The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Greatness of Kapila Tirtha which is chapter 29 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 twenty-ninth chapter of the Arbuda-khanda of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 29 - Greatness of Kapilā Tīrtha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Pulastya said:

1. Then, O best king! one has to go to the Kapilā Tīrtha. By having a bath here, the human being definitely becomes fit to get rid of all sins.

2. There was a powerful king by name Suprabha in earlier times. Very fond of deer he used to remain engaged in their hunting/killing.

3. He had no interest in women or in luxuries or in horses or in elephants. With such an unusual obsession, he accordingly became a killer of deer.

4. O best king! given such an indulgence for hunting deer, once upon a time, he went to the Arbuda. There, in a lower region of the mountain, he found a doe surrounded with her babies.

5. With all affection and love, she was feeding milk to her babies. To kill her, the king immediately took out a weapon. But then that fell down the mountain.

6. Then the doe saw the earthly being, i.e., the king taking out another arrow which after fixing on the bow, he struck at her babies.

7-10. Thus saddened with pain to see the anger on king, she told him, “Today, the action you are pursuing cannot be remembered to have ever been followed by a Kṣatriya. O king! it is in vain to kill the doe as well as her babies asleep, suffering from diseases and clinging onto the nipples inseparably with fidelity. O very bad king! all those born of me have met with death. Your weapon has activated (i.e., actuated) the same situation for the children without me—the doe-mother. Due to this, O king! as you have killed me quite unrighteously, you will, therefore, become a ferocious tiger, here—on this mountain.”

Pulastya said:

11. After hearing that he has committed a great sin, the king became full of fear. Then he thought of invoking mercy of the doe till her last breath left over.

12. “My killing of you—the auspicious, clearly shows my lack of consideration and the lowest degree of cruelty. O good-self doe! please consider and do something by which I shall be free from your curse and that too a pitiable one like this.”

The doe said:

13. When you will happen to see a milch cow by name Kapilā and then enter into a conversation with her on an equal footing you shall again get back your natural form.

14. Saying like this, the doe, with unbearable pain of the wound by the weapon and with her left-over affection for her offsprings parted with life before the king.

15. Soon after, the earthly king got instantly animated into that ferocious form. Becoming a tiger with big and ferocious teeth as well as with sharp nails, he stepped out to harm his own soldiers by devouring them with himself remaining unconscious with anger.

16. Then those soldiers who got left out from being killed by the king got back to their own homes with sorrow and narrated the things as happened to others in the palace.

17. They described in details and brought it to the notice of all as to how the king attained tiger-hood in the Arbuda mountain while taking a round of it for hunting with his weapons.

18. After hearing those words of their’s, his son named Asu and renowned for his great power and strength enthroned himself.

19. O good king! once in the course of time, it so happened that in a cowshed on the summit of the mountain, some milkmen along with their womenfolk as well as their flock of cows had died badly affected with thirst.

20. One cow in the same fleet however, had got waylaid for grass out of hunger and had proceeded much ahead of the flock of the cows. She was famous as Kapilā.

21. O king! this cow always used to eat those grasses with their top uncut or not severed. In the process, she had got into a deep, desolate and hence frightening cave in the mountain.

22. There the same tiger with visibly great teeth attacked her. The cow got frightened in the same way as the doe was terrorized when the king took out arrows to kill her.

23-24. Remembering her calves left behind in the cowshed and dependent on her milk, she began to weep. Seeing her condition, the master of deer, i.e., the tiger said, “Why are you crying in vain O cow, for it is well known that one coming in the vicinity of my mouth can not remain alive. Hence remember your favourite God.”

Kapilā said:

25-27. O tiger! One never cries out of fear for one’s own life. My baby calf feeding on my milk is waiting for me in the herd. Even till now, she does not take grass. This is the reason behind my sadness for I shall be leaving my duty incomplete. O tiger! my crying out is solely out of affection that my own offspring will get killed. So, the powerful, after feeding my small children, then seeing and speaking to my own people, I shall come back if you agree.

The tiger said:

28-29. I cannot believe that after going near your offspring and after seeing your own kith and kin in the cowshed, you will come back again. You are speaking like this out of fear of me. There is nothing that can equal the fear for life. Therefore, out of fear for life, it is certain that you shall not come back.

Kapilā said:

30. I vow to come back. You can take it as the truth on my part. If you have your faith in what I say, you—the lord for deer, may grant me this much liberty.

The tiger said:

31. Proclaim truthfully with a vow again that I shall come back. Then sensing whether to believe you, I may or may not let you leave.

