The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Somavati Tirtha which is chapter 28 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-eighth chapter of the Avantikshetra-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 28 - The Greatness of Somavatī Tīrtha

Note: This chapter contains the description of sacred shrines of Karabheśa, Gaṇeśa, Kusumeśa, Jayeśvara, Śivadvāra-Śiva, Mārkaṇḍeyeśvara, Sarasvatī and also of Brahmasaras, Yajñavāpī (and Paśupati temple), Karīkuṇḍa, Viśvarūpa, Ajagandha and Brahmeśvara, Cakra-Tīrtha, Siddheśvara (all associated with Yajñavāpī). It also describes Someśvara Liṅga set up at Somavatī-Tīrtha. (The relevance of abduction of Tārā and birth of Budha for the glorification of Somavatī Tīrtha or Someśvara Liṅga appears rather far-fetched.) The chapter is named after the last Tīrtha.

Sanatkumāra said:

[1. Candrāditya]

1. Henceforth I shall describe another deity well-known all over the three worlds. It is renowned as Candrāditya as it had been formerly worshipped by Candra and Āditya.

2-3. The devotee who worships that Lord bowed down to by Suras and Asuras, by means of sweet-smelling flowers, incense and different kinds of Naivedya offerings, attains the world of Candra and Āditya, where he can realize all his desires. He goes there by means of aerial chariots resembling the Sun and stays there as long as Candra and Sūrya remain.

Thus ends the Māhātmya of Candrāditya.

Sanatkumāra said:

[2. Karabheśvara]

4. Thereafter, the person should go unto Karabheśa, Maheśvara, the Lord of Devas, the mere sight of whom wards off birth in base species.

Vyāsa said:

5. I wish to hear facts about Lord Karabheśa. How was this Lord named Karabheśa manifested?

Sanatkumāra said:

6. Formerly, Maheśvara, the Lord of Devas, was sporting about in this forest along with groups of Devas. He was highly delighted.

7. Sporting about for a long time, Śaṅkara assumed the form of a Karabha (young elephant). Śaṅkara in the form of a Karabha, was not recognized by the Devas.

8-12a. The Devas became surprised and they began to search. When they could not see there the Trident-armed Lord, Brahmā was asked by the Devas: “Where is Lord Maheśvara?” After meditating, it was seen by Brahmā that Hara, the Lord of Yoga, became unmanifest.

Thereupon Brahmā asked Gaṇanāyaka along with the Devas: “Śaṅkara is not seen by us. Where has he gone, O Vināyaka? Do tell us; obeisance unto you, O Lord. We shall give you Laḍḍukas.” On being told thus, Gaṇanāyaka was delighted and he said: “O excellent Devas, this young one of an elephant that is seen is Mahādeva.”

12b-15. On hearing these words, Devas being delighted went up to the young elephant announcing, “Mahādeva has been found out by us.” After going near him, they stationed themselves in the four quarters.

‘How was I known?’ Thinking thus Śaṅkara was wonder-struck. Thereafter casting off the form of young elephant, Maheśvara, the Lord of Devas, created the divine Liṅga, Karabheśvara, on seeing which all the Suras prostrated themselves with the eight parts of the body touching the ground.

16-20. Ever since then Śaṅkara became well-known as Karabheśvara. He installed Vighneśvara (Gaṇeśa) to the north of Koṭi Tīrtha. He made it (Liṅga) famous after his own name—the highly adored Karabha.

Listen to the benefit enjoyed by those who take their holy bath there, remain pure and worship Śiva with sweet-smelling flowers and Naivedya offerings. He (the worshipper) derives more benefit than what it obtained from all the Yajñas and all the Dānas. No doubt need be entertained in this respect. Thereafter, he should go to Mahākāla and obtain the fullest benefit. Hence Karabheśvara is well-known in this world as the bestower of prosperity. Thus ends the Māhātmya (greatness) of Karabheśvara.

Sanatkumāra said:

[3. Gaṇeśa]

21. Thereupon, Vighnanātha was propitiated by the Devas through Laḍḍukas (sweetmeat in the form of balls). Ever since then Vighneśa became famous as one fond of Laḍḍukas.

