The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Creation of Holy Places which is chapter 185 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-fifth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 185 - Creation of Holy Places

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The guest said:

1-4. Thus everything has been narrated to you all as to how Piṅgalā became my Guru (teacher). How the Kurara bird (osprey) became so, I shall explain to you.

I had much wealth inherited from my father and grandfather. All the kinsmen, relatives, sons and grandsons began to pester me for money and food-grain.

If I deny anyone anything, he begins to torment me. He exhibits utter exhaustion to the point of extinction of the very life.

5. O Brāhmaṇas, a few of them used to request me for wealth in conciliatory terms. Others thte atened me to give wealth. Others tempted me with bribes for having some share. Some actually meted out physical violence to me (to extort money by force). Thus, I could not find any means whereby I could get peace.

6. So I never had any happiness on account of them. I was worried day and night about the means of bringing about the end to my troubles. I did not find out any means to get peace of mind.

7. On a certain day, a Kurara (osprey) was seen by me going hurriedly through the sky holding a piece of meat in its beak.

8. It was being hurt (pecked) and assailed by different kinds of birds all round for the sake of the piece of meat. Then afraid of the other birds, it let the piece of meat fall down.

9-10. The moment it cast off the piece of meat it became happy. All the other birds abandoned it. Similarly, when I was being tormented by my kinsmen, I resolved thus after seeing the Kurara with meat being attacked by those without meat and that later after throwing away the meat it regained happiness.

11. After coming to a decision I summoned all the kinsmen, sons, grandsons and all the others and told them:

12. “O my kinsmen, take and share this wealth judiciously. There is nothing else left in my house.” Thus I swore three times.

13. Ever since then, O Brāhmaṇas, I was left alone by them and I am happy. For this reason, the Kurara (osprey) became my Guru.

14. Wealth and riches give rise to delusion. Delusion leads to Naraka. Hence hoarded wealth is disastrous. One who seeks salvation should avoid it from afar.

15. Just as a piece of meat is swallowed by fish in water, by beasts of prey on the ground and by birds in the sky, so also a man of wealth (is preyed upon) everywhere.

16. A rich man may be faultless. But he is tormented by kings and others. A poor man might have committed some crime but he is not harassed anywhere.

17. Rich people are like drunkards. They move with the support of others. They falter at every step. They stutter and stammer.

18. As in the case of one afflicted with fever, a rich man hates devoted ones, as a fever-stricken one dislikes cooked food. They show pleasure outwardly liking for heavy and light things but there is bitterness (inwardly) (bitter taste: bitter words) in the mouth.

19. There is trouble in earning money and misery in preserving what is earned. There is misery in loss of wealth or when it is spent. Fie upon wealth, the cause of misery!

20. All the people in the world seek wealth and resort even to the cremation ground (for its sake). Even sons forsake their father and walk away if he is without wealth.

21. A son is a favourite of the father and a father that of the son as long as there is no monetary relationship between the two. Once monetary relationship arises between them, mutual enmity also develops.

22. For this reason, O ascetics, money is abandoned by me. Therefore I stay happy, thanks to the instruction from the Kurara.

23. Listen, O highly esteemed ones, as to how a serpent became my Guru.

24. Listen how the house was abandoned by me on seeing the activity of a serpent. Starting the construction of one’s own house leads to great misery. It never leads to happiness.

25. A serpent enters the abode made by others and enjoys. After living there comfortably, it passes on to another one like that.

26. It does not have mamatva (sense of possession) feeling “This is my house”. That does not become its house, because it is not made by itself.

27. After undergoing different kinds of trouble and suffering if a man builds a mansion it does not go with him when the time of his death arrives.

28. After building a house one takes a wife. Then a son and a daughter are born. For the sake of these he begins to do all sorts of things that should be and should not be done later.

29. Like a silk-worm in its cocoon he gets encircled himself and does not realize it.

30. Creatures attached to sons, wives, houses and fields meet with disaster. They get submerged in the mirish sweat of greed like aged wild elephants.

31. One person commits sins but the common people taste fruit thereof; those who enjoy it go scot-free but the doer of it is tarnished with the fault.

