The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Pishaceshvara (pishaca-ishvara-linga) which is chapter 68 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-eighth chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 68 - Piśāceśvara (piśāca-īśvara-liṅga)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This is the story of how a sinner Soma who became a Piśāca, was redeemed by visiting Piśāceśvara and attained the eternal region.

Īśvara said:

1. Listen attentively, O goddess, to the story of the Liṅga named Piśāceśvara, the sixty-eighth deity. It is destructive of sins through its perception.

2-6. At the beginning in the Kali Age, O goddess, there was an extremely rich Śūdra well-known by the name Soma. He was an atheist and used to censure the Vedas. He was against Brāhmaṇas. He was a cruel miser, never ashamed of any thing. He was guilty of breach of trust and was always engaged in taking away the wealth of others. He did everything to prevent others from benefiting through Dharma, Artha and Kāma. He always followed his own will and desire, O goddess. Ultimately he died after suffering great distress. He became a Piśāca (ghost) in a desert land, nude, wretched and terrible. He was a destroyer of other Piśācas. He would exterminate persons belonging to his group. Even many more powerful Piśācas were thrashed by him.

7-11. A learned, eloquent, yet quiescent man named Śākaṭāyana came along that path. He was always engaged in the study of Vedas. He used to travel in a cart. He resembled the rising sun in splendour. He had the lustre like that of fire. O Daughter of the Mountain, while he proceeded ahead looking about carefully, he saw that terribly hideous Piśāca who being overwhelmed with hunger rushed at him in his desire to gobble him up. But when he saw the Brāhmaṇa Śākaṭāyana seated in his cart, when he espied such a refulgent form of the Brāhmaṇa, when he heard the rumbling, creaking sound of the cart, he found his ears deafened. Though he himself had a terrible form, the Piśāca became deaf in both the ears and was afraid. With very great difficulty, O Pārvatī, he wanted to save himself and so fled.

On seeing the Piśāca fleeing, the Brāhmaṇa asked:

12-23. “O Piśaca, you appear to be in a hurry and are afraid too. Where do you go? Say, whence has fear overtaken you?”

The Piśāca said:

On hearing the terrible noise of this great cart I have become deaf in the ears. I have become unconscious by seeing you.

The Brāhmaṇa said:

Among Piśācas the Brahmarākṣasas are reported to be the most powerful. You are desirous of eating me. It is not well-known that you are a Brahmarākṣasa.

The Piśāca said:

I am competent to manage the Piśācas. By seeing you, I have become doomed. To everyone death is a cause of misery. Life is very rare and valuable to all. Hence I am fleeing for life for the sake of happiness.

The Brāhmaṇa said:

Whence is happiness unto you? Death is more beneficial to you. The Piśāca race itself is despicable. It is meant only for sinners.

The Piśāca said:

Wherever a creature is born it resorts to pleasure. Hence I wish to be alive. Be pleased, O Brahmarākṣasa.

The Brāhmaṇa said:

I am not desirous of eating you. I am a Brāhmaṇa and not a Rāksasa. I roam about over the earth for the sake of the welfare of all living beings. A Brāhmaṇa is said to be friendly unto all creatures. Do not be afraid of me. Indeed I have become friendly.

On hearing his words the Piśāca had mental peace. He bowed down to the Brāhmaṇa Śākaṭāyana and said: “If you have granted the gift of freedom from fear to all living beings, if you have maintained friendliness physically, mentally and verbally, O illustrious one, I shall ask you to clarify a doubt lurking in my heart. After listening to it sympathetically, you should explain it to me. By what type of fruition of Karmas does a man attain the state of Piśāca? How can sinners get liberated from the state of Piśāca?”

24-33. O lady of excellent countenance, on hearing these words of the Piśāca, Śākaṭāyana became overwhelmed with the feeling of affection and spoke to him: “Men become highly sinful after committing the sin of taking away the wealth of a Brāhmaṇa and misappropriating that of a temple deity in particular. Thereby they become Piśācas.

A man who deceives his father, mother, wife, son, or a Brāhmaṇa and takes away their wealth becomes a Piśāca.

If a man accepts money from a king and does not make use of it in Yajña or Dāna, but uses it for selfish purposes, he attains the state of Piśāca.

Those who commit breach of trust, those who have sex with other men’s wives and those who speak ill of the Vedas, attain the state of Piśāca.

Men who always decry the Purāṇas and Dharmaśāstras and who calumniate others become Piśācas.

