by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Shudri Brahmani Tirtha which is chapter 198 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 ninety-eighth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
But on hearing the details of the incident pertaining to Ratnavatī, he became extremely disinterested and so returned to his own city.
On hearing that the visiting king Daśārṇa was going back to his own city, Ānarta followed closely behind him to make him turn back.
4. After coming near him, he said: “O king, why have you turned back without taking the hand of my daughter in marriage?”
5. This daughter of yours has become defiled. Her virginity has been molested as her lips have been kissed and her breasts have been pressed.
6-8a. Your daughter has now earned the appellation of Punarbhū (‘widow remarried’). If any son is somehow born to a Punarbhū at any time, he will undoubtedly cause the downfall of ten predecessors and ten successors in his family and he himself will be the twenty-first one. Therefore, I will not woo your daughter, O king.
8b-9. After saying this rudely, the Lord of Daśārṇa went back to his city. In spite of his offer of various things such as elephants, horses and chariots, and pressing pleadings, he insulted the other king.
10. Then the distressed king of Ānarta returned to his abode and told Mṛgāvatī all that had happened and what had been spoken by the king. He thus shared the misery of his wife, daughter and the ministers.
11-12. But they said: “There are innumerable kings on the earth. They are endowed with (good) features, prime of youth and possess elephants, horses and chariots. O Lord, give your daughter to one of them. Why should you be dejected and subject yourself to tormenting grief?”
13. On hearing their words, albeit uttered in great grief, Ānarta became delighted and he addressed the ministers and others.
14-15. He used extremely conciliatory and sweet words to his daughter who was present there: “Dear daughter, all the kings have been seen by you in the portraits. O splendid girl, choose some other king from them, whoever is likely to satisfy you on being seen directly.”
16. At any cost I will not take another husband excepting the Lord of Daśārṇa. May the reason thereof be heard.
17. Kings speak only once. They don’t change their words. Twice-borns speak only once. Virgins are given in marriage only once. All these three take place only once.
18. After realizing this, dear father, desist from giving me to another king. It does not behove you to do so because the eternal Dharma cannot be sustained thereby.
19-20. You have been given to the Lord of Daśārṇa only orally. He has not grasped your hand in the presence of the holy fire, Brāhmaṇas and preceptor. Hence, tell me, dear daughter, how has be become your husband?
21. At the outset, all acts are mentally thought of once. Later, it is uttered orally. Thereafter, it is carried out in practice.
22. Indeed, the soul has been given over to him at the outset by me. Thereafter, O Lord, it was orally given to him by you. Then, how can he not be my husband? Tell me if you really think so.
23. I will undertake penance adopting the vow of celibacy. I will not wed another husband. This decision has been made by me.
24. On hearing those terrible words, her mother Mṛgāvatī spoke these words with tears filling her eyes in the state of dejection and distress:
25-29. “Dear daughter, do not be rash enough to undertake a penance at any cost. You are a mere girl of delicate limbs and always accustomed to enjoy pleasures.
O blameless girl, how will you be able to perform a penance? Your diet should be confined to roots, fruits and bulbous roots. You will have to wear bark garments. Hence, I shall give you in marriage to some eminent king.
This your highly esteemed companion named Brāhmaṇī has herself adopted a life of celibacy and is awaiting your marriage. She is to become the wife of the priest of that king to whose mansion you will go after being wedded.”
30. You should never speak again words like these on my behalf, if you love your daughter and desire that I should be alive.
31-32. On the other hand, if you obstinately put obstacles in my penance, I will swallow some powerful poison and put an end to my life. Or, I will cut off my tongue or drown myself in water.
33-34. After taking such an ominous decision and telling her mother in so many words, she said thus to Brāhmaṇī, her esteemed girl companion. She embraced her respectfully and said with palms joined in reverence:
35-36. “O splendid girl, I have discharged you. Go to the mansion of your father so that your father can give you to a noble-souled Nāgara.
Forgive me if I have at my time spoken harshly to you. I have certainly forgiven whatever might have been uttered by you against me.”
38. O lady of excellent countenance, my girlhood has ceased after coining in contact with you. I have come to the age of sixteen years with regular menses as befitting a woman.
