The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Importance of Balamandana which is chapter 206 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 two hundred sixth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 206 - Importance of Bālamaṇḍana

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Viśvāmitra said:

1-2. At the instance of Viṣṇu, Indra rode on his Airāvata, The lordly elephant comparable to a mountain, and came to Himālaya.

There he saw the sages hailing from Camatkāra (pura), who were observing restraints and practising control of the senses. They were characterized by righteous conduct. They were in the stage of Vānaprastha and free from lust and anger.

3. A few Brāhmaṇas among them took food on alternate days. Others took food once during six meal-times (i.e. three days). Others were engaged in Cāndrāyaṇa.

4. Some were Aśmakuṭṭas (those who removed husk from paddy by means of stones and ate them). Others were Dantolūkhalins (those who used their teeth as mortar and pestle). Some took in withered dry leaves. Others had only the intake of water. Still others took in only air. Thus they performed severe penance.

5. The excellent Brāhmaṇas saw Śakra coming. He was duly honoured by the Cāraṇas and Siddhas. He was one who had not been seen by them before.

6. Then all the Brāhmaṇas were told by the people in the neighbourhood of that hermitage:

7. “Here comes Śakra to your hermitage, O Brāhmaṇas. May honour be offered to him as enjoined by knowers of scriptures.”

8. Thereupon, all those Brāhmaṇas came face to face with him immediately. Their eyes beamed with wonder. They stood by with palms joined in reverence.

9-10. They welcomed him in accordance with the injunctions laid down in the Gṛhya Sūtras. With their delight indicated by the hairs standing on their ends, all of them spoke humbly: “O Lord of Devas, you may not be keenly desiring anything. What may be the reason for your visit? We are eager to know.”

Indra said:

11. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, I hope you are fully satisfied in the performance of Agnihotras penance, chanting of the Vedas and learning.

12. Why have you left the splendid holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara abounding in Tīrthas and come to this mountain that causes distress due to snowfall?

13. So, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, you my all accompany me to the meritorious Camatkārapura full of many Brāhmaṇas.

14. I will now go there, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, at the bidding of Vāsudeva and perform Śrāddha in the Gayākūpa with due devotion.

15. I shall perform it in front of you all on the fourteenth lunar day in the Pitṛpakṣa (fortnight of the Manes, i.e. Dark half of Bhādrapada). It is quite clear that you have the ability to move through the firmament.

16. Hence come along with me accompanied by your wives, children and elderly people and also the sacred fires for the Agnihotra rites. Welfare unto you all. Your residence will be there.

The Brāhmaṇas said:

17-18. We will not go any more to that place Camatkārapura. There are other Brāhmaṇas there who have mastered the Vedas and Vedāṅgas. There are Nāgara Yājñikas (performers of Yajña). They are devoted to Smṛtis and Śrutis. If you have true faith in Śrāddha, perform it before them.

Indra said:

19. The few Brāhmaṇas there whom you glorified are really so. All of them have mastered the Vedas and Vedāṅgas.

20. They are rich in erudition and specialists in the performance of Yajñas. They are full of hatred and harsh in speech.

21. They are swayed by arrogance. They vie with one another with a desire to defeat each other. Day and night they indulge in vicious pleasures. They are far removed from a life of pious penance.

22. You have all good qualities and have been commended by Viṣṇu. Hence, all of you should come along with me.

The Brāhmaṇas said:

23. It was for that very reason i.e. because of that defect, that we left our own native place there, (though) it is abounding in many Tīrthas and it is a guide unto the path of heaven.

24-25. O Purandara, if we are to come there along with you, all our kinsmen engrossed in lust and hatred will commit crimes against us at every step day by day. They are full of the defect of jealousy. They continually prattle in harsh words.

26. That will lead to anger and wastage of the power of penance that results from anger. Attainment of liberation is hindered thereby. So, O Lord, how can we go?

27. Further, there is a king there who is always engaged in dispensing gifts. The Lord of Ānarta is well-known all over the earth.

