The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,142,515 words

This page describes The Advent of Baka Kalpa which is chapter 8 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 eighth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 8 - The Advent of Baka Kalpa

Mārkaṇḍeya said:

1-10a. When the world was destroyed again and enveloped with water, I was caught in the middle of the great ocean and so I crossed the waters with my arms. When a hundred divine years elapsed, O excellent king, I was completely exhausted. I began to meditate on the Lord who could take me across the great ocean.

At that time, as I was meditating, I saw a great bird resembling a pearl necklace, Kunda flower, and the moon (in complexion). I saw a Baka (crane) white Like cow’s milk.

On seeing that crane, I was dismayed: ‘Whence can there be the existence of a bird in this terrible, great ocean?’ I thought. Untiringly I went on swimming (to it) and asked that crane: “O Lord endowed with divine Yogic soul! Assuming the form of a bird you seem as if to enchant me. Who may you be, wandering in this vast expanse of waters? Do naṛrate this to me completely. Whoever you are, I do obeisance to you.”

He told me: “I am Mahādeva, Brahmā and Viṣṇu. O dear one, don’t you understand that the entire universe has been annihilated (or taken within)? O great sage, I am the father and mother of the universe as well as of yours. Seeing everything submerged in the great ocean, I was moved with sympathy. Hence I have come here in the guise of a bird. Why are you getting agitated? Why do you wander like this in the great ocean? Quickly come within the fold of my wings, O Brāhmaṇa, so that you can rest.”

10b-13. On being told thus by that Lord, O king, I ensconced myself within his wings and began wandering in the water. At the end of even a thousand Yugas I was not tired and I continued to be in the middle of the ocean. Then, O virtuous king, I suddenly heard in all the quarters an excellent, mysterious sound mixed with the sound of anklets. All of a sudden the entire mass of water in the ocean shrank in size. ‘What could this be?’ Thinking thus I looked in every direction.

14-22. Ten girls from all the quarters came to the ocean. They were clad in gorgeous garments and bedecked with anklets and other ornaments. One of them had the lustre resembling that of the moon. Another had the radiance of the sun. A certain girl had the lustre of a mass of collyrium. One of the maidens had the brilliance of a red lotus. They had different forms. All of them were gentle and they were bedecked in various ornaments. Those holy maidens worshipped the crane with Arghya, Pādya and garlands. The self-refulgent mountain entered that immutable, very terrible bird of mountain-like size. It became enlarged into thousands of Yojanas and hundreds of Yojanas. There was a distance of thirty thousand Yojanas from the terrestrial zone.

Then the earthly zone assumed a divine refulgence abounding in five kinds of gems. There was a divine flight of stairs of crystal rendered very charming with golden pillars. (The city built there) extended to a thousand Yojanas. Twice that was its length. It had a great many tanks and wells, palaces and towers. Kalpa trees abounded in the place. It was decorated with sixty flags.

In that beautiful, excellent city there was another beautiful city embellished with various kinds of gems. The altar was brilliant with flags and banners. The city was two hundred Yojanas in length and a hundred Yojanas in width.

23-31. There was a very splendid river in the middle of the city. It had meritorious waters and rocky banks studded with gems. It was a great river. On its bank I saw a great Liṅga too. It had the lustre of lightning and the Sun. All round, it was set with blue sapphires. In some places it resembled fire. In some other places it was smoke-coloured, yellow in some places, red in other places and white elsewhere. The Liṅga of diverse colours was very wonderful to behold. It was surrounded by Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Indra and Sādhyas. It was surrounded by Nandīśvara and other Gaṇādhyakṣas, Indra and Ādityas. I stared at that great Liṅga of Īśāna alone.

Thereafter I saw Devas and Dānavas with closed eyes lying asleep all round it. They were bedecked in divine jewels and ornaments.

Then after taking their holy bath in the waters of that river, those highly esteemed, excellent, ten young maidens duly offered Arghya, Pādya to the Liṅga along with that bird and worshipped them with divine flowers. Like lightning vanishing behind a cluster of clouds, all those ladies disappeared within that excellent city.

32-38. Neither the king of birds was there nor those women nor the Devas. The Liṅga alone which was being worshipped (by me?) remained there. I was surprised. On account of the grief, I was fainting as it were. I thought everything was an illusion created by Rudra. Then those girls emerged (from the water) brightening the entire universe with the divine garments and ornaments they were wearing, like lightning streaks brightening a cluster of clouds. After adoring the Liṅga with divine, golden lotuses those ladies of splendid countenances and excellent ornaments soon entered the water.

In the other excellent city I repeatedly saw a divine (immortal) girl adoring Maheśvara. Thereupon I asked that beautiful lotus-eyed girl: “Who may you be, O goddess staying in this city worshipping Śiva? Where have all those ladies gone? Where are those leaders of Gaṇas? I do obeisance to you, O illustrious Maheśvarī. O lady of holy rites! I wish to know this with your favour. Take pity on me, O great goddess! O sinless one, do tell me this.”

The Strī (lady) replied:

39-48. O Brāhmaṇa, how is it that I have been forgotten by you? You had seen me in the previous Kalpa. Let there be no forgetfulness on your part. I am the same Kalpavāhinī well-known as Narmadā; I was born of Rudra’s body. The girls seen by you adoring Maheśvara, the girls who have brought you along with the king of birds, O excellent sage, are the quarters. Mahāyogin Maheśvara has been brought here by these, Nandīśvara and others from Śivapura, O Brāhmaṇa. The same deity, Mahādeva, has established himself here in the form of a Liṅga. The preceptor of the Suras and Asuras is being worshipped by Brahma, Viṣṇu and Indra. It is called Liṅga by the great sages conversant with the Purāṇas, because the entire universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings, becomes merged therein. Formerly, all the groups of Devas were taken together and dissolved by the Lord through Māyā. They are not seen now. On being created by the Self-born Lord, they will be seen again. I am engaged in adoring the Liṅga. My name is Narmadā. I have been the maid in attendance of Rudra for a period of a thousand Yugas. O eminent Brāhmaṇa, you have become immortal with his favour. By worshipping Śiva, you have become a Siddha equipped with truth, straightforwardness and kindness.

After saying this the goddess vanished there itself.

49-55. The women, the Lord of Devas, Maheśvara in the form of a Baka—all vanished. On hearing her words I got down into the great river and took bath, with the recitation of Mantras duly worshipping the Liṅga. But when I rose up from the river I could not see the Liṅga or the river, O king. At that time itself all the worlds were born and also the earth with all forests. The same firmament became spangled with the stars, moon and sun. As before, what was rendered unseen was seen again. I mentally bowed down to the Lord and worshipped Maheśvara.

It was thus that in the previous Baka Kalpa, this immutable lady (Narmadā) was seen by me. Narmadā, the destroyer of the great sins of human beings, (was seen by me). Hence this esteemable (divine river) should always be resorted to by all Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, Śūdras, Vaiśyas and others of righteous nature if they wish to get piety increased. Those who devoutly take their bath in the waters of Narmadā even once and worship Maheśvara get all their sins dissolved undoubtedly.

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