The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Greatness of Siddheshvara Kshetra which is chapter 29 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-ninth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 29 - Greatness of Siddheśvara Kṣetra

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:

1-8. When all the Tīrthas were stabilized thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, that holy place attained reputation over the entire earth.

The sages of esteemed holy vows resort to it, which is far away from everything. So also kings in their old age come to it for performing penance.

Similarly, the persons of great control over the sense-organs named ‘Liṅgins’ (persons wearing Liṅgas of Śiva[1]) who desire Siddhi, resort to that holy spot all round as it is the place of refuge to all Tīrthas.

O excellent Brāhmaṇas, there is a Liṅga named Siddheśvara. It yields Siddhi itself. It bestows all the Siddhis on men.

Śarva, the omnipresent Sadāśiva, became disgusted with the surface of the earth. The Lord stationed himself in this holy spot named Hāṭakeśvara.

Lord Hara himself manifested in the form of a Liṅga. By remembering him or seeing him, one always achieves all Siddhis. He is remembered as Siddheśvara because he was propitiated by a Siddha. In order to grant him a boon, Hara stationed himself here. One who visits him with excellent devotion, who remains pure and touches him, immediately attains the desired thing even if it be very rare to be achieved.

9-18. Formerly hundreds of persons have achieved Siddhi there by visiting and touching him. Other men have achieved perfection by making obeisance. If a devotee approaches Dakṣiṇā-mūrti and performs the Japa of his six-lettered Mantra (Oṃ namaḥ śivāya) with great faith, his longevity increases. A man can prolong his life by as many days as the number of times he repeats the Mantra. There is no doubt in this respect.

The sages said:

O Sūta, what has been said by you, viz. that a man lives beyond the span of life allotted to him, is extremely surprising.

Sūta said:

I shall narrate to you what has been heard by me personally from the noble-souled Vatsa who narrated it.

Formerly, even as I was staying in my father’s house, there in front, that sage of great lustre named Vatsa happened to come there.

He was in the prime of his youth. He had the lustre of twelve Suns. He was like another Kāmadeva endowed with comely features and limbs.

When seen by father, he was devoutly saluted by my father. After offering the Arghya, he was requested to take rest after which he was politely addressed: “O leading Brāhmaṇa, welcome to you. Where are you coming from? I may kindly be instructed what befitting service I may render.”

Vatsa said:

O Sūta, if you are ready to attend upon me I wish to perform the Cāturmāsya rites (for the period of four months of the rainy season) in your hermitage.

Lomaharṣaṇa said:

19-29. O Brāhmaṇa, I shall certainly carry out your behest. I am blessed. I am obliged since you have come to my house, O excellent Brāhmaṇa.

After saying thus to him, my father told me, “Service to Vatsa should always be rendered by you.”

Thereupon I humbly continued to do everything for him. During the nights, he used to tell me interesting stories of ancient saintly kings, Devas, Dānavas and Rākṣasas, islands and continents as well as of mountains, all of which he had himself seen.

Once at the close of the narration of these tales, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I asked that Brāhmaṇa out of my curiosity, with my mind overwhelmed with surprise:

“O holy Sir, your body is tender. You are in the early stage of life, but you are narrating many tales of diverse nature pertaining to different continents. How were you able to visit the whole of the world including the various oceans in the world in this short span of life? Do narrate to me in full detail. It is impossible for ordinary men even to traverse mentally, over the continents, oceans, mountains etc., narrated by you. To be sure, you are a man whose statement is worthy of credence, but the words spoken by you appear to be unbelievable. Curiosity has been created (in me). Hence do tell me the truth.

Is this the result of your penance? Or the power of the Mantras practised by you? How could you, O leading sage, see the entire surface of the earth?

Perhaps it is divine favour or the result of the intake of some medicinal herb. O dear one, it is extremely meritorious. Do describe it in detail.”

30-35. Then, O excellent sages, that sage said to me laughingly: “You have truly understood it. This is the power of my practice of Mantras. Always in the presence of Śiva, I recite the six-lettered Śivamantra a thousand and eight times. I recite this thrice a day. As a result thereof, O sage, my youth has become permanently stabilized. I have the knowledge of the past and the future. My life has ever-flourishing happiness.

