The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Muktishvara (mukti-ishvara-linga) which is chapter 25 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-fifth chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 25 - Muktīśvara (mukti-īśvara-liṅga)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Hara said:

1. O my beloved goddess, know that Muktīśvara Liṅga is the twenty-fifth deity. Merely by seeing it, O Pārvatī, one gets liberated.

2-8. Formerly in the Rāthantara Kalpa, there was an excellent Brāhmaṇa named Mukti. O blessed one, he was a person of consecrated soul with all the sense-organs fully conquered. In the beautiful Mahākālavana near Mahākāla there is the excellent Mukti Liṅga. He used to sit there engrossed in Yogic practice. Controlling (the craving for) food, he performed penance for thirteen years.

Once he went to the great river Śiprā, the meritorious favourite of Brāhmaṇas, the destroyer of great sins. He went to the river for his ablution.

After concluding his holy bath, the Brāhmaṇa remained seated performing Japa (utterance of Mantras). He saw a hunter with a big bow in his hand coming towards him. He looked terrible with red eyes and shouting something as though he wanted to kill him with a desire to take away his bark garments.

On seeing that slayer of Brāhmaṇas, this Brāhmaṇa became agitated with fear. But he remained there itself meditating on Lord Nārāyaṇa.

On seeing the Brāhmaṇa, the hunter was afraid as it were because Had (Lord Viṣṇu, lion) had gone deep into him. He set aside the bow and arrows and spoke these words:

The Hunter said:

9-17. O holy Sir, I came here desirous of killing you. Now, on seeing you with excessive refulgence, my intellect has come to itself (become sensible).

I am a householder with a large family. For the sake of sustenance, O holy Sir, I had to kill thousands of Brāhmaṇas and ten thousands of women. Hitherto my mind has not wavered or pained. Now I wish to perform a penance near you. It behoves you to grant me your favour by offering suitable instructions.

Though the hunter told him all these things, the eminent Brāhmaṇa did not reply at all, thinking that that was a Brāhmaṇa-slayer of evil activities.

Though no reply was received that pious hunter stood there itself. He took his bath immediately and came near the Mukti Liṅga. After seeing the eternal Lord in the company of the Brāhmaṇa, he suddenly assumed a divine body and merged himself into that Liṅga.

On seeing that miracle, Mukti, the Brāhmaṇa thought within himself, O lady of excellent countenance: ‘Salvation has been attained suddenly by a hunter defiled by sins and devoid of holy meditation. As for me, I (for one) had performed a great penance very difficult (for ordinary persons). The great form (Śiva) has not been realized nor is salvation obtained.’

After thinking thus with detachment and disgust for worldly pleasures, the eminent Brāhmaṇa took a dip under water and performed severe penance.

18-28. After some time, O chaste lady, a hungry tiger came to that river. It attempted to kill him. When the tiger was about to seize the Brāhmaṇa moving about under the water, he uttered the words ‘Obeisance to Nārāyaṇa.’

The Mantra was heard by the tiger who instantly cast off his vital breath and became a splendid Puruṣa (Being, Person) wearing divine garments. O goddess, he was embellished with divine ornaments and equipped with the refulgence of divine jewellery. He said: “I am going to that place where eternal Viṣṇu is present. Due to your favour, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, I am rid of the curse and free from ailments.”

When this was spoken, the Brāhmaṇa said: “O great being, who are you?” He said: “In my former birth I was an eminent king of great exploits, famous by the name Dīrghabāhu. I was a master of all pious rites. I knew the Vedas and Śāstras of diverse kinds. I was proud that I knew what was auspicious and what was inauspicious, that I was an omniscient one on the surface of the earth. I had nothing to do with Brāhmaṇas. What worthless ones are these Brāhmaṇas! On account of this, one day all the Brāhmaṇas became angry. They blasted an inescapable curse upon me: ‘For insulting Brāhmaṇas you will become a flesh-eating terrible tiger of ruthless nature.’ O excellent Brāhmaṇa, see; as time was against me I became so. On being told thus formerly by the Brāhmaṇas who had mastered the Vedas, the inescapable Brāhmaṇical imprecation was blasted on me, O excellent Brāhmaṇa. Then, O sage, those Brāhmaṇas were bowed to by me and requested to forgive me. O Brāhmaṇa, with faltering words I told them thus:

29-41. ‘I know the fiery spiritual power of Brāhmaṇas and the great glory of those intelligent ones. It was by them that the ocean was angrily rendered saline and impotable.

So also, I know the refulgence of the sages of radiant austerity and purified souls. The fire of their anger has not subsided in Kaṇḍaka till today.

Since he insulted and dishonoured the Brāhmaṇas, the evil-natured Vātāpi, the great cruel Asura, came across Sage Agasti and got digested in his body.

For another reason, Vahni (Fire-god) was rendered omnivorous by Bhṛgu. Śakra was formerly converted into one with a thousand vaginas by Gautama.

Due to the insurmountable curse of a Brāhmaṇa Keśava had to take ten births (incarnations). Garuḍa was made the Lord of birds by Vālakhilyas who were pleased. After foiling (the attack with) Kuliśa (thunderbolt), Cyavana, the noble soul, made Aśvins, the physicians of Devas, qualified to drink Soma juice.