22. No obstacle hinders one who devoutly worship him. Vināyaka when pleased, grants him all the desired objects.

23-24. The devotee should have his holy bath in Śiprā and observe fast on the fourth lunar day. He should wear red clothes. Muttering Mantras he should bathe the Lord with red sandal water and smear (him with) red sandal-paste. He shall then worship Vināyaka with red flowers.

25. He shall then offer divine incense and sweet scents to the Lord fond of Laḍḍukas, and Naivedya in the form of Laḍḍukas soaked in a mixture of sugar-candy and ghee.

26. Neither ailment, nor fear, nor obstacles assail him at any time. He obtains the desired thing always. On death he goes to Śiva’s city.

27. Reborn again in the world, he becomes a king endowed with intellect, progeny and heroism. No doubt need be entertained in this respect.

Thus ends Gaṇeśa-Māhātmya.

Sanatkumāra said:

[3. Kusumeśa]

28. He who faithfully worships at Suradvāra, Kusumeśa who is bowed down to by Suras and Asuras, rejoices in Śivaloka.

[4. Jayeśvara]

29. He who sees Maheśvara called Jayeśvara, the Lord of Devas, shall become successful in all the undertakings.

[5. Śivadvāra]

30. If a man worships the Śivaliṅga at Śivadvāra, he goes to heaven by means of a vehicle and attains the lordship of the Gaṇas.

6. Mārkaṇḍeśvara

31. Now I shall describe another (Liṅga), the excellent Mārkaṇḍeśvara, where sage Mārkaṇḍeya performed very great penance.

32. By seeing that Lord Śaṅkara one obtains the benefit of a Vājapeya-sacrifice. The man gets his soul purified of all sins and becomes long-lived.

[7. Sarasvatī]

33. Listen, O Vyāsa, to that excellent great spot in the city, where Goddess Brahmāṇī with the swan as (her) vehicle abides.

34. She will fulfil the hopes and ambitions of the devotees. She will protect them as though they are her sons. On being seen by persons who are engrossed in perfect peace and quietude, the goddess is like a mother.

35. That goddess was worshipped by Brahmā. She was eulogized by the excellent Suras. With sweet-smelling flowers and Naivedya offerings, one should worship that goddess who bestows all Siddhis and who granted excellent Siddhis formerly even to Brahmā.

[8. Brahmasaras]

36. He who takes the holy bath at Brahmasaras and sees Siva named Brahmeśvara, becomes free from worldly bondage and rejoices in Brahmaloka.

[9-10. Yajñavāpī and Paśupati]

37. Henceforth I shall describe another excellent Tīrtha named Yajñavāpī where formerly a Yajña was performed by Brahmā with all due monetary gifts.

38-39. The holy pit which was dug for the sake of Yajña is remembered as Yajñavāpī. Since a Paśu (individual soul, creature) fell from there, it is remembered as Paśupati (i.e. the Liṅga). O Vyāsa, he who bathes in Yajñavāpī and becomes clean, shall see Paśupati. O Vyāsa, that devotee redeems and uplifts his Pitṛs even if they were born as lower creatures.

40. By means of aerial chariots that can go wherever they desire to go and that are fitted with gold, jewels, pearls etc., he goes to the divine Rudrapura where Lord Maheśvara is present.

[11. Rūpa Kuṇḍa]

41. By taking the holy dip in Rūpa Kuṇḍa a man becomes handsome. He gets a body in heaven which will be coveted even by Devas and Gandharvas.

42. By taking the holy dip in Anaṅga Kuṇḍa, becoming clean in body and mind, the devotee shall see the Lord of the chiefs of Devas formerly worshipped by Anaṅga. He obtains all his desired benefits. On death he goes to Siva’s abode.

43. He who performs the rite of keeping awake on the eighth day in the bright half of Āṣāḍha obtains a benefit equal to that said to be the fruit of visiting Kedāra.

[12. Karī Kuṇḍa and Viśvarūpa]

44. A man who takes the holy bath in Karī Kuṇḍa and worships Viśvarūpa becomes rid of all sins and goes to the world of Viṣṇu.

[13. Ajāgandha]

45. A man should take his holy bath in Ajāgandha and see Śiva named Brahmeśvara. A sin equal to that of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter becomes quelled instantly.

