by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Greatness of Sarasvati Tirtha which is chapter 46 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 forty-sixth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
The sages said:
1-3. O highly intelligent one, do narrate all the other Tīrthas that may be present there.
There is another very splendid Tīrtha there, named Sārasvata Tīrtha. Even one who is dumb and mute but takes his holy bath there, shall become an expert in speech. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, he gets all human and heavenly objects desired by him and also the worlds ending with Brahmaloka etc.
4. Formerly there was a very famous king named Balavardhana. He enjoyed the ocean-girdled earth acquired through the might of his own arms.
5. A son was born to him. He was endowed with all good features. On the twelfth day the father invited excellent Brāhmaṇas and clearly named him Aṃbuvīci.
6. Fondled lovingly by the king, the boy grew up properly but due to dumbness he could not even lisp words.
7. While the boy was running his seventh year, Balavardhana was attacked by his enemies in battle and killed.
8. Thereupon, in the absence of another son, that boy, although he was dumb, was crowned as the king of the kingdom by the ministers of the king.
9. Even as the sluggish king, not yet out of childhood; was thrust on the kingdom, there was a great revolt in the realm.
11-12. Thereupon those ministers spoke to Vasiṣṭha, their priest: “O great sage, find out some means to restore the power of speech to this king. See, the entire surface of the earth has become a void due to the defect of this king. Do something that is proper in this connection.”
13. He meditated for a long time and then spoke to the distressed ministers, all of whom were extremely grief-stricken even as the king himself was listening:
14. “In the holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara, there is Sārasvata Tīrtha that grants all desires to men. Let this king go there and have his holy bath.”
15. At his instance, the king immediately rushed to the Tīrtha. Thanks to the holy bath in that Tīrtha, he became one with sweet voice.
16-21. Having clearly understood the power of Sarasvatī, the king equipped with great ardour and faith meditated upon Sarasvatī. He took some clay from the river-bank and himself made an image of Goddess Bhāratī having four arms.
In her right hand she held a very charming lotus. In the other hand there was an Akṣamālā (rosary of beads) that surpassed the stellar lustre. In another (third) hand she held a waterpot filled with divine water. Similarly in the left (fourth) hand she held the book containing all lores.
He then placed that image on a sanctified slab assiduously and devoutly worshipped it through incense, garlands and unguents. Afterwards the king stood before the image with bodily and mental purity. With the mind purified by ardent faith, he began to eulogize in a loud voice.
The prayer of Sarasvatī
22. O goddess, whatever there is Sat (manifest) and Asat (unmanifest), the place of bondage and that of liberation—all these are pervaded by you in a concealed form in the same manner as fuel is pervaded by fire.
25. You are the goddess dwelling in all living beings. You are Kīrti (renown); you are Dhṛti. (fortitude). You are Medhā (intellect). You are Bhakti (devotion). You are remembered as Prabhā (refulgence). You are Nidrā (slumber). You are Kṣudhā (hunger). You are Kīrti (reputation).
26. You are Tuṣṭi (satisfaction), Puṣṭi (nourishment), Vapus (physical form). Prīti (love), Svadhā, Svāhā, Vibhāvarī (night), Rati (enjoyment), Prīti (affection), Kṣiti (Earth), Gaṅgā, Satya, Dharma and exaltedness of mind.
32. Others too not mentioned due to multiplicity are also propitiated (by me) and worshipped with strenuous effort elaborately. Let those deities remove the sin. Thus you are glorified.
33. On being eulogized by that king the highly pleased goddess of Devas, Bhāratī, immediately manifested herself and spoke.
54. O king, I am pleased with this prayer of yours and the steadiest devotion. So choose your boon as you desire.
The king said:
55. From now onwards, at my request you shall undoubtedly stay in this idol as long as my fame is steady throughout the three worlds.
36. If any devotee, urged by me, adequately propitiates you staying in this, you should immediately grant him everything befitting his devotion.
37-40. If any man takes his holy bath here in the auspicious waters on eighth and fourteenth lunar days and worships me present here, O king, I shall grant him all the cherished desires.
Thus, from that day onwards, the greatest goddess Sarasvatī became stationed there herself for the sake of the welfare of all the worlds. A man who observes fast on eighth and fourteenth lunar days and worships her with white flowers and unguents, shall become very intelligent and eloquent always in every birth.
41. He may have frequent rebirths. With the favour of Sarasvatī, no fool will be born in his family.
42. A man who listens to pious discourses in front of her, resides in heaven for three Yugas by her power.
43. A man endowed with ardent faith who makes the gift of learning in her shrine shall obtain the merit of a horse-sacrifice.
44. One who offers to a leading Brāhmaṇa a book on religious conduct shall obtain the full merit of a horse-sacrifice.
Footnotes and references:
The famous icon in the Sarasvatī temple at Bikaner (Rajasthan) is like this.