The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Importance of Goshpada Tirtha which is chapter 336 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 three hundred thirty-sixth chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 336 - Importance of Goṣpada Tīrtha

Īśvara said:

1. Then, O great goddess, one should go to the excellent Tīrtha (known as) Goṣpada. By performing Śrāddha here, one gets sevenfold benefit of a Śrāddha (performed) at Gayā, if the faith of the performer be firm. There is no doubt about this matter.

2. After performing Śrāddha there, (King) Pṛthu redeemed his father named Vena, a powerful king, from sinful state of birth, O great goddess.

The Devī enquired:

3. At which place is the Tīrtha situated? How did it come into being? How was King Vena uplifted from a sinful womb?

4. How does merit, sevenfold that of the Śrāddha performed at Gayā, accrue (to a performer of a Śrāddha here)? What is the procedure of the Śrāddha? What are the Mantras recited therein? Who are the Brāhmaṇas eligible to perform the Śrāddha? This is my curiosity. O Lord, it behoves you to narrate it exactly.

Īśvara said:

5. O sovereign of Devas, what has been enquired by you is a secret. My dear, the (location of) this Tīrtha is not to be revealed in this sinful age.

6-7. It is, however, out of my affection to you, O sovereign of Devas, that I shall be explaining it. This should not be told to a sinner or to one indulging in sophistry. Nor should it be communicated to an atheist or to a person other than that of a good caste.

O goddess, there is a highly divine, meritorious river Nyaṅkumatī.

8-9. I have brought it here for delimiting this Kṣetra, O great goddess. The sin-quelling river is situated (flowing) to the south of Parṇāditya. It is established not far from the shrine of Nārāyaṇa, O gentle-natured lady. On that river is that Tīrtha famous in all the three worlds.

10-11. It is well-known by the name Goṣpada. It eradicates (even) ten million sins of a man.

In the vicinity of Goṣpada, not very far form it, is the self-born king of Nāgas called Ananta, on the surface of the earth. He is appointed by Viṣṇu for the protection of that Tīrtha.

12. Ancestors (Pitṛs) afraid of the hell called Put, desire for a son who will go to Goṣpada Tīrtha and will be their redeemer. On seeing the son in Goṣpada Tīrtha, there is a joyful expectation.

13. “Will there be a son in our family who, taking birth in our family, and after arriving at Prabhāsa Kṣetra, will give libations of water to us in the excellent Goṣpada Tīrtha, after touching the water (of Goṣpada) with his two feet?”

14. “Will there be a son in our family who will assiduously perform, once at least, a Śrāddha served with the flesh of a rhinoceros or Kāla-Śākas?”

15. “Will there be a son in our family who has given (will give) a lamp in the Goṣpada Tīrtha? Thereby there will be a beacon unto us up to the end of the Kalpa,”

16. He who is a giver of food at Goṣpada renders his pitṛs really blessed with a son. By staying even for one day there, he sanctifies seven generations of his family,

17. O excellent-faced lady, one should offer libation of (a ball) even of Piṇyāka (oil-cake or a plant of that name) and Iṅguda for Pitṛs and others and even for one’s own self by himself. He becomes released (from Saṃsāra) thereby.

18. If one goes to Goṣpada, what (propriety is there) of the knowledge of Brahman, or of (practice of Yoga) or of death while fighting to prevent capture of cows, or of stay in Kurukṣetra?

19. It is very difficult (even) once to have the opportunity of visiting the Tīrtha or offering of Piṇḍas (at this place) even once. (It is much more so) to have permanent residence at this Tīrtha!

20. The Tīrtha extends to half a Krośa (i.e. one Mile). Half of its half is very rare to be seen. The merit accruing by performance of Śrāddha therein is sevenfold greater than that from a Śrāddha at Gayā.

21. The performer of a Śrāddha at Goṣpada is (automatically) completely free from his indebtedness to his Pitṛs. Especially in Goṣpada, he will uplift a hundred families.

22. Immediately starting from home to go to Goṣpada at every step it is like (going up) a staircase to Svarga to the Pitṛs.

23. For Piṇḍadāna Piṇḍas are prepared with boiled rice mixed with sugar or honey or barley (bread) or cake of flour or rice boiled with milk and butter etc.

24. A person who offers Piṇḍas of the size of a leaf of Śamī or prepared with bulbous roots, roots, fruit and the like at Goṣpada or Gopracāra takes his pitṛs to heaven.

25. It is not possible for me to describe even in hundreds of billions of Kalpas, the benefit that one gets by offering Piṇḍas at Goṣpada.

26. Henceforth, I shall explain in detail the auspicious procedure of performing the pilgrimage. Listen with perfect faith to the procedure of (performance) of the Yātrā.

27. Should an intelligent person wish to go to the Tīrtha with the desire of gaining the fruit of a Śrāddha at Gayā, he should perform the Yātrā with that particular procedure.

28. The intelligent person should be celibate, pure, of controlled movements of hands and feet, endowed with faith and a believer in the Vedas.

