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The Matsya Purana and The Varaha Purana

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The Matsya Purana

 

Lomaharshana and the Other Sages
There was a forest known as naimisharanya. Many years ago, several sages organized a yajna (sacrifice) in the forest. After the sacrifice was over, the assembled sages told Lomaharshana. “You have recited to us many Puranas. These accounts are so sacred that we would like to hear them once more. Please satisfy our thirst for knowledge.”
“I will recount for you the most holy of all the Puranas,” replied Lomaharshana. “This is the great Matsya Purana, told by Vishnu to Manu. Prepare your minds, for I am about begin.”


Vishnu and Manu
There used to be a king named Manu. He was the son of the sun-god.
When it was time for Manu to retire to the forest, he handed over the kingdom to his son. (The son’s name is not given, but must have been Ikshvaku.) Manu then went to the foothills of Mount Malaya and started to perform tapasya (meditation). Thousands and thousands of years passed. Such were the powers of Manu’s meditation that Brahma appeared before him.
“I am pleased with your prayers,” said Brahma. “Ask for a boon.”
“I have only one boon to ask for,” replied Manu. “Sooner or later there will be a destruction (pralaya) and the world will no longer exist. Please grant me the boon that it will be I who will save the world and its begins at the time of the destruction.”
Brahma readily granted this boon.
Days passed. On one particular occasion, Manu was performing ablutions in a pond near his hermitage. He immersed his hands in the water so that he might offer some water to his ancestors. When he raised his cupped hands, he found that there was a minnow (shafari) swimming around in the water. Manu had no desire to kill the minnow. He placed it carefully in his water-pot (kamandalu).
But the minnow started to grow and within a day, it was sixteen fingers in length. “Save me, king.” said the fish. “This water-pot is too small for me.”
Manu then placed the fish in a vat. But the fish continued to grow and, within a day, it was three hands in length. “Save me, king.” said the fish. “This vat is too small for me.”
Manu put the fish in a well, but the well soon became too small for the fish. Manu transferred the fish to a pond, but the pond was also too small for the fish. Manu now removed the fish to the holy river Ganga, but even this was too small for the fish. Finally, Manu transferred the fish to the ocean. There the fish grew so much that it soon occupied the entire ocean.
“Who are you?” asked Manu. “I have never seen or heard of such wonders. Are you a demon that is deluding me with its illusions? No, I do not think that you are a demon. You must be the great Vishnu himself. Please tell me the truth and satisfy my curiosity.”
Vishnu then revealed that it was indeed he who had adopted the form of a fish. He told Manu that the earth would soon be flooded with water. Vishnu had got a boat built by the gods. (In other accounts, Manu was himself asked to construct the boat). When the earth was flooded, Manu was to place all living beings in the boat and thus save them. Vishnu would himself arrive in his form of the fish and Manu was to tie the boat to the fish’s horn. Thus the living beings would be saved. And when the waters of the flood receded, Manu could populate the world afresh and rule over it. (This is the more customary account. But in the Mahabharata, it was Brahma who appeared before Manu in the form of a fish.)
Vishnu disappeared, and for a hundred years there was a terrible drought on earth. The drough led to famine and people died of starvation. Meanwhile, the sun blazed in fury and burnt up the entire world. When everything had burnt to ashes, dark clouds loomed in the sky. These are the clouds that appear at the time of destruction and there are seven classes of cush clouds, known as samvarta, bhimananda, drona, chanda, valahaka, vidyutapataka and kona. From the clouds, rain began to pour and soon, water engulfed the entire earth. The land mass was flooded. As instructed by Vishnu, Manu gathered together living beings inside the boat. And when the fish appeared, he tied the boat to the fish’s horn. What do you think Manu used a rope? He used a gigantic snake.
While the boat was thus thethered and dragged around by the fish, Manu asked Vishnu several questions. The answered that Vishnu provided form the text of the Matsya Purana.
Creation
In the beginning, there was nothing in the universe. There was only darkness and the divine essence (brahman). It is impossible to describe the brahman, it has no traits that can be described.
When the time came for creation to start, the brahman removed the darkness and divided itself into three. These three parts came to be known as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The first object that was created was water and Vishnu slept on this water. Since nara means water and ayana means resting-place, Vishnu is accordingly also known as Narayana.
In this water next appeared a golden (hiranya) egg (anda). The egg shone with the radiance of a thousand suns. Inside the egg, Brahma created himself. Since he effectively created (bhuva) himself (svayam), Brahma is also known as Svayambhuva. The egg, you will remember, was golden. Garbha means womb, and since Brahma was born inside a golden egg, he is also known as Hiranyagarbha.
For a thousand years Brahma stayed inside the egg. He then split the shell into two and emerged out. Heaven (svarga) was made from one half of the shell and the earth from the remaining half. All the land masses, the oceans, the rivers and the mountains, had been inside the egg in embryonic form. Brahma made them manifest.
The sun was also born. Since he was the first (adi) being to be born, he is known as Aditya. (The name Aditya is more commonly explained as characterising the offspring of Aditi, from whom all the gods were descended. The Matsya Purana refers to this later.) The word mrita means dead. Since the sun was born when the egg (anda) died, the sun was also known as Martanda. (There is an alternative explanation of the name Martanda, as given, for example, in the Markandeya Purana. This again relates to the sun being born as the son of Aditi and the sage Kashyapa.)
Brahma’s first act was to meditate. It was while he was meditating that the Vedas, the Puranas and the other shastras (sacred texts) emerged from Brahma’s mouth.
Ten sons were also born to Brahma. Created from Brahma’s mental powers, they all became sages. Their names were Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Pracheta, Vashishtha, Bhrigu and Narada. There were others too who were born. Daksha was born from Brahma’s right toe. And the god Dharma was born from his chest.
But for further creation to continue, it was essential that created beings should have proper mothers and fathers. Brahma accordingly created two beings from his body, one was male and the other was female. The male half was named Svayambhuva Manu and the female half was named Shatarupa. (This is the customary account in the other Puranas as well. But the Matsya Purana contradicts itself immediately and states that Svyambhuva Manu was the son of Shatarupa and Brahma.)
Shatarupa is also referred to as Savitri, Gayatri, Sarasvati or Brahmani. Since she had been born from Brahma’s body, she was like Brahma’s daughter. In fact, Vashishtha and the other sages who were Brahma’s sons welcomed her as their sister. But Shatarupa was so beautiful that Brahma fell in love with her and wished to marry her.
Shatarupa circled Brahma and showed her respects to him. When she stood in front of him. Brahma gazed upon her with the face that he had. But when she went and stood behind him, Brahma could see her no longer. (Brahma, obviously, did not want to turn his head.) Another head with another face therefore sprouted behind Brahma’s first head so that he might be able to see Shatarupa. In similar fashion, a head sprouted to Brahma’s first head so that he might be able to see Shatarpa. In similar fashion, a head sprouted to Brahma’s right an another one to his left. And when Shatarupa rose above him, a head sprouted towards the top as well. Thus it was that Brahma came to have five heads and five faces.
Brahma married Shatarupa and they lived together as man and wife for a hundred years. Their son was named Svayambhuva Manu.
Remember that this story was being told by Vishnu to Vaivasvata Manu.
Hearing the account, Vaivasvata Manu exclaimed. “But what you have just said is truly amazing. How could Brahma have married his own daughter? Surely that is a sin.”
“Perhaps,” replied Vishnu, “but it is not for humans to judge the actions of the gods. How could creation proceed if Brahma did not marry Shatarupa?’
To continue with the account of the creation, Brahma created a sage named Sanatakumara and Shiva. (It is usually stated that, in addition to the sages who were created earlier, Brahma created four more sons through his mental powers. Their names were Sananda, Sanaka, Sanatana and Sanatakumara, and they became sages.)
Brahma asked Shiva to help him in the act of creation. “Why don’t you create some beings as well?’ asked Brahma.
Shiva complied and started to create. But all the beings that he created were just like him in appearance. That is , they were all immortal.
“What are you doing?” asked Brahma. “Don’t create immortal beings. Create mortal ones instead.”
“That I refuse to do,” retorted Shiva. “If I am to create, I shall create only immortals.”
“Please do not create then,” requested Brahma. “I will take care of creation myself.”
Svayambhuva Manu performed very difficult tapsaya and obtained a wife named Anati. (In other Puranas, Svayambhuva Manu is stated to have married Shatarupa.) Svayambhuva Manu and Ananti had two sons named Priyavrata and Uttanapada.
From Uttanapada was descended Prachinavarhi. Prachinavarahi married Savarna, the daugther of the ocean, and they had ten sons. These sons were known as the Prachetas. The ten Prachetas married a woman named Marisha. That is, all of them had the same wife.
Daksha was the son of the Prachetas and Marisha.


Daksha’s Descendants

Daksha married Panchanjani. (The more usual name, as given in the other Puranas, is Asikli or Prasuti. Prasuti is said to have been the daughter of Svayhambhuva Manu and Shatarupa. Asikli was the daughter of Virana and is also referred to as Vairini.)
Daksha and Panchajani had one thousand sons. These were known as the Haryakshas (alternatively, Haryashvas). Daksha asked his sons to create more living beings.
But the sage Narada came and told the Haryakshas, “You can’t possibly create living beings unless you know where they are going to live. Have you explored the universe that your creations are going to populate? Why don’t you start out on a voyage of discovery?”
The Haryakshas did this and have never been heard of since. They did not return.
Daksha and Panchajani now had another thousand sons. These were name the Shavalas. (The more usual name is the Shavalshvas.) Narada asked the Shavalas also to explore the universe and they too disappeared.
Sixty daughters were next born to Daksha and Panchajani. (The accounts of the Puranas are not consistent about the number of Daksha’s daughters. Sometimes the number is given as sixty, sometimes as fifty and sometimes as twenty-four.) Ten of these daughers were married to the god Dharma, twenty-seven were married to the moon-god Chandra, and thirteen were married to the sage Kashyapa. The remaining daughters were married to various other sages.
The thirteen daughters who were married to Kashyapa were named Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ira, Kadru, Vishva and Muni, (The names of Kashyapa’s wives, particularly the minor ones, sometimes vary from Purana to Purana.)
Aditi’s sons were known as the adityas. There were twelve of them and they were named Indra, Dhata, Bhaga, Tvashta, Mitra, Varuna, Yama, Vivasvana, Savita, Pusha, Amshumana and Vishnu. These were the gods. (Yama is more commonly regarded as having been the son of the sun-god and his wife Samjna.)
Diti’s sons were the daityas (demons). There were two of them, named Hiranyakshipu and Hiranyaksha. Their sons also came to be known as the daityas. Hiranyaksha’s sons were Uluka. Shakuni, Bhutasantapana and Mahanabha. (More commonly, Hiranyaksha’s son is said to have been Andhaka. In some accounts, Hiranyaksha did not have a son and Andhaka was adopted as a son.) Hiranyakshipu’s sons were Prahlada, Anuhlada, Samhlada and Hlada. Prahlada’s son was Virochana, Virochana’s son was Vali, and Vali’s son was Vanasura.
Danu had a hundred sons. These and their descendants were known as the danavas (demons). Chief among the hundred sons was Viprachitti. Maya, the archietect of the demons, was descended from this line.
Tamra had six daughters. These were the mothers of the birds and of goats, horse, sheep, camels and donkeys.
Vinata had two sons, Aruna and Garuda. Aruna’s sons were Sampati and Jatayu. (You may be familiar with these names fromt he Ramayana.)
Both Surasa and Kadru gave birth to snakes (nagas or sarpas).
Krodhavasha was the mother of rakshasas (demons); Surabhi of cows and buffaloes; Muni of apsaras (dancers of heaven); Arishta aof gandharvas (singers of heaven); Ira of trees and herbs; and Vishva of yakashas (demi-gods).


The Maruts
Although the gods and the demons were cousins, they did not like each other and fought amongst themselves all the time. Many daityas were killed by Vishnu and the other gods.
Diti was disconsolate to see her children suffer thus. She resolved that she would meditate so as to obtain a son who would be so powerful that he would kill Indra, the king of the gods. There was a tirtha (place of pigrimage) named Syamantapanchaka on the banks of the sacred river Sarasvati. Diti went there and started to pray to the sage Kashyapa. She lived on roots and fruits and meditated for a hundred years.
These prayers pleased Kashyapa. “Ask for a boon,” he said.
“Please grant me a son who will kill indra,” replied Diti.
“It shall be as you wish,” said Kashyapa. “But there are some conditions. You will have to live in this hermitage for a hundred years more. Throughout these hundred years you will bear the baby in your womb. But there are certain conditions of cleanliness that you must obeserved. You must not eat in the evening, nor must you sleep under a tree at night. Excercise is not permitted in any form. Do not sleep with your hair unbraided, or without having had a bath. If you can observed these rules for a hundred years, you will have the son you wish for.”
Kashyapa went away and Diti began to observe the rites that the sage had prescribed. But Indra had got to know what was afoot and he was naturally in no mood to permit the birth of a son who would be the cause of his own destruction. He hung around Diti’s hermitage, pretending to serve his aunt. He brought her firewood and fruit and served her in other ways. But in reality, he was merely waiting for an opportunity. He was waiting for the moment when Diti would fail to observed the norms of cleaniness that had been laid down for her.
Ninety-nine years and three hundred and sixty-two days passed. That is, only three days were left for the period of one hundred years to be over. (In some other Puranas,it is stated that ninety years had passed uneventfully.)
Diti was tired on one particular occasion. Since the period of her ordeal was soon to end, she had also become somewhat careless. She fell asleep without washing her hair. What was worse, she went to sleep without having braided her hair. This was an act of gross uncleanliness.
Indra seized his chance. Since Diti had committed an unclean act, her defences had been lowered. Indra entered Diti’s womb in a trice. Indra has a wonderful weapon named vajra. (This is sometimes with a club.) With the vajra, Indra sliced the baby in Diti’s womb into seven parts. These parts started to cry.
“Ma ruda,” said Indra. “Don’t cry.”
But the parts continued to cry. Indra therefore chopped up each of the parts into seven more sections, so that there were forty-nine parts in all.
Since Diti had failed to observe the prescribed rites, these forty-nine sections were no longer a threat to Indra. When they were born, they came to be known as the maruts from the words Indra had used in addressing them. They were elevated to the status of gods and became Indra’s friends and constant companions.


The Manvantaras
Each manvantara is an era and is ruled over by a Manu. One of Brahma’s days is known as a kalpa and there are fourteen manvantaras in every kalpa. At the end of every kalpa, the universe is destroyed and has to be created afresh.
In the present kalpa, six manvantaras have already passed and the seventh manvantara is now current. There will be seven more manvantaras in the future before the universe and its inmates are destroyed. The gods, the seven great sages (saptarshis) and the individual who holds the title of Indra, change from one manvantara to another. The fourteen eras of the present kalpa are as follows.
(1) The first Manu was Svayambhuva. The gods then were the yamas.
(2) Svarochisha was the second Manu. The gods were the tushitas and the names of the seven great sages were Dattoli, Chyavana, Stambha, Prana, Kashyapa, Ourva and Brihaspati.
(3) The third Manu was Outtama. The gods were named the bhavanas and Koukurundi, Dalbhya, Shankha, Pravahana, Shiva, Sita and Sasmita were the saptarshis.
(4) Tamas was the fourth Manu. The seven great sages were Kavi, Prithu, Agni, Akapi, Kapi, Jalpa and Dhimana and the gods were known as the sadhyas.
(5) The fifth manvantara was ruled over by a Manu named Raivata. The gods were the abhutarajas and the seven great sages were
Devavahu, Suvahu, Parjanya, Somapa, Munti, Hiranyaroma and Saptashva.
(6) Chakshusha was the sixth Manu. The gods were known as the lekhas and the seven great sages were Bhrigu, Sudhama, Viraja, Sahishnu, Nada, Vivasvana, and Atinama.
(7) The seventh manvantara is the one that is now current and the name of the Manu is Vaivasvata. The saptarshis are Atri, Vashishtha, Kashyapa, Goutama, Bharadvaja, Vishvamitra and Jamadagni. The gods are the sadhyas, the vishvadevas, the maruts, the vasus, the two ashvinis and the adityas.
(8) The eighth Manu will be Savarni and the seven great sages of this era will be Ashvatthama, Sharadvana, Koushika, Galava, Shatananda, Kashyapa and Rama.
(9) The ninth Manu wil be Rouchya.
(10) Bhoutya will be the tenth Manu.
(11) The eleventh Manu will be named Merusavarni.
(12) Rita will be the twelfth Manu.
(13) Ritadhama will be the thirteenth Manu.
(14) The fourteenth and final Manu will be named Vishvakasena.
(The account is incomplete in the sense that the names of gods and the seven great sages of each era are not given. And the name of Indra is not given for even a single manvantara. These names are given in the other Puranas, but the names given generally differ from one text to another. In some cases, the names of the manvantaras, particularly the future ones, also differ.)



Prithu
A king named Anga was descended from Svayuambhuva Manu. Anga married Sunitha, the daughter of Mrityu, and they had a son named Vena. Mrityu was an evil person. From his childhood, Vena associated with this maternal grandfather of his and thus came to acquire evil ways.
When Vena became king after Anga, he started to oppress the world. He stopped all yajnas and the prayers to the gods. He insisted that people should pray only to Vena. The sages did their level best to persuade Vena to return to the righteous path, but Vena would not listen.
The sages then killed Vena. (The Matsya Purana merely states that Vena died as a result of the curse imposed on him by the sages. The other Puranas say that the sages actually killed him with some straw over which incantations had been chanted.)
Vena had no sons and a kingdom does not flourish in the absence of a king. Therefore, when Vena was dead, the sages started to knead the dead body so that a son might be born. The first being that emerged as a result of this kneading was a dark and dwarfish son. All the evil that was in Vena’s body entered the body of this son so that there was no more evil left in the dead body. (Other Puranas state that this son came to be known as nishada and this name was also passed on to his descendants. The nishadas became a class of hunters and fishermen.)
When the kneading continued, a handsome son was born from Vena’s right hand. He was born fully grown and held bows, arrows and clubs in his hands when he emerged. His entire body was clad in shining armour. The word prithu means great. Since the son was born after a great deal of effort, he was given the name Prithu.
(Some other Puranas have an alternative derivation. Vena’s right palm was very plump and the word prithu also means plump. Since the son was born as a result of the kneading of this plump right palm, he was called Prithu.)
The sages made arrangements for Prithu’s coronation. Prithu was a good king who ruled well.
But Prithu’s subjects still did not have the wherewithal to make a living. They asked their king to do something about this. Prithu decided that since the earth was not providing any foodgrains, he would kill the earth. The earth adopted the form of a cow and started to flee.
Wherever the earth went, the king followed in hot pursuit.
The earth finally realized that she could not escape by running away. She told Prithu, “Please do not kill me. Then your subjects will not even have a place to live in. Your object is to find a means of living for your subjects. How will that be accomplished if you kill me? Milk me instead of killing me. The foodgrains that the milking will yield will provide the sustenance for your subjects.”
Prithu accordingly milked the earth. It is because of this that the earth is known as prithivi. Prithu also levelled out the earth with his bow so that his subjects could live in the plains thus created.
The earth prospered during Prithu’s rule. Poverty, disease and sins were unknown. Everyone was righteous.


The Solar Line
The sages requested Lomaharshana. “Please tell us the history of the solar line.”
Lomaharshana complied.
Aditi and the sage Kashyapa had borne the sun-god, Vivasvana or Surya, as a son.
Surya had three wives, Samjna, Rajni and Prabha. Rajna had a son named Revata and Prabha had a son named Prabhata (morning). (Usually, only Samjna is mentioned in the other Puranas.)
Surya and Samjna had two sons and a daughter. The eldest son was Vaivasvata Manu. And the remaining two offspring were twins named Yama and Yamuna.
The sun’s radiance was however too much for Samjna to bear. After a while, she could not bear it any longer. She therefore created a woman out of her own body. The woman looked exactly like Samjna and was named Chhaya (shadow). There was no way of telling the two apart.
“Stay here and pretend to be me,” said Samjna. “Look after my husband and my children. No one will know the truth unless you tell them. As for me, I am going away.”
Surya did not realize that Samjna had left. He took Chhaya to be his wife, and Surya and Chhaya had two sons and two daughters. The sons were Savarni Manu and Shani (Saturn) and the daughters were Tapati and Vishti. (The second daughter named Vishti does not usually occur in the other Puranas.)
Chhaya was clearly fonder of her own children and neglected Samjna’s. This did not bother Vaivasvata Manu too much. He was the eldest and more collected and balanced. But Yama resented this favouritism of Chhaya’s. In a fit of petulance, he raised his foot to kick Chhaya.
Chhaya cursed Yama. “I curse you that your foot may be devoured by worms,” she said. “May it be infected with pus and blood.”
This alarmed Yama and he rushed to his father. “My mother has cursed me,” he told Surya. “I am only a child. Even if I did commit a sin, does a mother ever curse her children? I have serious misgivings that she is not our mother at all.”
When Surya taxed Chhaya with this, she came out with the truth and Surya learnt that Samjna had left. Samjna’s father was Vishvakarma, the architect of the gods. Surya went to his father-in-law to find out if he knew anything of Chhaya’s whereabouts.
“Indeed, I do,” replied Vishvakarma. “When Samjna left your house, she came to me in the form of a mare. But I refused to let her live in my house, since she had left her husband’s house without seeking his permission. She is living at the moment in the desert. But Samjna did what she did because she could not bear to stand your energy and radiance. If you permit, I shall shave off some of the excess energy, so that people can look at you.”
Vishvakarma shaved off some of the sun’s energy. With the excess energy were constructed many of the weapons of the gods such as Vishnu’s chakra (a bladed-discus), Shiva’s trident (trishula) and Indra’s vajra. This made the sun’s visage much more pleasant and bearable. The only parts of Surya’s body that were not thus modified were the feet. No one can bear to look at Surya’s feet and it is forbidden to visualise the sun-god’s feet when one is praying to him. A person who does not follow this injuction is a sinner and is made to suffer from leprosy.
Surya now went to look for Samjna and found her in the form of a mare. He too adopted the form of a horse and joined her. As horses, they had two sons. Since ashva means horse, the sons were known as the Ashvinis. They became the physicians of the gods and were also known as Nasatya and Dasra. After the Ashvinis were born, Surya and Samjna gave up their forms of horses and returned to their usual forms.
Manu went away to perform tapasya (meditation) on Mount Sumeru. He is destined to be one of the future Manus. Shani became a planet and Yamuna a river. As for Tapati, she too became a river (Tapai), (The Mahabharata states that Tapati married King Samvarana and gave birth a son named Kuru. From Kuru the line came to be known as that of the Kauravas.)
Yama had been cursed by Chhaya that his feet would rot and be infected with worms. To mitigate the effects of the curse, Surya gave Yama a bird which ate up all the worms. Thereafter, Yama went to a tirtha named Gokarna and started to pray to Shiva. For thousands of years he prayed and eventually managed to please Shiva. Shiva granted Yama the boon that he would be the god of death. He would mete out punishments to sinners in accordance with the sins (papa) that they had committed. He would also keep account of the store of merit (punya) that righteous people accumulated.
Vaivasvata Manu ruled as Manu. He had ten sons. The eldest was named Ila. (In many other Puranas, Ila is said to have been a daughter.) The other sons were named Ikshvaku, Kushanabha, Arishta, Dhrishta, Narishyanata, Karusha, Sharyati, Prishadhra and Nabhaga.
The solar line owes its origin to Ikshavaku. In this line was born king Bhagiratha, who brought the sacred river Ganga down from heaven. (The story is related in the Mahabharata, apart from several Puranas.) Further down the line was Dasharatha and Dasharatha’s son was Rama. You know about Rama from the Ramayana.




Ila and the Lunar Line
Vaisvasvata Manu’s eldest son was Ila. (As mentioned earlier, many Puranas state that Ila was a daughter. Vaivasvata Manu did not have a son and performed a yajna so that a son might be born. But a daughter was born instead, and Manu brought her up as a son. This daughter was Ila. Ikshvaku and her other brothers were born only subsequently.)
When Vaivasvata Manu became old, he retired to the forest. Ila was appointed the ruler in his place. Ila set out on a voyage of conquest and travelled throughout the world.
There was a forest named sharavana, frequented by Shiva and Parvati. Shiva had decreed that any man who entered the forest would become a woman. King Ila did not know about this rule and set foot in the forest inadvertently he immediaely got transformed into a woman.
“What is going to happen to me now?” thought Ila. “Where will I live?” He even forgot all about his earlier life.
The moon-god, Chandra, had a son named Budha. While Ila was wandering around. Budha came upon her and fell in love with her. The two had a son named Pururava and Pururava was the ancestor of the lunar line.
Meanwhile, Ikshvaku and the other brothers had started to look for Ila. When they could find no trace of their brother, they asked the sage Vashishtha if he knew of Ila’s whereabouts. Vashishtha used his mental powers to find out what had happened. He asked the princes to pray to Shiva and Parvati. That was the only way to make Ila a man once more.
The prayers pleased Shiva nd Parvatiand they found out what the princes wants. “But what you desire is quite impossible,” they told Ikshvakuand his brother. “Ila can never be made a man once again. At best, we will grant you the following boon. Ila will alternate between being a man for one month and a woman for one month.”
The princes had to be content with this. As a woman, Ila continued to be known as Ila. But as a man, he came to known as Sudyumna and had three sons named Utkala, Gaya and Haritashva.



