The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Reva which is chapter 2 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 second chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 2 - The Greatness of Revā

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This Purāṇa identifies Revā with Narmadā. But as De (p98) points out, some Purāṇas like BhP, Vāmana, treat Revā as an independent river.

Sūta said:

1-8. Kṛṣṇa Dvaipāyana recounted the greatness of Narmadā. It was what you asked me and I shall fully narrate it to you. O excellent sage, with the exception of Lord Brahmā who is competent to recount the details of the holy spots on Narmadā? Formerly Janamejaya put this very question to a disciple of Dvaipāyana named Vaiśaṃpāyana. It has the meritorious reference to the Tīrthas on Revā. I shall mention it to you, O Śaunaka.

Formerly King Janamejaya, the son of Parīkṣita, was initiated in the holy rites concerning Yajña. All the articles for Havis (sacrificial offering) had been gathered together. The rites were going on. Eminent Brāhmaṇas were seated around and the sacrificial fire had been kindled with the holy offerings consigned to it. Everywhere pious discussions and discourses were being held. Day and night, O Kulapati, the words “Let it be given. Let it be consumed” were being uttered by the people, in the place of sacrifice. Those who were relaxed were indulging in different pastimes. Thus the Yajña was being performed in the chamber that was on a par with the heavenly assembly hall. Janamejaya then put this question to Vaiśaṃpāyana who was seated there:

Janamejaya said:

9-12. O Vaiśaṃpāyana, it is known to me that by the grace of Dvaipāyana, you have acquired knowledge. Hence, in the presence of the sages I am putting this question to you. Do tell me the events of the past regarding the holy pilgrimages of my forefathers. I have heard that they had experienced many kinds of painful calamities for a long time. After being defeated in the game of dice, the sons of Pṛthā, my grandfathers, began to wander all over the earth girt by the ocean, with a strong desire to visit holy spots. How did they fare in their wanderings, O Brāhmaṇa? By whom were they accompanied, O dear one, in their travels over many parts and regions of the earth? You have been considered by me as omniscient. Do tell me these details.

Vaiśaṃpāyana said:

13-16. O Lord of the earth, O sinless one, after making obeisance to Lord Virūpākṣa (Śiva) and the great poet Vedavyāsa, I shall tell you what you have been asking.

The five Pāṇḍavas, your grandfathers, spent some time in the excellent Kāmyaka forest[1] along with Draupadī and Brāhmaṇas. In that forest where the chief person was Uddālaka, the highly intelligent Kaśyapa, Vibhāṇḍaka, the great sage, Guru, Pulastya, Lomaśa and others including their sons and grandsons lived. There they had their holy ablutions in all the Tīrthas, O eminent king. Then they went to the Vindhya mountain.

17-28. There they saw a holy hermitage surrounded by trees such as Caṃpaka, Karṇikāra, Punnāga, Nāgakesara, Bakula, Kovidāra, Dāḍima, etc. It was rendered beautiful by Arjuna trees in full bloom, Bilvas, Pāṭalas, Ketakas, Kadambas, Āmras, Madhukas, Niṃbas, Jambīras, Tindukas, Nālikeras (coconut trees), Kapitthas, Kharjūras and Panasas. It was crowded and overspread with various kinds of trees and creepers. It was spread over by various winding tendrils. The whole park was full of flowers and fruits. It was a big garden shining like Caitraratha forest. It was adorned with extensive ponds and tanks. It was embellished by clusters of lotuses. It was (as if) concealed by white, blue, yellow, whitish pink lilies, etc. It was scattered with Haṃsas (swans), Kāraṇḍava geese, Cakravākas (ruddy geese), etc. which enhanced its beauty. It was resorted to by many types of birds such as Āḍis, Kākas (a kind of raven), cranes, cuckoos, etc. It abounded in many types of beasts such as lions, tigers, boars, great elephants in their rut, huge-bodied buffaloes, deer, Citrakas, rabbits, Gaṇḍakas (rhinoceros), jackals, antelopes, bears (Bhallakas), bipeds as well as quadrupeds. It was resplendent and pleasing to the mind. There were many cuckoos too. Many kinds of birds such as Jīvañjīvaka flocks adorned it. The place was free from miseries and grief. It was highly charming with smart and active animals. People were free from hunger and thirst and devoid of all ailments. The whole place attracted everyone. Here the deer used to suck at the udders of lioness with great affection. Cat and mouse licked each other with faces lifted up. The same was the case with lions and elephant cubs, serpents and peacocks. On seeing that beautiful forest the sons of Pāṇḍu entered it.