29. The man should not come in contact with a nonbeliever at the Tīrtha. He should be equipped with all provisions, money and materials proper for a Śrāddha. Thinking about Gayā in his mind, he accompanied by good people, should go to the Tīrtha.

30. In this manner, a Brāhmaṇa who goes without accepting gifts from others, undoubtedly gets the benefit of a horse-sacrifice at every step.

31-32. There (he should) take a bath in the Nyaṅkumatī for achieving Siddhi and the release of the Pitṛs. After the ablution he should perform the Tarpaṇa rite as per due procedure, (saying,) “May all my ancestors from god Brahmā to a blade of grass, divine sages, Manus and human ones and all the grandfathers etc. of the mother be satisfied.”

33. After properly satisfying them and after performing Homa and other rituals as per procedure, one should perform Śrāddha along with Piṇḍa-offering, as prescribed in his own special Tantra (i.e. laid down in his Gṛhya-sūtras).

34. After inviting blameless Brāhmaṇas expert in Śāstras, he should perform these rituals there. Then he should recite the following Mantra:

35-36. “May highly fortunate ones, Fire-god the conveyor of Kavya, Soma, Yama, Aryaman as well as Pitṛs-gods of the categories of Agniśvāttas. Barhiṣads and Somapas come again (to us) who are protected by you here.

O my Pitṛs and blood relations upto seven generations born in my family, O grandfathers, I the offerer of Piṇḍas, have come here to this (Kṣetra).”

37. After saying this, O great goddess, he should utter this Mantra:

38-39. “Piṇḍa has been offered by me to my father, grandfather, and great-grandfathers, as well as to mother’s paternal grandmother and great-grandmother, mother’s father’s grandfather and great-grandfather may it be endless (eternal).

40. Obeisance to the Sun-god, the sustainer in the form of lotus, Maṅgala (Mars) and Soma. “After paying obeisance and performing worship, the following prayer should be said:

41. There near Goṣpaḍa, Piṇḍas of well-cooked Caru should be offered to Pitṛs and heirless ones with (following) Mantras.

42. “Those who, born in our family, died but have no redemption and who have gone to hells called Raurava, Andhatāmisra and Kālasūtra, for the sake of lifting them up (from the hells) I give this Piṇḍa.”

43. “I offer this Piṇḍa for the redemption of those who have gone to the Preta-world and are undergoing innumerable sufferings.”

44. “I offer this Piṇḍa to those Pitṛs who have gone to the species of brutes and those who have attained the form of insects and reptiles or who exist in the form of trees.”

45. “I give this Piṇḍa for the uplift of those Pitṛs who have been subjected to innumerable tortures by the servants of Yama.”

46. “May all distantly related relatives and those who were relatives in other births meet with complete satisfaction forever by the offer of this Piṇḍa.”

47. “If certain Pitṛs of mine are living in the form of a Preta, may they become permanently satiated by the offer of this Piṇḍa.”

48. “May this Piṇḍa be for the redemption of those Pitṛs and relatives who dwell in heaven, earth and in the intervening space and who died but received no obsequies or purificatory funeral rites.”

49-51. “May the Piṇḍa offered by me give eternal satisfaction to those dead relatives belonging to my paternal and maternal families or those of my preceptor, father-in-law or brother; to those person born in my family who being bereft of wife and sons ceased to receive a Piṇḍa, to those about whom ritualistic acts have been discontinued, those who are born blind or were lame, of evil appearance or died as embryos, those who have been known or unknown (but belong to my family).”

52-53. “May my Pitṛs be released forever from Preta-hood. Whatever (small) quantity of cow’s milk mixed with honey, ghee and Pāyasa (rice with sugar boiled in milk) is given (to Pitṛs) in this Goṣpada Tīrtha stands (satisfies) without an end eternally.”

Recitation of the Vedas and of all Purāṇas should be done.

54. The following should be recited (at the time of Śrāddha): Various eulogies of gods Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Arka (Sun) and Rudra and Vedic Sūktas about Indra, Soma, Pavamāna according to one’s ability.

55-56. (The following also should be recited:) Bṛhatsāma, Rathantara, Jyeṣṭha-sāma along with various parts of Sāmaveda. Similarly the chapter of Śānti Mantras and Madhu Brāhmaṇa, Maṇḍala Brāhmaṇa or what is pleasant and satisfying to Brāhmaṇas and to oneself—all these should be recited.

57. In this way, after offering the Piṇḍas in the excellent Tīrtha of Goṣpada in the river Nyaṅkumatī as per prescribed procedure the following Mantra should be recited:

58. “May Devas beginning with Brahmā and leading sages stand witness to the fact that after coming to this Tīrtha, the ritual (of offering Piṇḍas etc.) has been performed by me.”

59. “O excellent Suras, I have come here to this Tīrtha for carrying out the duties (Śrāddha etc.) pertaining to Pitṛs. May all of you bear witness to this that I have been freed from the three types of indebtedness.”

60. In this manner, the excellent Goṣpaḍa Tīrtha should be circumambulated. Then after paying the Dakṣiṇā (fee for performance of the religious tasks) to Brāhmaṇas, the Piṇḍas should be cast off in the river.