Daksha and Sati
“I will now tell you about Daksha and Sati,” Lomaharshana told the sages.
Daksha had a daughter named Sati who was married to Shiva. Daksha did not like his son-in-law at all. When he organized a yajna, he did not invite Shiva to attend the ceremony. (The story of the destruction of Daksha’s yajna crops up in almost every Purana. The actual destruction is not described in the Matsya Purana. It can be found, for example, in the Bhagavata Purana.)
But Sati went to the ceremony, although Shiva had not been invited. “Why did you not invite Shiva?” Sati asked her father.
“Because your husband is undeserving of such honour,” replied Daksha. “He is not fit to be treated on par with the other gods.”
These words angered Sati. “I am ashamed that I am your daughter.” She said. “Cursed am I that I have had to hear such abuses of the great Shiva. I no longer wish to be your daughter. I will therefore give up this physical body that I owe to you, by immolating myself. As for you, I curse you that you will be born on earth as the son of the ten Prachetas. You will then try to perform an ashvamdha yajna (horse sacrifice). But Shiva will destroy the ceremony.”
Daksha tried to pacify Sati. “Please have mercy on me,” he said. “You are the mother of the entire universe. How will the universe survive if you die? It is only through your good grace that you condescended to be born as my daughter. Please do not forsake me.”
“What I have said cannot be negated,” replied Sati. “But I will grant you this much. When you are born on earth, you will continue to be devoted to me.”
“Where will I pray to you?” asked Daksha. “At what tirthas? And what are the names by which I will address you in the course of my prayers?”
Sati then told Daksha one hundred and eight of her names. She also told him the names of one hundred and eight tirthas at which she was known by these respective names. These names and tirthas are as follows, witht he names being given first and the tirthas second.
(1) Vishalakshi at Varanasi
(2) Lingadharini at Naimisha.
(3) Lalitadevi at Prayaga.
(4) Kamakshi at Gandhamadana.
(5) Kumuda at Manasa.
(6) Vishvakaya at Ambara.
(7) Gomati at Gomanta.
(8) Kamacharini at Mandara.
(9) Madotkata at Chaitraratha.
(10) Jayanti at Hastinapura.
(11) Gouri at Kanyakuvja.
(12) Rambha at Malayachala.
(13) Kirtimati at Ekamra.
(14) Vishva at Vishveshvara.
(15) Puruhuta at Pushkara.
(16) Margadayini at Kedara.
(17) Nanda at Himalaya.
(18) Bhadrakarnika at Gokarna.
(19) Bhavani at Sthaneshvara.
(20) Vilvapatrikat at Vilva.
(21) Madhavi at Shrishaila.
(22) Bhadra at Bhadreshvara.
(23) Jaya at Varahashaila.
(24) Kamala at Kamalalalya.
(25) Rudrani at Rudrakoti.
(26) Kali at Kalanjara.
(27) Kapila at Mahalinga.
(28) Mukuteshvari at Markata.
(29) Mahadevi at Shalagrama.
(30) Janapriya at Shivalinga.
(31) Kumari at Mayapuri.
(32) Lalita at Santana.
(33) Utpalakshi at Sahasraksha
(34) Mahotpala at Kamalaksha.
(35) Mangala at Gangatira.
(36) Vimala at Purushottama.
(37) Amoghakshi at Vipasha.
(38) Patala at Pundravarddhana.
(39) Narayani at Suparshva.
(40) Bhadrasundari at Vikuta.
(41) Vipula at Vipula.
(42) Kalyani at Malalyachala.
(43) Kotavi at Kotitirtha.
(44) Sugandha at Madhavana.
(45) Trisandhya at Godasharma.
(46) Ratipriya at Gangadvara.
(47) Shivananda at Shivakunda
(48) Nandini at Devikatata.
(49) Rukmini at Dvaravati.
(50) Radha at Vrindavana.




(51) Devaki at Mathura.
(52) Parameshvari at Patala.
(53) Sita at Chitrakuta.
(54) Vindyavasini at Vindhya.
(55) Ekavira at Sahyadri.
(56) Chandrika at Harichandra.
(57) Aroga at Vaidyanatha.
(58) Maheshvari at Mahakala.
(59) Abhaya at Ushnatirtha.
(60) Amrita at Vindhyakandara.
(61) Mandavi at Mandavya.
(62) Svaha at Maheshvarapura.
(63) Prachanda at Chhagalanda.
(64) Chandrika at Makaranda.
(65) Vararoha at Someshvara.
(66) Pushkaravati at Prabhasa.
(67) Devamata at Sarasvati.
(68) Mata at Sagara.
(69) Mahabhaga at Mahalaya.
(70) Pingaleshvari at Payoshni.
(71) Simhika at Kritashoucha.
(72) Yashaskari at Kartikeya.
(73) Lola at Utapalvarta.
(74) Subhadra at Shonasangama.
(75) Lakshimata at Siddhapura.
(76) Angana at Bharatashrama.
(77) Vishvamukhi at Jalandhara.
(78) Tara at Kishkindhyachala.
(79) Pushti at Devadaruvana.
(80) Medha at Kashmiramandala.
(81) Bhimadevi at Himachala.
(82) Pushti at Vishveshvara.
(83) Shuddhi at Kapalamochana.
(84) Sita at Mayavarohana.
(85) Dhvani at Shankhoddhara.
(86) Dhriti at Pendara.
(87) Kala at Chandrabhaga.
(88) Shivakarini at Achchhodatira.
(89) Amrita at Vena.
(90) Urvashi at Vadrivina
(91) Oushadhi at Uttarakur.
(92) Kushodaka at Kushavdvipa
(93) Manmatha at Hemakuta.
(94) Satyavadini at Mukuta.
(95) Vandaniy at Ashvattha.
(96) Nidhi at Kuberalaya.
(97) Gayatri at Vedavadana.
(98) Parvati at Shivasannidhana.
(99) Indrani at Devaloka.
(100) Sarasvati at Brahmamukha.
(101) Prabha at Suryabimba.
(102) Vaishnavi at Matrigana.
(103) Arundhati at Satismukha.
(104) Tilottama.
(105) Brahmakala.
(106) Shakti.
(The list is not really complete, since two names are missing. Moreover, the names of the tirthas in the final few names are not geographical places at all. Prabha is the name not in a place named Suryabhima, but in the reflection of the sun. Sarasvati is the name in Brahma’s mouth. There is no place named Matrigana. What is meant is that, amongst the goddesses known as the matris, Sati is known by the name Vaishnavi. A sati is a woman who is devoted to her husband. Amongst all such satis, the goddess is known as Arundhati. She is known as Tilottama amongst all women, as Brahmakala in the mind and as Shakti in the body.)
Having recited these names, Sati immolated herself. She was later reborn as Parvati or Uma, the daughter of Menaka and Himalaya. She was remarried to Shiva.
As for Daksha, he was born on earth as the son of the ten Prachetas.
The Matsya Pruana now devotes several sections to shradha (funeral) ceremonies.



Brahmadatta
There used to be a sage named Koushika. Koushika had seven sons named Svasripa, Krodhana, Himsra, Pishuna, Kavi, Vagadushta and Pitrivarti. These sons all became disciples of the sage Garga.
After Koushika died, there was a terrible drought on earth. Famine raged and people went hungry. Garga had asked his disciples to tend to his cattle and the seven brothers had taken the cattle to the forest so that they might browse on the grass that grew there.
The brothers suffered so much from hunger that they decided to slay one of the cows and eat it.
“Killing a cow would be a sin,” remarked the youngest. “If we have to kill the cow, let us at least perform its funeral ceremony. Perhaps that will reduce the severity of the sin that we are committing.”
The other brothers agreed to this. The funeral rites of the cow were observed. It was then killed and eaten. The brothers returned to Garga and told him. “A cow has been killed and eaten by a tiger.”
Garga saw no reason to disbelieve them. But the sin remained a sin. And as a consequence of having committed a crime, the brothers were born as hunters in their next lies. But they were born as jatismaras. That is, they remembered the incidents of their earlier lives.
Since the brothers remembed what they had been in their earlier lives, they saw no reason to live as hunters. They therefore fasted until they died. They were next reborn as deer. But the deer continued to be jatismaras and fasted to death. The brothers were reborn as birds. Four of the brothers continued to be detached from material pursuits and spent their time in meditation. But the three remaining brothers were not so lucky.
The king of Panchala had once come to the forest with his retinue. The king’s name was Vibhraja. One of the birds was struck by the king’s pomp and glory and wished to be born as a king in his next life. King Vibhraja and two ministers with him and all the soldiers seemed to be following the instructions of the ministers. Accordingly, two of the birds desired to be born as ministers in their next lives.
The one who wished to be a king was born as Brahmadatta, King Vibhraja’s son. The two who desired to be born as ministers became Pundarika and Suvalaka, the sons of the two ministers whom they had seen. The remaining three brothers were not attached to material pursuits and were born as brahmanas (the first of the four classes).
Brahmadatta married Kalyani. You will never guess who Kayanti had been in her earlier life. She had been the cow whom the brothers had killed.
What was most remarkable was the fact that Brahmadatta could understand the languages of all living beings.
Brahmadatta and Kalyani were once taking a walk in their garden. Brahmadata heard two ants conversing. Since he could understand the languages of all living beings, he could follow what the ants were saying.
“Why are you angry with me?’ asked the male ant. “Why are you refusing to speak to me?”
“Go away and do not pester me,” replied the female ant. “You say you love me very much. And yet, when you got some grains of sugar yesterday, you gave them to another ant and not to me. I refuse to speak to you.”
“That was my mistake,” said the male ant. “I thought that it was you to whom I was giving the grains of sugar. I will never make such a mistake in the future. Please pardon me and smile. I cannot bear to see you so angry.”
The ants made up.
The conversation made Brahmadatta laugh. Kalyani naturally wanted to know why Brahmadatta was laughing and the king reported the entire conversation to his wife.
But Kalyani refused to believe her husband. “How can any man understand the language of ants?” she wanted to know. “You are lying. You must have been laughing at me.”
Brahmadatta tried to convince his wife, but Kalyani would not listen. The king did not know what to do. But while he was sleeping, he dreamt that Vishnu appeared before him and told him to wait till the next morning. Brahmadatta’s mind would be set at rest then.
I hope you have not forgotten that four of the brothers had been born as brahmanas. They had been born as brahmanas. They had been born as the sons of a brahmana named Sudaridra and were named Dhritimana, Tattvadarshi, Vidyachanda and Tapotsuka. Since they were born as jatismaras, they remembered their earlier lives and had no desire to tied down by material pursuits. They wanted to retire to the forest and meditate.
But Sudaridra tried to restrain his sons. “How can you do that?” he asked “How can you retire to the forest to meditate? Your duty is to look after me in my old age. If you do not look after, I shall starve to death. Please do not commit that sin.”
“You will not starve to death,” replied his sons. “Go to King Brahmadatta and ask him for wealth. He will give you gold and villages. Tell him to remember the sage Garga, the hunters, the deer and the birds. The four sons went away to the foest. Sudarida came to meet the king. He met the king on the day following Brahmadatta’s dream. Sudaridra’s words reminded Brahmadatta of what he had been in his earlier lives. He was ashamed that he had forgotten those incidents and had become addicted to material pursuits. He decided to join his brothers in the forest. He gave Sudaridra as much wealth as the brahmana wanted and handed over the kingdom to the prince, Vishvaksena. The brothers Pundarika and Suvalaka also accompanied Brahmadatta to the forest. It was thus that Koushika’s seven sons eventually attained salvation. “There is one thing we do not understnad,” said the sages. “How came Brahmadatta to understand the languages of all living beings?” “That is easily explained.” Replied Lomaharshana. “King Vibraja had prayed to Vishnu that he might obtain such a son and the boon was granted.”
The Matysa Purana now continues with a cataloguing of the major tirthas.Chandra and Budha “You forgot to tell us how Budha was born,” remarked the sages. “Nor did you tell us anything about Chandra’s birth.” Lomaharshana filled in the blanks. The sage Atri was Brahma’s son. Atri once performed very difficult tapasya. A tremendous amount of energy was released as a result of this meditation and the moon-god, Chandra or Soma, was born from this energy. Brahma appointed Chandra ruler over all stars, planets and herbs (oshadhi). Twenty-seven of Daksha’ daughter were married to Chandra. These were the nakshatras (stars). Chandra performed a rajasuya yajna (royal sacrifice) and the ceremony was an outstanding success. Bt all this sucess. But all this success and glory went to Chandra’s head. The preceptor of the gods was the sage Brihaspati and Brihaspati’s wife was Tara. Chandra’s eyes fell upon Tara and he forcibly abducted her. On several occasions Brihaspati asked Chandra to return Tara, but the moon-god would not listen. A terrible war then raged between the gods and demons over Tara. The gods fought on Brihaspati’s side and the demons aided Chandra. Shiva also fought on the side of the gods. As the war raged, Shiva let fly a terrible divine weapon named brahmashirsha at Chandra. Chandra countered this with another terrible divine weapon named somastra. These two weapons of destruction threatened to burn up the entire universe.
Brahma decided that it was time for him to intervene. “Stop this nonsense at once,” he told Chandra. “What you have done is most improper. Return Tara at once.” These words ashamed Chandra and he returned Tara. But Chandra and Tara had already had a handsome son named Budha. Budha became very skilled in the handling of elephants. In fact, the knowledge of tackling and handling elephants goes back to Budha. You already know that Budha married Ila and that they had a son named Pururava. Pururava and Urvashi Pururava was a very strong king who ruled the earth well. He performed one hundred ashvamedha yajnas. The three goals of human life are dharma (righteousness), artha (wealth) and kama (that which is desired). (Usually, a fourth goal of moksha salvation) is added.) These three goals wished to see which of them Pururava revered the most. They therefore adopted human forms and came to visit Pururava. Pururava treated them with utmost respect and gave them golden seats to sit on. He offered them all sorts of offerings. But in the process, Dharma received more of the offerings than Artha and Kama. This angered Artha and Kama. “You will be destroyed,” Artha cursed Pururava. “You will go mad over Urvashi,” Kama cursed Pururava But Dharma blessed Pururava. “You will live for long and you will never deviate from the righteous path,” he said. “Your descendants will rule for ever.” Having thus cursed and blessed Pururava, Dharma, Artha and Kama disappeared.
On one particular occasion, Pururava was driving his chariot through a forest. He suddenly found that a demon named Keshi was abducting an apsara (dancer of heaven). This apsara was none other than Urvashi. Pururava defeated the demon and rescued Urvashi. He restored her to Indra, the king of the gods. Indra was deligthed at this act and Indra and Pururava became friends. The sage Bharata taught mankind how to sing and dance. To celebrate Urvashi’s return, Indra asked Bharata to stage a performance. As artistes, Bharata chose three apsaras. They were Menaka, Urvashi and Rambha. Menaka and Rambha danced as they should. But Urvashiw as attracted by King Pururava and kept looking at him. The result was that Urvashi fell out of step. This angered Bharata and he cursed Urvashi that she would have to spend fifty-five years on earth. On earth, Urvashi married Pururava and they had eight sons named Ayu, Dridayau, Ashvayu, Dhanayu, Dhritamana, Vasu, Shuchividya and Shatayu




Yayati
In the lunar line there was a king named Nahusha and Nahusha’s son was Yayati. Yayati had two wives , Sharmishtha and Devayani. Sharmishtha was the daughter of Vrishaparva, the king of the danavas (demons). And Devayani’s father was Shukracharya, the preceptor of the demons. Devayani gave birth to Yadu and Turvasu and Sharmishtha gave birth to Druhya, Anu and Puru. Yayati ruled the world extremely well for many years. He performed many yajnas. But eventually he grew old. The problem was that although Yayati grew old, he was not yet tired of sensual pleasures. He still desired to savour the joys that the world had to offer. Yayati told his five sons. “Because of Shukracharya’s curse, an untimely old age has come upon me and I am not content with what I have savoured of life. I request one of you to give me his youth and accept my old age in return. When I have sated myself with worldly pleasures, I will take back my old age and return the youth.” Except for Puru, the other four sons flatly refused such an exchange. They had no desire to part with their valued youth. They were thereupon cursed by their father.
As for Puru, he said, “Please accept my youth and be happy. It is my duty to serve and I will gladly take upon me your old age.” For a thousand years Yayati savoured the pleasures of the world with Puru’s youth. A thousand years were not than enough to satisfy Yayati. He accepted his old age and returned Puru’s youth. He blessed Puru for his obedience and announced to the word that Puru was his only true son. Puru inherited the kingdom after Yayati. His descendants were known as the Pauravas.
It was in this line that King Bharata was born. It is after Bharata that the land we live in is known as Bharatavarsha. The sages interrupted Lomaharshana. “You are going too fast.” They said. “What is this curse of Shukracharya’s that Yayati referred to? You have forgotten to tell us about that.” “I will,” replied Lomaharshana. “But first, let me tell you about Kacha and Devayani.”



Kacha and Devayani
The gods and the demons fought with each other all the time. As you know, Brihaspati was the preceptor of the gods and Shukracharya was the preceptor of the demons. Shukracharya knew a wonderful art known as mritasanjivani. This was the knowledge of bringing back dead people to life. Since Shukracharya knew this art, the gods were in a terrible fix. Any demons whom the gods killed were promptly brought back to life by Shukracharya. But Brihaspati knew no such art. So any gods that the demons killed, stayed dead. The gods pondered about this problem and finally arrived at a solution. Brihaspati had a son named Kacha. The gods told Kacha. “Go and become Shukracharya’s disciple. Try to learn the art of mritasanjivani from him. Shukracharya has a beautiful daughter named Devayani. Try to curry her favour so that your task may become easier.”
Kacha went to Shukracharya. “Please accept me as your disciple,” he said. “I am the great Brihaspati’s son. I will serve you faithfully for a thousand years.” Since no mention was made of mritasanjivani. Shukracharya gladly agreed to ths proposition. Kacha lived with Shukracharya and served his guru (teacher). He became friendly with Devayani and Devayani started to fall in love with Kacha. Five hundred years passed.
The demons got to know that Kacha was Brihaspati’s son. Since they hated Brihaspati, they hated Kacha as well. Kacha was in the habit of taking Shukracharya’s cattle to the forest to graze. When Kacha was alone in the forest, the demons seized their chance. They slew Kacha and fed his body to the tigers. In the evening, the cattle returned home alone. Kacha was not with them. Seeing this, Devayani told her father, “The cattle have returned home without Kacha. I am certain that someone has killed him. I am in love with Kacha and cannot survive without him. Please do something.” “Do not worry,” Shukracharya told Devayani. “I will bring Kacha back to life with the art of mritasanijivani.” As soon as Shukracharya recited the magical mantra (incantation), Kacha appeared before them, hale and hearty. Days passed. Kacha went to the forest once more, this time to pluck flowers. The demons killed him again. But this time they burnt the dead body and mixed the ashes in a goblet of wine. They then served the wine to Shukracharya to drink. When Kacha did not return, Devayani again told her father. “I am certain that someone has killed Kacha. I cannot survive without him. Please do something. Through this powers, Shukracharya discovered what had happened. He told his daughter, “We have a real problem on our hands. Kacha is inside my stomach. I can revive Kacha by summoning him through mritasanjivani. But in the process, he will have to tear asunder my body and I shall die. Tell me, beloved daughter, which do you want ? Either Kacha or your fatehr will live.”
“I refuse the choice.” replied Devayani. “Both you and Kacha must live. I cannot survive without either.” Shukracharya then decided that there was only one way out. He addressed Kacha, who was inside his stomach, and taught him the words of the mrtasanjivani mantra. He then recited the words himself and out came Kacha. Shukracharya’s body was torn apart and the sage died. But Kacha had learnt the words of the mantra. He now recited them to bring Shukracharya back to life. Kacha thus learnt what he had set out to achieve.
After spending a thousand years with Shukracharya, he prepared to return to heaven. “Where are you going?” asked Devayani. “Do you not know that I am in love with you? Please marry me.” I am afraid that I cannot do that,” replied Kacha. “You are my guru’s daughter. Therefore, you are my superior just as my guru is my superior. I cannot marry you. Moreover, I have spent some time inside his body. And when I came out, it was as if a son had been born from him. You are therefore my sister. How can I possibly marry you?”
Thus spurned. Devayani became very angry. “You are playing with words,” she said. “I curse you that although you have learnt the art of mritasanjivani, it will prove to be of no use to you.”
“You have needlessly cursed me,” retorted Kacha. “I too curse you that no brahmana will ever marry you and that you will never get whatever it is that you wish for.”


Sharmishtha and Devayani
As you already know, Sharmishtha was the daughter of Vrishaparva, the king of the danavas. Sharmishtha and Devayani were great friends, until Indra played some mischief. The two friends had gone to bathe in a pond and had left their clothes on the bank. Indra adopted the form of a breeze and mixed up the clothes. When Sharmishtha donned her clothes after having had her bath, she put on Devayani’s clothes by mistake. Devayani said, “How dare you wear my clothes ? My father is your father’s teacher and you are my inferior in every respect. You have no business to put on my clothes.” “I am not your inferior.” replied Sharmishatha. “It is you who are my inferior. My father is the king and your father thrives on my father’s generoisty.”
The two friends started to quarrel. Sharmishtha flung Devayani into a well and left her there, taking her to be dead. At that time, King Yayati came to the forest on a hunt. He was thirsty and looked for some water. When he found the well, he discovered Devayani inside it. He rescued Devayani. Yayati also fell in love with her, so that the two got married. Shukracharya got to know about all this and was furious at the treatment that Sharmishtha had meted out to his daughter. He threatened to leave the demons. Vrishaparva did his best to persuade Shukracharya not to leave them, but Shukracharya insisted that he would stay only if Devayani was pacified. Vrishaparva promised to give Devayani whatever it was that she wished for. “Sharmishtha has insulted me,” said Devayani. “She has called me her inferior. My mind will be set at rest only if Sharmishtha serves as a servant. Vrishaparva agree to this conditon and Sharistha became Devayani’s servant, together with one thousand other demon women.
After Yayati and Devayani got married. Shukracharya told Yayati, “Sharmish is Devayani’s servant and you are married to Devayani. Under no circumstances marry Sharmishtha, otherwise I am going to curse.
In due course, Devayani gave birth to Yadu and Turvasu. Sharmishtha had secretly married Yayati and she too gave birth to Druhya, Anu and Puru. “How came you to have sons? Asked Devayani. “Who is your husband? “My husband is a brahmana,” replied Sharmishtha. “I do not know his name.” But when Devayani asked Druhya, Anu and Puru about their father, the truth came out. They told her that they were King Yayati’s sons. “You have insulted me,” Devayani told Yayati. “Will remain your wife no longer. You have married my servant.” Shukracharya was also furious. Yayati had gone against his wishes and had married Sharmishtha. Shukracharya cursed Yayati that old age would set upon the king, although he was still in the prime of youth. “Please do not curse me,” said Yayati. “I am married to your daughter. I wish to live with her as her husband. Do you wish your son-in-law to be an old servant?” “My curse cannot be lifted,” replied Shukracharya. “But I will try and mitigate the effects. I grant you the power that you can pass on this old age to whomsoever you wish.” It was this old age that Puru accepted. The Matsya Purana now describes the descendants of Yadu, Turvasu, Druhya, Anu and Puru.


Mritasanjivani
“But what about mritasanyjivani?” asked the sages. “You haven’t told us how Shukracharya came to acquire this wonderful knowledge.” Lomaharshana told them the following story.
The gods and the demons fought all the time and the demons were sometimes worsted in these encounters. Shukracharya consoled the demons. “Do not worry,” he said. “I will try and acquire powers that will make the demons invincible. I am going off to pray. While I am gone, do not fight with the gods. Give up arms and lead the lives of hermits. Wait till my return.”
Shukracharya’s father was the sage Brhrigu. The demons were instructed to wait in Bhrigu’s hermitage for Shukracharya’s return. The preceptor of the demons began to pray to Shiva. When Shiva appeared, Shukracharya told him that he wished to be taught a mantra that would make the demons invincible.
“I will grant your request,” said Shiva. “But you will have to observed a difficult vrata (religious rite). For a thousand years you will have to meditate. And you will have to live only on smoke.”
Shukracharya agreed to observe the vrata. Meanwhile, the gods got to know what Shukracharya was up to. They realized that, once Shukracharya returned, they would be in no position to tackle the demons. The best thing to do was to attack the demons immediately, when they had given up arms and were living as hermits. The demons tried to tell the gods that this was not fair. They should not be attacked when they had forsaken arms.
But the gods would not listen. They started to kill the demons. The demons fled to Shukracharya’s mother, Bhrigu’s wife, for protecion. “Do not despair,” she assured the demons. “I will protect you.” When the gods attacked, the lady used her powers to make Indra completely immobile. Indra could not move at all. He stood there like a statue. This strange sight unverved the gods so much that they started to run away. Vishnu came to help Indra. He told Indra to enter his body, so that Vishnu might be able to save him.
“I will burn both of you up through my powers,” said Shukracharya’s mother. “What are you waiting for?” Indra asked Vishnu. “Can”t you see that this woman will destroy us both? Kill her at once.”
Vishnu summoned up his sudarshana chakra and with this, he neatly severed the lady’s head. The sage Bhrigu was not present at that time. When he returned and found out what had happened, he was greatly angered. Vishnu had committed the crime of killing a woman. Bhrigu therefore cursed Vishnu that he would have to be born several times on earth. These are Vishnu’s avataras (incarnations). As for his own wife, Bhrigu resurrected her through his powers.
Indra had a daughter named Jayanti. Having failed in his attempt to kill the demons, Indra reasoned that he ought to try and disturb Shukracharya’s meditation. He therefore sent Jayanti to the place where Shukracharya was praying. Her instructions were to try and distract the sage. Jayanti served Shukracharya faithfully throughout the appointed period of a thousand years. When the vrata was over, Shiva appeared before Shukracharva and taught him the art of mritasanjivani. It was then that Shukracharya noticed Jayanti.
“Who are you?” he asked. “And why have you been serving me thus? I am exceedingly pleased with what you have done. Tell me what I can do for you.”
“If you wish to grant me a boon, marry me and live as my husband for ten years,” replied Jayanti. Shukracharya was lured away by Jayanti.
Indra was bent upon ensuring the destruction of the demons and he now hit upon a plan. He asked Brihaspati to adopt Shukracharya’s form and go to the demons. The demons were expecting their guru back after the thousand years were over and took Brihaspati to be Shukracharya. They honoured him and served him faithfully. When the ten years with Jayanti were over, Shukracharya returned and discovered Brihaspati among the demons.
“Who is this upstart?’ he demanded to know. “Give him up and seek refuge with me. I am the real Shukracharya.” “Not at all,” replied Brihaspati. “I am the real Shukracharya.” The demons were bemused. Brihaspati and Shukracharya were as alike as two peas in a pod; there was no way of telling the apart. They finally reasoned that the person who had been living with them for the last ten years must be their real guru. They therefore accepted Brihaspati and shooed Shukracharya away.
Shukracharya cursed the demons that they were bound to be destroyed. As soon as Shukracharya cursed the demons, Brihaspati adopted his own form. The demons realized that they had been tricked, but the harm had been done.



