The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Hanumanteshvara (hanuman-ishvara-tirtha) which is chapter 83 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-third chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 83 - The Greatness of Hanūmanteśvara (hanūman-īśvara-tīrtha)

Note: Here the Rāmāyaṇa hero, Hanumān, is charged with the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter for killing Rāvaṇa’s army of Brahma-rākṣasas in battle. Killing in battles is no sin and Hanumān did it as per Rāma’s order. But according to this Purāṇa, he accrued the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter from which he was redeemed by performing penance on the bank of Revā. He installed a Liṅga in honour of Śiva. It became known as ‘Hanūmanteśvara’ in his memory. Neither Rāmayaṇa nor Mahābhārata nor other Purāṇas know this story.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

1-8. Then, O great king, one should go the extremely splendid Tīrtha reputed as destructive of the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. It is installed on the banks of Revā. Here is an excellent Liṅga named Hanūmanta.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

Do tell me, how the Tīrtha named Hanūmanteśvara originated (was established) on the southern bank of Revā and it is capable of destroying the sin of Brāhmaṇa’s slaughter.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

Well! Well! O mighty-armed king adorning the lunar race! This Tīrtha which is to be kept more secret than other secret Tīrthas, has never been disclosed to anyone else by me. It is due to my love unto you that I tell you. Further I have now been afflicted by old age.

Formerly, there was a great battle between Rāma and Rāvaṇa. Pulastya was the son of Brahmā and Viśravas was his son. Rāvaṇa was born of him. He was a Brahmarākṣasa with ten heads. With the favour of the Trident-bearing Lord, he became the conqueror of all the three worlds. All the Devas were conquered. Rāma’s wife was abducted, though prevented by Kuṃbhakarṇa urging “Release, release Sītā.” The sinner was implored again and again by Vibhīṣaṇa and Mandodarī: “You have been conquered by Kārtavīrya who was defeated by the Son of Reṇukā (i.e. Paraśurāma). That Paraśurāma has been defeated by Rāmabhadra. How can you have victory over him in battle?”

Rāvaṇa said:

9-16. I can never be conquered by monkeys, men, bears, boars etc. devoid of arms, nor by groups of Devas and Asuras.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

But he was defeated by Rāmacandra with the assistance of Sugrīva, Hanumān, Kumuda, Aṅgada and others. The powerful Paulastya was killed in battle by Rāmacandra. The garden was demolished and heroes killed by the son of Prabhañjana (Vāyu). Rāvaṇa’s son Akṣakumāra was killed in the battle. The huge and terrible army of the Rākṣasas was threshed by the Monkey.

Thus the main activity of Rāma was over and Sītā was set free. When Rāma went to Ayodhyā, Hanūmān, the great monkey, went to the mountain named Kailāsa for paying obeisance to Maheśvara.

That excellent monkey was then addressed by Nandin: “Stop! Stop! Due to the slaughter of the Rākṣasas you have incurred the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. Hence, O monkey, Bhairava’s assembly certainly should not be witnessed by you.”

Hanūmān said:

O Lord Nandin, ask Hara the expiation for the suppression of the sin. Why I, a monkey, have become a sinner? What is the cause thereof?

Nandin said:

17-27. Was not (the river) born of Rudra’s body and stationed in the earth heard of by you? By listening to her name, the sin incurred in the course of a birth perishes. By glorifying her twice the sin is destroyed. By taking bath in Revā, the sin acquired in the course of thirty births becomes annihilated. Hence go to the banks of Narmadā and perform a severe penance.

On hearing what was said by Nandin, the son of Wind-god went to the banks of Narmadā, to the southern confluence on the earth. He meditated upon the very auspicious Lord, the odd-eyed (three-eyed), trident-bearing one endowed with matted hairs as crown and python as the sacred thread, the Lord who smeared all his limbs with the holy ash, the Lord producing the reverberating sound of Ḍamaru, the quiescent sharer of half of Umā’s body, who is seated on the bull-vehicle.

He adored the Lord for many many years. Ultimately the great Lord was pleased and he arrived along with Umā and spoke sweet words with the majestic rumbling sound of clouds. The Lord said: “Well! Well! O dear one, severe penance has been performed by you. Formerly by killing Rāvaṇa (and his followers) sin has not been committed by you. Indeed you were engaged in the task of your master. You have become a Siddha by seeing me.”

On seeing Hara, the eternal Lord, the partner of half of Umā’s body, Hanumān prostrated before him with eight limbs touching the ground and said: “Be victorious, O Śaṃbhu, obeisance to you. Be victorious. Obeisance to the destroyer of Andhaka. Be victorious, O bearer of Gaṅgā on the head.”