61. A cow and the hide of a black antelope should be gifted there, my dear, on Aṣṭakā days, in Vṛddhi-Śrāddha and death anniversary at Gayā.

62. Here a separate Śrāddha for the mother is to be performed. In other places it is performed along with that of her husband. At Gayā Vṛddhi-Śrāddha, and Pitṛ-Śrāddha is to precede that of the mother.

63. As at Gayā, here too, Śrāddha is to be performed again by excellent men. It is for this reason that this (Kṣetra) has been declared as Gupta-Gayā (hidden Gayā) by Viṣṇu.

64. By gift of scents one acquires fragrance, Saubhāgya (matrimonial felicity) by gift of flowers, kingship by gift of incense and brilliance by offering a lamp.

65. Destruction of sins (results) by gift of a flag. The performer of the Yātrā (pilgrimage) resides in the region of god Brahmā. Viṣṇu himself will take the Pitṛs of the performer of a Śrāddha (here) to Viṣṇuloka (region of Viṣṇu).

66. He who feeds one Brāhmaṇa of praiseworthy vows there at the great Tīrtha called Gopracāra becomes the donor of food to ten million Brāhmaṇas.

67-68. Thus far the procedure of Śrāddha-performance was succinctly told. Now I shall narrate to you an ancient historical legend—the life of King Vena and that of the noble-souled Pṛthu: how the redemption from Cāṇḍāla-hood took place. O goddess, of Devas, listen to it completely endowed with perfect faith.

69. This sacred episode should never be narrated to a treacherous person, a sinner, one who is not one’s disciple, an enemy or a non-observer of vows.

70. This secret, Veda-like episode, conducive to heaven, conferring glory and longevity, has been described by sages. It should be heard by one who is not jealous.

71. The man who after bowing down to Brāhmaṇas, recounts the story of the birth of Pṛthu, the son of Vena, will not come to grief for good or evil acts done by him.

72. There was a patriarch called Aṅga who was born in the family of Atri and was brilliant like Atri. That king shone (acted brilliantly) as a protector of religion.

73. Vena was his son. He was not much religious. That king (patriarch) was born of Sunīthā, the daughter of Mṛtyu (god of Death).

74. Due to the defect (evil nature) of his maternal grandfather, he, with a Kāla-like appearance, relegated Dharma backwards and became of evil disposition.

75. He overturned the ancient religious order. Trangressing [Transgressing?] Śāstras, he indulged in anti-religious acts.

76-78. While he (Vena) ruled, the subjects desisted from Vedic studies and utterance of Vaṣaṭ (religious and sacrificial acts).

In his own country, the king declared by the beating of drums his cruel order foreboding impending destruction: “While I am ruling the kingdom there should be no offering of gift (Dāna) or performance of sacrifice, I am to be praised and worshipped in all the sacrifices by excellent Brāhmaṇas. Sacrifices are to be performed in (with reference to) me and oblations should be offered unto me.”

79. Then great sages, of whom Marīci was the chief, got enraged. They told the king who had trangressed his limit (of duties) and was engaged to tyrannizing the subjects:

80-81a. “O Vena! Do not perpetrate irreligious acts. This is not the eternal Dharma. Born as you are in the lineage of Atri, you are undoubtedly a patriarch. Formerly at the time of coronation you have taken an oath to the effect that you shall protect the subjects.”

81b. He then replied to all Brāhmaṇa-sages who spoke thus (as above).

82-85a. The wicked-minded Vena, expert in making speech, laughed loudly and said: “Who else (other than I) is the creator and promulgator of Dharma? To whose advice should I listen to? Who else in the world is equal to me in valour, learning, penance and truth? O noble-souled ones, verily you do not know me in reality. I am the origin of people, especially of all religions. I shall create and destroy this earth as it is with my will-power or by performance of a Yajña. No doubt be entertained in this manner.”

85b-86. When it was not possible to persuade King Vena who, due to stubborness, was arrogant and deluded, the great sages got enraged and killed that highly mighty king with Mantras from Atharva Veda.

87-88. Being highly enraged they churned the left hand of Vena. It is reported that at first, while the hand was being churned, an extremely dwarfish, black-complexioned man emerged, my dear. Then he, being terrified, stood before them with hands folded in reverence, O my dear.

89. Seeing him distressed and agitated in mind, they said, “Sit down”. On account of the command “Sit down” (niṣīda) the highly valourous person came to be known as Niṣāda, who became the founder of a community (called Niṣādas[1]).

90-92. He created fishermen also born of the sins of Vena, and others like Tuṃbara and Khasa having Vindhya mountain for their habitat. They having been brought up on the sins of Vena were interested in irreligious acts.

The great sages got enraged and began to churn the right hand of Vena in the fashion of rubbing the Araṇi for creating fire by attrition. From that hand was born Pṛthu like fire in brilliance.

93. As he was born of a broad (Pṛthu) palm, he was (called) Pṛthu. Like a veritable blazing fire, he was of a brilliant body.

94. He held a bow called Ājagava and arrows comparable to serpents. He wielded his sword for the protection (of subjects) and highly shining armour.

