The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Praise of Gaya Tirtha which is chapter 57 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 fifty-seventh chapter of the Avantikshetra-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 57 - Praise of Gayā Tīrtha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This Puraṇa claims that the original Gayā was in Mahākalavana. Chapters 57, 58 and 59 describe the importance of Gayā Śrāddha.

Sanatkumāra said:

1-2. Listen, O Vyāsa, I shall describe a Tīrtha hereafter. The Tīrtha named Gayā is the most excellent one among all the Tīrthas. By taking his holy bath there always, a man becomes rid of the three debts. By adoring Devas and Pitṛs, he goes to Viṣṇuloka.

Vyāsa said:

3-4. Gayā in the Kīkaṭa (Magadha) country is highly meritorious. The river Punā (Phalgu?) is a meritorious river. Cyavana’s hermitage is meritorious. Similarly Ṛājagiri (Modern Rajgir, Bihar) is meritorious. How is it (that it) then became known to be in the splendid land of Mahākālavana. I wish to know this in detail, O ascetic.

Sanatkumāra said:

5. Listen, O Vyāsa, to the meritorious and sacred story that destroys sins. Merely by listening to it, the Pitṛs attain good goal (release).

6-9. Formerly, in the meritorious Kṛtayuga there was a righteous king named Yugādideva. Listening to his glory is meritorious. He was perfectly carrying on the work of protecting his subjects like his own bosom-born sons. They flourished and became possessors of all riches. While this king was administering the kingdom, Dharma (Piety) had all its four feet firmly set down. Clouds gave rains at proper time. Seasons had their regular cycles. The earth produced much food-grains and vegetation and was full of fruits. Cows yielded plenty of milk. Brāhmaṇas were engrossed in discussing Vedic passages. Kṣatriyas were powerful in their arms.

10-16. Vaiśyas were always engaged in monetary transactions. Śūdras were engaged in services (of others). All were abiding by the duties of their Varṇas and Āśramas. All were expounders of righteousness and piety. The Dharma in accordance with Śrutis and Smṛtis makes people delighted and well-nourished. No man is seen afflicted with mental anguish or physical illness. No woman of unchaste habits or of ill fortune, no widow also was seen. There were neither barren women nor women with very few or too many children or dead children. All were endowed with lovely features, good behaviour and excellent qualities. They were loyally attached to their husbands. No highway was scattered with thorns (pestering anti-social elements) or defiled by desperate activities of robbers. Always there were shouts in every house of: “Let the Havana be performed. Let the food be eaten. Let this be given.” Everywhere such people are seen as are devoted to sympathy, liberal-mindedness (in gifts), practice of penance, Homa, Japa, Yajña and other rites. They were attached to all pious activities. Dharma moved about on all the four feet. Adharma (impiety) was devoid of feet and physical form. Thus that righteous-souled king named Yugādideva ruled. By him the earth was piously protected and the subjects were made to flourish.

17-21. Formerly, O Vyāsa, he performed a crore of Yajñas in Avantī. At that time there was a valorous Dānava named Tuhaṇḍa.[1] This world consisting of mobile and immobile beings was entirely brought under his control. That mischievous fellow had performed terrible penance and meritorious activities and obtained boons from Brahmā. They were devoid of the Vedic path. They did not (honour) the Devas or Yajñas. There was no adoration of the Devatās. Neither Svadhā nor Svāhā was observed. The eternal path of righteousness was upset by the evil-souled one. The Suras and all the excellent Brāhmaṇas were made almost extinct. They sought refuge in Brahmā along with the Pitṛs and good citizens. (They said:) “What shall we do? Where shall we go? We have been vanquished by Tuhaṇḍa.”

22-24. On hearing their words, Brahmā, the grandfather of the world, rose up from there. Then he went to Viṣṇuloka along with all of them. For propitiating Viṣṇu of uncomparable splendour they recited Puruṣasūkta, for their own prosperity. Then an Unembodied Voice desirous of their welfare uttered thus:

25-35. “O excellent Suras, let this be heard. This is conducive to your excellent welfare. All of you go to the earth quickly towards Mahākālavana. It is more mysterious than all other mysteries. It is meritorious, sacred and destructive of sins. There the Māyā of the deceptive Māyins cannot prevail. It is full of all the Tīrthas. It bestows the boon of access on a crore Tīrthas. Śiprā, the most excellent of all rivers, fulfils all desires. The divine Mahākālī, the destroyer of the Daityas, is the family deity. She is surrounded by crores and crores of her Gaṇas. She increases the power of the Mātṛs.

The highly meritorious Gayā and the great river Phalgu are there.[2] The excellent Puruṣottama mountain and Buddhagayā are said to be there. So also the Ādyagayā is well-known in all the three worlds. The Ṣoḍaśapadī Tīrtha of Viṣṇu has been created by Gadādhara. The meritorious Prācīsarasvatī destructive of all sins is there. The great river of the Suras, Puṇyadā, is said to flow there. The Akṣaya (imperishable) Nyagrodha is said to be there by the great sage. There itself is the splendid Śilā (rock) that is said as the liberator of ghosts. There itself are stationed all the deities arising from Pitṛkalpa. (Just as) Oṃkāra permeates all the letters, Hari permeates all the Devas. The Devas permeate all the Tīrthas. Hence the Gayā Tīrtha is excellent. Go there quickly, you will attain great Siddhi. The moment one enters it the Pitṛs stationed in hells go to heaven. A devotee gets absorbed in Brahman.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

The propriety of Tuhaṇḍa’s interference in the region of Yugādideva is not clear. The end of Tuhaṇḍa is not given.

[2]:

These verses try to show that all the important places found in Gayā of Magadha exist here also in Mahākālavana.

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