The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Greatness of Mahakaleshvara (Mahakala-ishvara) which is chapter 47 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-seventh chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 47 - Greatness of Mahākāleśvara (Mahākāla-īśvara)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The sages said:

1. O highly intelligent Sūtaja, tell us in detail the greatness of Mahākāla, because you know everything.

Sūta said:

2. Formerly there was a king hailing from the family of Ikṣvāku. He was well-known as Rudrasena. He was the destroyer of all his enemies.

3. In majesty he was like the ocean; in gentleness he resembled the moon. In vigour he was on a par with the Thousand-eyed One (Indra); and in handsome features he was like Kandarpa (god of Love).

4. A city endowed with all the good features well-known as Kāntī was his capital. It was the most excellent one of all cities with lofty ramparts and ornamental gates.

5. His beloved wife was well-known as Padmāvatī. She was honoured by the greatest people. She was endowed with exalted good qualities and beauty.

6. On the day of Vaiśākhī (full-moon day in the month of Vaiśākha) he used to come out from his abode accompanied by her and a limited number of soldiers.

7. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, he used to perform Rātrijāgara (keeping awake at night) in front of Lord Mahākāla. The king was always accompanied by his wife and he was ardently faithful.

8. He used to observe fasts. He meditated upon Maheśvara. There used to be delightful singing and dancing with instrumental music, narration of religious discourses by Brāhmaṇas and elaborate chanting of Vedic Mantras.

9. Getting up early in the morning, he used to take his holy bath and wear clean and washed clothes. With purity of mind and body, he used to make gifts to Brāhmaṇas and ascetics in particular.

10. He distributed gifts to the blind, the wretched and the miserable people in thousands. Every year that king used to come thus and perform the rite of Jāgara in front of that Lord.

11. As the king continued to peform this holy rite of Jāgara in front of Mahākāla, he became more and more prosperous.

12-13. All the enemies were destroyed. Fortune increased. Once when the king arrived there, he saw excellent Brāhmaṇas who had come from different quarters on that very day and had gathered before Mahākāla.

14. They were highly conversant with the Vedas. They were regular in the observance of vows. A few highly meritorious, excellent Brāhmaṇas narrated stories.

15. They narrated the stories of saintly kings. Others narrated the stories of ancient sages and Devas. Others enumerated the Tīrthas. Some of them told the stories of Brāhmaṇa-sages. The stories of Yajñas, oceans and continents were very charming.

16. The king bowed down to them in due order and sat in the middle of the assembly. He was heartily congratulated by all of them.

17. At the close of the discourse, those leading sages asked the king eagerly:

18-20. “O king, every year you regularly come here from very far on the Vaiśākhī day. You assiduously perform the rite of Rātrijāgara in front of the Lord even abandoning all the other rites such as Snāna, Dāna etc. mentioned by those who expound the scriptural texts. If this be no closely guarded secret, do narrate everything in full. Of course you know the benefit that accrues from Rātrijāgara

The king said:

21. Well, this is indeed a very great secret, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, that which you have asked me. Still I shall narrate everything unto you.

22. Formerly I was a merchant by caste in the city of Vidiśā. I was very poor and all my kinsmen abandoned and avoided me. At every step I met with discomfiture.

23. On one occasion, the Lord of rain, the Slayer of Paka, did not shower rain at all in Vidiśā city for twelve years.

24. On account of drought, all the people were oppressed by hunger. Due to the absence of food, some people died and some went to foreign lands.

25-27. I took my distressed wife with me and set off thinking about Saurāṣṭra (Kathiawad) (as my destination). The lady was emaciated in every limb through starvation and tears welled up in her eyes. She was faltering at every step. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I had heard from people that there was plenty of food there. I duly proceeded ahead eating the food received as alms. Ultimately I arrived in the Ānarta country near Camatkārapura.

28. There a beautiful lake was seen by me. It was adorned with clusters of lotuses and filled with clear water. Aquatic birds hovered around it.

29. Distressed with hunger and thirst and particularly exhausted due to the fatigue of the journey, I went in and took my bath in the cool waters thereof.

30-31. Then I was told by my wife: “O Lord, collect some lotus flowers from the lake so that some may buy them and we will have food for the day. Yonder, an excellent city is visible. It is like the city of Indra. It behoves you to go there and sell them.”

32. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, many lotus flowers were gathered by me for selling, as I desired food.

33. Going into the city of Camatkārapura, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I wandered everywhere in the rows of houses and the crossings of three and four roads.

34. It was my bad luck that the people were averse to buying. No man took those lotuses.

35. Even as I became utterly tired with the throat parched due to hunger, the sun reached Astācala (the mountain behind which the sun sets) and it was evening.