95. O great goddess, when he (Pṛthu) was born all living beings became highly elated with joy. And Vena went to heaven.

96. Then rivers and seas took with them all (kinds of) precious stones. All of them approached the king (with a request to be used) for the coronation ceremony.

97-98. Along with sages and immortals (Devas) and accompanied by mobile and immobile beings Lord Brahmā (the Grandfather) came there. He inaugurated the coronation by sprinkling (sacred) water. The highly brilliant Pṛthu was consecrated (as king) by Devas, Aṅgiras and others as the head of the kingdom.

99. The highly fortunate and valorous Pṛthu, the son of Vena, ruled and conciliated his subjects who were not so governed in a conciliatory manner by his father.

100. Hence, out of affection (of his subjects for him) he came to be designated as Rājā. While he travelled (to the sea), waters stood still.

101. Mountains crumbled and there was no brushing against the flag of his chariot. The earth produced food-grains without being ploughed. By mere thinking foodstuffs were cooked (readily). Cows yielded whatever was desired. Honey was in every (leafy) cup.

102. At that very time, while Sāma-singers were singing, from the vessel containing (sacrificial) ladles pertaining to Viśvedevas, Māgadha was born again.

103-105. He is called Māgadha because he was born among Sāma-singers. When Bṛhaspati also oblated the Havis (oblation) special to Indra after duly sprinking it, there occurred a mistake. As an expiation in rituals, the Havis sprinkled with remaining materials, the Havis of Guru (Bṛhaspati) (was offered with Mantras) uttered in a promiscuous accentuation (of the Udātta, Anudātta and Svarita) accents and Varṇa Vikṛtis (wrong pronunciation of the syllables) arose.

106. The Yajña took place in that Brāhmaṇa lady from the Kṣatriya (? obscure!) As there was similarity with the former, similar Dharmas (duties) were declared.

107. In times of emergency the profession of a Kṣatriya is the middle (type of) Dharma. Tending of horses, elephants and chariots is considered as mean and lowest.

108-109. Both (Sūta and Māgadha) were invited there by great sages. Thus all the great sages said, “May the king be praised, as this Lord of the earth is worthy and suitable by his acts.” Then both Sūta and Māgadha spoke to all sages.

110-111. “We please by praising Devas as well as sages with (songs of) their (great) deeds. We do not know his acts (achievements) nor his characteristic glory wherewith we can compose a eulogy of this brilliant king, O Brāhmaṇa.” They were directed by the sages to praise by mentioning his future achievements.

112. Songs of whatever great deeds the highly mighty Pṛthu performed (in future) were composed by the eulogizing Sūtas and Māgadhas.

113. Pṛthu, the Lord of subjects, who heard the meaningful songs was extremely pleased with them. He gave Anūpadeśa (south Malwa, Madhya Pradeśa) to Sūtas and the country called Magadha (a part of Bihar) to Māgadhas.

114. Since then, the early kings were being eulogized by Sūtas and Māgadhas. They (kings) are glorified with blessings by Sūtas, Māgadhas and Bandis.

115. Seeing him, the subjects were greatly delighted and said, “O great sages, this Vaīnya (Vena’s son, Pṛthu) who is giver of means of sustenance has been appointed a ruler (of men).”

116. Then the subjects rushed to the highly fortunate Pṛthu saying, “From what the great sages say you are the assigner of our means of livelihood.”

117. Spoken thus by his subjects and with a desire to work for the welfare of the subjects, he took up his bow and arrows and he agitated and troubled the Earth.

118. Being terrified by the fear of Pṛthu the Earth became (assumed the form of) a cow and fled away. For catching her, Pṛthu pursued the Earth which was fleeing away.

119. Then out of fear of Vainya, she went to regions beginning with Brahma-loka. While running she saw Vainya with his bow held up in his hand.

120. The noble-souled great Yogin (Pṛthu) who was difficult to be assailed even by immortals, was equipped with sharp, blazing, refulgent arrows.

121. The goddess (Earth) who is always worshipped by the three worlds did not get protection (from anyone). With her palms folded in reverence, she approached Vainya (Pṛthu) himself.

122. She spoke to him: “Don't you see that killing a woman is against religion? How are you going to hold and protect the people without me?

123. O King, people are established on me. The whole world is upheld by me. O king, understand that without me all your subjects shall perish.

124. If at all you are desirous of (achieving) the welfare of subjects you should not kill me. O protector of the Earth, you listen to these words of mine.

125. All undertakings if begun with proper means become successful. By killing me, you will be incapable of protecting the subjects.

126. I shall be favourable to you. Eschew your anger, O highly brilliant one. They say that females, even if they have gone to the state of non-human beings, do not deserve to be killed.

127. If one perpetrator of cruel deeds, the greatest sinner, dies, it results in the welfare of many. In this case, killing him contributes to the merit (of the killer). This being the case, O protector of the Earth, you should not give up (Dharma) and stray away from the path of religion.”

128. Hearing this speech of hers, the highly powerful king controlled his anger. The pious-souled one spoke to the Earth:

129. “If one kills for the sake of one (individual), whether of himself or of others, or one who deliberately kills one or many (for one individual) that is a sin.

