by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Svapneshvara (svapna-ishvara-linga) which is chapter 80 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 eightieth chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Note: Here the legend of Kalmāṣapāda is used to glorify this Liṅga. Kalmāṣapāda was harassed by bad dreams after devouring Vaśiṣṭha’s son—a demoniac act perpetrated by him under the influence of Śakti’s curse. As per advice of his ministers, he approached Vaśiṣṭha along with them to seek his advice. Adṛśyantī, Śakti’s wife, got terrified at the sight of Kalmāṣapāda. Vaśiṣṭha consoled her. He paralysed the movement of Kalmāṣapāda, freed him from the curse of demonhood and advised him to go to this Liṅga in Mahākālavana. The king did so and was spared such dreams. Hence the Liṅga came to be known as Svapneśvara.
1. O my beloved, know Svapneśvara Liṅga as the eightieth deity. Merely by visiting it, one can certainly dispel evil dreams.
2-8. O goddess, there was a king born of the Ikṣvāku race. He was famous in the world as Kalmāṣapāda. By his refulgence, he resembled the Sun on the earth. Once he came across Śakti, the bosom-born son of Vaśiṣṭha, in a forest. He was conversant with the highest virtue and he had subdued all the sense-organs. This sage of great penance happened to be on the way the king was going along. “Move away,” said the king to him. Then, out of delusion, the great king, like a demon, struck with his whip that excellent sage who did not keep off from the way. On being struck with the whip the great sage, the son of Vaśiṣṭha, became very furious. He angrily cursed the king: “Since you are injuring a sage like a Rākṣasa, O wretched king, you will become a man-eater from today. You will be constantly wandering over the earth strongly addicted to meat.”
On being cursed thus, the king instantly sought refuge in Śakti and requested him to become pleased. Though the Brāhmaṇa-sage was besought by the king, the highly infuriated Śakti was not pacified. Thereupon the king ate him up.
9-25. After devouring Śakti, he ate up all the other sons of Vaśiṣṭha also suddenly, like a lion devouring puny creatures. Ever since then, the excellent king became a veritable cannibal later. Deluded by a mass of sins, he began to see evil dreams at night. On seeing these terrifying dreams, the king became very distressed. Overwhelmed with repentance and great distress he lamented much.
He was enquired of by the ministers: “What do you do, O king? How do you appear lean and pale? Wherefore is your lustre dim?” The king narrated to them the evil dreams in the proper sequence:
“I have witnessed in the dream the ocean getting dried up and the moon fallen on the ground. The earth is enveloped by dense darkness and overspread by clouds. I saw myself dirty and with dishevelled hair. I saw myself falling from the peak of a mountain into an eddy of cow-dung and drank Añjali-fuls of oil, laughing all the while. All my limbs were smeared with oil. I waded through oil. With the face downcast, I sat on an iron stool. Some maidens red in complexion, wearing red garlands and smeared with red pastes, were singing. Others were clad in black garments, wearing black garlands and smeared with black pastes. Being dragged by them, I was led to the southern quarter. I was bound with cables of gold, silver and iron. Bound in iron fetters, I sank deep into dust and mud. I was tortured by pigeons and terrible vultures and crows. I was gnawed at by jackals. I was seated on the head of a Madgura (Mudgara?). Seated in a vehicle drawn by bears and monkeys, I went in the southern direction. Without any movement, I got sunk in a waterless river, level with its bed. At night I was tormented and torn by means of teeth. I was kicked in the chest forcefully with adamantine hoofs by a donkey. The eyes were pricked with iron pikes by Vetālas (Vampires). By black men, having weapons raised up, I was pricked with terrible black thorns. In the course of the dream, I was hit hard with huge sharp arrows. Thus I saw (these) in the course of this terrible night. It is difficult to describe many other evil dreams I saw. Seeing this series of evil dreams of many forms never imagined of by me earlier, I experience a great fear. My heart is not clear and calm. Grasping the arms together, I lament as though I am helplessly orphaned.”
26-32. On hearing the words of the king, the ministers became distressed much. They saw evil omens, such as the fall of comets, etc. The city appeared to be adversely affected by Saturn, Sun and Mars. Karaṇas such as Nāga, Catuṣpāda, Viṣṭi, Kiṃstughna, Śakuni are not favourable and cannot be lauded. The Muhūrtas became awful. Knowing that anything untoward in the case of the king meant disaster to the realm and doom of the family, they, however, spoke these words by way of consolation to the king: “O descendant of Kakutstha, do not subject yourself to grief. Apprehensions true or untrue are transferred to dream as imagined on account of the action of the seven vital ingredients in the bodily secretions. So adore the Pitṛs and others and Devas as well as Brāhmaṇas. Through them you will be rid of the mental hallucination, since fate alone can save, when fate strikes.” On being consoled thus by the ministers, experts in pious rites, the king confessed to them his sins, such as the killing of the sons of the preceptor and the like.
