The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Greatness of Shuleshvara Tirtha which is chapter 198 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 ninety-eighth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 198 - The Greatness of Śūleśvara Tīrtha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

1-9. Thereafter, O Lord of the earth, one should go to the Bhadrakālī Saṅgama well known as Śūlatīrtha. It was created by the Lord himself.

The Trident-armed great Lord Parameśvara who is adored by all Devas, stands in the middle of Pañcāyatana (Five shrines).

That Saṅgama (confluence) is always resorted to by Devas, O excellent king.

By visiting that Tīrtha, and more particularly by taking the holy bath and offering gifts evils like ill-luck, bad omens, curses, imprisonment by king etc. are destroyed. So said Śaṅkara.

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

How did Goddess Śūleśvarī and Hara Śūleśvara come to be well established and well reputed on the banks of Narmadā? Do recount this in details.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

There was a certain Brāhmaṇa well known by the name Māṇḍavya. He was conversant with all types of pious rites and pursued his avocation while engaged in truthfulness and penance.

The radiant sage of arduous penance observed the vow of silence. He stood at the foot of a tree in the middle of a grove of Aśoka trees with hands lifted up.

For a long period he thus engaged himself in the severe penance when some thieves carrying a great deal of booty reached that hermitage, closely pursued by a number of king’s officers of law. O scion of the family of Kuru, they deposited the stolen goods in his abode.

10-21. After depositing the stolen goods, the thieves remained hidden in the hermitage itself. Even as they remained hidden, a posse of police officers came there immediately, closely following the thieves. The pursuers of the thieves spoke to the sage and asked him the details.

“O excellent Brāhmaṇa, do tell us which way did the thieves go? If we know it, we can quickly follow them.”

Despite their repeated queries in these words, O king, the ascetic did not say anything good or bad.

The royal officers made a search of the hermitage, found the goods lost and bound him and the thieves. They produced them before the king.

The pious sage was impaled on a stake and remained there for a long time meditating on Śaṅkara, the consort of Umā and the Lord of the three worlds. He meditated on Maheśāna mentally for a very long time. The Brāhmaṇa-sage did not take in food. Yet he did not die.

A bull among Brāhmaṇas, he meditated on Hari in his heart. A penance was performed by him though he suffered much at the top of the stake.

On hearing this, all the sages became excessively distressed. O descendant of Bharata, they took the form of birds and came to him at night.

After noticing the power of the sage they asked the excellent Brāhmaṇa: “O Brāhmaṇa, we wish to hear. What sin was committed by you?”

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

22-31. Thereupon, the tiger among sages said to those ascetics: “Can I escape from my own faults? No one else has committed any offence against me.”

After saying thus (to himself), the sage said so to all of them. Thereupon, the sages submitted this to the king the next day.

On hearing that it was a sage (who had been impaled) the king came out along with his kinsmen. He craved the indulgence of the excellent sage impaled on the stake.

The king said:

O dear one, it was due to ignorance that a great offence has been committed by me. I request you to become pleased. It does not behove you to be angry with me.

On being requested thus, the sage became pleased. The king got him brought down from the stake. The sage had become pleased.

On being brought down the flesh of the sage got entangled on the stake. The Brāhmaṇa became highly distressed. He meditated on Śaṅkara mentally.

Śaṅkara had been meditated upon by him al ter a long period of fast. Mahādeva appeared before him and cut off the stake.

Standing at the foot of the stake, the delighted Śaṃbhu said again and again: “What should be done, O Brāhmaṇa who are abiding by your Sāttvika nature? I am pleased and so also is Umā. I shall grant you something that cannot be (ordinarily) granted. But (one thing kindly note) the achievement of truthful persons in the world may not be (necessarily) much. Creatures enjoy the benefit only in accordance with their own actions. Prosperity results from good actions and misery from evil acts.”

32-43. (Past) Actions bear fruit in diverse forms for human beings. To some it gives poverty; to others it gives suffering due to loss of wealth. To some the suffering may arise from absence of progeny. To some it is due to the contrary. They may be distressed due to misbehaviour of children. To some persons the distress may be due to the death of sons or separation of dear friends. To some misery may be due to tyranny of a king, to a thief or to a fire accident brought about by adverse fate.