130. If many people become prosperous and happy by the death of one, no sin accrues to one who kills him.

131. Hence, O Earth, I shall kill you for the sake of (my) subjects if today you do not implement my words conducive to the welfare of the world.

132. After killing you who disobey my order, with an arrow today, I shall support all my subjects by making myself stronger (Pṛthu) sufficiently.

133. O excellent one among the observers of Dharma, you carry out my orders and always sustain my subjects (with food etc.). There is no doubt that you are capable of doing so.

134. O (Earth), accept my daughterhood. So I take back this terrible-looking arrow of mine that was intended for killing you.”

Then the great chaste lady who was addressed thus by Vainya replied:

135. “O king, there is no doubt that I shall carry out everything. Employ a calf for me, so that out of maternal affection, I shall ooze out milk.

136. O best among all kings, make me level everywhere, so that by giving out overflow of milk, I shall saturate (the world).”

Īśvara said:

137. Then Vainya, with the tip of his bow, removed heaps of stones whereby mountains became bigger and higher.

Īśvara said:

138. The earth was so (uneven) in the past Manvantaras and uneven (hilly) parts (of ground) developed naturally.

139. In previous creation, verily the surface of the earth was not uneven. There exists (existed) division of cities and villages.

140. There were no crops, food-grains, dairy farming (lit. cow-pens), no agriculture, nor trade routes.

141-143. (It is reported that) such was the state formerly before Cākṣuṣa Manvantara. There was the creation of (all) this in the present Vaivasvata Manvantara. In whatever part of the earth there was level ground (plains) in those places all people lived. It is reported that the diet of the subjects consisted of fruits and roots. We have heard the traditional report that, (diet) was (available) with difficulty. It was from Vainya that there was the creation of all this.

144-145. Making Lord Cākṣuṣa Manu the calf, Pṛthu milked Pṛthivī (Earth) and got crops (food-grains) in (with) his own hand.

146. With that food then all the subjects sustained themselves ever since. It is heard that the Earth was again milked by sages.

147. The calf (selected by) them was Soma and Bṛhaspati, the milker. And all Chandas (metres) beginning with Gāyatrī formed the pot.

148-149. Penance, the eternal Brahman, was their milk then.

It is heard that the Earth was milked by the group of Devas of whom Purandara (Indra) was the head in a golden pot. Maghavā (Indra) was the calf and the Sun became the milker.

150-152a. The milk was the honey of power. Deities sustain themselves with it. It is reported that, again the Earth was milked by Pitṛs taking a silver pot. (They milked) Svadhā for eternal satisfaction. Their calf was the valorous Vaivasvata Yama. The powerful Lord Antaka (god of Death) was the milker.

152b-154. It is heard that the Earth was milked again powerfully by Asuras, taking with them an iron pot. The valiant Virocana, the son of Prahlāda was their calf. Dvimūrdhā (two-headed), son of Diti, was the Ṛtvik. He milked the milk in the form of Māyā. It caused satisfaction to Daityas.

155. By that Māyā, all the Asuras are still experts in Māyā. Those great valorous ones maintain themselves thereby. It (Māyā) is their great power.

156-157. It is reported that after making Takṣaka the calf and taking the bottle-gourd as the pot, the Earth was milked by Nāgas (serpents) extracting poison profusely as milk.

158. The milker of the cobras and all serpents was the famous Vāsuki, the son of Kadrū. Sustaining themselves with that (poison), those terrible, huge-bodied serpents possess ample poison. It is their means of subsistence, of valour and final destination.

159. Making Vaiśravaṇa (Kubera) the calf, the Earth was again invisibly milked in an unannealed pot, by Yakṣas and Puṇyajanas.

160. Rajatanāga who was the mobile (wearer of) Philosopher’s Stone was the milker. He was self-controlled, highly brilliant. Endowed with rich penance and knowledge he was the ruler of Yakṣas.

161-162. Thereby they (Yakṣas) sustain themselves. By powerful Vasus, Rākṣasas and goblins, the Earth was milked again. Brahmopendra from Kubera was their milker. The mighty Sumati was the Calf and blood was the milk.

163. In a skull-pot, she was invisibly milked. With that ‘milk’ (blood) all Rākṣasas maintain themselves.

164. Making Caitraratha the calf, the groups of Gandharvas and celestial damsels milked her in a pot of lotus-leaves, the milk being pure sweet fragrance.

165-166. There the calf was Ruci and the milker was the auspicious son of Muni. O goddess, it is reported that the Earth was milked again by Mountains. The calf was Himalaya and milker the great mountain Meru.[2]

He milked medicinal herbs and various kinds of precious stones.

167a. Their pot was made of stone. Mountains are well-established thereby.

167b-168. O glorious lady, it is heard that by trees and creepers, taking a pot of leaves of Palāśa tree which is cut, burnt and (still) sprouts, and making Plakṣa tree as the calf, the Śāla tree with full blossoms as the milker, the Earth, the supporter of beings, yielded all desired objects.

169. It has been heard by us that such Earth, the bearer and creator (of the world) and treasure of wealth, was milked by Pṛthu for the benefit of the people.

