani, the citizens and the king himself became much surprised.
107. They adored the two who were the most excellent ones among all excellent Devas. Sāndīpani spoke thus to Rāma and Janārdana:
108-110. “Your fame shall last here as long as the utter annihilation of all living beings. (What a pity) that the scions of the family of Yadu, the persons born of the family of Yadu and Vṛṣṇi, could not be recognised by me, though they were in my own place! These were not known by me as the heroes Nara and Nārāyaṇa who have come over here for the tasks of the Devas.
He who comes here and takes the holy bath will not meet with premature death; he will not be sick nor will he be wretched. He will rejoice in the heavenly world.”
Five Viṣṇu Shrines and their Yātrā
111. Śaṅkhin, Viśvarūpa, Govinda and Cakrin—these four are the shrines of Viṣṇu. Aṅkapāda is the fifth.
112-116. I shall describe the procedure for the pilgrimage to these shrines as it should be carried out by wise men.
A devotee takes his holy bath in Mandākinī and visits Rāma and Janārdana. Then he bathes in Śaṅkhoddhāra and visits Bala and Keśava. After taking the holy bath in the Kuṇḍa, he should adore Govinda. Then he sees Cakrin and Śaṅkhin, the Lord of Devas. After seeing Aṅkapāda, he should go to Viśvarūpa. After duly taking the holy bath in Karīkuṇḍa in front thereof, he should visit Bala and Keśava in the same manner once again. Thereafter, he should bathe in the Kuṇḍa and adore Govinda. After seeing Cakrin and Halin (Bala), he should go to Keśava.
117-122. The man should devoutly bathe in the waters of Śiprā, adore Keśava and return to Aṅkapāda. There the devotee shall remain pure and spend the night. In the morning, he should feed five Brāhmaṇas of holy vows and restraints. A cow is the gift unto Śaṅkhin, a horse unto Viśvarūpa, an elephant unto Govinda and all these unto Keśava. After observing fast, O Brāhmaṇa, the devotee who worships Aṅkapāda on the Dvādaśī day with sweet-smelling flowers, incense and different kinds of Naivedya (food offerings) should perform Śrāddha.
Listen to the meritorious benefit that he derives. After redeeming a hundred members of his family, he shall go to Vaikuṇṭha by means of aerial chariots that can realize all desires and enjoy the pleasures of music and dance. He shall remain there for a long time. Again he comes back to this world taking birth in a sacred holy family. He gets infinite line of progeny, and goes to Viṣṇuloka once again.