by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Assemblage of all tirthas at Gomati 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 Dvaraka-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.
1-15. O Brāhmaṇas! now I am going to describe you all something different. This is about the eminently great virtue of Dvārakā which is even higher in mystery. I am going to describe about the old and beautiful history of it. This has an impelling force to dispel the doubts of (even) gods and sages putting up at centres of pilgrimage. Coinciding with good fortune of a unique nature the planet Guru, i.e. Jupiter began to transit in the zodiacal sign of Leo. After seeing this, Nārada the best Brāhmaṇa for whom Bhāgāvat was always dear, came to the banks of Godāvarī. Seeing the assembly of all the centres of pilgrimage to be found in. the three worlds as well as that of all streams of water on the banks of Gautamī, i.e. Godāvarī, he began to wonder. Centres of pilgrimage like Kāśī Kurukṣetra, Ayodhyā, Mathurā, Māyāpurī, Kāñchī [Kāñcī], Avantī were all present there (i.e. at the banks of Godāvarī) along with many forests having dwelling units in the shape of Āśramas, i.e. hermitages of ascetics. Harikṣetra, Gayā, Puruṣottam [Puruṣottama?], Prabhāsa and many such other auspicious centres of pilgrimage which grant liberation to human beings were present there. Holy rivers like Jāhnavī, Yamunā, Revā, Sarasvatī, Soumyā [Saumyā/Sarayū?], Gaṇḍakī, Taptī, Payoṣṇī as well as the master of all rivers, viz. the ocean were present there. Prominently holy rivers like Kṛṣṇā, Bhīmarathī, Kāverī as well as most of the rivers to be found in heaven, the mortal world as well as in the nether world were present along with centres of pilgrimage on their banks. With its transit through the zodiacal sign of Leo, Guru, i.e. Jupiter was present there on the shore of Godāvarī. Lakes and ponds like Puṣkara and the seven Sindhus were also present there. The Meru mountain—a glimpse of which induces holiness and removes all sins as well as the eminent Prayāga which embodies within it the holiness of all centres of pilgrimage were present there. The sages—proficient in the Vedas as well as in writings subordinate to the Vedas as well as others like the divine sages, gods and forefathers were present there. With Bṛhaspati, i.e. the planet Jupiter’s coming to transit through the zodiac sign of Leo, the Moon, Āditya [=candrāditya], i.e. the sun as well as other gods came to remain present there on the shore of Godāvarī along with the paternal figure of planets. Holy centres of pilgrimage found to be in existence here and there in the three worlds began to remain present there on the shore of Gautamī. All got struck with wonder to witness such a happening. Being delighted on his part, the divine sage Nārada began to remain there along with other sages. And as the period of Jupiter’s transit through the zodiac sign of Leo got over, all then began to retreat towards their own places. Along with other sages, Nārada came before the Goddess Gautamī seeking permission to take leave. But the Goddess on her turn got depressed after listening to all the Brāhmaṇas. Heated up with anger for Nārada’s keeping bad company she then spoke with all sorrow.
16-22. (Nārada!) you have already seen the assemblage of all holy places of pilgrimage, rivers like Gaṅgā, etc. forming like a garland and the seas, mountains and Gayā which are holier from all the three directions to be on my shore. All these places, Nārada! are known to grant liberation in the three worlds. O great sage! the gods, ancestral fathers, the accomplished, the sages, a lot of human beings, Prayāga—the ruling pilgrim centre as well as an embodiment of the virtues of all places of pilgrimage are brightening up the three worlds by getting purified in my company. O master! they are all leaving for their respective places. And now, I am left tired and getting scorched day and night. O Lord! coming very much in the company of bad people and the sinners, I was getting burnt out. Nārada! now it is my good fortune to have company of the virtuous. Delighted, all have gone back to their respective places. It is being said that the merits/virtues on their part have been due to my favour. Now tell the way as to what I, as it is already unhappy should do for the purpose of getting peace.
23. The divine soul Nārada after listening to the words of Godāvarī began to deliberate for a while with regard to the condition of the grief-stricken soul and then with doubts in mind began to say.
24-25. Oh! it is highly strange of the great misfortune of Gautamī. There is visibility beyond doubt of the gods, places of pilgrimage and the rivers on the one side to have accumulated virtue on their part as a result of their coming in company of hers, i.e. Godāvarī. But they have left leaving behind all their sins for Godāvarī to be scorched with. It is, therefore, to be thought out as to how to alleviate her from the fire of sins.
Śrī Prahlāda said:
26-31. When all the sages were thinking like this within themselves as to what could be chalked out, the divine soul Gautama came before them, i.e. the leading sages. After having a look of him, the sages and other gods made their fitting reverences. Jāhnavī, Yamunā, the holy Narmadā as well as Sarasvatī arrived there. Besides, the rest of the other rivers of the three worlds followed suit. Vārāṇasī with other hermitages descended on the earth’s surface through ages also assembled there. They all worshiped him. After that the sages said, “O great sage! we have already had a bath in this river and got ourselves protected. We have got ourselves fully purified by your grace. You have quite kindly brought this Gaṅgā as Gautamī down onto the surface of earth. By having a bath in this river men have become divested off their sins and as a result, they have been gratefully benefītted. But what for is Gautamī being excessively tormented for her coming in contact with bad people? Hence, Gautama! please give your mind as to how could Gautamī be made free of sins and keep flowing remaining in an eternally blissful stage. How could she regain her earlier shining state?
