The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Maninageshvara (maninaga-ishvara-tirtha) which is chapter 72 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 seventy-second chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 72 - The Greatness of Maṇināgeśvara (maṇināga-īśvara-tīrtha)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: Herein the legend of Vinatā’s enslavement and release (from Mbh, Ādi chs 19-20) is adapted for the glorification of this Tīrtha.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

1-5. Thereafter, O great king, one should go to the auspicious Maṇināgeśvara on the northern bank of Narmadā. It causes the destruction of all sins. It has been installed by Maṇināga with a desire for the welfare of all the worlds.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

How was Iśvara propitiated by a serpent with venom in the fangs? Even though they may be very small, venomous reptiles strike terror unto the world.

May everything conducive to the destruction of all sins be recounted to me. My misery due to the distress caused by Duryodhana, that originating from Karṇa and Bhīṣma and the terrible distress caused to Pāñcālī is washed away by the current (of sane advice) from your lotus-like mouth and (thus) I have attained great peace (of mind). We have heard the sin-destroying story that issued forth from your mouth, O Brāhmaṇa. Still, it is unreasonable that our pain has not subsided.

6. Or, O dear one, the benefit (fruit) that is derived from Vidyādāna (imparting learning) is obtained by always listening to the stories or episodes concerning Hari.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

7-15. As and when you go on speaking (by way of request), O king, fluency of speech comes to me naturally. Neither the laxity of limbs due to my old age nor your friendship becomes diminished, O dear one. Hence in the company of your kinsmen listen to this praiseworthy story that destroys sins.

I shall narrate to you the old legend in the manner it happened. It has been traditionally handed down by the ancestors, O descendant of Bharata.

Kaśyapa had two wives, the most excellent ones in all the worlds. Vinatā gave birth to Garuḍa and Kadrū to serpents.

O dear one, they stayed on contentedly in the abode of Kaśyapa. Both the ladies Kadrū and Vinatā were always delighted. Kaśyapa, the patriarch, sported along with them.

One day, the slender-limbed wife of Kaśyapa, who was staying in the hermitage and whose countenance was splendid, saw the horse Uccaiḥśravas that had the speed of mind and was white all over. He was running non-stop with his speed comparable to that of mind. On seeing the horse she (Kadrū) jealously spoke these words:

Kadrū said:

Tell me, fair lady, of what colour is the horse of Sahasrāṃśu (the Sun). (This is evidently a mistake, as the horse belonged to Indra?) I say it is black. What do you say? Tell me.

Vinatā said:

16-25. Is it not that you see only black (things) with your eyes and not white ones? O fair lady, by speaking the untruth you will go to the world of Yama. With regard to the truth or otherwise of (our) statement it is a wager between you and me. (If my statement turns out to be untrue) I shall be a slave in your palace for a thousand years. If my words prove to be untrue and Uccaiśśravas turns out to be black, then I shall be a slave in your palace. O mother of serpents.

Kadrū then said: “If Uccaiśśravas is white, I shall be your slave.” Thus the dispute between the two increased.

The young lady in the hermitage was worried throughout the night. All her activities were reported to the kinsmen. She spoke to her sons, O son of Kuntī, “I have made a bet.”

On hearing that a bet was made by their mother the Serpents shouted loudly: “There is no doubt that you have become a slave. The vehicle of Bhāskara (? of Indra) is white. The horse Uccaiśśravas is white, it is not black at all.”

Kadrū said:

Now think of a means to prevent my becoming a slave. Do enter the hair-pores of the horse Uccaiśśravas, only for a short while, till he appears black. Within a moment she can be made my slave. After making the lady Vinatā who is proud of being true, my slave, you all will be back at your own places happily.

The serpents said:

26-34. O mother, you are our mother and hence worthy of being worshipped by us. In the same manner she is worthy of being worshipped (by her sons). Hence one should be particular in not deceiving mothers. Verbally, mentally and physically one should do whatever is conducive to the benefit of the mother, father’s wife (step-mother), maternal and paternal grandmothers.

Kadrū became furious at their words. She blazed like the fire of death. “If there are serpents on the earth not willing to carry out my behest, all of them will unexpectedly get into the mouth of fire.”

All the serpents heard those words of their mother. Some of them penetrated the pores of the hairs of the horse Uccaiśśravas. Some vanished in the ten different quarters because they were afraid of the curse of Kadrū. Some of them disappeared under the waters of Gaṅgā; some in those of Sarasvatī. Some of them hid themselves in the great ocean. Some entered the caves of Vindhya. The excellent serpent Maṇināga resorted to the waters of Narmadā and performed extensive penance on the northern bank of Narmadā.