[14. Cakra Tīrtha]

46. A man should take his holy bath in Cakra Tīrtha and worship Cakrasvāmin. O Vyāsa, that man becomes an emperor always.

[15. Siddheśvara]

47. When one sees Siddheśvara after duly taking holy bath, one goes to Rudraloka by means of an aerial chariot that can go wherever one wishes to go.

Thus ends the Māhātmya of Yajñavāpī.

[16. Somavatī Tīrtha]

48. A man who takes the holy bath in Somavatī and worships Someśvara shall become free from impurities like the moon and rejoice in Somaloka.

Vyāsa said:

49. How did the Tīrtha named Somavatī and the Liṅga named Someśvara originate? I wish to hear about this based on fact.

Sanatkumāra said:

50. Listen, O Vyāsa, how the very excellent Soma Tīrtha and Someśvara Liṅga originated. I shall tell you the facts.

51-55. Lord Soma who greatly nourishes and revives the whole world, had a Brāhmaṇa of great penance as his father.

He was a highly exalted sage in Avantī by name Atrī, He kept his arms lifted up for a period of three thousand divine years and performed a great penance engrossed in the meditation on Brahman.

Then, O Vyāsa, the Brāhmaṇical radiance of the great soul went up and dripped through his eyes illuminating the ten directions. On seeing the splendour enveloping the ten direction, O Vyāsa, the directions themselves found it difficult to contain it. Thereupon, the unbearable splendour dropped down from the quarters.

56. Illuminating all the worlds it fell on the earth and became Soma (Moon). Hence the Moon is popular among the ordinary subjects.

57. O Vyāsa, due to the same fiery brilliance, water originated from Soma. That water entered the Śiprā river which was filled with nectar.

58. Thereupon Śiprā became famous as Somavatī (‘whose water flowed from Soma’), the bestower of all Siddhis. By visiting the river Śiprā in conjunction with Soma, sin is eliminated.

59-61. It is reputed all over the three worlds as the bestower of merit unto sinners. All these four sinners, a slayer of a Brāhmaṇa, an imbiber of liquor, a thief and a defiler of the preceptor’s bed, become rid of their sins certainly due to a visit (to Śīprā).

O sage, when Monday coincides with new-moon day, a wise person should take his holy bath in Somavatī and perform the rites of Dāna, Japa and Homa. He will have everlasting benefit thereby as long as the moon and the sun exist.

62-63. Since even after the usual season, the Pitṛs can be propitiated by means of oblations with gingelly seed-water and rice-balls, the rite should be performed duly.

Five Sakāras (entities beginning with ‘SA’) viz. Śiprā, Soma the juice, Soma the planet, Someśvara and Somavāra (Monday) are very difficult to obtain everywhere.

64. O Vyāsa, the water of Soma in Śiprā is the bestower of the benefit of a crore of Tīrthas. When the new-moon coincides with a Monday it is remembered as simitar to a Pitṛ-Tīrtha.

65. When new-moon coincides with a Monday and there is also Vyatīpāta (conjunction), the benefit in Somavatī is glorified as hundred times more than that of Gayā.

66-72. It was thus that the Somavatī Tīrtha came into being, O great sage.

On seeing Soma fallen on the earth, Brahmā, the preceptor of the universe, placed him on a chariot with a desire for the welfare of all the worlds. He is Veda incarnate, O Vyāsa, with Dharma for eyes and Satya as the collected possession. He (His Chariot) was yoked with a thousand horses and was urged by Brahmā then. On seeing Soma then accompanied by Brahmā in the chariot, all the Devas became pleased wholly and eulogized him with mental concentration and purity.

While being eulogized the shining splendour of Soma resuscitating the three worlds fell on the earth.

Then by means of that chariot, Brahmā circumambulated the earth girdled by the oceans twenty-one times. The circumambulation was that of the ocean too, O Vyāsa. The cool radiance of Soma that fell became right then the divine herbs on the earth devoid of impurities. It was by these herbs that this world and the four types of subjects should be sustained.

73. O sage, Lord Soma was always pleased with the earth. He performed a very fierce (austere) penance for ten thousand years.