The Puranas
Lomaharshana now gave the sages a list of the eighteen mahapuranas. In the beginning, there was only one Purana. The sage Vedavyasa divided this original Purana into eighteen mahapuranas. The mahapuranas have four lakh shlokas all together and their names are as follows.
(i) The Brahma Purana: This was originally recited by Brahma to the sage Marichi and has thirteen thousand shlokas. This text should be donated on a full moon night (purnima) in the month of Vaishakha. Such a donation brings undying punya.
(ii) The Padma Purana: This has fifty-five thousand shlokas and should be donated in the month of Jyaishtha.
(iii) The Vishnu Purana: This was first recited by the sage Parashara and has twenty-three thousand shlokas. It is auspicious to donate this text in the month of Ashada.
(iv) The Vayu Purana: This has twenty-four thousand shlokas and was first recited by the wind-god Vayu. It should be donated in the month of Shravana.
(v) The Bhagavata Purana: This has eighteen thousand shlokas and should be donated in the month of Bhadra, on the night of the full moon.
(vi) The Narada Purana: this was first recited by the sage Narada and has twenty-five thousand shokas. It should be donated on the night of the new moon (amavasya) in the month of Ashvina.
(vii) The Markandeya Purana: This has nine thousand shlokas. A person desirous of obtaining punya should donate this text in month of Margashirsa.
(viii) The Agni Purana: This was first recited by the fire-god Agni to the sage Vashishtha. It has sixteen thousand shlokas and should be donated in the month of Margashirsha.
(ix) The Bhavishya Purana: Brahma himself was the first reciter of this Purana and it has fourteen thousand and five hundred shlokas. It is primarily concerned with what is due to happen in the future. The text should be donated on the occasion of purnima, in the month of Pousha.
(x) The Brahmavaivarta Purana: This was first recited by Savarni Manu to the sage Narada. It has eighteen thousand shlokas and should be donated on purnima in the month of Magha.
(xi) The Linga Purana: Brahma recited this first and it has eleven thousand sholkas. Punya is acquired if this text is donated in the month of Falguna.
(xii) The Varaha Purana: The great Vishnu first recited this to the earth. It has twenty-four thousand shlokas and is to be donated in the month of Chaitra.
(xiii) The Skanda Purana: This was composed by the god Skanda or Kartikeya. It has eighty-one thousand shlokas and one desirous of punya donates the text in the month of Chaitra.
(xiv) The Vamana Purana: Brahma was the first person to recite this. It has ten thousand shlokas and the text should be donated in early autumn (sharat).
(xv) The Kurma Purana: Vishnu recited this in his form of a turtle. It has eighteen thousand shlokas and should be donated at the time of the equinoxes.
(xvi) The Matsya Purana: Vishnu recited this in his form of a fish to Manu. It has fourteen thousand shlokas and should be donated at the time of the equinoxes.
(xvii) The Garuda Purana: Krishna was the first person to recite this and it has eighteen thousand shlokas. (When this text is to be donated is not stated.)
(xviii) The Brahmanda Purana: Brahma recited this and it has twelve thousand and two hundred shlokas. (The time of donation is again not indicated.)
But these Puranas, as stated, are merely for human consumption. Much longer versions are read by the gods. The total number of shlokas in the Puranas that the gods read is one hundred crores.
The Matsya Purana now enumerates the details of various vratas. It continues with a description of the glories of the sacred city of Prayaga (Allahabad), located at the confluence of the holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna. Geographical and astronomical details are also given.


Tipura
There was a danava named Maya. Just as Vishvakarma was the architect of the gods, Maya was the architect of the demons. When the demons were defeated by the gods, Maya started to perfrom very difficult tapasya so that the gods might be defeated. Maya’s meditation inspired two other demons to also meditate. Their names were Vidyunmali and Taraka. The meditation was so difficult that the world marvelled at the sight of what the demons were doing.
Finally, Brahma was pleased at all this effort and appeared before the demons. “I am pleased with what you have done,” said Brahma. “What boon do you want?” “We have been defeated by the gods,” replied Maya. “We wish to build a fort that the gods will not be able to destroy. The fort will be named Tripura and we will live in it and become immortal.”
“Immortality is a boon that cannot be granted.” Said Brahma. “If you want, set fairly difficult conditions for your deaths.”
“Very well then,” replied Maya. “We will be killed only if Shiva himself destroys Tripura with a single arrow. Let that be the appointed method of our deaths.”
This boon Brahma granted and Maya began the task of constructing the fort. In fact, he built three (tri) fortresses (pura). One was made of iron, the second of silver and the third of gold. Normally, the fortresses were distinct. But once every thousand years, when the nakshatra Pushya was in the sky, the three cities came together in the sky and were called Tripura. Each of the fortresses was stocked with diverse weapons as protections against raids by the gods. Taraka lived in the fort made of iron, Vidyunmali in the one make o f silver, and Maya himself lived in the one that was made of gold. The other demons got to know that three invincible forts had been built. They came and populated the three cities. But the demons were not evil at all. They observed all sorts of religious rites. In particular, they were devoted to Shiva and prayed to him all the time. They did not want Shiva to be angry with them. It was, after all, Shiva alone who could be the instrument for their destruction.
But eventually, the demons became intoxicated with their own power and came upon evil ways. They warred upon other living beings and started to oppress the universe. Maya did try to persuade them to mend their ways, but the demons would not listen to Maya’s good advice.
All the living beings in the universe went to Brahma to complain. “Please save us from this oppression,” They said, “It is because of your boon that the demons have become so powerful.
“I cannot help you,” replied Brahma. “The boon is such that Shiva alone can destroy Tripura. Let us all pray to Shiva.” The gods, the sages and the humans started to pray to Shiva. Pleased with these prayers, Shiva promised to destroy Tripura.
A special chariot was built for Shiva to ride in. Brahma himself agreed to be the charioteer. The army of the gods got ready to help Shiva in his war against Tripura. A terrible war raged between the gods and the demons. Nandi is one of Shiva’s companions. Nandi fought with Vidyunmali and slew the demon after a fierce battle. But Maya knew all sorts of magical tricks. He was particularly well-versed in the use of herbs. Maya gave Vidyunmali a bath in the juice of magical herbs and Vidyunmali immediately revived. This act greatly boosted the demons’ morale and they began to fight with renewed vigor. Any demons, who were killed, were instantly revived by Maya. But when Shiva himself entered the fray, the demons were put to flight. Even the herbs that resurrected dead demons proved to be of no avail. Nandi killed Tarakasura after a fierce duel. The demons were disheartened, but Maya reassured them.
“Don’t forget the boon,” he said, “There are only some special conditions under which Tripura can be destroyed. Otherwise it is indestructible. Pushya nakshatra is in the sky now and soon the three cities will come together as one. The only person who can destroy it them is Shiva. And he must do it with a single arrow. All we have to do is ensure that Shiva cannot shoot the arrow and we are safe.”
But this was easier said than done. It was no mean task to repel Shiva and his cohorts. Nandi killed Vidyunmali a second time. As soon as the three cities came together, Shiva shot a flaming arrow which completely burnt up Tripura and all the demons who were within. The only one who was saved was Maya. He did not die because he was extremely devoted to Shiva. Ever since that day, Maya has lived under the water.


The Measurement of Time
The smallest unit of time is a nimesha; this is the amount of time it takes to blink. Fifteen nimeshas make one kashtha and thirty kashthas are one kala. Thirty kalas one muhurta and there are thirty muhurtas in one divaratra (one day). Fifteen muhurtas constitute the day and fifteen muhurtas make up the night. One month for humans is one day for the ancestors (pitri). Shuklapaksha is the lunar fortnight during which the moon waxes and krishnapaksha is the lunar fortnight during which the moon wanes. Shuklapaksha corresponds to night for the ancestors and krishnapaksha corresponds to day. Thus, thirty human months are merely one month for the ancestors. Three hundred and sixty human months are one year for the ancesotrs. One human year is one divaratara for the gods. The human year is divided into two ayanas, each consisting of six months. These are known as uttarayana and dakshinayana. Uttarayana is day for the gods and dakshinayana is night. Thirty human years are one month for the gods and three hundred and sixty human years are one year for the gods.
Time is divided into four yugas (eras). These are known as satya yuga or krita yuga, treta yuga, dvapara yuga and kali yuga. The lengths of these yugas are defined in terms of years of the gods. Satya yuga has four thousand years of the gods, treta yuga three thousand, dvapara yuga two thousand and kali yuga one thousand. A cycle of satya yuga, treta yuga, dvapara yuga and kali yuga is known as a mahayuga. Thus, a mahayuga would seem to consist of ten thousand years of the gods. But this is not quite correct. In between any two yugas are intervening periods, known as sandhyamshas. For example, the sandhyamsha for satya yuga is four hundred years, for teta yuga three hundred years, for dvapara yuga two hundred years and for kali yuga one hundred years. Once one adds the sandhyamshas, a mahayuga adds up to twelve thousand years of the gods.
A little over seventy-one yugas constitute one manvantara. Fourteen such manvantaras are one kalpa. A kalpa is merely one day for Brahma. At the end of Brahma’s day, the universe is destroyed. It is then created afresh when a new day dawns for Brahma.



The Characteristics of the Yugas
As one progressively moves down the scale from satya yuga to kali yuga, the power of righteous diminishes and evil starts to triumph. In treta yuga people were righteous. The system of varnashrama dharma goes back to teta yuga. This is typified in the principle of four varnas (classes) and four ashramas (stages of life). The four varnas are brhamanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudreas. Each class has its proper place, each its assigned occupations as determined by the principles of division of labour.
The four ashramas are brhamacharya (celibate studenthood). Garhasthya (householder stage), vanaprastha (forest-dwelling stage and sannyasa (hermithood). Everyone followed the tenets of varnashrama aharma in treta yuga. Individuals were equally handsome and equally wealthy. Poverty and disease were unknown. The weather was clement and, initially, there was no need to build houses. Cities and villages were not known. People lived freely in the mountains and on the shores of the oceans. But as people became evil, the weather turned inclement. Houses had to built so the people might be protected from the heat and the cold. Cities and villages were planned and constructed.
Evil became even more prevalent in dvapara yuga. In some cases, individuals began to practice that which was against the dictates of varnashrama dharma. To bring men back to the righteous path, the knowledge of the sacred Vedas had to be disseminated amongst humans. To this end, the great Vedavyasa divided the Vedas into four. Various other shastras (sacred texts) were also composed in dvapara yuga. These include ayurveda (medicine), jyotisha (astronomy) and arthashastra (economics). Hatred, jealousy, warfare and other evils first originated in dvapara yuga. Individuals did not stick to their own classes while marrying, and cross-breeds started to be born. But some remnants of righteousness could still be found, so that average life expectancies amounted to two thousand years.
Kali yuga is the worst of the four eras. Theft, hatred, falsehood, fraudulence and egotism become the norm. As a natural corollary to such evils, drought and famine recur again and again. Event the brahmans are led astray. They do not study the Vedas, nor do they perform yajnas. The brahmanas degenerate so much that they mix with shudras. As for the shudras, they become kings. Can anything more ridiculous be imagined? Shudras even start to study the Vedas. Evil always has its effect. Disease becomes rampant and life expectancies go down.


Vajranaga

No doubt you remember the Maruts. Indra had killed many of Diti’s children, the daityas. Diti had wished to obtain a son who would kill Indra. But because she had not been able to adhere to the stipulated religious rites, the sons who had been born had become friends and companions of Indra. But Indra continued to attack and kill the demons. Diti therefore prayed to her husband Kashyapa yet again that she might have a son who would defeat Indra.
“Your wish will be granted,” said Kashyapa. “But you will have to meditate hard for ten thousand years. Indra’s weapon is the vajra and the son who will be born will have a body (anga) that is as tough as the vajra will be able to do him no harm.
Diti meditated for ten thousand years and in due course, gave birth to this powerful son. Vajranga was invincible. When Vajranga grew up, Didti told her son, “Indra has killed many of my sons. I am thirsting for revenge. Go and kill Indra.
“Vajranga set for heaven. He defeated Indra very easily and tied him up. He then brought Indra home to his mother and prepared to kill the king of the gods. Indra’s death would have been a great calamity and Brahma and Kashyapa rushed there.
“Vajranga,” they said. “Please do not kill Indra. Let him go. If someone who deserves respect is insulted, that is like death for him. Indra has been defeated by you. He has therefore been insulted and is as good as dead. There is no need to physically kill him. Moreover, the very fact that you are letting Indra go at our request will be known to all. Even if he lives, everyone is going to regard him as dead. Listen to our request and let him go.”
“I am not averse to that suggestion at all,” replied Vajranga. “I have no intention of killing Indra. I was merely obeying my mother’s instructions. How can I refuse two such revered individuals like you? One of you is the creator of the whole universe and the other one is my own father. I will let Indra go. But please grant me a boon. Grant me the boon that I may be able to perform a lot of tapasya.” This boon was readily granted. In addition, Brahma created a beautiful woman named Varangi and married her off to Vajranga.
Vajranga went to the forest to meditate. For a thousand years, he stood with his arms raised up towards the sky. And in this posture, he meditated. He then stood on his head for a thousand years more and meditated. As a final part of the tapasya, he wished to meditate under the water for a thousand years more. When Vajranga entered the water, his wife Varangi patiently waited for her husband to return. And all the while, she too meditated.
But Indra was not going to let sleeping dogs lie. He adopted the form of a monkey and uprooted all the trees in Varangi’s hermitage. He next adopted the form of a sheep and ate up all the grass that was there. As a snake, he tried to bite the lady. Finally, he adopted the form of a cloud and drenched the hermitage in torrents of rain. Since Varangi was meditating, she was in no position to retaliate or protect herself. She had to bear all these depredations.
When the thousand years were over, Vajranga returned. He was shocked to learn of the tortures that his wife had been subjected to by Indra. He began to meditae again. This time, he wished for a son who would kill Indra. Brahma appeared and granted Vajranga the desired boon. “You will have a son who will be the scourge of the gods,” said Brahma. “He will be called Taraka.”
For a thousand years Varangi bore the baby in her womb. When Taraka was born, the earth trembled and tidal waves were created in the ocean. Fierce storms started to rage. Wild animals rejoiced and the sages shuddered. In due course, Taraka was crowned the king of the demons.


Taraka’s Tapasya
Tarka was hell bent upon defeating the gods. But he realize that, prior to waging war on the gods, he would have to become powerful. Such powers could not be attained through tapasya. Taraka went to the Pariparta mountains and selected a cave there for his meditation. For some days Taraka ate nothing, for some more days he survived only on water, and on other days he ate only leaves, Every day he sliced off some flesh from his body and offered it to the fire as a token of his devotion. All this hardship pleased Brahma and he appeared before Taraka.
“Enough is enough,” said Brahma. “I am pleased at your devotion. What boon can I grant you?” “I want to fight with the gods,” replied Taraka. “The gods have been giving the demons a hard time and I intended to reverse the tide. Please grant me the boon that I may be invincible and immortal.”
“Immortality is not a boon that can be granted to any living being.” Said Brahma. “All living beings must die. But if you want, set fairly difficult conditions for your death.” “In that case, please grant me the boon that I can only be killed by a seven year old child,” requested Taraka. Brahma gladly granted this boon.
The War Between the Gods and the Demons
Fortified with Brahma’s boon, Taraka started to rule the demons. After some years had passed and after Taraka had raised a strong army, he decided to attack heaven. A huge army of demons was accordingly raised. There were thousands of elephants, horses and chariots in the army. Apart from Taraka, the major generals in the army were Jambha, Kujambha, Mahisha, Kunjara, Megha, Kalanemi, Nimi, Mathana, Jambhaka and Shumbha, Diverse were the weapons that the demons armed themselves with.
The gods also prepared themselves for the war, having first appointed Yama as their general. Yama rode into battle on a bufflao. Indra had his chariot, driven by his charioteer Matali. The fire-god Agni rode on a goat and Varuna, the lord of the oceans, rode a snake. Amongst the other gods who were in the army were Chandra, Surya and Kubera, the god of prosperity and wealth. The war was terrible to behold. The trumpeting of elephants, the neighing of horses and the beating of drums made a terrible racket Above all this there was the noise of weapons clanging and bows twanging. Chariots fought with Chariots, elephants with elephants, horses with horses and foot-soldiers with foot-soldiers. The sky was thick with spears, maces, axes, swords, tridents, clubs and arrows flying around. Dead bodies littered the battlefield and rivers of blood began to flow. Yama fought a fierce duel with a demon named Grasana and Kubera fought with Jambha. Kujambha also fought with Kubera and put Kubera to flight. Kalanemi fought with both Chandra and Surya. The two Ashvinis received a sound thrashing at Kalanemi’s hands.
The news that the gods were being slaughtered reached Vishnu and Vishnu joined the fight. The demons immediately attacked Vishnu, but were no match for him. One of Vishnu’s maces knocked Kalanemi unconscious. Vishnu’s cakra sliced off Grasana’s head. Jambha did manage to knock Vishnu unconscious with a club. But Indra slew Jambha with a divine weapon.
The trouble however was with Taraka. When he came to fight, the gods had no option but to flee. Those who did not, were captured and imprisoned. The demon won a resounding victory.



Brahma’s Advice
Those of the gods who had survived the battle and were still free started to pray to Brahma. “What can I do for you?” asked Brahma. Why are all of you looking so despondent?” “You are the one who is responsible for our misfortune,” replied the gods. “You have granted Taraka a boon that has made him virtally invincible. Armed with this boon, he is oppressing the universe and has soundly thrashed us. What are we to do now?”
“There is no cause for such despondency,” said Brahma. “Taraka is not immortal. He will be slain by a seven year old child. Unfortunately that child has not yet been born. He will be the son of Shiva. The problem is that Shiva is unmarried. He was earlier married to Sati, but Sati immolated herself at the time of a yajna. She has now been reborn as Parvati. The task at hand is to get Shiva and Parvati married. Their son will kill Taraka.”
It was necessary to make Shiva fall in love with Parvati. Madana, the god of love, was sent by Indra to Shiva’s hermitage so that this might be achieved. But because this disturbed Shiva’s meditation, Shiva burnt Madana up.
Meanwhile, Parvati had begun to perform tapasya so that she might have Shiva for a husband. For one hundred years more, she ate only one leaf a day. And for the final hundred years, she meditated fasting. The seven great sages went and told Shiva about Parvati’s tapasya and Shiva agreed to marry Parvati. The marriage took place amidst a great deal of fanfare. All the rivers and the mountains came to attend the ceremony. So did the sages, the gods, the gandharvas, the apsaras and the yakshas. Brahma himself acted as the priest for the marriage ceremony.
Kali Becomes Gouri On one particular occasion, Shiva addressed Parvati as “Kali.” The word kali means dark and Parvati thought that Shiva referring to her dark complexion. She did not realize that Shiva was merely trying to tease her a bit. Greatly incensed at the imagined slight, Parvarti decided that she would meditate so that she might become fair. She wore clothing made of barks of trees and performed tapasya. In the summer she prayed inside a raging fire and in the winter she prayed under the water. Sometimes, she ate only roots and fruits. At other times, she fasted. Prior to leaving for her tapasaya, Parvati had instructed Nandi that he was to stand guard at Shiva’s door and permit no other woman to enter.
There was a demon named Adi. This fellow had performed a lot of tapasya and had manage to please Brahma. When Brahma agreed to grant him a boon. Adi asked for the boon of immortality. Brahma naturally refused this boon. He however granted Adi the boon that the demon would die only when he changed his form twice, not otherwise. Adi happened to come to Shiva and Parvati’s house and discovered Nandi standing guard at the door. Wondering what there was to be guarded, he adopted the form of a snake and slithered in. Nandi did not notice the snake, but this was Adi’s first transformation. Inside the house, Adi encountered Shiva and thought that he would play a trick on Shiva. He adopted Parvati’s form. This was his second transformation. In the form of Parvati, Adi went up to Shiva and greeted him.
Initially, Shiva did not realize that this was not Parvati. He greeted the demon and said, “Darling, I am delighted tht you have returned. I can see that your rage has cooled down.” But in a little while Shiva realized that this was not Parvati. He slew the demon.
Meanwhile, Parvati was continuing with her tapsaya and pleased Brahma with her prayers. Brahma granted her the boon that she would become fair. Since the word gouri means fair, Parvati was thereafter known as Gouri. A goddess named Koushiki emerged out of Parvati’s cells, thus named because the word kosha means cell. The darkness of Parvti’s complexion entered Koushiki’s body. Brahma requested the goddess Koushiki to go and live in the Vindhya mountains. She is therefore also known as Vindhyavasini.
Kartikeya and Taraka
Kartikeya or Skanda was born after some days. The boys shone with the radiance of a thousand suns and had six (shada) faces (anana). He was therefore also known as Shadanana.
The gods armed Kartikeya with diverse weapons and appointed him their general. They requested him to kill the demon Taraka and arrangements were made for the battle.
When Taraka saw Kartikeya he said, “What is a boy like you doing in a battlefield? Go and play with a ball instead.”
A battlefield is not the place for idle talk,” replied Kartikeya. “Show me your prowess instead.” At these words, Taraka flung a club at Kartikeya. But Kartikeya easily repelled the club with a vajra. The demon next hurled an axe, but Kartikeya effortless caught the axe in his hand. He then struck the demon with a club of his own. This angered Taraka so much that the demon showered all sorts of weapons on Kartikeya. But the boy repelled all of these and started to kill demons with his own weapons. Many demons fled in dismay. As for Taraka himself, Kartikeya’s spear pierced him in the chest and killed him. Thus it was that Brahma’s boon became ture.
Hiranyakashipu
Diti had a son named Hiranyakashipu. This demon meditated for eleven thousand years under the water. Throughout this period, he did not eat or talk at all. These meditations pleased Brahma and Brahma offered to grant Hiranyakasipu a boon.
“What boon do you wish for?” he asked. “If you are pleased, grant me the following boon,” replied the demon. “I will not be killed by gods, demons, gandharvas, yakshas, rakshasas or snakes. I will not be killed by humans or ghosts. The sages will not be able to curse me. I will not killed by a weapon, a mountain or a tree. I will not be killed during the day or at night. I will not be killed by something that is dry or by something that is wet.”
This rather strange boon Brahma granted. But the sages, the gods, the gandarvas and the snakes went and complained to Brahma. “What have you done?” they asked. “This demon is now going to oppress the entire universe.”
“Don’t worry,” replied Brahma. “When the time comes, Vishnu himself will kill Hiranyakashipu.”
But true to expectations, the demon started to oppress the world. He destroyed the hermitages of the sages and drove the gods out of heaven. All yajnas were stopped. The gods and the sages started praying to Vishnu. Stirred by these prayers, Vishnu adopted the form of a strange being who was half-man and half-lion. Since nara means man and simha means lion, this being was called Narasimha.
Narasimha went on a visit to Hiranyakashipu’s court. Hiranyakashipu had a son named Prahlada and at the sight of Narasimha. Prahlada exclaimed. “I have a strong suspicion that this being is none other than Vishnu and that we demons will suffer at his hands.” Hiranyakashipu asked his soldiers to capture the creature. Or, if that proved to be impossible, to kill it. But the soldiers could do no such thing; Narasimha killed them all. Hiranyakasipu then himself hurled all sorts of weapons at Narasimha. But great was his bewilderment at finding that all these weapons could do the strange creature no harm. Any weapons could do the strange creature no harm. Any weapon that was hurled was simply swallowed up by Narasimha. The rocks that were flung at him could not even reach him. Narasimha grasped Hiranyakashipu and placed him across his thighs. He then tore apart the demon’s chest with his claws. Thus, Hiranyakashipu was not killed by a weapon, a mountain or a tree, or by something that was either wet or dry. Vishnu in his Narasimha form was not a god, a demon, a gandharva, a yaksha, a rakshasa, a snake, a human or a ghost. Since the slaying took place in the evening, it was neither night nor day. All the conditions of Brahma’s boon were met.
The entire world rejoiced at the demon-king’s death.
The Matysa Purana now describes the glories of several tirthas, including the sacred city of Varanasi or Kashi. It also lists the lineages of various famous sages like Bhrigu, Angira, Atri, Vishvamitra, Kashyapa, Vashishtha, Parashara and Agastya.Savitri There used to be a king named Ashvapati who ruled in the kingdom of Madra. Ashvapati had no sons. He therefore began to pray to the goddess Savitri so that he might have a son. He performed thousands and thousands of yajnas. Eventually the goddess appeared before the king and said, “You will not have a son. But I am going to grant you a daughter.’ The daughter was named Malati. But since she was born as a result of a boon received from the goddess Savitri, she was more popularly known as Savitri.
When Savitri grew up, she was married to Satyavana, the son of King Dyumatsena. The sage Narada once came to visit them and told them. “Satyavana is going to die within a year.” Hearing this, Savitri and Satyavana went off to the forest to prepare themselves for the impending death. When only four days of the appointed life span were left, Savitri observed a religious rite that has now become famous savitri vrata. Amongst other things, this involved fasting for a period of three days. On the fourth and final day, Satyavana went to collect fodder, roots and fruits in the dense part of the forest and Savitri also accompanied her husband. When they were tired, Savitri sat down beside a pond to rest. Satyavana continued to collect fodder and firewood near the pond. While he was thus engaged, he started to suffer from a splitting headache.
“Savitri,” he said, “I cannot bear this pain any longer. Let me rest for a while with my head in your lap.” While Satyavana was resting with his head on Savitri’s lap, Yama arrived to claim Satyavana. Yama’s complexion was dark and he was dressed entirely in yellow. His crown was golden. Armlets graced his arms and necklaces hung around his neck. In each human body there is an entity that is only the size of a finger in length. This is the part of the body that is claimed by Yama and taken to his abode. When this is done, only the dead body is left.
Yama tied up Satyavana’s minute body in a noose and prepared to take it to his abode. But when Yama left, Savitri followd him. “Where do you think you are going?” asked yama.
“I am following my husband,” replied Savitri. “There is no greater duty for a wife than serving her husband. Since my husband is leaving, I have to leave with him.”
“I am pleased at your devotion,” said Yama. “Ask for a boon and I shall grant it to you. The only thing that you cannot ask for is that Satyavana be brought back to life.”
“My father-in-law has become blind,” replied Saviti. “He can therefore no longer be the king. Please grant me the boon that his eyesight is restored so that he can become the king again.”
“I grant you that.” Said Yama. “Now please return. You will unnecessarily get tired if you follow me.”
“How I can get tired if I follow you?” asked Savitri. “You are the chief of all the gods. Is it possible to get tired if one follows you?”
“That pleases me even more,” said Yama. “Ask for another boon. But under no circumstances are you allowed to ask that Satyavana be brought back to life.”
“My father has no sons,” replied Savitri. “Please grant me the boon that he may have a hundred sons.”
“I grant you that,” said Yama. “Now return. Go and perform your husband’s funeral rites. Serve your parents and parents-in-law well. You are unnecessarily tiring yourself by following me around.”
“I thank you for your advice.” Replied Savitri. “But I have already told you that I cannot possibly get tired . You are the lord of dharma, the lord of righteousness. Can one possibly tire oneself by following such a person?”
“Your devotion is truly amazing,” “Ask for another boon. But do not ask for Satyavana’s life.”
“Please grant me the boon that Satyavana and I may have a hundred sons,” requested Savitri. Yama granted the boon without thinking and Savitri then pointed out that what Yama had agreed to would be impossible if Satyavana died.
Yama had no option but to restore Satyavana to life. Yama blessed Savitri and went away. In due course, Satyavana and Savitri had a hundred sons named that Malvas. Savitri is a model for all devoted wives to follow.
The Matsya Purana follows this up with a recital of the duties of kings and a cataloguing of various omens. There is also a section on the interpretation of dreams.Vali There was a demon named Vali who was descended from Hiranyakashipu. Extemely strong, he defeated the gods and drove them out of heaven. The mother of all the gods was Aditi and Aditi was despondent that her sons should suffer so at the hands of demons. She therefore began to pray to Vishnu so that she might have a powerful son who would provide a fitting reply tot he demons, particularily to Vali. For a thousand years, Aditi meditated.