32. For this reason, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the mansion was left by me. It is an obstruction in the path of salvation. This was the result of my observation of the activities of the serpent.

33. A true ascetic stays in a village for a single night’s rest and for three nights in a town. He who (thus continuously) goes (yāti) on is called a Yati, an ascetic. The other one is an impostor in the practice of Yoga.

34. He who performs the Madhukarī Vṛtti (collecting alms like a bee that sucks honey) at the houses of leading Brāhmaṇas where the fire in the kitchen has calmed down and it does not emit smoke, is the (real) Yati, not anyone else.

35. A Daṇḍin (Sannyāsin) may beg for alms but there should be no addiction to it. He who stays behind and does not become detached is not an ascetic at all.

36. The following six cause the downfall of ascetics: Sleeping during the day; eating in excess (i.e. more than what is absolutely essential for sustenance); talking about women; gazing at them intently; and (wearing) white cloth and gold (ornaments).

37. None else but he is proclaimed as a Yati (in Smṛtis) who is impartial towards enemy and friend; who looks at a lump of clay, stone and gold as equals; and who is free from affection for friends and sons.

38. He who meets honour and insult squarely whether in his own land or in an alien country, he who does not revel too much nor hates is a Yati, not anyone else.

39. If in a house special alms are received or food is distributed, a true Yati does not go there again. No one else is remembered to be so (i.e. a Yati).

40. After observing the activities of a serpent and realizing thus eschewal of all associations was pursued by me for the sake of salvation.

41. Thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the serpent became my Guru. By its power, a powerful radiance shone (shines) in my body.

42. I shall tell you how the black-bee became my Guru. A certain black-bee was seen by me. It was closely associated with a tree.

43-45. It resorted to the bit of a branch where it had built a hive before. During spring season the trees began to blossom. The flowers had fragrant petals. There were fruits as well. The bee collected excellent juice from them and deposited it (in the hive) at the tip of the branch. It was seen to be perfectly happy without any dejection.

46. Vast quantity of honey was thus collected in the course of a long time. With that honey hundreds and thousands became satisfied.

47. I observed this activity of the bee. In the same manner, I extracted the essence from the several scriptural texts, Vedānta works etc., entirely.

48. Like the other bees, other Brāhmaṇas made use of my collection and excerpts.

49. Thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the black-bee became my Guru. Therefore I am refulgent. There is no other cause (for my being so).

50. The expounders of Vedānta who observe Vratas regularly become powerful. They are free from greed and they have cast off desires. They become highly refulgent.

51. If they are devoid of even one of these (scriptures and Vratas) they become sinners and stupidly malevolent.

52. Many Vedānta texts were pored over, studied and pondered over by me. With the intention of the welfare of human world books of the same level were written by me.

53. Thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the black-bee became my Guru. How the arrow-maker became so, I shall tell you.

54. For the purpose of realizing the Ātman, thousands of Yogins were interviewed by me. They were richly endowed with wisdom and they expounded in accordance with their ability.

55-56. They tried to explain how an excellent disciple succeeds in realizing the Ātman. That realization results from the practice of eithty-four different types of Samādhi (mental absorption) and Āsanas (postures) equal in number (eighty-four) including the lotus-posture. There are innumerble other factors too, such as recitation of spiritual texts. In spite of all these, Ātman could not be visualized at all by me.

57. Hence I became disgusted and wandered all over the earth for the sake of a preceptor and guide. I did not meet with a Guru for the purpose of self-realization.

58. On another day, I was going along the royal highway when I saw the king surrounded by a vast army.

59. So I avoided the path taken by the king and came to the entrance of a hut. I stood at the door after going a short distance upwards.

60. There was an arrow-maker there engaged in the simple activity of shaping the arrows of crooked joints.

61. When the king had gone far away,another servant came there.

62. He was in a hurry, O Brāhmaṇas. Even as I was within hearing, he asked the artisan staying upright, engaged in shaping the arrows:

63. “How much time has elapsed after the king passed along this road? Tell me so that I can follow him.”

