The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Pingaleshvara (pingala-ishvara-linga) which is chapter 81 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 eighty-first chapter of the Caturashiti-linga-mahatmya of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 81 - Piṅgaleśvara (piṅgalā-īśvara-liṅga)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: Śiva installed four Liṅgas at the four quarters of this Vana. Piṅgaleśvara is to the east. Piṅgalā was a beautiful daughter of a learned Brāhmaṇa. After his wife’s death, he took his daughter with him and went to a forest to perform penance. When he died Piṅgalā lamented. Dharma assumed the form of an old Brāhmaṇa and explained to her that her present calamity was the fruit of her act in the former birth in which she was cursed by a Brāhmaṇa lady for enticing her son. But her act of making another Brāhmaṇa happy caused her birth in a Brāhmaṇa family. As a way out of her present calamity, Dharma advised her to visit this Liṅga in the eastern part of Mahākālavana. She went to that Liṅga, propitiated it and got merged in it. Since then the Liṅga became famous as Piṅgaleśvara.

Īśvara said:

1-9. O goddess, listen to the (story of the) four Liṅgas installed at four doorways. Merely by visiting the Liṅgas a man becomes blessed and contented. You were enquiring of me out of curiosity, O goddess of excellent countenance: “O Lord, show me a spot that is exquisitely beautiful. It must be one resorted to by many Siddhas who desire to return there again. It should be well-concealed, holy and indestructible even at the time of Pralaya. It should be divine unlike any other thing whether a Tīrtha or a penance grove. It should be endowed with innumerable qualities. It should be splendid causing worldly pleasures and salvation. It should be a place where there are golden-peaked palaces, different kinds of mansions, wonderful gardens and splendid pathways of different kinds. It should be a place where the acquisition of the desired benefit is easy. It should be reverberating with the high-pitched songs of Siddhas, Cāraṇas, Gandharvas and Kinnaras. It should be a place comparable to a meritorious Loka. It should be an ornament unto heaven.” Thus I was requested, O goddess, on Mandara abounding in charming caves.

I replied with joy: “Listen to that eternal spot. The beautiful Mahākālavana is more pleasant than Svarga. It is endowed with incomparable good qualities. It is splendid conferring worldly pleasures and salvation. Another blessed place on a par with it has not been seen in all the three worlds.

10-21. It is worthy of being resorted to by Devas, Gandharvas and Siddhas desirous of salvation. It has been created by me as a pastime out of eagerness to please you. It is the Tilaka (auspicious mark on the forehead) of all the Tīrthas in the charming Jaṃbūdvīpa. The acquisition of the desired benefit is secured without any effort. It is devoid of old age, sickness and fear. There is no trace of any ailment there. It is resorted to by Śakra, Agni, Yama, Nirṛti, Varuṇa, Vāyu, Soma and Īśa (the Guardians of the Quarters). Even Devas who enjoy the pleasures of Svarga always yearn for it. Here the benefits derived are innumerable. The goal (position secured) is everlasting. Those men who did not resort to that spot have missed a lot on the earth. It is not possible for Devas, Dānavas and human beings to extol adequately the good points of the holy spot where I myself am stationed. Whatever inauspicious thing has been committed in the course of human activity becomes reduced to ash entirely after going to Mahākālavana. Neither in Kurukṣetra nor in Gaṅgādvāra nor in Tripuṣkara is that goal possible to attain which has been ordained unto men in Mahākālavana forever. Even brutish creatures going and staying in Mahākālavana and courting death there attain the highest goal. The heap of sinful acts may be of the size of Meru and Mandara. But when one goes to Mahākālavana, all that becomes destroyed. O my beloved, Mahākālavana is called Śmaśāna (cremation ground) too. There Brahmā and other Devas with Nārāyaṇa as their leader, Yogins, Sāṃkyas, Siddhas, Sanaka and others—all these propitiate me with great devotion. They are solely devoted to me. In the holy place, Mahākālavana, I have fixed the same goal as that of Yoga and Tapas and that of the performers of Yajñas.

22-33. Stationed there I annihilate the three worlds consisting of the mobile and immobile beings. Hence, O goddess, the splendid holy spot is called Mahākālavana.” On hearing the diverse good points elaborated thus, O goddess, you became surprised and felt inclined to go there. Your mind became highly ardent to visit the holy spot. I arrived at the splendid Mahākālavana along with you and said: “See, O goddess, the spot of wondrous splendour described by me. It vies with the city of the Lord of immortals. It is beautiful and it heightens all pleasures. O goddess, it brings about worldly pleasures as well as liberation (from Saṃsāra). “O lady of wide large eyes, after visiting the excellent holy spot you told me: “In order to guard this holy spot, may four devout Gaṇas be employed, O Mahādeva, O my Lord, as well as for my satisfaction. O Parameśvara, may four gateways be made and four golden Kalaśas (Domes) splendid and firm should also be made. Let the four aims of life (viz. Dharma, Artha, Kāma and Mokṣa) be assigned to the quarters beginning with the East.” On hearing your words, O goddess, four Gaṇas were recollected by me with effort for the purpose of protecting this holy spot. They too were installed as the four deities thereafter, viz. Piṅgaleśa (Dhanādhyakṣa), Kāyāvarohaṇa, Bilveśvara (the excellent Gaṇa) and Durdarśa, the leader of the Gaṇas. These were employed by me as capable of guarding the holy spot in the quarters beginning with the East, O lady of excellent countenance, for the sake of your pleasure. They were employed in accordance with the suggestion you made. Piṅgala was employed in the eastern quarter. Similarly, O my beloved, Kāyāvarohaṇa was employed in the southern quarter, Bilveśvara in the west and Durdarśa in the north.