On being eulogized thus, Mahādeva, the bestower of boons, spoke these words: “O dear one, O son of the Wind-god, choose a boon from me.”

Śrī Hanūmān said:

O Maheśvara, due to my conversation with you just for a moment, let not the sin arising from the slaughter of the Brahmarākṣasa be effective (in my case).

Īśvara said:

28-33. Dear Son, undoubtedly you are free from sins, due to the greatness of the Narmadā Tīrtha, the power of Dharma and Yoga and of seeing me. O great monkey, I shall grant you another boon. The following names of yours shall be conducive to the welfare of the worlds: Māruti (Son of Wind-god), Hanumān, Añjanīsuta (Son of Añjanī), Vāyuputra, Mahābala (Extremely powerful), Rāmeṣṭa (Darling of Rāma), Phālguna, Gotra, Piṅgākṣa (Tawny-eyed), Amitavikrama (Of unmeasured valour), Udadhikramaṇa-Śreṣṭha (Excellent due to feat of crossing of the ocean), Daśagrīvasya Darpahā (Destroyer of the arrogance of the Ten-headed One), Lakṣmaṇaprāṇadātā (Bestower of life on Lakṣmaṇa) and Sītāśokanivartana (One who has dispelled Sītā’s sorrow).

After saying this, Lord Śaṅkara vanished along with Umā. Hanūmān installed Īśvara there devoutly.

That Liṅga is a bestower of cherished desires by the favour of Īśvara, by the power of his Brahmacarya (celibacy) and the strength of his Yogic soul. The Liṅga cannot be chopped off nor can it be comprehended adequately and is devoid of origin and destruction.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

34-45. Dear son, listen to the directly perceived proof of the efficacy of Hanumanteśvara. O son of Pāṇḍu, it occurred at the end of Tretā and the beginning of Dvāpara.

There was a king named Suparvan on the earth. The king enjoyed perpetual happiness. The men (subjects) had a long span of life. He was endowed with sons and wealth and his reign was free from the harassment caused by thieves. Śatabāhu[1] of terrible valour was his son.

O Lord of men, this prince always indulged in sinful activities. He wandered all over the earth, mountains and forests. For hunting herds of deer he came to the Vindhya mountain. He was sporting about in the forest where different kinds of trees grew sprawling and herds of elephants wandered about. It was full of beautiful lions and leopards. It was infested by wild boars and deer. After sporting there, the king (prince) arrived at a certain place on Narmadā.

He arrived at the forest of Hanūmanta that extended to a hundred Krośas. It was splendid with groves of tamarinds. It was full of Kadamba trees. It was rendered splendid always on account of Pālāśa, Jaṃbīra, Kārañja, Khadira, Pāṭala, Badara, Śamī and Tinduka trees. It was crowded with herds of deer. It reverberated with the sounds of peacocks. Droves of pigeons cooed all round with exquisite notes.

The king sported about there in autumn and during the dark half of the month of Āśvina. Arriving at the centre of the forest he saw a tawny-coloured Brāhmaṇa moving about. The restless Brāhmaṇa with a book in his hand was asked:

Śatabāhu said:

O excellent Brāhmaṇa, with a book in your hand you wander alone in the forest looking this way and that. Why do you wander thus?

The Brāhmaṇa said:

46-51. O king, I have come from Kānyakubja. I have been sent here by the Princess to deposit the bones (ashes) in the water of the Hanumanteśvara Tīrtha.

The king said:

O Brāhmaṇa, why is the throwing of the bones carried out in Hanumanteśvata? What is the purpose? It is something wonderful. Let it be explained to me.

The son of Suparvan left his vehicle and (got down on the ground). After bowing down, he joined his palms in reverence to the Brāhmaṇa, O king. Then he (the Brāhmaṇa) narrated his earlier story in full.

The Brāhmaṇa said:

There is a powerful king named Śikhaṇḍin in Kānyakubja. This king has no son. As a result of his long-cherished desire, a daughter was born to him.

By the power of Narmadā the girl of beautiful limbs could remember the previous births. Once the question of her marriage was raised by the father:

“Dear daughter, this worldly existence is not permanent. I wish to perform the rite of Kanyādāna (gifting away a virgin). One should perform tomorrow’s task today itself, and the work of the afternoon in the foremoon itself. Death does not wait to see if one has completed his tasks or not.”

The Virgin said:

52-61. Dear father, I must be given in marriage at the time when I wish for it.

The king was surprised at the statement of his daughter. Śikhaṇḍin said:

O highly esteemed girl, what you have stated is surprising. Let it be fully explained.

On hearing what her father said, the excellent girl came near him, O king, and recounted what had happened in Hanumanteśvara.