29-36. Dharmaputra saw there Sage Mārkaṇḍeya[2] who had the lustre like that of the midday Sun. He was attended upon by sages who were masters of the different scriptural texts. They belonged to noble families. They had the Sattva qualities and they strictly followed the conventions regarding cleanliness and good conduct. They performed Japa thrice everyday. They were endowed with great intelligence, patience and fortitude. They were particular in performing Japa three times a day. They were interested in regular performance of Homa with the chanting of the Mantras of Ṛk, Yajus and Sāma Vedas. Some of the attending sages were performing penances sitting in the midst of five Fires. Some preferred to stay in secluded spots; some kept their arms raised up. Some remained without any support. Others kept on moving along with the movement of the Sun. Others took food in morning and evening. Still others took only one meal per day. Some took food once in twelve days. Some had food once a fortnight. Still others took food on every new-moon day. Some used to eat moss, alone from ponds. Still others regularly took in only Piṇyāka (oilcake). Some ate Palāśa leaves. A few had restricted regular food. Some took in only air or water. The sage was attended upon by eminent old sages of the types mentioned above. The glorious son of Dharma entered the hermitage and saw the quiescent, excellent sage, engaged in meditating on the greatest Being (Brahman). After circumambulating, he prostrated before him like a log of wood.

37-46. On seeing Dharmaputra fallen at his feet with devotion, the intelligent sage glanced at him for a long time and asked, “Who are you?”

On hearing his words, a boy near him said, “Here is Dharmarāja who has come to meet you.”

On hearing the words uttered by the boy, he respectfully said, “O dear one, O dear one, do come, do come.” After moving a little from his seat, the sage lovingly sniffed at his head and made him seated. After he had been seated in the assembly, he honoured him duly by offering cereals grown in the forest, fruits, roots and juices of various kinds. All the Pāṇḍavas along with the Brāhmaṇas (accompanying them) were suitably honoured.

After resting for a short while, Yudhiṣṭhira, the son of Dharma, asked the excellent sage with curiosity: “Sir, it is known to me that you are the most long-lived one of all the people. O sinless one, narrate unto me the relevant events of all the seven Kalpas. Even when a Kalpa ends and when the mobile and immobile beings perish, you do not (perish), O eminent Brāhmaṇa. How is this? What is the reason therefor? O sage, there are many rivers including Gaṅgā. All of them flow into the seas. Among them which are those rivers that survive the Pralaya? What are those that become dissolved? Which of those rivers are always full of sacred waters? Which of them never get perished? O dear one, do tell me this with a delighted mind. I wish to hear it entirely along with the sages and kinsmen.”

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

47-58. Very well, O highly intelligent Yudhiṣṭhira, O son of Dharma! I shall narrate duly what you have eagerly asked for, O sinless one. This is the ancient meritorious legend recounted by Rudra. It dispels all sins. Listen to the merit of one who listens devoutly to it. O king, there is no doubt about this that he will obtain that merit which is ordinarily obtained through a thousand Aśvamedhas and a hundred Vājapeyas. According to the statement of Rudra, a Brāhmaṇa-slayer, a liquor-imbiber, a thief, a cow-slayer—all these men become freed from all sins.

These rivers are remembered (i.e. traditionally known) as those that dispel all sins: Gaṅgā, the most excellent one of all the rivers, Sarasvatī, Kāverī, Devikā, Sindhu, Sālakuṭī, Sarayū, Śatarudrā, Mahī, Carmilā, the meritorious Godāvarī, the river Yamunā, Payoṣṇī, Śatadru and the splendid Dharmanadī. There are other rivers too.

O excellent king, I shall tell you the reason. The seas and all the rivers get destroyed in every Kalpa. But even when seven Kalpas passed away Narmadā has not perished. O great king, Narmadā is the only excellent river that stays for the longest time filled with water and eulogized by groups of sages, O blessed one. Gaṅgā and other rivers become destroyed at the end of every Kalpa. This divine river has been seen since long. This I shall explain to you, O sinless one. O great king, it is a miraculous river well-known in all the three worlds.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

One Kāmyaka Vana was on the banks of Sarasvatī while another was in the district of Mathurā (De 88).

[2]:

Mārkaṇḍeya: A great sage who witnessed seven Kalpas. He was associated with Yudhiṣṭhira as a member of his Sabhā (Mbh, Sabhā, chs. 4-15) and in his exile in the forest (Mbh, Vana, chs. 186-232). He is the narrator of Revā-Māhātmya.

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