34-45. They were told: “O excellent Gaṇas, at my bidding, scrupulous protection of those men who die here, in the middle of the holy place, should be carried out by you.” Listen to the story pertaining to Piṅgaleśvara. By merely listening to it a man shall become blessed and have his desire fulfilled.

In Kānyakubja, O goddess, there was a girl named Piṅgalā. Her behaviour and dress were excellent and her beauty was the most exquisite ever created. Her father was highly intelligent and was conversant with the principles of all the Śāstras. He was always engaged in meditation and pursuit of knowledge. He engaged himself in the self-study of the Vedas. This leading Brāhmaṇa was named Piṅgala. His chaste wife Piṅgākṣī was well-known in the world but died prematurely. On account of this grievous calamity the Brāhmaṇa became disinterested in householder’s life. Taking his daughter with him he went to a penance grove of great merit, resorted to by sages whose diet consisted of greens, fruits and bulbous roots. Along with those sages the Brāhmaṇa engaged himself in meditation and Yogic practice. He stayed there, O goddess, duly looking after Piṅgalā. The righteous-souled Brāhmaṇa protected his daughter like his very heart. The Brāhmaṇa of great penance always thought of his chaste wife and did not marry again, having consideration for her who was motherless. The illustrious one was disgusted with the worldly existence. He was aware of all pious practices. He had perfect control over all sense-organs. Yet he did not enter into Saṃsāra (Gṛhastha) stage because he had to look after his daughter properly. Thus, protecting the motherless, pitiable girl, that Brāhmaṇa eventually met with death and went to Svarga.

Thereupon, bereft of her father that Piṅgalā became wretched and deeply grief-stricken. Having fallen into the ocean of grief, she lamented much.

46-59a. ‘Today, as ill-luck would have it, my father too has passed away. Though he was kind, he has gone alone leaving me off as though he was bereft of attachment. He was impartial towards all living beings, though engaged heartily in what is beneficial to me. Abandoning me without another help, he has gone to the other world from this. Though extremely miserable and agitated due to the grievous separation from my father, I hold on to this miserable, fruitless life. My father had realized Brahman. He had perfect control over his mind and sense-organs. Yet out of consideration for me, a motherless child, he brought me up. Being separated from my father by whom I was well-protected during infancy and by whom I have been brought up till now, I will never live peacefully. Without my father, having lost all support, I shall fall into a river, or in a well-kindled fire. Or I shall jump down from a mountain.’

Thus the grief-stricken girl lamented repeatedly. She was advised by the esteemed, excellent sages accompanied by their wives. Her girl companions of the same age gathered round her. Embracing her they tried to console her. They too cried along with her. The girl was afflicted and miserable.

Dharma (Lord of piety) ever engaged in what is beneficial to others, took pity on her. He came to the place in the form of an old Brāhmaṇa and spoke these words: “O girl, enough of your terrible lamentations. Your father cannot be got back. Hence it does not behove you to bewail. Youth and beauty, life and hoarded wealth and association with beloved ones—all these are not permanent. Hence learned men do not bewail these. O splendid girḥ in your previous life you have perpetrated such deeds as have caused separation from your father in the forest frequented by the sages. See, dear girl, the power of fate. Your father has forsaken you and has gone away.

Persons think thus: ‘This has been done. This has to be done. This is another thing half-done and half-undone.’ Mṛtyu (god of Death) thus subjects people, addicted to desires, to his control. Hence, O splendid girl, it behoves you to listen, forgetting all misery, how, due to your Karma, you had to experience separation from your parents.

59b-69. Formerly you were a courtesan named Sundarī. You were beautiful in form, expert in dance, singing etc. and clever in playing on flute and lute. In respect of ornaments and garments you were the foremost among prostitutes.

On seeing you, richly endowed with beauty, dressed well and exquisitely adorned, a Brāhmaṇa of good qualities became afflicted by Madana (god of Love). After coming to know that the Brāhmaṇa had come to such a plight being afflicted by Madana, you sported with that lover for four years. That Brāhmaṇa became interested in sinful deeds and deluded by sensual pleasures. He was killed by a certain Śūdra, another lover of yours, in your abode. The Bāhmaṇa had left his splendid-minded (immature) daughter of twelve years due to the contact with a Śūdra woman. He met with his death and went to the terrible Naraka. The (Brāhmaṇa’s) scholarly father and excessively miserable mother were distressed due to the separation from their son. They gave you a terrible curse.