“Father, at that time, I was a female peacock (peahen). My name was Kalāpinī and I lived with my husband on the southern bank of Revā very near the confluence of Revā and Aurvyā.

Once it chanced that I was sporting about in the meritorious Hanumantavana. At night I was asleep in the company of my husband on a Sarala tree. Hungry hunters came to that excellent forest.

I was seen by those sinners who thought of killing me even as I was in the company of my husband. I was tied up with a cord along with my master (husband). They wrung my neck and cracked the tail. Along with my husband they baked our flesh in fire and ate it as they pleased. Contented they went to sleep and the night came to a close.

In the morning the remnant of my flesh and the bones from (my) body covered with nerves and flesh were seized by one of those birds of prey. One piece fell down from the sky from the birds. On seeing the piece of flesh other birds too flocked there.

62-73. On seeing the flock of birds the bird dropped down the piece of bones even as the entire flock of birds moved about and watched.

O king, it fell into the waters of Narmadā in Hanumanteśvara. It was a piece of my bone that fell into the waters of Narmadā. By the power of the meritorious nature of the Tīrtha I was born as your daughter. I became a princess with moon-like countenance.

Born into your royal family, I became endowed with the power of remembering previous births. Hence I do not desire marriage. O excellent king, even now my husband is in a difficult situation among the birds and animals there. O great king, the remnant of his bones is sure to be in that Tīrtha. Dear father, despatch an excellent Brāhmaṇa to cast off those bones. Thus,

O excellent king, the explanation has been given to you in full. My husband is in a tight spot among birds and animals. If

you do send someone, dear father, to the banks of Narmadā, I shall make him know (the bones) as indicated by the places and signs.”

[The Brāhmaṇa said:]

I was summoned there by Śikhaṇḍin, O king. (He had said:) “I shall give you twenty villages. Go to the banks of Narmadā.” Thus my despatch was announced by him. I was afflicted by absence of glory and wealth.

The Virgin said:

You go to the meritorious Narmadā that destroys all sins. To the south-east of Somanātha is the great deity Hanumanteśvara. Within half a Krośa from Revā, there is a well-grown banyan tree. In the vicinity of the banyan tree, there is a Kārañja and a Kaṭaha tree. You will see the minute pieces of the bones very near the root of the banyan tree. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, carefully look out for them under the tree and collect them and go to Revā.

74-83. In the dark half of Āśvina on the lunar day pertaining to Tripurāri (i.e. 14th day) bathe the Trident-bearing Lord devoutly and keep awake at night. In the morning stand in the water upto your navel, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, and say “Let his liberation take place” and cast them off.

After casting off the bones, you must take the holy bath that is destructive of sins.

[The Brāhmaṇa said:]

As mentioned by the girl, O great king, by doing thus he will have his liberation. Everything that was narrated by the girl was recorded in the book (notebook). Then I came here, O great king, to this Tīrtha that annihilates sin.

After seeing the signs (remnants of bones), O king, I took the bones and scattered in the waters of Narmadā in accordance with the injunctions mentioned before.

There was an immediate shower of flowers, O son of Pāṇḍu, followed by the shout “Excellent! Excellent!” There came a divine aerial chariot and the peacock assumed a divine form and went to heaven.

After seeing this convincing proof, O king, in Hanumanteśvara, the Brāhmaṇa and the king, Śatabāhu, undertook a fast. Engaged in propitiating Īśvara, they reduced their own bodies by drying them up. The excellent Brāhmaṇa and Śatabāhu stayed meditating on the Lord.

Within half a month, Śatabāhu, the noble-minded king, died. An aerial chariot with splendid tinkling bells came there. (A voice spoke out:) “Excellent! Excellent! O excellent king, get into the aerial chariot.”

Śatabāhu said:

84-90. I will not come along the path to heaven as long as the Brāhmaṇa is also not present. The excellent Brāhmaṇa is my very preceptor because he imparted instructions to me.

The celestial damsels said:

This Brāhmaṇa is overwhelmed with greed. Sins are gathered through covetousness.

O king, only men characterised by Sattva quality, who die in Hanumanteśvara go to the world of Śaṅkara that destroys all sins.

There is no destruction of the sin of this Brāhmaṇa, O king. The house and the housewife dominate the mind of this Brāhmana.

Thereupon Śatabāhu said to the Brāhmaṇa politely: “Leave off covetousness, the cause of all disaster, O excellent Brāhmaṇa.” After saying this the king went to heaven surrounded by the celestial girls.

After a few days the Brāhmaṇa went to heaven accompanied by panegyrists.

