The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Tirthas which is chapter 63 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 sixty-third chapter of the Avantikshetra-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 63 - The Greatness of Tīrthas

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sanatkumāra said:

1-8. There is an excellent Tīrtha well-known as Kanthaḍeśvara. A man who takes his holy bath there in the Tīrtha and visits Lord Maheśvara, is pure and of controlled mind, is liberated from all sins. Equipped with a hundred aerial chariots, he is honoured in Śivaloka.

Where there is the confluence of Khagartā in the vicinity of Gaṅgeśvara, there is (another) great Tīrtha that removes all sins. It is the most meritorious on the earth. This sacred Tīrtha destroys great sins and yields great merit as the benefit. It is there that Gaṅgā, the sanctifier of the three worlds, fell down from the sky and was immediately held on his head by the great Lord Śaṃbhu.

A person should take his holy bath in that Tīrtha and visit Gaṇeśa. After attaining the benefit of the holy ablution in Gaṅgā, he is honoured in Viṣṇuloka.

Resorting to Vīreśvara, the man should stay on that Tīrtha. With his soul rid of all sins and purified, he shall attain Vīraloka.

There is another Tīrtha of great merit. It is well-known as Vāmana Kuṇḍa on the earth and glorified by great sages. It is famous in all the three worlds. The mere sight of this dispels the sin of Brāhmaṇas’s slaughter.

9a. After realizing a hundred cherished desires, he shall go to Viṣṇupura.

Vyāsa said:

9b-10a. O sinless one, at what time formerly did this Tīrtha named Vāmana originate? O most excellent one among the knowers of Brahman, I wish to know everything from you.

Sanatkumāra said:

10b-11a. Listen, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, to the great story that destroys sins. Merely by listening to it one is liberated from all sins.

11b-17. There was a leader of Daityas formerly who was said to be a devotee of Viṣṇu. He is well-known as Prahlāda. He was the most excellent one among all righteous persons. Dharma was conquered (won over) by means of good, conventionally approved conduct; Ramā (goddess of fortune) was won over by means of truth. The worlds were upheld by him through fortitude. The earth was held (supported) by him by means of forbearance. The divine seas were vanquished by him through his grandeur and majesty. Groups of enemies were subdued by him through his heroism. Guests were won over by that noble-souled one through his humility. Yajña was won over through monetary gifts. The sacred fire was won by him through the Havis offerings. His soul was purified by means of purity and traditional canons of good conduct. He destroyed all inauspiciousness by means of penance. Brāhmaṇas were won over by him through honour and Dāna, food and garments offered to them. The very birth was won over by him through refinement and education. The eternal self was conquered by him through the control of the sense-organs. The vital air was controlled by him through Prāṇāyāma. Hari was won over by him through Yoga and Dhyāna (meditation). Such a great Yogin was he who was eagerly devoted to truth and piety. There has never been a wise hero on a par with Prahlāda, nor will there ever be.

18-23. His grandson of good conduct was called Bali. As he protected them well, the subjects flourished very well.

On the earth none was short-lived, sluggish, foolish, sickly or envious. There was no one devoid of sons or wealth.

The king was a great administrator and protector (of the people). He performed sacrifices with large monetary gifts. The earth consisting of the seven continents was always well-protected by him.

Once when he was seated on a splendid throne in the assembly, there were shouts of “Victory” and Gandharvas sang in gracefully splendid tune.

As the instruments were duly played, the celestial damsels danced. Splendid discourses were conducted by expert exponents.

Bards and panegyrists, Siddhas, Cāraṇas, sages of vast learning etc. came there, O excellent Brāhmaṇa.

