by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Greatness of Damodara which is chapter 1 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 first chapter of the Vastrapatha-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.
The Lord said:
1. I shall now narrate to you the great prosperity due to a sacred place viz. the greatness of the (holy place) called Vastrāpatha where stands the mountain Raivataka.
4. There is a lake called Mṛgīkuṇḍa, which destroys great sins, and where, if a Śrāddha is performed (even) once, such a satisfaction is caused in the (minds of) the dead ancestors, that in them there remains no desire for rebirth.
The Goddess said:
5. O Lord, tell me in detail the great prosperity of Dāmodara (and) the greatness in the holy place remaining in the form of Karṇikā.
The Lord said:
7-8. On the auspicious, charming, meritorious bank of Gaṅgā, full of people, always inhabited by sages, and certainly leading in the path of heaven, the learned Brāhmaṇas perform various kinds of sacrifices. The sages worship in ways laid down in Sāṃkhya and yoga and other people with gifts only.
10. A powerful king, lord of all people and Gaja by name, abandoned his kingdom, and came there for a bath in Gaṅgā.
11. His wife, a chaste, beautiful, virtuous wife, having sons, and fondly loving her husband, came there with her husband himself.
13-14. A renowned sage named Bhadra, with many Brāhmaṇas, engaged in sacrifice. They had renounced the way of the world, and desired to conquer the path to Heaven after bathing in Gaṅgā and getting rid of their impurity.
16. The King (too) himself saw the sages with their sins destroyed as the intelligent King of gods would see the Seven Sages.
17-18. Seeing the sage as having taken fifteen steps towards him he spoke to him: “O you deserving worship, (please) come to my abode. (Please) all of you together meet my glorious wife. After having accepted homage from her, O magnanimous and holy ones, desiring merits, you may go along the path you have in your mind.”
19. Thus addressed by the King, the sages, full of delight, went to the King’s shining mansion, resembling the city of Indra.
20. The wise lady, after offering them seats, accompanied by King Gaja, stood beside them.
21. Having folded his hands before the sages of meritorious deeds, the noble King (Gaja) spoke relevant words to Bhadra:
22-25. “The earth is full of wealth, towns, cities that are decorated, full of mountains, seas, rivers and lakes, so also with villages, crossways, fearful herds of cows, jewels of men, and elephants. It is difficult to be abandoned by those who indulge in enjoyments and are ignorant of the highest knowledge. O Bhadra, into this very fearful worldly existence, causing rebirth, men fall repeatedly like leaves. O you best Brāhmaṇa of a good vow, please tell me about the spotless act of charity and austerities by doing which Heaven is obtained.”
26-27. Holy places are full of water; (idols of) deities are made of stone and clay. Rivers have holy water and are sacred. Seas' also are like that. At every place, at every step the earth is the giver of great merit.
34. So also (pay homage to) Dvijanātha, Dharānātha, Khaḍgapāṇi (i.e. one having a sword in his hand), Dāmodara living in water, (i.e.) Hari, remover of all sins.
35. These are just the places of (i.e. sacred to) the Lord of gods, the Holder of the Disc. One is freed from all his sins there only wherever one goes.
39. These and others are many auspicious rivers rising from Himālaya. A man bathing in (any one of) them, becoming free from sins, goes to Heaven
41. You have well told the nectar-like tale. O you, who know the duties of all, I am going to ask you something.
42. O you of a good vow, tell me serially in which month, on which day and at which holy place Heaven is eternally resorted to.
43. Please tell me (about) the bath, gifts, prayers to be muttered, sacrifice, self-recitation, worship of deities, by means of which I can get eternal (abode in) Heaven.
44. O foremost one among kings, listen to the story I am telling, by hearing which a man is freed from sin, O best one among excellent men.
45. This was formerly told by magnanimous Nārada.
46. That best sage Nārada when asked like this by all (the sages), told it (as he was) delighted by (their) sounds like thunderings of clouds.
47. I heard (what Nārada told) in the gatherings on the top of Himālaya. O best king, desirous of hearing that, I shall narrate it to you.
48. All holy places just cause return to Saṃsāra. I shall tell you about that holy place by (visiting) which inexhaustible worlds are obtained.
50. If the (vow of the) Full-Moon night is observed on the Arbuda mountain (by a man), he enjoys in Heaven for a hundred million years along with his ancestors.
52. If a man lives for one night on the upper part of Himālaya on the Full-Moon night of Phālguna, he goes to the highest place where resides Janārdana.
