The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Ankureshvara (ankura-ishvara-tirtha) which is chapter 168 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 one hundred sixty-eighth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 168 - The Greatness of Āṅkūreśvara (āṅkūra-īśvara-tīrtha)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

1-5. The excellent Aṅkureśvara Tīrtha is on the southern bank of Narmadā. It is endowed with all good qualities and is well-known in all the three worlds.

There a great Rākṣasa propitiated Maheśvara and became a Siddha. He propitiated Śaṅkara, the very life of the universe, the deity that transports a devotee merely when remembered.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

Who was that Rakṣas (i.e. Rākṣasa)? O excellent Brāhmaṇa, what was his name? In whose family was he born? O sinless one, mention this to me in detail.

Those men who commit sins and who are turned blind due to ignorance, do see the world consisting of mobile and immobile beings, thanks to the people like you who guide them like lamps.

On hearing the words of Dharmaputra, Mārkaṇḍeya, the eminent sage, smiled and began to narrate that tale destructive of sins.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

6-15. There was a mental son of Brahmā named Pulastya, O king. He was an expounder of the Vedas and scriptures. He was as if another Vedhas (Brahmā) in person.

The daughter of Tṛṇabindu became the wife of that learned Parameṣṭhin. Thanks to his holy communion, a noble-minded son was born.

Since the Vedas and Itihāsas along with the six Aṅgas, Pada and Krama (Pāṭhas of Vedas) rested in him, the name Viśravas was given to him.

On a certain occasion the great sage Bharadvāja gave his daughter with pleasure to Viśravas, O king.

He sported along with her like Indra with Paulomī (Śacī). The Brāhmaṇa, the foremost among those conversant with the Vedas, sported with her with great joy (like Indra with Indrāṇī).

After some time a son endowed with all the qualities of a son was born to Viśravas. He became well known as Vaiśravaṇa.

With the guilelessness of a child, O Yudhiṣṭhira, he observed the vow of silence while granting freedom from fear to all living beings.

Mahādeva was pleased with him and granted him his own friendship and the status of Dhanada (giver tof wealth). Along with Brāhmaṇa-sages, Brahmā came to him and told him: “You will become the fourth of the group of Yama, Indra and Varuṇa, and attain Lokapālatva (guardianship of the worlds). After granting this desired Lokapālatva, Brahmā went away quickly.

On another occasion a demoness named Kaikasī left Pātāla, came to the earth and desired Viśravas as her husband.

16-25. O excellent descendant of Bharata, Rāvaṇa was born as her son. So also were Kuṃbhakarṇa, a great Rākṣasa, and the noble-souled Vibhīṣaṇa.

Kuṃbhakarṇa had two sons named Kuṃbha and Vikuṃbha. They were very great, O most excellent one among men. They possessed great strength and virility.

Aṅkūra, the most excellent Rākṣasa, was a great son of Kuṃbha. Emulating Vibhīṣaṇa in good qualities, he became the most excellent one among Rākṣasas.

On attaining mature youth, he came to know that his grandfather was a Rākṣasa. He became very much disgusted and performed a very great penance.

He performed pilgrimage to the four oceans, southern, western, northern and eastern, and came incidentally to Narmadā.

Aṅkūra, the Lord of Rākṣasas, performed a very great penance for a hundred divine years. Thereat Mahādeva, the conqueror of the cities of the enemies, became pleased. The Bull-emblemed Lord granted him freedom of choosing any boon. “O fair one, choose your boon. O devotee of good Vratas, I shall grant it.”

On seeing Maheśvara, the god of Devas, standing before him as the granter of boons, he bowed to him again and again and spoke (the following words):

“O Mahādeva, if you are pleased, O Lord of Suras, if you are ready to grant a boon, grant unto me immortality which is very rare in the case of all living beings. O Slayer of Tripuras, stay here after my name by this boon. It behoves you to be always present here.”

Īśvara said,

26-33. As long as you adhere to piety, as long as you follow the advice of Vibhīṣaṇa with steadiness of the mind, this will be true.

After saying this, the Lord honoured by all deities went away to the Kailāsa mountain by means of an aerial chariot of lustrous hue of the Sun.

When the Lord vanished, the demon took his bath and sipped water ritualistically in accordance with the injunctions, O great king, and installed the excellent Aṅkūreśvara.

He then adored the Lord of Suras with scents, flowers, incense, garments and ornaments, banners, chowries, umbrellas and (saying the) auspicious words like ‘Jaya’ (‘Be victorious’) etc. He eulogized the Lord with plenty of prayers pleasing to the heart. The Rākṣasa then went to the abode where King Vibhīṣaṇa was present.

He was suitably honoured with gifts and other honours. Treated like own brother, he stayed there with great joy.

He who takes his holy bath there in the Tīrtha and worships Parameśvara named Aṅkūreśvara shall obtain the merit of a horse-sacrifice.

The sacred region of Maheśvara begins from the pond known as Māṇḍavya and extends to the auspicious confluence of Revā and Āmalakī.

34-43. The Aṅkūreśvara Tīrtha is to the west of Māṇḍavyakhāta. A devout man should take his bath there in the Tīrtha and remain physically and mentally pure.

He should assiduously say Sandhyā prayers and perform the Japa, O descendant of Bharata. O excellent one among the descendants of Bharata, he should offer libations to the Pitṛs and Devas and human beings. Continuing to wear the wet clothes and observing silence, he should adore the Lord.

Listen to the meritorious benefits of the worshipper who duly observes fast on the eighth and fourteenth lunar days and performs worship (of Aṅkūreśvara).

There are Tīrthas and shrines over an area of a hundred Yojanas. It will be as though all these shrines have been visited by him. Thereafter he is liberated from sins.

After duly bathing there in the Tīrtha, Dāna should be offered to a deserving person with the Lord in view. It shall be everlasting in benefit.

It is said to be ten times more than that of Homa. The benefit in Japa is more than that. By observing fast, the benefit is three times more and by holy ablution it is four times.

One who renounces the world or casts off his life (therein) attains the region of Rudraloka from which there is no return for him.

Even worms, insects and birds that die there in the Tīrtha named Aṅkūreśvara attain liberation.

Thus, O king, the origin of Aṅkūreśvara has been recounted to you. The Tīrtha is endowed with all good qualities. It is destructive of sins.

Those who devoutly listen to this being glorified as yielding great benefit, attain the abode of Śiva. There is no doubt about it.

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