Many thousands of years, hundreds of thousands of years, I have spent thus, O highly esteemed one. Even now it appears as though I am still young.

In this context, O highly intelligent one, I shall explain to you how Siddhi has been achieved by me, due to the favour of Śaṅkara.

I am well-known all over the earth as the Brāhmaṇa named Vatsa. Formerly I was a master of the Vedas and had studied the different scriptural texts.

36-47. In the meanwhile, at the advent of spring season, Menakā, the excellent Apsarā (celestial woman), happened to come to the mortal world. In course of her wandering, she reached the excellent forest named Rāmyaka reverberating with the cooings of inebriate cuckoos. It abounded in charming trees.

It was there that the tiger among sages, remembered as Devarāta, stayed. He was richly endowed with the practice of holy vows and regular study of the Vedas. With regular penance, he had dispelled all sins.

In that longly forest he lived alone, practising the adoration of deities with excessive ardour and faith.

Once he was sitting on the bank of the river. The celestial damsel of excellent complexion was distressed due to the heat of the sun. Even as the sage was watching she disrobed herself revealing her exquisitely divine features and entered the water. On seeing the lady of excellent limbs diving into the watery expanse, instantly the leading sage involuntarily discharged his semen.

In the meantime an extremely thirsty doc came there. The water of the river with which the semen of the sage had got mixed was completely drunk up by her.

By the power of the sage whose semen could never be futile, the doe conceived a human foetus. Thereafter in the tenth month, the doe of brilliant limbs (body) gave birth to a girl with eyes like petals of a lotus. The child was delivered in the same meritorious water in front of the hermitage of Devarāta.

By means of his divine knowledge, the sage came to know that the girl was born of his own semen. With great compassion he took up the child and nursed her lovingly.

He performed all the solemn ceremonies for the child. He took all precautions to protect the child from the beasts of prey in the forest.

He himself went far into the deep forest infested with wild animals and gathered sweet fruits to be given to her.

48-56. Like the digit of the moon in the sky in the bright half of a month, she grew up there and became well known by the name of Mṛgāvatī.

Once while I was wandering, I chanced to see the fawneyed girl. Immediately I was struck in the heart by the darts of Kāma.

On enquiry I came to know that the maiden of fascinating smiles was of the same caste as I. Accordingly I eagerly went to the home of the sage and requested him respectfully: ‘O holy sir, give unto me this daughter of yours as my wife. I shall look after her offering her requisite garments and food as though she is my very soul.’

Thereupon, the sage readily gave me the beautiful girl in accordance with the injunctions of the scriptural texts. It was on a day when the constellation was Uttarā Phālgunī, the deity whereof is Bhaga.

A few days after the marriage, that lady of pure smiles set out to gather fruits from the forest in the company of her maiden friends.

The forest was overgrown with creepers growing in a cluster. There was a serpent beneath the grass and the unfortunate girl (happened) to tread on the hood of the serpent.

On being bitten by it, she fell suddenly on the ground. The poison was too powerful and the beautiful damsel fell down dead. Her grief-stricken friends came to me and told me everything with tears in their eyes, O Sūta.

57-65. I hastened to the place where that lady (my wife) had fallen down. Seeing her on the ground, I, poor fellow, lamented much crying piteously.

‘This lady of large wide eyes is my beloved wife like my own mind and the very vital breath. She is dead and lying down on the bare ground. Being bereft of her, I do not feel inclined to live.

I too shall accompany her to the other world. Of what avail is a life bereft of my beloved? What is the propriety (fruit) of having a life or a home bereft of one’s beloved? The abodes of householders my be filled with sons, grandsons, daughters-in-law and a host of domestic servants; but, should they be devoid of the housewife, they do not shine at all.

If this maiden with long eyes extending upto the ears, of a slender body, sweet voice and large buttocks cannot be resuscitated, I will undoubtedly die.’

While I was lamenting thus, O scion of the family of Sūta, all the friends too assembled there. They too lamented in their grief.

We wept for a long time. With their help I arranged for a big pyre and placed her thereon. Fire was then applied to it.