64-66a. The man (artisan) who was sitting with the face bent down, O Brāhmaṇas, spoke then: “O royal attendant, no king going along this royal highway has been seen by me. If you have anything to do with him you may ask someone else. He is likely to tell you. I am sitting here deeply engaged in the work on the arrows.”

66b. On hearing his words I thought thus:

67. ‘Practice of yoga with concentration of mind will be the means of the knowledge of Brahman. It cannot be gained by other means. Thereafter, I shall begin to curb the mind for the sake of the realization of Brahman. Thereby, it shall be attained by me.’

68. Ever since then I am retaining in my mind always the Lord, the sun of universal form, forever present in the lotus of the heart.

69. Thereafter, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I see him solely in all the quarters, in the far end of the quarters, in the firmament and on the earth. (I could see) Nothing else.

70. By its power, I am equipped with refulgence.

71. Thus, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, that arrow-maker became my Guru. Listen How a Kanyakā (girl) became my Guru earlier.

72. Renouncing all associations, I came out of the house. At that time my wife also closely came behind me and came out.

73. She held the infant son and a splendid daughter. I was then in my Vānaprastha stage. I was thus addressed by my wife:

74. “Follow my advice. You will have salvation here itself. A man may be a celibate religious student, a householder, a Vānaprastha or a recluse. If he has perfect restraint over himself, he shall certainly attain salvation.

75. Otherwise, if you abandon me and go elsewhere. I shall undoubtedly die. This is true.

76. After my death these children of yours, the son and the daughter will die subsequently. Hence, O my lord, have mercy on me.

77. Do not go to any other Tīrtha. You know yourself that this holy place of Hāṭakeśvara is remembered as highly meritorious.

78. It is the greatest of all Tīrthas. O my Lord, this has been heard by me from eminent Brāhmaṇas and other ascetics who extolled it.

79. O my Lord, this verse has been heard by me often repeated orally by Viśvāmitra, the great sage of truthful speech.

80. ‘All the (other) Tīrthas undoubtedly sanctify through holy ablution and monetary gifts. But the holy place Hāṭakeśvara shall sanctify even on being remembered.’”

81. Thereupon, with great difficulty, I vowed to resort to the Vānaprastha Āśrama (stage). So I stayed there itself.

82. While I remained there, my daughter in front of me began to play with her wrists full of bangles.

83. As she went subsisting only on roots, fruits and bulbous roots, she became leaner and leaner day by day.

84. Thereupon I became unhappy fearing that the bangles may fall down. Once it happened that only three bangles remained on her wrists. When they clashed with each other, a sound was produced.

85. After a long time only one of them remained. There was no clash and no sound when it was on the wrist.

86. Thinking deeply over this, the hermitage was forsaken by me. After deciding thus I thought as follow:

87. ‘If there are many there is perpetual quarrel. With two there is mutual clash and struggle. Therefore, I shall move about alone by myself like the single bangle of the daughter.’

88. Then as my wife and children were asleep I forsook them and went away to a long distance where she could not find me out.

89. I have left off all mundane ties and fetters. I am roaming over the earth taking in whatever is obtained and lying down for sleep whenever the sun sets, wherever it may be.

90. Thereby, O Brāhmaṇas, I slowly acquired wisdom and knowledge of the past, future and the present in particular.

91. Thus my own daughter became my Guru, O excellent Brāhmaṇas.

92. Thus I have narrated everyting that I was asked in regard to my Gurus. I do not narrate anything untrue before you, at any cost.

93. Thus perfect knowledge dawned upon me in six different ways. It is through these that I acquired the perfect superhuman knowledge that caused credence in you all.

Sūta said:

94. Then, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, all those Brāhmaṇas asked him: “After forsaking the Vānaprastha stage and leaving off your wife and children, where did you go? How long did you stay thus. Tell us.”

The guest said:

95. I was in great fright. I roamed over hundreds and thousands of villages where, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I practised the Vrata of going to bed (stay at the place) when the sun set. That had no reckoning and hundreds of years passed by.

96. All important Tīrthas and shrines were visited. Many excellent mountains and rivers of pure waters were seen.

97-98. While I was in Vārāṇasī, I myself came to know that the Yajña pertaining to Brahmā was about to be begun in the holy spot of mine. So, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I have come here eagerly to know how that Makha will be performed, where Pitāmaha himself is Yajvan (performer of a sacrifice).