28. He always gives Dāna of various kinds such as elephant, horse, gold etc. If we refuse to accept it, he might get angry.

29. With the king infuriated and the kinsmen antagonistic, there cannot be the fulfilment of our penance. Therefore, our city was abandoned by us.

30. O Lord of Devas, if we accept the gifts of that king, there shall be loss of our penance thereby, this is mentioned by the Self-born Lord.

31. A Cakrin (oil-producer, monger) is on a par (in sinful activities) with ten Sunās (slaughter houses). A Dhvajin (distiller of liquor) is on a par with ten Cakrins. A Veśyā (courtesan) is on a par with ten Dhvajins and a king is on a par with ten Veśyās.

32. How can we accept gift from that sinful king like the other Nāgaras who are over-avaricious?

Indra said:

33. This is the power of that holy spot itself, of the place named Hāṭakeśvara, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. It has been always present.

34. This (animosity) between fathers and sons and kinsmen in particular, between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law and between sisters and wives of brothers (is always present).

35-36. The Lord named Hāṭakeśvara is underneath that city. It is his power whereby all the people become angry. Therefore, they hate and quarrel with one another. Was this not heard by you all that Rāma who came here along with Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa had great clash with them?

37. He became angry with Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa. O Brāhmaṇas, he used unutterable words for them and both of them also did the same for him.

58. If one stays there for a month avoiding anger, one shall attain salvation. Staying thus for five nights enables one to attain heavenly pleasures.

39. Hence, you all must come there along with me. Those Nāgaras will not exhibit jealousy in your case.

40. With my favour you too will not be angry with the people thereof, O leading Brāhmaṇas. This is the truth that I have uttered.

41-43. King Ānarta will not press you at all to accept gifts.

If people offer their daughters to your sons and grandsons, they will reap a thousand times more of benefits.

If anyone performs Śrāddha in front of you all in the Gayākūpī on the Amāvāsyā day when the Sun is in Virgo, the benefit that accrues to him will be a hundred thousand times more.

44-45. This will, result from the Gayā Śrāddha. There is no doubt about it. It is the truth that I have uttered.

O excellent Brāhmaṇas, if you do not come there for the sake of the Śrāddha, I will curse you and that will cause obstacles in you penance. Understand this and come there along with me immediately.

46-47. On being told thus by Śakra, all of them, the eight eminent families of Brāhmaṇas named Kāśyapa, Kauṇḍinya, Ukṣṇāśa, two families designated Śārkava, two called Kāpiṣṭhala and Baijavāpa came (to Camatkārapura) with Indra, O king.

48. The Slayer of Pāka summoned all the Pitṛs including Agniṣvāttas and Viśvedevas and started with them.

49-51. He was endowed with perfect Śraddhā and proceeded towards Camatkārapura.

At the same time, on the same day, Brahmā the grandfather of the worlds, set off to Gayā for the sake of Śrāddha. On coming to know that Vidhi had set off towards Gayā, Viśvedevas left the Śrāddha of Śakra and went to the place where the Grandfather (i.e. Brahmā) was present. After reaching that city, Śakra went to Gayākūpī.

52. Śakra with due faith took his bath and invoked for the sake of Śrāddha Viśvedevas and Pitṛs at the holy hour named Kutapa (the eighth of the fifteen Muhūrtas in a day).

53. In the meanwhile, the Pitṛs in the form of gods as well as those in the form of Pretas who were invoked by him arrived duly.

54. They came near the Brāhmaṇas in their visible forms. But Viśvedevas who had gone to Gayā did not come there.

55. Since Viśvedevas are to be honoured at the outset in a Śrāddha, Indra waited for them. He delayed the performance of the Śrāddha for their sake.

56. In the meantime Nārada, the excellent sage, came there and told Śakra who was expecting (desirous of) their arrival:

Nārada said:

57. O Śakra, Viśvedevas have gone now to the Śrāddha of Pitāmaha. They were seen delightedly proceeding towards Gayā by me.