24-27. Sunda, Upasunda, Tuhuṇḍa and others, Mahiṣāsura, Ulbaṇas (persons of very powerful features), Śuṃbha, Niśuṃbha, Dhūmrākṣa, Kālakeya and other Dānavas, the valiant Kālanemi, Daurhṛḍa, Mūṣaka, Yama, Nikuṃbha, Kuṃbha, Viśaṭha, the mighty Andhaka, Śaṅkha, Jalandhara, Vātāpi of terrific features and inordinate strength, Sarvajit, Viśvahantṛ, Kāmacārin, Halāyudha (weilder of a plough as a weapon)—these and many other leading Dānavas attended upon the sinless king Bali.

28-34. Siddhas, Nāgas, Yakṣas, Kinnaras, Kiṃpuruṣas, Khecaras (Sky-walkers), Bhūcaras (Earth-walkers), boys and terrible Rākṣasas—these and many others attended upon the king. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, there the great divine assembly shone like the sky in autumn when brilliant luminaries are scattered there.

King Bali was seated in that assembly. He shone like Vāsava (Indra) in heaven surrounded by Maruts and gods.

Once Nāraḍa of divine vision came to that assembly, even as all the Dānavas were present there. On seeing him come, all the sons of Diti stood up. Along with Bali all of them saluted the excellent Kinnara. The king received him with great honour, offered him a seat and enquired after his health.

After the elementary rites of hospitality were over, the excellent Nārada sat and spoke. The excellent sage said to Bali in a voice as majestic as the (rumbling of) cloud:

Nārada said:

35-48. O most excellent one among the sons of Diti, let this be heard. (Once) I went to the palace of Indra. There the beautiful assembly of the Devas was being held and discussions were going on. With Indra as their leader, Devas and Gandharvas seated there began their mutual discussion and holy discourses.

They could not brook the splendid narration about the Daityas conducted by me. (They said:) “Formerly there was a king of Daityas named Hiraṇyakaśipu who conquered all the three worlds. He was the leader by whom the earth was conquered. After making the entire universe come under his control, he enjoyed the earth. He was endowed with great brilliance and great prowess. He had good self-control. He could go everywhere but he was lustful. He was felled down by Nṛsiṃha (the Lord in the form of Man-lion). That being the case you praise Bali. How much strength has he?” On saying this Indra, the guardian of the quarter, challenged me, O excellent Dānava, and began to make bitter comments in diverse ways. Hence, O leading Dānava, it behoves you to reconquer the earth got by inheritance and establish your imperial power and be the lord of the earth. How much indeed will be the extent of the army commanded by the Devas? O excellent Danuja, certainly the Devas will be more inclined to flee. They are always subdued and mild, being afraid of war. Take my word and become the overlord of all the three worlds.

On hearing the words of Nārada, Bali, the son of Virocana, became very angry and keenly desirous of the conquest of the three worlds, O Brāhmaṇa. After taking the counsel of all the Asuras, the Lord of all Daityas carried on a fierce war against the powerful Indra. After defeating all the Devas along with Vāsava, he brought them under his control.

The son of Virocana, Bali the Asura, became the sole Lord of all the worlds. The Devas were deprived of their rights (posts) after being defeated and ousted from the kingdom. Therefore the Devas began to roam over the earth like human beings.

After the lapse of some time, they sought refuge in Brahmā: “O Brahmā, O scorcher of enemies, we have been driven out of Devaloka by Bali. What shall we do? Where shall we go? What remedy can we adopt (to regain Svarga)?

Brahmā said:

49-55. O excellent Suras, listen to these best means you have to adopt. O excellent immortal ones, ye all go to the beautiful city of Padmāvatī. There is an excellent Tīrtha named Uttaramānasa where the city is reputed as the bestower of the eight Siddhis, the bestower of great Siddhis on men. O excellent ones, the nine Nidhis (treasures of Kubera) too are kept there. To the south thereof is the excellent Viṣṇu Tīrtha. By taking the holy ablution therein one should see Siddheśvan, the bestower of excellent Siddhis. He shall become endowed with Ṛddhi (prosperity) and Siddhi (achievement of spiritual powers). He is then honoured in Viṣṇuloka.