Thereafter they took me with them with difficulty to my house. I was lamenting, faltering and fainting at every step. At the close of the night, I got up and hastened to the same forest. I was so overwhelmed by the grief at the death of my wife.

66-75. I was frantic and mad due to frustrated love. Lamenting grievously I wandered all over the desolate forest blurting out: ‘O lady of large eyes, where have you gone? You have left me alone in this lonely, dreary forest. I will not go back home. It mercilessly enhances my grief.’

At the close of the night when the sun's rays at early dawn touch him, the Moon loses his lustre. It appears that like me, he too has been rendered morose and bereft of enthusiasm by adverse fate.

Here comes up the smaller orb of the Sun with red disc. Certainly he is going to bring me some tidings from you. Ere long the Sun will spread all over the sky and scorch me much externally. Kama is scorching me internally. How am I to sustain my life?

Here comes a lordly elephant bearing the frontal globes on his forehead. They resemble her breasts. I shall go to him and ask him. He may tell something about my beloved.

Even as I lamented thus I fell into a deep swoon having already been distressed by Madana and now severely scorched by the rays of the Sun.

In my infatuation and delusion I began to ask the trees or living beings whichever I met while roaming over the great forest:

‘O tusker, take pity on me. Tell me whether you have seen that maiden whose pair of thighs resemble your pestle-like tusk.

O jackal, if my beloved whose lips are on a par with a Biṃba fruit is seen by you, do tell me. That will be conducive to your own welfare.

76-85. Or, O Bilva tree, do tell me whether you have seen my dearest beloved with breasts resembling Bilva fruits, wandering in the forest.

O Caṃpaka, my wife of exalted mind has limbs (smooth) like your flowers. If you know anything about her, do tell me quickly.

O Madhūka, the splendid cheeks of my beloved are similar to your flowers. They have somewhat pallid lustre. On seeing you, I recollect her.

It is clear, O stump of plantain tree, that the thighs of the slender-limbed lady are more tender than you. I can aver it on the basis of my own experience.

O deer, haven’t you seen my wife here in this forest? Her collyrium-dyed eyes are like yours.

Even an animal feeding on grass, even if it is too old, even an animal brought up and bred in forest, can not divert itself for a moment, on being abandoned by its mate.

In order to excite the Flower-missiled Lord (god of Love) a being belonging to the class of birds, e.g. a peacock, spreads his plumes in front of his beloved.

This swan seen yonder seems to recollect his mate. His gait is not at all exquisite like that of my beloved.

This bird Cakravāka (ruddy goose) alone is blessed, for he will never leave off its beloved Cakravākikā even for a short while.

A sound is heard now. It causes some tremulous flutter in me. Has it originated from a cuckoo or from my beloved?

86-96. On seeing me this deer goes away and the female deer follows him closely behind. My beloved too used to run about following me like this formerly.

This tusker gently touches with the tip of his trunk his beloved who is following him out of fondness. Thereby he reminds me painfully of my beloved.

Alas my beloved! O fawn-eyed one resembling molten gold in complexion! How is it that you do not take notice of me even as I roam about in the forest?

Where is that former devotion of yours? Where is that love? Where is that deep satisfaction? Where is that compassion? Why don’t you reply to me even as I speak to you pleading wretchedly?

Even as I was lamenting thus, all my friends who had been searching for me on the rugged paths of the forest, reached the place. O Sūtanandana, I was furiously rebuked by them with eyes blazing in anger: ‘Fie upon you now, O lascivious fellowl’ They scolded me thus with harsh words. ‘O foolish one, why do you bewail? The life of human beings is not worthy of any bewailing. Others too may be bewailing you even as you go on bewailing thus.

All of us, all of you and all the other living beings on the earth—all are destined to die. Why weep over this?

After being out of your sight, this beloved of yours came to you. Now she has vanished from your sight. She does not belong to you nor do you belong to her. No one has an everlasting contact with anyone. Anyway you lament in vain, even in case of your own physical body; why should it not be futile in the case of others?

If one bewails what is dead or lost, one incurs more misery due to the previous misery. He thus courts two disasters.’

97-98. After admonishing me thus, they took me home from that extremely terrible forest. Staying at home, I constantly remembered my beloved. This kindled in me, O highly intelligent one, a great wrath for serpents.

