The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Kedareshvara Linga (Kedara-ishvara) which is chapter 39 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-ninth chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 39 - Kedāreśvara Liṅga (Kedāra-īśvara)

Īśvara said:

1-4. After duly adoring Kapardin, the Lord of Devas, O great goddess, a pilgrim should go to the Liṅga situated in Kedāra and set up in its south-east sector. It is near Bhīmeśvara. It is self-born Kalpaliṅga, O great goddess, and is my favourite. This Vṛddhiliṅga of great lustre was worshipped by me, O goddess. If any devotee abstains from food and keeps vigil on the night of the fourteenth lunar day, his worlds shall be eternal. But the name of this Lord in the earlier Yuga was Rudreśvara.

5. When at the advent of this Tiṣya (Kali Yuga) the Lord became afraid and agitated about contact with barbarians, he, Lord Kedāra, got merged into this Liṅga in the vicinity of the sea.

6-8. Hence, the name of the Lord became well-known as Kedāra.

In the month of Māgha, the pilgrim should restrict his diet and take his holy bath in the great Padmaka Kuṇḍa within the salty sea. It is situated at a distance of ten Dhanus to the south of Rudreśa.

O goddess, after taking the holy bath in accordance with the injunctions he should adore Rudreśa. Thereby he shall derive the benefits of the perfect performance of the pilgrimage to Kedāra.

9-10. By adoring the Lord, the sins of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter etc. shall be dispelled.

Now, O beloved of Suras, the ancient legend of the same Lord is being told. It yields the fulfilment of all the cherished desires unto men.

Formerly, O goddess, there was a king well-known as Śaśabindu.

11. He was born during the junction of Kali and Dvāpara. He was an emperor and Lord of all kings. He was competent to slay all antagonists and their hosts.

12-14. He had a chaste wife dear to him more than his own life. O beautiful lady (Gaurī), neither a Deva lady nor a Gandharvī, neither an Asurī lady nor a Pannagī was as beautiful as this lady of splendid eyes, the queen of the king. He had a hundred-petalled charming lotus moving through the sky. It was a fast vehicle of that noble-souled king. O goddess, he wandered over all the worlds as he pleased by means of that (lotus-vehicle).

15. Once, O lady of excellent countenance, on the fourteenth lunar day in the bright half of the month of Phālguna, he arrived at the excellent Prabhāsa Kṣetra.

16. He saw all the sages gathered before Śrīsomeśa. They were engaged in Japa and Homa at night for the purpose of keeping awake.

17. After viewing Somanātha and making the bow of veneration in accordance with the injunctions, he adored all of them in a fitting manner with devotion.

18-19. Then, O my beloved, he proceeded to Kedāra and bathed (the deity) duly. He worshipped Īśvara with flower garlands of various kinds, Various kinds of food-offerings were made. Charming robes and ornaments were dedicated to the deity. Thereafter, with great concentration he made arrangements for Jāgara (keeping awake at night).

20-21. Sages Cyavana, Yājñavalkya, Śāṇḍilya, Śākaṭāyana, Raibhya, Jaimini, Krauñca, Nārada, Parvata and Śīla were filled with eager curiosity. Keeping Mārkaṇḍa at their head, they approved him.

22. They conducted diverse kinds of discourses mostly in mythology and old legends. After remaining thus for some time, they asked the excellent king:

The sages said:

23. O king, why did you ignore Lord Someśvara and perform the rite of keeping awake before Lord Kedāra? Do tell us this. Certainly you know the efficacy of this Liṅga, in conferring prosperity.

The King said:

24. May all the Brāhmaṇas listen to the details of mine in the other body (i.e. earlier birth). Formerly I was a man of Śūdra caste, venerating Brāhmaṇas.

25. It was in the splendid land of Saurāṣṭra in a family possessing much wealth and food-grains. Then, O Brāhmaṇas, on another occassion a state of drought overran it.

26. Then I came to the Prabhāsa Kṣetra. I was afflicted with hunger. Then I espied a splendid lake situated near the Hariṇī river.

27. The name of that lake was Rāmasaras. It was adorned with clusters of lotuses. It resembled the Ocean of Milk. As I was tired, on seeing it, I took my bath there.

