The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Dirghatapas Goes to Heaven which is chapter 54 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 fifty-fourth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 54 - Dīrghatapas Goes to Heaven

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Īśvara said:

1-5. Thereupon the king became greatly anguished. (He thought:) ‘How can I go back to my abode in Vārāṇasī? Afflicted by the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter, I shall consign my body to fire. Or at the instance (of the son of the sage) I shall go to the hermitage and recount to the great sage everything in the way it had happened.’

After thinking thus, the king went to the hermitage taking the bones of Ṛkṣaśṛṅga. The excellent king stood within the range of the vision of that great sage of purified soul.

Dīrghatapas said:

Do come. Welcome unto you. May you be pleased to sit here on the seat so that I can offer you Argha and Madhuparka along with the seat.

Citrasena said:

6-17. O great sage, I am not worthy of being received with the offerings of Argha (materials of worship) or even being spoken to. Your son, the Brāhmaṇa stationed in the middle of the deer, was killed by me. Ṛkṣaśṭṅga, a Brāhmaṇa of great austerities, was killed as a result of the wrong impression that he was a deer. Know that I am the slayer of your son. Punish me with the severest form of punishment. Having consideration for my delusion and confusion, O excellent sage, do what is befitting in this regard.

The mother of the dead son became highly perturbed on hearing those words. She came out of the house and lamented, “Alas! I am killed.” She fell on the ground and lamented with the profundity of her grief and affliction. “I am doomed,” she lamented and cried in affliction very piteously like a female osprey. “O my son! My son! Reveal your face unto me. Honour me, your mother. O my son, when will I see you again at the threshold arriving there with the fullness of your Veḍic study and eagerness for the performance of Japa and Homa. There is a popular saying that sandal-paste is cool but the embrace of the limbs of the son is cooler than sandal-paste, if the body becomes the subject of the close embrace of one’s own son. Of what avail is sandal-paste or a drop of nectar? Of what avail is even the moon? O my beloved son! I wish to embrace you. Separated from you and grief-stricken I will surely die.” Lamenting thus in her affliction and wretchedness due to having been bereaved of the son, she fell into a swoon on the ground. On seeing his wife fallen due to the affliction and grief for her dead son, the sage became extremely furious at King Citrasena.

Dirghatapas said:

18-28. Go away, get away, O great sinner. Do not show me your face. Why was my son, a Brāhmaṇa, killed without any purpose? O king, many sins of many Brāhmaṇa-slaughters will befall you. You alone are the cause of the death of me along with the entire family.

Alter saying this, the sage thought over the matter again. Then he eschewed his fury as a true sage and said:

Dīrghatapas said:

O dear one, shed off your anguish. I have been rather very harsh. You have been reprimanded, O bestower of honour, by me who have been scorched by misery and assailed by the bereavement of my son. What does a wise man do when impelled by his own Karmas. Even at the outset, the intellect of men follows the Karmas. It is in accordance with this that death has been enjoined for me. Undoubtedly the (sin of) slaughters will befall you as uttered by me before. Among Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas, among the castes of Śūdras and Cāṇḍālas who are you? Tell me the truth. Why was a Brāhmaṇa killed?

Citrasena said:

I shall submit, O Brāhmaṇa-sage, you must forgive me. I am not a Brāhmaṇa. O dear one, I am neither a Vaiśya nor a Śūdra, neither a hunter nor a base-born one. O great sage, I am a Kṣatriya. I am the king of Kāśī. I have come to this excellent forest to hunt deer. By mistake, this sage in the guise of a deer was shot down. I have incurred sin. Now I am resorting to your feet. What should be done by me, O Brāhmaṇa? Tell me the true means.

Dīrghatapas said:

29-34. O Lord, even a single sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter cannot be redeemed. How can eleven such sins be redeemed? Listen, O king. On account (of the death) of Ṛkṣaśṛṅga, my four sons, their wives, the mother and I—all these will die. O dear one, I shall tell you a splendid way-out. Listen to it. See whether you can carry out that easy task, O king. Cremate the entire family including me in funeral pyre; O king, cast off the bones at Śūlabheda in the waters of Narmadā. On the southern bank of Narmadā is the well-known Tīrtha named Śūlabheda. It is an excellent Tīrtha that destroys all sins and all miseries. Be clean (physically and mentally) and cast off our bones into the Tīrtha. You will be rid of all sins undoubtedly. That is my word.

The King said:

35-45. O dear one, let the command be given. I shall undoubtedly carry it out. Whatever I have, the entire kingdom, the treasury, the friends and sons, O great Brāhmaṇa, all of them are yours, at your disposal. I shall give them to you. Be pleased (to accept it).