Vishnu was pleased at these prayers and appeared before Aditi.
“What boon do you wish for?” he asked. “The demons are oppressing my children,” replied Aditi.
“Please grant me a son who will defeat the demons.”
“Do not despair,” said Vishnu. “I myself will be born as your son. I will take care of the demons.” You will remember that Aditi’s husband was the sage Kashyapa. Kashyapa and Aditi accordingly had a son. This son was a dwarf (vamana). Vali happened to organize a yajna and the dwarf came to attend the ceremony. On the occasion of the yajna, Vali had decided that he would not refuse anyone what he asked for.
Shukracharya was the preceptor of the demons and naturally, he was Vali’ guru as well. Shukracharya saw through the trickery that was involved and realized that the dwarf was none other than Vishnu. He tried to put Vali on his guard and warned Vali that he should not grant what the dwarf asked for. But Vali would not listen.
“Vishnu is the lord of everything.” He said. “I am indeed fortunate if Vishnu has come to grace my ceremony in the disguise of a dwarf. How can I refuse what he asks for?”
Vali welcomed the dwarf with offerings. “What is your desire?” he asked. “I am duty bound to give you what you ask for.”
“I desire nothing much,” replied the dwarf. “I do not want gold or riches or elephants or horses. All that I ask for is as much of land as can be covered in three of my footsteps.”
“Granted,” said Vail. No sooner were the words uttered that he dwarf assumed a gigantic form. His head rose way up into the sky. With each one of his footsteps, Vishnu covered one of the three worlds. Thus Vali ended up by donating all of the three worlds to Vishnu and there was nowhere for the demons to live in.
But Vishnu was pleased at Vali’s generosity. He therefore decreed that, henceforth, the demons would live in the underworld. As for heaven, it was returned to Indra. This was the story of Vishnu’s dwarf incarnation.



The Boar Incarnation
At the end of the last kalpa, there was a general destruction and the universe was flooded with water. Vishnu alone slept on this water in his form of Narayana. When it was time for creation to begin, Brahma appeared inside an egg. All the worlds that would be there in the universe and all the beings who would populate these worlds were inside the egg. But before creation could start, the earth had to be created so that living beings might have a place to live in.
When the earth was first created, it was full of mountain ranges and these mountains were exceedingly heavy. The upshot of this was that the earth could not bear the weight of these mountains and started to get immersed in the water. She went all the way down to the underworld. The earth started to pray to Vishnu so that she might be saved.
Vishnu adopted the form of a gigantic boar (varaha). He entered the water and raised the earth up on his tusks. He laid her to rest on the water, having first leveled out the mountains. This was the story of Vishnu’s boar incarnation.


The Churning of the Ocean
The gods and the demons always fought with one another. In the process, many demons and gods were killed. This was no problem for the demons. Their teacher, Shukracharya, knew the art of mritasanjivani and immediately brought the dead demons back to life. But the gods who were killed stayed dead. The gods went to Brahma for his advice.
“Having a temporaty truce with the demons,” said Brahma. “Unite with them and churn the ocean. This churning will make you immortal and you will have no reason to fear the demons.”
The gods went to meet Vali, the king of the demons, with the proposal and Vali agreed to the temporary truce. Preparations were made for the churning of the ocean. Mount Mandara was used as the rod for churning and the great snake Vasuki agreed to be the churning-rope . The problem however was the Mount Mandara had no base to rest on. And without a base, the peak would move and the churning could not proceed. The great Vishnu adopted the form of a huge turtle (kurma). The back of the turtle provided the base on which Mount Mandara could rest.
The churning started. The gods held Vasuki’s tail and the demons the head. The churning went on for a thousand years of the gods. The first object to emerge as a result of the churning was the moon. Chandra. Shiva accepted Chandra as an adornment for his forehead.
Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, merged next and was united with Vishnu, Sura, the goddess of wine and drinking, came out next. She was followed by the divine horse Uchchaishrava. This was appropriated by Indra. A beautiful jewel named koustubha came out next and was accepted by Vishnu as his adornment.
After these wondrous objects had come out, smoke started to billow out and clouded the atmosphere. The cloud was followed by tongues of fire which threatened to burn up the gods and the demons. From the fire there came out all sorts of poisonous snakes and venomous insects. This was followed by a terrible poison known as kalakuta. No one knew what to do with the poison, it would have killed them all.
The gods and the demons began to pray to Shiva for deliverance. Shiva appeared and swallowed up the poison. It suck in his throat and made his throat blue in colour. Since nila means blue and kantha means throat, Shiva came to be known as Nilakantha.
With the danger removed, the churning continued and Dhanvantari came out of the ocean. He was the physician of the gods and the originator of medicine (ayurveda). Dhanvantari held the pot of amrita in his hands.
The demons immediately started to fight over the possession of the amrita. But Vishnu adopted the form of a beautiful woman (known as mohini). This woman was so pretty that all the demons fell in love with her and gladly handed over the pot of amrita to her. But they continued to fight with the gods. While the fighting went on, Vishnu secretly fed the gods the amrita. The gods became immortal. The demons received no share of the amrita.
There was a demon named Rahu. He adopted the form of a god and managed to get a little bit of the amrita. But Surya and Chandra spotted the deception and pointed it out to Vishnu. Vishnu promptly severed Rahu’s head with his chakra. The amrita never percolated down beyond Rahu’s throat. But the demon’s head had had its share of the amrita and became immortal.
Rahu never forgave Surya and Chandra for telling on him. Rahu’s head tries to swallow up the sun and the moon, given a chance. You can see this happening at the time of the solar and lunar eclipses. This was the story of Vishnu’s turtle incarnation.



Architecture
The science of architecture owes its origin to eighteen great sages. Their names are Bhrigu, Atri, Vashishtha, Vishvakarma, Maya, Narada, Nagnajita, Vishalaksha, Puranadara, Brahma, Kartikeya, Nandishvara, Shounaka, Garga, Vasudeva, Aniruddha, Shukra and Brihaspati
The building of a house should never be begun in the month of Chaitra. A person who does this is sure to contract a disease.
The month of Vaishakha is a good time to begin. One who does this is bound to own many cows. The months of Agrahayana, Magha and Falguna are also auspicious. An individual who begins the task in Agrahayana has full granaires, one who begins it in Magha attains all sorts of riches and one who begins it in Falguna obtains gold and sons. Ashada is also a good month to start. Servants and animals are owed by a person who starts the building in Ashada.
But the months of Jyaishtha, Shravana, Bhadra, Ashvina and Pousha are inauspicious. If you start in Jyaishta, you will die soon; you will also die if you begin in Shravana; begin in Bhadra and you will suffer from all manner of lesses; your wife will die if you start the task in the month of Ashvina; and all your goods will be stolen if you start in the month of Pousha.


End of Matsya Purana








The Varaha Purana

 

 

Narrates the tale of rescuing of the earth from Rasatal by Varaha incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Its contents in brief are as follows:-
Mangala charan: Praying of Narayana by Prithvi (earth). Tale of the creation. Origin of Rudra, Sanatkumar, Marich etc. Tale of Priyavrata. Tale of Dashavatar (ten incarnations). Tale of Dharma-Vyadha. Tale of Suprateek and sighting of Viratroop (colossal appearance). Tale of Gaurmukha. Karma related to Shraddha. Tale of Prajagana. Origin of Agni (fire). Tale relating greatness of the days. Gauri. Destruction of Daksha Yagya. Wedding of HarParvati, Ganesha, Naga, Kartikeya, Aditya, killing of Andhakasura. Matrigana, Katyayani. Kumer, Dharma, Rudra etc. and their origin. Tale of Aruni. Tales of the days falling in different months. Agastya Geeta. Tale of Shubhvrata. Tale of Dhanyavrat. Dialogue between Narad and Vishnu. Methods for expiation. Tale of Agastya. Geographical description of Jambhudweep, Kushadweep, Kraunchdweep etc. Tale of Andhakasura’s vrata etc. Origin of Vaishnava etc.Killing of Mahishasura. Ritual of Kapalik vrata. Dialogue between Prithvi and Sanatkumar. Dialogue between Narayana and Prithvi.
Tale differentiating between sorrow and happiness. Tale describing twelve kinds of crime. Expiation to destroy the sins. Methods of Vishnu worship in the evening. Description of Sanatan Dharma. Description of illusion. Description of the karma for salvation. History of Gridhra and Shringali. Dialogue between Chandal and Brahmarakshasas. Greatness of Kokamukh. Greatness of Badrikashrama. Greatness of Mathurakshetra. Greatness of Shalgram. Tale of Shalankayank. Greatness of Stutswamitirth. Greatness of Lohargalam, Panchar kslutra, Vishran tirth and Devavana. Worship of Lord Vishnu at the confluence of Yamuna-Saraswati. Greatness of Krishna-Ganga. Tale of Samb. Greatness of Dwadashi vrat in Rama Tirth. Rituals of installing different kinds of idols. Description of the origin of Shraddh. Methods of removing impurities. Medhatithi Pitrasambad. Kinds of Pindsankalpa. Ritual of Madhupark. Kinds of Madhupark donation.
Description of the appearance of Yama. Description of the court of Yama. Description of the fate met by sinners. Description of hell. Description of the appearance of Yamadoot. Description of Chitragupt’s effect. Directions by Chitragupt for expiation. Indications by Chitragupt of the fruits of auspicious-inauspicious karmas. Description of Pativrat. Dialogue between Yama and Narad. Greatness of Prabodhini. Description of the greatness of Gokarneshwar. Granting of boon by Nandikeshwar. Description of greatness of Jaleshwar. Description of the greatness of Shringeshwar.
PRITHVI’S QUERIES
Lord Vishnu, in his incarnation of Varah( a boar),had liberated Prithvi(Mother Earth) from the clutches of Hiranyaksha- the mighty demon who had abducted her to rasatal.After being rescued,Prithvi heaved a sigh of relief and looked at her saviour,who was smiling.She curiously asked lord Varah- “How does the process of creation begin in the beginning of each Kalpa? What is dissolution? How do you nurture the whole creation? In what order do all the four Yugas occur and how are they calculated?Why do you take incarnation in each yuga? All these things puzzle me a lot and I request you to enlighten me on all these subjects.”
Lord Vishnu burst into laughter and the whole universe,including the deities became visible to Prithvi through his opened mouth.Prithvi became so frightened by this amazing sight that she started to tremble in fear.Lord Vishnu then transformed his appearance and revealed his divine form to Prithvi so that she could become free from her fright.When Prithvi saw the divine form of lord Vishnu,who was in his meditative sleep taking rest on Sheshnag,all her fear vanished.She was extremely pleased to see the divine appearance of lord Vishnu and thanked her good fortune.Prithvi,filled with extreme devotion eulogized lord Vishnu.
Lord Vishnu was extremely pleased by her eulogy and said-”The answers to the questions you have asked are not easy to understand,but still I Shall try to satisfy your curiosity.The supreme Almighty is eternal.In the biginning of creation,Ego(ahamkar) as well as the five basic elements- space,water,earth,air and fire manifest themselves from the supreme Almighty.Subsequently,the great element-mahattatva,nature and collective conciousness manifest themselves.The collective conciousness then combines with each of the three basic qualities-satva(pure),rajas and tamas(dark) and exits in three different states.It’s combination with the dark quality results into the manifestation of Mahadbrahm which is also called prakriti or nature by the enlightened ones.Kshetragya(soul) is considered to be more superior than the Prakriti.This way the different permutations and combinations of all the three gunas with collective intelligence result into the creation of different “tanmatras”(subtle form of matters).From the tanmatras are created the “Indrias” or sense organs.This is the way how the Universe comes into existence.I then create all the living creatures with the help of five basic elements.”
“In the beginning there was nothing but empty space.Subsequently,various natural elements like “shabda”(sound),”akash”(ether),”vayu”(air),”teja”(light) and jal(water) came into being respectively – each of the latter manifesting from the former.Then,I Created you(earth)to provide base to all the living creatures.The combination of earth and water resulted into an “Egg”(anda).As the egg grew in size,I manifested myself as Narayan within it.During each kalpa a lotus manifests itself from my navel upon which is seated lord Brahma.I then request lord Brahma to commence creation.Inspite of all his efforts, lord Brahma does not succeed in commencing his creation.As a result he becomes furious and from his fury manifests a divine child who starts to wail incessantly.The divine child is none other than Rudra who is requested by lord Brahma to begin creation but the child being incapable of doing that decides to acquire power by doing penance and enters into deep water.”
“Lord Brahma then created Prajapati from his great toe of his right foot and Prajapati’s consort from the great toe of his left foot.The manifestation of Prajapati and his consort marks the beginning of copulative creation and thus Swayambhuva Manu is born.In course of time population increases.This is the way how creation takes place in each kalpa.”
Mother Earth requested lord Varah to shade some more light on the creational process as her curiosity had still not been totally satisfied.Lord Varaha replied- “At the end of the last kalpa,when the whole universe was engulfed in darkness,Narayan went into his yogic-sleep.After waking up he found the world devoid of any creature.Narayan,being the supreme Almighty-the creator,the nurturer as well as the annihilator,decided to commence creation.The term Narayan means one who has his abode in the water- naar means water and ayan means abode.First of all five types of “avidya”(false knoledge) manifested from Narayan- tamas(darkness), moha(attachment),mahamoha(absolute attachment),tamisra(jealousy) and andhatamisra(anger).After the manifestation of these five “avidyas”,came into existence immovable things like mountains,trees etc.These being the primary creations came to be known as “mukhya sarga”(main creation).Continuing with his creations,lord Brahma created species that were superior to the earlier creation-animals.This particular creation was called “Tiryaksrota”(quadruped).This way Brahma did his creation.Brahma’s sixth creation was called Satvik sarga which consisted of the deities who were all virtuous by nature.The creation of human beings was seventh in order and was known as”Arvaaksrota sarga.Even human beings were of three types -those who were predominantly virtuous possessed satva guna had radiant personality and never experienced sorrow but those who possessed rajas and tamas gunas experienced sorrows.”
“Brahma’s eighth creation was called “Anugrah sarg” in which he created the sages and the hermits for the benediction of the world.The nineth creation of Lord Brahma was called “Kaumar sarg”(creation of adolescent beings).So,these are the nine main types of creation through which Brahma creates.First of all Rudra and other deities manifested themselves and then came into being eternal adlescents like Sanak,Sanandan, etc.Subsequently,all the ten manasputras of Brahma manifested themselves-Marichi,Angira, Atri,Pulah,Kratu,Pulasya,Pracheta,Bhrigu,Narad and Vashishth.”
“Lord Brahma’s first creation-Rudra had manifested himself as Ardha narishwar(half male and half female). At the request of Brahma,Rudra dismembered his female part resulting into the creation of two distinct forms- one male and the other female.Later on,ten more Rudras manifested from the male form and all of them collectively came to be known as ‘Eleven Rudras’.”
PRIYAVRATA ATTAINS TO HEAVENLY ABODE
Describing the incident which enabled King Priyavrata to attain to heavenly abode Lord Varah told Prithvi-
“Swayambhuva Manu lived during the first kalpa.He had two sons-Priyavrata and Uttanpad.Priyavrata was extremely virtuous by nature.In course of time,he relinquished his throne and after distributing his kingdom among his sons went to Badrikashram to do penance.Once sage Narad paid a visit to his hermitage. Priyavrata received his esteemed guest with all the respect which made Narad extremely pleased.Priyavrata then requested Narad to narrate about some interesting incident which had occured in his life.
Narad narrated about an interesting incident which had happened while he was on his way to meet Priyavrata- “I experienced an amazing incident yesterday while I was passing by a lake in Shwetdweepa.I saw a divinely beautiful woman who was standing alone at the bank of that lake.I was surprised to find such a beautiful woman at such a lonely place.For a moment I became so infatuated by her beauty that I lost all control over my senses.My lust had made me devoid of all my knowledge and learning.Now,I became very worried and ashamed of my conduct-but the damage had already been made.I immediately realized that she was not an ordinary woman.To my surprise,I saw a form of a divine person visible clearly within her body.Within nextfew moments two other male forms revealed themselves.Suddenly,all three of them disappeared leaving behind just that divine lady.I was dumbstruck by this amazing incident.I asked her as to who she was.The divine lady disclosed to me that she was none other than goddess Savitri – the mother of all the Vedas and since I was unable to recognize her therefore all the knowledge had vanished from my memory.She also revealed to me that the three divine men which had manifested themselves within her body were in fact the three Vedas- Rigveda,Samveda and Yajurveda.After revealing these amazing facts to me goddess Savitri assured me that by taking a bath in that lake I would not only regain my memory of the Vedas but also of all my previous births.I eulogized goddess Savitri and thanked her for the blessings showered on me.I then bathed in that lake and to my pleasant surprise I now remembered everything of my past births as had been prophesised by goddess Savitri.”
Priyavrat was very surprised and requested Narad to describe some interesting incident related with his past birth.Narad narrated the following incident to him- “In satyayuga,I was born in a brahmin family and was named Saraswat by my parents.I was very studious and grew up to become a renowned scholar.The almighty God had blessed me with immense riches and I never experienced scarcity of any kind in my life.But,very soon I got bored of my monotonous and routined life. It had become clear to me that there was more to life than just worrying about the gains and losses.So,I decided to do penance to attain salvation.I distributed all my wealth among my sons and went to the bank of river Saraswati,where I first performed the rituals of shraddh in the name of my ancestors and then performed yagyas.I also donated lot of wealth to poor people.Being satisfied,I then went to Pushkar teerth and did penance at the bank of river Saraswat by continuously chanting the sacred mantra”om namo narayan” and brahm paar stotra.Ultimately,lord Narayan became pleased and appeared before me.Lord Sri Hari asked me of my wish and I express my desire to get united with his divine form.But,lord Narayan told me that the world needed me and so this desire of mine could not be fulfilled.He blessed me and gave me my name- Narad because I had ‘donated’ water(naar) to my ancestors during the course of performing shraddh rituals.Although my wish of uniting with the divine form of Sri Hari had remain unfulfilled but still there was a consolation as I had been fortunate enough to see his divine form with my mortal eyes. Thereafter,I devoted my life to the worship of Sri Hari.After my death,I attained to brahmaloka- I had been adequately rewarded for my devotion toward lord Sri Hari.Later on,I manifested as one of the ten manasputras of lord Brahma when he commenced his creation.It was only because of the blessings of Sri Harithat I came to be regarded as ‘lok guru’ by the masses.So Priyavrat,if you are desire of attaining salvation then you should follow my example and devote your life in the name of Lord Srihari.”
Prithvi, who was listening to the tales narrated by Lord Varah with rapt attention asked him whether it was possible for anybody to see Lord Narayan with his/her mortal eyes.Lord Varah replied -”Lord Narayan has taken ten incarnations in various forms such as matsya(fish),kachchap(tortoise),varah(boar),narsimh(half human and half lion),vaman(dwarf),parshuram,Ram,Krishna,Buddha and kalki.The last incarnation-Kalki is yet to take place.A man can realize Lord Narayan by having total devotion in any one of the ten incarnations. Even the deities are incapable of this divine experience-what to say about humans.Lord Brahma is the manifestation of all the three qualities of Sri Hari and actually it is He(Sri Hari) who creates in the form of Lord Brahma-it is He who manifests himself in various natural forms like earth,water,fire,air and sky-it is He who manifests himself in various abstract qualities like consciousness- He is omnipresent and the whole universe is pervaded by him.”
Prithvi was anxious to know whether Narad’s sermons had any effect on Priyavrat and asked Lord Varah regarding this.Lord Varah replied- Priyavrat was so impressed by Narad’s discourses that he relinquished his throne and went to do penance after equally distributing his kingdom among his sons.Ultimately,he did manage to attain to the abode of lord Sri Hari by the virtue of his total devotion.



