The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Penance of Sanatkumara which is chapter 5 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 fifth chapter of the Dvaraka-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 5 - Penance of Sanatkumāra

[Full title: Penance of Sanat kumar [Sanatkumāra]: Appearance of Viṣṇu and the emergence of Gomatī]

Prahlāda said:

1. All of you—the best of Brāhmaṇas, therefore go to the abode of Kṛṣṇa at Gomatī without any hesitation. A sight of him (i.e. of Kṛṣṇa) relieves one of all sins. The state of liberation from all sins can only be obtained through intimate identification with the idol of Kṛṣṇa.

2. Bowing down to the water of Gomatī fulfills all human desires striking far away the destructive forces on the path of human well-being.

3. As a great destroyer of all sins, it gives added momentum to the striving against sins to those who visit her (i.e. Gomatī). Bowing down to the water of Gomatī whets up the merits earned in earlier life which have somehow got subdued.

4-5. The sages said, “O the demon king! we have a doubt in our mind as to how could Gomatī be here or for that matter who brought her down here? The great mind! please remove the doubt from our minds. What for this waterbody came up here? O the chief devotee of Viṣṇu! please tell about all this in greater details to us.”

Prahlāda said:

6. Once, in ancient times the mobile and the immobile got submerged in the sea and in the process got ruined. Then as commanded by Viṣṇu, Brahmā picked up his weapons in hand.

7. As commanded by the Lord, Brahmā thus created varieties of people. This is how, the creator acted in all earnestness as per the directions of Hari and for the purpose of creation.

8. With a firm desire in mind, Brahmā thus created his youthful son Sanaka instantly whom he asked to procreate further descendants.

9-10. After hearing these words of Brahmā, all of them (i.e. the descendants) with folded hands in supplication told him, “O Lord, O God, we desire to have a sight of your appearance in the form of Viṣṇu. We cannot tie ourselves up remaining bound up with attending to the unassailable obligations of creation in visible forms.” Having said so, all boys of Sanaka began wishing if they could be horses fit to be sacrificed.

11. Then placing themselves on the western shore of the sea, they remained engaged in the most difficult penance to actuate their mental resolve. The entire scene began to present one with a bright picture illuminated with radiance of these great meditating souls.

12. Then after a lapse of thousand years, becoming pleased, the bearer of earth, i.e. Viṣṇu pierced out of water manifesting, his unassailable bright form.

13. The tamer of innumerable demons, the personality known for tearing apart so many weapons and the beautiful God, the bearer of the discus and reflecting the brightness amounting to crores of sun became manifest on the scene.

14. The sons of Brahmā got struck with wonder seeing him. Seeing Viṣṇu they began to feel among themselves as if they got the best of arsenals.

15. Seeing him as well as after hearing the incorporeal voice, the sons of Brahmā began to think that the God himself would soon appear before them.

16. For the purpose of worshipping Viṣṇu, the Brāhmaṇas then hurriedly prepared a weapon resembling the discus of the Lord of the world (i.e. Viṣṇu) as an offering to satisfy the venerable God.

17. In the mean time a voice from above declared that Sudarśana (an epithet of Viṣṇu) appeared to be pleased with them.

18-19. The sages said, “We bow down to you the resplendent and supreme Hari. Our homage to you—the eternal and the master of thousands of gambling. Our homage to you having the appearance of Sun and having the form of supreme being, i.e. Brahmā. We bow down to you—the Amogha, the infallible and the chariot of song.”

20. Thus they worshipped him gracefully with whole and unbroken grains.

20. They uttered varieties of eulogy and sang hymns in honour of the supreme Hari. After that they nurtured all eagerness for a vision of the paramount Lord hoping that he would be kind enough to do so.

21. Then learning that the Brāhmaṇas were worried for forefathers of their own caste and tribe, Brahmā then told Gaṅgā as follows.

22-24. (Brahmā said) “O best of the rivers! hurry up and descend down to the surface of earth for the sake of Hari. You, the venerated soul raise yourself to the occasion in keeping with the high esteem that I have for you. Higher up in the regions above, you shall be well-reputed by the name of Gomatī. Then following Vasiṣṭha you be there fast on the surface of earth. Like a daughter following her father, you be the daughter of Vasiṣṭha.”

