The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Pilgrimages in the Arbuda region during Kali Yuga which is chapter 10 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 tenth chapter of the Arbuda-khanda of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 10 - Pilgrimages in the Arbuda region during Kali Yuga

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Yayāti said:

1. You have heard about Kedāra in the supreme mountain Himālaya. The river Gaṅgā has come out of it and has entered the sea in the east.

2. And the river Sarasvatī has come out of the mango groves. Absorbing the heat of big fires, it has flown into the sea on the west.

3. How could a place Kedāra come up there? This is very astonishing and I have a curiosity. O Brāhmaṇa! please narrate all these strange things in details.

Pulastya said:

4. O king! what all you are asking are true. Listen carefully to the way it has been and as I have heard.

5-8. In olden times, centres of pilgrimage like Gaṅgā, resting places of gods like Kedāra along with gods like Indra and others and with other great sages went to Brahmā. All of them conducted many and different types of religious discourses there. O king! all places of pilgrimage, regions, forests and gardens belonging to gods were present in this congregation. Eventually, in the course of discussion, Indra told Brahmā, “O king! this be happened to utter in curiosity.”

Indra said:

9. O God! now I desire to hear about the greatness of good. As a matter of proof please tell me about the distinction of ‘Kṛta yuga’ amongst all.

Brahmā said:

10. O Indra! Yugas have been said to comprise 70 lakh years. From these, one half of twenty eight thousand years is said to constitute the Kṛta Yuga.

11. Twelve lakh years from that stated above is named as Tretā Yuga. In mutual give and take in commercial exchanges it has been measured to comprise more than one hundred thousand years.

12. There has been a Yuga renowned to comprise eight lakh and sixty-four thousand years. This has been proclaimed as the Dvāpara Yuga by gods.

13. There has been still another Yuga well-known as comprising four lakh and thirty-two thousand years which is called the Kali Yuga. This is how it has been the established practice of laying down Yugas in thousands of years by the best God.

14. There were four steps of righteousness and Viṣṇu was having a fair complexion in the Kṛta Yuga. There was hardly any famine or disease in this Yuga.

15. With religious and moral duties being performed, there was no untimely death of humans at that time. Crops could be yielded without ploughing and the cows used to give abundant milk.

16. Bad qualities like lust, anger, fear, greed and jealousy could hardly be possible in that Yuga.

17. Then ushered in the Treta [Tretā?] Yuga in which there were three steps to righteousness. With people having a long life Viṣṇu was of red complexion in this Yuga.

18. There used to be Yajñas as a measure of fulfilling peoples’ aspirations. People did not have the disposition towards enjoyment of desires.

19. People’s occupation in that Yuga happened to be remaining engaged in austerity, observance of chastity, having a bath as fulfillment of religious activity, making offerings, having a different type of Yajña, making of sacrificial offerings to fire and taking the name of God repeatedly in one’s mind.

20. Then the third Yuga named as Dvāpara let people little loose. In this Yuga there were two steps to religious righteousness and Viṣṇu was yellow complexioned.

21. Repeatedly taking of name of God within one’s mind, Yajñas and religious austerities were all conducted with desire for fruits. People were followers of truth and were equally inclined towards dance (Merriment) and the King was well-disposed during this Yuga.

22. The kings on earth at this time were fighting among one another. They used to go to the heavenly kingdom after attaining purity through worship of Viṣṇu by Yajña.

23. Then the fourth Yuga, i.e., Kali Yuga starts in which there is only one step to religious righteousness. People remain fearful in this Yuga and regular worship is undertaken.

24. Viṣṇu becomes of a black complexion and there is relatively a greater prevalence of sins. So also cheating, jealousy, greed, anger and fear prevail.

25. Becoming followers of greed and desire, people in the kingdom remain occupied with how to gain wealth. The age (Longevity) of life with people reduces and the earth also yields less crops.

26. Cows give less milk and the Brāhmaṇas become bereft of truth. People cheat and stay assrued under the garb of happiness of taste and sex.

27. With deterioration of truth, sins proliferate in Kali Yuga and hairs of people get gray at the age of sixteen.

28. Women get pregnant at the age of twelve and O Indra! people become of a dirtier and mixed complexion at this time.

29. All Varṇas and Āśramas become one in this age. Yajñas and the regular rituals followed for ages in a family head towards ruination.

30. All places of pilgrimage become meaningless due to their coming in contact with outcastes, non-Aryans. Even the best of kings become bereft of influence.

