The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Greatness of Rameshvara Ksetra which is chapter 202 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 second chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 202 - Greatness of Rāmeśvara Ksetra

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Īśvara said:

1-2. Thereafter, O great goddess, a pilgrim should go to the excellent shrine of Rāmeśvara. It was installed by Balabhadra to the south of Maṅkīśa, south-east of Kṛtasmara and east of Sarasvatī.

It is the place where, it is said, Rāma (i.e. Balarāma) was rid of the killing of Brahmā (a Sūta who sat in the place of Brahmā in a sacrifice: vide verse 33), and dived into Sarasvatī flowing backwards.

The Devī said:

3. Then how did he get rid of the sin? How was that Liṅga installed? What is its efficacy? Do tell me how at the outset he incurred the sin.

Īśvara said:

4. Listen, O goddess, I shall narrate the sin-destroying story, listening to which, O goddess, a man becomes released from the ocean of worldly existence. He shall obtain all the desired items lovingly cherished always in the mind.

5-8. Rāma, armed with the plough, delighted Kṛṣṇa very much and thought thus: ‘What should I do which will be a meritorious act’. Without Kṛṣṇa, I will not go to (the side of) Duryodhana. How can I resort to the Pāṇḍavas and kill Duryodhana, the king, my disciple and son-in-law? Therefore, I will not go to the son of Kuntī (i.e. Yudhiṣṭhira) nor to King Duryodhana. I shall immerse myself in holy Tīrthas till this war ends with the end of dispute among Kurus and Pāṇḍavas.

9. Having told this to Hṛṣīkeśa, Pārtha and Duryodhana, Śauri (i.e. Rāma) went to Dvārakā surrounded by his armies.

10. Rāma with the plough as his weapon, went to the city of Dvārāvatī teeming with delighted and contented people. There he indulged in a drunken bout with the persons (ladies) of his Antaḥpura.

11. After imbibing wine, he seized a mace with his hand and went to the splendid garden of Raivatodyāna accompanied by Revatī and others.

12. Moving in the midst of groups of women, he went along with faltering steps like an inebriated person. The valorous Rāma surveyed an excellent and fascinating park.

13. Everywhere there were flowering trees abounding in monkeys. There were extensive forests with puddles and lakes full of clusters of lotuses.

14. He listened to the delightful notes of music issuing forth from the beaks of birds charming to the ears. The diverse sounds indicated that the forest birds were inebriated too.

15. He saw many trees all round laden with gem-like fruits, and glittering with flowers. The chirping birds appeared to be cheering them.

16-21. There were Āmras (mango trees), excellent Āmrātakas, Nālikeras (coconuts), Tindukas, Balvalas, yellow Dāḍimas (pomegranates), Bījapūrakas, Panasas (Jackfruit trees), Lakucas, Mocas, charming Tāpas, Pālevatas, Kusaṃkullas, Nalinas, Vetasas (canes), Bhallātakas, Āmalakīs, Tindukas with big fruits, Iṅgudas, Karamardas, Harītakas and Bibhītakas. The scion of the family of Yadus saw these and other trees. So also he saw Aśokas, Punnāgas, Ketakīs, Bakulas, Campakas, Saptaparṇas, Karṇikāras, excellent Mālatīs, Pārijatas, Kovidāras, Mandāras, Indīvaras, Pāṭalas in full bloom, Raṃbhās (bananas), Devadāru trees, Śālas, Tālas, Tamālas, Niculas and Vañjulas.

22-23. These trees abounded in birds perching on them, such as Cakoras, Śatapatras(?), lotuses full of Bhṛṅgarājas (bees), Kokilas (cuckoos), Kalaviṅkas, Hārītas, Jīvajīvakas, Cātakas fond of their young ones, parrots and other birds. They were perched on the trees and chirping very sweetly.

24-26. There were lakes with fascinating waters and lotuses in full bloom. There were lilies, Puṇḍarīkas (white lotuses), glistening Utpalas, Kalhāras, Kamalas spread everywhere. The place was full of aquatic birds such as Kadaṃbakas, Cakravākas, Jalakukkuṭas, Kāraṇḍavas, floating (swimming) Haṃsas (swans), and tortoises and Maṇḍus (frogs). These and other aquatic animals filled the lakes.

27. Proceeding ahead slowly and followed by the women, Rāma surveyed the charming scene and reached a grotto of excellent features.

28-29. He saw Brāhmaṇas who had mastered the Vedas and Vedāṅgas hailing from different families such as Kauśikas, Bhārgavas, Bhāradvājas and Gautamas. These excellent Brāhmaṇas of noble souls were seated there and were eager to listen to the stories (from Sūta).

30. They were seated on Darbha grass covered with antelope-skins as well as Bṛsīs (special mats) Sūta was seated in their midst narrating excellent tales and legends.

31-32. The Brāhmaṇas assembled there, were well-versed in the Purāṇas and were glad to listen to the stories and conducts of the primordial celestial sages. On seeing Rāma with eyes reddened due to drinking wine they thought, ‘He is thorougly drunk’, and hurriedly got up and began to honour and adore Halāyudha excepting Sūta who continued to sit.

33-34. The powerful Halin became angry. With eyes staring wide open, the mighty Rāma who could make all Dānavas agitated, killed Sūta. When Sūta who had occupied the seat of Brahmā was slain all those Brāhmaṇas clad in black-antelope skins dispersed.

35. Considering himself insulted, Halāyudha thought thus: ‘A great sin has been committed by me.

36. This person, Sūta who was seated in the Brahmāsana has been slain. That is why all these Brāhmaṇas went away on seeing me.

37. The odour from my body is displeasing and despicable like that of iron that causes unhappiness. I know that I am a despicable Brahmaghna (Brāhmaṇa-slayer).