ASHVASHIRA’S UNIFICATION WITH LORD NARAYAN
Prithvi asked lord Varah about the famous incident which described Ashvashira’s unification with lord Narayan.Lord Varah then narrated the following tale- “During ancient times,there used to live a virtuous king named Ashvashira.He had performed an ashwamedh yagya in which he had donated large amount of wealth.Once,sage Kapil arrived at his palace acoompanied by sage Jaigishavya.King Ashvashira received both his distinguished guests with due honour.After the formalities were over,he asked both his guests about the means by which lord Narayan could be pleased and also about the rituals pertaining to the worship of lord Narayan.”
Both the sages being enlightened souls realized that Ashvashira was asking this question out of his ignorance so,they decided to enlighten him on the omnipresent nature of Narayan and said-’What do you mean by pleasing Narayan? Can’t you see two Narayans standing in front of you?’ But,Ashvashira was unamused and unconvinced so he replied-’I don’t deny that both of you possess supernatural powers and also that all your sins have destroyed on account of the virtues attained by doing penance.But,I don’t believe your claim to be Narayan.Lord Narayan is the almighty God and the supreme deity.He holds a conch,a chakra and a mace in his hands.He wears pitambar and has Garuda as his mount.His glory is indescribable and incomparable.’
As Asvashira had raised valid points,sage Kapil transformed his appearance with the help of his divine powers.Similarly,sage Jaigishavya transformed his appearance and became Garuda.But,Ashvashira still remained unconvinced and said-’How can I accept you to be Narayan as there is no sign of lotus manifesting from your navel in which lord Brahma has his abode.’
Sage Kapil then slightly transformed his appearance and created an illusion whereby a lotus flower emanating from his navel became visible to Ashvashira.Sage Jaigishavya sat on that lotus flower in the guise of lord Brahma.Not only that,they also created an illusion due to which all types of living creatures inside the palace premise.
Now,Ashvashira was really confused and requested both the sages to break the magic spell.Both the sages decided not to test the limit of Ashvashira’s patience and so,they trasformed their respective guises into their original appearances.Both of them said- ‘Narayan is one but can manifest himself in countless forms.The whole universe is HIS creation and HE is present in every single creature.It is impossible for a mortal being to bear the radiance of almighty Narayan and it is only when HE appears in his more gentle form that the enlightened person is able to see him.Therefore,you should engage yourself in the service of mankind,considering each human being to be the medium through which lord Narayan manifests himself.
Ashvashira was satisfied by the explanation given by both the sages but there was still one question bothering him a lot so, he asked- ‘Who is most likely to attain salvation-a knowledgeable person or a person who indulges in rightful deeds?’ Sage Kapil narrated the following tale-’Once,sage Raimya and king Vasu had asked the same question to sage Vrihaspati.At that time Vrihaspati had replied that anybody who performed his duties with a sense of detachment is sure to attain salvation and to prove his point he had narrated the following tale-’During ancient times,there lived a brahmin named Sanyaman.He was the descendant of sage Atri.One day,while he was going to take his bath he met Nishthoor-a fowler,who used to catch birds and animals for his livings.’
Sanyaman reprimanded Nishthoor for his evil deeds and said- Why do you trap innocent birds and animals? Nishthoor replied-’The almighty God is present in each living creature.One who is desirous of attaining salvation must under no circumstances allow his ego to dominate him.The ‘doer’ is not the man but the supreme Almighty present in him.Keeping this fact in his mind a man should perform his duties with nonchallance and a sense of detachment.If I earn my livelyhood by catching birds and animals then it is the will of almighty.’ To prove his point,the fowler spread his iron-net and kept dry blocks of wood underneath it and then requested Sanyaman to ignite those blocks.Sanyaman was surprised but burnt the wodden-logs as per the fowler’s instruction.In a short time all the wodden-blocks became ablaze and the flames startes coming out from the thousand of small holes of the iron-net.The fowler then told Sanyaman that although the flames coming from each hole appeared to have distinct sources,yet the fact was that the flames manifested from the single source-wodden blocks that were burning beneath the iron-net.
The fowler said-”It was impossible to extinguish the fire untill and unless the source of the fire was extinguished.Each hole of the iron-net can be compared with an individual and the almighty God with the source of fire.A man does what God wills and he can never experience sorrow provided he constantly remembers the Almighty even while he is performing his daily chores.” Sanyaman was very much impressed by the fowler’s wisdom. Having finished his tale,sage Vrihaspati told Ramya-”Now it must be evident to you that salvation is within the reach of any individual.It does not make much difference whether the seeker of salvation is a householder or a hermit aspiring for knowledge.” Continuing with the story of Ashvashira,lord Varah told Prithvi-”King Ashvashira was so impressed by Kapil’s preachings that he went to Naimisharanya and spent his rest of his life in the service of lord Narayan.Once,while he was performing yagya,suddenly lord Vishnu manifested himself from the altar in the form of a brilliant effulgence and the identity of Ashvashira merged with it.This way,Ashvashira got united with lord Vishnu by the virtue of his deep devotion.
KING VASU AND SAGE RAIMYA UNITE WITH SRI HARI
Prithvi was anxious to know about the effect sage Vrihaspati’s discources had on King Vasu as well as sage Raimya.She asked lord Varah-”What did both king Vasu and sage Raimya do after listening to the preachings of sage Vrihaspati?”
Lord Varah replied-”King Vasu was so impressed by Vrihaspati’s discources that he decided to spend the rest of his life in the service of lord Narayan.He appointed Viwasman-his eldest son as his successor and left for Pushkar teerth.He engaged himself in austere penance by chanting pundarikaksha stotra.One day,while Vasu was chanting pundarikaksha stotra,he experienced an amazing incident-an entity whose complexion was blue, manifested from his body and stood with folded hands.In his bewilderment,king Vasu requested the stranger to introduce himself.
The entity narrated the following tale to him -
“O King,you were the ruler of Janasthan in your second previous birth.Once,while you had gone deep into the forest on a hunting spree,you were delighted to find a deer which in fact was none other but myself.In fact,I had disguised myself as a deer and was wandering in the forest.Being oblivious of this fact you had killed that dear.Later on,when you realized your mistake,you cursed yourself for having killed an innocent brahmin.To get absolved of this sin,you had observed a fast on Ekadashi and had donated a cow to please lord Narayan.But,inspite of all these austerities you did not attain liberation because at the time of your death you had chanted your wife’s name whose name was Narayani instead of Narayan.This blunder of your’s had stopped you from attaining to Vishnu loka for one complete kalpa.But,my revengeful soul continued to torture your soul till it was driven out by lord Narayan’s escorts.It was only then that you were able to attain to Vishnu loka.”
“In your next birth you were born as the king of Kashmir.I did not spare you even in that birth and possessed your body.You performed numerous yagyas to get rid of me but all your efforts went in vain as you had not chanted the holy name of lord Vishnu in any of the rituals that you had performed.But,now I was forced to abandon your body since you have been constantly chanting the sacrosanct pundarikaksha stotra.I have also become absolved of all my sin by the virtue of listening to the pundarikaksha stotra.”
King Vasu expressed his gratitude to the entity for shedding light on his previous births.Suddenly,a divine aircraft descended from the heaven and king Vasu left for Vishnuloka mounted on it.Meanwhile,sage Raimya got the news of Vasu’s ascension to heaven to Vishnuloka,he wanted to emulate the feat of his friend.He reached Gaya and performed shraddh in the name of his ancestors.He then engaged himself in an austere penance.Sanat kumar-one of the manasputras became very pleased by Raimya’s penance and appeared before him.He complimented Raimya for liberating his ancestors by performing shraddh at Gaya.He then described the virtues of performing shraddh at Gaya and narrated the following tale -
“There lived a king named Vishal who had no son.One day,he invited few brahmins to his palace and asked them how he could beget a son.All the brahmins revealed to him that he did not have son because of the curse of his ancestors.”You have not performed their shraddh so, they are angry with you and you can never beget a son unless you performed shraddh rituals at Gaya.Vishal went to Gaya as per the instruction of the brahmins.He performed the shraddh rituals and offered pinda-daan in the name of his ancestors.While he was still performing the rituals,he was amazed to see three men descending from the sky-one of them was of fair complexion while the remaining two were of wheatish and dark complexion respectively.Vishal curiously asked them as to who they were.The fair-complexioned person replied-
‘I am your father-’sit’.The person with wheatish complexion is my father and the third person amongst us is my grandfather.My father had committed grave sins while he was alive and killing a brahmin was one the gravest sin he had committed.My grandfather was even worst than my father and his dark complexion is nothing as compared to his grave sins.He had killed numerous innocent sages for no fault of theirs.All three of us have come to express our gratitude as we have become liberated from our sins by the virtue of the shraddh rituals you have performed.The water which you had offered to us while performing the rituals have given us the ability to communicate with you,even though we are spirits.’
After finishing his tale,Sanat kumar told sage Raimya that Gaya was supreme among all the places of pilgrimage and the virtues of performing shraddh overthere is incomparable.Sage Raimya dedicated rest of his life to the worship of lord Gadadhar.At last,lord Gadadhar appeared before him.Sage Raimya requested the lord to give him a place in his abode which was dwelled by sages like Sanak and Sanandan.Lord Gadadhar blessed him by saying-’So be it.’This way,sage Raimya attained enlightenment with the blessings of the merciful lord Gadadhar and ultimately attained to the divine abode of lord Vishnu.



MATSYA AVATAR
Once,when lord Vishnu awakened from his yoga nidra,he found that the Vedas had submerged in the ocean as the result of pralaya(deluge).He incarnated as matsya(fish) to retrieve the Vedas from the ocean-bed.As soon as lord Matsya entered into the ocean,HE attained such an enormous size that the deities became frightened.
All the deities then eulogized lord Matsya and requested him to regain his original form- “O Narayan-the imperceivable lord.You manifest yourself in each and every particle of this Universe.You are omnipresent and exist even during the time of deluge when nothing else exist.O Lord!we are scared of your present form.”
On seeing the deities frightened,lord Matsya retrieved the Vedas from the sea-bed and transformed his appearance from the huge fish to that of lord Vishnu.The deities were filled with joy to see the divine appearance of lord Vishnu.
KING DURJAY
During satya yuga,there lived a king named Suprateek.Although he had two queens,yet none of them bore any son to him.One day,Suprateek went to meet sage Durvasa,who had his hermitage at the foothills of chitrakut mountain and engaged himself in the sevice of Durvasa.The sage blessed the king and prophesised that he would become a proud father of a mighty son named Durjay.Durvasa’s prophesy came true and Suprateek’s eldest queen-Vidyutprabha gave birth to a son.The child was named Durjay.In course of time Durjay grew up to become a worthy successor of Suprateek.Suprateek decided to spend rest of his life in the service of God,so he went to Chitrakut mountain to do penance.
Mean while, Durjay being an ambitious king expanded his kingdom by subjugating all the neighbouring states.He conquered numerous mighty kingdoms and vanquished almost all the prominent warrior castes like- gandharvas,kinnars,demons and even the deities.Indra-the lord of the deities was defeated by Durjay and was forced to retreat towards east of Sumeru mountain alongwith the lokpals-various lords protecting different regions of the Universe.The whole world went into turmoil as the fallout of lokpal’s power being snatched by Durjay.While Durjay was returning to his capital along with his victorious army,he met two asuras-Vidyut and Suvidyut, who had diguised themselves as sages.Both the impersonators requested Durjay to make some alternative arrangements so that the world could function smoothly.In reality,both of them harboured wishes of having the powers of lokpal’s so they offered their services in this regard.Durjay,being unaware of their real identity agreed to appoint them as lokpal’s and then proceeded towards his capital.While he was passing by the mandarachal mountain,he saw two beautiful women.Durjay was surprised to find them at such a deserted place.As he stood their wondering about their identity,he saw two hermits approaching him.Both the hermits asked Durjay-”Who are you? What is the purpose of your arrival?
Durjay introduced himself and told them that he was on his way to conquer the whole world.Now it was the turn of both the sages to introduce themselves-”We are the sons of Swayambhuva Manu-Hetu and Prachetu.We had successfully defeated the deities and driven them out from their abode-Sumeru mountain.All the deities went to seek the help of lord Vishnu and were successful in getting his assurance.Lord Vishnu then attacked us and vanquished our army but he spared our lives.Then onwards we became ardent devotees of the merciful lord Vishnu.
Hetu,then pointing towards one of the women said-”She is my daughter-Sukeshi.The other woman you see is my brother- Prachetu’s daughter and her name is Mishrakeshi.Please accept both these beautiful as your wives.”Durjay readily agreed to marry both of them as they were really very beautiful.He then returned to his capital.
Everything was going quite smoothly for Durjay,when on one fateful day he met his downfall because of his extreme greed.The incident happened as follows-Once,Durjay had gone into the forest on a hunting spree,where he met a sage named Gaurmukh.Gaurmukh had been blessed by lord Vishnu with a divine diamond named Chintamani which was capable of fulfilling all desires.Gaurmukh gave a royal treatment to Durjay with the help of wish-fulfilling diamond.He created an illusionary palace and offered variety delicacies to him as well as his whole army.
Durjay wanted to have chintamani diamond at any cost and therefore sent his minister-Virochan to persuade Gaurmukh to part with that diamond.Gaurmukh became furious after coming to know about the evil intention of Durjay and told Virochan to ask Durjay to leave at once.But,Gaurmukh knew quite well that the greedy Durjay would not give up so easily and would definitely try to acquire chintamani by force.So, he requested chintamani diamond to create a huge army.
Meanwhile,Durjay ordered his chief-commander,named Neel to bring chintamani at any cost.Neel proceeded with a large number of soldiers.A fierce battle took place between both the armies in which Neel was killed and his army got vanquished.Finally,Durjay himself came forward to fight but even he was defeated. In the meantime,Hetu and Prachetu got the news that their son-in-law was in trouble.Both of them proceeded with a huge army to help their so-in-law.But,they were no match for the might of their adversary and both of them eventually dieed in the ensuing battle.
Meanwhile,sage Gaurmukh found Durjay standing at the entrance of his hermitage with a small number of surviving soldiers.He sought the help of lord Vishnu,who appeared within no time.Gaurmukh requested him to punish Durjay for his evil intention.Lord Vishnu severed Durjay’s head with his sudarshan chakra.The place where Durjay was killed later on became famous as Naimisharanya.Sage Gaurmukh continued to live at Naimisharanya without any problem.


PITRAS AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF ‘SHRADDH’
Once,sage Markandeya arrived at Naimisharanya to see sage Gaurmukh.Sage Gaurmukh was delighted to find such an enlightened soul at his hermitage.After the formalities were over, Gaurmukh requested him to shed light on the venerability of ancestors and the significance of shraddh rituals.
Sage Markandeya replied-”Lord Brahma,after having created the sapta rishis instructed them to worship him(Lord Brahma) but they became so arrogant that they started to worship themselves.Lord Brahma felt insulted and so he cursed them of becoming bereft of all the knowledge.In course of time,the sapta rishis had numerous sons.After the death of the sapta rishis,all the sons performed shraddh so that their souls could rest in peace.The sapta rishis were also famously known as ‘Vaimanik’because they had manifested from the mind of Brahma.”
Sage Gaurmukh was listening to Markandeya’s utterances with rapt attention.He asked about the most appropriate time for performing shraddh and also about the number of ‘ganas’ each of the pitras were supposed to have.Sage Markandeya replied-”Pitras living in the heaven are known as ‘somap pitras’ are believed to be the most privileged ones among all the pitras.They enjoy the most delicious beverage-somaras.Their life-span extends for the full period of kalpa and they worship ‘marutas’.Sage Marich belongs to this category of pitras.”
Pitras belonging to the category of ‘vairaj’ are revered even by the marutganas.Sanak comes under this categoty of pitras.Each of these pitras have seven ganas.Similarly,pitras known as ‘bhaswar’ have their abode in the world called ‘santanak’.These pitras are revered even by the deities as all of them are ‘brahma vadis’(one who has realized Brahma).They remanifest themselves after every hundred yugas. People belonging to any caste can worship the revered ‘pitras’ with an appropriately modified rituals and obviously with the permission of the brahmin.Some of the prominent pitras are ‘Vasu’,'Kashyap’,'Marichi’ ‘Sanak’ etc.
THE APPROPRIATE TIME FOR PERFORMING SHRADDH
Describing the auspicious time for performing the rituals of shraddh,Markandeya told Gurumukh-”A person desirous of performing the rituals of ‘kamya shraddh’ can do so on any of the following days-a) at the commencement of uttarayan or dakshinayan. b)at the time when vyatipat yoga takes place. c) at the time when vishu yoga occurs. d) during both solar and lunar eclipses. e) if troubled by the evil influences of a constellation or a planet. f) if troubled by nightmares. g)at the time when the Sun changes it’s position from one zodiac to another.
The various nakshatras like Anuradha,Vishakha and Shwati are considered to be very auspicious for performing shraddh- especially, if the day happens to be amavasya.Shraddh performed on such a day pacifies the ancestor’s soul for eight years.Similarly the combination of amavasya with either ‘pushya nakshatra’ or ‘punarvasu nakshatra’ is believed to pacify the ancstor’s soul for twelve years.Some other days which are considered to be very auspicious for performing shraddh are-the third day of the bright half of the hindu month Vaishakh,the nineth day of the bright half of the hindu month Kartik,the thirteenth day of the dark half of the hindu month Bhadrapad and amavasya falling in the hindu month of Magh.A man desirous of performing shraddh can do so on any of the above mentioned days.He should take bath in a holy river and offer ‘tarpan’(libation) to his ancestors.





SHRADDH KALPA
Describing the types of brahmin,considered to be elligible to preside over the rituals of shraddh, Markandeya told sage Gaurmukh-”The following types of brahmin are elligible to perform shraddh-’trinachiket’ ‘trimadhu’ ‘trisuparna’ and the brahmins who are well versed in all the Vedas.The shraddh rituals can be performed by any of the following relatives of the deceased, apart from his son-maternal nephew, grandson(daughter’s son),father-in-law,son-in-law,maternal uncle,etc.
Similarly,the following types of brahmin should never be invited at the shraddh at the shraddh ceremony-a deceitful or a wicked brahmin,a brahmin who is a habitual backbiter or who is accused of theft,a brahmin who has married a shudra woman and a brahmin who earns his livelihood by working as a priest.


HOW TO INVITE BRAHMINS TO SHRADDH CEREMONY
Invitation should be given to the all the brahmins one day in advance.If uivited brahmins arrive to attend the shraddh ceremonythey should be treated with due respect.The brahmin who is supposed to perform the rituals should wash the feet of other brahmins to show his respect towards them.He should then help them perform ‘achaman’(rinsing of mouth).Finally,the invited brahmins should be fed after the rituals have been completed.


NUMBER OF BRAHMINS
As far as the number of invited brahmins to the shraddh ceremony of the ancestors is concerned,the scriptures have strictly put it to odd numbers-one,three,five,etc.Similarly,the number of invited brahmins for the shraddh of the deities is concerned the number has been put to even number-two,four,etc. But,if the person finds it difficult to invite the above number of brahmins then he can invite only one brahmin for both the types of shraddh.While performing the shraddh of maternal grandfather it is mandatory to perform the shraddh of Vaishyadeva simultaneously.In the shraddh ceremony related with the deities the brahmins should always have their food facing east.On the contrary,in the shraddh ceremony of the ancestors the brahmins should have their food facing north.


TYPES OF SHRADDH
A person performing the shraddh rituals should have his seat made of ‘kusha’ grass.After taking his seat,he should invoke the deities and make offerings of ‘ardhya’ to them.While offering ‘ardhya’ to the deities water and barley are commonly used alongwith other articles like sandalwood,incense,etc.During the entire course of shraddh rituals ‘yagyopavit’(sacred thread) should be worn in an inverse position-across the right shoulder and not across the left shoulder as it is normally worn.While performing the shraddh of ancestors offerings of articles like sesame seeds,water and kusha grass are normally made.


SHRADDH MANTRA
It is customary to scatter sesame seeds near the place where brahmins are having food in the shraddh ceremony.The performer of the shraddh rituals should imagine that the food partaken by them are actually satiating the ancestors.The chanting of ‘Rakshodhna mantra’ is a must.


THE RITUALS OF PINDA DAAN
One important characteristic of the rituals connected with pinda daan is the offerings made to manes in the form of sesame seeds and water.Another important aspect is that ‘pinda’ is offered on the ‘kusha’ grass which are kept facing south-first in the name of one’s dead father and then in the name of one’s grandfather and other ancestors


BALIVAISHVA DEVA
The performance of Balivaishva deva rituals mark the end of shraddh ceremony after which the person should sit down along with all the invited guests to have his food.Ancestors become satisfied if shraddh is performed in their names and all the desires of such a man are fulfilled.Three things have great importance in shraddh rituals-black sesame seeds,the auspicious muhurta named ‘Kutup’ and grandson(daughter’s son).Donating silver is considered to be extremely auspicious.A person performing the shraddh rituals should not venture out of his house till the completion of the entire ceremony.
During tretayuga,there lived a king named Prajapal.Once,while he was on his hunting spree,he entered into a dense forest.He was delighted to see a dear who started running for it’s life after hearing the noise. Prajapal let his horse loose in the direction of the running dear.Sage Mahatapa had his hermitage in that forest.While chasing that dear,Prajapal arrived at the hermitage of Mahatapa.Being curious,he entered the hermitage and saw sage Mahatapa.The sage treated his guest with all the respect and offered him fruits to eat.After the formalities were over,Prajapal requested Mahatapa to describe the appropriate way of contemplating on the various forms of lord Narayan which gave salvation to a man. Sage Mahatapa replied-”The Vedas proclaim that all the deities owe their existence to lord Vishnu-Agni,Ashwini kumar,Gauri,Gajanan,Sheshnag,Kartikeya,Aditya Ganas,Durga,all the 64 matrikas,Kuber, Vayu, Yama, Rudra,Chandrama,Pitra Ganas,etc.have originated from lord Sri Hari.All the deities,although appearing to to have distinct identity,are in fact inseparable from lord Vishnu.”


AGNI
“When Agni manifested himself from Brahma’s anger, he requested him(Brahma) to assign an auspicious day to him for his worship. Lord Brahma said-’Since you have manifested first of all the deities, therefore the first day(pratipada) will be reserved for your worship. One who performs havan on pratipada would be blessed.”


ASHWINI KUMARS
King Prajapal requested Mahatapa to describe how both the Ashwini kumars manifested themselves.Sage Mahatapa narrated the following tale-’Marichi was Lord Brahma’s son while Kashyap was Marichi’s son.All the twelve Adityas are the sons of sage Kashyap.One of the Adityas-Martand,was marrird to Vishwakarma’s daughter whose name was Sangya.Martand had two children from her and their names were-Yama and Yami.Being unable to bear the extreme radiance of Martand,Sangya created her shadow identity and after instructing her to serve her husband(Martand) in best possible ways,she herself went to live at Uttarkuru.Later on,when Martand came to know about the reality,he went to Uttarkuru and found Sangya in the form of a mare.He then changed his own form and became a horse.Both of them stayed there for a long time.In course of time,Sangya gave birth to two sons who became famous as Ashwini kumars.’
Martand instructed both his sons to please lord Brahma with their devotion.Both of them engaged themselves in austere penance.Finally,lord Brahma appeared and blessed both of them by saying-’Your good-looks and knowledge of ayurveda will be unmatched in the world.’It was ‘dwitiya’(second day) when lord Brahma had blessed both the Ashwini kumars.This is the reason why this particular day is the reason why this particular day is deeply attached with the worship of Ashwini kumars.’


GODDESS PARVATI
King Prajapal asked Mahatapa about the reason why goddess Gauri-the epithet of power,had to take incaranation.Sage Mahatapa replied -”Goddess Gauri manifested from lord Narayan and was offered to Rudra as his consort by lord Brahma.Lord Brahma then instructed Brahma to begin creation but Rudra being free from all kinds of worldly attachment refused to oblige lord Brahma and engaged himself in austere penance.Goddess Gauri then merged her identity with Brahma,who later on created his seven ‘manas-putras’. In course of time,Gauri was born as the daughter of Daksha Prajapati and hence came to be known as ‘Dakshayani’.
Once, Daksha Prajapati organised a grand yagya in which all the seven manasputras were assigned specific responsibilities.Meanwhile,Rudra came out from his meditation and was extremely furious to see the earth occupied by countless creatures.He thought-’Brahma had requested me to create then who is responsible for all these creation? Who has dared to transgress my authority ?’ As Rudra stood wondering,suddenly he heard the sound of the mantras being chanted at the yagya performed by Daksha.Now, Rudra’s fury crossed all limits resulting into the emergence of numerous spirits and ghosts from his ears.He then went to the oblation-site accompanied by the ghosts and started destroying it.Lord Vishnu tried to protest as a result of which a fierce battle was fought between both of them.It was only on lord Brahma’s intervention that both of them stopped fighting.Lord Brahma said-’From now onwards Rudra would become famous as ‘Har’ while Vishnu would be known as ‘Hari’.He then directed the deities to eulogize Rudra and give his due share of the yagya being performed by Daksha Prajapati.’
Rudra became pleased by deities’s eulogy and blessed them.This way,Daksha Prajapati was able to accomplish his yagya with the blessings of Rudra.In course of time,Rudra married Gauri-the daughter of Daksha Prajapati.Once,Gauri went to her father’s place to attend a yagya ceremony against the wish of her husband.On seeing her,Daksha Prajapati started cursing Rudra.Gauri was so enraged by her father’s attitude that she gave up her life by jumping into the sacrificial fire meant for the yagya.Later on,she took rebirth as Parvati-the daughter of Himalaya.Parvati did an austere penance to get Shiva as her husband.Ultimately her desire was fulfilled and she became the consort of lord Shiva.
The tithi of tritiya is very deeply attached with the worship of goddess Parvati because all the important events of her life(birth,marriage,etc.)took place on this day.This is the reason why tritiya is attributed to the worship of goddess Parvati.A woman who observe a fast on this day enjoys a blissful married life.One important ritual related with the austerity of tritiya is avoiding the usage of salt on this day.




