The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Greatness of Gayatri Tirtha which is chapter 181 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 one hundred eighty-first chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 181 - Greatness of Gāyatrī Tīrtha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: This chapter describes how, due to the mischief of Nārada, god Brahmā had to marry a Brahmanised Vaiśya girl without the knowledge of his first wife Sāvitrī.

Sūta said:

1-2. In the meantime, a Madhyaga (a go-between) hailing from Gartātīrtha was sent by all the excellent Brāhmaṇas, the Nāgaras: “O Madhyaga (Nāgara), go to and tell that Kupitāmaha (Evil Pitāmaha) who has destroyed the means of sustenance of the Brāhmaṇas and who has forsaken the path of justice and fairplay.

3. ‘This holy spot was granted to the Brāhmaṇas—our ancestors, by serpents.

4. Ending with you, O evil Pitāmaha, one hundred five different Pitāmahas have gone by since the time when that gift was made. There is no doubt about it.

5. With the exception of a being of sinful activities who strays away from the path of justice, contempt was never shown to us as is being done now.

6. He who is outside the clan of Nāgara Brāhmaṇas and performs Śrāddha or Yajña here should be killed by all other Brāhmaṇas.

7. When he (Śiva) granted us this holy place it was assured by him that he (the outsider) would not derive any benefit at all therefrom.

8. Hence, whatever Yajña you perform, get the same done by the Nāgara Brāhmaṇas. Otherwise, you will not get an opportunity to perform it as long as the Nāgara Brāhmaṇas are alive.’”

9-10. On being told thus, the Madhyaga went to the place where the Lotus-born One was present, a bit away from the Yajña pavilion, surrounded by Brāhmaṇas. What was said by all those Nāgaras, he told him with special emphasis. On hearing it the Lotus-born One spoke these words in a conciliatory tone:

11-13. Brahmā had adopted human guise and was surrounded by the Ṛtviks. (He said:) “O excellent Madhyaga, everything said by you is true. What shall I do? All these have been already chosen by me for the performance of Yajña rites—all these Ṛtviks, Adhvaryus and others. They have been chosen by mistake not wilfully.

Hence bring all those excellent Brāhmaṇas here to this holy spot, so that with their permission I shall go to the pavilion of the Makha.”

Madhyaga said:

14. You have set aside your divinity and have adopted human guise and features. Therefore, how can those excellent Brāhmaṇas come near you?

15. O Lotus-born One, just as cows are the most excellent ones among all animals, so also the Nāgaras are the most excellent ones among Brāhmaṇas.

16. Hence, if you desire the acquisition of the benefit arising from this Yajña, O Pitāmaha, propitiate all the Nāgaras with devotion due to them.

Sūta said:

17. On hearing it, the Lotus-born God became afraid. Surrounded by the Ṛtviks he went to that place where the angry Nāgara Brāhmaṇas were present.

18. With great humility, he bowed down to all of them. Standing with palms joined in deference, he spoke these words:

19-23. “O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I do know that in this holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara, Śrāddha and Yajña rites performed by one excluding you all, are futile.

Due to the fear of Kali, my Tīrtha, Puṣkara has been brought by me to this holy spot. This has been dedicated to you all as a deposit.

These Ṛtviks have been brought by Guru (i.e. Bṛhaspati), O excellent Brāhmaṇas, without knowing the superiority of the Nāgaras.

Hence, the fact of my selecting them, my choice of these Brāhmaṇas, for the performance of Agniṣṭoma may be excused.

This Tīrtha of mine shall undoubtedly be destructive of your sins even during the advent of the Kali age.”

The Brāhmaṇas said:

24. If you perform the Yajña here excluding the Nāgaras, other Suras also are likely to follow your way. So also the kings of the earth. Hence, the Makha should not be performed by you.

25. In spite of this, O Lord of Devas, if you are bent upon the performance of the Yajña rites disregarding all of us, the Brāhmaṇas, then go away from our vicinity.

Brahmā said:

26. From now onwards if anyone performs Yajña or Śrāddha here excluding the Nāgaras, it shall become futile.

27. If a Nāgara too leaves this holy spot and performs Yajña elsewhere, it will become futile.

28. O Brāhmaṇas, this line of demarcation has been made unto the Nāgaras. Hence, be pleased to accord due permission to us, O Brāhmaṇas, so that I can perform the Yajña.

Sūta said:

29. Thereupon, Pitāmaha was permitted by those Brāhmaṇas who became pleased. He duly performed the Yajña through the Brāhmaṇas who had been already selected.

30. Viśvakarman who stood by the decision of the Nāgaras came there, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, and embellished the head (of Brahmā).

31. Brahmā became extremely delighted and told Nārada: “Fetch Sāvitrī quickly so that I can go to the pavilion of the sacrifice.”

32. As the musical instruments were played by Siddhas, Kinnaras and Guhyakas, when Gandharvas were absorbed in their songs and Brāhmaṇas were engaged in chanting the Vedas, Pulastya took up the Araṇi and spoke loudly these words:

33. “Patnī? Patnī?” (Where is the wife of the Yajamāna?) and the leading Brāhmaṇas were seated in their respective places.

34. In the meantime, Brahmā suggested by gesture to the excellent sage Nārada that his wife should be brought there.

35. Nārada (by nature) liked to provoke quarrels. He wished to create a gap in the relations between Sāvitrī and god Brahmā. So he slowly (leisurely) went to Sāvitrī and spoke playfully:

36-38. “O goddess of Suras, I have been sent by my father to you with the message ‘Do come; I have taken my bath and am going to the pavilion of the Yajña.’