On the tenth day in the bright half of the month of Āśvina, one should worship Gaṇeśvara in the region of Aṣṭasiddhiśamīḍeśa. There is no doubt in this that he becomes victorious in all the worlds. He should always worship Gaṇeśa, the bestower of all desired things. The deity is always stationed at the root of the Śamī tree and grants the boon of Ṛddhi and Siddhi. After obtaining all cherished things as boon, he shall be endowed with sons and wealth.

56-61. Hence with all efforts, one should go to Mahākālavana.

Do not tarry. Go to the place where the Tīrtha of Viṣṇusaras is situated. O excellent Suras, perform the Upāsānā (adoration) of Viṣṇu of incomparable splendour. O excellent Suras, he shall be the saviour from all fears.

On hearing the words of Brahmā of esteemed soul, those Devas, bent upon achieving their purpose, came to Mahākālavana.

After coming to this place, they purified themselves by means of Snāna, Dāna and other rites. The sanctified ones engrossed in devotion to Viṣṇu performed the Upāsanā. Thereafter all those Devas with Śakra (Indra) as their leader, asked Brahmā the procedure of the Upāsanā of the Lord.

Devas said:

O Brahmā, by what means should the devotion unto Viṣṇu become best? O most excellent one among those who know Brahman, we wish to know everything from you.

Brahmā said

62-74. O excellent Suras, may this excellent procedure of worship to Viṣṇu be heard:

For the sake of the suppression of all obstacles, one should meditate upon the Four-armed Lord who is clad in white garments, whose complexion is on a par with the moon and whose countenance beams with pleasure.

If Lord Janārdana of complexion dark like a blue lotus is stationed in the heart of people, all acquisitions are theirs, all victory is theirs. Whence can there be defeat unto them?

Obeisance to that Lord of Gaṇas who destroys all obstacles and who is adored even by the Suras for the sake of the achievement of the desired benefit.

I was urged by Śauri (Viṣṇu) who was desirous of creation at the beginning of the Kalpa. I became engaged in the meditation of Viṣṇu. Yet I was incapable of creating the subjects.

In the meantime, the great sage Mārkaṇḍeya who had subdued all the sense-organs, who has a long span of life; who is the Lord of all Siddhas, was seen by me all of a sudden. Thereupon, I approached him. Both of us were delighted with the eyes in full bloom as it were. We honoured each other and enquired after each others health and welfare. O excellent Suras, we were then comfortably seated. Then that great sage Mārkaṇḍeya was asked by me, “O holy Sir, revered by sages, by what means may my subjects be free from ailments? I wish to hear everything from you who are bowed to by sages.”

[Garland of a Thousand Epithets of Viṣṇu]

234. In view of this, O Brāhmaṇa, the Devas there resorted to the hymn. Consequently the Lord, the bestower of boons and one adored even by the bestowers of boons, appeared directly and said to them:

The Lord (Viṣṇu) said:

235. O Suras, let the desired boon be chosen by all. I shall give everything. No hesitation be entertained in this case.

The Devas said:

236. O Viṣṇu, if you are the bestower of boons, kindly grant us this boon. Be born in the womb of Aditi and become the younger brother of Śakra.

237. On being requested thus by the Devas with Śakra as their leader, the Lord said, “So be it” and vanished there itself.

238. Thereafter, when some time elapsed the Lord was born as the delighter of Aditi. It was the infinite Viṣṇu himself in another form. He, being a dwarf, was known as Vāmana.

239. (In the meantime) O Vyāsa, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, Bali, the son of Virocana, performed (was performing) a hundred horse sacrifices with a desire to take away the kingdom of Indra.

240. He made Kaśyapa the Ṛtvik and the excellent Bhṛgu the Hotṛ. Pitāmaha (Creator of the world) himself became the Brahmā.

241. Atri the holy lord, the excellent sage, was the Adhvaryu. Nārada was the Udgātṛ and Vasiṣṭha the member of the Assembly.