53. Those wise ones, who perform Śrāddha at (the holy place called) Prabhāsa, do not become mortals (i.e. are not subject to death) along with members of their families.
56. A man who stays in the river in the Vrajeśa forest for fourteen days, resides in Heaven and goes to Vaikuṇṭha.
57. That man who bathes, gives gifts, mutters (names of deities), performs Śrāddha, on the (shore of) Eastern Ocean on the Full-Moon day of Śrāvaṇa;
58. similarly a man, on worshipping Śiva, his Liṅga, would become the devotee of that god.
59. He who performs Śrāddha and bathes in Candrabhāgā in Āśvina, has secured a seat in Heaven for thousands of Yugas.
60. The best sages maditate [meditate?] upon (Brahmā) the four-armed one; what is the use of speaking more? O Gaja, I shall tell it to you.
61. There is no, nor will there be, a holy place like Dāmodara. Among months Kārttika is the best, and in Kārttika the Bhīṣmapañcaka (the five days from the eleventh to the fifteenth day of the bright half of Kārttika, sacred to Bhīṣma).
62. There also Dvādaśī is the best in the water of Dāmodara, O King. What is the use of other many holy places, places of pilgrimage and great forests? By bathing in the Dāmodara lake, a man is freed from all sins.
63. O good one, you have spoken well, as if it were another elixir. I again desire to hear the great fruit of this holy place.
64. Which countries, and of what size, are there? Which is the river? Which are the mountains? Which people, which sages and which ascetics reside there?
65. The earth is full of wealth; but is surrounded by the ocean. O you who conquer the cities of your enemies, it is adorned with cities, towns and villages,
66. Vārāṇasī, and Prabhāsa, the confluence of the white and black (rivers). Thus the holy places are excellent since they avert death.
67. Those, who indeed recollect (the name of) Dāmodara, and live anywhere, live in Hari’s house, and never move (from it).
68. In the vicinity of Somanātha appears the great mountain. In its western part is (the mountain) known as Raivataka.
70. There are (some) stones of the size of elephants, and others resemble buffalos. Others have shape like grams; still others have the splendour of the hoofs of cows.
71. There are in large numbers, trees, bushes, creepers and Santāna trees (as in paradise). Everything there—root, flower, fruit, petal—is golden.
72. A sinner does not (i.e. is not able to) see it. One freed from sin sees it. The mountain is everyday resorted to by men intent on (looking for) minerals;
73. (so also) by Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas, Śūdras and followers of Śūdras, externally. There are also many birds of auspicious and inauspicious notes.
74. There are birds like swans, cranes, ruddy geese, parrots, cuckoos and peacocks, deer, mighty monkeys; so also swans and tigers.
75. Due to the power of that holy place they do not act in an evil manner. The beasts, birds and serpents meet with death at the (proper) time.
76. All, getting into an aeroplane, go to Viṣṇu’s abode. There a leaf, a flower, a fruit etc. are caused to fall by the wind (only).
77. Every (object) gets liberated by touching the water of that river. O King, that river has come up cleaving the earth from the last of the seven regions under the earth.
78. Formerly the King of serpents arrived along that path to bathe in the holy place Dāmodara which destroys birth and death.
79. Even the Moon had come from Heaven to perform a very rich sacrifice; he became free from the disease of consumption and (thus) being free from the disease went to Heaven.
82. (They gave) bulls, gold, land, and gems of various kinds. (They gave) umbrellas, vehicles and pair(s) of garments.
83. Having given foods mixed with jui[?]es [juices?] in front of Dāmodara, they have gone to Viṣṇu’s world, and will not return to the surface of the earth.
84. He who devotedly gives a leaf, a flower, a fruit, water to Brāhmaṇas in that sacred place, goes to Viṣṇu.
85. He who gives a handful or fistful (of corn) to one begging through hunger, gets into the best aeroplane and goes to Soma.
86. One should prepare mountains of food and present them with fruits and flowers and lamps along with the wick.
87-88a. Having secured a place difficult to be obtained, he would emancipate a hundred families (i.e. generations of his family). If a gift of the measure of four fingers is given in front of Dāmodara, the giver rejoices for a thousand Yugas in Heaven.
88b. Do not go to the side of Himālaya, or do not go to Malaya or Mandara.