170-171. The Earth, bordered by the sea, was the source as well as the support of the world of mobiles and immobiles. It is reported that she is well-known as Medinī as she was swamped with suet and flesh of (demons) Madhu and Kaiṭabha formerly. She is glorified as Vasudhā as she contains wealth.

172. Then she got the daughter-hood of the intelligent king Pṛthu, the son of Vena and hence is called ‘Pṛthivī’.

173. The famous, beautiful, treasure of wealth, endowed with a garland of towns and mines was milked with great effort by Pṛthu.

174-175. Pṛthu, the son of Vena, the excellent one among kings, was a monarch of such powers. Then he delighted the Earth by pious rule. Hence the word rājan was derived from his happy rule over the earth.

After getting the kingdom, Vainya (Pṛthu) began to ponder:

176. ‘My father was greatly irreligious, the exterminator of sacrifices. To what place has he gone? How can that place be known to me?

177. How are his obsequies to be performed as he has been killed by Brāhmaṇas? What position will be get by the strength and efficacy of sacrifice and religious gifts?’

178. While he was pondering thus, Nārada came to him. He (the king) offered him (Nārada) seat, paid obeisance to him and asked:

179. “O Lord, you know both auspicious and inauspicious (events) in the world. My father was of bad conduct, a slanderer of Devas and Brāhmaṇas.

180. On account of his (mis) deeds he was killed by Brāhmaṇas and went to the other world. To what place has the father gone to, heaven or hell, in a hellish or hell-like womb?”

181. Comprehending it by his divine eye, Nārada spoke: “Listen, O mighty-armed king, as to where your father stays (now).

182-183. Here, on this earth, there is a country called Maru which is devoid of water and trees. O excellent one among men, in that terrible country your father is born among Mlecchas. Cosnsumptive and affected with leprosy, he eats the remnants of food left over by the Mlecchas. He has festering wounds full of worms.”

184. Hearing those words of the noble-souled Nārada, the king cried out ‘Alas! Alas!’ and fell down in a swoon.

185-186. Distressed with anguish, he pondered ‘What remedy should be done by me?’ While he was deliberating thus, a thought occurred to the noble-souled one: ‘He is called a (real) son in this world who saves his father. How will my father be freed from sins by me?’

After thinking thus, he asked Nārada:

187. “Holy Sir, all doings of my father have been told (by you). O excellent Brāhmaṇa, by what act will his emancipation take place? Tell me whether (it can be achieved) by observance of vows, religious gifts, by penance or by pilgrimage to holy places?”

Nārada said:

188. O king, go to prominent sacred places. Bring your father from that desert place to those sacred places, O Lord of men.

189-190. Go to those places, O great king, where gods are powerful and the Tīrthas are pure. O Lord, undertake pilgrimage. Know that in this way the emancipation of your father will take place.

After hearing the words of the noble-souled Nārada, he entrusted the responsibility of the kingdom to his minister and went on pilgrimage,

191-192. He went to the Maru-land. He saw him (Vena) infested with leprosy and suffering from severe tuberculosis among Mlecchas. For a Gavyūti (two Krośas) it was desolate there, devoid of human beings. Seeing this he got enraged and spoke the following words:

193. “O Mleccha, I shall take this diseased man to my house. If you consent I shall make him free from disease there.”

194-195. Knowing that the person (Pṛthu) was merciful, all the Mlecchas who had prostrated themselves (before him) said: “O Lord of the world, do take him away. It is due to our good luck that you have arrived here. O Lord, people who were stinking with bad odour were made happy by you.” Then persons capable of bearing a palanquin were brought.

196. After hearing the merciful words of the king, they visited many millions of sacred places like Kedāra and others.

197. Wherever Vainya (Pṛthu) accompanied with Vena went, there loud wailing of the Tīrthas was heard.

198. They cried: “Alas! O fate, the enemy is coming with the object of destruction. Now where shall (can) we go?” This was the constant worry and anxiety.

199. At his very sight, they shouted “Hā, Hā! (Alas! Alas!). The (presiding deities of the) Tīrthas took to flight and Devas instantaneously disappeared.

200. In this manner, the king performed pilgrimage for three years. His (Vena’s) redemption was not in sight. He (Pṛthu) grieved very deeply.

201. Then the servants (palanquin-bearers) were directed to highly glorious Kurukṣetra (to see) if redemption from sin could be achieved there again (by the second visit).

202. O dear one, they carried the palanquin on their shoulders and went to Kurukṣetra. They carried it to Sthāṇu Tīrtha. There they laid it down and departed.

203. At midday the king with deep respect (for the Tīrtha) was desirous of taking his own bath as well as that of his father and offer sixteen (types of) religious gifts.

204. The faithful king prompted with devotion was desirous of giving gifts. Then the Wind-god uttered these words from the intermediate space between heaven and earth:

205. “Do not, O Dear, do a rash act. Protect the holy place with great effort. This (Vena) is surrounded on all sides by terrible sins.

