The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Greatness of Agastya’s Hermitage which is chapter 33 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 thirty-third chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 33 - Greatness of Agastya’s Hermitage

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This story is based on Mbh, Vana, chs. 101-105. Mbh does not mention Camatkārapura. But the Purāṇa author locates Agastya’s hermitage here for the glorification of this place. Mbh, Vana, 87.20 locates the Āśrama near Nasik (Maharashtra).

Sūta said:

1-4. There is another hermitage there, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, that of Agastya. It is there that Lord Maheśvara himself, the immanent soul of the universe, abides.

On the fourteenth lunar day in the bright half of the month of Cakra, Sun-god himself comes there and worships Śaṅkara, the Lord of Devas. Hence anyone else who comes there and adores devoutly Śaṅkara on that day, goes to the place of the Lord.

If any one duly performs Śrāddha with ardour and faith, the Pitṛs become pleased with him as when Pitṛmedha is performed.

The sages said:

5. Why does Sun-god come to the hermitage of Agastya and perform the rite of circumambulation? Narrate this in detail to us.

Sūta said:

6. I shall narrate this story. Listen, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. There is a mountain on the earth well-known as Vindhya.

7. The rays of the Sun falling on the tops of the trees on this mountain are taken to be a mass of flowers by the confused Siddhaka, stationed beneath it.

8. Even during the nights of the dark half of the month, the inhabitants of the ridges of this mountain are never aware of darkness as it is dispelled by the lustre of the jewels.

9. When the trees drop down flowers on its ridges as the gusts of wind blow, they appear like clouds pouring down a flood of waters.

10. The different kinds of deer and other animals run about here and there on that mountain and they appear like men covetously inclined to bring up and nurture their wives and children.

11. With their barks scratched off by the tusks of elephants, the trees there appear to shed tears under the pretext of the exudation that rendered all the quarters fragrant.

12. Other trees on its ridges are thought as though they are wailing through the cries of the crickets, when they are hit by trunks of elephants.

13. The mountain shone like a man adorned with white cloths etc., as it was sprayed by the waters of rivulets, flowing here and there in different directions.

14. Formerly a rivalry arose between it and Sumeru mountain. Hence Vindhya became highly enraged. He went to the Sun-god and said:

15. “O Bhāskara, why do you circumambulate Meru? Although I too am called a Kulaparvata, you do not go round me”

Bhāskara said:

16-17. We do not go round it because of any faith in that mountain. This has been ordained as our path by the being that created the universe. Further its lofty peaks have spread through the space. It is due to compulsion that the circumambulation is caused.

18. On hearing this Vindya Mountain became further enraged. He said: “O Bhānu (Sun-god), then you shall see my loftiness as well.” He blocked the path of the sky by which the Sun used to go round.

19-21. On seeing his way blocked, the Lord of the Day thought within himself: ‘What shall I do now? If I circumambulate this mountain also there shall be a disturbance of time in all the three worlds.

The months, seasons and the regions around shall become unsettled. Agniṣṭoma and other rites will become defunct If Yajña and other festivities were stopped the Devas will be hurt much.’

22-23. After thinking thus in various ways, the Hot-rayed One (Sun-god) became afraid and thought of Agastya, the eminent sage.

‘Excepting Agastya, the progeny of Mitra and Varuṇa, the most excellent one among Brāhmaṇas, no one else is competent to restrain this Vindya.’

24. The Hot-rayed One (Sun-god) then adopted the guise of a Brāhmaṇa and went to his (Agastya’s) hermitage in the holy spot Camatkārapura.

25. At the conclusion of Vaiśvadeva Yajña (the Sun-god in the guise of a Brāhmaṇa) uttered Vedic passages and said, “O excellent sage, a guest has come to you.”

26-27. Agastya was delighted. He said: “O great sage, welcome to you. One who has arrived at the conclusion of the rites performed in the sacred fire is like an ardent wish meditated upon. Hence tell me, O excellent sage, what thing wished by you shall I give you. There is nothing that you desire which cannot be given by me if I am requested at this time.”

Bhāskara said:

28-30. O good sage, I am Bhāskara (Sun-god) come here in the form of a Brāhmaṇa in the belief that you are the only person in all the three worlds competent to accomplish any task. Formerly the ocean, the storehouse of waters, was drunk up by you for the sake of Suras. Similarly Daitya Vātāpi, a thorn unto the Brāhmaṇa community, was swallowed. Hence, O excellent sage, be our refuge now, because you are the sole shelter unto Devas and the different castes of people here.

Sūta said:

31. O Brāhmaṇas, on hearing his words the sage was exceedingly pleased. After offering Arghya to the Lord of Day, he respectfully said:

32. “A favour has been done to me. I am blessed because you came to my abode. Hence tell me; I shall completely carry out your wish.”

Bhāskara said:

33-34. O excellent sage, due to his rivalry with Sumeru the principal mountain, this Vindhya Mountain is blocking our way. Hence avoiding further delay, restrain him by means of the different expedients like peaceful conciliation etc. Do bring about the cessation of the blocking of our path.

Agastya said:

35. I shall restrain that Kulaparvata that has begun to grow in size. Hence, O Divākara, go to your abode and relax.

36. Thus dismissed by him, Bhāskara, the hot-rayed (god), joyously went to his abode after duly taking leave of the lord of sages.

37-38. Agastya hastened to Vindhya and spoke respectfully: “O excellent mountain, at my request, do shorten your stature quickly. I am now feeling inclined to take the holy plunge in the southern Tīrthas.[1] All that depends on you. Hence do what is proper.”

39. On hearing his words, Vindhya, the excellent mountain, became humble and stooped down immediately.

40-41. O Brāhmaṇas, after crossing over to its southern side, Agastya said to him: “You shall continue to stay thus till I return. No hesitation in this respect. Otherwise I am bound to curse you, whereby you will attain destruction.”

42. Afraid of the curse that excellent Mountain promised, “It shall be so.” He did not grow in size further in the expectation of his return.

43. Till now, O Brāhmaṇas, that sage has resorted to the southern region and so has not returned that way.

44. The Lord of sages brought Lopāmudrā there. He then called the Thousand-rayed One and eagerly said to him:

45. “O Hot-rayed One, my hermitage has been abandoned by me at your instance. It is in your interest that I should never return there again.

46. Hence, O Bhānu, at my instance, on the fourteenth lunar day in the bright half of the month of Cakra, the Liṅga that has been installed by me should be worshipped by you.”

Bhāskara said:

47-48. O sage, I shall undoubtedly do thus at your instance. At the end of every year I shall myself worship that Liṅga. Any other man who worships that Liṅga on that day shall attain my world and then salvation.

Sūta said:

49-50. It is for this reason that the Hot-rayed Lord always presents himself there on the fourteenth day in the bright half of the month of Caitra.

Thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, everything that I have been asked has been narrated. If you have any other doubt in your heart do tell me.

Footnotes and references:


Agastya seems to be the first Aryan explorer to make his way through the Vindhya mountain. Hence this legend is repealed in several Purāṇas. Mbh, Ādi 215.3, mentions a lake and a Tīrtha (Vana 82.44) named after him. But both are in South India.

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