by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Descent of Sarasvati which is chapter 34 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 thirty-fourth chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.
4. When the Lord of waters was thus thought of by the divine lady (river), the ocean of great lustre, rose up from the water and came there.
5-7. On seeing the highly fascinating Ocean like another blue-complexioned, lotus-eyed, divine Viṣṇu the divine lady was surprised. He had ornaments and garlands of various kinds. He had garments of diverse colours and (was smeared with) unguents of various sorts. He was surrounded by the Āpagās (Rivers) in physical forms like ladies.
On seeing the Ocean of this description, the divine lady, the daughter of Brahmā, spoke to the Ocean with pure smiles:
9. In the meantime he too considered mentally everything to be carried out. ‘By accepting the Anala (fire) the task of the Suras will be carried out by me’.
12-13. Then Sarasvatī of variegated limbs (beautiful) immediately bowed down to Cāraṇas standing in the firmament with Pitāmaha as the leader. Then she spoke to the Vāḍava held in her hands: “You have been asked to devour the ĀP (Waters) by Suras. These are they (the waters).”
14. After saying this the divine lady Sarasvatī handed over the highly powerful Vaḍavāgni to the Ocean at the behest of Suras.
16. In the vicinity of Daityasūdana (Viṣṇu) she offered Arghya to the Salt Sea and installed Arghyeśvara to the west of Daityasūdana.
17. Then the great river of five channels entered the ocean. Already meritorious and holy in her own original form, she became now still more sacred.
18. She became holier due to the contact of the Prabhāsa Kṣetra and the confluence with the Ocean. After receiving the Vāḍava from Sarasvatī, Sāgara (Ocean) thought in the manner of a poor man who suddenly got much wealth: ‘Where shall I place this?’
19. With that fire held in the hand and blazing brightly the Sāgara appeared like another Meru with the fire held on the head.
20. On seeing him in that position, all the aquatic beings, the sea monsters etc. howled loudly as they were afraid of being scalded.
21-22. On hearing that terrific sound, Daityasūdana (Viṣṇu) came there and told all the aquatic beings, “O highly powerful ones, do not be afraid, since, at the outset, only the waters are to be taken in by this (Vāḍava Fire) and not those beings living therein. At my bidding, do not get afraid.”
23. On being told thus by Kṛṣṇa, the aquatic beings kept quiet.
24. When all the aquatic beings became silent, Acyuta said to the Lord of Waters, “Do hurl the Vāḍava in the midst of the waters.”
26. That water shaken by the exhalation of the breath began to move about outside the ocean like a young woman who has set at nought all bounds and curbs of behaviour.
27-28. As time passed on, O Goddess (Gaurī), the water began to dry up and evaporate slowly. The Storehouse of waters (the Sea) became aware of the fact that the (store of) waters are getting dwindled. He spoke to the Lotus-eyed Lord: “Do make the waters perennial. Otherwise, O Janārdana, if all the waters disappear, this Vāḍava fire will at the very outset swallow
29-30. On hearing these awful, panicky words of the Ocean, the water was rendered perennial (by Acyuta). The Suras knew that the water thus rendered everlasting dispels their grief. They knew these activities (of Keśava) which bound the Kṛtyā Fire to a tempting promise. They worshipped Keśava who moved about there tempting their enemy (i.e. the Vāḍava Fire). In this they kept the waters as their leaders.
31. Thus, O great goddess (Gaurī), from the world of Brahmā, Sarasvatī, the destroyer of all sins, reached the excellent Prabhāsa Kṣetra.
32. The great goddess holding the Vāḍava fire stationed herself to the south-east of Someśa near the ocean.
33-34. At the outset, a pilgrim should take his bath in the Agnitīrtha and then worship her in accordance with the injunctions. He should feed a couple and give them garments along with bodice. Then he should worship the great Lord Kapardin. O goddess (Gaurī) this incident happened formerly in the Cākṣuṣa Manvantara.
35-37. This incident refers to the Vāḍava born in the family of Dadhīci. O great goddess, when this Vaivasvata Manvantara began, Aurva, the great Brāhmaṇa, was born in the family of Bhārgava. The Aurva of great refulgence was controlled (within limits) by Sarasvatī, the mother of Devas. Till the end of this Manvantara he will stay within the womb of the waters.
Thus, O goddess, the origin of Sarasvatī has been narrated to you. If it is listened to, it dispels the sins of men. It gives reputation and increases merits.
Footnotes and references:
According to Mbh, Ādi. 179.21 it was Aurva who threw his fiery wrath in the form of Vaḍavānala in the Sea. Aurva was not drowned in the Sea.