242. The different leading sages who were there, were all employed in various activities. O Vyāsa, Bali, the excellent king, became duly initiated there.

243-244. O excellent sage, thus the sacrificial rites were started. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, these words were heard there: “Let the offering be made. Let this be eaten. Let this be given. Let this be placed.” These splendid words were heard there. At that time, when diverse kinds of rites were being performed, Vāmana of excellent smiles arrived there.

245-248. This (arrival) was announced by the doorkeeper, O Vyāsa, entirely to the king: “O eminent king, an excellent Brāhmaṇa, Vāmana is standing at the door reciting orally the Mantras of all the four Vedas.” The great king got up. Bali, the son of Virocana, took the entire materials of reception and went there along with the members of the Assembly. He duly adored Vāmana, the benefactor of the worlds, brought him to the centre of the hall, offered the seat which he accepted and said: “O holy Brāhmaṇa, whence have you come? What is your desire? I shall give you the same.”

Vāmana said:

249-253. The entire creation is of Brahmā, Parameṣṭhin, O king of kings. Hence, O great one, I have come here with a desire to see the Yajña. O sinless one, the Yajña of Varuṇa was seen by me formerly. Certainly I have seen the Yajña of the Lord of the Yakṣas. O excellent one, the Yajña of Dharma and Prajāpati, O great king, the Yajña of Vāyu that was duly performed was also seen by me. O great one of noble vows, the Yajñas of saintly kings were seen by me. O great king, O leader of the kings of kings, there was never before such a Yajña as the one of yours, nor will there ever be. Hence, O sinless one, O king, I have come here to beg of you.

Bali said:

254. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, you request for whatever is desired by you. I shall give it to you.

Vāmana said:

255. O leader of the kings of kings, give me three feet of earth for my residence, if, O excellent king, it is approved by you.

Bali said:

256-258. What is this that has been asked? It is very little. Don’t you have anything else to ask? O excellent Brāhmaṇa, request for elephants, horses, chariots, earth, jewels of various kinds, men and maid servants, beautiful women, different kinds of riches, articles, splendid garments etc. O Brāhmaṇa, O master of the Vedas and Vedāṅgas, you are a deserving person; you are blessed; you have done your duty.

Vāmana said:

259. O king, O bestower of honour, I have no desire on the earth. Give me three feet of earth, if you have any faith.

260. When this was said by Vāmana, Bali spoke these words: “Accept three feet of earth for the sake of residence, O bestower of honour.”

261. After saying this the saint-like king granted the earth to the Brāhmaṇa, O Vyāsa, though he was checked by Bhṛgu. He had thus been urged by fate.

262-264. As soon as the water was offered, Hari immediately occupied the cosmos. The entire region of earth including mountains, forests and jungles was covered by two and a half feet. Then, O Vyāsa, wealth was offered by Bali. After (thus) conquering the group of Asuras, Viṣṇu in the form of Vāmana gave the kingdom to Śatakratu and returned to earth.

265-270. O Vyāsa, the excellent Sura created a Tīrtha originating from himself in the meritorious Ṛddhi-Siddhi Āśrama and resided there itself. The Tīrtha created by Vāmana is called Vāmanakuṇḍa.

The twelfth day in the bright half of the month of Bhādrapada, coinciding with Śravaṇa constellation, is called Vāmanadvādaśī. It destroys (the sin of) crores of slaughters.

A man should take his holy bath in this Tīrtha, observe fast on the eleventh day and keep awake during the night. He becomes qualified to become Brahmā himself. On the twelfth day, they should make great gifts. There is nothing inaccessible to them in all the three worlds.

Thus the Vāmana Tīrtha has been formerly described by the great sage. It is destructive of all sins. It is meritorious. It bestows the boon of all desired things. Everything is attained by him. No hesitation (doubt) in this affair should be entertained.

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