The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Greatness of Bhrunagarta which is chapter 53 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 fifty-third chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 53 - Greatness of Bhrūṇagartā

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This chapter uses the legend of King Kalmāṣapāda in Mbh, Ādi, Chs. 175, 181, to glorify the Tīrtha called Bhrūṇa-Gartā.

Sūta said:

1. There itself is Ujjayinī Pīṭha that grants whatever men desire. It is extremely miraculous and is resorted to by many Siddhas.

2. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Maheśvara himself is present in its centre in the form of Mahākāla.

3-4. A man who has mental concentration and purity, who performs Śrāddha there on the Vaiśākhī day, who visits the Lord of Devas remembered as Mahākāla and who adores the Lord as Dakṣiṇāmurtī redeems ten generations of his ancestors, himself and ten generations of successors, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. He is honoured in Śivaloka.

5-6a. After adoring the group of Yoginīs and the group of virgins, a devotee should worship the Pīṭha with any desire mentally conceived. He attains everything entirely even if it be very rare.

6b-7. A man who is endowed with faith, mental concentration and purity, remains physically clean and observes fast on the full-moon day of the month of Vaiśākha as well as keeps awake at night (i.e. performs Jāgaraṇa) in front of the deity faithfully, attains the greatest region devoid of old age and death.

8. Of what avail are Vratas? Of what worth are futile Dānas? Of what (more) advantage are Japas and observances? All these are not worth even a sixteenth fraction of (devotion to) Mahākāla.

Sūta said:

9. O highly esteemed ones, the holy chasm well known as Bhrūṇagartā[1] is also there itself. It is very large in size and it destroys all sins.

10. King Saudāsa was liberated from the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter at that place. Suṣeṇa, the overlord of the earth, was completely liberated from the sin of the murder of a woman.

The sages said:

11. How did that king Saudāsa who was a patron of Brāhmaṇas, incur the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter? Do narrate it to us.

12. It is heard that the king was engaged in the welfare of Brāhmaṇas mentally, verbally and physically. How did he become a Brāhmaṇa-slayer?

13. How was he again liberated after resorting to Bhrūṇagartā? Further how did that Gartā (chasm) originate? Mention everything in detail.

Sūta said:

14. When the penis of the Trident-bearing Lord of Devas fell down, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, he was overcome with shame due to the loss of the penis.

15. He made a deep chasm and entered it. The Wielder of the Trident did not show himself to anyone.

16. It was thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, that the chasm was formed there. I shall tell you now how Saudāsa became liberated from sin therein.

17. There was an extremely righteous king named Mitrasaha. Saudāsa[2] was his son, a direct descendant of the solar race.

18. Elaborate Yajñas in which gold and other excellent things were gifted (as Dakṣiṇā) were performed by him. The great soul had performed numerous Dānas also.

19-20. Once, while a Sattra lasting for a period of twelve years was going on duly in accordance with the procedure laid down in the scriptural injunctions, two very powerful Rākṣasas came there for creating obstacles in the Yajña. It was the beginning of the night.

21. They were also accompanied by many Rākṣasas, others called goblins and vampires who could not be assailed and who were eager to destroy the Yajña.

22. Looking out for some opportunity and possible way of entry, all the Rākṣasas entered the sacrificial chamber and they spread all round.

23. They killed the Brāhmaṇas. They swallowed the holy Havis prepared there as well as other articles kept ready for the sake of Yajña.

24. While the Brāhmaṇas were being devoured by the more powerful Rākṣasas there was a great hue and cry.

25. Thereupon the royal son of Mitrasaha became enraged. He set aside his initiation and holy vows and kept them in abeyance, took his bow and arrows and began killing them.

26. He himself was fully safeguarded by Vasiṣṭha, the priest. He slew Krūrākṣa along with many Rākṣasas.

27-28. On seeing that his excellent brother was killed and that the tiger among kings could not be approached due to the refulgence of the Brāhmaṇa, Krūrabuddhi took the surviving Rākṣasas and fled in great fright. Along with his soldiers, he too became wounded by his arrows.

29. Cherishing enmity due to the death of his elder brother, the demon looked out for an opportunity to kill him (the king), day and night.

30. Even as vulnerable points of the noble-souled one were being watched, O Brāhmaṇas, the twelve-year long Sattra came to a close.

31. In the course of the Sattra, due safeguard was accorded to the king by Vasiṣṭha and not even a smallest vulnerable point was seen by that wicked one.

32. Then the king, after duly bidding farewell to the Brāhmaṇas after the due distribution of monetary gifts, spoke to Vasiṣṭha with the palms joined in reverence:

33. “O my venerable preceptor, I wish to feed you with my own hands. So be favourably disposed towards me and have food in my palace.”

