The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Glory of Rishitirtha which is chapter 255 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 fifty-fifth chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 255 - Glory of Ṛṣitīrtha

[?] Note: This story is repeated with a slight difference from Nāgara Khaṇḍa. There it extols the greatness of the Ṛṣi-tīrtha at Hāṭakeśvara Kṣetra.

Īśvara said:

1-7. Thereafter, O great goddess, a pilgrim should go to the Tīrtha well-known all over the three worlds. It belongs to the sages of meritorious deeds and is situated to the west thereof (i.e. of Ghaṇṭeśvara). O fair lady, three-eyed fishes are seen therein even to-day.

These sages reside there: Aṅgiras, Gautama, Agastya, Sumati, Susakhī, Viśvāmitra, Sthūlaśiras, Saṃvarta, Pratimardana, Raibhya, Bṛhaspati, Cyavana, Kaśyapa, Bhṛgu, Durvāsas, Jāmadagnya, Mārkaṇḍeya, Gālava, Uśanas, Bharadvāja, Yavakrīta, Trita, Sthūlākṣa, Sakalākṣa, Kaṇva, Medhātithi, Kuśa, Nārada, Parvata, Vasiṣṭha, Arundhatī, Kāṇva, Gautama, Dhaumya, Śatānanda, Akṛtavraṇa, Jamadagni, Rāma, Baka and others, Kṛṣṇadvaipāyana too accompanied by his sons and disciples.

After coming to this holy region Prabhāsa, the noble-souled excellent sages performed different kinds of excessively wonderful penances.

8. These sages with self-control and suppressed sense-organs desired to win (attain) the eternal world of Brahman by means of Samādhi (mental absorption).

9. Once, O my beloved, there occurred a very great and severe drought and the entire world was faced with disaster and was extremely distressed due to hunger.

10-11. The sages were faced with a disaster. There was no food in the entire world. With a desire to retain their souls, they brought a dead boy and cooked him. King Vṛṣādarbhi who was travelling through the sky, saw those sages facing great trouble and disaster. Thereupon he uttered these words:

The King said:

12. Acceptance of gifts by Brāhmaṇas is seen as an uncensured means of livelihood. Hence, O leading sages, take gifts from me.

13. I shall give you green gram, pulses, rice grains, jewels, gold and whatever other rare things there may be. Hence all of you desist from this sinful act at least.

The sages said:

14. Knowing as we do it, O king, how can we accept your gift?

15. A Cakrin (vendor of liquor) is on a par with ten Sūnās. A Dhvajin (distiller of spirits) is on a par with ten Cakrins. A harlot is on a par with ten Dhvajins.

16. And a king is on a par with ten harlots. A Brāhmaṇa, deluded by avarice, who accepts gifts from a king is cooked in the terrible hells Tāmisra etc.

17. Hence, O king, go away along with your offered gifts; welfare unto you! These may be given to others.

18. After saying this they went to the forest. Then at the behest of the king, the ministers went there and scattered on the ground Uduṃbara (Indian figs) with gold (concealed) within.

19. Then, O lady of excellent complexion, the sages collected them. Realizing that they were weightier (than usual), Aṅgiras said that they should not be taken.

Atri said:

20. O dullard, we are not, we do not remain, ignorant. We know that these are golden ones. We have been awakened from stupidity.

Vasiṣṭha said:

21. (Even) he who collects things for the sake of pious purposes is not praised. I, Vasiṣṭha, consider the collection of austerities as the true collection of assets.

22. Eschew all those collections and hoardings which bring harm to classes of people. A hoarder is never seen free from calamities.

23. As a Brāhmaṇa abstains from accepting gift from indecent (Asat) people, his Brāhmaṇical splendour always grows.

24. I weighed in a balance Akiñcanatva (poverty) (i.e. not possessing anything) against a kingdom and certainly (I found) poverty excelling (weighing more than) the dominion.

Kaśyapa said:

25. It is unto the Brāhmaṇa alone that the vast hoarding of wealth causes disaster and harm. A Brāhmaṇa who is confounded due to affluence falls down from what is conducive to the ultimate welfare.

26. Richness in wealth leads to delusion and a great deal of sorrow. Hence one who seeks ultimate welfare, should avoid worldly wealth which by its very name spells disaster.

27. Even he who tries to acquire wealth for the sake of piety does not actually realize it. It is better to avoid the touch of mud rather than begin to wash it after getting defiled by it.

Bharadvāja said:

28. As a man grows old the hairs turn aged and grey. As one grows old the teeth decay. Even the eyes and ears become withered; but thirst i.e. avarice alone does not wither.

29. A needle brings together two (pieces of) clothes by means of the thread. In that manner Tṛṣṇā (avaricious greed) acts as the needle in the case of the thread in the form of worldly existence.

30. Just as the horn of a deer grows along with its body (so is avarice). Avariciousness which has no limit and cannot be avoided or surmounted always begets agony. It abounds in sinfulness. One should, therefore, eschew it.

Gautama said:

31. Who cannot maintain himself even with fruits, if he is contented? All people wade through (the quagmire of) disaster due to the covetousness of the sense-organs.

32. If one’s mind is contented, riches rush unto that person from everywhere. Indeed one whose feet are well protected by shoes feels that the whole earth is covered with hide.

33. Where can people who are avaricious of wealth and whose minds are disturbed and lacking in peace get the happiness of those people with quiescent mind who are contented with the nectar of satiety?

Viśvāmitra said:

34. If the passion of a person seeking passionate love is realized, another love (desire) pierces him all the more like an arrow.

