by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,142,515 words
This page describes Agastyeshvara (agastya-ishvara-inga) which is chapter 1 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 first chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
The holy places are: Kurukṣetra, Gayā, Prabhāsa, Naimiṣa, Kedāra, Puṣkara, Kāyāvarohaṇa and the splendid and holiest Mahākālavana. It is there that Śrī Mahākāla, the fire that consumes all sins like fuel, exists. The entire holy place extending to a Yojana is destructive of even the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. O goddess, it accords enjoyment of pleasures and salvation. The holy spot destroys the sins of Kali. It is not destroyed even in Pralaya (dissolution of the world). It is very difficult even for the Devas to obtain it.
8-9. O Lord Maheśvara, may the power of this holy spot be described. I wish to hear how many Liṅgas are there and also the Tīrthas that are worthy of being bowed to. I have great interest therein.
10-16. Listen, O goddess, carefully to the power that destroys sins. This foremost holy spot, O great goddess, is always my favourite. It is there that these four excellent rivers flow: (1) the great Mahāpuṇyā that dispels all sins, (2) the meritorious Gandhavatī, (3) the divine Navanaḍī, and (4) the pleasant Nīlagaṅgā the fourth one. If a man takes his holy bath at the confluences of these rivers and performs Śrāddha, O goddess, the benefit attained by him is three times more than that from (Śrāddha) performed on Gaṅgā. It bestows the benefit of the four great aims of life.
Know, O lady of great holy vows, that the holy place of Avantī extends to a Yojana. The Siddha Liṅgas that are present there accord worldly pleasures and salvation.
The Īśvaras (Liṅgas) are eighty-four and the Bhairavas are eight. The Rudras are eleven and the Ādityas are twelve. Here the Vināyakas are six and the Mothers twenty-four. When I went there to the splendid Mahākālavana, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and all others too joyously came there.
17-18. Thus the holy spot, O goddess, extending to a Yojana is pervaded by these deities. Viṣṇu, the destroyer of all sins, occupies ten Sthānas (Shrines). A man who repeats devoutly these names in the morning shall be rid of all sins. He will go to Rudraloka.
19-21. Describe in detail all those eighty-four Liṅgas that are mentioned by you as the destroyers of all sins.
Listen, O fair lady, I shall tell their names. At the outset, it is the excellent Agastyeśvara that is reputed all over the earth. Merely by visiting it, a man becomes blessed and contented.
How was the name Agastyeśvara attained by this deity? In which spot and how did it originate? It behoves you to tell all this in detail.
22. O blessed goddess, listen to its traditional legend that quells completely all sins and bestows the desired benefits.
23. Formerly Devas were defeated by Asuras. All their shares (in sacrifices, etc.) were forfeited and they became desperate. The Pitṛs were disappointed. Then the Devas, having lost all their powers and prosperity, roamed over the earth, O goddess.
24. Once, thereafter, those wretched ones saw Agastya, the brilliant one, a performer of great austerities. The radiant sage was blazing like the sun.
25. After duly paying respects to that noble-souled Agastya whom they saw enveloped in an encircling halo, they said thus to the sage renowned in all the worlds:
26. “O eminent sage, we have been overpowered by the Dānavas in battle. All of us have been pushed down from heaven. Hence, save us from this grave danger and fear.”
27. On being told thus by the Devas, Agastya became enraged. The brilliant sage blazed like Kālāgni of the time of ultimate annihilation.
28. O great goddess, thousands of the Dānavas fell down from the firmament, completely burnt by the blazing clusters of rays.
29. On being scorched by the brilliant fiery splendour of that Sage Agastya, all the Daityas fled to Pātāla in terror.
30. Thereupon, after killing them, the noble-souled Agastya became extremely grief-stricken and got agitated mentally with excessive anxiety.
31. ‘A terribly great sin has been committed by me because the Dānavas have been killed (by me). For, it is said by Manu that non-injury is the greatest piety. What shall I do? Where shall I go? How can I become pure?’
