The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 1,763,776 words

This page describes Greatness of Anartakeshvara and Shudrakeshvara which is chapter 65 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.

Chapter 65 - Greatness of Ānartakeśvara and Śūdrakeśvara

[Full title: Greatness of Ānartakeśvara (ānartaka-īśvara) and Śūdrakeśvara (śūdraka-īśvara)]

Sūta said:

1-3. Similarly there is another lake there dug by Devas. It was there that a king of Ānarta named Suhaya became a Siddha.

The same king installed a splendid Liṅga there named Ānarteśvara. It is the bestower of all Siddhis on men.

A man who performs his holy ablution there on a Tuesday coinciding with the sixth lunar day, there in the lake, attains Si[???] [??] [=Siddhi in ?] same way as it was by the Lord of Ānarta.

The sages said:

4. How was Siddhi attained by the noble-souled king of Ānarta. O Sūta, narrate everything. Undoubtedly you know everything.

Sūta said:

5. Formerly there was a king of Ānarta named Suhaya. He was attacked by all the enemies in battle and he fled. He became Ucchiṣṭa (polluted by partaking remnants of food) and was touched by a barbarian. He was alone and was surrounded by many.

6. Then a certain person following the vow of Kāpālikas seized his skull for the purpose of his black magic after knowing that he was born of a heroic warrior.

7-9. This (Kāpālika) stayed in a forest in the vicinity of Ānarteśvara. He used to fill the skull at night with the water of the lake where all the Devas are present and then used to pour it off (in the morning after use).

Formerly there was a Vaṇik (merchant) remembered by the name Siddhasena. He was very rich and accompanied by his servants, he always engaged himself in meritorious rites. Once, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, he set off towards the north accompanied by his caravan for doing business.

10. Going ahead gradually along with every one, he reached a desert area devoid of trees and water and abandoned as it were by all living beings.

11. At nightfall all the travellers became tired. Occupying different positions they all slept soundly.

12. At daybreak they all woke up quickly and started towards the north leaving behind there a Śūdra servant.

13. He had become too tired to get up from sleep. Even when the onward journey started with a lot of noise he did not wake up.

14. He was not remembered by the members of the caravan with whom he had travelled from the original home. The fact that he was on the banks was not noticed by any one.

15. Thus the caravan left the place and the sun began to rise up. The Śūdra felt the intense heat and woke up thereafter.

16. He looked ahead but could not see any member of the

caravan at that place. In the desert region their footprints too could not be traced.

17. He became overwhelmed with grief. He ran here and there. At midday he was excessively distressed by hunger and thirst. He sprawled himself on the ground.

18. Despite his distress due to thirst, he somehow held on to his life lying on the ground. By that time the sun too set.

19-20. When the sun’s warmth became reduced he regained consciousness somehow. He thought within himself. 'Where shall I go now? No pathway is seen. No one is to be seen. There is neither water nor shade. Indeed my death is approaching.’

21. When that Śūdra was mentally worried thus in the lonely desert region, night set in.

22. Soon he heard the sweet sound of music and the fascinating voice of the chanting Nandi Vṛddhas (elderly goblin attendants of Śiva).

23. In an instant he saw a Preta (ghost) who seemed to be the leader of the gang and he was surrounded by groups of Pretas.

24. Some of the attending Pretas began to dance. Others sang before him. Still others began to eulogize.

25. The (leader) said to the Śūdra: “O dear guest, have your meal. Drink water as you please so that it may result in my weal.”

26. The hungry Śūdra had a hearty meal and drank water. At the bidding of the king of the Pretas, he became carefree and fearless.

27. Then all the Pretas endowed with the characteristic features of the Pretas took their food duly sitting in the order of their seniority.

28. Thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, all of them were engaged in games and sports with royal grace and charm till the night came to a close.

29. The day dawned clearly and the disc of the sun rose high into the sky. When the Śūdra looked before him there was nothing.

30-31. Then he thought, ‘Was this a dream? My hallucination? Or some jugglery? Or rather is it something real? I was distressed with hunger and thirst but I am satisfied now.

32. Even as he mused thus the sun rose very high in the sky and scorched the surface of the earth.

33. He resorted to the foot of a tree which had but a small area of shade to offer. He was excessively distressed due to hunger and thirst and somehow spent the time till the close of the day.

