by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Rajasthaleshvara (rajasthala-ishvara-linga) which is chapter 74 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 seventy-fourth chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Note: This is an adaptation (nay distortion) of the Ripuñjaya legend. Ripuñjaya, a king of Vārāṇasī, was duped by Gaṇeśa and Adharma spread. Ripuñjaya had to vacate Vārāṇasī. Here God Brahmā made Ripuñjaya a king of Avantī. He exiled all the Devas from the earth. But when Siva came there, Ripuñjaya requested him to stay permanently at that Rājasthala by the name Rājasthaleśvara to bless all people. The Chapter has a section on the geography of India in the form of lists of rivers, mountains and sacred places.
Śrī Hara said:
1. Know Rājasthaleśvara Śiva as the seventy-fourth deity. Merely by seeing it, one is rid of all sins.
2-10. O beloved, formerly in the Viṣṇu Kalpa, when the Manvantara began there was anarchy in the world and Brahmā became very much worried. ‘The Devas are not capable of sustaining the world without human beings. It is through Dāna, Yajña and Japa that the Devas get excellent nourishment. Who shall then be the king worthy of protecting the subjects? Who shall be fondly affectionate to the people?’ He then found the saintly king Ripuñjaya engaged in penance. He was endowed with all the earthly good qualities and he was engaged in great Vratas. Then the Lord of the Devas, Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds, spoke to him.
O Ripuñjaya, understand these words of mine. O dear son, let the kingdom be protected with a single-pointed mind. Enough of your penance, O dear one, now. It is too strenuous. O excellent one among men, you have conquered all the worlds by means of your Dharma. Now, at my bidding, let the protection of the worlds be carried out, since the use of a being with his body is the obligations or help rendered to others. There is no other piety (Dharma) like that. Nothing else can accomplish the purpose. It is preferable to fall into hell after rendering help to others. The lordship of the universe cannot be so (achieved) if there is Apakāra (harm done) to living beings. For the sake of the work of the worlds and due deference to my behest, protect efficiently the ocean-girt earth and the subjects.
11-20. On being told thus by Brahmā, O daughter of the Mountain, the saintly king Ripuñjaya joined his palms in veneration and spoke to Brahmā: “The earth formerly created by you is immovable by nature. If there is no protector, where can the earth go? O grandfather, if it is necessary that the earth is to be protected by me, give me the beautiful city of Avantī that has been in existence for seven Kalpas. It is well-known all over the mortal world that it is Amarāvatī established for the residence of Devas fallen from Svarga. If the heaven-dwellers agree to abide by the limitation thus stipulated by me, no one shall stay in a place not granted by me. O Lord, I shall protect the earth in accordance with this stipulation.”
O excellent one among men, the desire that you have given expression to, shall be honoured. Those Devas who happen to be here shall, out of deference to me, obey your command. They will be under your control. The name shall be Devanātha, O king of excellent holy vows.
After saying this Brahmā occupied his vehicle, the swan, and vanished. Then the king who had been promised by Brahmā the facility for protecting the earth, proclaimed thus on the earth: “Svarga has been assigned to you, the Devas, and the earth to human beings. Those who have stayed behind in caves, other places or mountains, should go away. This earth belongs to human beings.” On hearing this proclamation of that king the Devas who were afraid, went back to Svarga out of deference to the statement of Brahmā (made to the king).
21-30. Thereafter that king righteously protected the subjects like his sons with an affectionate heart. The subjects became extremely happy (as they were) brought up comfortably by him. They were devoid of old age and death. They had sons, wealth and food-grains. They realized all their desires. They enjoyed perpetual youth and were free from the distress due to the mutually opposed pairs. They always resorted to piety. There was no mountain, plain ground or continent on the earth which was not fertile. Without being ploughed, the earth abounded in tasty fruits. The earth became like the world of Devas shining brilliantly with all desired qualities.
Thus, time passed off and the king went on administering the kingdom. The Devas became highly infuriated and they endeavoured for bringing about disorder. They brought many grievous disasters to the subjects frequently. Then the chastiser of Pāka (i.e. Indra) caused a protracted drought. When the common people began to perish (of starvation), the excellent king became a cloud, ascended the sky and brought about a good downpour. Protected and nourished by him alone, O lady of great renown, the people became happy. After some time, once Indra became the Saṃvarta cloud (i.e. one at the time of ultimate annihilation) and caused the fall of many clouds. Thereupon the king assumed the form of wind and restrained it Thereafter, fire vanished from the surface of the earth all over. There was neither Yajña nor Japa, neither Homa nor cooking activity. Then all the people became agitated with ailments and got into difficulties.