Kapilā said:

32-47. Let the sin for not following the words given to a Brāhmaṇa adept in the learning of Vedas wait upon me, if I do not come back again. Let the sin of disobedience or sedition against the teacher await me, if I do not come back again. Let the sin evolving out of killing a Brāhmaṇa or a cow also apply to me if I do not come back again. Let the same sin that befalls cheating friends and the elderly people apply to me if I do not come back again. Let the sin that awaits crushing a cow, or a Brāhmaṇa with feet or the fire with feet, engulf me if I do not come back again. Let the sin that accrues to humans for dismantling a well or a pool or a garden also take me within its hold, if I do not come back again. Let the sin that happens to the ungrateful and also to those who bring bad name, also affect me, if I do not come back again. Let the sins that come to people through indulgence in wine and meat also take me within hold, if I do not come back again. Let the sin that arises out of the action of dethroning or disrobing a king, take me in its wrap in equal proportion, if I do not come back again. Let that sin that generates from sale of Veda, also take me within its hold, if I do not come back again. Let the sin that awaits one who prevents even a lesser amount of charity to Brāhmaṇa, take me in its grab if I do not come back again. As the sin of killing the faithfuls burns all completely and without any distinction, let the same sin also cover me if I do not come back again. Let that sin which follows indulgence in enmity towards the Brāhmaṇas also cover me, if I do not come back again. Let the sin that awaits those who remain engaged in condemning others or those bad souls, may cover me if I do not come back again. Those who commit the sinful act of eating barley with curd at night, let the fruit of that sin cover me if I do not come back again. Let that sin which arises after having brinjal, raddish, white onion and red carrot, may cover me if I do not come back again.

Pulastya said:

48. After hearing such a vow of hers, the tiger got his eyes exalted with wonder. Then developing faith in her, the tiger accordingly made the following statement.

The tiger said:

49-51. O good self! please go to the cowshed and come back again. But never think that acceding to such a request of yours is any indication of my being deprived. O affectionate Kapilā! go, have a look at your male calf. Feed milk to him fully and have a smell of his forehead. Meeting your mother, brothers, partners, own kith and kin and friends, come back truthfully and do not do anything otherwise.

Pulastya said:

52. This is how, after getting the permission of king of deer i.e. the tiger, Kapilā having deep affection for children, left for the place where the herds of cows were placed, with tears rolling down her face and evoking pity for herself.

53. Trembling with fear like an elephant in face of a ferocious lion and well in the middle of the ocean of sorrow, she entered the place where the herd of cows were putting up making sounds repeatedly.

54. Then hearing her voice and becoming aware that it was his own mother, the calf got incited to hurry up and arrived before her raising its tail.

55. Seeing her coming in an odd time and that too hearing her making difficult sounds, the calf became apprehensive and asked her.

The calf said:

56. I do not see you in a pleasant mood. You appear to be depressed. Tell me what for have you come here untimely?

Kapilā said:

57-60. O son! first have milk. After that you will hear the reason from me. I have come here out of sheer love for you. Get satisfied as per your desire. This is my last appearance before you for after this O son! your having a look of your mother will be very difficult. Right now I have to return, O son! as per my vow. The tiger which can assume form as per his sweet will, has granted me life for the time being. He has granted me to meet you, the son only after my having proclaimed a vow before him. Now, I have to go near the king of deer i.e. the tiger. As bound by vow, I have to, O son! offer this body of mine to him.

The calf said:

61-66. I shall also follow you along there where you desire to go for it is beyond doubt that praises will be sung in respect of my death beside you today. As it is, I have to die all alone without you. Hence, if it could be that the tiger kills me along with you. It is certain that I shall also attain that divine passage which accrues out of devotion for mother. It is due to that I shall of course, go with you without any doubt. Otherwise you stay back here and I shall fulfill your vow then. I shall take up the venture in your place, O mother! if you permit me from within your mind. Separated from mother, life will no more be dear to me. There is no one like mother nor can babies sustain life without milk. There is no one good like mother nor is there any better way than engagement in mother’s service. The sons, engaged ceaselessly in the mother’s service attain the ultimate passage.

Kapilā said:

67-75. It has been destined for me to die in this way. For you—the son, it is not fit to die at the moment. Death of any living being cannot be visualized on the basis of someone else’s death. O son! this is the best message of the mother and it is also final. Listen to this carefully and this bears conducive results. O son! always graze in the forest, but while doing so, be above carelessness. For there is no doubt that danger is the cause behind destruction of all living beings. Never graze in dangerous places in greed for grass. Greed is the cause behind destruction of animals in this as well as in the other world. Prompted by greed, people enter into the oceans, the forests and the battles. Carried by greed their actions get added with cruelty of the highest order. Hence give it up. Men are tied up to these three viz. greed, carelessness and assurances. Hence neither greed nor carelessness nor reliance on assurances should be anyone’s duty. O son! always be careful to protect yourself from the preying, violent and ferocious animals. One also needs to protect one’s self from the crooked and those born of sins who roam about in the forest. It is not your duty to grieve also as death is certain for all. Listen to this statement of mine which takes away all sorrows. As a traveller tired of journey looks for the shade of a tree, takes rest under it and resumes the journey again after having rest, so is the coexistence of all living creatures.

Pulastya said:

76. Speaking like this to her son and then kissing his forehead, she proceeded ahead to meet her mother and other friends.