35. Love does not definitely get subdued at all through indulgence. Love and passion get inflamed like the holy fire that blazes all the more by offering oblations of clarified butter into it.

36. A man cannot attain happiness if he gets more involved in indulgence of desire. Out of avarice, after getting (the pleasure of) the shade of a tree, a man entertains the desire for a house.

37. Even a king who enjoys this entire earth bounded by the four oceans is not contented. It is the resident of a forest who is really contented and not the king.

Jamadagni said:

38. One who is capable of offering Pratigraha increases the power of penance. But if one abstains from accepting Pratigraha his power of penance increases a thousandfold.

39. There are people affluent enough to offer Pratigraha and also there are people who abstain from accepting Pratigraha. The worlds attained by the abstainers are the same as those of the donors.

Arundhatī said:

40. (Just as) lotus-fibre is present everywhere in the lotus-stalk, (so) avaricious thirst which has neither beginning nor end is always present in the body of a person.

41. Happiness comes to one who eschews Tṛṣṇā (greed, thirst), which is very difficult for the weak-minded to eschew. It never gets decreased even in a man growing old and it is (like) a disease ending with the destruction of the vital airs.

Caṇḍā (the maid-servant of the sages) said:

42. I am afraid of (accepting) Pratigraha like these powerful Lords (Sages) who, though they are very powerful are yet afraid of the terrible Pratigraha like the feeble ones.

Paśumukha (the man-servant of the sages) said:

43. A wise man desirous of his welfare should always practice what the learned ones, who are always devoted to the performance of their duties (piety), practice.

Īśvara said:

44. After saying thus, all the sages of steadfast vow left all those fruits with gold concealed within and went elsewhere.

45. As they continued their ramblings, O lady of excellent complexion, they saw a great lake covered with lotus plants all round.

46. At that time the recluse Śunomukha happened to come to that place. All the great sages took their holy bath therein in the company of that recluse.

47. They entered the water and collected the lotus stalks which they placed on the banks of the lake before their holy rituals inside the water.

48. They rose up from the pond and met one another. They could not see the lotus stalks there. They thus talked to one another:

The sages said:

49. O leading sages, what is that sin on our part whereby despite our being distressed with hunger all the lotus stalks have been taken away?

50. Those excellent Brāhmaṇas began to suspect one another and so asked this question (who has taken them?). O fair lady, they duly affirmed by means of swearing:

Kaśyapa said:

51. May he who is guilty of the theft of the lotus stalks be the eater of everything (i.e. let him incur the same sin), be the misappropriator of the deposits (i.e. one who repudiates the deposit really made) and one guilty of perjury.

Vasiṣṭha said:

52. May he who is guilty of theft of the lotus stalks be a sinner like one who indulges in sexual intercourse on days other than the permitted ones after menstruation and that too with another man’s wife. Let him incur the sin of being host and guest by turn.

Bharadvāja said:

53. May he who is guilty of theft of the lotus stalks be a ruthless wicked one, one who is arrogant due to affluence, one who is hostile and iminical and one who indulges in slandering.

Viśvāmitra said:

54. May he who is guilty of the theft of the lotus stalks be a sinner akin to one who is ever indulgent in love making, one who has sexual intercourse during the day-time and one who is engaged in mean activities for ever.

Jamadagni said:

55. May he who is guilty of the theft of the lotus stalks be a sinner akin to one who gives his daughter in marriage to an aged person, one who becomes the husband of a Vṛṣalī (Śūdra woman) himself, and one who is a practising usurer.

Gautama said:

56. May he who is guilty of the theft of the lotus stalks be a sinner akin to one who receives the gift of ewes, one who sells horses and one who habitually censures his preceptor.

Atri said:

57. May he who is guilty of the theft of the lotus stalks be a sinner akin to one who is evil-minded enough to slight his mother and father always and to one who seeks the guidance of a Śūdra in the affairs concerning religious piety and righteousness.

Arundhatī said:

58. May that woman of defiled habits who is guilty of theft of the lotus stalks be a sinner on a par with that woman who takes food and goes to bed before her husband.

Caṇḍā said:

59. May that woman who is guilty of theft of the lotus stalks be a sinner on a par with that woman who is antagonistic to her Lord and master (husband), with one who hates piety and righteousness and one engaged in habitually teasing and hating good people.

Paśumukha said:

60. May he who is guilty of theft of the lotus stalks be a sinner akin to one who is always a servant at the beck and call of others in all births. Let him be one abandoning all righteousness and holy rites.

Śunomukha said:

61. May he who has stolen the lotus stalks be one who reads and recites the Vedas duly, one who is a householder fond of guests and one who always tells the truth.

The sages said:

62. O Śunomukha, what you have asserted now by way of swearing is something liked and approved of by the Brāhmaṇas. It is you who have stolen the lotus stalks belonging to us.

Śunomukha said:

63. These stalks belonging to all of you have been stolen by me, O Brāhmaṇas, because I was eager to listen to piety and holy rites. Know me as Purandara (Indra).

64. O excellent sages, everlasting worlds and regions have been won over by you all, with your absence of greed. Seek any clean and pure boons. Undoubtedly all those (will be granted).

The sages said:

65-66. O Purandara, may the man who comes here, remains pure and observes fast for three nights, takes his holy bath, offers libation and performs Śrāddha, get the merit arising from visiting all the Tīrthas. Let him not meet with downfall. Let him rejoice with Devas.

Saying “So be it” Śakra vanished there itself.

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