With the favour of Dattātreya, a thousand arms were acquired by Kārtavīryārjuna, which is something very difficult for others.

Formerly the heaven-dwellers along with Indra were saved by Vaśiṣṭha. Sound happiness, fame, longevity, renown and strength—the sources of origin for these are Brāhmaṇas.

All the Lords of Lokāloka have Brāhmaṇas as their mentors. These are kings of Soma juice, masters of happiness and misery.

They are visible lords and if infuriated, they may reduce the entire universe to ashes. Instances of the prowess of the expounders of Brahman we hear in plenty.

Their anger is unbounded and sudden. Their attitude of confidence is also sudden. Due to the anger of leading Brāhmaṇas I experienced hellish torture.

One should save one’s glory and prosperity from anger; wealth from one having envy; learning from pride and insult; and oneself from error. O eminent Brāhmaṇas, it behoves you to forgive me because I have sought refuge in you. A sin has been committed by me due to ignorance and pride of royalty as ordained by. fate.’

42-49. Then all the Brāhmaṇas were pleased. They joyously told me this: ‘O king, you shall be a flesh-eater for some time. After taking his bath in the meritorious Śiprā, an excellent Brāhmaṇa who takes food once in six days, will stand in front of you. In the form of a tiger you may be desirous of seizing him and he moving about under the water may utter ‘Obeisance to Nārāyaṇa’. Then you will be liberated.’

Incidentally the Mantra (Obeisance to Nārāyaṇa) was uttered by you. It was heard by me from you. This is the result thereof. O sage of holy Vratas, with your favour I became one endowed with a divine body. Hence I have become blessed and contented, O holy Sir, due to your sight. A boon may be received from me even if there is doubt in your heart. Out with it, O excellent Brāhmaṇa. I shall get everything accomplished for you. I wish to get freed from indebtedness to you by making to you a gift of sound advice.” On hearing these words of the person endowed with a divine body, that Brāhmaṇa’s lotuslike face became full-blown and he said with greatest pleasure:

50-55. “Today my knowledge has become fruitful; today my penance has borne fruit; today my tongue has become fruitful; today my eye has become fruitful. What has been uttered by the Lord has been heard. Embodied beings see only after taking the holy dip. Earlier you had the form of a tiger in your body, O one having practiced excellent penance. Now the body is refulgent, the eternal form of Brahman. If I am worthy of being blessed, if it behoves you to do so, I wish to know the reason which has been in my heart for a long time. O blessed one, how is it that salvation has not been obtained by me, desirous of salvation, despite my effort, though I have been engaged in the practice of Yogic exercises for thirteen years? It is highly surprising because it has not been obtained even through very severe austerities difficult for others. But salvation was obtained even by that hunter in an instant. My doubt is in regard to this. What is the reason? Let it be explained clearly.”

56-63. On hearing his words, he spoke thus: “I will tell the means of salvation. It is a secret to be guarded. O sage, though salvation is extremely difficult to attain, it is easily and quickly obtained by adoring Mahādeva. This has been stated by the ancient learned men and noble souls. O Brāhmaṇa, listen with mental concentration. Make genuine effort according to my direction, O excellent Brāhmaṇa. Thereby you will obtain salvation.

When I had been cursed by those Brāhmaṇas I propitiated them very much. Out of genuine sympathy for me they said: ‘O king, your salvation will definitely take place. In Mahākālavana there is an excellent Brāhmaṇa Mukti who is desirous of salvation. He is endowed with penance. He will put you certain questions. You will recount to him the (glory of) Muktīśvara Liṅga. In this manner your salvation and the salvation of that Mukti will take place. The Karma recorded before never leaves embodied beings. This is the procedure laid down by the creator in regard to Karmas.’

On hearing his words, that Brāhmaṇa, the foremost among the knowers of Brahman rose up from within the water and spoke these words:

64-72. ‘Luckily you have come, O king. It is fortunate that I had the contact with you. Men like this, the guides to salvation, are very rare indeed.’”

After saying this the king and the Brāhmaṇa approached Mukti Liṅga for perceiving it. O lady of wide eyes, after perceiving the eternal Lord both of them merged themselves into that Liṅga along with their bodies at that very instant.’”

Such is the glory (of Mukti Liṅga), O goddess. It has been recounted to you by me. Salvation results by touching this Liṅga and not otherwise. Those who always adore the eternal Mukti Liṅga with devotion, attain the greatest goal though they may be defiled by sins.

O foolish ones, of what avail are austerities? Of what avail are Dānas and religious observances? Do visit the Muti [Mukti?] Liṅga that bestows salvation. The groups of Devas do not know, nor Asuras, nor the great sages. O lady of wide eyes, this is the greatest form free from impurities which has the lustre of granite. Even the creator himself does not know my supreme form, nor Viṣṇu, nor the excellent Devas. O my beloved, whence can the sages or others know? Śuka and others meditate on this form alone, seen as refulgence in the form of the Liṅga, O lady of renown. With my blessing, Yogins purified through many births may enter my body that bestows salvation.

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