206-207. He used to (practice) slandering of the Vedas and is associated with hundreds of murders of Brāhmaṇas. Such a sinner of evil behaviour will lead the Tīrtha to destruction. Do not destroy, O king, the Tīrtha. It will be a great sin.” Having heard this statement of the Wind-god, he was distressed with great sorrow. Being afflicted at his father’s painful condition, and tormented with grief, he spoke:

208-209. “With his arms raised up, he cried again and again. “Alas! O fate. If it is not possible even for this Tīrtha to purify him as he is extremely beset with terrible sins, I shall undoubtedly perform expiation for the sake of father.”

210. Having heard his speech and taking great pity on him, the sky-walkers (gods) again uttered words from the space between earth and sky:

211. “O king, O greatest monarch, give up your grief. Listen to what we say. Hereby the great (total) destruction of the sins of this father of yours will take place.

212. There is a highly efficacious sacred place well-known as Prabhāsa. It quells all sins and is destructive of great sins.

213. The essence of gods Brahmā, Viṣṇu and the third Rudra, abides in that very great Kṣetra Prabhāsa which is dear to Śaṅkara.

214. It is remembered as the excellent Kṣetra pertaining to Śakti, Candra (the Moon-god), the Sun-god, Sarasvatī, Agni (the Fire-god) and Varuṇa.

215. Whatever Tīrthas and sacred places there were formerly (in pre-Kali period) shall come to Prabhāsa with the advent of Kali Age.

216. Eight thousand Koṭis (Koti = ten million) and eight hundred Koṭi Gaṇas of Śaṅkara protect Prabhāsa by staying there.

217. This sacred (river) Sarasvatī is found everywhere here. In Prabhāsa, the five-channelled (five-streamed) Sarasvatī is difficult of access even to Devas.

218. In between its fifth current and the banks of Nyaṅkumatī (river) is situated the famous Tīrtha called Goṣpada.

219. In the middle of it is a rock called ‘Pretaśilā’ which affords emancipation to Pretas (from the state of goblin-hood). Formerly twenty Koṭi (Koṭi =ten million) Pretas were released (from Preta-hood).

220. The Tīrtha gives release to sinners. It is remembered as the first Rudragayā. Therein is the Tīrtha called Goṣpada, famous all over the earth in Kali Age.

221. When the Mothers of the world (Loka-Mātaraḥ [Mātṛ]) emerged from churning of the Milk-Ocean, they came in the vicinity of the Tīrtha along with Devas.

222-223. The foot of (the cow) Nandā submerged on the surface of the slab-like rock. Seeing the slab marked with the print of the hoof and of a part of shoulder, all gods were wonder-struck. They asked the cow, Nandinī: “O goddess, what footprint is seen on the rocky slab called Preta? How is it that depression is caused amongst us? What is the flaw?”

Nandinī said:

224. O Devas, this is my foot-print which shines imprinted on the stone-slab like another disc of the Moon on the courtyard in the form of the sky.

225. O Devas, from today onwards, in all the three worlds consisting of mobiles and immobiles, it will be famous all over the world by the famous name Goṣpada.

226. O Devas, a man who on coming here, performs ablution and Śrāddha, will attain the benefit seven times more than at Gaya.

227. There is no (specific) day, constellation or period as suitable for such performance. Whenever the Tīrtha is seen, there are a thousand Parvan (days suitable for these religious rites).

228-232a. O Pārvatī! If there is a desire for (knowing) the Parvan days listen. (They are) two Ayanas, equinoxes, ordinary transit of the Sun from one Zodiac to another, the New-Moon day and Aṣṭakā days, especially in the dark half of a month, on Ārdrā, Maghā and Rohiṇī asterism when money and Brāhmaṇas are available, Gajacchāyā Parva, Vyatīpāta, Vaidhṛti the third day in Vaiśākha and the ninth in Karttika, fifteenth day in Māgha, the thirteenth day in Nabhasya (Bhādrapada), the first day of every Yuga. On these occasions or on the first day of Manvantaras, Śrāddha should be performed by a wise man.

232b-235. Religious gift becomes of imperishable benefit if donated on the ninth day in the bright half of Āśvina, twelfth day in Karttika, third day in the month of Caitra as well as of Bhādrapada, but specially on the New-Moon day of Phālguna and eleventh lunar day of Pauṣa, tenth lunar day of Āṣāḍha and the seventh day (probably of the bright half of) Māgha, the eighth day in the dark half of Śrāvaṇa and the Full-Moon day in the months of Kārttika, Phālguna and Jyeṣṭha and the first day of Manvantaras.

236-238a. Satisfaction upto the end of Kalpa (is derived by Pitṛs) if the Śrāddha is performed on the first days of the Kalpa namely, on the third day of Vaiśākha and the third day in the dark half of Phālguna, the fifth day of Caitra as well as the last day of the same, the thirteen day in the bright half of Māgha, and the seventh lunar day in Kārttika, the ninth day of Mārgaśīrṣa, these seven days being the first days of Kalpas.

238bc. After speaking to Devas, Nandinī (cow) immediately vanished like a lamp extinguished by wind.