But, O goddess of Suras, if you go there alone how will you fare there? You will appear like a helpless lady.

Hence let all the celestial women be brought. O goddess, you will go to the great Makha surrounded by those celestial women.”

39-40a. After saying this, the excellent sage Nārada went to his father and said: “Father, mother has been called by me. But I have slightly observed her mental predilection to remain unmoved.”

40b. On hearing his words, he (Brahmā)became very angry.

41-42. He sent Pulastya to Sāvitrī: “Dear Son, she is slow by nature. Bring her to this place. See how tired I am bearing the weight of the Soma placed over!

Now there will be too much of delay in the performance of the Yajña rite. Very little time now remains for the Muhūrta (auspicious hour) for the Yajñayāna (procedure of the Yajña).”

43. On hearing his words Pulastya hastened to the place where Sāvitrī was present engrossed in songs and dances.

44-45. He said then: “O goddess, why do you stand thus unmoved? Very little time is left for the Muhūrta proper for the procedure of Yajñayāna. Hence come (hurry up). We shall go. Father is excessively agitated and afflicted with the weight of the Soma kept over (his head). He is surrounded by all the Devas.”

Sāvitrī said:

46. Dear Son, your father being surrounded by all the Devas is settled well. How can I go there all by myself like a helpless person?

47. Go and tell father to be patient for a short while.

48. (He may be pleased to wait) till Śakrāṇī, Gaurī, Lakṣmī and other celestial women gather together in our assembly. I shall come quickly along with them.

49. May your father be informed that Vāyu has been sent by me to invite all of them. They will come presently.

Sūta said:

50-51. He hastened to Vidhi who was afflicted with the burden of Soma: “O Lord of the universe, she is engaged in her domestic chores. She is not coming. She tells me, ‘I will attend the Makha along with the wives of the Devas. But none of them is seen so far.’

52. Know this, O most excellent one among Suras, and do what pleases you the most. It is rather getting very late for the procedure of the Yajña rite. That woman in her dilatoriness is busy with her domestic chores.”

53. On hearing the words of Pulastya, Pitāmaha spoke to Śakra who was nearby, O Brāhmaṇas:

Brahmā said:

54. O Śakra, Sāvitrī has not come. She is rather a dilatory woman. But, am I to perform this Yajña with such a wife?

55. O Śakra, go and fetch some other girl quickly so that the auspicious hour for Yajña does not slip away.

56. On hearing the words of Pitāmaha, O Brāhmaṇas, (Śakra went in search) of such a girl. Soon she was met by him, as she wandered nearby.

57. She was a slim cowherd lass, lotus-eyed and moonfaced. A pot of curd was on her head and she was scrupulously taking care of it.

58-59. She was at the threshold to the prime of youth. She was endowed with full complement of all auspicious features. She was asked by Śakra: “O lotus-eyed one, who may you be? Are you a virgin or a married one with a husband? Tell me, whose daughter are you?”

The girl said:

60. I am daughter of a cowherd. Welfare unto you. I have come here to sell buttermilk. If you want it, pay me the cost thereof. Do not delay.

61. On hearing it, the Lord of Heaven came to know she was daughter of a cowherd. He seized her quickly and split all the buttermilk on the ground.

62. Even as she went on crying Śakra seized her, forced her through the mouth of a cow and dragged her out of the anus.

63. After sanctifying her thus, O leading Brāhmaṇas, he bathed her in the auspicious waters of the first Kuṇḍa and made her wear excellent garments.

64. Then he joyously spoke to the Four-faced One hastening to him and placing her in front in the assembly of all the Devas:

65-66. “O excellent one among Suras, this girl has been brought by me now for your sake. She is comely in her limbs and is marked by all the auspicious features.

Knowing that she is daughter of a cowherd, O Four-faced One, she was forced through the mouth of a cow and then dragged out through the anus for the purpose of sanctifying her.”

Śrī Vāsudeva said:

67. Cows and Brāhmaṇas belong to the same family. It is split into two, the Mantras abide in one, while the Havis abides in the other.

68. Coming out of the belly of a cow this girl has become a daughter of Brāhmaṇas. Grasp her hand, O Lord, for the fulfilment of the Makha.

69. Let it be before the auspicious hour for the performance of the Yajña slips by.

Rudra said:

70. She entered the mouth of a cow and came out of the anus. Hence, she is named Gāyatrī. She shall become your wife.

Brahmā said:

71. May all the Brāhmaṇas say collectively that though she is the daughter of a cowherd she has become an excellent Brāhmaṇa girl so that she can be my wife.

The Brāhmaṇas said:

72. She shall be an excellent Brāhmaṇa woman free from the nativity of a cowherd. At our instance, O Four-faced One, marry her quickly.

Sūta said:

73. Then Lord Pitāmaha married her. Then, O Brāhmaṇas, he held the Soma above the head in the manner it has been enjoined in the Gṛhya Sūtras.

74. The sacred great goddess is standing there even today. She is well-known as the bestower of wealth and conjugal felicity.

75. A man who makes the gift of a virgin there with great concentration, shall derive the entire benefit of a Rājasūya and horse-sacrifice.

76. The girl who gets married there shall be blessed with sons, happiness and conjugal felicity.

77. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, if a man offers balls of rice there the Pitṛs become pleased with him as though libations were offered in a Pitṛtīrtha.

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