LORD GANAPATI
King Prajapal then asked sage Mahatapa about the manifestation of lord Ganapati and about the significance of chaturthi in terms of Ganapati’s worship. Mahatapa narrated the following tale- “Once,all the deities went to seek Shiva’s help in sorting out a peculiar problem they were faced with- while they experienced all sorts of hurdles and problems in their work resulting into repeated failures in their work, the demons on the contrary accomplished all their work successfully without any problem. When lord Shiva learnt about their problem, he burst into laughter. Hardly had he stopped laughing than a radiant adolescent manifested himself from his opened mouth. The child was so divinely charming that Parvati,who was sitting beside Shiva looked at him without dropping her eyelids.When Shiva found her staring at the child he became jealous. Jealousy transformed into anger and Shiva cursed the child-’From now onwards your face will resemble an elephant and your belly will become large as a pot. In the name of yagyopavit you would have nothing but a snake hanging across your shoulder.’
The child was none other than Ganesh.Lord Shiva’s anger did not subside even after having cursed Ganesh. He was still trembling in anger and was sweating profusely.Numerous Ganeshas manifested themselves from those sweat-drops and each of them had a head of an elephant as well as a large belly.Suddenly, lord Brahma appeared and requested lord Shiva by saying-’You should make this divine child,who has manifested from your mouth,the lord of all these Vinayakas.Thus,lord Shiva made Ganesh the lord of all the Vinayakas and blessed him-’You will be the first deity to get worshipped in any ritual.’
Chaturthi has deep association with the worship of lord Ganesh, as it was on this very day that he had manifested himself.Having prasad,prepared from sesame seeds and worshipping lord Ganesh on this day is believed to bring great auspiciousness. A devotee who worships lord Ganesh on chaturthi never experiences any kind of obstacle in his work.


NAG DEVTA
King Prajapal then requested Mahatapa to shed light on the origin of the serpents and the significance of ‘panchami’. Sage Mahatapa replied-The serpents came from the lineage of Kadru-Kashyap’s wife. Sage Kashyap had numerous progeny from Kadru-Vasuki, Anant, Kambal, Karkotak, Padma, Mahapadma, Shankh, Kulik, etc. When all these serpents started tormenting human-beings, lord Brahma cursed them that they would be annihilated during swayambhuva manvantar due to the curse of their own mother.
The serpents became terrified and promised to mend their ways. They then requested lord Brahma to give them a place to live in. Lord Brahma instructed them to go to three different netherworlds-Sutal, Vital and Patal. He also warned them that during Vaivaswat manvantar Janmejay would perform a grand yagya with the objective of destroying the wicked serpents but the virtuous among them would manage to survive. This particular incident had occured on panchami and hence it became the destroyer of all sins.A devotee who worships ‘Nag’(serpent) on this day and offers milk will never be troubled by them.


KARTIKEYA
Describing Kartikeya’s manifestation and how his worship got associated with the auspicious day of shashthi, sage Mahatapa told king Prajapal-Once, a fierce battle was between the deities and demons in which the deities got defeated.The reason behind their defeat was the absence was the absence of an able commander who could lead them.The deities went to seek the help of lord Brahma. Being unable to solve their problem,lord Brahma took the deities to lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva invoked ‘Shakti’ present within his body and thus manifested lord Kartikeya. He was named after the six ‘Kritikas’ who had nurtured him by feeding their breast milk. Lord shiva then made Kartikeya the commander of the deities on the auspicious day of shashthi. Under his able leadership, the deities finally managed to defeat the demons.
A devotee who worships lord Kartikeya on shashthi enjoys prosperity and gets all his desire fulfilled. A childless couple must worship on this auspicious day to get blessed with a son.


LORD ADITYA
King Prajapal asked Mahatapa-”The thought of divine radiance taking the form of human radiance bewilders me. Please clear my doubts.”
Sage Mahatapa replied -”When the almighty God willed to manifest himself in other tangible forms, an effulgence emanated from his being resulting into the creation of ‘Surya’(The Sun). The whole world became illumined with Surya’s radiance and all the deities dwelling within the body of Almighty God expressed their gratitude. Initially,unbearable heat emanated from ‘Surya’, causing great uncomfort to the deities but later on Almighty God reduced it to bearable limit at the request of the deities.Surya had manifested himself on the auspicious day of ‘saptami’ hence this particular day became deeply associated with the worship of Surya.


ASHTA MATRIKAS
Continuing with his narration, sage Mahatapa said -”During ancient times,there lived a mighty demon named ‘Andhakasur’. Andhakasur had become arrogant because of a boon of immortality received from lord Brahma. Being tormented by Andhakasur,all the deities went to seek lord Brahma’s help. Lord Brahma took the deities to lord Shiva who agreed to kill the wicked demon-Andhakasur.
The battle commenced and a fierce dual fight broke out between Lord Shiva and Andhakasur. Shiva attacked Andhakasur with his trident. Stream of blood oozed out from the wound, but to Shiva’s utter amazement each drop of blood falling on the ground resulted in into the creation of numerous Andhakasuras. In a short time the battle field was overcrowded with countless Andhakasuras. Now, Shiva’s anger crossed all limits and he thundered loudly. Flames emanated from the mouth of enraged Shiva resulting into the manifestation of goddess ‘Yogishwari’. Similarly, seven more goddesses manifested themselves from different deities- Vaishnavi from lord Vishnu, Brahmi from lord Brahma, Kaumari from Kartikeya, Mahendri from Indra, Yami from Yama, Varahi from lord Varah and Maheshwari from lord Narayan. All these eight goddesses came to be known as ‘Matrikas’ and lord assigned them the auspicious day for their worship. A devotee who worships these eight matrikas on ashtami are blessed. The use of ‘bael’ (wood-apple) fruit on this day has great significance.


GODDESS DURGA
King Prajapal requested sage Mahatapa to narrate about the manifestation of goddess Durga and the significance of her worship on navami.Sage Mahatapa replied-The mighty demon-Vetrasur had driven out deities from the heaven.All the deities went to lord Brahma and sought his help.As lord Brahma was wondering about his further course of action,suddenly goddess Durga appeared from nowhere.She held various weapons in each of her eight arms and was mounted on a ferocious lion.Lord Brahma was relieved as he was confident that Goddess Durga would certainly kill Vretasur.Finally,goddess Durga indeed killed the dreaded demon without much difficulty.Later on,all the deities requested her to make himalaya mountain as her abode to which she agreed.This particular place,in course of time became famous as Nandadevi.One who worships goddess Durga on the auspicious day of navami gets her blessings.


DASH DISHAS
Having finished the tale of goddess Durga, sage Mahatapa revealed how all the six directions came into existence-”Six divine women manifested themselves from both the ears of lord Brahma during the initial phase of creation. The name of these six divine women were Purva(east), Dakshina(south), Paschima(west), Uttara(north), Urdhva(upwards) and Adhara(downwards). In course of time all of them got married to six different Lokpals. Lord Brahma assigned the auspicious day of dashami for their worship.One who worships all these six goddesses on the auspicious day of dashami is blessed and one who observes fast on this day gets absolved of all his sins.


KUBER
Continuing with the tales of the manifestation of various deities,sage Mahatapa said-”In the process of doing his creation,lord Brahma bellowed as a result of which Kubera manifested himself.Lord Brahma assigned kubera the lordship of all the wealth and prosperity.It was ‘ekadashi’ when Kubera had manifested himself,so this particular day has deep association with his worship.One who observes a fast on the auspicious day of ekadashi never lives in poverty.”


LORD VISHNU
Describing how lord Vishnu manifested,sage Mahatapa told Prajapal -”Narayan -the almighty God incarnated as lord Vishnu to nurture all the living creatures inhabiting the world. Eventually, lord Vishnu entrusted the job of world’s welfare to goddess Yoganidra and himself went into his meditative sleep. While he was still in his meditative sleep, a lotus flower emanated from his navel. Lord Brahma was seated on that lotus flower.
The almighty God was delighted to see himself in the incarnation of Vishnu.He blessed Vishnu by saying- ‘May you destroy all kind of ignorance with the help of your sword. Hold this chakra I am giving you,to sever the evil influences of ‘kaal-chakra’ (wheel of time). May all the sins be destroyed by your mace. May the deity- Vayu adorn your hand in the form of a conch and vaijyanti mala in your neck. May the Sun and Moon adorn your person in the form of shrivatsa and kaustubh diamonds. May Garuda be your mount and goddess Laxmi your consort. May people desirous of salvation worship you on the auspicious day of dwadashi. One who worship you on this day will definitely attain to the heaven.’


DHARMA
Sage Mahatapa then told king Mahapal about the manifestation of Dharma and the significance of trayodashi-’Dharma manifested himself from the right part of almighty God and appeared like a bullock. The almighty God instructed him to protect the mankind from all evils and sins.All the four feet of Dharma signified four various virtues- truth, purity, penance and charity. In satyayuga, Dharma was four footed- all the four virtues were prevalent during that era. In treta yuga, the feet reduced to three. The subsequent eras of dwapar and kaliyuga saw the further decline in virtuosity in which Dharma had two feet and one foot respectively.’
‘Once,a fierce battle was fought between the deities and demons.The bone of contention was a woman for whom both the side made claims.Dharma intervened and solved the contentious issue to the satisfaction of both the warring sides. Lord Brahma was very impressed by the deftness with which Dharma had handled such a tough situation and blessed him by saying-I am assigning the auspicious day of tryodashi to you. One who observes a fast and worship you on this day will be liberated from all his sins.’





LORD RUDRA
Sage Mahatapa then went on to describe the incident that led to the manifestation of lord Rudra and the significance of chaturdashi-’In the beginning of creation,when lord Brahma failed in his repeated attempts to create,he became frustrated.Frustration turned into fury and from his fury manifested a divine entity who cried incessantly.Lord Brahma tried to stop him from crying and said-tvam ma rud(don’t cry).This is how lord Rudra got his name.Lord Brahma then requested Rudra to commence creation but since Rudra lacked the power needed for doing creation therefore he refused and went to do penance.Later on, lord Brahma created his manasputras and other living creatures.Daksha Prajapati was one of these manasputras.Once,he had organised a grand yagya in which all the deities and even the demons had been invited.’
Meanwhile,Rudra’s penance was disturbed by the constant chanting of the mantras at the yagya performed by Daksha Prajapati.Rudra was infuriated resulting into the emanation of flames from his mouth.Eventually these fire-balls got transformed into ferocious spirits and ghosts.Rudra then reached the place where the yagya was being performed and with the help of all the spirits and ghosts started destoying the oblation site.It was only after lord Brahma’s intervention that Rudra calmed down.All the deities then eulogized Rudra and sought his blessings. One who worships lord Rudra on the auspicious day of chaturdashi becomes absolved of all his sins.


TANMATRAS
Describing the importance of amavasya,sage Mahatapa told Prajapal-”Once,while lord Brahma was just about to commence the process of creation,suddenly ‘tanmatras’(subtle forms of matter) revealed themselves from his mind.All of them being extremely virtuous were eager to go up in the sky to do penance byt lord Brahma requested them to become the ‘pitras’(ancestors)of the human beings.All the tanmatras then requested Brahma to make arrangement for their sustenance.Lord Brahma blessed them by saying-’I assign to you the auspicious day of amavasya.Anybody who performs the rituals of ‘tarpan’(libation) on this day would become absolved of his sins.You would sustain yourselves on various things like water,sesame seeds, and kusha grass which are offered by human beings to their ancestors on this day.’


CHANDRAMA
Describing the importance of purnima sage Mahatapa said-”Daksha Prajapati had cursed Chandrama,his son-in-law for maltreating his daughters.As the fallout of that curse Chandrama started waning day by day and eventually became invisible on amavasya.All the deities became worried and went to seek lord Vishnu’s help.Lord Vishnu advised them to get the ocean churned.While the ocean was being churned,Chandrama once again manifested himself from the ocean.Lord Brahma then assigned the auspicious day of purnima to him and blessed him.A devotee should observe a fast on purnima and worship Chandrama for the attainment of kowledge,prosperity aswell as salvation.


MATSYA-DWADASHI VRATA
Matsya-dwadashi is celebrated on the twelfth day of hindu month-Margashirsh.On this auspicious day a devotee should worship lord Matsya -the incarnation of lord Vishnu with appropriate rituals and give charity to brahmins.Prithvi was the first one to observe this particular austerity while she was being abducted to rasatala by a mighty demon named Hiranyaksha.A devotee who observes a fast on this day and worships lord Matsya with appropriate rituals attains to Brahma loka and remains their for eternity. Such a person attain’s a divine body when creation recommences after the period of deluge.An issue-less woman is blessed with a virtuous son if she observes a fast on this day.Matsya-dwadashi is capable of absolving a man even of the gravest of his sin.


KURMA-DWADASHI VRATA
This particular austerity is dedicated to the worship of lord Kurma-the incarnation of lord Vishnu.It is celebrated on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month ‘pausha’.The austerity which commences on the tenth day itself when a devotee is supposed to purify himself by taking a holy bath.On the following day he observes a fast and worships lord Kurma with appropriate rituals.He breaks his fast on dwadashi which marks the conclusion of the austerity.A devotee who observes a fast on this auspicious day becomes absolved of all his sins and attains salvation.


VARAH-DWADASHI VRATA
Varah dwadashi is celebrated on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month-magh.This was the day on which Prithvi had been rescued by lord Varah-the incarnation of lord Vishnu.An idol of lord Varah is installed on a pot filled with water and worshipped with appropriate rituals amidst the continuous chanting of the mantra-’om varahay namah’.Offerings of various articles are made while worshipping lord Varah-sandal- wood,incense, naivedya,etc.After the accomplishment of the rituals brahmins are fed and charity given to them.One who observes a fast on this day enjoys a good health and prosperity.Such a man becomes absolved of all his sins and attains to heaven after his death.


NRISIMHA-DWADASHI VRATA
This austerity is observed on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month-phalgun.A devotee should observe fast on this day and worship lord Nrisimha with appropriate rituals.This particular austerity is capable of absolving a man from all his sins.


VAMAN-DWADASHI VRATA
Vaman dwadashi is celebrated on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month-chaitra.A devotee should observe a fast and worship lord Vaman by saying the following prayer-O Lord!Vaman-the dwarfish incarnation of the almighty Vishnu,who took incarnation on the auspicious day of dwadashi in the month of chaitra-I seek your blessings.”One who observes a fast on this day is blessed and protected from all kinds of danger.


JAMDAGNYA-DWADASHI VRATA
This austerity is related with the worship of lord Parshuram who is also famous as Jamdagnya.It is cele- brated on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month-vaishakh.Before commencing the rituals, a devotee should purify himself by taking a bath and then worship an idol of lord Parshuram kept on a pot filled with water.While worshipping he should make offerings of various articles tothe deity-flowers, sandalwood,ardhya,etc.It is mandatory to remain awake for the whole night.On the following day,he should donate the idol to a brahmin.A devotee who observes a fast on this day gets all his wishes fulfilled and attains to Brahma loka.


KALKI-DWADASHI VRATA
A devotee should commence this austerity by observing a fast on the eleventh day of the bright half of the hindu month-bhadrapad and break it on the following day-dwadashi.He should worship lord Kalki with appropriate rituals.As per the norms of the rituals,the idol of lord Kalki is placed on a pot which is filled with water.This idol is donated to a learned brahmin on the following day-trayodashi.


PADMANABH-DWADASHI VRATA
This austerity is related with the worship of lord Padmanabh-an epithet of lord Vishnu and is observed on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month-ashwin.One important charecteristic of the ritual is that all the organs of lord Padmanabh is worshipped.The idol is placed on a pot filled with water and while worshipping offerings of various articles are made-flowers,fruits,sandalwood,etc.On the following day the idol is donated to a brahmin.One who observes a fast on this day enjoys a prosperous life and attains to the abode of lord Padmanabh.


DHARNI-VRATA
This particular austerity is observed in the hindu month of Kartik.The rituals commence by worshipping various organs of lord Narayan amidst the chanting of different mantras which are as follows-
om sahastra shirse namah – head
om purushay namah – arms
om vishwa rupine namah – throat
om gyanastray namah – weapons
om shri vatsaaya namah – chest
om jagad grasishnave namah – abdomen
om divya murtaye namah – waist
om sahastra paday namah – feet.
Similarly,srikrishna dwadashi is celebrated in the hindu month of Ashadh,shukla- paksha.A devotee should worship lord Krishna on this day and observe a fast.


BUDDHA-DWADASHI VRATA
Lord Buddha is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.The austerity begins on the eleventh day of the bright half of the hindu month-shravan.On this day lord Vishnu is worshipped with appropriate rituals and by making offerings of various articles like flowers,fruits,incense,etc.The following mantras should be chanted while worshipping the various organs of lord Vishnu -
om damodaray namah – feet
om hrishikeshay namah – waist
om sanatanay namah – abdomen
om shri vatsadharine namah – chest
om chakrapanaye namah – arms
om haraye namah – throat
om manju keshay namah – head
om bhadray namah – top-knot(shikha).
After the accomplishment of the rituals,the idol should be donated to a brahmin.


SUBH-VRATA
This particular austerity on the first day of the hindu month-margashirsh.It is related with the worship of lord Vishnu and the rituals have some special characteristics-having one meal on the eleventh day of the month(ekadashi),donating barley to brahmins,worshipping the idol of goddess Prithvi on ‘ekadashi’, etc.The austerity concludes on dwadashi. On ekadashi,goddess Prithvi is also worshipped alongwith lord Vishnu.Both the idols are installed side by side and covered with white clothes.After that some rice grains are scattered in front of both the idols. As per the norms of the rituals,a devotee is required to remain awake for the whole night.Next morning,he should invite twenty-four brahmins and feed them.He should also donate a cow,apparels,ornaments,an umbrella,woodden sandle and similar articles to them.A devotee who observes a fast on this auspicious day enjoys prosperity




GUD-DHENU DAAN
As it is amply clear by the name,in this ritual some jaggery is taken and given the shape of a cow and a calf.The land is purified by coating it with cow-dung.After that,a black deer-skin is spread on that purified area.Some kusha grass are then spread on the dear-skin and covered with a piece of cloth.Now,both the idols of cow and it’s calf are worshipped with appropriate rituals after which they are donated to brahmins.A devotee should also should also donate shoes,umbrella and if possible,a gold ring to brahmins.Donating a Gud-Dhenu enables a man to attain to such divine world where sages and hermits dwell.By doing thus,he also liberates his ancestors and the future generations.


SHARKARA-DHENU DAAN
In this ritual,idols of a cow and a calf are made from sugar.After being worshipped they should be donated to a brahmin.A devotee should live only on sugar for a day.Donating a Sharkara-Dhenu liberates a man from all his sins. Similarly,donating Madhu-Dhenu(made from honey),Kheer-Dhenu(made from rice and milk),Dadhi-Dhenu(curd),Navneet-Dhenu(made from butter),Lavan-Dhenu(salt) and Karpas-Dhenu(cotton) are all believed to bestow incomparable virtues to a devotee.


KOKAMUKH-TEERTH
Describing the holiness of Kokamukh-teerth,lord Varah narrated a tale to Prithvi-”Once,a fisherman was trying to catch a large fish in a lake situated at Kokamukh.Suddenly,a hawk which was flying in the sky, descended down and after picking the fish in it’s beak tried to fly away.But,as the fish was a large one, the hawk could not hold it for too long.As a result,the hawk fell on the ground being unable to bear the weight of the fish.But amazingly,the hawk turned into a handsome prince as soon as it touched the ground.”
“In the meantime,the fisherman’s wife arrived there carrying some meat-pieces in her hand.A kite,which was flying in the sky tried to snatch those meat-pieces.Seeing this,the fisherman killed that kite with one shot of his arrow.In course of time,the kite took rebirth as a princess of Chandrapur.She was extremely beautiful but hated men.Similarly,the fish was reborn as a prince.As the destiny would have liked it,both of them got married.There was a dramatic change in the attitude of the princess after the marriage as she no longer hated men.On the contrary,she loved her husband so much that she dreaded the thought of separation for even a moment.”
“One day,the prince had a severe headache which showed no sign of subsiding.The princess became very worried and summoned the royal physician.The physician left no stone unturned to cure his royal physician but without any success.Somehow,the prince remembered everything about his previous birth and had a firm belief that he would be cured of his illness once he reached Kokamukh-the sacrosanct place of pilgrimage. So he decided to go there accompanied by the princess.”
“Both of them reached a place at Kokamukh where they saw the remains(skeleton)of a fish lying on the ground.The prince revealed to his wife that he was a fish in his previous birth and that the skeleton was his.Then he went on to describe the cause of his headache which according to him was due to the injury sustained in his past birth when he had been badly mauled by a hawk.The princess was aware of her past birth as a kite,so she revealed how she had been killed by a fisherman in her previous birth.She also told her husband -’Dying at Kokamukh in my previous birth prove to be a blessing to me as I was reborn as a princess.Had it not been so,I would certainly have not born as a princess.” “Both of them worshipped lord vishnu and as a result the prince was cured of his severe headache.Such is the greatness of Kokamukh-the reliever of all pains and miseries.”1


MAYAPURI (HARIDWAR)
Narrating about the sanctity of Mayapuri,lord Varah told Prithvi- “There lived a brahmin named Somsharma at Mayapuri.He was a great devotee of mine(lord sri Hari)and had an impossible desire of witnessing my divine powers by his mortal eyes.I tried to make him understand about the futility of his desire but to no avail. Finally I was left with no option but to fulfil his wish.One day Somsharma had gone to take his bath in the holy Ganges.Hardly had he taken a dip than he found himself experiencing the pangs of birth in the womb of a nishad woman.Evidently,lord sri Hari had began giving a glimpse of his divine powers to Somsharma.It was a terrible experience for him and he vowed to lead a chaste life as soon as he came out of the womb.”
“Unfortunately,he forgot everything about his vow once he took rebirth as a girl.In course of time,the girl grew up and married a young nishad.She had many children from him.One day,the nishad girl who in reality was Somsharma,went to take a bath in the holy Ganges.As soon as she entered into the river,she got transformed into a hermit.She was filled with extreme bewilderment but this was not the end,as there were more surprises to come.”
“The hermit(previously nishad and originally Somsharma)came out of thr river and looked all around in amazement.He then sat down to meditate and very soon he was engrossed in his meditation.In the evening,some sages arrived and said-’Sir! how come you are sitting here?You had gone to take a bath.We became anxious and started searching for you when you did not return till evening.” “The hermit was bewildered by the turn of events as he was aware of every incident that had occured.He was also well aware that he had spent fifty years as nishad-woman but according to the statements of hermits he had been absent only for few hours.The hermit was totally confused about his real identity.I(lord Varah) felt pity on his miserable condition and decided to lift my magic spell.I asked him whether his wish of witnessing my divine powers had been fulfilled or not.The hermit eulogized me and agreed that it was impossible for any mortal to understand the ways of Aimighty.I then blessed him and transformed him into Somsharma once again.”
Such is the grandeur of Mayapuri-the sacrosanct place where lord sri Hari has manifested his divine powers.A devotee who goes on a pilgrimage to Mayapuri never gets entangeled in the worldly illusions.


KUBJAAMRAK TEERTH (HRISHIKESH)
Describing how Kubjaamrak teerth derived it’s name,lord Varah told Prithvi-”In satyayuga,at the time when the earth was still submerged in water,I had killed two mighty demons named Madhu and Kaitabh.After killing both the demons I looked all around and found sage Raimya engrossed in his penance.Sage Raimya was a great devotee of mine.
I was extremely impressed and watched him hiding myself behind a mango tree.The mango tree could not bear the weight of my hands and became curved.This is how Kubjaamrak teerth derived it’s name.Very soon,sage Raimya found out that I was hiding behind that mango tree.He eulogized me and requested me to to grant a special status to Kubjaamrak teerth among all the holy places.I blessed him and thus Kubjaamrak teerth became one of the holiest places.There are several other holy places situated in the vicinity of Kubjaamrak teerth-Manas-teerth,Maya-teerth,Sarvakamik- teerth,Purnamukh teerth,Agni-teerth,Shukra-terth,Manasar teerth,Sapta samudrak-teerth,etc.All these holy places including Kubjaamrak teerth are capable of giving salvation to a man.”


BADRIKASHRAM
Continuing with his tale,lord Varah told Prithvi-”There is a sacred place in the Himalayas which is very inaccessible.It is famously known as Badrikashram and holds an important place among all the holy places.One who makes a pilgrimage to that place gets all his wishes fulfilled.There is a reservoir at the mountain top called Brahma kund.One who observes fast for three consecutive nights and takes a holy dip in that reservoir attains virtues similar to “Agnishtom yagya”.One who takes his last birth in it’s vicinity certainly attains to my abode.There are several other holy places in the vicinity of Badrikashram like Agnisatya pad, Indra loka,Satya loka,Chatuhsrota,Ved dhar,etc.Ved dhar is the same place where the vedas had manifested from lord Brahma’s mouth.


MANDAR TEERTH
Mandar teerth is named after a celestial tree called Mandar.This sacred place of pilgrimage is situated at the foothills of vindhya mountain.There is a large mandar tree overthere which has some unique qualities.This tree is visible only on auspicious days of dwadashi and chaturdashi and becomes invisible on the rest of the days.Some other holy places situated in the vicinity of mandar teerth are Prapan,Modan,Baikunthkaran,etc.
There is another holy place called mandar but it is situated on the Meru mountain.This holy place is also known as’Syamantpanchak’One important characteristic of this holy place is that there are huge rocks resembling a mace,a wheel,a plough and a conch.

SOMESHWAR LINGA
Chandra deva had once performed an austere penance to get absolved from the curse of his Daksha Prajapati his father-in-law.During the course of his penance Chandra deva made a shiva linga and worshipped it.Finally lord Shiva appeared and agreed to dwell in that particular shiva linga as per the request of Chandra deva. There is a reservoir situated to the south of Someshwar temple which is believed to liberate a man from all his sins.In course of time this place became famous as Someshwar linga.