58. On hearing it he became angry with them instantaneously. Standing in front of the Brāhmaṇas he said in harsh words:

59-60. “Oh, today I shall perform the Śrāddha without Viśvedevas! So shall all the men on the earth do. If anyone were to perform Śrāddha here placing Viśvedevas in front, his Śrāddha will become futile like the shower of rain in an arid land.”

61. After saying thus, the Thousand-eyed One performed Ekoddiṣṭa (having the group as one unit in view) for all those Devas who were killed in the battle.

62. At the same time an unembodied voice, O excellent king, of those with whom ṭn view that Śrāddha was performed, spoke:

63-66. “O Śakra, O mighty-armed Śakra, Śrāddha was performed by you for the sake of those who remained in the state of Preta. They have been relieved of Pretahood and they have gone to Svarga in divine forms, with your favour. Those who had already gone to Svarga, fighting in the great battle have attained salvation, O Vāsava, with your favour.”

On hearing that utterance Vāsava was pleased very much. In his delight, he repeatedly praised the Tīrtha, “How wonderful is the Tīrthaī How wonderful is the Tīrtha!” In the meantime, the Viśvedevas came there eagerly.

67-68. O king, they came there after concluding the Śrāddha of Brahmā at Gayā. They spoke to the Slayer of Vṛtra, “O Śatakratu, perform the Śrāddha. Once again you must perform the Śrāddha. Without us, the benefit of a Śrāddha is not attained. We have come from very far for the sake of the Śrāddha after concluding the Śrāddha of Brahmā by whom we were invited earlier.”

69. On hearing their words, Indra became furious. He spoke harsh words in a voice as majestic as a rumbling cloud:

70-73. “From today onwards, if anyone else in the mortal world performs Śrāddha with all of you at the outset, it shall become futile.

All the people will perform Ekoddiṣṭa Śrāddhas alone. This convention has been now established by me in the human world.

I shall myself guard against the attack of Bhūtas, Pretas and Piśācas who pollute Śrāddhas and who were restrained by Viśvedevas (until now).

After assiduously combining the Śrāddha with the physical form of the Yajamāna (person performing Yajña) all of them will be struck down by me. They will be then driven away quickly.”

74. After saying this to the Viśvedevas, the Thousand-eyed One spoke to all those Brāhmaṇas: “The Śrāddha rite should be performed by you and the other men without Viśvedevas.”

75. When the leading Brāhmaṇas assented to it by saying, “So it shall be”, Viśvedevas became extremely distressed. They lamented shedding profuse tears flooding the whole earth.

76-77. O king, when the earth was flooded by their hot tears, all the living beings and the innumerable eggs (were tossed about). From those eggs, living beings of terrible features came out. They had black teeth, piked ears and hairs standing up. They were terrible with their red eyes. Then they spoke to Viśvedevas, O king:

78. “All of us are hungry. Food must be certainly given by you, because we have been created by you. We will not request anyone else for food.”

Viśvedevas said:

79. Can there be any Śrāddha without us on the earth which can provide food unto you with great faith?

80. After saying thus about the Śrāddha, O king, the extremely distressed Viśvedevas went to Brahmaloka. They bowed down to Pitāmaha and spoke to him in piteous tone:

81-82. “O Lord, we have been excluded from all Śrāddhas by the Enemy of Bala (Indra). Since, on being earlier invited by you, we had come to your Śrāddha at Gayā, the Thousandeyed One (Indra) has become furious. So we have come to you. Do this favour to us that we may be fully entitled for participation in Śrāddha.”

83-85. On hearing these words, Brahmā felt great compassion for them. He took with him all the Viśvedevas accompanied by Kūṣmāṇḍas (the beings mentioned in verse 77 above) and went to the place where Śakra was present after performing all the Śrāddha rites of the Heaven-dwellers with the intention of undertaking pilgrimage.

Seated in his vehicle of the swan and accompanied by the Viśvedevas, Brahmā reached that place,

86. On seeing that the Lotus-seated Lord had arrived there, Śakra took Arghya and Pādya and hurriedly approached him and stood in front of him.