The distress due to evil action may manifest in the bodies of certain persons. Old age sets in at various stages of life. Ailments are also to be seen.

One is subjected to slander and calumny through sins incurred in the course of the actions of previous births. Some (apparently) sinless now, fall into the most miserable situations.

In the same way, as a result of the previous Karmas some continue to be pious and abiding in performing austerity. Many are self-controlled, devoted to their own wedded wives, munificent and ready to give liberally and eager to worship (deities). Others are endowed with many good qualities such as bashful modesty, tactfulness etc.

There are some men who do not get excited or distressed due to insuperable calamities as a result of their own Karmas. They do not censure pious behaviour and religious activity. They consider this as a form of penance. On the other hand, some stupid persons censure it as torture. Good men do not lament during sufferings saying, “Alas, my brother! Mother! Son! etc.” They remember me or the lotus-eyed Lord Viṣṇu. They get ready to reap the fruit of evil actions. Thereat, certainly it gets subdued.

If good men continue to meditate on Lord Īśa and endure the sufferings, their (past) acts become milder, O Brāhmaṇa. It is emphasized by Śrutis. O Brāhmaṇa, this is since I have been mentally remembered and worshipped by you in the midst of your sufferings, that I have come here in the company of Gaurī. Tell me, O Brāhmaṇa, what should be done by me.”

Māṇḍavya said:

44-56. O Śaṅkara, if you along with Umā are pleased and if you are going to grant me a boon, then do clarify my doubt which occurred while I was on the stake.

When all my limbs were impaled on the stake, I did not have any pain at all. That Śūla (Stake) appeared to exude nectar. Do tell me to what power it was due.

Śūlapāṇi said:

It was due to the fact that I have been mentally remembered by you, O Brāhmaṇa. I am the destroyer of injustice and evil actions. I dispel miseries.

As soon as I was meditated upon, O Brāhmaṇa, when I was stationed in the nether worlds, I, Śaṃbhu came to the foot of the Śūla and the Goddess herself stationed herself on the top. Goddess Ambikā, the mother of the universe, flooded you with nectar.

Māṇḍavya said:

Since you along with Umā had already pervaded the Śūla and stationed yourself there, even now you in her company are inclined to do me favour.

Merely by remembering her all Daurbhāgya (ill-luck) will get dissolved. There is nothing more miserable than the greatest misery of ill-luck.

O excellent one among Suras, this traditional verse is being sung in the Purāṇas: While you were burning the three worlds, all Saubhāgya (conjugal felicity) gathered into one unit and getting to the chest of Viṣṇu settled down there. This is already heard by us.

As it dripped down from his chest it was imbibed by Dakṣa the Parameṣṭhin (Patriarch). Therefrom was born this lady with eyes like blue lotus in the form of Satī.

O Lord of Devas, when he performed a Yajña he insulted you. Hence, that goddess consigned herself, her Prāṇas, into the fire. After reducing herself to ashes, O Lord, she was born of Menakā (Menā) as the daughter of the Himālaya Mountain. She is now named Umā.

O Lord of Suras, that Goddess has neither beginning nor end. She is beyond comprehension and guess, O Lord of Devas, if you are pleased and if Umā is pleased to grant me a boon, both of you shall become stationed in this spot, i.e. the foot and the top of the Śūla. Your incarnation may be here and there but the permanent stay shall be here.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

57-63. When this was requested by him, the ground was suddenly split into two and from the foot and the top of the Śūla they came out in the form of replicas of Liṅga and idol.

The Liṅga was seen at the foot illuminating all the quarters. To the left was the Goddess Śūleśvarī stationed as the idol.

She shone filling up all the quarters and fascinating the entire universe. On seeing her, the excellent Brāhmaṇa joined the palms in reverence and began to eulogize.

Māṇḍavya said:

You are the mother of this world; the deity presiding over the fortune of the universe. O lady of excellent countenance, there is nothing without your presence in the whole of the Cosmic Egg.

O goddess expert in the knowledge of Dharma, do favour me. It behoves you to command me.

Where are the different spots where you are stationed in the forms similar to this? O great goddess, be favourable to me and mention them.

Śrī Devī said:

I should be seen as present everywhere in all living beings, everywhere on the earth. In all the worlds there is nothing that is created without me.

I shall, however, truthfully recount to you the places where I should be visited by people desirous of Siddhi and remembered by those desirous of prosperity.