Sūta said:

99. In the meantime, all the Devas, including Vāsava, came there keeping Vāsudeva and Maheśvara ahead of them.

100. So also Pulastya and other Ṛtviks came there for the sake of other rites. Brahmā too came there wearing the skin of an antelope.

101-102. Then all those Heaven-dwellers became pleased with his wisdom and perfect knowledge. They all said: “All of us shall grant you boon. Hence do choose a boon. Welfare unto you. Request for whatever is desired by you. Surely, we shall grant you the same even if it is very rare.”

Atithi (The guest) said:

103. If the Suras are pleased with me and they will grant me the boon I request for this that I must attain Devahood with this self-same body.

104. Also like other Heaven-dwellers I must have an equal share in Yajñas. O excellent Suras, a position above them too.

The Devas said:

105. Certainly you will become a Vibudha (Deva) and live in the world of Devas with this self-same body but you will not get a share in Yajña.

106. O Brāhmaṇa, if we were to give a part of the fruit of the Yajña to you, a human being, the Vedas are likely to become invalid. It is against the injunction of the Vedas to give it to you.

The guest said:

107. I have nothing to do with that Deva-hood devoid of a share in Yajña. Therefore, I shall practise that which will yield salvation.

108-110. On hearing it the Lotus-born Lord spoke to all the Devas with palms joined in reverence: “May all the deities listen to the beneficial advice that I offer to you.

This Brāhmaṇas has come from a distant place to take part in my Yajña. Moreover as a Nāgara he is a worthy recipient. He is endowed with perfect knowledge.

Since a boon has been promised to him by all the Vibudhas, O excellent Suras, let whatever is desired by him be given to him.”

Maheśvara said:

111. I shall tell you a means whereby he will have perpetual satisfaction more than what can be derived from share in Yajña. May all the excellent Vibudhas listen.

112. Hari is proclaimed as the Lord of Yajña that is being performed. For this reason, that Lord is called Yajñapuruṣa (Divine being of Yajña).

113. From now onwards, whenever a Yajña pertaining to Devas or Pitṛs is to be performed in the human world, its conclusion shall be decided thus.

114. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, after uttering this Brāhmaṇa’s name, the mane of Yajñapuruṣa should be glorified. Food should be served then.

115-117. Thereby he will have more satisfaction than from a share in Yajña. If any Śrāddha is performed without offering this, it shall become entirely futile like oblations offered in the ash (instead of in the sacrificial fire).

If at the end of the Vaiśvadeva, the devotee honours him along with the name of Viṣṇu that rite shall have everlasting benefit. Even the least thing that is offered with the mind sanctified by perfect faith shall in general become everlasting.

118. If any person does not worship him in the course of Śrādda or Vaiśvadeva, everything shall be futile in respect to the same.

119. If he is pleased all the Suras will become pleased. Even the Pitṛs with averted face before will come face to face with him.

120. On hearing the words of Maheśvara all the Vibudhas (Devas) said joyously, “So be it”. The Vibudhas with Brahmā and Viṣṇu at the head acclaimed Maheśvara’s words.

121. Ever since then the reception and worship of Atithis (guests) came into vogue. Hence the adoration of guests and not merely that of the Yajñapuruṣa should always be practised by all efforts in the course of a Yajña.

The Atithi said:

122. Here there is my Tīrtha where penance has been performed by me for a long time in the holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara, O excellent Brāhmaṇas.

123. On the fourth lunar day when it coincides with a Tuesday, all the Devas should be present there.

124. If a person takes his holy bath there on that day, let him get the benefit of all the Tīrtha with your favour.

125. “So it shall be”, said all the excellent Suras to the Atithi. In the meantime Sage Pulastya said to Pitāmaha:

Pulastya said:

126-127. The Ṛtviks and all the Devas are sitting wonderstruck. Let them rise up quickly for the performance of the rites of Yajña.

In the meantime, all the Ṛtviks rose up and resorted to their own respective places. Then, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the Yajña was resumed with the performance of Homa.

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