The King said:
33-44. Śakti, the eldest son of Vaśiṣṭha, was eaten by me, O ministers. I had been ruthless enough to eat about ninety-nine (one less than hundred) ones (sons of Vaśiṣṭha). I am distressed on account of that sin. How can I be normal and calm? Even a single Brāhmaṇa-slaughter is unfortunately a very wicked act. I have been cruel and so I ḍid not hesitate to do so. What worlds are destined for me after the perpetration of this terrible deed! I am a Rākṣasa and I have brought an end to the family with this same body. Born in the family of Raghu and his descendants, I have reduced myself to the state of a wretched sinner, the origin of all sins. Hence I shall court death by setting myself on fire.
On hearing these words of Saudāsa, the ministers, the masters of all Śāstras conversant with the principles of the Vedas, became extremely surprised: “Alas, great sin has been committed! We do no know the means of atonement. No one except Vaśiṣṭha knows it now. Hence for the sake of the king, we must go now itself to the place where the holy sage Vaśiṣṭha, the Brāhmaṇa, is present.”
After saying thus, the distressed ministers accompanied by him went to the hermitage where Vaśiṣṭha, the holy sage, was consoling his daughter-in-law Adṛśyantī. The distressed Adṛśyantī saw the king, the perpetrator of the cruel act, before her. In a terrified voice she spoke to Vaśiṣṭha these words: “Here comes the haughty, hideous Rākṣasa with a staff held in his hand, like the god of Death with his fierce staff. O sage, O most excellent one among all the masters of the Vedas, excepting you no one on the earth is capable of restraining him. Save me from this sinner of awful appearance. Certainly this Rākṣasa has come here with the intention of devouring us.”
45-55. O daughter, do not be afraid. You have nothing to fear from the Rākṣasa. This is not a Rākṣasa whom, you think, there is something to fear from. This is King Kalmāṣapāḍa who is accompanied by his ministers. He has come to me in this forest region.
On seeing him coming, Vaśiṣṭha, the holy sage of great refulgence, uttered Hum, a menacing sound of defiance, and restrained the excellent king. He then sprinkled him with water purified by means of Mantras and released the excellent king from the state of a Rākṣasa. Regaining his consciousness in due course, the king duly bowed down to the excellent sage Vaśiṣṭha and spoke to him with palms joined in reverence: “I am Saudāsa, O illustrious one, of excellent holy vows. I am your slave. Tell me what you wish to have now, what I shall do for you.” On hearing these words of the king and coming to know through the power of his penance that everything was the result of Viśvāmitra’s action, the excellent Brāhmaṇa said to the king, who was bowing down with humility: “Everything has been understood at the proper time. O king, do go to Kuśasthalī. In the vicinity of Mahākāla, there is the Liṅga destructive of evil dreams. It is one of divine power, capable of granting royal wealth. It makes the devotees endowed with sons and grandsons. It destroys even thousands of the sins of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. It dispels all sins. Merely by visiting it you will become rid of sins. Undoubtedly the terrible fear arising from evil dreams will perish. O excellent king, the Planets too will become favourable to you.” On being told thus again by his preceptor, the noble-souled Vaśiṣṭha, the king hastened to the splendid Mahākālavana, O goddess. There he visited the Liṅga that destroys evil dreams. All the evil dreams perished. Good dreams appeared. Becoming rid of his sins the king regained his position. After going back to Ayodhyā, he joyously ruled the kingdom.
56-63. Ever since then, this deity is named Svapneśvara and has become well-known thus. It is destructive of all evil dreams. If the devotees take their holy bath in the auspicious waters of Śiprā and visit Svapneśvara Śiva on the eighth and fourteenth lunar days, their congenital evil dreams perish. He alone is to be adored always in this world and in the other, who devoutly visits Svapneśvara Śiva. By visiting Svapneśvara one attains even the rarest of wishes with which he proceeds to the shrine. Those who regularly visit the deity Svapneśvara always go to my abode, O my beloved, after casting off this mortal body. If one devoid of devotion, one without pious holy rites, even casually visits the Lord, O lady of renown, he attains the meritorious goal usually attained by Yogins. The embodied beings who worship the deity on festival days with diverse kinds of flowers become endowed with wealth, strength and health. They realize all desires. They will be long-lived. Their conduct will be splendid. They will be pure. It is by visiting Śrī Svapneśvara that Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Indra, Kubera, Dahana (Fire-god) and others attained the greatest good.
Footnotes and references:
The two open hands placed side by side and slightly hollowed.