36. Utterly disgusted, I placed the lotuses on the bare ground and lay down there in a ruined temple along with my wife.

37. When it was about midnight, the sound of music was heard by me and the thought occurred to me that this was the rite of Jāgara undoubtedly.

38. ‘Should I go there; some man might buy the lotuses and I could have meal for the price those might fetch.’

39. After deciding thus I accompanied by my wife took the flowers and hastened to the place from where the sound of music came.

40. O leading sages, I went into the temple. There I saw Mahākāla, the Lord of chiefs of Devas, worshipped by excellent Brāhmaṇas who were engaged in singing and were seated in front

41. Some were dancing and others were singing. A few were performing Japa. Some excellent Brāhmaṇas were performing Homa and others were engaged in religious discussion.

42. One of the assembled men was asked by me: “Is the rite of Jāgara being performed here? Who are these people engaged in the Jāgara? Do tell me quickly.”

43-45. He said: “This is the Jāgara of Lord Mahākāla. It is devoutly performed by Brāhmaṇas who have been observing fast. It is the holy lunar day named Vaisśākhī. It is highly meritorious. One should perform the rite of Jāgara devoutly before Lord Mahākāla. Thereby he undoubtedly attains happiness.

O fair Sir, you have lotus flowers; give them to me and take the price thereof. For your food I shall give you three Palas of silver.”

46-47. Then I began to think on these lines, O excellent Brāhmaṇas: ‘Shall I worship Mahākāla, the Lord of Suras? No meritorious rites have been performed by me in the previous birth. Certainly that is why I have become very distressed in this manner.

48. But my sweet-speaking beloved wife has become very hungry and her throat is parched. Want of food may doubtlessly cause her death in the morning.’

49. Even as I was thinking thus my beloved wife spoke these sweet words after humbly bowing down to me:

50-53. ‘O Lord, do not sell the lotuses for the greed of money. Do according to my words conducive to welfare.

We had to observe fast under compulsion doubtlessly because there was not even a bit of greens. In this state of hunger, we shall have the rite of Jāgara too. Both of us had our holy bath in the splendid lake during the day, because we were distressed due to fatigue and heat. We worshipped the deity as well. Hence let us now worship Lord Mahākāla by means of these lotuses so that we may have great welfare.’

The king said:

54. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, with a mind full of Sattva (purity) both of us joyously performed the adoration of Maheśvara by means of those lotuses.

55. Due to the pangs of hunger we could not sleep at all by any means, as we continued to stay in the temple here in front of Hara.

56. Then, in the morning, when the disc of the sun rose up, I died due to the overwhelming hunger in this very same place, O excellent Brāhmaṇas.

57. Thereupon my wife took my body and with great delight entered the funeral pyre.

58. Thanks to the power thereof, I was born as a king and Lord of Kāntī. That chaste lady was born as the daughter of king of Daśārṇa with the power to recollect previous births.

59. Knowing me to be her own husband, she choose me in the Svayaṃvam. After knowing that she was my previous wife she was brought with me by me.

60-61. It is for this reason, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, that on the Vaiśākhī day every year I perform the rite of Jāgara of Mahākāla along with this beloved of mine, after worshipping Mahākāla with flowers, incense and unguents. It is the truth that I have mentioned.

62. At that time the rite of Rātrijāgara was performed by me, O Brāhmaṇas. Thanks to the power of this Lord, this merit has accrued (to me).

63. Now with great ardour and faith, I am performing this in accordance with the injunctions. I do not know what fruit (reward) he will grant me.

64. Thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the entire truth has been related to you. May Mahākāla be pleased with the truth I have spoken.

Sūta said:

65. On hearing this, those excellent Brāhmaṇas with their eyes gleaming with wonder, exclaimed “Well done! Well done!”

The Brāhmaṇas said:

66. O king, the entire truth has been spoken by you. Nothing is difficult (to be achieved) on this earth if there is the favour of Mahākāla.

67. Hence, O king, we shall also ardently perform the rite of Rātrijāgara of this Lord every year.

68. Then that king and all those Brāhmaṇas performed the rite of Jāgara in the presence of Mahākāla.

69. Ever since then all the kings swayed by wonder performed the Jāgara rite with special gaiety, singing and playing on instruments in diverse ways. There were religious legends, dances, recitation of Vedic passages of different contexts.

70. When the day dawned clearly the king got up, worshipped Mahākāla and took leave of all those excellent Brāhmaṇas. Accompanied by his army, he joyously went to his city.

71. In due course the king met with his death and attained the greatest region devoid of death and old age.

72. Thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the greatness of Mahākāla has been fully spoken to you. It is destructive of all sins.

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