64-75. The deities in various shrines are: Viśālākṣī in Vārāṇasī, Liṅgadhāriṇī in Naimisa [Naimiṣa?], Goddess Lalitā in Prayāga, Kāmukā in Gandhamādana, the deity named Kumudā in Mānasa, Viśvakāyā in Apara, Gomatī in Gomanta, Kāmacāriṇī in Mandara, Madotkaṭā in Caitraratha, Hayantī in Hastināpura, Gaurī stationed in Kānyakubja, Raṃbhā in Amalaparvata, Kīrtimatī in Ekāmraka, Viśvā in Viśveśvara, Puruhūtā in Puṣkara, Mārgadāyinī in Kedāra, Nandā on the tableland of Himālaya, Bhadrakarṇikā in Gokarṇa, Bhavānī in Sthāneśvara, Bilvapatrikā in Bilvaka, the deity named Mādhavī in Śrīśaila, Bhadreśvarī in Bhadra, Jayā on Varāhaśaila, Kamalā in Kamalālaya, Kalyāṇī in Rudrakoṭī, Kālī in Kālañjara, Kapilā in Mahāliṅga, Mukuṭeśvari in Makoṭa, Mahādevī in Śāligrāma, Jalapriyā in Śivaliṅga, Kumārī in Māyāpurī, Lalitā in Santāna, Utpalākṣī in Sahasrākṣa, Mahotpalā in Hiraṇyākṣa, the deity named Vimalā in Gayā, Maṅgalā in Puruṣottama, Amoghākṣī in Vipāśā, Paṭalā in Puṇḍravardhana, Nārāyaṇī in Supārśva, Bhadrasundarī in Trikūṭa, Vipulā in Vipula, Kalyāṇī on Malayācala, Koṭavī in Koṭitīrtha, Sugandhā in Gandhamādana[1], Trisandhyā in Godvāśrama, Ratipriyā in Gaṅgādvāra, Sabhānandā in Śivacaṇḍa and Nandinī in Devikātaṭa.

76-85. Rukmiṇī in Dvārāvatī, Rādhā in Vṛndāvana forest, Devakī in Mathurā, Parameśvarī in Pātāla (nether world), Sītā in Citrakūṭa, Vindhyanivāsinī on Vindhya, Ekavīrā on the Sahya Mountain, Caṇḍikā in Hariścandra, Ramaṇā in Rāmatīrtha, Mṛgāvatī on Yamunā, Mahālakṣmī in Karavīra, Rūpādevī in Vināyaka, Ārogyā in Vaidyanātha, Maheśvarī in Mahākāla, Abhayā in Uṣṇa Tīrtha, Mṛgī in Vindhya caves, the deity named Māṇḍukī in Māṇḍavya, Svāhā in the city of Maheśvara, Pracaṇḍā in Chāgaliṅga, Caṇḍikā on Amarakaṇṭaka, Varārohā in Someśvara, Puṣkarāvatī in Prabhāsa, Vedamātā on Sarasvatī, Pārā on the banks of Pārā, O Sage, Mahābhāgā in Mahālaya, Piṅgaleśvarī on Payoṣṇī, Siṃhikā in Kṛtaśauca, Śāṅkarī in Kārttika, Lolā in Utpalāvartaka, Subhadrā in the Śoṇa confluence, Lakṣmī considered (the deity) in Siddhavaṭa, Taraṅgā in Bharatāśrama, Viśvamukhī in Jālandhara, Tārā on Kiṣkindhā mountain, Puṣṭi in Devadāruvana forest, Medhā in Kāśmīra Maṇḍala, Bhīmādevī[2] on the Himālaya mountain, Puṣṭi in Vastreśvara (but in verse 84 Devadāruvana is named), Śuddhi in Kapālamocana and Mātā in Kāyāvarohaṇa.