99. Thereafter in my excess of anger, I solemnly took this vow against serpents. Understand how terrible it was.

100-101. ‘From this day onwards if I do not hit with a stick and kill any serpent that comes into my sight, let there be sin befalling me surely: Let mine be the same sin as that of those who misappropriate trust properties and those who betray friends, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

102. Let the same sin be mine the sin that befalls one who censures good people or one who slays his own mother, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

103. Let me incur the same sin as befalls those who are enamoured of other people’s wives or those who slaughter living being’s if I do not kill a serpent that falls within my view.

104. Let me get the same sin as those who are engaged in the words of those who administer, poison if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

105. Let me have the same sin as that of ungrateful persons and those who steal other people’s wealth, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

106. Let mine be the same sin as that of the people who manufacture weapons or commit arson, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

107. Let mine be the same sin as that which accrues when a vow is broken or a vow is censured, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

108. Let me get the same sin as that which accrues when a foetus is destroyed or as that of those who relish eating meat, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

109. Let mine be the same sin as of those engaged in felling trees or those manufacturing shafts and darts, if I do not kill a serpent that comes within the range of my vision.

110. Let me incur the same sin as that of heretics and atheists, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

111. Let mine be the same sin as that of those who are enamoured of meat and liquor, and that of those who are gluttonous and lascivious, if I do not kill a serpent within my view.

112. Let mine be the same sin as that of those who are engaged in baseless calumny and of those who seek vulnerable points in others, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

113. Let mine be the same sin as that of those engaged in giving false evidence and of those who hoard foodgrain, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

114. Let mine be the same sin as that of those who are engaged in hunting and spreading nooses and nets, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

115. Let mine be the same sin as that of those who subsist on liquor and smuggle the same out, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

116. Let mine be the same sin as that of those who have never seen the face of a deity or the Fire god (Deva-vaktra) and of those who subsist on fish, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

117-118. Let mine be the same sin as that of those who prattle something with partiality in the course of arguments either through fear, or through greed or through hatred or through whimsical desire, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

119. Let mine be the same sin as that of those who sell their daughters and associate with sinners, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.

120. Let me incur the same sin as is cited in the case of those who sell their learning, if I do not kill a serpent that falls within the range of my vision.’

121. Thus I took my vow furiously, O Sūtaja. I armed myself with a big stick for the purpose of killing serpents.

122. Ever since then I began roaming about on the earth with a stick as my weapon. I forsook all Brāhmaṇical ways of life and went in search of serpents.

123. Many serpents were killed by me overwhelmed with wrath. There were highly poisonous serpents, huge pythons, middling ones and low and base ones too.

124. Once, armed with the stick, I came to a dense forest. I saw an old water-snake lying low.

125-128. Angrily I lifted up my stick resembling the staff of the god of Death and was about to strike the snake when it spoke thus: ‘O excellent Brāhmaṇa, why do you angrily strike me, an old snake?’ Thereupon I angrily told that water-snake as my anger was further aroused by remembering my wife Mṛgāvatī: ‘Formerly my beloved wife was killed by a serpent. So, due to my enmity thereof I am destroying all great serpents. Today I shall despatch you also to the abode of the god of Death by striking with this huge stick of mine. So you had better remember what you like the best.’

129-130. Frightened very much the snake said to me further: ‘Listen to my words and then do whatever you consider befitting, O Brāhmaṇa.

There are other serpents who bite human beings. But we are water-snakes without poison. Only, we appear like serpents.’

131. Although he spoke thus, I did not hesitate in my mind about killing him, O Sūta. I killed him with the stick.

132. But the moment the stick hit his body, the snake was transformed into a great being resembling twelve Suns in lustre.

133-134. On seeing that wondrous miracle, I was wonder-struck. With due veneration I bowed down to him and said: ‘May I be excused. Who may you be? Wherefore had you assumed the serpentine form? Is it due to the curse of any Brāhmaṇa? Or is this one of your usual sports?’

135. Thereupon that man spoke with delight and humility. ‘Listen attentively. I shall tell you my previous history.

136-138. O Brāhmaṇa, formerly I was in the excelleñt city of Camatkārapura. At that time I was in the prime of youth with great radiance. I was quite affluent and endowed with prosperity.