SHALGRAM KSHETRA
Prithvi requested lord Varah to shed light on the famous penance which sage Shalankayan had performed.Lord Varah narrated the following tale-”Long long ago sage Shalankayan did an austere penance to please me(lord Vishnu).There was a ‘sal’ tree nearby and the sage was ignorant of the fact that I dwell in that sacred tree.When I appeared,he requested me to bless him with a divine son who had qualities like lord Shiva.I revealed to him that his son(Nandikeshwar)had already manifested and was presently staying at ‘Vraja’(Mathura).I also revealed to him that although I was present in the ‘sal’ tree but he was unware of this fact because of his ignorance.In course of time,this very place became famous as ‘Shalgram teerth’.A devotee who makes a pilgrimage to this holy place is liberated from all kinds of worldly bondages.”




RURU KSHETRA
Lord Varah told Prithvi-”This holy place is named after Ruru-the daughter of Devadutt and an apsara named Pramlocha.Devadutt came from the lineage of sage Bhrigu.Once,Devadutt did an austere penance to please lord Shiva.His penance continued for ten thousand years.Indra became worried and sent a beautiful apsara named Pramlocha to disturb his penance.Unfortunately,Devadutt fell into the trap laid by Indra.He was infatuated by Pramlocha’s divine beauty and enjoyed an intimate life with her for a long time.Finally,he realized his mistake and regretted his foolishness.He decided to abandon Pramlocha and recommence his penance.Ultimately,he was successful in pleasing lord Shiva and attaining to shiva loka.”
“Meanwhile,Pramlocha who was pregnant, gave birth to a girl child and died.The baby girl was nurtured and brought up by a deer named Ruru after whom she got her own name.In course of time Ruru after Ruru grew up and decided to please lord Vishnu by her penance.She did an austere penance for one hundred years by remaining still at a place.At last I(lord Vishnu)became pleased by her total devotion and appeared before her.She requested me to name that place on her.I blessed her and thus that place became famous as Ruru kshetra.”


GONISHKRAMAN TEERTH
Lord Shiva told Prithvi-”Gonishkraman teerth is situated in the himalayas.Sage Aurva had his hermitage at this sacred place which was incidentally burnt to ashes by lord Shiva.Aurva cursed Shiva as the result of which Shiva started wandering throughout the world in a restless manner.”
“Once,lord Shiva visited the hermitage of sage Aurvanam accompanied by his consort-Uma.The purpose of the visit was to seek Aurvanam’s help in curing his restlessness.Sage Aurvanam advised him to have a bath with the milk of surabhi cow.I(lord Vishnu) then brought down seventy-seven surabhi cows from the heaven and thus helped Shiva take bath with their milk.At last,Shiva’s reastlessness came to an end and this holy place became famous as ‘Gonishkraman’ teerth.”



STOOTSWAMI TEERTH
Lord Varah then went on to describe the greatness of Stootswami teerth and told Prithvi-”I shall incarnate as Krishna at this place in the era of dwapar.I shall take birth in the house of Vasudeva and Devaki.There is a pond situated at about 5 kosas from Stootswami teerth.Anybody who take holy dips in it’s holy water for five days becomes absolved of all his sins.


DWARKA
Lord Varah told Prithvi-”There is a holy place called ‘Panchsar’ in Dwarka.Anybody who stays there for six days and takes holy dips in ‘Panchasar’ enjoys all the pleasures of life.Dwarka is situated at the sea-shore and the crocodiles living there never trouble people taking their bath.These crocodiles also have one unique characteristic-they never eat anything that is offered to them by a sinner but unhesitatingly accept anything from a virtuous person.There are several other holy places in and around Dwarka-Panchpind,Hanskunda,Hansteerth,Chakrateerth,Raivatak, Vishnu-sankaram,etc.Vishnu sankaram is the very place where I,in my incarnation as Krishna would be killed by a hunter named Jara.


SANANDOOR TEERTH
This holy place is situated between Malay mountain and the ocean. Nearby,there is another holy place called Sangaman where sri Ram while on his way to lanka had confronted the ocean.There are also many other sacred places in the vicinity like Shakrasar, Shurparak,etc.There are hermitages of sri Ram and Parshuram at Shurparak.


LOHARGAL TEERTH
Lord Varaha told Prithvi-”There is a region inhabited by mlecchas,situated at the distance of some 30 yojans.This region is surrounded by Himalaya mountain in it’s central as well as southern parts.Lohargal teerth is situated near this region and is well protected by nature which makes it very inaccessible. Once,demons tried to invade this holy place but all of them were killed by me(sri Hari).I also protected Brahma and Rudra from the wrath of the demons and named that place Lohargal.Lohargal is the most sacred place of pilgrimage and spread in the area of 25 yojans.It is a self manifested place and has immense religious significance.


MATHURA
Describing the majesty of Mathura,lord Varaha told Prithvi- “Mathura is very dear to me because this is the very place where I shall be taking incarnation as Krishna.Mathura is the most sacro-sanct place and no other holy place can be compared to it. There are many other holy places in and around Mathura-Vishranti, Surya teerth,Koti teerth,Vayu teerth,etc.Each one of them has it’s own religious significance.A holy pond named ‘Vatsa-krindan’ lies in Mathura region.Anybody taking a holy dip in that holy pond is certain to attain to the abode of ‘Vayu’.In the vicinity lies Vrindavan,the holiest place which would be witness to many of my divine plays.”


CHAKRA TEERTH
It is situated to the north of Mathura and lord Bhadreshwar has his dwelling place overthere.A person who makes a pilgrimage to Chakra teerth and observes a fast for a day becomes absolved of heinous of sins.


KAPIL TEERTH
Describing the origin of ‘Kapil Varah’(an idol of lord Varah made by sage Kapil)lord Varah told Prithvi-”Sage Kapil was a great devotee of mine.He had made my idol and worshipped it regularly. Later on,Indra acquired it and started worshipping it.The demon king Ravan took it to lanka after defeating Indra in a battle.In treta yuga I(sri Ram)defeated him and made Vibhishan,his brother the king of Lanka.This way,the idol came under the possession of Vibhishan but he agreed to part with it at my request.This was how I brought that idol to Ayodhya.After reaching Ayodhya,I presented it to Shatrughan as a reward for killing Lavanasur. Later on,while Shatrughan was going to Mathura he carried that idol along with him.”


GOVARDHAN TEERTH
Lord Varah,continuing with the description of various holy places told Prithvi about the magnificence of Govardhan parvat- “Govardhan parvat is situated near Mathura.It will have great religious importance because it will witness a great feat of mine in dwapar yuga.I shall lift this mountain to protect people from the incessant rain caused by Indra.There are numerous holy places of great religious significance in the vicinity of Govardhan mountain like Indra teerth,Yama teerth,Varun teerth and Kuber teerth.There is also a famous fresh-water lake called ‘Kadamb khand’where people perform tarpan of their ancestors.”


GOKARN TEERTH
Lord Varah told Prithvi about the greatness of Gokarna teerth- “Long long ago there lived a vaishya named Vasukarn at Mathura. Sushila,his wife was deeply religious but inspite of that she was issueless.One day,she had gone to take her bath in river Saraswati where she found many women taking their bath.The children of these women were playing nearby.Sushila became very sad and being unable to control her emotions started crying.”
“A sage saw her crying and asked her as to what made her so sad. Sushila narrated her woeful tale to him.The sage took pity on her and advised her to worship lord Gokarna.The sage said-’You will definitely be blessed with a son.’ Sushila went home and narrated the whole incident to her husband.Both of them started worshipping lord Gokarna Mahadev with total devotion.After ten years,a son was born to them. Vasukarn named that child after lord Gokarna to express his gratitude to the deity.”
“In course of time,Gokarna grew up and got married but even after a long time he did not have a progeny.So,his father married him to three more women,one after another, but even this did not prove to be of any help to Gokarna because he remained a sonless person.This made Gokarna very sad and he engaged himself in various charitable activities thinking that the virtues thus attained might bless him in begetting a son.He got constructed many temples and ordered wells to be dug up for the benifit of the travellers.Very soon,all his money was spent and he became worried about the future of his family.So,he decided to go to distant places to earn wealth.” “Once,while on his journey he met a divine parrot who possessed tremendous knowledge.Gokarna was very much impressed by the parrot’s knowledge.He asked the parrot from where had it imbibed such divine knowledge.The parrot revealed to him that he was Shukodar in it’s previous birth and was a learned man.He had attained the form of parrot due to the curse of sage Shukdev. But,sage Shukdev had been kind enough to allow him to retain all the knowledge in his next birth.The parrot also told Gokarna how it had been kept inside a cage by a fowler and requested him to help it out from the captivity.”
“Gokarna requested the fowler to give the learned parrot to him. The fowler agreed but asked for all the virtues attained by Gokarna in return.Gokarna happily agreed to donate all his virtues and proceeded with that parrot.Now, Gokarna had become bereft of all his virtues he had attained so far.Once,while he was on a voyage in connection with his trade the ship was caught in a severe cyclone and the chances of survival looked very bleak.All his fellow travellers had a misconception that they had been struck by the misfortune only because of Gokarna’s sins.The parrot was saddened after hearing what people said about his master.It decided to help him and flew away towards north.While flying it found a vishnu temple where many divine women and other creatures had gathered to worship.The descendants of Jatayu were also among them.The parrot narrated the woeful tale of his master to all of them.All the divine birds decided to help Gokarna.”
“The divine birds instructed the parrot to follow them and then flew towards the place where Gokarna’s ship was stranded.Finally, they were successful in rescuing Gokarna and bringing him back to the same temple.Gokarna worshipped lord Keshav and performed the rituals of tarpan in the name of his ancestors.In the meantime,all the divine women also arrived there to worship.They were pleased to meet Gokarna and gave him divine food to eat.They also allowed him to stay there for as long as he wished.”
“Meanwhile the ship managed to reach the sea shore.Gokarna’s companions met his parents and narrated the whole incident to him. Gokarna’s parents were filled with sorrow at the fate of their son.On the other hand,Gokarna continued to live in that temple for a long period.He was worried about his father as it had been a long time since he saw him.He sent the parrot to bring his news.The parrot flew away to Mathura and met his father-Vasukarn. Vasukarn thanked the parrot for saving his son’s life.The parrot then flew back on his return journey and gave the good news to Gokarna.”
“One day Gokarna found the divine ladies extremely sad.When asked,they told him that the king of Ayodhya had destroyed the beautiful gardens of Mathura and this was the reason for their sadness. Gokarna assured them that he would convince the king to abandon his evil plan if he got a chance to meet him.The divine women then provided Gokarna with a divine aircraft boarded on which he reached Mathura.Gokarna met the king and managed to convince him against destroying beautiful gardens.The king was extrtemely impressed by his knowledge and presented great amount of wealth to him.This way all the divine women became happy once again.”
“Gokarna then went home and met his family members.His parents and his wives were very pleased to see him.Gokarna then got constructed a shukdev temple to honour his saviour-the learned parrot.It was only because of that parrot that he could acquire such wisdom and knowledge.To express his gratitude to the fowler he donated all the virtues he had acquired by taking bath in the holy confluence(triveni) because had it not been for the fowler he would never have got the knowledgeable parrot.Gokarna lived happily for a long time.”




IDOL MADE OF WOOD
Prithvi requested lord Varah to describe the proper methods of installing various types of idols. Lord Varah replied that a devotee desirous of making a wooden idol must select the wood of ‘Bassia latifolia’ for his purpose.The wood should be purified and then given shape as per the appearance of the deity.The idol is then installed in a temple amidst the performance of appropriate .During installation ceremony various articles like camphor,vermillion, sandalwood,incense,etc.are offered to the deity.The swastika mark is a sign of auspiciousness so the devotee must keep this in mind while giving shape to the idol.
This swastika mark must be carved out on the idol.Similarly,other signs of lord Vishnu like ‘srivatsa’ and’kaushtubh’ should also be carved out on the idol.Lord Vishnu is then invoked and requested to dwell within that idol by chanting mantras.After the deity has been invoked, the ‘wood’ no longer remains a lifeless structure but it becomes the embodiment of the deity.The idol is then considered to be fit for worship.While worshipping, a devotee should offer a bhoga of kheer to the deity.Burning a ghee or sesame-oil lamp in front of the deity is considered good.The devotee should then circumambulate around the temple premise.While circumambulating, he should keep on chanting the sacred mantra ‘om namo narayanay’.The idol thus installed should be worshipped daily without failure.”


STONE- IDOL
“A proficient sculptor should be chosen to carve out the deity’s shape from a pure and spotless stone.First of all the sculptor should clearly draw the outline of deity’s appearance on the stone with a marker and then carefully carve it out from the stone.The idol is then purified by sprinkling ‘akshat’ on the deity’s idol.While worshipping a devotee should burn a ghee lamp and invoke lord Vishnu to dwell in that idol by chanting the sacred mantra-om namo narayanay.The installation of idol being complete,he should observe a fast for the whole night.Next morning,after finishing his daily chores he should put on white clothes and change his old ‘yagyopavit’ with a new one.The idol thus made is considered fit to be worshipped.Purva-bhadrapad is considered to be the best time for the installation of a stone-idol.During the course of installation ceremony,a devotee should live either on milk or cereal like barley.The rituals of worship consist of numerous activities like lighting four lamps in front of the deity,keeping four small pots each filled up with articles like ‘panchagavya’,water,sandalwood and milk.The rituals of worship are considered to be incomplete without the chantings of vedic mantras.”


EARTHEN AND COPPER IDOLS
“A devotee should carefully make a beautiful earthen idol without any sign of crack.The most auspicious time for the installation of an earthen idol is said to be during ‘shravan nakshatra’.An invocation is made to the deity to dwell within the idol after which ablution of the idol is performed with the help of various articles like holy water,panchagavya,sandalwood,etc.The rituals of worship are similar to that of woodden or stone-idol.”
“The best time for the installation of copper idol is said to be during ‘chitra’ nakshatra.The idol should be installed facing north and should be purified with the help of holy water, panchagavya,etc.Then the deity is invoked to dwell within the idol.The invocation is made by chanting sacred mantras.Now,the idol is fit to be worshipped.The rituals are same as mentioned earlier.”


BRONZE IDOL
“The most auspicious time for the installation of bronze-idol is said to be during jyeshtha nakshatra.The idol should be installed facing north.At the time of installation the devotee must not forget to keep four small pots in front of the deity,each filled with articles like’panchgavya”water,sandalwood and honey.The rituals of invocation as well as worship are same as mentioned earlier.”


SILVER AND GOLD IDOLS
“The rituals for the installation of silver or gold idols are similar to that of copper or bronze idol. Prithvi requested lord Varah to reveal the name of deities whom a devotee can worship at home.Lord Vishnu replied-”A devotee can worship any deity at hom e but worship of two shiva lingas is prohibited.Similarly,a devotee should never worship three shaligrams or three durga idols or two surya idols.A devotee should also never worship shaligrams adding up to odd numbers- 3,5,7,etc.But,there is no harm in worshipping one shaligram.A devotee must never worship broken or cracked idol because it does not bode well for the worshipper.A ‘chakra’ mark on the shaligram is considered as very auspicious and it can be worshipped even if the idol is broken or cracked.The virtues attained by worshipping twelve shaligrams are similar to that of worshipping twelve crore shiva lingas.Partaking of ‘charnamrit’ that has been offered to shaligram absolves a man from all his sins.But,a devotee should never partake any ‘prasad’ that has been offered to shiva linga. Anybody who either buys or sells a shaligram is certain to go to hell.”
RITUALS PERTAINING TO LAST RITES
PITRA YAGYA
Prithvi requested lord Varaha to define the meaning of ‘Pitra’ yagya(rituals pertaining to last rite) and it’s significance. Lord Varaha replied-”Sage Nimi was the first person to perform the the rituals of pitra-yagya after the death of his son Aatreya.Sage Aatreya is famous for his penance which he did for ten thousand years.When Aatreya died,his father-Nimi was filled with grief.Nimi tried his best to overcome his sorrow but to no avail.He mourned his son’s death for three consecutive nights.He thought that perhaps the performance of ‘shraddh’ rituals would be the best means to get rid of his sorrow.So,he decided to perform the ‘shraddh’ rituals on the twelfth day of ‘magh’.On that day,he invited many brahmins and fed them with the same delicacies which Aatreya would have liked to eat.He performed all the rituals well within a day which would otherwise have taken a week to perform.He also performed the rituals of ‘pinda daan’ by donating cereals,vegetables and fruits.While performing the rituals of pinda-daan,he took some kusha grass in his hands and after pointing it towards south chanted Aatreya’s name and gotra.In the night,Nimi sat on the seat of deer skin underneath which kusha grass had been spread.He then tried to concentrate on the tip of the nose.But,inspite of all his efforts there was no sign of mental peace he was so desperately seeking and thought of his dead son continued to torment him.”
“Nimi was troubled by a guilt that perhaps he had set a bad precedent by performing the rituals of pinda daan because nobody in the past had ever performed the rituals.He was worried as to what would the coming generation think of him.He was so much troubled by the thought that he could not sleep for the whole night.Next morning he got up,still worried.He remained in a disturbed state of mind for many days.At last,when it became too much for him to handle,he decided to end his life.In the meantime,sage Narad arrived there and assured him that there was nothing to be worried about as whatever he had done was most appropriate.Narad also convinced him that even his(Nimi’s)dead father would vouch for this fact.”
“Nimi remembered his father who had died long ago.His father revealed to him that the rituals which he had performed were in fact the rituals of ‘pitra-yagya’.Describing the importance of pitra-yagya Nemi’s father told him- ‘The name pitra-yagya’ was given by none other than lord Brahma himself who was the first one to perform the rituals.Later on,lord Brahma had described the rituals to Narad and this is why Narad was convinced that you had committed no wrong.Nemi’s father then described as to what should be done with regard to the person who lay dying- ‘When the death approaches a person looses his consciousness and becomes extremely fearful.At that time,a brahmin should constantly study the scriptures so that he could die in peace.Donating a cow helps to pacify the soul of a dead person.If sacred mantras are whishpered in the ears of a dying person he dies peacefully.When the death seems imminent,a morsel of ‘Madhupark’(mixture of curd,water,honey and clarified butter) should be kept in the mouth of the dying person.While doing this one should pray to the almighty to liberate the dead man’s soul.’ ‘The dead body should then be carried and kept under a tree where it is purified by smearing ghee,oil,perfumes,etc.It is then carried to creamation ground and kept at the bank of a river-feet pointing towards south.After this,the dead body should be bathed by remembering all the sacred places of pilgrimage.It should then be kept on the pyre-feet pointing south.The pyre should be lit and the following prayer should be said-O Agnideva!I pray to you to burn all the sins committed by this person so that he attains to heaven.Now,circumambulation around the pyre is made and the pyre is lit towards the head side.’
‘After consigning the dead body to flames,the rituals of ‘tarpan’ and ‘pinda-daan’ are performed.All the people assembled there should purify themselves before returning home.The period starting from the time the dead body is consigned to flames till the next ten days is called ‘Ashaucha’.It is applicable to all the relatives coming from the same gotra of the deceased.’




ASHAUCHA AND PINDA KALP
‘Ashaucha’ means impurity,so it is the period during which the son of the deceased is considered to be impure.The period begins from the day on which the death has occured and continues for the following ten days.’Pinda-daan’ means offering certain kind of food to the deceased in the belief that it would satiate his soul.
Lord Varah,while describing about the rituals which are supposed to be performed during the period of ashaucha and also the rituals of making pinda daan,told Prithvi-”The observer of shraddh rituals should take his bath in a river on the third day from the day on which death has occured.After taking his bath,he should offer three ‘pindas’(consisting of cereal flour) as well as three palmful of water into the river in the name of the deceased.On the fourth,fifth,sixth and seventh days,he should make offerings of one pinda and one palmful of water in the name of the deceased. He should never make offerings of the Pindas at the same place on the contrary he should select diferent spots for this purpose.”
“On the tenth day he should get his hair tonsured and change his clothes. His relatives (same-gotra) should take their bath after applying an ointment prepared from sesame seeds, amla and oil on their bodies. ‘Ekodishta Shraddh’ is performed on the eleventh day. For this ritual to be performed, the concerned person should first purify himself and then offer Pinda to the deceased person as well as other manes. The rituals of Ekodishta Shraddh are same for all the four castes. The brahmins should be invited and fed on the thirteenth day. While feeding the brahmins a religious vow (Sankalpa) is taken in the name of the deceased person.”
“For the purpose of offering ‘pinda’, an ‘altar’ should be made at river-bank or any other suitable place. The rituals can be performed either facing south or east. Offering 64 (Pindas) is considered to be ideal. Pinda daan can also be made under a peepal tree but the place should be well protected from the reach of animals like dogs, cock, pigs, etc. It is believed that if these animals visit the place where ‘Pinda daan’ is being made then it becomes difficult for the soul to attain liberation. The rituals of Pinda daan should be performed at a pure place otherwise there is a fear of soul going to hell. The name and the gotra of the deceased person should be pronounced while performing the rituals. After the rituals are complete all the assembled persons may sit down to have their meal.”
Donating things like an umbrella, clothes, cereals, ornaments to the brahmins are believed to be auspicious.


THE FLAWED SHRADDH AND ITS PREVENTION
Prithvi requested Lord Varaha to describe about the mistakes committed during shraddh rituals and how they could be prevented–
Lord Varah replied—It is a grave sin to partake of a meal meant for the soul of the deceased person. Anybody who has committed this sin should atone for his sin by observing a fast for full day and a night. He also has to perform many other rituals like taking bath in a river flowing eastward, performing tarpan, making offerings of sesame seeds into the fire, Shanti path, Mangal path etc. Partaking of ‘Pancha-gavya’ (a mixture of cow’s milk, cow’s urine,cow-dung, curd and charified butter) or ‘Madhupark’ is also believed to purify such a person.”
“Similarly, showing disrespect to the invited brahmins is also considered to be a grave sin. Donating articles to unworthy brahmins is also considered to be an inappropriate act. The performer of Shraddh should refrain from all these acts.”


PREPARATION OF ‘MADHUPARK’
While describing the method of preparing Madhupark, Lord Varaha told Prithvi–”Madhupark” manifested from the right half of my body at the time when the process of creation began. This is the reason why it is so pure. Anybody who makes offering of Madhupark in the course of my worship,attains to my abode. For the preparation of Madhupark honey, curd and ghee are mixed in equal proportion. While preparing it sacred mantras in my praise should be constantly chanted. Giving some Madhupark to a dying man liberates his soul.”



NACHIKETA’S EXPERIENCE
Once, Janmejay asked Sage Vaishampayan about Yamrajpuri and it’s location. He also wanted to know as to what should a man do so that he does not have to go there.
Sage Vaishampayan narrated the tale of Nachiketa, one of the few blessed persons to have visited yamarajpuri with his mortal body–”Long Long ago, there lived a Sage named Uddyalak. He had a son named Nachiketa. One day, while Uddyalak was performing a’Yagya’, Nachiketa arrived there and disturbed him by repeatedly asking-’To whom will you give me?’ Sage Uddyalak, in a fit of rage cursed Nachiketa to go to hell. But after he cooled down, he regretted for having cursed his dear son. Nachiketa being an obedient son was ready to go to hell. His father tried his best to convince him against doing this but to no avail. Nachiketa assured his father that he would return safely after visiting Yampuri.”
“Thus, Nachiketa went to Yampuri and met Yamaraj—the lord of death. He stayed there for some days and witnessed all the events taking place over there. Ultimately he sought yamaraj’s permission to return. When he returned home, his father was extremely delighted to find his son alive. Very soon, the place was thronged by many people and everybody was curious to know about his experiences during his stay in the hell. Nachiketa replied–Sinners like liars, greedy people, jealous people, caluminators, treacherers etc, go to hell. Similarly, one who kills a child or a woman, or kills a brahmin, or one who criticizes the Vedas, or lends money on interest, or one who abandons his parents or faithful wife, or one who ciritizes his guru, or one who sells liquor, or a brahmin who sells Vedas, goes to hell and tastes the fruits of his sinul actions.”
“Yamapuri is made of gold and spread in the area of one thousand yojan. It is well fortified and it is impossible for anybody to tresspass its territory. I saw sinners experiencing unbearable torture over there. I also saw couple of rivers flowing there–Pushpodaka, at the bank of which there are trees in abundance and Vaivaswati, which flows through the central part of Yamapuri. Vaivaswati contains divine water which never dries up. Yamapuri has two entrances—one through which only virtuous souls like sages and hermits are allowed to enter and the second through which sinners enter Yamapuri. The former entrance is such that even heat loses its quality in its vicinity. The latter entrance is situated in the south and has a large iron gate. I also saw three large ditches called ‘Audoombar’, ‘Avirchiman’ and ‘Uchchavach’ which are meant for the sinners. Sinners are also forced to pass through the flames that continuously keep on errupting to the west of Yamapuri.
“I saw a grand assembly hall where truthful and virtuous people live. It is graced by the presence of sages like Manu, Vyas, Atri, Gautam, Angira, Bhrigu and others. There, I saw a goddess who is worshipped by Yamaraj. The goddess controls all the functions of the world. I also saw the ferocious Kala. He possesses extreme anger and is very powerful. Time does not have any influence on him as the result of which he enjoys eternal youth. I also saw various types of demons and giants in the hell.”
I saw many messengers of Yamaraj punishing the sinners. Some were beating the sinners with sticks in their hands while some sinners were being forced to enter fire. I saw all the sinner wailing and repenting for their sinful deeds. Many sinners were kept at a very dark place where there was no light. Those who had committed graver sins were put in boiling oil. I saw many sinners being given all sorts of severe punishment. I saw a place where iron nails were spread all around. This was the place where people who breached the modesty of women were given punishment.”
“I saw ten different hells–Tapta, Mahatapt, Raurav, etc; Each of the latter is more ferocious than the former. The sinners are sent to all these hells on the basis of the gravity of their sins. Yamaraj himself instructs chitragupta on the punishment to be given to these sinners.”


