The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Omkareshvara (omkara-ishvara-linga) which is chapter 52 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-second chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 52 - Oṃkāreśvara (oṃkāra-īśvara-liṅga)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This is the glorification of Oṃkāra. created by Śiva. This Oṃkāra is merged in a Liṅga in Mahākāleśvaravana and hence came to be known as ‘Oṃkāreśvara’.

1-10. Know, O goddess, that the name of the fifty-second deity is Oṃkāreśvara (well-known) in all the three worlds.

In the first Kalpa named Prākṛta, O goddess, a being tawny in colour was procreated by me through the mouth at the outset. Then that being of divine nature stationed himself there saying, “What shall I do?” When I told him, “Divide yourself”, he vanished like the blowing out of a lamp. His movement was not noticed. Thereafter he began to consider, ‘How is the self to be divided?’ Even as he was pondering thus, he turned out to be named Ṛk, Yajus and Sāman with the three-vowel syllables (accents?) and four measurements, yielding the four aims of life as the benefit. Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva constituted his soul. With his extensive powers he pervaded all the worlds. With pleasure I gave him the name ‘Oṃkāra’. Vaṣaṭkāra issued from the heart of that deity bedecked by the liberal-minded Vāṇīs (speeches) uttered then. Gāyatrī of sweet utterance, well-known in the world as Sāvitrī, was stationed nearby there as a shining goddess. She was the most excellent of the Chandas (Vedic Metres) with twenty-four syllables, six bellies, three feet and five heads.

O Pārvatī, I told Oṃkāra: “Along with this Gāyatrī at my bidding, evolve the wonderfully variegated creation.”

11-21. On being told thus, he assumed a form resembling gold with three projections. At my bidding he evolved the creation from his body.

In the beginning, the group of Devas, the thirty-three deities, human beings and sages were created on the authority of the Vedas. Just as the Sun has the rising and setting constantly, so also the manifestation shall occur again, even after they had entered his body. After suppressing all the Devas, Asuras and Serpents into the Oṃkāra, within his womb, the holy Lord of the universe, Oṃkāra, created all the living beings at the end of the Kalpa, O daughter of the Mountain.

He is unmanifest and eternal. This entire visible world belongs to him. The great Being is the maker, transformer and annihilator of everything. The Vedas have Oṃkāra at the beginning. Yajñas have Oṃkāra at the beginning. Oṃkāra precedes knowledge; penance begins with Oṃkāra. He should be known as self-born. He is Brahmā, the Lord of the universe. He should be known as Vāyu (Wind). That omniscient one is the creator of subjects. He created all these: Viśvedevas, Sādhyas, Rudras, Ādityas, Aśvins, Prajāpatis, the seven great sages, Vasus, Apsarās, Gandharvas, Rākṣasas, Daityas, Piśācas, Rakṣasa groups, different kinds of spirits and goblins, Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas, Śūdras, Barbarians and others on the earth, all the quadrupeds (beasts and animals), mobile beings and whatever is termed as Jīva (having life). After creating everything, he came near me.

22-29. He bowed down with modesty and spoke these words: “O Lord, O Maheśvara, with your favour, the creation has been completed by me. Grant me a grand place so that the fame may be eternal.” On hearing the words of Oṃkāra, I said, O lady of excellent countenance: “My divine Mahākālavana is the most desirable grand place. It is eternal, immutable and unfading. It is auspicious and conducive to all the wealth. There your fame will remain permanent undoubtedly. It is situated on the eastern side of Śūleśvara. Originating in the course of the three Kalpas, it will become well-known after your name. The name Oṃkāreśvara will spread in the three worlds.”

On being told so, O goddess, Oṃkāra was delighted in his mind. He saw the Liṅga there and got merged therein. Ever since then Oṃkāra is included in the Vedas by Brāhmaṇas at the outset for the sake of merit and auspiciousness. O Pārvatī, this is the convention ever since the time when Oṃkāra got merged. Listen to the inordinate power of the Liṅga as being recounted by me.

30-37. O goddess, the merit from a visit to Omkāreśvara is more than what has been cited as resulting from meritorious action done in the course of thousands of Yugas etc., hundreds of Vyatīpātas and thousands of Ayanas (solar transits). The benefit accruing from visiting Oṃkāreśvara is more than the benefit acquired when all the four Vedas have been studied. The merit from visiting Oṃkāreśvara is more than the merit got by practising celibacy throughout one’s life. O goddess, the merit from visiting Oṃkāreśvara is more than the merit got from Karīṣa Sādhanā (spiritual achievement through the mastery of Karīṣa fire) and the merit in keeping the vow of non-killing. Limitless, indeed, is the benefit mentioned as resulting from the adoration thereof. Of what avail are Yajñas involving the expenditure of abundant wealth? Of what avail are austerities very difficult to be performed, since the same benefit is obtained merely by visiting Oṃkāreśvara? Men shall achieve liberation from the worship, touch, glorification and listening to the story of Oṃkāreśvara Deva.

Thus, O goddess, the sin-destroying power of Oṃkāreśvara Deva has been recounted to you. Listen to the story of the great Viśveśvara Liṅga.

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