87-90. He bowed down his head humbly and prostrated before him. With palms joined in reverence, he said: “O Pitāmaha, welcome to you. Merely by your vision, I have quickly understood my three births. I had performed auspicious rites before in the same manner as I do now. I shall also perform the same in the next world also. This has undoubtedly become clear.

O Lord, tell me quickly the cause of your visit. Though you have no specific desire, I shall carry out everything you may command me.”

Brahmā said:

91. O most excellent one among Suras, without these Viśvedevas even my Śrāddha cannot be duly performed. Yet they have now been excluded from Śrāddha by you!

92. What has been done by you is not proper. By doing thus you have made the Vedas and the Smṛtis unauthoritative.

93. O Śakra, they were invited by me for the purpose of the Śrāddha earlier and only afterwards by you. Hence, these noble-souled ones are not to be blamed. They are free from faults.

94. Hence, O Lord of Suras, endeavour for the release of these from that curse so that all these will be entitled for the Śrāddha. They are very much distressed.

95. Earlier, this had been proclaimed by me to all the Brāhmaṇas that the Śrāddha performance with these (i.e. Viśvedevas) will be fruitful.

96. Then why do you render my statement false?

Indra said:

97. O Pitāmaha! It was only through a fit of anger that these have been cursed by me. Hence, manage everything in such a way as to make me truthful in my statement.

Brahmā said:

98. O Vāsava, I shall manage everything so that your statement also becomes true and the purpose of the Viśvedevas is also served.

99. What you enjoined as the Śrāddha without the Viśvedevas shall be the Ekoddiṣṭa one. Men will perform it on the earth.

100. They will perform it, O Lord of Devas, on the day when you performed the Śrāddha unto those killed with weapons i.e. on the fourteenth day in the Pretapakṣa.

101. At my instance, the Śrāddha of Nāgaras performed without Viśvedevas on the Kṣayāha (i.e. the fourteenth day in the dark fortnight) shall also be auspicious.

102. On other occasions, if the Śrāddha is performed without them, I aver that it shall be fruitless. There is no doubt about it.

103. If any man performs on that day any Śrāddha except for one killed with weapons, that Śrāddha will be the food of Bhūtas (goblins).

Viśvāmitra said:

104. When Śakra assented to it, the polite and humble Viśvedevas said to Brahmā, the grandfather of the worlds:

105-108. “These sons were born out of our very tears. To them, distressed with hunger, O Lord, the food was assigned by us: We were angry with Vāsava and we assigned to them as food the Śrāddha that excludes us. These words uttered by us should be true.

O Pitāmaha, manage it in such a manner as to make true our statement as well as that of Vāsava. Fix up splendid food for us, whereby there shall be excellent satisfaction.

With your favour, O Lotus-born Lord, let there be the contentment of all these.”

Padmaja (Lotus-born Brahmā) said:

109-111. At the time of Śrāddha, a line is drawn with sacred ash underneath the food plates of Brāhmaṇas. These (your sons) should avoid them. Whether it be Ekoddiṣṭa, Pārvaṇa (occurring at the religious Parvas such as Full-Moon, New-Moon etc.) or Vṛddhiśrāddha (that performed on prosperity such as birth of a son, marriage etc.), whatever is outside of the line marked with sacred ash has been given over to these by me. I am so delighted.

After saying thus, Pitāmaha gave them a name.

112. “The earth is indicated by the word Ku. Since it had been sprinkled with tears, the Aṇḍas (Eggs) arose therefrom. These Ghanas (solid groups) were born of them. Hence, they will become well-known in all the three worlds as Kūṣmāṇḍas[1].”

113. He then grouped them into three and respectively entrusted them to Agni, Vāyu and Arka (Sun). Then he spoke these words:

114-115. “Through separate Homas uttering the three Ṛks (Mantras) well-known in the Yajurveda as yad devā deva-heḍanam1 etc. etc. the offerings should be made over to these three. They will become satisfied thereby as enjoined by me. It is doubtless. In case of Koṭi Homa they will have their share from the middle.”