239. After seeing this miracle, Devas along with Vāsava (Indra), Brāhmaṇical and divine sages sang this ancient verse:

240. “Oh, how wonderful is the greatness of this Tīrtha! Wonderful indeed is the power of Nandā’s (cow’s) penance. By offering only one Śrāddha (here) the benefit is seven times that (of a Śrāddha performance) at Gayā.”

241. Then, after saying this, the Devas performed religious rites beginning with Śrāddha. They got the benefit as was formerly declared by Nandinī.

242. Thus, O chief among kings, go immediately to the Goṣpada Tīrtha. After the performance of Śrāddha and other rites, you will get the desired fruit.

243. This, your father, is remembered as the worst among sinners. It is not possible to redeem him by hundreds of other Tīrthas except by Goṣpada Tīrtha.

244. Hence, O great king, go immediately. Do not delay”

On hearing it, the king came to Prabhāsa Kṣetra.

245. Keeping ahead Brāhmaṇas who know the greatness of the Tīrtha and were residents thereof that great king went to river Nyaṅkumatī.

246. The sacred footprint on the Pretaśīlā was shown to the king by them. Seeing that pure translucent Tīrtha the king’s eyes were (as if) bloomed with wonder. For the sake of performing sacrifice, he got prepared Kuṇḍas (fire-places), altars and pandals.

247. Then the sacrifice with very liberal monetary gifts was begun as per prescribed procedure. His forefathers of fiery brilliance became manifest.

248. Those Pitṛs with faith established by Śrāddha-sacrifice became satisfied and spoke to the excellent king:

249. “O King, you are blessed, you are meritorious. On account of you we have been rendered more blessed still. We have been redeemed by you by the performance of Śrāddha at this place.”

250. Then, after saying this, all Pitṛs along with Vena seated in an excellent aerial chariot, went to heaven.

251-253. While going, Vena spoke to that most excellent King: “For four other (previous) births I who was a leprous sinner eating the leftovers of the food of Cāṇḍālas that I, being completely free from sins, am going to heaven. O highly fortunate one, go and enjoy the kingdom for a long period. You have carried out all the duties that are to be performed by a son.”

254. Hearing this, the king along with his relatives became delighted. He made the Brāhmaṇas delighted by the gifts of earth (plots of land), gold and other things.

255. Seeing the efficacy of the Tīrtha, resulting in the direct vision of Pitṛs, there was nothing in the world that was not given by the king.

256. After finishing it thus, the king returned to his place (i.e. capital). After enjoying the entire earth, he attained heaven after death.

257. The sin-destroying sacred place Prabhāsa is of such efficacy and power; millions of Tīrthas come there and Devas too abide there.

258. He who, after coining to Prabhāsa Kṣetra, intends to go to another Tīrtha, is like a person, who, throwing away (an eatable) in hand, tries to lick his elbow.

259. Pitṛs sang this ancient couplet, my dear: “If the son is anyhow unable to go to Gayā, he should assiduously try to go to the excellent Goṣpada Tīrtha.”

260. Such a son born in our family should offer Śrāddha with bulbous roots, roots, fruits, a special plant called Piṇyāka or even with water.

261. Taking a bath there, he should, with effort, invite Brāhmaṇas who are excellent knowers of the Vedas. As per procedure, they should be fed assiduously in the Śrāddha. Then he should offer Piṇḍas to Pitṛs who are desirous of being satisfied.

262. There is no need to consider (whether it is the proper) Tithi, Nakṣatra, Parva or the biginning of a month (and such other details). One should always visit that Tīrtha with a heart full of faith.

263. There is no restrictions of time as its very vision is authoritative. It is very difficult to go there on the Akṣaya-tritīyā (third lunar day in bright half of Vaiśākha) my dear.

264-265. On the Kārttikī (Full-Moon) day or the seventh day of Māgha or on the Parva day Padmaka, gift of gold, cow, of cloth, silver (pot), ghee, gingelly seeds should be made there as per procedure by one desirous of (security of) the satisfaction of Pitṛs.

266. In this way, O goddess, the secret of the Tīrtha leading to prosperity has been narrated to you. It should not be told to wicked-minded sinners of cruel hearts.

267. It should be given (told) to a person endowed with faith, who is interested in devotion to Pitṛs. It should always be recited devoutly to Brāhmaṇas by a knower of Purāṇas.

268. Thereby satisfaction for a period of twelve years accrues to Pitṛs. It should always be heard assiduously by men who are afraid of hells. It should always devoutly be recited before Brāhmaṇas while they take (their) meals.

269. Pitṛs speak out the secret: A man who assiduously offers water mixed with gingelly seeds to Pitṛs, has (the benefit of having) performed a Śrāddha for a hundred years.

270. This secret is the treasure of success and glory. It is very dear to Pitṛs. It is Amṛta (nectar) in the Vedas forever. It is always destructive of great sins of men.

Footnotes and references:

[1]:

A popular etmyology to explain the name of an Ādivāsī tribe.

[2]:

Kalidāsa mentions this in the beginning of Kumāra-saṃbhava:

yaṃ sarva-śailāḥ parikalpya vatsaṃ |
merau sthite dogdhari doha-dakṣeḥ
||

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