77. Grieved with separation from her son, she then told her own mother ‘please listen to these last words of mine.’

78. You all have to rear this weak son of mine, awaiting orphanhood, pitiable with foam coming from mouth as if on the eve of his final end.

79. With such a state of affairs going to happen for my child, please rear him specially and befittingly by feeding him your own milk like you feed your own.

80. Friends! stop him from grazing in uneven surface or among other strange species. Also stop him from doing undesirable activities.

81. O greatly fortunate ones! pardon me. I have to follow the truth. At present as it is, I have to go to the tiger staying here for he has left me free for the time being.

82-84. All were taken with sadness after hearing her words. Possessed with sorrows of the highest order they then said with overwhelming unhappiness, “O Kapilā! you need not go and there will be no sin on your part by not going for no sins happen to those who flee away with an eye to life in difficult battles. The sages known for their observance of righteousness have already stated one thing in this context since old times. The saying is that ‘no sin awaits one who fails to adhere to vows at the stake of life.’

Kapilā said:

85-87. I can only drive at this point for the sake of protection of life of other living beings. I cannot drive at this even to the slightest for the sake of self. A thousand of the religious acts where sacrifices of horses are made to the fire have been weighed up with truth and it has been specially found out that truth outweighs thousands of sacrifices of horses made at the altar of fire. I cannot drive at hither and thither in the hope of life. Please accord me the necessary permission so that I can go near the king of deer, i.e., the tiger.

88-89. Her peer friends said: “Kapilā! you will command homage of all including gods and demons as you are giving up life in the pursuit of the supreme truth even though that is highly painful. This truth can, of course, never be the cause for your death. You can proceed if you have to prove the truth and cannot retreat from the same path. Let there be happiness for you.

Pulastya said:

90. Having said like this, Kapilā then went to the place where the king of deer, i.e., the tiger was. Then seeing Kapilā, the tiger became astonished and its eyes remained wide-open exalted with happiness. Then brimming with happiness it made this statement humbly:

The tiger said:

91-93. Welcome to you! O good and truthful Kapilā. Can anything inauspicious ever happen to those who always speak the truth? O Kapilā! as per your vow, you had stated to come back and have come back also. My curiosity is how having gone once, you could come back again. I left you free because you could go there, i.e., the cowshed where your son stayed, who, as it is being dependent on your milk, would otherwise have been very sad.

Pulastya said:

94. In the meantime, it, i.e., the tiger regained its previous natural form of the king by getting free from the curse of the deer and became a bearer of good and divine body with matching appearance. Then with happiness, he told Kapilā—the speaker of truth.

The king said:

95. By your grace, I have got free from the curse which was equally painful. Tell me fast what is dear to you—the cow, so that I can do it.

Kapilā said:

96-97. I have been gratified O king! that you have been free from your sin. As thirst is hurting me at the moment, please get some water for me. I do not know how to beat about the bush. Hence, I only speak the truth.

Pulastya said:

98. Then the earthly being, i.e., the king raised his bow swiftly in hand and after that tightening up the string put the arrow onto it and then struck it into the surface of earth after holding the arrow at its hindmost point.

99. Then auspicious, clear and cool water sprang up and Kapilā having her bath there got her thirst quenched.

100. The God of death, Yama appeared there in the intervening period and seeing the grateful and happy Kapilā there, he told her to ask for a boon.

He said:

101. I am pleased with your observance of truth. There is hardly anyone who can be like you in this regard. There can be hardly any other cow in the three worlds which can be so complete in grace.

Kapilā said:

102-103. By your grace let me along with the king as well as with the other herds of cows attain that divine position becoming free from old age and death. Let this pool—the giver of all good, acquire fame by my name. Let it also take away sins of humans and fulfill all their wishes.

104-108. The God of death (i.e., Yama) said: Those who take a bath here in this auspicious and well-being causing water especially on the fourteenth day of a month, will attain that ultimate passage. It will happen that this place of pilgrimage which is an inducer of all goodness will be named after you. The mortals who come here for the sake of having a look at this pilgrimage will obtain a thousand of cows. By having a bath here lakhs of qualitative traits will be earned and the goodness that is earned through the religious deed of making presents/donations here will be imperishable. If men perform the religious ceremony connected with remembrance of their family members, i.e., Śrāddha here with all earnest application, those great souls will obtain the fruits of both enjoyment and liberation accruing to the attended act of making presents/donations in Śrāddha. The insects and the birds having a dip here in this good-giver water out of thirst will also go to Heaven—the abode of gods. So what to speak of humans enjoined with full devotion and those who are the speakers of truth. Similar will also be the case with the wise, the highly fortunate, the utterly faithful and the farsighted

109. Pulastya said: At this conjucture O king! thousands of winged vehicles arrived there as a result of the impact of Kapilā.

110. Then ascending onto them, Kapilā, the milkman and the herds of cows, all together enjoined with good radiance attained and reached that ultimate position.

111. It is due to this that the religious activity of taking a bath there should be observed with all efforts. The earthly beings should truthfully conduct the religious ceremony connected with remembrance of their family members and must make presents/donations there as per their ability.

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