O son of Kuntī, to save himself from the fear of the curse of his mother, he meditated upon the destroyer of Kāma. He meditated on the Lord who is indivisible (impossible to be divided), incomprehensible and devoid of birth and death. For more than a hundred years he subsisted himself on air; for half of that period he fixed his eyes on the Sun. While he was thus engrossed in meditation, the Lord, the destroyer of Tripuras, appeared before him.

35-43. “Excellent! Excellent! O highly esteemed one. O serpent, you have intrinsic strength. I have been resorted to by you with devotion. I am pleased with you, O Lord of serpents. Request for any boon from me whatever may be in your mind.”

Maṇināga said:

O Lord, it is out of fear from the curse of my mother that I subjected myself to austerities on the banks of Narmadā. May my mother’s curse be ineffective in regard to me, with your favour, O my Lord.

Īśvara said:

O dear one, at my behest you will never get into the jaws of fire. O son, you will also reside in my world.

Maṇināga said:

O Mahādeva, may you be pleased to stay by a part of yours in this spot. May you be pleased to stay in the waters of Narmadā by a thousandth fraction of yours for the sake of obliging the worlds. O Saṅkara, stay here after my name.

Īśvara said:

O serpent, install my great Liṅga here at my behest.

After saying this, the Lord vanished and went away with Umā.

Mārkaṇḍeya said:

Those who go to that Tīrtha with pure and clean minds on the fifth, eighth or fourteenth day, whether it be bright half or dark half of the month, and always adore the Lord, do not go to Yama, O son of Kuntī.

They must bathe with curds, honey, ghee or milk, Lord Virūpākṣa, half of whose body is that of Umā, the Lord who burned down the body of Kāma and who slew the demon Agha; or they must witness the great Lord being bathed with great devotion. They will therefore go to the great world devoid of all sins.

44-51. Śrāddha for the departed should be performed, O son of Kuntī, on the fifth and eighth lunar days through well-qualified Brāhmaṇas—those who study and ponder over Vedic passages, who are devoted to their own wives with scrupulous avoidance of other men’s wives, who are gentle and polished, who invariably perform the six enjoined rites and who avoid sending Śūdras on errands (of spiritual nature).

Dear son, the following persons should never be employed in Śrāddha: lame ones, lepers, impotent ones, those who live on usury, husbandmen and those of an avocation different from the decent rites.

O king, in Vratas and Śrāddhas, that Brāhmaṇa should be avoided from afar, a Brahmaṇa who keeps a Śūdra woman in his abode or who keeps buffaloes.

In the auspicious Maṇināgeśvara Tīrtha the following Brāhmaṇas should never be honoured, if one wishes for upward progress of oneself along with the Pitṛs: one-eyed ones, mumblers (those who utter meaningless, indistinct words), mentally disordered and those devoid of self-study of the Vedas.

One who makes a gift of a cow beautiful in every limb, to a Brāhmaṇa, goes to the greatest world (and stays there) until the annihilation of all living beings. Thereafter, slipping down from the heavenly world, he will be born in a family devoid of impurities.

O king, if persons visit Maṇināgeśvara with great devotion, there shall be no fear from serpents in their family.

52-5 3a. By visiting Maṇināga shrine devotees appear to groups of serpents in the forms of Garuḍa and so the serpents are suspicious (afraid) of them.

Henceforth, O king, listen to the benefits of Dānas (gifts) made here.

53b-65. O great king, those excellent men, if desirous of their welfare (final beatitude), should give to a deserving (Brāhmaṇa) cooked rice with all condiments, water, bed, an umbrella, a virgin and a sweet-speaking maidservant (slave). Fragrant flowers, scents and garments, lamp, food-grains, a splendid well-furnished house should be given. Those who give with great devotion go to heaven.

Whatever gift is given at Maṇināga, residence in heaven becomes certain as a fruit of that Dāna. All sins disappear like water in a mud-pot not yet annealed and baked.

One who gives unto a Brāhmaṇa foodstuffs cooked and prepared in the waters of Narmadā becomes rid of all sins and sports about with Devas.

Hereafter I shall mention the characteristics of those who slip down from the heavenly worlds: They are long-lived. Their sons will be alive. They will be alive. They will be devoid of all types of ailments. They will be endowed with sons and servants. They will be persons ready to renounce. They will enjoy pleasures. They will always be engaged in the narration of pious stories. They will be devotees of Devas, Brāhmaṇas and preceptors. They will relish pilgrimages. They will be obedient to mothers and fathers. They will be devoid of hatred and anger.

O son of Pāṇḍu, all the people having these characteristics have truly come down from heavenly worlds and they will go to heaven again.

O excellent king, Maṇināga is a Tīrtha which is the most excellent one among Tīrthas. One who reads or listens to this narration about the Tīrtha shall be rid of all sins. He is honoured in the world of Śiva. No poison affects them. They move about as they please. By listening to this narrative one gets that benefit which one gets by viewing Bhāskara (the Sun-god) on the sixth lunar day in the month of Bhādrapada.

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