O king (Uttānapāda), even as the Brāhmaṇa and the king were conversing thus, the wife of the sage, whose heart broke into two died there. The woman assailed by the grief for the son fell on the ground, devoid of life. All the sons met with death on account of the bereavement of their mother. Along with the husbands all the daughters-in-law also died. O excellent king, all those saintly souls attained death. The king called together all those Brāhmaṇas, the residents of the hermitage. The excellent king informed them of everything in the way it had happened. On being permitted by them, he gathered firewood assiduously. King Ciṭrasena performed the cremation and collected the bones of all the sages beginning with Ṛkṣaśṛṅga. O king, that king (Citrasena) proceeded towards the southern quarter on foot. When he could not walk, on being pressed down by the weight, he took rest and then proceeded after a short while. At every stage he set down the bones and took bath along with his garment. Without taking food but taking in water only, he thus proceeded facing the southern quarter. Before long he reached the banks of Narmadā. On seeing the Brāhmaṇas staying in the hermitage the king asked:

Citrasena said:

46-55. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, O highly blessed ones, may the path leading to Śūlabheda be shown to me, so that I can go there for the fulfilment of my task.

The sages said:

Within a Krośa (3 Kms) distance from here there is the highly splendid Tīrtha. You will see it on the southern bank of Narmadā.

At the instance of the sages the king went on hastily and ere long saw the Tīrtha full of many Dvijas (birds, Brāhmaṇas), overgrown with a number of creepers and trees and rendered splendid by numerous flowers. There were many bears and lions too and splendid devotees observing many kinds of vows. Some of them were standing on a single foot. Others had their 'eyes turned towards the sun. Some were standing on a single big toe. Others were standing with the arms lifted up. Some took a single meal a day. Some took in as food bulbous roots and fruits. Some took in food only once in three nights. Others observed the vow of Parāka. Some were engaged in Cāndrāyaṇa expiation. Some observed fast for a fortnight. Some observed fast for a whole month. Some broke fast at the end of a Ṛtu. Some were engaged in the practice of Yogic exercises. Some meditated upon ‘That’ (Tat-pada i.e. Supreme Brahman). Some took in as food only withered and decaying leaves. Some ate 'jitter and estringent things. Some took in mosses for food. Some took in air as food. Some were householders and some were Agnihotrins. On seeing the Brāhmaṇas like these, the king knelt down on the ground, bowed down his head and spoke these words, O king:

Citrasena said:

56-64. O Brāhmaṇas, in which part of the land is that Tīrtha? Tell me the truth so that the thing desired may be made possible.

The sages said:

Go a distance of a hundred Dhanvantaras (Dhanus=four Hastas). On the peak of Bhṛgutuṅga you will see that large Tīrtha full of water. It is holy.

On hearing their words, he went near the Kuṇḍa. On seeing that Tīrtha, the king became confused again. He was struck with wonder and began to think over and over again. Then the king saw a flesh-eating Kurara (osprey) in the sky. It was hovering round holding a snake but was being attacked by those (birds) without a piece of flesh. Desirous of the piece of flesh they fought with one another. Struck by the beaks the osprey fell into the water where formerly the Trident-bearing Lord had split the ground. By the power of that Tīrtha, he immediately became a man. He (the king) saw that person in divine form seated in an aerial chariot. As he Went ahead, Yakṣas, Gandharvas and Apsarās eulogized him. Even as he was being sung about by the Apsarās, he vanished on the top of the Sun. Citrasena was extremely surprised. He decided that the same was the Tīrtha as mentioned by the holy sage. On seeing the power of the Tīrtha, he experienced horripilation.

65-73. He thought, ‘This is my blessed day since I have come here.’ He then placed the bones down and took his holy bath in accordance with the injunctions. With water mixed with gingelly seeds he propitiated the Pitṛs and deities. Then the king took the bones and cast them into the water. For a moment, the king stood looking up with the face lifted up. He saw all of them (members of the family of Dīrghatapas) in divine forms and splendid features. They had divine garments and were adorned with, divine ornaments. They were seated in various kinds of aerial chariots attended upon by celestial damsels. On seeing them separately seated in the aerial chariots, the king was delighted.

Then the sage seated on the aerial chariot spoke to Citrasena: “O gentle soul, O King Citrasena, O excellent king, thanks to your favour. I had this divine goal. Your task has been carried out excellently. Even a son cannot do like this unto his Pitṛs. O dear one, by the power of my utterance you will be free from sins. O great king, you will realize your cherished desires, whatever be in your mind.” After blessing the intelligent Citrasena, sage Dīrghatapas went to heaven along with his sons.

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