Sūta said:

34. Vasiṣṭha, the excellent sage, assented saying “So be it.” The king washed the feet of the sage and sat down for the meal.

35. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Krūrabuddhi observed the splendid meat prepared duly by the cooks and then consecrated in accordance with the injunctions for the sake of the sage.

36. He made an ukhā i.e. a saucepan or vessel which can be put on fire. It was similar to and of the same dimension as the original (used by the king’s cook). He filled it with human flesh and served it as meat.

37. The tiger among sages knew that the morsel he ate was human flesh. Enraged thereat, he said angrily:

38. “O base one, since you forced me to eat human flesh like a Rākṣasa, you shall just today itself become a Rākṣasa.”

39. The king met the cooks individually and tactfully tried to find out how human flesh had come therein.

40-41. The cooks said: “O king, such a piece of meat as this has not been cooked by us. Believe us. Nor could this have been done by another human being. O Lord, excepting a Rākṣasa, Piśāca or Dānava no one could have done this. Consider this, O Lord, and do what is proper.”

42. In the meantime, Nārada, the excellent sage, came there and narrated everything perpetrated by the Rākṣasa.

43. On hearing it, King Saudāsa became furious. He took water in his hand and was about to curse Vasiṣṭha. On seeing him bent upon cursing, Nārada spoke these words:

44-45a. “O excellent king, Brāhmaṇas have to be bowed down to by one who wishes for his own welfare even if they were to strike, hate or curse. Moreover, this is your preceptor and he has to be honoured by you. So, it does not behove you to curse the excellent sage in return.”

45b. Thus forbidden, the king let the entire quantity of water fall over his own feet from his hand.

46. His feet drenched with the water heated by the curse became burned. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, they instantly turned black.

47. Ever since then, O tiger among Brāhmaṇas, that king was specially called by the name Kalmāṣapāda.

Sūta said:

48-51. In the meantime, Vasiṣṭha, the Brāhmaṇa, became ashamed on realizing that he had cursed the king unreasonably. He said: “O king, this curse had been given to you without any reason. But my words cannot be otherwise on any account. O excellent king, you will be a Rākṣasa for some time. Then you will regain your original form. Listen when it shall happen. When you kill a Rākṣasa named Krūrabuddhi you will get rid of the hideous state of Rākṣasa.”

Sūta said:

52. In the meantime the king became a Yātudhāna (demon). He had a huge body with hairs standing upright. His teeth were black. He was awful altogether.

53. In this state of Rākṣasa he killed leading Brāhmaṇas and destroyed Yajñas and hermitages of sages.

54. Once that Rākṣasa named Krūrabuddhi came to know that he had become a Rākṣasa himself and was without any weapon.

55. He recollected their previous enmity due to the slaying of his brother. Thereupon accompanied by many Rākṣasas he arrived there to kill him.

56. Encircling him all round, the Rākṣasa said to the king angrily as his loud roar was reverberating in all the quarters:

57. “O excessively wicked-minded one, our elder brother was killed by you by the strength derived from Vasiṣṭha in the course of the Yajña. Reap the fruit thereof now.”

The king said:

58. Only you of wicked behaviour, act according to what you say. Your roar, like the thunder of the autumnal cloud is futile.

59. After saying thus the king uprooted a tree and with the tree he rushed towards him roaring like a rumbling cloud.

60. He (Krūrabuddhi) too uprooted a tree. His eyes became red with rage. He knitted his eyebrows together into the shape of a trident and came face to face with him.

61. Thus both of those mighty heroes continued this fight with trees resulting in the destruction of many trees.

62. Noticing that Krūrabuddhi had become tired the king caught him by the feet and whirled him quickly into the sky.

63. Then with increased rage, he thrashed and dashed him on the ground. By pounding him repeatedly he turned him into a lump of flesh.

64. When the mighty Rākṣasa was killed the king got rid of the state of Rākṣasa and regained the physical form of a king.

65. Thereupon the remaining Rākṣasas surrounded him and struck him with huge trees and showers of stones and gravel..

66. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, armed with a huge tree the king laughingly and easily killed them also with full confidence.

67. After killing the Rākṣasas and regaining his earlier body the king became delighted. He reached his city experiencing horripilation.

68-69. Yet he was without the previous refulgence. He was stinking awfully. His ministers, sons, grandsons and others noticed these and various other sorts of signs of the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. So they did not come near the king as if they were afraid of contracting his sins.