In the same city is a meritorious Śiva temple of Lord Siddheśvara. It is beautifully adorned with banners.

Once there was a great religious festival there. The sounds of the musical instrument to reverberated in the whole of the three worlds.

139-149. In order to view the Lord, hundreds and thousands of sages of esteemed holy vows, had come there. There were Śaivas, Pāśupatas, Kāpālikas; there were devotees of observance of holy vows with great veneration for Śiva.

Some sages were Ekāhāra (taking food once a day), Nirāhāra (taking in no food, observers of fast), other were Vāyubhakṣas (sustaining themselves by taking in air only), Abbhakṣa (living on water only), Phalabhakṣa (who ate fruits only), Sīrṇaparṇāśins (who ate only withered leaves).

After duly worshipping Maheśvara, the Lord of Devas, they sat down in front of the Lord and began the joyous narration of the tales of diverse kinds of ancient saintly kings, Lords of Devas etc.

They discussed the mercifulness, piety etc., of various others as well. Some of the devotees were dancing, some singing, Good men of devout nature were playing on musical instruments. Rich people endowed with faith were munificent in their charitable gifts unto the wretched, the blind and the impoverished ones, especially persons engaged in penance.

While these festivities were going on with great éclat, I entered the place along with many other persons in the height of our arrogance.

I was one who hated the very sight of Śiva. I was overwhelmed by the Tamas quality. Some of the other wicked people there, instigated me to create havoc in the course of religious festivity.

I seized a very long water-snake with hideous appearance. It was lolling out its tongue frequently, though it was in the stage of old age.

I hurled it into the assembled congregation at which all the people became extremely afraid and they ran helter-skelter out of fear of death.

150-161. At that congregation there was an ascetic of esteemed holy rites, by the name Suprabha. He had the full complement of many excellent disciples. He was reputed as one who had burned all sins by means of his penance.

He was at that time in the state of Samādhi (meditation). His body was steady and firm. Straight and erect, it was neither in a tense state nor in complete relaxation and bent one. The neck was steady. He was looking at the tip of the nose avoiding the glances at any other direction. The steady tip of his tongue was resting in the middle of the palate. The eight-petalled pronefaced lotus of the heart was being steadily gazed at by him viewing the solar disc fixed at the pericarp in the middle thereof. He was also viewing in the course of his mental absorption, Maheśvara, the Lord of Devas, seated in Lotus-posture. The Lord was in human form of the size of the thumb. He was as dazzling as twelve suns blazing together. It was difficult for everyone to imagine his form adequately. It is this deity that the learned call Akṣara (imperishable), omnipresent, omniscient, uncensurable, unpierceable and devoid of death and old age. The sage in the Yogic slumber experienced horripilation in all his limbs. He was drenched in tears of joy. Controlling all the functions of all the sense-organs, he retained by means of his steady practice the five internal airs in the position of Kuṃbhaka. He showed the mystic gesture by joining together the thumb and the index-finger placed close to the chest.

While the noble-souled sage was sitting steady like this, the water-snake coiled itself around his body.

His disciple who was well-known as Śrīvardhana, and endowed with great austerity, having assiduously mastered the different scriptural texts, was also present there in the meantime. He saw his preceptor coiled around by the body of the snake. Seeing me not far from the place, he inferred that it was I who did it.

162-163. With the eyes turned red due to anger, he spoke these harsh words. With tears choking his speech and the lips throbbing. He said: ‘If excellent penance has always been performed by me along with regular attendance upon my preceptor, if Maheśvara has been meditated upon by me with exclusive concentration, then on the basis of that truth, let this sinful and wicked, base Brāhmaṇa become immediately one with a body similar to that whereby my preceptor has been outraged.’

164. Even as all the people were watching and exclaiming ‘Excellent! Excellent!’ I immediately became transformed into the awfully hideous form of a serpent.

165. After concluding his meditation, the sage looked at the hideous form of the snake over his own body with full self-control.

166. Then he saw me in great misery in my new form of serpent and the people there standing aloof in great fear.

167-170. The sage then understood everything by means of his mind’s eye and was evidently moved with pity. He said to his disciple Śrīvardhana out of tenderness: ‘Dear disciple of mine, in doing thus, in cursing this wretched Brāhmaṇa you have not done anything pleasing to me. This is not good on the part of ascetics.