32-35. After the sages’ saying like this, Gautama got worried in mind. Looking at the face of Nārada and with a smile. Gautama said, “This river Godāvarī snatches away all that severely unfavourable to the holy regions including the centres of pilgrimage. So, the question is how to relieve Gautamī of her torments? There is hardly any such centre of pilgrimage in the three worlds where after having a bath during the conjuncture of Guru, i.e. Jupiter’s transit through the zodiacal sign of Leo, people do not come to Gautamī to have a dip in its waters for purification. The reign of some of the main centres of pilgrimage like Kāśī and Prayāga has been due to Gautamī’s favour. So all of you—the ascetics who are equally dependent on centres of pilgrimage, please tell me as to what should I clearly and thoughtfully examine, about the difficult situation that has come before us.
36. After the sage’s (i.e. Gautama’s) saying so, the other sages however, could not say anything. As it is they got somewhat infatuated. So to know about the way Gautama then spoke to Gautamī.
37-40. By my appeasing Śaṃkara through perseverance and worship, I have brought you—the Goddess here. So it is he, i.e. Śaṃkara who could devise/suggest the way of getting out of this difficulty. Gautama began to think like this. With all faith and devotion Gautama then began to meditate on the God stated to bear Gaṅgā on His head, i.e. Śiva. The ascetics having their minds purged off all dirt heard something unprecedentedly astonishing in the meantime. When the great soul Gautama was thus.meditating on Mahādeva, a reverberating voice sounded from the space sending ripples of delight in the three worlds. O Brāhmaṇas! the various directions/regions of the world began to resonate with that voice. The voice had no form and it was not indicating anything. But it was ringing the auspicious bell of relieving distress all around.
The divine voice said:
41-48. It is a matter of great surprise that while this great region of Godāvarī engenders happiness and welfare of everyone, the learned are equally involved in a great ocean of sorrow in the same context O preceptor Gautama and the sages like Nārada et al.! please be kind enough to listen to this message of mine regarding centres of pilgrimage. Look towards the western coast of the sea. There, on the north-western front is a growing and good centre of pilgrimage called Dvārakā. In its onward course, the virtuous Gomatī has met with the sea there. The great Viṣṇu is always present there with his face towards the west. It is the place known as bearing the fire to always burn up sin’s from the grave to the gravest order. The God himself had burnt up the worldly mischief of an unparallel kind to ashes here. Like the sun, he is always present there to annihilate sins in the three worlds. Thus to reward Godāvarī by helping her to burn up her sins, O greatly fortunate souls! all of you head towards Gomatī along with other centres of pilgrimage. O best Brāhmaṇas! all of you will reach the holy Dvārāvat with my favour. Then the truth will appear before you by the impact of Dvārakā.
49-53. After the utterances of such words coming from the voice above all the sages got pleased and remained assured within their minds. Hearing about the best of the centres of pilgrimage, with offering of ghee to the sacrificial fire they began to take the names of Hari. They began to tell themselves that they had sensed victory and had become more fortunate among the fortunates. It is a stroke of luck that they did not go down under the trap of attachments. They had come to know of the best among the centres of pilgrimage. Then all the centres of pilgrimage along with holy regions, jungles and hermitages, Vārāṇasī, Prayāga, etc., rivers like Sindhu and the known seven rivers, Gayā, the pools of water commonly known to have been sprung forth by the gods, ancestral forefathers, the gods as well as men got very exalted hearing such words as per the divine voice and began to say ‘Hail you’ ‘Hail you’. They said, “Oh! this is the best of the centres of pilgrimage which is the destroyer of everyone’s sins. We bow down our heads in reverence to Dvārakā—the ruler of all centres of pilgrimage.”
Śrī Prahlāda said,:
54-58. Hearing about the best of the centres of pilgrimage or even to learn that such a centre of pilgrimage is even better than the best and this place of pilgrimage is for the best of the best gods, i.e. Kṛṣṇa, as well as the destroyer of all difficulties an element of eagerness crept into the all good centres of pilgrimage assembled there. With their voices raised, all those centres of pilgrimage descended through ages began to discuss amongst themselves. Ṛṣi Tīrtha and gods said, “When shall we get to see that holy Dvārakā looked after by Kṛṣṇa, The divine idol of Śrī Kṛṣṇa as well as his discus beautify the same place. When will it happen for us to have a bath at Gomatī? When shall we get the opportunity to have a bath at Cakratīrtha and happen to see the Kṛṣṇa temple there? Getting an opportunity to have a perception of virtue of a high order, when shall we b.e able to make for that gate of liberation under wraps? Difficult is to obtain an opportunity to have a dwelling at Dvārakā. Equally difficult it is to have a look of Kṛṣṇa. Similarly the Brāhmaṇas! it is difficult to have a look of Rukmiṇī after a bath at Gomatī.”