116. After saying thus, the Four-faced One vanished. The Viśvedevas and especially the Kūṣmāṇḍas became glad.

117-118. It is because of the fear from Kūṣmāṇḍas that the protective marking through the sacred ash is done beneath the food plates of Brāhmaṇas. This is not followed in the case of the Śrāddha of Nāgaras because they do not like a loophole (gap). Listen, in their holy spot the protection through sacred ash has been prohibited by Bhartṛyajña and Nāgaras out of courtesy followed it.

119-120. All those Nāgaras never make it (the line with sacred ash).

When the Four-faced Lord went to his abode Indra spoke to all those Brāhmaṇas hailing from Camatkārapura. With palms joined in reverence, he stood humbly before them and said:

121. “O Brāhmaṇas, may my word be listened to. Thereafter you should carry it out. I shall install a Liṅga of the Trident-bearing Lord of Devas.”

122. Then an excellent spot was pointed out to him by those Brāhmaṇas. After installing the Liṅga, he became glad and went to heaven.

Viśvāmitra said:

123. Thus, O Lord of men, everything that I was asked, has been narrated to you. This is the greatness of Gayākūpī. It bestows all cherished desires.[2]

Ānarta said:

124. The greatness of Gayākūpī has been narrated to me by you. It behoves you to extol the greatness of Bālamaṇḍana now.

125. At which holy spot was that Liṅga installed by Śakra. O highly esteemed one, describe it to us. What is the benefit when it is visited?

Viśvāmitra said:

126-127. When the Brāhmaṇas were requested for the Liṅga and a splendid holy spot by the Thousand-eyed One (Indra); the highly meritorious Bālamaṇḍana Liṅga was shown by them. It was there that the sons of Did named the Maruts were born.

128-129. They were destroyed by him alone earlier but they did not die. Diti had performed a penance there in her eagerness for excellent sons. After seeing the highly meritorious place already seen by him before and known to be meritorious the Lord of Devas spoke to Jīva (Bṛhaspaṭi):

130. “O my preceptor, tell me quickly the day and time that shall be very auspicious so that I can install the Liṅga of Hara which shall not perish even at the time of pralaya.”

131-133. After thinking for a long time, he said to the Consort of Śacī: “On the thirteenth lunar day in the bright half of the month of Māgha, when Sunday and the Puṣya constellation coincide, O Lord, install at my instance the Liṅga when the day has dawned splendidly. It is the desirable period. The divine Liṅga shall remain steady till the end of the Kalpa.”

On hearing this, the King of Devas was extremely delighted.

134. In the vicinity of Bālamaṇḍana, he installed the Liṅga in the midst of chanting of Puṇyāha Mantras by Brāhmaṇas accompanied by sounds of vocal and instrumental music.

135. At the end of the Homa, he propitiated the excellent Brāhmaṇas and gave them as Dakṣiṇā, the excellent holy spot Āghāṭa.

136. It was situated on Māṅkūla (a desirable spot?) and was embellished by a beautiful rampart. O excellent king, he gave it as the common property of all the Brāhmaṇas.

137. Then he summoned the Aṣṭakulika Brāhmaṇas (belonging to the eight families) and spoke thus:

138. “You will have to take care of the Liṅga. For your sustenance extending as long as the Moon and the Sun shine is being given by me, a grant of twelve villages which you should accept.”

The Brāhmaṇas said:

139. O most excellent one among Devas, we will not carry out what you propose in connection with the management of the Liṅga. May the reason thereof be listened to.

140. A property belonging to Brāhmaṇas or to Devas particularly when it is on the border of a lake, may destroy all ancestors even if a small part of it is consumed (misappropriated).

141. If anyone born in our family is to consume it, he will cause our downfall. That is our great fear.

142-145. Thereupon, a Madhyaga (middleman), an excellent Brāhmaṇa, observed that Śakra who had earlier rendered help had become sad and vacant-minded. He was Devaśarman by name, very well-known by all his three Pravaras.