Equanimous towards honour and insult, and treating a clod of earth, a stone and a piece of gold equally as well as looking at a friend and an enemy with equanimity, an ascetic achieves perfection.

Hence, O dear one, It was unwittingly that this Brāhmaṇa has been cursed by you. It was mere childiness. It is my command that doing a favour to him is now due.’

171. Then Śrīvardhana bowed down to his preceptor. He was evidently angry but remained calm and stood with palms joined in reverence. He said:

172-174. ‘Whether knowingly or unknowingly, whatever has been uttered by me cannot but be so, to be sure. Hence, O preceptor, it behoves you to be silent. O my preceptor, no lie has been uttered by me even playfully. Why should it then be for your sake? Hence kindly be silent over this.

The sun may rise in the west. The ocean may get dried up. Even Meru may become shattered. But my words cannot be altered.’

175-184. Then the preceptor addressed the disciple in pleasing words: ‘I do know that your words cannot be otherwise at all. Even an elderly, mature disciple should be admonished assiduously. Then why not you, a mere young man!

Hence I tell you once again. None among sages wastes the pious merits hoarded previously. They will never have the plight of those bereft of piety and penance.

Forbearance alone has been cited as the bestower of Siddhis, particularly in the case of ascetics. Hence ascetics should always keep forbearance in view in their day-to-day life. One should never be a sinner towards another sinner. This is the eternal wisdom. One who commits sins is doomed due to himself alone. One who commits sinful crimes against another sinner is one bereft of perfect knowledge.

He tries to burn what is already burnt and kills what is already killed. One who retaliates upon a sinner by a sin (sinful act) is bereft of proper knowledge. Doing good to a benefactor is no virtue at all. Only he is glorified as an excellent man by common people who behaves in a good way towards those who ill treat him.’

After saying this to his disciple, sage Suvrata of esteemed holy rites with a feeling of great compassion spoke to me:

‘O serpent, the words of my disciple cannot be altered. Hence do wait for some time in the body of serpent.’

The serpent said:

O excellent sage, what is that probable time when this curse on me will come to an end? I am a wretch completely ignorant about the extent of this curse.

Suvrata said:

185-195. O gentle one, it is impossible to reckon adequately the pious merit of that person who makes arrangement for music etc., in a temple of Śiva, even if it be of very short duration.

Similarly no one will be able to calculate the magnitude of the sin of that person who causes obstacles in religious festival even for a short while.

Hence though a Brāhmaṇa, you have become a sinner. You will never attain liberation by association with the occupations of Vaiśyas.

Hence, O evil-minded one, listen to my words. If anyone with ardent faith recites the six-syllabled Mantra of Śiva, his sin arising even from the slaughter of a Brāhmaṇa becomes destroyed.

A man washes off his sin by regular Japa of the six-syllabled Mantra. A sin committed on the day perishes after the Mantra is repeated ten times and that arising in the course of a whole year after the Mantra is repeated twenty times.

So staying under water you should repeat that Mantra with ardour and veneration whereby the sin committed in the course of the previous birth too may perish.

Even as you remain under water, a Brāhmaṇa named Vatsa will angrily strike you with a stick. You will attain release then. Hence, O serpent, hasten to a water pond and go away from this place.

The excellent sage then stopped. I said something pleasing to him. Thereafter I came to this water-reservoir with great sorrow. Ever since then I have been staying here repeating the six-syllabled Mantra everyday, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, I have been liberated due to your favour from the state of serpent.

What shall I do to please you? Do tell me quickly. There is no doubt about it that you are the person named Vatsa who was honourably referred to by Suvrata. See, this aerial chariot has come near me.

196-207. Then the serpent who had assumed a divine form was addressed by me: ‘O holy Sir, give me some auspicious instruction whereby the misery caused by the disappearance of my beloved may end. There shall not be wretchedness due to poverty, nor ailment nor discomfiture due to enemies.’

Thereupon that excellent person who appeared to be very enthusiastic said to me again: 'O excellent Brāhmaṇa, a huge burden has been put on me by means of this series of questions and problems mentioned by you.