86-98. The deity named Dhvani in Śaṅkhoddhāra, Dhṛti in Piṇḍāraka, Kālā on Candrabhāgā, Śaktidhāriṇī in Acchodā, the deity named Amṛtā on Veṇā, Urvaśī in Badarī, Oṣadhī in Uttarakuru, Kuśodakā in Kuśadvīpa, Manmathā on Hemakūṭa, Satyavādinī in Kumuda, Vandinīkā in Aśvattha, Nidhi in Vaiśravaṇālaya, Gāyatrī in Vedavadana, Pārvatī in the vicinity of Śiva, Indrāṇī in Devaloka, Sarasvatī in Brahmāsya (face of Brahmā), the deity named Prabhā in Sūryabiṃba (Solar disc), (I am) considered Vaiṣṇavī among the Mothers, Arundhatī among Satīs (chaste ladies), Tilottamā among Ramās (beautiful ladies), the deity named Brahmakalā in Citra, Śakti of all the embodied beings, Śūleśvarī in Bhṛgukṣetra, Saubhāgyasundarī in Bhṛgu.

Thus the excellent one hundred eight names (of the deities) as well as the holy spots have been cited on the whole.

O Brāhmaṇa, this alone shall be the greatest (resort) of everyone. A man who reads the one hundred eight names in the presence of Śiva, shall be liberated from all sins. He will get the covetable and coveted woman.

A woman who takes her holy bath on the third lunar day and worships me devoutly shall never meet with misery, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, by my power.

A woman who invariably comes and visits me will never have misery brought about by her sons or husband.

In my shrine, a woman devotee shall adore the Tulāpuruṣa. She should then worship and decorate the Devas and the Guardians of the worlds, along with Fire-god. Thereafter she should honour Brāhmaṇas along with their wives by giving them garments and ornaments.

Then oblations are offered to the spirits. She should then circumambulate the Tulā and the Ṛtviks and the preceptor repeating this Mantra:

99-110. (She shall be pure and wear red garments and hold a palmful of flowers.) “Obeisance to you. You are the Śakti of all the Devas stationed supreme as witness. You are the mother of the universe created by the source of origin of the universe. O Tulā, you are glorified as the authority unto all living beings.”

The devotee then closes both the fists and looks at the face of Umā. While placing herself on a pan of the weighing instrument (Tulā), eight things are to be placed on the other pan, O eminent Brāhmaṇas, in accordance with his monetary capacity. These eight things are my own parts fixed on the earth. They are: gold, Niṣpāva rice, black mustard, safflour, Tṛṇarāja (sugarcane), Indu (camphor), salt and saffron as the eighth one.

One of these should be used in accordance with the money that one can command. Gold and other things may be more than one’s weight or exactly equal, O Brāhmaṇa, and the woman or man devotee should wait till the weighing is over. Then the following is to be repeated: “Obeisance, obeisance to you, O Lalitā termed Tulāpuruṣa. O Umā, redeem us from this mire of worldly existence.” Then the devotee gets off the weighing machine. One half is gifted to the preceptor and the other half to the Ṛtviks while water is ritualistically poured. After taking the formal leave from them, the devotee should gift other things to other suppliants. The preceptor and his wife should be given red clothes to wear. So also to other Ṛtviks according to capacity. The preceptor is adorned with armlets and bracelets. Saying “May Lalitā be pleased”; a white milch cow too should be gifted.

A woman who performs this rite thus in my temple, shall be on a par with me. With royal glory she will shine. She will be like Sāvitrī in beauty for another fifteen births.

Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:

111-117. On hearing these words of Gaurī, the most excellent Brāhmaṇa bowed down and quickly went to (his) abode, O Dharmarāja.

Ever since then that Tīrtha became well-known as Śūleśvarī. A devotee should take his holy bath there in that Tīrtha and offer libations to Pitṛs and Devatās.

Brāhmaṇas should be propitiated through food and clothing and the Pitṛs and Pitāmahas through balls of rice. Śaṅkara, the Lord of Devas, should be propitiated along with Umā through the usual offerings of a devotee such as incense, Guggulu and bright lights.

Rid of all sins, he will go to the presence of Śiva. An indicted and cursed man who takes his holy bath there for three days, becomes liberated, O Lord of men.

The man who has become pure (by taking bath) and who has observed fast shall keep awake in the night on the fourteenth lunar day in the dark half. He shall then worship Śiva. Dispelling the delusion caused by sins, he goes to Rudraloka. He will acquire the form of Rudra with three eyes and four arms. He will sport about with celestial girls as long as the moon, sun and stars shine.

Footnotes and references:


Also Kāmukā in verse 64.


In verse 68 Nandā is associated with Himalaya.

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