With palms joined in reverence, he said: “I shall look after your Liṅga, O Vāsava, who will perpetuate my race till the advent of Pralaya. As yet I have no son. A son (when) born to me shall be a knower of Dharma (righteousness) and appreciative of benefits received. He shall avoid (misappropriation of) property belonging to Devas.”

On hearing this, Vāsava was delighted and he said to that excellent Brāhmaṇa:

Indra said:

146. A splendid son will be born to you. He will perpetuate your line. He shall be righteous, truthful and one who will avoid the (misappropriation of the) property of Devas.

147. All the sons born of that noble-souled Brāhmaṇa’s family will have the same characteristic features. They will be masters of the Vedas.

148. Something more I shall speak to you, O excellent Brāhmaṇa. Listen to my words: May the other leading Brāhmaṇas also who have assembled here listen:

149. At the bidding of the Four-faced Lord this excellent Liṅga having four faces has been installed by me in the Tīrtha named Bālamaṇḍanaka.

150. If a person performs his holy ablution here and offers libations to the Pitṛs, they shall get propitiated as long as they are alive.

151-152. Twelve villages have been donated to the Lord by me. The Brāhmaṇas shall reside there and when there is an occasion for Vṛddhiśrāddha, they shall perform the first Śrāddha here. They will then perform later rites without any obstacle. Prosperity will accrue to them. If (this is) not (done), there shall occur obstacles.

153-154. The People living in those villages should come here with perfect concentration and mental purity on the thirteenth lunar day in the bright half of the month of Māgha. They should take their holy bath in the Bālamaṇḍanaka Tīrtha and worship the Liṅga with concentration and excellent devotion. They will attain the greatest goal.

155. If even at a later time people oppress the villages donated to the Liṅga, they will meet with destruction.

156. On that day all the Tīrthas all over the earth including the oceans and lakes will arrive at the Bālamaṇḍanaka Tīrtha.

Viśvāmitra said:

157. After saying this the Thousand-eyed One faced the Brāhmaṇas of the eight families angrily and spoke these words:

158. “Seven families of Brāhmaṇas from among you did not carry out my request. They have been ungrateful. For this ingratitude; I shall undoubtedly curse them.

159. The truthful Manu, the son of the Self-born Lord, has earlier stated thus referring to all ungrateful persons.

160-161. ‘Means of redemption have been laid down by good people in regard to a Brāhmaṇa-slayer, an imbiber of liquor, a thief, a rogue and those who have broken their vows. There is no means of redemption in the case of the ungrateful. Brāhmaṇas, cows, women, children and ascetics, should not be killed.’ So I am not killing these in spite of their great vulnerability.”

162. Then the Chastiser of Pāka took up the Darbha grass and water in his hand and cursed those ungrateful excellent Brāhmaṇas.

163-164. “These excellent Brāhmaṇas will become poor at my instance in spite of getting fortune. Through my devotees they may get their sustenance but their own successors will abandon those devotees. There is no doubt about it. These hard-hearted unmannerly voracious people have not carried out my request (so will their successors do).”

165. After saying this to the seven families of Brāhmaṇas he spoke to the remaining Brāhmaṇas hailing from the city:

166-167. “O excellent Brāhmaṇas, let some space be given to me in this very holy spot so that I can stay here for five nights at the end of the year.

It is for the purpose of the worship of this Lord so that humṇn beings can be happy and for propitiating all you Brāhmaṇas (that I wish to stay here).”

Viśvāmitra said:

168. Then all those Brāhmaṇas showed him the space for his use. Later they said with great delight:

169-170. “O Śakra, you should come here and stay in the Brahmasthāna (place assigned to Brahmā) for five nights. You should stay here for the benefit of mankind.

In this place, we shall celebrate a grand festival before you, that will accord much prosperity and everything desired to all. We shall sing and play on the instruments loudly. With scents, garlands and unguents, we shall propitiate the Brāhmaṇas.”

Viśvāmitra said:

171. On hearing those words Pākaśāsana was delighted. After honouring all the Brāhmaṇas, he went to the heavenly abode.

Footnotes and references:


A distorted popular etymology.


Taittirīya Āraṇyaka 2.3.1.

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