Since the aerial chariot has already come this cannot be explained in detail. O Brāhmaṇa, I shall therefore mention briefly.

The six-syllabled Mantra of Śiva dispels all inauspiciousness in the case of men. O Brāhmaṇa, that Mantra should be repeated day and night by you according to your capacity. Thereby you will attain undoubtedly whatever you desire mentally, be it heavenly pleasures or salvation.

You shall be rid of all your sins. A great sin was always committed by me, still prosperous worlds have been obtained due to the greatness of the Mantra.

One may make all munificent gifts with great faith and ardour. Another may repeat the six-syllabled Mantra. The benefit of both of them is the same.

O Brāhmaṇa, a man may take the holy ablution in all the Tīrthas. Another may repeat the six-syllabled Mantra. The benefit of both is the same.

A person may perform Cāndrāyaṇa rites a thousand times in the most befitting manner. Another may repeat the six-syllabled Mantra. The benefit of both is the same.

One man perform penance for a hundred years, lying under the open sky during rainy season, staying in water during winter and standing in the midst of five fires during summer. Another man remaining pure and clean may perform the Japa of the six-syllabled Mantra day and night with faith. The benefit of both is the same.

208-220. One man may always perform Śrāddha in Gayā in the course of Pitṛpakṣa (the fortnight of the Manes i.e. the dark half of Bhādrapada). Another may repeat the six-syllabled Mantra. The benefit of both is the same.

One may make the gift of a thousand cows on the Kārttikī full-moon day in the holy city of Puṣkara. Another may perform Japa of the six-lettered Mantra. The benefit of both is the same.

A man may take his holy bath in Sannihiti Tīrtha when the Sun is in the grip of Rāhu (Solar eclipse). Another man may repeat the six-syllabled Mantra. Both are on a par with each other.

During a lunar eclipse on a Monday a man may visit Lord Somanātha. Another may repeat the six-syllabled Mantra. The benefit of both is the same.

One may visit Candīśvara [Caṇḍīśvara?] in Uttarāyaṇa. Another may repeat the six-syllabled Mantra. The benefit of both is the same.

After visiting Lord Kedāra devoutly one man may perform the rite of Bhṛgupāta (hurling oneself from a precipice to court holy death). Another may perform Japa of the six-syllabled Mantra. The benefit of both is the same.

A person may gift away the entire possession at the outset and then perform self-immolation in the fire of dry cow-dung. Another may repeat the six-syllabled Mantra. The benefit of both is the same.

One man may give up his association with everything and gain perfect knowledge. Another may repeat the six-syllabled Mantra. The benefit of both is the same.

O Brāhmaṇa, I have told you this greatest secret. It should not be revealed to an atheist or one devoid of devotion.

Further, O excellent Brāhmaṇa, I shall mention another thing out of consideration for your welfare. If you desire the greatest goal, you must carry out my instruction.

Abstention from injury to others is the greatest piety. It has been glorified in all the Vedas. Particularly it concerns a Brāhmaṇa. Hence give up killing serpents.

A ruthless one who attacks non-violent timid beings, falls into awful Naraka and remains there untill the annihilation of the entire universe.

One who accords succour from fear to all the beings, mobile and immobile, shall be happy always enjoying all pleasures here and in heaven.

221-230. There is no other Lord on a par with Bharga (Śiva); there is no river on a par with Gaṅgā. There is no sin like violent injury to others. There is no greater virtue than compassion.

On hearing his utterance I spoke to him: ‘One who is distressed due to the fear of the other world accepts the virtue characterised by non-violence.

A statement of elders has been heard by me that a king does not incur any sin by killing a deer and other animals in forest.

Physicians who are masters of the science of medicine aver thus: Those who eat meat become well-developed and they live long.

Hence, in this matter, tell me what is the highest good. Whatever issues out of your mouth shall be faithfully earned out by me.’

Then he further told me, ‘O excellent Brāhmaṇa, do not say so. This is the opinion of sinners who are never good and who are gluttonously covetous of meat.

These wicked souls without compassion, are deluded ones worthy of our pity. They are foolish enough to relish meat, the source of all defects.