34. At nightfall he saw the king of the Pretas of the same form as before and accompanied by the other Pretas.

35. In the same manner he took the food, the result of his hospitality. The Śūdra eschewed all fear. He was delighted much.

36. Thus the king (of the Pretas) came every day at nightfall. On coming he used to extend his hospitality.

37-38. Then one day, the ghost king was asked by the Śūdra: “What is this miracle seen every day at nightfall? O highly esteemed one, your riches come to an end when the day dawns. Do explain this position, if it is not a secret, O king of Pretas. On seeing this strange occurrence, my curiosity has been aroused.”

The Preta said:

39. There is a great meritorious holy spot named Hāṭakeśvara. Gaṅgā and Yamunā have a confluence there.

40. Very close to both of them there is an auspicious temple of Śiva. There a Sunaiṣṭhika (a sage of continued celibacy) performs penance there adopting a great Vrata.

41-42. At night he keeps my skull filled with water intended for toilet purposes and kept near his bed. By its power at night, I get all these riches. During the day time the skull is kept dry and empty after the toilet is over at night. O highly intelligent one, all my riches vanish then.

43. Do a favour unto me. Go there and shatter the skull to pieces and cast them into the water.

44. Thereby I shall get rid of my hideous ghostly form.

45. Moreover, there is an excellent Tīrtha well-known as Gayāśiras to the east thereof. It can accord salvation from ghost-hood.

46. O highly intelligent one, go there and perform the Śrāddha of all of us. O gentle Sir, a bundle of papers is seen there near you.

47. Write the names of all in these sheets in the order of seniority. Have great pity on us and perform the Śrāddha quickly.

48. O fair Sir, we shall easily carry you to that place and also show you a very big treasure to meet the expanses of Śrāddha.

49. The Śūdra agreed to it readily saying, “So it shall be.” As promised they took the Śūdra to the holy spot after placing him on their shoulders.

50. They showed him the treasure containing ample wealth. The Śūdra took it and went to the place where the Naiṣṭhika was present.

51. He bowed to him devoutly and told him humbly the full details of the ghost-king.

52. The Śūdra received the skull. With great concentration he reduced it to powder and joyously cast it into the confluence of Gaṅgā and Yamunā.

53. In the meantime the Preta appeared before the Śūdra; he was seated in an aerial chariot in a divine form. Then he joyously told him:

54-55. “Thanks to your favour, I have been liberated from the hideous form of ghost. Hail unto you! I shall now go to heaven. Go to the sacred Gayāśiras now and performed the Śrāddha unto all these, so that they too can get salvation.”

56. He was surprised. With great concentration and mental purity, he performed the Śrāddha unto all the ghosts severally.

57. All those Pretas went to heaven by its power. They joyously revealed themselves to the Śūdra in his dream.

58. The Śūdra realized that the holy spot contributes to the increase of merit. Therefore he did not return home. He stayed there itself performing penance.

59. The Liṅga named Śūdrakeśvara was installed by him near Gaṅgā and Yamunā. It is destructive of all sins.

60-61. A man who duly takes his holy bath in their confluence and worships the Liṅga named Śūdrakeśvara with great ardour and faith becomes liberated from all sins and goes to Śiva’s palace riding in an excellent aerial chariot and being eulogized by Gandharvas.

62. A man who performs Prāyopaveśana (religious fast unto death) and casts off his life, is not reborn in this world.

63. One who stays there and drinks even a mouthful of its water is liberated from the sins committed between birth and death.

64. If any one gives food to leading Brāhmaṇas there, (his) Pitṛs become satisfied for a period of three hundred Kalpas.

65. One who, with mental concentration and purity, makes a gift of a piece of gold of the size of an atom there, obtains the entire benefit of Rājasūya and Aśvamedha.

66. Hence, O Brāhmaṇas, a man who wishes for eternal Svarga shall resort to that excellent Tīrtha by all means.

67. On being pleasantly surprised at the sight of that power of Gaṅgā and Yamunā, a Gāthā (a conplet in this connection) was sung formerly by the great sage Gautama.

68. “A man with mental concentration, who takes his holy bath in the confluence of Gaṅgā and Yamunā and visits Śūdreśvara, shall immediately attain Svarga.”

69. Thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the greatness of Gaṅgā and Yamunā has been entirely narrated to you all. It is destructive of all sins.

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