74. Thereupon, Brahmā, the grandfather of the world, promised him. Accordingly Soma became the king of Brāhmaṇas and seeds and medicinal herbs.

75. Dakṣa, the descendant of Pracetas, gave twenty-seven Dākṣāyaṇīs (‘daughters of Dakṣa’) of great holy observances as wives to Soma. They are called Nakṣatras (constellations).

76. Having obtained that great kingdom, Soma along with his wives began a Rājasūya with a hundred thousand (gold coins) as monetary gifts.

77. Holy Lord Atri was the Hotṛ; holy Lord Bhṛgu was the Adhvaryu; Hiraṇyagarbha was the Udgātṛ; and Brahmā took up the position of Brahmā.

78. Lord Viṣṇu was the Sadasya (member of the sacrificial assembly); he was accompanied by Śaṅkara and others. Soma with great concentration and mental purity gave the three worlds as Dakṣiṇā.

79. The divine Goddesses Sinīvālī, Kuhū, Dhṛti, Puṣṭi, Prabhā, Vasu, Kīrti, Dhṛti (a repetition) and Lakṣmī served him.

80. Without excitement or agitation, Moon had his valedictory holy bath. He was honoured by all Devas and sages. Brightening the ten quarters, he shone all the more.

81-82. On getting very rare prosperity and affluence consecrated by sages, O Vyāsa, he eschewed humility etc. His head became giddy with arrogance. He, setting at nought the son of Aṅgiras (i.e. Bṛhaspati), proudly abducted his chaste wife of great glory, named Tārā.

83. Though taunted and pressingly requested by the Devas and the divine sages, Soma did not give up Tārā to Bṛhaspati.

84. Śakra angrily took the side of Bṛhaspati. Indeed he was a highly brilliant disciple of Bṛhaspati formerly.

85. Thereupon, O Vyāsa, a great battle ensued between Śakra and Soma and therefore between Devas and Dānavas. This caused great consternation.

86. All the frightened Devas took refuge in Brahmā. The news of the battle of Śakra and Soma was conveyed to Brahmā.

87. On hearing the words of the Devas, Pītāmaha went to the battlefield along with the Devas and prevented (from fighting) the Devas and the Dānavas.

88. When prevented, they ceased to fight. The Suras and the Asuras stood asiḍe. Moon took Tārā and gave her to Āṅgirasa (i.e. Bṛhaspati).

89. On seeing her pregnant, Bṛhaspati said to his wife, “No foetus should be held by you in the womb pertaining to me.”

90. Thereupon, Tārā delivered a boy in the form of a god like flaming fire after taking up Iṣīkā missile.

91-92a. That child, even as he was born, surpassed the brilliance of Devas. The heaven-dwellers being in doubt asked Tāra: “O fair lady, whose is this child? Of Soma or of Bṛhaspati?”

92b-93a. She did not say anything to the Devas. Vidhi (Brahmā) asked her once again: “O Tārā, tell us the truth here. Whose son is this?”

93b. With palms joined in reverence she said to Lord Brahmā, the bestower of boons.

94-99. She secretly confessed, “This boy resembling the Devas is Soma’s.”

Knowing that the son was of Soma, Pitāmaha embraced him. He named that son ‘Budha’.

The unbearable sin due to the abduction of another’s wife made Soma leprous and consumptive.

Thereupon he duly installed his son in the kingdom. With a desire to see the Lord, Soma went immediately to Avantī. He controlled all his sense-organs and took his holy bath in Somavatī on a Monday coinciding with the new-moon. Soma then worshipped Someśvara. Being delighted with his devotion Maheśvara said to Soma:

“With my favour, O Soma, your body shall become attractive and this holy spot will become reputed as Someśvara, the bestower of worldly pleasures.”

100-102. Thus, O Vyāsa, that Tīrtha and the Liṅga are very difficult to attain. It has been described truthfully by me who am pleased and satisfied.

Listen to the meritorious benefit of the man who controls his sense-organs and visits Somanātha daily in the month of Śrāvaṇa. He gets the benefit of worshipping Somanātha everyday in Saurāṣṭra. No doubt need be entertained in this regard.

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