KARMA VIPAK
Karma Vipak means the fruits one reaps according to his or her Karma. While continuing with the description of various aspects of hell, Nachiketa told the assembled sages–At yamapuri, Chitragupta goes through the record of all the deeds, committed by a man when he was alive and brings into the notice of Yamaraj.
Yamaraj then decides upon the punishment to be given to the concerned soul. The punishment can be varied like if the soul was virtuous then it would be sent to heaven, or the soul may even be made to take birth as a tree, or an animal or any other creature. Sinners like those who had remained disinclined towards any kind of virtuous deed, or those who had abandoned there faithful wives, were sent to the hell named Raurav. The souls of virtuous people were sent to the heaven. Those who had extreme attachment to women took rebirth as human beings. People who had attained martyrdom while fighting a battle were sent to Indrapuri. Those who had engaged themselves in virtuous deeds throughout their lives were rewarded for their good deeds.”


VIRTUES OF CHASTITY
First of all,the area is purified by coating it with cow-dung after which a black deer-skin is spread on it alongwith ‘kusha grass’.Two pots-one large and the other a small one are placed side by side.These pots are filled with sugarcane juice and symbolize ‘Rasa-Dhenu’ and the calf.Four sugarcanes symbolizing the four legs of ‘Rasa-Dhenu’ are fixed at four corners.After that,one small silver piece is placed at the base of each of the sugarcanes symbolizing hoofs.Rasa-Dhenu is then adorned with colourful cloths and flowers.Again,four small pots filled with sesame seeds are kept at the four corners near Rasa-Dhenu.After the worship is accomplished,Rasa-Dhenu is donated to a brahmin.A person who donates Rasa-Dhenu is liberated from all his sins and all his ancestors as well as the generations to come attain to the Heaven.





LIBERATION FROM SINS
Narad asked Yamaraj about the reason why joy was so elusive to human beings. He also wanted to know about the reasons for man’s sorrows.
Yamaraj replied—Man’s destiny is defined by his own actions. He has to taste the fruits of his actions. He has to taste the fruits of his each and every actions. So when a man finds himself amidst sorrows he must realize that he is reaping the fruits of his past actions. If a man commits virtuous deeds then joy is experienced but sinful deeds invite sorrows and miseries. Desires force a man to take countless birth. A man takes birth on the basis of his past Karmas. God does not interfere in this matter. So, only foolish people curse God for their miseries.They forget that their sorrows are of their own making. A man can liberate himself from sins by engaging in virtuous deeds and abstaining from sinful deeds. A man should perform his duties with a sense of detachment,because attachment results into the transmigration of the soul.
Lord Brahma has declared that ‘Shishumar chakra’ is the symbolic expression of his own self. Anybody desirous of getting liberated from his sins must make an image of this chakra and worship it. One who visualises this chakra within his body, too, becomes liberated from his sins. Mental worship of various planets (Jupiter, Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Mars etc) Visualized at the various points of this chakra helps a man to become liberated from all the sins. Similarly, practising Pranayam for hundred times helps a man to become liberated from all the sins.The most easiest way to become liberated from sins is by engaging oneself in the servitude of a cow. This deed is as virtuous as making pilgrimages to all the sacred places together. Observing fast on Ekadashi also helps a man to become liberated from his sins.” Having finished his narrations, Nachiketa, looked at the sages, who were listening with rapt attention. The sages thanked Nachiketa for enlightening them on the sacred place called Yamapuri.
GOKARNESHWAR
The famous battle of ‘Tarakamaya’ had ended. The deities after having defeated the demons had once again regained the control of heaven. Lord Brahma being satisfied with the postive outcome of the war was engrossed in his meditation when Sanat Kumar arrived and asked–”O Lord! I am anxious to know about the origin of three famous Shiva lingas–Uttar-Gokarn, Dakshin-Gokarn and Shringeshwar. What made Lord Shiva to take the form of a deer (Gokarn)? Please enlighten me on all these subjects.”
Lord Brahma replied–The northern peak of Mandarachal mountain is famously known as Munjawan. This place is divinely beautiful and the stones and rocks over there glitter like diamonds. It has many rivers, lakes and springs. The atmosphere overthere is so serene that even the deities are tempted to have their abodes at that place. This sacred place is graced by the presence of ‘Sthanu Maheshwar’.
Nandi– the lord of all the Ganas of Shiva, was a virtuous brahmin in treta yuga. Once, he did an austere penance to realize lord Shiva. The penance lasted for one thousand years. At last Lord Shiva became pleased and appeared before him. Lord Shiva blessed Nandi with an appearance similar to him(Shiva).
Lord Shiva said– From today onwards you will be blessed with three eyes just like me. You will be worshipped by the deities and demons alike. You will be immortal and time and age will have no effect upon you. You are being granted with the lordship of all my Ganas. It will be your duty to stand guard at the entrance of my dwelling place.
Lord Shiva then informed Nandi that in a short time the deities would be visiting him(Nandi). Due to some reason Lord Shiva had pledged not to give deities an opportunity to see his physical form. So, after blessing Nandi, Shiva disappeared and went to live in Sleshmatak forest in the form of a deer. Nandi was unaware of this fact.
Meanwhile, after being blessed by Shiva, Nandi had attained a divinely radiant form. When the deities saw Nandi possessing three eyes instead of two, they immediately understood that this could not have happened without the blessing of Lord Shiva.
All the deities arrived at Munjawan peak and requested Nandi to reveal Shiva’s whereabouts. Nandi expressed his helplessness and told them that he was not aware where Shiva went after blessing him. He requested the deities to find out Shiva on their own. The deities searched for Shiva in all the three worlds but could not find him. I (Lord Brahma) was also present in the search-team of the deities.I sat down to meditate. In the deep state of meditation, I came to know that Shiva was living in the form of a deer in sleshmatak forest. I revealed this fact to the deities. All the deities then went into the sleshmatak forest and recognised Shiva living in the form of a deer. The deer (Shiva) had one horn on its head. All the deities ran towards the deer with the desire of catching hold of it. Indra held the topmost part of the horn with a firm grip while I (Lord Brahma) held its middle portion. Similarly, Lord Vishnu held the lower part. Very soon, the horn got uprooted because of the force which was being applied on it. Lord Shiva vanished out of our sight. We were left behind with three pieces of horn in our hands. We cursed ourselves for our bad luck. Suddenly, we heard Shiva’s voice instructing us to install those pieces of horns at that very place and worship them. The upper part of the horn become famous as Uttar Gokarn, while it’s middle portion became famous as Dakshin Gokarn. The part of the horn, which Vishnu installed became famous as ‘Shringeshwar’. All these three places have incomparable religious significance and are situated in Nepal. Sleshmatak forest is situated at the distance of 2 miles from the famous Pashupatinath temple.” Sanatkumar thanked Lord Brahma for enlightening him on these secret topics.


THE MEANS OF VISHNU REALIZATION
Once, Sage Agastya narrated the following tale to King Bhadrashva— One day, Narad went to Lord Vishnu and asked about the means by which a devotee could realize him. Lord Vishnu replied–Those who worship me by chanting the mantras of either ‘Purushsukta’ or ‘Vaidik Samhita’ can certainly realize me. Those who perform oblation according to the rituals of ‘Pancharatra’ can also have my divine glimpse. But, the rituals of Pancharatra yagya can be performed only by the brahmins. All the rest of the castes can realize me by devotion, chanting my name and making pilgrimage to holy places.”Sage Agastya while giving discourse to king Bhadrashwa also predicted that sinners would outnumber the virtuous ones in Kaliyuga and said–”People would abandon their respective ‘dharmas’ and the caste system would become extinct.”


LORD VISHNU–THE ALMIGHTY GOD
Once, Sage Agastya had organised a grand yagya in which he had invited all the deities and sages. Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva also went there. Agastya was puzzled as to who was the most superior among all three of them. He asked Lord Shiva in this regard. Lord Shiva replied–One who is worshipped by performing oblation- One who is the source of this universe and into whom it ultimately merges; is none other than Lord Janardhan. So he should be worshipped first of all.
He is the only one who expresses himself in three forms–Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh.Rajoguna is predominant in lord Brahma along with some quantities of Satvaguna and Tamoguna.Lord Brahma has manifested from the naval of Lord Vishnu.Tamoguna is the dominant quality in me(Rudra)with little bit of satva and rajo gunas.Narayan is the embodiment of pure satva guna.In satya yuga,He is worshipped by the means of meditation.During Teta yuga, HE is worshipped by the means of oblation.During Dwapar yuga, HE is pleased by nothing but the rituals of Pancharatra. During Kali yuga, people will worship HIM by various means. Lord Shiva’s revelations had completely satisfied Sage Agastya.


SAGE GAUTAM CURSES THE BRAHMINS
There were many sages present at the yagya organised by Agastya. Some of them asked Lord Shiva as to why he had created some scriptures which appeared so confusing to human beings. Lord Shiva revealed to them that he had done so to protect the brahmins from the curse of Sage Gautam. Then he narrated the incident as it had happened —
During ancient times, Sage Gautam did an austere penance in Dandakaranya forest. Lord Brahma became pleased and gave him some divine seeds capable of producing eternal crops. Gautam then went to Saptashring mountain and made his hermitage there. He sowed the seeds and became pleasantly surprised when he saw rice grains sprouting up withiin few moments. He lived there happily with his disciples. In course of time, the whole country was struck by famine except the place where Gautam had his hermitage.
One day, few sages arrived at Gautam’s hermitage. Gautam treated them with all the respect. These sages enjoyed the hospitality of Gautam and stayed at his hermitage till the famine phase was over. Then they decided to go back to their respective native places. When they sought Gautam’s permission,he requested him to stay for few more days. The sages then decided to use deceitful means for taking Gautam’s permission. They created a superficial cow with the help of their illussionary powers and left it near the hermitage of Gautam.
Gautam was very pleased to see that cow. He eulogised it by sprinkling water on it. Hardly had he finished his act than the cow died. All those wicked sages arrived there and cursed Gautam for killing an innocent cow. They told him that they could never live along with a person who had killed a cow. Gautam then requested those impostors to tell about the means by which he could become absolved from the heinous sin he had committed. The sages told him that the cow would become alive once Ganga water was sprinkled on its body.
Gautam once again did a tremendous penance to please Lord Shiva. When lord Shiva appeared, he requested him to give a lock of his hair. Lord Shiva agreed to give a lock of his hair to Gautam. Gautam then went to the spot where the cow’s body was lying. He sprinkled some water emanating from the hair. The illussionary cow disappeared within a moment and in its place was created a river. Right then, the sapta rishis arrived there and blessed Gautam. Meanwhile, Gautam realized that a wicked prank had been played on him by those wicked sages. He cursed those wicked sages that they would become bereft of the knowledge of Vedas and also that they would no longer be entitled to perform the vedic rituals.
The Sapta rishis requested Gautam to have mercy on those unfortunate brahmins. Gautam then declared that his curse will come true only in Kaliyuga and those brahmins will not be affected by his curse in all the remaining three yugas. The Sapta rishis came to me and informed me about whatever had happened to those unfortunate brahmins. I created ‘Shiva Sanhita’ from my breath which is similar to Vedas as far as the importance of rituals are concerned. I did this for the benediction of the brahmins. I know that brahmins would fall from grace during Kaliyuga. People would give little respect to the Vedas and create their own scriptures. Confusion would be prevalent and people would discover false religions.


PRAKRITI AND PURUSH
Once, Lord Shiva while describing about the incident when he had a divine glimpse of Lord Narayan, told Sage Agastya —
‘Purusha’ is none other than Lord Narayan himself and Prakriti is the medium through which he manifests his powers. I have been fortunate to have a divine glimpse of this Purush. Lord Brahma after having created me, instructed me to create. But, I did not know how to create. So, I decided to do penance and went into the ocean. In the ocean, I saw an entity who was no more than the size of a thumb. He was purush himself and I immediately recognized him. I started meditating on the form of that almighty–Purush. Suddenly, eleven more entities emerged before me. They were all very radiant and the water had become hot on account of the heat emanating from their bodies. I asked them as to who they were but they did not give any reply and went out of my sight. The next moment, I saw an extremely handsome man. I asked him about his identity and also about the eleven entities whom I had seen few moments ago. Those entities were the eleven Aadityas and had gone to help Lord Brahma in the process of creation. Then he said–I am Narayana–the omnipresent lord. I am blessing you with ‘divine vision’ so that you can see my divine appearance.’
When I fixed my glance at Narayan I was amazed to see the same thumb-sized Narayana standing before me. But, now He was no longer having the size of a thumb. On the contrary he had expanded his body to such an extent that He appeared like a giant. I also saw Lord Brahma sitting on a lotus flower emanating from his navel. I eulogized HIM with complete devotion. HE blessed me and said–’You are eternal and nothing is beyond your knowledge. You will be worshipped by the deities. I shall take twelve incarnations in the coming eras and shall worship you in each of my incarnation.’
Having said this, Lord Narayana disappeared. This was how I saw the divine form of the ‘Purush’–Lord Narayan.


BHUWAN-KOSH & THE ISLANDS
All the sages listened with rapt attention to the description Lord Shiva made of the Almighty Narayan. But, they had few more queries in store, so they asked Lord Shiva– “O Lord of Uma! please tell us about the expanse of the Earth- the situation of mountains and the prominent islands.”
Lord Shiva replied–”Bhuloka is situated on the surface of the Earth, while the earth itself is based on Almighty’s chest. With the desire of creating the three basic gunas—Sat, raj and Tama, the Almighty Narayan created water first of all and went into ‘yoganidra’. Then a lotus flower manifested from HIS navel on which was seated Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma then created his manasputras–Sanak, Sanandan, Sanatan and Sanatkumar all of whom were enlightened souls. Then Lord Brahma created sages like Daksha etc. Daksha’s daughter Shatarupa was married to Manu from whom she had two sons–Priyavrata and Uttanpad. Priyavrat had ten sons–Aaghnighna, Agnibahu, Medh, Medhatithi, Dhruva, Jyotishman, Dyutiman, Havya, Vayushman and Savan. He had divided the earth into seven islands and presented them to each of his seven sons. Aaghnighna became the king of Jambudweepa whereas Medhatithi, Jyotishman, Dyutiman, Havya, Vayushman and Savan became the rulers of Shakadweepa, Kraunch dweepa, Shalmalidweepa, Gomeddweepa, Plakshdweepa and Pushkar dweepa respectively.”
“Savan had two sons–Dhat and Mahaveeti, who were the rulers of ‘Dhatki’ and ‘Kaumud provinces respectively. Similarly Dyutiman had three sons–Kush, Vaidyut and Jeemutvahan. Jyotishman had seven sons–Kushal, Manugavya, Peevar, Andhra, Andhakarak, Muni and Dundubhi. Kush had seven sons–Udbhid, Venuman, Rathapal, Manu, Dhriti, Prabhakar and Papil.”
“Medhatithi too had seven sons–Nabhi, Shantmaya, Shishir, Mukhodam, Nandshiva, Kshemak and Dhruv. Nabhi’s wife was Merudevi, who had given birth to Rishabh. Rishabh was the father of Bharat upon whom the area lying south of Himalaya mountain is named.”
“Sumati was the son of Bharat. Bharat, after appointing Sumati as his successor went into the forest to do penance. The names of some prominent kings coming from the lineage of Sumati were Tej, Satsut, Indradyumna, Parmeshthi, Pratiharta, Nikhat, Unmeta, Abhav-Udgata, Prastota, Vibhu, Prithu, Anant, Gaya, Naya, Virat, Mahavirya and Sudhiman.”
“Sudhiman had one hundred sons. This way the population continued to grow. The four yugas–Satya yuga, Treta, dwapar and Kali occur in a cyclic order. Each of the latter follows the former. A manvantar comprises of 71 chaturyugas.”


JAMBUDWEEPA
Dwelling upon the prominent islands, Lord Shiva told the assembled sages—”Jambudweepa is spread in the area of one lakh yojan and it consists of numerous Janapadads. It is inhabited by ‘siddhas’ and ‘charanas’ and is blessed with incomparable natural beauty.”
‘A total number of nine ‘Varshas’ lie within the territory of Jambudweepa which itself is surrounded by various oceans on all sides. Towards its east and west lie salt water oceans. Some prominent mountains of Jambudweepa are the Himalaya, the sumeru, the Hemakut and the Nishadh. Territory situated towards east of Sumeru mountain is inhabited by the fair complexioned brahmins. Towards its south live Vaishyas. Shudras live towards the south of Sumeru and the area lying towards its north is inhabited by Kshatriyas.”


SHAK DWEEPA
It’s area is approximately twice as compared to Jambudweepa. It is inhabited by virtuous people who are prosperous and who enjoy a long life. They are free from the tortures of old age. This island is covered by oceans on its two sides–Salt water ocean on one side and ‘Ksheer Sagar’ (Ocean of Milk) on the other.
The mountain ranges lying in the northern part of this island is known as Udayachal while ‘Chandragiri is situated in the western part. There are some other mountain ranges like Rajatgiri, Aambikey, etc situated on this island. Altogether these mountain ranges total seven in number and are known as ‘Kula-Parvatas’. Some primonent rivers flowing through this island are Sukumari, Kumari, Nanda, Venika, Dhenu, Ikshumati and Gabhasti. There is a large tree named Shak in the central part of this island. This is how this island derived it’s name.


KUSHA DWEEPA
This island is twice the area of Shak dweepa. There are seven prominent mountain ranges in this island which are known as ‘Kula Parvatas’— Kumud, Unnat, Drona, Kank, Isha, Mahish and Mandar. There are seven prominent rivers flowing through the various parts of this island–Pratoya, Shiva, Chitra, Chandra, Vidyullta, Varna and Mahati. This island has got its name from Kusha grass which are found in abundance in its central part.


KRAUNCHA DWEEPA
It is twice the area of Kusha dweepa. It has seven prominent mountain ranges–Kraunch, Paavan, Devavrit, Devishtha, Devaanand, Govind and Pundareek. There are also six prominent rivers flowing in this island–Gauri, Kumudwati, Ratri, Manojava, Khyati and Pundarika. Kraunch dweepa is surrounded by an ocean of charified butter (ghee) on all its side.


SHALMALI DWEEPA
“It is double the area of Kraunch dweepa and covers the ‘clarified-butter’ ocean from all sides. There are seven prominent mountains as well as seven rivers in this island.” This way Lord Shiva disappeared after having finished the narration of all the prominent islands.


TRISHAKTI
Describing the reason behind the manifestation of ‘TriShakti’ (Three goddesses manifesting from the bodies of Brahma Vishnu and Shiva), Lord Varah told Prithvi— There lived a mighty demon named ‘Andhak’ who used to torment the deities. After being driven out of the heaven all the deities sought lord Brahma’s help. Lord Brahma took them to Lord Shiva and requested him to find some solution to the miseries of the deities. Lord Brahma then meditated on the form of Vishnu who appeared instantly.
The powers emanating from the eyes of all the three deities got combined and resulted into the manifestation of goddess Parmeshwari.On the request of the deities,goddess Parmeshwari created three more goddesses from her body-Brahmi,Vishnupriya and Rudrani.Goddess Brahmi was of fair complexion while Vishnupriya’s complexion was wheatish.Goddess Rudrani appeared extremely ferocious in her dark complexion.
Lord Brahma advised goddess Brahmi to do penance at Shwetgiri mountain.Similarly,Vishnupriya went to Mandarachal mountain to do her penance while Lord Shiva advised goddess Rudrani to go to Nilgiri mountain. While Vishnupriya was doing her penance at Mandarachal mountain, crores of goddesses manifested from her body prominent among whom were Vidyutprabha,Chandrakanti,Suryakanti,Gambhira,Vijaya,Jaya, Jayanti,Aparajita,etc.All these goddesses acted as the escorts of goddess Vishnupriya who is also called Vaishnavi.
One day,sage Narad visited goddess Vaishnavi and was dumbstruck by her divine beauty.He had never seen such a beautiful woman in his life.On his return journey,Narad met Mahishasur-the mighty demon,who had been blessed by Brahma.Mahishasur had conquered all the three worlds.Narad praised the glory of Mahishasur but went on to add that his majesty was incomplete untill he married Vaishnavi.
Narad said-”I have never seen such a beautiful woman in my life. She is worshipped by all the sages,gandharvas,deities as well as other celestial beings.Although,you are worthy of becoming her husband yet the fact is that you can not have her as your wife untill you have conquered the deities and the gandharvas.” After sowing a seed of lust in Mahishasur’s mind,Narad went away. Mahishasur vowed to marry Vaishnavi at any cost. Lord Varah continued with the tale and said-”After Narad went away,Mahishasur summoned his ministers-Praghas,Vighas,Shanku- karna,Vibhavasu,Vidyunmali,Sumali,Parjanya and Krura.When all the ministers arrived,he requested them to find out means so that he could marry Vaishnavi. Praghas-one of the ministers, was very intelligent.He warned Mahishasur against going ahead with his evil designs and said- ‘This illegal abduction could become the cause for your destruction.’Vighas corroborated the statements of Praghas. Finally,everyone agreed that it would be better if Vaishnavi was persuaded to accept Mahishasur as her husband instead of forcefully abducting her.
“So all of them,finally came upon two conclusions-first was to send a messenger to persuade Vaishnavi into marrying Mahishasur and the second was to defeat the deities in a battle.A demon named Vidutprabha was sent to meet goddess Vaishnavi. Mahishasur then launched a fierce attack on the deities and defeated them.The deities were forced to flee the battle-field and seek refuge in brahma loka.”
“Meanwhile,Vidutprabha had already reached Mandarachal mountain. Without showing any rspect to goddess Vaishnavi,he tried to impress her by narrating the amazing tale of Mahishasur’s birth- ‘During ancient times,there lived a sage named Suparshva.Once,he was doing penance and an ogress named Mahishmati alongwith her companions, arrived at his hermitage.Mahishmati was very much impressed by the grandeur of his hermitage and decided to occupy it.She changed her appearance and became a buffalo.She then started tormenting Suparshva,who was initially terrified but finally came to know about her real identity.Suparshva cursed her-’You deserve to remain as a buffalo for the rest of your life.’
“Now,Mahishmati became extremely terrified and begged for being pardoned.Finally,Suparshva took pity on her and said-’You will get liberated from my curse only after you give birth to a calf.’ Thus,Mahishmati started wandering all over the places in the form of a buffalo.Once,while wandering, she reached the bank of river Narmada,where sage Sindhudweep was doing his penance. A significant incident had taken place just few minutes before her arrival-Sage Sindhudweep,being unable to control himself,had ejaculated sperms after infatuated by a beautiful ogress taking bath in river Narmada,which was flowing nearby.The sperms fell on a rock and was eventually washed off by the swift currents of Narmada.”
“As Mahishmati was thirsty,she drank water from river Narmada. While quenching her thirst,she also consumed the sperms as the result of which she became pregnant.In course of time,she gave birth to Mahishasur,who grew up to be a mighty demon king.The same Mahishasur wants to marry you.” After finishing his story, Vidutprabha waited for Vaishnavi’s response.
Goddess Vaishnavi burst into a loud laughter and all the the three worlds became visible to the messenger,through her opened mouth.Vidutprabha was scarred to the hilt as he realized that the woman was extraordinary and divine.
Jaya-a dwarpalika of Vaishnavi,told him-’Our goddess has taken a vow of celibacy,hence your master’s wish will remain unfulfilled.’ At last,Vidutprabha went back empty handed.In the meantime,Narad arrived there and informed goddess Vaishnavi about the deities’s defeat at the hands of Mahishasur and requested her to kill the demon.
Goddess Vaishnavi ordered her escorts to get prepared for the battle.She then proceeded with a huge army to fight against the demons.In the ensuing battle,Mahishasur’s army was severely humiliated.Most of the demons were killed and the survivors fled from the battlefield. A demon named Virupaksha informed Mahishasur of the death and destruction caused by goddess Vaishnavi.Mahishasur was infuriated and came forward to fight the goddess.Goddess Vaishnavi was aware of his might,so she manifested her divine form in all her glory. Now,she possessed ten arms and held lethal weapons like a sword, a bow,a shield,a mace,a trident,a chakra,etc.in each of them.She then remembered lord Shiva,who appeared within a moment.Goddess Vaishnavi requested him to be witness to the fierce battle,which was going to take place.
A fierce battle commenced,which lasted for ten thousand divine years.Mahishasur ran helter and skelter,changing his disguise frequently,in order to protect his life but goddess Vaishnavi chased him wherever he went.Ultimately,she killed him at ‘Shata- shring’ mountain by severing his head.All the deities heaved a sigh of relief and praised the glory of goddess Vaishnavi.
Similarly,goddess Rudrani,who had manifested from lord Shiva and had gone to Nilgiri mountain to do her penance had killed a mighty demon named ‘Ruru’. Ruru was a very powerful demon king.He ruled over Ratnapuri, which was situated in the middle of the ocean.He had become invincible on account of a boon received from lord Brahma.After being defeated by him,all the deities went to seek the help of goddess Rudrani. Goddess Rudrani,who is also known as ‘Chamunda’ finally killed Ruru-the dreaded demon.”
Having completed the tale,lord Varah blessed Prithvi and went back to his abode.

END OF VARAH PURAN


(My humble salutations to the lotus feet of Swamyjis, Philosophic Scholars, Knowledge seekers for the collection)


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