The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Yajna of Brahma: The First Day which is chapter 182 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-second chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 182 - The Yajña of Brahmā: The First Day

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Sūta said:

1. After having secured Gāyatrī as his wife, the Four-faced Lord became highly delighted in his mind. He started towards the pavilion of sacrifice.

2. Gāyatrī eschewed the despicable state of a cowherdess and proceeded ahead joyously holding the Araṇi on the head.

3-4. Even as the musical instruments were played and the chanting of the Vedas reached the vaults of heaven and the Gandharvas were singing sweetly all round, Brahmā in the assumed form of a human being reached the Yajña Maṇḍapa accompanied by Gāyatrī and all the Devas and the Brāhmaṇas.

5. In the meantime, Viśvakarmā cut the hair of Vidhi and pared the nails of Gāyatrī after him.

6. Then, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Pulastya handed the Audumbara staff along with the Mantra-charged hide of a deer together with its horns.

7. Gāyatrī was taken to the Patnīśālā even as she observed silence. A splendid girdle of the Muñja grass was tied round her waist.

8. Accompanied by the Ṛtviks, Vedhas (Brahmā) respectfully followed the instructions in the Vedas. He performed the later rites in the Yajña Maṇḍapa.

9-10. While Pravargya (a prelude to Soma Sacrifice) was begun a miracle took place there. A nude fellow with a hideous face appeared in his hand and requested, “Food may kindly be given.” He entered the sacrificial chamber though he was prevented. Though he was threatened by the sages, he wandered there freely and unjustifiably.

The Sadasyas (members of the Assembly) said:

11. “Why have you, O sinner, entered the Yajña pavilion nude in form, holding a skull and bereft of all experience in Yajña rite?

12. O fool, go away quickly before Brahmā becomes angry. Others like the excellent Brāhmaṇas, the Devas including Vāsava also may be furious.”

The Rogue said:

13. I heard about the Yajña of Brahmā and have come here from very far. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I am hungry. Why should you censure me?

14. This rite is called Kratu when the wretched ones, the blind and the miserable ones are propitiated. If that is not the case, that should be conducive to destruction as per these words mentioned by Brāhmaṇas:

15. “There is no other enemy on a par with Yajña. If it is without food supply, it will burn the nation. If it is without Mantras, it will burn the Ṛtviks. If it is without monetary gifts, it will destroy the performer of the Yajña.”

The Brāhmaṇas said:

16. If you have come here with a desire to eat then go quickly to this Sattraśālā (Sacrificial hall) where the ascetics, the blind, the wretched and the miserable ones with parched throats due to hunger, are taking their food.

17. Or, O sage, if you are desirous of money or garments go to the place in the Dānaśālā (chamber of gifts) where the Vittapati (Lord of wealth, Kubera) is present.

18. O great fool, this Yajña of Pitāmaha is uncensurable. It is venerated all round. O wicked-minded one, why do you censure this meritorious thing?

Sūta said:

19. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, on being told thus, he threw down the skull on the ground and vanished immediately like a lamp.

The Ṛtviks said:

20. How can the sacrificial rite proceed as long as the skull lies in the main Sadas (chamber)? Hence, throw it away, said the excellent Brāhmaṇas.

21. One of them who was repeatedly told thus by the excellent Brāhmana members of the assembly, lifted up a stick and pushed it out.

22. Then another skull like this one cropped up there. When it was pushed away, another skull took its place.

23. Thus hand reds, thousands, ten thousands and millions of skulls rose up there. The Yajñavāṭa (the premises of Yajña) was filled with them all round.

24. A great hue and cry arose in the entire Yajña pavilion on seeing heaps on heaps of skulls that defiled the sacrificial rite.

25-26. Then Pitāmaha meditated and thought. He came to know that everything calamitous was thus caused by Hara. He joined his palms in veneration and spoke to Maheśvara joyously and respectfully. Maheśvara was then in the precincts of the Yajñavāṭa.

27-28. “O Lord, is it proper that there should be deficiency in the rites concerning the Yajña? Hence, O Lord of Suras, withdraw all the skulls. Let there not be omissions in the Yajña rites even when you have arrived.”

29-33. Thereupon, the Moon-crested Lord said angrily: “That is my favourite bowl of food. It has always been so. O Pitāmaha, why do these base Brāhmaṇas hate me? They did not offer oblations (saying Svāhā) into the fire with me in view.

O Vidhi (Drahmā), the Havis offering charged and sanctified with Mantras have not been made to me as (they have done) in the case of other deities. So do you wish that the Yajña rite should be concluded?

Then all the Havyas should be put in those skulls. Further with me in view, a special Homa should be offered in the sacred fire. Then the Kratu will be concluded; not otherwise. O Four-faced One, the truth has been spoken to you.”

Pitāmaha said:

34. O Lord of Devas, your forms are myriad and different. There is no limit to their number and all of them are to be meditated upon.

35-36. O Three-eyed One, this is called your Mahāvrata. In this manner it shall not be a Makha rite and it is not proper to perform this rite as being outside the scope of the Vedic injunction. But, O three-eyed One, I do not intend to go against your behest.