39. No Nāgara here will take my hand in marriage in view of his knowledge of the Smṛti dictum:
40-41. “He who marries a Rajasvalā (a girl above ten years of age) without feeling aversion, will cause the downfall of ten generations through the child thereof.
A father who gives away in marriage a Rajasvalā girl without aversion shall undoubtedly cause the downfall of ten generations of predecessors as well as ten generations of successors.”
42. Hence, O splendid girl, I shall perform penance along with you. I have nothing to do with my father. I have nothing to do at all with my mother.
43. After resolving this, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, those two girls went to the place where the great sage Bhartṛyajña was staying personally.
44-46. He was stationed in the beautiful Vāstupada consisting of all Tīrthas. By the power of his penance, no one, whether a human being or an ordinary base creature, had the feelings of anger. Mongooses played with serpents and cats with mice. Stags played with panthers and crows with owls.
The splendid girls approached Bhartṛyajña who was comfortably seated and spoke to ḥīm humbly with palms joined in reverence:
47-48. Accompanied by this friend of mine, a princess, I have come to your feet for the sake of performing penance. Hence do expound the procedure of penance. Do instruct me, O highly intelligent one, so that I can perform it completely.
49. I shall expound to you the procedure of penance distinctly whereby even salvation can be obtained, why speak of heaven?
50-51. The following types of penance have been enjoined by Vedas: Cāndrāyaṇa, Kṛcchra, Sāntapana, taking food once instead of six times (i.e. once in three days), taking food on alternate days, Brahmakūrca (drinking Pañcagavya on Full-moon day after fast), Trirātra (fasting for three days) and Ekabhakta (a single meal per day), Ayācita (without begging for food or an eatable).
52. These types of penance should be performed by persons without Rāga (attachment) and Dveṣa (aversion). They should be performed in accordance with one’s capacity. Dear daughter, the benefit of all of them is equally desirable. Thereby one attains the Siddhi that has been mentally conceived always.
53. When an attitude of impartiality arises in the mind for enemies and friends as well as a stone and a gem, one attains salvation.
54. If after taking the sign (initiation in penance) one becomes angry, everything becomes futile, like Homa performed in ashes.
55. Brāhmaṇī promised to do so by saying “So it shall be.” Accompanied by Ratnavatī, she went to a water-pond.
56. It was full of clear water and was adorned by clusters of lotus-plants.
Then she performed the Cāndrāyaṇa rite, the first of the Vratas pertaining to her penance.
57. Then she performed the Kṛcchra expiation and the Sāntapana rite thereafter. Thereafter, for three years she took food only once in the course of six meal times.
58. Afterwards, for three years she performed the Vrata of observing Trirātra (fasting for three days). Then she passed three years observing Ekāntaropavāsas (fasting on alternate days).
59. The saintly lady remained in water during early winter and during summer she performed penance in the midst of five fires and earned fame.
61. The king’s daughter went to another pond and performed whatever Vrata had been performed by Brāhmaṇī earlier. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, that lady of good holy rites was then highly delighted.
62. Then she adopted a regular fruit-diet for a hundred and fifty years. Afterwards, she ate only withered leaves for an equal period of time.
63. Then for a period of six hundred years, she took in only water. Thereafter, for the period of a thousand full years her only intake was air.
64. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, as the virgin went on performing her penance, her excellent refulgence went on increasing.
65-66. In the meantime, the delighted Moon-crested Lord accompanied by Umā, came within her view. Thereafter, he spoke these words as majestically as the deep sound of a rumbling cloud:
67. “Dear child, conclude your penance at my instance and pray for anything mentally desired, so that I can grant it to you entirely.”
68. This alone had been my wish, O Śaṅkara, that you may be seen, since, O Lord, your vision is very difficult to get even in a dream in the case of humans.
69. O lady of excellent penance, my vision can never be futile. Welfare unto you. Therefore, choose your boon so that I can grant it unto you.
70. This is my excellent companion, the chaste princess of great renown well-known by the name Ratnavatī. She is dearer to me than my own vital breath.
72. O Lord of Suras, due to the affection for her, I have forsaken my husband. Hence, O Lord, grant the boon that has been cherished in her mind.