Thus I have recounted to you everything on the authority of the Vedas. Now I shall narrate to you as to how you came to have your birth. You were a Śūdra named Somaka. You used to reveal the foibles of others. You committed breach of trust. You used to censure Devas and Brāhmaṇas. In your seventh birth also you were an atheist and violated conventions and rules of etiquette. You caused the downfall of all the members of your family. They have fallen into terrible hell. Now you have taken the form of a Piśāca. You will successively fall into these hells: Raurava, Mahāraurava, Krakaca, Kālasūtraka, Yantrapīḍanaka, Raudra, Mathana and Kuṃbhavāluka.”

34-43. Even as that Brāhmaṇa went on saying thus, O lady of renown, due to the association of a good man, the Piśāca remembered the earlier birth which had been deplorable.

He was overwhelmed with misery while saying repeatedly, “Fie upon me! Fie upon me!” He fell down on the ground and remained motionless. O goddess, then he spoke these words: “I am deficient in merit. I am wretched and miserable, but some (unknown) merit has enabled me to meet you. There is no friend on a par with Dharma. There is no ultimate goal on a par with Dharma. There is no protection like Dharma. But, O holy Sir, I am devoid of it. I have sunk deep into the ocean of misery. I have got entangled in the mire of sin. I have been roaming about in blinding darkness. Hence I have sought refuge in you. I make obeisance to you. O illustrious one, what shall I do? Directly instruct me. This opportunity has been gained by me as guided by the power of your penance.”

Even as the Piśāca was recounting thus, O lady of excellent countenance, the Brāhmaṇa Śākaṭāyana expatiated on the greatness (of the Liṅga):

“All the Tīrthas that are present all over the earth bounded by the oceans, are present here too. This is the merit-yielding holy spot of all those Kṣetras. The holy spot of Mahākālavana does not perish even during Pralaya. In that great Kṣetra there is a Liṅga that dispels the state of Piśāca. It is situated to the south of Ḍhuṇḍheśvara Deva. It has been adored by Devas. The Piśāceśvara Liṅga eradicates birth as a Piśāca. Merely by visiting it, you will be rid of the state of Piśāca.”

44-51. On hearing his words, O lady of excellent countenance, the Piśāca bowed down to the Brāhmaṇa and hastened to the meritorious Mahākālavana that bestows the desired benefit. He took his holy bath in the splendid and auspicious waters of Śiprā and visited the Liṅga there. By the perception of that Liṅga, O lady of excellent countenance, that Piśāca became instantly endowed with a divine body embellished with divine ornaments. Seated in a divine aerial chariot he went to the eternal world after redeeming the members of his mother’s and father’s families fully.

On seeing that great miracle, that pre-eminent greatness, O my beloved, Devas seated in aerial chariots and Siddhas moving about in the sky said: “(Merely) by seeing this Liṅga even the Piśāca has gone to Svarga. Hence that deity will become well-known over the earth by the name of Piśāceśvara, the destroyer of all sins. If men see that Liṅga named Piśāceśvara, all their Pitṛs held up in hell will become rid of the state of Piśāca and go undoubtedly to Svarga.”

By visiting Piśāceśvara one obtains that benefit which is the usual benefit of an Aśvamedha Yajña perfectly performed.

52-59. By visiting Piśāceśvara, it should be known that, one obtains more merit than what is proclaimed as the merit accruing from offering balls of rice at Gayā.

If men perceive the Liṅga named Piśāceśvara on the fourteenth lunar day, Pretatva (ghost-hood) and Piśācatva (vampire-hood) will never occur in their family. If a man (even) casually visits the Liṅga named Piśāceśvara, he will never be born of base wombs nor will he ever see hell. By visiting Piśāceśvara he rejoices in the Pìtṛloka accompanied by all kinsmen and endowed with all kinds of riches.

By glorifying the Liṅga one is rid of sins, by seeing it one goes to Svarga and by touching it one sanctifies all the family members upto the seventh generation. Immediately after seeing the Liṅga named Piśāceśvara, a man becomes liberated from the fetters etc. of the worldly existence. By seeing it the benefit derived is a crore times more than the benefit of Yajñas, Tapas and Dānas. Infinite is the merit if a devotee visits it on the fourteenth lunar day in Vaiśākha or Kārttika.

60. Thus, O goddess, the sin-destroying power of Piśāceśvara Deva is recounted to you. Listen to that of Saṅgameśvara.

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