25. Proceeding ahead she, the Goddess (i.e. Gomatī) left towards the reservoir of water. Vasiṣṭha kept moving in the front while Gaṅgā followed him from behind.

26. Seeing her, the fortunate one along with Vasiṣṭha, moving on the western side of the sea, all humans bowed down and paid their homage to her.

27. As they were placed ahead in the front in their movement, then visualising the fulfillment of his desire, the four-armed God, i.e. Brahmā, appeared then and there and in his apparant form of Hari was fittingly delighted.

28. He saw Gaṅgā following Vasiṣṭha and everything happening to be fortunately brightened up with an aura and gracious mind.

29. With mind full of happiness, he worshipped her with beautiful garlands as well as with perfumed incense and with offering of whole and unbroken grains. He kept on repeatedly uttering “let there be your well-being.”

30. Seeing Vasiṣṭha leading ahead from the front, the Brāhmaṇas became happy within. Elated as they were, after conforming to all sacred rituals and making offerings to him, they said as follows.

31-34. (They said) “As you have brought the best of rivers to this world, it will therefore have its reputation in the world as your offspring. As this place has been esteemed to be its right place after being brought down from the heaven, it will therefore, have reputation in the world by the name ‘Gomatī’. A mere sight of hers (i.e. of Gomatī) will land men in a state of liberation. By undergoing the ritual of taking a bath here again followed up with the activity of making charities, people will earn the passage to the abode of Hari. Those accomplished among the ascetics who after making their offerings as part of worship, sing hymns in eulogy of Hari, they will entitle themselves to the supreme masculine status as per the Ṛg Vedic Puruṣasukta and the status of Śeṣasāyinām [Śeṣaśāyin—śeṣaśāyinam?] (i.e. an epithet of Viṣṇu).”

35. As a result of their (singing in) eulogy, Hari appeared draped in yellow cloth, decked up with the garland made of wild flowers (Lord Kṛṣṇa generally wears such garland) and with parts of his body embellished with beautiful garlands and ornaments.

36. Then as the God assumed his ultimate position, he became visible in his beautiful stature with more than one weapon raised in his hands with his resplendently bright crown and his gleaming earrings in the shape of Makara, i.e. crocodile.

37. Taking resort of the powerful arms of Śrīvatsa (an epithet of Viṣṇu) gives peace of mind to the devotees, takes away all their fears and makes them always happy.

38. Seeing him in the beautiful and eye-catching position when Lakṣmī was happening to gently rub his feet out of deep attachment and faith, the sages got transported to the height of happiness. Then they tried to appease Viṣṇu by singing the hymns as prescribed in the Veda.

39. Following their hymns in his eulogy, Viṣṇu—the God known for his compassion for the poor and distressed, began to speak to the virtuous Brāhmaṇas with himself full of heightened pleasure.

40-45. The gracious God said, “O boys! I am pleased with you and shall grant you that as sought for in your mind. It will so happen that all of you will be united with that knowledge which has so far been inaccessible and by my trick only. The Brāhmaṇas making offering of water to me here solely guided by the desire for liberation, will have all their desires fulfilled as a reward of this supreme centre of pilgrimage. Any Brāhmaṇa, who to oblige this Sudarśana discus of mine here out of devotion, becomes the first to come before me after taking a dip in the water here, will earn the same fame as is the reputation of this centre of pilgrimage known as Cakratīrtha. Like me, he will continue to reside here in this great body of water forever. If by the time, men take a bath here, like the best of Brāhmaṇas at Cakratīrtha, liberation will be there for them in their hands. The very activity of staying put here in the evening by the Brāhmaṇas after their completing the sacrificial fire here will turn out to accomplish all desires extending over land, air and the space.”

Prahlāda said:

46. Hearing all this, Gaṅgā with all happiness and for the purpose of making offering as a matter of worship, took water in her hands for the purpose of washing Hari’s feet and touched her head to the same.

47. For this purpose, she then entered the water body and as soon as she did so, Gomatī, the exterminator of all sins, flowed towards the sea.

48. Granting the boon then and there, Viṣṇu disappeared. Sanaka as well as all of Brahma’s sons remained assembled there.

49. This is how Gomatī which finally flowed into the sea, came up there. Stated to be an abductor of all sins, she was heard of as Gaṅgā earlier.

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