73-74. On hearing her words the Moon-crested Lord said to the princess in words as majestic as the rumbling of a cloud:
“Dear daughter, it behoves you to stop further penance at my instance. O fair lady, choose your boon that has been cherished in your mind always. I shall grant it now, O gentle lady, even if it is not to be given (ordinarily).”
75. This water-pond is meritorious and is adorned by clusters of lotus plants.
76. It is the place where this chaste Brāhmaṇī has been engaged in her penance always. Let this Tīrtha become well known after her name.
77. O Lord of Devas, if a person takes his holy bath here with great faith, let him have his perpetual residence in Heaven.
78. Let my pond be named Śūdra Tīrtha after my name. Let it have the same power as the previous one.
79. In our virginity great penance should be performed everyday by us. You, the most excellent one of Suras, should be the one to be propitiated by us verbally, mentally and physically.
81. Lord Maheśvara who had became pleased by their excellent penance and who is fond of his devotees, spoke to them eagerly himself:
82-85. “The pair of these Tīrthas will become well-known in all the three worlds. Your Tīrtha shall be called Śūdri Tīrtha and that of your companion Brāhmaṇī Tīrtha.
A person should take his holy bath in both the Tīrthas with great faith. He should collect lotuses from your Tīrtha and pure water from her Tīrtha. Then he shall bathe my Liṅga and adore it.
Afterwards, on the fourteenth lunar day in the bright half coinciding with a Monday in the month of Caitra, he should adore it with lotus flowers. He will have long life.
Even if he has committed great sins, he shall become rid of all those sins.”
86. After saying thus, the Lord vanished. The two lady companions stayed there and performed penance for ever.
87. They continued the penance for a hundred Kalpas without old age and death. Even today they are seen in the firmament in the form of stars.
88-89. Ever since then the pair of the Tīrthas became reputed all over the earth. People from far-away places came there and had their holy ablution in both of them. After adoring that Liṅga they went to Heaven even when they were overwhelmingly sinful. Undoubtedly, it was due to the power of the two Tīrthas.
91. On the other hand, the entire heavenly region became overpopulated (full) with human beings vying with Devas and attended by groups of Apsarās.
93-94a. He placed before Brahmā two sheets well illustrated with pictures, one intended for listing sinners and the other listing virtuous ones. With great sorrow and distress, he spoke thus:
94b-100. “O Lord, there are two Tīrthas in the holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara. There is a Tīrtha named Śūdrī Tīrtha and the other named Brāhmaṇī Tīrtha. It is adorned with clusters of lotuses. Further, there is the great Liṅga of Maheśvara. It is highly meritorious. By the power of these three, all men, even excessively sinful ones, go to heavenly abode. All Narakas of mine, Raurava etc.; have became empty.
No one has performed Yajñas, no one made over any religious gifts nor did anyone perform the rite of offering libation to deities and ancestors and guests.
Hence I have abdicated all my powers assigned by you. Do employ someone else there proving himself more competent than I. These two sheets prepared by me have become totally invalid.”
On hearing these words the Lotus-born One summoned Śatakratu and said:
101-102. “At my behest, O Śakra, hasten to the human world. In the holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara there are two excellent Tīrthas. One is called Śūdrī Tīrtha and the other Brāhmaṇī Tīrtha. There is another excellent thing, the Liṅga stationed there. Shower dust particles therein and destroy (bury) them quickly.”
103. On hearing these words, Śakra hastened to the earth and filled the two Tīrthas and the Liṅga with dust particles.
105. Manu, born of the Self-born Lord, has said thus: “On the fourteenth lunar day coinciding with Monday, a person should perform Śrāddha in both of them with great faith. Of what avail is Gayā Śrāddha unto him?”
106. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, thus I have narrated everything that I was asked about in regard to that Brāhmaṇī and Śūdrī.
107. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, he who devoutly listens to this or reads this shall undoubtedly be relieved of the sins of the day.
108. Which man has not become a Siddha by adoring that Liṅga? Who has not become a long-lived one? there is none who has become so (by resorting to a Tīrtha) elsewhere.
Footnotes and references:
The reading should be corrected as kṣātra-yoni [yonim] and not śūdra yoni [yonim], for both kings. Ānarta and Daśārṇa were Kṣatriyas.