28-29. After offering libations to the Pitṛs and Devas, I drank the clear water. Then my wife told me thus: “Take these lotuses. Here, nearby an excellent charming holy spot is seen. We can sell these after going there so that, O dear Lord, we shall get our food.”

30. Thereupon, I got down into the water, O Brāhmaṇas, and plucked plenty of lotus flowers. Then I started towards the city.

31-32. O excellent sages, in order to sell the lotuses in full bloom, I went along the roads and places where three roads and four roads met. No one came forward to take (the flower). By that time, the sun also set. Accompanied by my wife, I went to a big building and slept there.

33-34. While sleeping I heard the sound of music. My wife and I were very hungry. It occurred to me that certainly the ritual of keeping awake was on, in a certain temple and that I shall go there to the temple with the lotus flowers. If anyone buys them, we can have our means of sustenance (food).

35. O leading sages, I got up and came to this place and saw this Liṅga adored with splendid flowers.

36-38a. This Vṛddha Liṅga is a self-born one and is named Rudreśvara.

A harlot named Anaṅgavatī was celebrating Śivarātri. With songs, dances and other festivities she kept awake before the deity.

I saw someone (and asked him): “Is this the ritual of keeping awake? Who is this lady seen here very ardently engaged in songs, dances and festivities?”

38b-42. He replied: “This is the ritual of Śivarātri mentioned in the scripture as Sivadharma. It yields great merit.

This is the harlot named Anaṅgavatī. She is very pious. She keeps awake at night after performing the splendid Śivarātri Vrata.

A man who perfectly celebrates this Śivarātri Vrata never meets with misery or poverty. Nor does he get into bondage.

He does not suffer due to malefic position of Planets, illness or anything fearsome. The man becomes richly endowed with good luck and happiness and is born in a good family.

He becomes refulgent, famous and recipient of everything by way of welfare. With the favour (of this deity) all this happens, so say learned men.

The King said:

43. Then I became finally inclined to perforin that Vrata, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. I thought thus in my mind.

44. As there was no food I was compelled to observe fast. Then I took my holy bath in the Padmaka Tīrtha in the salty ocean.

45. I thought, I shall worship Lord Maheśvara by means of these lotuses. Then Rudreśa was duly adored by me along with my wife.

46. The Lord was worshipped devoutly by means of the lotuses. Further, my wife had accompanied me in the adoration. Throughout that night, I had kept awake along with my wife.

47-48. After the day had dawned and the disc of the sun had risen, that harlot told me: “Take the three palas of silver as the price of the lotuses.” But I did not accept it, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. A Sāttvika feeling arose in me and in my wife.

49. Then I began to beg for alms and thus I sustained my life. Then after a great deal of time, O leading sages, I met with my death.

50. This chaste wife of mine who is dearer to me more than my own life, entered fire along with my dead body.

51. Thanks to its power, I was born as an emperor. Along with my wife I could remember the earlier birth. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, this is the truth.

52. It is for this reason that my devotion is concentrated on this Liṅga permanently along with my wife too. I am speaking the truth to you.

53. O excellent ones, this Vrata was performed by me who (as a Śūdra) had been excluded from all holy rites and devotional fervour. This is the great benefit yielded by it.

54. Now I am fully endowed with devotion and I have all essential requisites. What benefit is in store for me in the future, I do not know, O leading sages. Therefore, I have ignored Someśvara and became devouted [devoted?] to this deity (Kedāreśvara).

Īśvara said:

55. On hearing this, those Brāhmaṇas wondered much. With their eyes beaming, they said: “Excellent! Excellent!” They praised the king.

56. They always worshipped that self-born Liṅga. Thanks to the favour of this Liṅga, the most excellent king attained great Siddhi inaccessible even to Devas.

57. Thanks to the favour of the holy Śivarātri and the greatness of that Liṅga, the harlot became the celestial lady Raṃbhā.

58. Hence a sensible man should adore that Liṅga with all means and efforts, if he desires Puruṣārthas viz. virtue, love, wealth and salvation. The deity bestows everything.

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