89-90. Go to the Raivataka mountain where Dāmodara dwells. A Brāhmaṇa who fasts for one month in front of Dāmodara, does not die, (but) would go to the city of Dāmodara. A man or a woman who observes a fast, would secure Hari’s (i.e. Viṣṇu’s) abode after going beyond all worlds.
91. Everyday there occur five hundred perils, which destroy piety. A man does not go there.
93-94. Their wives, of beautiful faces like the moon, fair and dark, of a beautiful waist and hips, of beautiful hair, fair and having broad eyes, of fine cheeks, and charming, having fine girdles, and beautiful breasts, everyday dance in front of Dāmodara.
95. Princesses, looking charming, of beautiful shanks and feet, and fingers laugh and enjoy on that mountain.
96. Competing (with one another), they separately give to (married) Brāhmaṇa ladies wild safflower (applying it) to their pairs of feet saffron and yellow cloth.
97. Eatables, food, drinks, things to be eaten by licking and by sucking, sauce mixed with rice-gruel, betel-leaf with flower are given on Viṣṇu’s day (i.e. the eleventh day of a lunar fortnight).
98. On seeing the pool of Revatī (a lady) should give excellent fruit. (Such) a chaste lady gets a son, prospers, and is fortunate.
99-100. Having done so the night is passed without sleep (and) with very holy recitations of Vedas, and readings of the story of (Mahā-) Bhārata [=Mahābhārata] with hum-sounds, sounds made with palms, and clappings repeatedly. The ladies participating from the group of ladies speaking well the local tongue, laugh and dance in front of Dāmodara, O King.
101. He who fashions a palatial building of five stones as a temple of Śiva enjoys in Heaven for five thousand years.
102. Having fashioned (a palatial building) with ten stones in front of Dāmodara, one enjoys in Heaven for ten thousand years.
103. O King, he who fashions a big, beautiful, white building of a hundred stories, goes to Viṣṇu’s abode.
104. One, having made a temple with a thousand stories having many graces, goes, after crossing all worlds, to the highest Brahman.
105. On the temple of Viṣṇu he should hoist a flag of five colours. He would go to (and live in) Heaven for as many divine years as the number of fibres (in the flag).
106. The Vastrāpatha holy place is a krośa in size. Seeing it all (or) many sins perish.
107-08. O King, he reaches that position, going to which he never returns. O best king, a man or a woman, having worshipped god Bhava, destroyer of birth in the worldly existence, enjoys in the world of Śiva.
109a. Having heard those good words of Bhadra, he then came to (the temple) of god Dāmodara for observing (the vow of) Kārttikī.
111. Having given many gifts and having offered (oblations) into fire, King Gaja performed many sacrifices like Agniṣṭoma and many horse-sacrifices, according to the rules and with concentration.
112. Then to practise penance he remained there with sages. The Brāhmaṇas, with their faces downwards and inhaling smoke remained with their feet above. Some ate dry leaves; others ate fruits.
113. Some Brāhmaṇas ate roots (of trees); others ate (i.e. drank) water. Some looked at themselves; others lay in water.
114. Some resorted to (the vow of) ‘Pañcāgnisādhana’, others eat stone-powder. Others, having purified themselves mutter the Gāyatrī (hymn), the mother of the Vedas. Others mentally mutter the Sāvitrī (hymn); others (meditate upon) Sarasvatī.
115. The hymns produced by Brahmā are sacred. Others remained meditating upon (the hymn of) twelve letters.
116. After viewing all scriptures and having thought repeatedly this (conclusion) has been arrived at: Nārāyaṇa should always be meditated upon.
117. In the worldly existence, very difficult to cross, there is none else except the Lord, that can be propitiated. In the same way (there is none else) but Mahādeva, who protects one that is falling.
118. Planets like Moon and Sun come and go and relive. Even now those who meditate upon the (hymn of) twelve letters do not retire.
119. The unmoving sages and others desiring to go to the world of gods, reach that place with seed (of sins) burnt like that.
120. One who has (even) once uttered the couple of letters ‘Hari’ has girt up ones’ loins for salvation.
121. Having done (such deeds as) eating once (a day), eating at night only, or living without imploring others in front of Dāmodara they become blessed here till the universal destruction.
122. Just when the king remained there with the sages, thousands of aeroplanes came there.
124. With all the people and his wife the king got into the plane and reached that sound place.
125. One who recites or listens to this, being free from all sins, reaches the Highest Brahman.
Footnotes and references:
Kalpa= 1000 yugas, being a period of 432 million years of mortals and measuring the duration of the world.