31-42. On seeing it, the king himself became Havyavāhana (Fire). He sustained all the subjects, the Yajñas and the heaven-dwellers too. In the meantime, O goddess, accompanied by you, I came here to see my own city. I was surrounded by the multitudes of Bhūtas. Thereupon all these too came: All the groups of Devas, Kinnaras, great Serpents, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas and Gandharvas, Siddhas, Vidyādharas, Uragas (reptiles, serpents), Bhūtas, Pretas, Piśācas, all the other beings moving in the sky, the four oceans, the salt sea, the milk-ocean and other oceans, Gaṅgā, Yamunā, Sindhu, Candrabhāgā, Sarasvatī, Carmanvatī, Bhīmarathī, the holy Godāvarī river, Vipāśā, Gomatī, Dhūtapāpā, Bāhudā, Dṛṣadvatī, Pārā, Vedasmṛti, Vetraghnī, Narmadā, Śivā, Tāpī, Payoṣṇī, Nirvindhyā—all these came there.
Then Puṣkara, Prayāga, Prabhāsa, Naimiṣa, Pṛthu Tirthodaka, Amarakaṇṭaka, Gaṅgādvāra, Kuśāvarta, Bilvaka, Nīla Parvata, Varāha Parvata, Kanakhala Tīrtha, Bhṛgutuṅga, Sukakṣa, Ajagandha, Kāliñjara, Kedāra, Rudrakoṭi, Mahālaya, all the holy spots and meritorious shrines, Meru, Mahendra, Malaya, Mandara, Gandhamādana; the sages (named) Vālakhilyas, the four Vedas—these and many others came here along with me.
43-54. Thereafter Meru was turned into a level ground by me. O goddess, I stationed myself on that ground and sat there surrounded by the Suras. The four Sāgaras, the salty one and others, were employed at the sides. King Ripuñjaya became agitated. On seeing me stationed at his place, he came towards me. Though he was scorched (dazzled) by my refulgence, O lady of excellent countenance, though he was afraid, he propitiated me: “Obeisance to you. Who are you, O Lord?” I said jokingly, “O king, I am the king of this place in four groups, in four forms and stationed in four aspects. Therefore, in all the world of sound and speech consisting of the mobile and immobile beings I have been seen from all sides.”
Thereafter, O my beloved, I was eulogized with very great devotion. On seeing my incomparable extensive supreme power, O goddess, he sought refuge in me with great devotion. Again I was eulogized by him. I was pleased with the king. He said: “O Lord Parameśvara, if you are pleased, O Lord of all, let my perpetual devotion to you be firm.” I was delighted by those words and told the king again: “It will be so.” After saying this, I continued: “O king, tell me; the desire within your heart shall always be fulfilled. You will be invincible to all the Devas always.” Again he requested for an excellent boon: “O Lord, this Sthala (place) shines very well by your presence. There is no doubt at all that this Meru is always your favourite. You will become well-known in all the three worlds as Rājasthaleśvara. It behoves you to do so.
55-65. If anyone endowed with great devotion comes here on pilgrimage with deep devotion in accordance with the injunctions laid down in the Purāṇas, you will grant him whatever is desired by him. All the Guṇas (Siddhis) beginning with Aṇimā, the Siddhis of Guṭikā (magical pills), collyrium, sword and sandal, the ability to be under water, the divine Rasāyana (medicine of great potency)—all these should be given to him. O Maheśvara, a man who devoutly visits Rājasthaleśvara with due observances, particularly on the tenth lunar day, shall attain the status of being the Lord of Devas. He should be worshipped by the Devas like Lord Indra. If anyone performs pilgrimage and visits the Lord in Rājasthala, he will have glory and success. This shall be my boon. May the enemies perish and the desires be achieved. O Śaṅkara, by your vision let there be rising prosperity in the whole family. Let all the Devas stay here. Let Meru remain here. O Lord, Jet all the oceans stay in your vicinity.” Thus he said. Then, O lady of excellent countenance, I replied: “When the king named Sudyumna comes here along with his wife for the sake of a son, I shall grant him the desired thing. Then all the four oceans will be staying fruitfully. Due to his propitiation I shall give him a splendid son. A man who undertakes pilgrimage to his place devoutly will undoubtedly attain all the desires.” King Ripuñjaya was made Gaṇādhīśa by me on account of his devotion.
66. Thus, O goddess, the sin-destroying power of Rājasthaleśvareśa has been recounted to you. Listen to that of Vaḍaleśvara.