By the power of the Tīrtha, the peacock was reborn as son of the king of Kāśī. He recollected the previous birth given to him by the girl. Seeing him become major (in age) the chaste princess, with the leave of her father attained the prince as her husband in Svayaṃvara.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

91-101. This is the event that took place in that Tīrtha, O excellent king. For this reason this Tīrtha is always very sacred.

The time of visit to this Tīrtha may be any month but the (lunar) eighth and the fourteenth days are good, especially so the fourteenth day in the dark half of the month of Āśvina.

A devotee shall bathe the deity with great devotion with honey, milk or ghee. Again the Lord is bathed with curds mixed with sugar-candy and ultimately with the water sprinkled with Kuśa grass.

The devotee should smear Maheśvara with sandal-paste and sweet scents, Then he should adore with sweet-smelling flowers and Bilva leaves.

The devotee should further adore with great devotion Śiva named Hanumanteśvara by means of various kinds of flowers available at the time and season such as Unmattamuni, Jāti, Kāśa, Kuśa etc., or by means of bulbous roots or fruits of Mucukunda tree.

The lamp should be lighted with ghee or, if it is not available, with gingelly oil.

Śrāddha should be performed through Brāhmaṇas who are householders and masters of the Vedas. They should have all the essential characteristics and possess nobility of birth.

Uttering the words: “May those who are detained in Naraka (Hell) proceed to heaven,” he should bow down to the Brāhmaṇas. He should propitiate the Brāhmaṇas devoutly with garments, cooked food and gold.

All the fallen Brāhmaṇas should be avoided, especially one who has a Vrsalī as his housewife. Devas call a woman Vṛṣalī if she is libidinous and carnally approaches other lustful men in addition to her own husband. A Śūdra woman is not Vṛṣalī.

Śaṅkara said that through Śrāddha all sins of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter, imbibing liquor, resorting to preceptor’s wife, stealing gold, acting treacherously towards friends and mis-using deposits entrusted, are destroyed.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

102-111. Of what avail is my prattling, O dear one? Why should I recount much? Anyone having committed all kinds of sins should make gifts to a Brāhmaṇa.

Particularly at this Tīrtha, the gift of a cow should be made, because, O son of Kuntī, such a gift is far superior to all other kinds of gifts.

Cows are full of all the Devas and all the Devas are identical with a cow. O king, Śakra dwells always on the tips of the horns; Skanda occupies the chest; Brahmā the head; the Bull-emblemed Lord is in the forehead; the deities Moon and Sun are the two eyes. Sarasvatī dwells in the tongue. All the Sādhyas and groups of Maruts are her teeth, O king. One should know that all the four Vedas with the Aṅgas and duly arranged words are in the Huṃkāra (bellowing of cow). Sages, the innumerable ascetics, dwell in the pores of the hairs. Yama stands at the back always scrutinizing the auspicious and the inauspicious. He has a huge body. He is armed with a big staff. He is dark-complexioned and has a buffalo for his vehicle. The four meritorious oceans are the flowing currents of milk from her udders. Cow should be honoured by a sensible person always, because Gaṅgā who originated from the feet of Viṣṇu and destroys sins merely by her sight is stationed in the flowing milk. O son of Pāṇḍu, the sacred and all-auspicious Lakṣmī is always present in cow-dung. Hence smearing with cow-dung should be done. Gandharvas, Apsarās and Nāgas are well-established at the tips of the hoofs. Know that cow is identical with all the Tīrthas that are present on the ocean-girt earth. Hence Gavya (milk product) is sacred.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

Dhenu (cow) full of all Devas is embellished with the Devas and others. Why have they resorted to cow?

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

112-118. Viṣṇu is identical with all the Devas. Cows are born of Viṣṇu’s body. On account of these two things, the different Devas are attributed by the people (to the different limbs of cow).

Before the deity Hanumanteśvara a cow should be gifted with great devotion to a Brāhmaṇa, O son of Pāṇḍu. She should be a milch cow. She may be white or tawny-coloured. She should be accompanied by her calf and should be well-behaved. She should be covered with a white cloth. She should be well adorned with gold fitted to the horns. A milk pot made of brass should also be gifted along with the cow.

She should be given in front of Hanumanteśvara by one observing rules and regulations and desirous of heavenly pleasures and everlasting status.

Those who give cows to the indigent and the feeble go to the world of Viṣṇu. After slipping down to the world, O king, he is born in the abode of a Brāhmaṇa. He becomes an able son of the family with all good qualities, learning, wealth and prosperity.

The Hanumanteśvara Tīrtha destroys all sins, O king. One who hears about it becomes rid of sins resulting from admixture of castes.

There is no doubt about this that even one who sees it from far or thinks about it becomes free from sins and is liberated.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

The stories of Subāhu and Śikhaṇḍin are contributed to illustrate the greatness of Hanumanteśvara.

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