The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Origin of Vishnupadi Tirtha which is chapter 24 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 twenty-fourth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 24 - Origin of Viṣṇupadī Tīrtha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:

1-4. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, at that auspicious Tīrtha. there is another Tīrtha named Viṣṇupada which is destructive of all sins.

In the course of the southern transit of the Sun, one should adore it with concentration and mental purity. With great faith he should dedicate himself. Even if he were to die in the course of Dakṣiṇāyana, he shall attain the greatest region of Viṣṇu by the power of the Tīrtha, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. There is no doubt about it.

Similarly a person who duly adores in the course of Uttarāyaṇa and dedicates himself duly and devoutly with great concentration, also attains the meritorious region of Viṣṇu and becomes happy.

The Sages said:

5-6. How did the Pada (foot, region) of Viṣṇu of unmanifest origin come into existence? How is it that in either Ayana, Ātman is dedicated perfectly there? O Sūtaja, what is the benefit that is obtained by men when it is seen or touched? We are very eager. Describe everything.

Sūta said:

7-17. When Bali was bound by Viṣṇu, the powerful one, the three worlds, including the mobile and immobile beings were covered by the three steps (of his).

The first step was placed on the Hāṭakeśvara Kṣetra. The second step was placed on Maharloka then by the noble-souled one. When the Discus-bearing Lord attempted the third one, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the whole Cosmic Egg became split up and too small. When the Cosmic Egg became split up by the tip (toe) of the foot, pure water dripped down to the earth, slowly through the tip of the big toe.

The sacred water, clear like crystal, flooded the entire Brahmaloka. Its lustre resembled that of a jasmine flower and the moon. Fishes, tortoises and herds of crocodiles abounded therein. Ever since then she is remembered as Gaṅgā, Viṣṇupadī, in the world. She rendered the spot already sacred, still more sacred. It was thus, that the foot of Viṣṇu came to be present there, O excellent sages. Then Viṣṇupadī is remembered as destructive of all sins.

One who has faith in the river, takes his holy bath in the manner mentioned and touches that foot of Viṣṇu attains the greatest region.

One who has perfect faith, takes his holy bath in the waters of Viṣṇupadī and performs Śrāddha there, shall obtain the benefit of Gayā Śrāddha. A man who gets up early in the morning in the month of Māgha and takes his holy bath there, shall always obtain the benefit of pilgrimage of Prayāga. Or a man who stays here for a whole year with devotion and takes his holy bath there, shall attain liberation.

18-27. Even a man of sinful activities, if his bones are thrown into the water there, attains the greatest goal. Even birds and locusts, animals, worms and beasts that, enter her waters distressed with thirst but without devotion, shall be rid of sins. At the time of death, they attain the extremely rare region of the Discus-bearing Lord, which is devoid of death and old age. All the moves in the case of persons endowed with faith who make Dāna to Brāhmaṇas well-versed in the Vedas, O Brāhmaṇas.

There is a Gāthā (traditional song) sung formerly by the great sage Nārada after seeing the power of Viṣṇupadī that is destructive of sins.

“As long as the waters of Viṣṇupadī are present on the earth, of what avail is the observance of Vratas and Niyamas, the performance of austerities and different kinds of sacrifices!

One man may take the holy bath in all the Tīrthas and another may take his holy bath in the waters of Viṣṇupadī: The benefit of both is the same.

One may gift away all the things to Brāhmaṇas and another may take his holy bath in the water of Viṣṇupadī: The benefit attained by both is the same.

One may perform austerities in the midst of five fires during summer, he may stay beneath the open sky during rainy season and then resort to a waterpond in Hemanta. Another may take his holy bath in the waters of Viṣṇupadī and touch the foot of Viṣṇu. Both of them have been spoken of as excellent persons on a par with each other.

28-31. One may throughout his life observe fast on alternate days and one may take his holy bath in the waters of Viṣṇupadī. Both derive the same benefit.

One man may observe fast of three days (duration) and continue it for a hundred years. One may take his bath in the waters of Viṣṇupadī. Both attain the same benefit.”

Sūta said:

Thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Nārada, the excellent sage, spoke (sang the Gāthā) frequently before many sages and then stopped. Hence he who wishes for his own welfare should assiduously take his bath there and touch the foot of Viṣṇu.

The sages said:

32-36. You said that in the course of the two Ayanas the northern and the southern, devotee should dedicate himself to the foot of Viṣṇu. But what is the procedure thereof? O Sūta, mention it quickly along with the Mantras pertaining to it, so that we shall also perform it with devotion.

Sūta said:

In the course of Dakṣiṇa and Uttara Ayana a devotee should worship Viṣṇu’s foot and utter this Mantra: “If death overtakes me suddenly within six months, it is your foot (place-Vaikuṇṭha?) that is my refuge. I am your servant.”

After saying this, he should worship Hari and then Brāhmaṇas. Then he should take food along with them. Thereby he attains the good goal.

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