38. Fie upon my wealth, greatness and this ignominous wine overwhelmed by which this great sin has been committed by me!

39. I shall perform the expiatory rites mentioned in the Smṛtis. Indeed expiatory and other rites have been duly laid down by Manu.

40. In the case of Pracchannapāpas (those who unknowingly or unwittingly commit a sin), Japa and repentance of the mind are the expiatory rites. Tapas (Kṛcchra, Cāndrāyaṇa etc.) and Vidyā (repetition of Mantras) are the expiatory rites for the physical form. The expiatory rite for the intellect is perfect knowledge.

41. The cleansing of the Kṣetreśvara (individual soul) through Vijñāna (perfect spiritual knowledge) is considered great. The purification of the body is by means of the different kinds of expiatory rites.

42. Therefore, from today, I shall perform an excellent Vrata lasting for twelve years. This expiatory rite I shall perform is proclaiming my misdemeanour.

43. This purificatory rite is for the murder of a Brāhmaṇa unwittingly done or committed without any ulterior selfish motive. If a Brāhmaṇa is slain intentionally for self-interest, there is no expiatory rite.

44. If a man commits a great sin with self-interest or personal grudge, there is no expiatory rite for him except leaping down to death from a precipice or entering into a blazing fire.

45. Learned men know that expiatory rites are recommended when the sin is committed without self-interest. Some say that even when it is committed with personal motive there is expiatory rite as indicated in the Śruti.

46. This rule is applicable when the sin is committed for the first time. If it is repeated a second time, the expiatory rite is to be doubled; for a third time it is trebled. If it is repeated further for the fourth time there is no expiatory rite at all.

47. If a medicinal oil or ghee or food is given to a Brāhmaṇa or others and if there is a disaster (death) in the course thereof, he is not defiled by the sin.

48. If for no apparent reason, a Brāhmaṇa forsakes life, the fault is that of his alone and not of the man who gives it (medicine etc.).

49-50. If a consecrated Brāhmaṇa who is one without any good quality, gets furious over domestic matters or those of agricultural lands etc., and suddenly kills himself and dies (the witness thereof) shall perform Vrata for three years and visit Sarasvatī river flowing backwards for wiping off that sin. This is the fixed rule.

51. When someone gets furious and strikes but is pacified and made to stay there, but if he dies, there is no crime if the same is proclaimed loudly twice (or in the presence of two).

52-54. After killing an impotent Brāhmaṇa, one should perform the expiatory rite as in the case of the murder of a Śūdra.

When many are engaged in a single task and all of them bear weapons and if one of them murders someone, all the others too are considered murderers.

When expiatory rite is undertaken and the performer meets with danger, sin will affect him in this world as well as in the other.

Therefore, now that I have committed an evil deed, what shall I do? Where shall I go?

55. Fie upon me of sinful conduct, the perpetrator of a great evil deed!’

Īśvara said:

56. While he was lamenting thus with the mind extremely agitated, an aerial unembodied voice spoke thus:

57. “O Rāma, you need not at all feel distressed. Go to the Prābhāsika Kṣetra where the divine Sarasvatī flows.

58. The most excellent of rivers, Sarasvatī, identical with Brahman, quells the five sins through her Fivefold currents.

59. Let there be all the Tīrthas in the whole of the Cosmic Egg, beginning with Gaṅgā, O most excellent one among men, on one side. The meritorious Sarasvatī far excels them.

60. All the sins beginning with that of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter roar only as long as the divine Sarasvatī situated in Prabhāsa is not seen.

61. Hence go there itself where the divine Sarasvatī is present. You cannot be rid of the sins by other Tīrthas.

62. Hence do not delay. Go to the shore of the ocean. In the holy Kṣetra of Prābhāsika, dive into the divine Sarasvatī which flows backwards.

63. There itself install the Lord Īśvara in the form of a Liṅga and propitiate him. You will be rid of the great physical

64. On hearing these words, Rāma was filled with excess of delight. The noble-minded one resolved to go to Prabhāsa-Kṣetra.

G5. Then accompanied by his army and equipped with all requisite articles, he came to the great Kṣetra well-known as Prabhāsa.

66. On seeing the charming Tīrtha at the confluence of Sarasvatī and the ocean, he resolved to take bath where the river flows backwards (pratilomāvagāhana).

67. The Lord summoned the Brāhmaṇas residing in Prabhāsa Kṣetra. He performed the pilgrimage in accordance with the regulations regarding perfect pilgrimage.

68. He performed the pilgrimage to all the different kinds of Tīrthas situated within the area of twelve Yojanas thereof.

69-70. To each one of them he gave different kinds of gifts. At the confluence of Sarasvatī and the sea, lower down to the east, he installed the great Liṅga after performing a Yajña. When this was performed, O great goddess, he became rid of sins.

71. Then, O goddess, he stayed there for ten days in the state of pure limbs (body). After taking the holy bath he gradually went in the opposite direction from the ocean upto the Himālaya named Plakṣāvaharaṇa.

72. Thus, O my beloved, thanks to the greatness of that Liṅga and the favour of Sarasvatī, he became rid of the series of sins.

73. O goddess, he who worships that Liṅga called Rāmeśvara that quells the fear of sins, shall be rid of sins.

74. O goddess, on the eighth lunar day, he who performs the rite in accordance with the regulations governing Brahma Kūrca there, shall get the benefit of an Aśvamedha.

75. O beautiful lady, after taking the holy bath at the confluence of Sarasvatī and the ocean and after worshipping the deity Śaṅkara named Rāmeśvara, the gift of cows should be made by those who wish to get the benefit of perfect pilgrimage.

76. Thus, O goddess, the greatness of Rāmeśvara has been narrated to you. On listening to it, a man with faith shall attain heaven.

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