37. So, O Lord of Suras, the Havis may be cooked in a Kapāla of clay (potsherd). That is, the Puroḍāśa should be cooked in them from now onwards by the Brāhmaṇas. When it refers to the Yajña, O most excellent one among Suras, O Lord of Devas, with you in view the Śatarudriya should be chanted while performing Homa.

38-39. In the course of all the Yajñas, it should be recited in particular. By means of these Kapālas (skulls), O most excellent one among Suras, your own real form has been revealed by you. Hence, O Rudra, you will be named Kapāleśvara in this holy spot, a twelfth among them.

40. If anyone begins a Yajña here and worships you at the outset, his Ṃakha will be named Kapāleśvara.

41. When this was spoken by him, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, all the skulls, unlimited in number, vanished.

42. Then, the delighted Four-faced God immediately installed the Liṅga of Maheśvara there, called Kapāleśvara.

43-44. And he said: “He who, after taking bath in my Kuṇḍas, worships this Liṅga, will attain the greatest goal. He who performs the Jāgara (keeping awake) rite on the fourteenth day in the bright half of the month of Kārttika with great concentration in front of this Liṅga, will get rid of all the sins since his birth.”

45. When this was spoken by Vidhi, the Slayer of the Tripuras became very delighted. Reaching the Yajña Ṃaṇḍapa he went near the Vedi (Altar).

46. Then, after duly bowing down to Maheśvara the Yajña rites were started by the Brāhmaṇas with their eyes beaming with pleasant surprise.

Sūta said:

47. Even as the Four-faced One was performing the Yajña there in this manner, there came a crore of sages, the inhabitants of the southern region.

48-49. On hearing about the Yajña of Pitāmaha they became inquisitive: “How will this Yajña be, where the Lotus-born Lord himself has become initiated? Of what nature is that meritorious holy place named Hāṭakeśvara? Of what nature are those leading Brāhmaṇas appointed there as the Ṛtviks?”

50-51. The ḍay was Sunday coinciding with the constellation Aśvinī. The Sun was in the middle of the day and the lunar day was Vaivasvatī (second day). The visitors were afflicted with the heat. They came to a certain water-pond and entered the splendid waters.

52-54. All the visitors were hideous and ugly. Some had large ears. Some were spike-eared. Others had crooked noses. There were some with huge bellies; a few with large teeth; many with hanging lips and large heads. Others were flateyed. Still others had long necks. Some were dark-complexioned. Some had split feet, long nails and some with nails lifted up. But when they came out and saw one another, they found themselves rid of all ugly features. All of them had become like Kāma.

55-60. They were surprised and they spoke to one another joyously when they realized that the Tīrtha was excellent in view of the change in their forms: “This excellent form has been obtained by us by taking our bath here. Hence this Tīrtha will become well-known in the entire range of the three worlds as Rūpatīrtha. It shall be destructive of all sins.

Those who are endowed with great faith and take their holy bath here will become handsome in features in the course of every birth.

Those who have perfect faith and offer libations with the waters hereof unto the Pitṛs will attain more benefit than that from Gayā Śrāddha.

Those men who make gifts of jewels here will undoubtedly become kings in the course of every re-birth.

We have come to this decision that we will stay here now. We will not go to (another) Tīrtha even if it be very splendid.”

61. After saying thus, those sages divided the whole of the Tīrtha (among themselves). Each made his own Tīrtha of the extent of his Yajñopavīta (sacred thread).

Sūta said:

62. Even today, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the Jagadguru (Preceptor of the universe) touches the water in the Tīrtha there at the outset. It shall be loveable and auspicious.

63. A man who is bereft of desire and performs the holy bath with faith shall attain the greatest benefit characterized as Siddhi (perfection).

64. Thus all those sages shared that great lake and carried out elaborately all the rites of the evening.

65. At the beginning of the nightfall they came to the place where Lord Pitāmaha was present in the Yajñamaṇḍapa, observing silence in the course of initiation.

66. After bowing down to him, all of them went to the place where the Ṛtviks were present. They were seated there as they had become tired due to the day-long Yajña rites.

67. With great devotion, Indra and other Suras were massaging their feet. The visiting sages bowed down to all of them and seated themselves in front of them.

68. They held diverse discourses pertaining to the Yajña rites and the relationship with Soma-imbibing and also the change in origin.

69. They spoke among themselves about the origin of Udgātṛ and of Adhvaryu as based on principles. Others refuted this.

70. Other Mīmāṃsakas refuted the arguments of these with their eyes turned red due to anger. They were rather very clever and eloquent in their speech and they maintained their point in the argument.

71. Others who were excellent Brāhmaṇas took up the central (neutral) position as they were aware of the Pariśiṣṭa (Appendix). They forsook arguments and revealed their opinion as mentioned.

72. Others started discussions about the collection of Mahāvīrapuroḍāśa and other topics defending their own respective positions.

73. Thus the Brāhmaṇas passed that night.

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