Meat cannot be said to be the course of longevity, health or strength. This is not true to fact. Listen to an example.

Even meat-eaters are found distressed due to illness. They are also lean and weak as well as short-lived. Understand this and eschew meat from afar.

Many of those who abstain from meat in the world are seen free from illness, long-lived and stout-limbed. So one should avoid eating meat.

231-241. One who eats the meat of those living beings who yearn to live, falls into a hideous Naraka. Staying there, he is eaten by those very animals.

Meat does not originate from grass, wood or stone. Only when a living being is killed can there be meat. Hence one should avoid it.

This is an excellent instance for avoiding meat. Even one’s limb pricked by a thorn is withdrawn immediately. Hence the cases of all living beings should be viewed on the basis of one's own reaction.

Learned ones should views themselves, and living beings alike. They should not be injured. They should be protected with all one’s strength.

The following eight are Ghātakas (killers): (1) one who actually kills; (2) one who permits or abets (killing); (S) one who pares and rinds; (4) one who buys; (5) one who sells; (6) one who cooks and seasons it; (7) one who offers it, and (8) one who eats it.

Again slaughter is of three kinds: (1) one who buys it kills it by paying the price; (2) one who eats kills it by eating; and (3) one who slays it does it so by binding and striking.

One who does not injure any one physically, mentally or verbally, attains the greatest place devoid of old age and death.

One who invariably takes in vegetables, roots and fruits and maintains the vow of celibacy, attains the greatest place, If a man is devoted to violence, he does not get the benefit.

One man may perform a very severe penance for more than a hundred years. Another is compassionate and strictly follows the vow of non-violence. Of these two the compassionate one is better.

If a man is fully endowed with excellent compassion, he undoubtedly obtains whatever he desires even if it be a rarest thing.

One who offers freedom from fear to all living beings, goes to heaven by means of an aerial chariot that can gc wherever he wishes to go. Surrounded by hundreds of celestial damsels, he rejoices like a Deva.’

242-253. O Sūtaja, after saying thus, that noble-souled one got into the excellent aerial chariot and went to heaven even as I stood watching.

It was due to the greatness of the six-syllabled Mantra. Gandharvas sang in praise of him and Kinnaras eulogised him.

When he went away to heaven, misery overtook me on remembering the serpents killed by me earlier. All my limbs were shattered to pieces as it were.

Afraid of my own Karmas, I began to lament in the great forest: ‘Alas, I have been wicked! Many living beings were killed by me. Even Lord Mahādeva was censured by me. Surely I will become distressed in Naraka.

So, I shall abstain from violence, and perform great penance. Adopting Śiva Dīkṣā, I shall worship Maheśvara.

Whatever happiness men may covet and pray for in all the worlds, can be achieved through penance. Hence I shall perform penance.

I shall roam about in these hermitages. I shall silently go on begging for alms. I shall go alone and take shelter under trees everyday for this purpose.

I may be covered with dust particles. I will resort to empty houses or I may have the roots of trees as my abode. I shall eschew everything pleasing or otherwise.’

After lamenting thus, O scion of the family of Sūta, I assiduously adopted the vow of Śiva Dīkṣā with great devotion.

Thrice a day I perform Japa of the six-syllabled Mantra ten thousand times in the vicinity of Siddheśvara.

O Sūtaja, by its power, I have attained the steadiness of the prime of youth, knowledge of the other world and ability to move about in the sky.

254-259. At the close of Dvāpara I will go to Siddheśvara Sadāśiva. This is the truth that I say.

Thus O Sūtaja, everything that accords salvation, the greatness of the six-syllabled Mantra that is destructive of all sins, has been narrated to you.

A man who listen to this always, with perfect faith, shall be rid of all sins. Acquired in the course of the life from birth to death.

O highly esteemed one, you too should repeat this Mantra always. You will obtain all desires cherished in the mind.

Sūta said:

This greatness of the six-syllabled Mantra that has been expounded to you was heard by me from my preceptor.

It is conducive to affluence, renown and longevity. It can bring about destruction of enemies. It accords all desires and freedom from fear to those who read and listen.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

This shows that Liṅga-wearing was current among Brāhmaṇas in pre-Basava[?] period.

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