31-32. Having heard these statements of Brahmā whose birth is unknown, the centers of pilgrimage stationed there told Brahmā, “You have stated what our position will be in the difficult Kali Yuga. With no place for us O God! please tell the selected places that could always be ours in this Yuga.”

33. Brahmā said, “there is the best of mountains by name Arbuda where Kali cannot prevail. Hence that is the destination for all centres of pilgrimage to have their station.

34. “Any individual who, despite having committed the biggest of sins, takes a look of the Arbuda mountain, obtains the ultimate passage becoming free from all the shortcomings of Kali Yuga.”

Pulastya said:

35. Saying like this O king! Brahmā then went to the Brahma world. Then all the centres of pilgrimage went to the Arbuda mountain in the Kali Yuga.

36-37. With the presence of Arbuda, the Chief of Mountains on earth, the rivers Gaṅgā, Yamunā, Sarasvatī and even the ponds and places of pilgrimage such as Kurukṣetra, Prabhāsa, Brahmāvarta including all other pilgrim centres, spread over three and a half crore lands went to the Arbuda mountain out of fear of Kali Yuga.

38. This is how every pilgrim centre could have its place of fixation on the Arbuda mountain and this is how Gaṅgā and Sarasvatī also came there.

39. People with their minds bent upon peace attain emancipation from rebirth with all certainty there. All ancestors of a family go to heaven by conduct of religious ceremony there in honour of the departed souls.

40. O king! there was some astonishing happening there. There was a sage by name Mankana [Maṅkaṇa?] staying on the banks of Sarasvatī.

41. Giving up desire and anger that pure soul was engaged in performance of religious austerity. While continuing in that state once shivering with cold he began to sneeze.

42. There was some bile lying there. That was appearing like red in colour. Having seen that the sage Mankana [Maṅkaṇa?] became pleased.

43-44. ‘Perceiving (Thinking) that I have become accomplished he began to dance.’ With him continuing in that condition, the entire world both mobile and immobile as well as the seas got excited. The seas began to sprinkle water out. Everyone ceased to attend to his household duties and remained astonished.

45. O best king! with his dancing like this everyone in the world too began to dance influenced by the truthful and best of sages on earth.

46. Then all gods went near Śaṃkara and said, “O Great God! please do something so that he does not dance.”

47. Then assuming an image of Brāhmaṇa, Śiva told that best of Brāhmaṇas, ‘Why are you dancing while pursuing the highest perseverance?’

Maṅkaṇa said:

48. “O Brāhmaṇa! is it not visible to you that my bile has turned red? I have attained that accomplished fulfilment as my bile has already become red.

49. O Brāhmaṇa! due to this reason, I am dancing out of pleasure.” He told in this way to the Great God.

50. O virtuous king! Śaṃkara struck his thumb with the index finger of his own and then white-like ash similar to the fibre of lotus came out of his thumb.

Then he said:

51. O Brāhmaṇa! look at this feat of mine with all curiosity where white ash is coming out of my finger.

52. Pulastya said, “That Brāhmaṇa got preplexed after witnessing this and then having recognized him as the image of Śiva, kneeled down and bowing before him started saying like this.

Maṅkaṇa said:

53. You are of course the Great God. I am seeing you directly. Please be pleased with me. My heart says that I have perhaps recognized you.

54. Whatever you exhibited before me cannot be possible under anyone else’s influence. O Śaṃkara! be kind and rescue me.

The great God said:

55. O Brāhmaṇa! You have recognized me correctly and there is no doubt about it. Let there be your welfare. Ask for a boon as you have already danced excessively.

Maṅkaṇa said:

56. Let the fruits awaiting that specific worship in which horses are offered to the fire or the one in which a king makes offerings to fire to win the consent of everyone for his coronation be obtainable by a mere bath in the Sarasvatī river undertaken with undivided sincerity of mind.

Śrī Mahādeva said:

57. Those who take a bath in this Sarasvatī with undivided attention will obtain that ultimate position becoming free from old age and death.

58. O Brāhmaṇa! those who perform the religious ceremony in this confluence of the Gaṅgā and Sarasvatī in this world in remembrance of their family ancestors, will attain that ultimate passage.

59. Those who donate gold to the good Brāhmaṇa as per their abilities will attain that ultimate passage getting free from all sins.

60. O king! having said in this manner, Mahādeva—the God of all gods disappeared from sight.

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