32-33. Even as he was thinking thus, Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, came there. He asked the sage: “How is it that you seem to be grief-stricken? O tiger among sages, may the cause thereof be told immediately.” Even as he asked thus, the sage bowed down to Brahmā and said:
34-35. “O Lord of Devas, O Lord of the universe, there is a burning sensation in my mind. The sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaugh-ter has overtaken me because the Dānavas were killed by me. Suggest a suitable remedy unto me kindly, O most excellent one among the Suras. O Lord, the power of penance accumulated by me in the course of a long time has been wasted.”
36-39. The most excellent one among the Suras (i.e., Brahmā) said: “Listen to this great remedy carefully. Thereby all the sins shall certainly be destroyed.
In the divine Mahākālavana to which Yakṣas and Gandharvas resort, there is an excellent Liṅga, to the north of Vaṭayakṣiṇī. It is situated in the southern sector of Piśāca Tīrtha. All the sins of one who propitiates it will be destroyed. Adore and propitiate that splendid Liṅga which is destructive of all sins.”
The pious-souled one said: “Extremely well,” and went to Mahākālavan.
40. O goddess of Devas, the sage was eager to propitiate that Liṅga. Day and night the sage engaged himself devoutly in the exclusive meditation thereof.
41-48. I became pleased with that noble-souled sage, O goddess. This was said by me: “O sage of great fortune, listen with concentration; choose your boon, O eminent Brāhmaṇa, whatever may be in your mind.
I am pleased with this devotion and the penance very difficult to be performed by others. Due to the prowess of this Liṅga, you have become rid of impurities (sins) now. O eminent sage, the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter arising from the killing of the Dānavas has become destroyed.” On hearing my words, O lady of excellent complexion, he said: “O Lord fond of those who seek refuge in you, if you are pleased, O Maheśvara, let my devotion be fixed on the pair of your feet. Let there not be any hindrance to my penance and the performance of religious rites.”
On hearing these words of the noble-souled Pot-born Sage, O lady of large eyes, I said: “O sage, it shall be so. This Lord, the destroyer of the sins of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter, adored by you shall become well-known in all the three worlds after your name as Agastyeśvara Deva. It shall be famous in all the three worlds.” On being told thus by me, O goddess, the Brāhmaṇa established himself there, adorned by means of the five Mudrās, by the grace of that Liṅga.
49-50. A man who devoutly visits that great Liṅga shall become rid of all sins and embellished with all desired things. Those noble souls shall be blessed with sons and prosperity. At the time of death, they come to me by means of aerial chariots that bestow all desired objects.
51-54. In the eternal Rudraloka, they shall be eulogized by the chiefs of Gandharvas. Those mortal beings who always adore the Lord named Agastyeśvara are the men who have performed meritorious rites and they reach the highest region.
When the Lord of the chiefs of Devas is remembered, the sins of men acquired in the course of crores of births become destroyed. Who does not bow to that Śiva? He who devoutly worships that Lord and resorts to that Lord, is rid of the sins like that of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter which give hell.
55-59. O goddess, the merit that accrues by visiting the Lord shall be more than what is yielded by a hundred Rājasūya sacrifices.
Of what avail are the different kinds of Tīrthas and holy ablutions? Of what avail are the diverse kinds of gifts made? All those devotees will undoubtedly attain every benefit with my favour. He who devoutly performs the adoration of that Liṅga on a Monday or on the eighth and fourteenth lunar days, in accordance with his capacity, redeems a hundred generations on his mother’s and father’s sides.
Even those persons who visit casually and without ardour, never see a hell in the course of their worldly existence. Thus, O goddess, the excellent greatness of the Liṅga has been recounted to you. The first one of the (eighty-four) Liṅgas has been described. Listen attentively to the second (of those deities) in the world.
Footnotes and references:
The propitiation of this Liṅga redeemed Agastya from sins. Hence it became known as Agastyeśvara. (vv 41-46).