70-71. They said: “O excellent king, since you have incurred the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter you do not deserve to come into close contact with us. Invite Vasiṣṭha and perform the rites of expiation whereby your impure body may regain purity.”

72. Thereupon the king quickly called Vasiṣṭha, the leading sage, and spoke these words standing humbly at a safe distance:

73-75. “O Brāhmaṇa, that Rākṣasa has been killed by me with your favour. I have got rid of the curse too. But, O sage, listen further: Stinking odour emanates from my body and spreads around. All my limbs appear to be very heavy, benumbed and stiff. What is this, O excellent Brāhmaṇa. There is loss of refulgence. Why do the ministers and sons not even touch me today.”

Vasiṣṭha said:

76. O excellent king, many Brāhmaṇas were killed and Yajñas destroyed by you when in the state of Rākṣasa. Thus you have been assailed by the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter.

The king said:

77. For that purpose, for the sake of purity, O Brāhmaṇa, tell me the requisite rite of expiation whereby I can be rid of sins and regain my own kingdom.

Vasiṣṭha said:

78. For this purpose, O excellent king, undertake a pilgrimage free from egotism and sense of possession. Thereby you will attain fulfilment.

79. Thereafter, the great king practised self-control, conquered the sense-organs and performed the holy ablution in Prayāga and other Tīrthas with great mental concentration and purity.

80. Still the stinking odour did not disappear; his refulgence did not increase, the body did not regain lightness and he was not rid of sluggishness.

81. Roaming about still further, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, once he happened to come to the holy place of Camatkārapura for the purpose of holy bath.

82. The king was already weak and tired. He was distressed due to hunger and thirst. At midnight, in pitch darkness, he slipped down into a Gartā (pit) full of water.

83. With very great difficulty the king came out of that Tīrtha. When he looked at himself, he found that he had the lustre of twelve suns.

84. On seeing himself bereft of the stinking smell, with the body light and active, he thought that he had become rid of sins.

85. At the very same time, there was heard an unembodied voice delighting the king rid of the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter.

86-90. “O great king, by the power of this Tīrtha you are now relieved of all your previous sins. So do go back to your abode. Śaṅkara is always present here in the form of a Bhrūṇa (a very young child), O king, particularly on the fourteenth lunar day in the dark half. When the penis of the Trident-bearing Lord of Devas fell down due to the curse of Brāhmaṇas, he made this Gartā. He had become ashamed of the state of Bhrūṇa. He was very distressed due to separation from Satī. Therefore, O king, this Gartā is destructive of all sins. Named after the Lord (in the form of a Bhrūṇa) this Gartā became well known as Bhrūṇagartā in all the three worlds.”

Sūta said:

91. After saying thus, that aerial voice stopped. That tiger among kings joyously went to his city.

92. On seeing him freed from sins and appearing like the sun in refulgence, the sons and other men became delighted and bowed down to him.

93. Vasiṣṭha, a tiger among Brāhmaṇas approached the king and said with a voice choked due to delight:

94-95. “O leading king, luckily you have been relieved of the terrible sins arising from Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. Fortunately you have come again to your city with the full complement of your original radiance. Hence do say, O king, which Tīrtha did you go to and get relief from the terrible sin arising from Brāhmaṇa-slaughter.”

96. Thereupon he narrated all the events of the Bhrūṇagartā to the Brāhmaṇa-Sage in the manner he experienced.

97-98. Thereupon the elderly ministers, the king and the leading sage crowned the son named Pratardana in the kingdom. Instantly they went to Bhrūṇagartā, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, and performed penance meditating on Mahādeva day and night.

99. By worshipping Maheśvara in the form of a Bhrūṇa, they attained the greatest Siddhi in a short time, though it is very difficult to be obtained.

100. Ever since then, O leading Brāhmaṇas, that Gartā became well known over the earth as Bhrūṇagartā, which destroys all sins.

101. A man who performs Śrāddha there on the fourteenth lunar day in the dark half of a month redeems ten ancestors and ten successors in his family.

102. Hence, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, one should perform Śrāddha, Snāna (holy bath) and Dāna there in accordance with one’s capacity.

Footnotes and references:


As explained in vv 14-16, this Gartā or chasm was created by Śiva to hide himself after the loss of his phallus due to the curses of sages.


The following are the modifications of the Mbh story in this Purāṇa: Vasiṣṭha, out of misunderstanding and rashness cursed the king. The king was dissuaded from giving countercurse by Nārada (and not by his queen). As a demon, he killed Vasiṣṭha’s sons and many Brāhmaṇas but he got cleared of all the sins by his inadvertent fall in Bhrūṇagartā. That is the efficacy of Bhrūṇagartā.

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