The Mother said:

O woman of wicked activities, medical potion was administered by you in order to entice my son. He was deceived in order to cause separation from us. She has also actually brought about our separation. Hence let her be a wretched one without a husband in the next birth.

The Father said:

You will become separated from your mother even in your infancy and become distressed. Precluded from marriage, you will become bereft of your father too.

(Dharma said:)

Hence, O lady of excellent complexion, you have met with this misery even as a girl, on account of the Karma perpetrated before.

Piṅgalā said:

70-73. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, the incident of the previous birth of mine has been narrated by you. Hence clarify decisively a question I shall put to you. I had committed very terrible sins in this manner. I am a base woman of sinful conduct. How then was I begotten by a Brāhmaṇa, an expounder of Brahman? One Dhvaja (a distillery where liquor is made) is equal to ten Cakrins (mechanical device to extract oil) and ten Sūnās (broomsticks etc.) equal a Cakrin. A Veśyā (courtesan) is equal to ten Dhvajas. A king is equal to ten Veśyās. Thus say the men conversant with pious rites, the Brāhmaṇas of disciplined vows. So how is it that my birth was from an excellent Brāhmaṇa?

The Brāhmaṇa said:

74-80. Though you were engaged in sinful conduct, you were born in the splendid family of Brāhmaṇas. I shall mention the reason thereof. Listen, O Piṅgalā. A certain Brāhmaṇa addicted to sensual pleasures was imprisoned at the command of the king. Theft had been committed by him, O beautiful maiden, because he was infatuated over a courtesan. You said: “Let him be released. He is not a thief. No sin has been committed. If theft has been committed it (is as good as) has been committed by me alone. I shall give more than the amount stolen. Let the excellent Brāhmaṇa he released.” After saying this, you brought him to your house. You set up a household along with him. The bright house was rendered fragrant with flowers, incense etc. The Brāhmaṇa was delighted by you with sensual pleasures. Due to the greatness of that merit, you went to the excellent Svarga. You were born in a noble family, especially, as the daughter of a Brāhmaṇa. it is on account of the curse, O daughter, that you have now suffered separation of great magnitude.

Piṅgalā said:

81-87. In the previous birth I was born a courtesan committing sinful deeds. I was defiled and after the wealth of others. I was devoid of purity and good conduct. Now I have become miserable due to the separation from my parents. O Lord, due to the curse I am precluded from marrying. Be pleased with me, O holy Sir. Tell me who you are. How can I forestall future birth? How can I have salvation? How will I attain the excellent goal, be liberated from worldly bondage?

The Brāhmaṇa said:

I am Dharma. I have come here in the form of a Brāhmaṇa to test you. As per my advice, by visiting a Liṅga with the favour of the holy spot you will attain the great salvation.

Piṅgalā said:

In which holy spot shall that great salvation be attained? By visiting which Liṅga (is it attained)? I wish to know this, O Dharma. How is this to be obtained quickly?

Dharma said:

There is a well-guarded (secret) holy place, the splendid Mahākālavana. It is the cause of the salvation of all creatures always. In that excellent meritorious holy spot, in an area extending to a Yojana, O daughter, there is the Liṅga that yields salvation. It is stationed in the Eastern Direction. Merely by visiting it, you will obtain salvation, O Piṅgalā.

88-97. On hearing the words of Dharma, O lady of renown, Piṅgalā hastened to the place where the excellent Liṅga was present. She devoutly visited it and touched it repeatedly. Due to the visit to that Liṅga, she got merged into that Liṅga. On that occasion the Devas, stationed there itself, said: “Highly sinful in the other birth, O Piṅgalā, you have been liberated instantly. Hence this deity will become well-known in the worlds by the name Piṅgaleśvara. He will undoubtedly be the destroyer of great sins. Those who go to the Eastern Direction and visit Piṅgaleśvara will be blessed by Śatakratu. Delighted in heart, he will adore them perfectly. The Devas will be favourable to them. They will have Svarga undoubtedly. The city of Amarāvatī will come under their control. In their family piety will never become defunct. It will always be endowed with wealth. The world will be under the control of those who carry on pious activities. Undoubtedly the Pitṛs will be satisfied permanently. By visiting Piṅgaleśvara perfectly, one will get entirely the benefit cited as the merit of a thousand horse-sacrifices. By visiting Piṅgaleśvara it shall be as good as the adoration of all the Liṅgas existing in this holy spot, whether they be secret or openly manifested.”

Thus, O goddess, the sin-destroying power of Piṅgaleśvara Deva has been recounted to you. Listen to (that of) Kāyāvarohaṇa.

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