The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Greatness of Vishnupadi Ganga (Continued) which is chapter 25 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-fifth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 25 - Greatness of Viṣṇupadī Gaṅgā (Continued)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:

1-8. I shall recount to you a miracle that happened earlier due to the greatness of Gaṅgā.

Formerly there was a Brāhmaṇa of esteemed religious rites in Camatkārapura city. He was well-known as Caṇḍaśarman. He was blessed with handsome features and good qualities like liberal-mindedness.

During his youth, he had a passion for courtezans. Though he was a Śrotriya (well-versed in the Vedas), he had been afflicted by the rashness of youth.

Once he got up at mid-night distressed much with thirst. He requested the courtezan, “I wish to drink water.”

Mistaking a bowl of liquor for waterpot, she handed it over to him who was already overcome by sleepiness. The moment the liquor got into his mouth he became furious. He repeatedly rebuked the courtezan with words like “Fie upon you” etc.

“What is this? What is this, O sinful woman? A despicable act has been committed by you by pouring the filthy and offensive liquor into my mouth. By imbibing liquor my Brāhmāṇical status has been ruined. Undoubtedly I will have to undergo expiation for regaining the purity of the self.”

9-18. After saying this, he sadly left the house. Going to a lonely spot, he lamented piteously.

In the morning, he had bath with the clothes on. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, he had got all the hairs on his body removed and arrived at a place where an assembly of leading Brāhmaṇas was being held. All of them were poring over scriptural texts and the Upaniṣads completely.

He bowed down and said to the excellent Brāhmaṇas loudly, “Mistaking it to be water, I drank liquor. Mete out the punishment to me.”

Then they pondered over the scriptural texts repeatedly. Then all those Brāhmaṇas said to him, who was waiting to hear their decision on atonement:

The Brāhmaṇas said:

Whether knowingly or unknowingly, if a Brāhmaṇa drinks liquor he can get purified by drinking clarified butter having the lustre of fire. So if you wish for self-purity, do drink clarified butter (hot) like lustre of fire. The quantity shall be the same as that of the liquor taken in. This shall be conducive to purity

Saying “So it shall be”, he took some quantity of ghee and made it hot (so as to be like fire), O excellent Brāhmaṇas.

By that time, his father and mother who had heard the news came there sadly proclaiming. “What is this? What is this, O son.” His eyes were filled with tears and the wretched man faltered in his speech choked with tears.

Thereupon he narrated to him all the events of the night and the befitting expiation suggested by the Brāhmaṇas.

19-29. Then that excellent Brāhmaṇa (his father) spoke to all those Brāhmaṇas: “Discuss the scriptural texts and ponder over them repeatedly. Let another means of expiation be offered to my son. On behalf of my son, I shall give everything I possess.”

Then, O excellent sages, all those Brāhmāṇas thought over the topics dealt with in the ethical treatises with great deliberation and spoke to him: “In the case of imbibing liquor, there is no other atonement for Brāhmaṇas excepting Mauñjī Homa (Homa with Muñja grass). Therefore do what is proper.”

Thereupon, the Brāhmaṇa said to his son: “It does not behove you to do like this. Make liberal gifts to Brāhmaṇas. Undertake pilgrimage. Thereby subjecting yourself to rigorous discipline, you will attain purity in due course through the observance of various Vratas. I am speaking the truth. The atonement suggested by the Brāhmaṇas cannot contribute to the purity.”

The son said:

The highly esteemed ones mention Vratas etc. Hence, dear father, Mauñjī Homa should be performed by me undoubtedly. It behoves you to pardon everything done by me due to childishness.

Sūta said:

Seeing the tenacity of the son, the father, fond of his son, became angry. Having resolved to die he gave away everything he possessed. His chaste wife who too had decided to die, gave away the house etc. Looking at her son, she said:

30-37. “If you have any consideration for me and your father, dear son, this Mauñjī Homa should be performed by you after both of us have entered fire.”

Then the joyous couple got ready to die and came near the fire. So also their son.

In the meantime, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the sage named Śāṇḍilya who had mastered the Vedas, came to that place in the course of his pilgrimage.

On hearing the news of what had happened there, he became angry. His eyes became red. Rebuking the Brāhmaṇas repeatedly, he told them thus:

“Alas, you are utterly deluded and foolish! For nothing have these three Brāhmaṇas been compelled to die when there is an easy way of expiation.

May all the Brāhmaṇas as well as this youth who wants expiation, listen to the words uttered by the noble-souled Kātyāyana in this respect: “Cāndrāyaṇa, Kṛcchra, Sāntapana and other expiatory rites are prescribed where there is no Gaṅgā. But, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, there is Viṣṇupadī Gaṅga in that holy spot. Let this youth take his holy bath there. He will attain purity thereby.

38-46. If Mauñjī homa is valid and authorized by the statement of a sage, so also this is the statement of sage Kātyāyana.”

Thereat all the Brāhmaṇas were extremely delighted. They said: “Excellent! Excellent! This is true, O sage.” Then the excellent Brāhmaṇas wakened (enlightened) the Brāhmaṇa and took him to the place where Viṣṇupadī Gaṅgā was flowing.

There, as soon as the Brāhmaṇa took a mouthful of the Gaṅgā water, he became purified. The entire water came out of the belly, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, and he entered the splendid waters.

At that time a majestic voice arose from the firmament. “Due to a direct contact with Viṣṇupadī the Brāhmaṇa has become pure. The holy bath and the ritualistic sipping of water has rendered him pure. Let him go home.”

Then all the Brāhmaṇas including Caṇḍa Śarman went to their respective homes, exclaiming, How fortunate! How fortunate!

Sūta said:

O Brāhmaṇas, this Viṣṇupadī Gaṅgā has such an efficacy and it is situated near the western border of the holy spot. It is destructive of all sins.

Thus everything regarding the greatness of Viṣṇupadī has been narrated to you, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. It is destructive of all sins.

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