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The Essence of Puranas – Nilamatha Purana -2

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The Essence of Puranas – Nilamatha  Purana

12    Worships of Deities coinciding with Month-Star Unions (Constellations)
Ashaadha maasey sampraapyam Swati yogam tathaa Dwija,
Vayu sampujanam kaaryam Gandhairmaalyai Dwijotthama/
Bhurinaa Paramaannecha saktunaa vividhenicha,
Sumanobhirvichitraischa Kusumescha tathaa paraih/
(Vayu Deva should be worshipped in Ashadha month in union with Swati with Gandha and Pushpa maalas, ‘Paramaanna’ or Rice cooked in milk along with dry cashew and other dried fruit-nuts; apart from flowers of variegated colours). At the time of Dakshinayana when the movement and course of Surya Deva changes downward to Southern direction, the Deity should be worshipped commecing from Solar Snaanaas and Surya Puja, besides charities to Brahmanas a range of material:
Saktan Gorasa saammisraan Brahmanebhyah pradaapayet,
Himam cha sharkaram chaiva shaakam harithatham tathaa,
Chhatro -paanaha maalyaadi Dakshinaayanaavasarey
( milk-mixed grains, ice, sugar, green vegetables, Chhatra, footwear, and containers with cold water at the Dakshinayana).
At the Rohini-Ashadha Purnima Union, Prajapati Kashyapa, the founder of Kashmira should be worshipped as affirmed by King Nila to Chandra Deva; Kashyapa should be revered with ‘Gandhamaalya Naivedyas’ besides ‘Sa-Vatsaka Go-daana’ (charity of Cow with calf) to an accomplished Brahmana. In fact, the time of the constellation of Rohini with Chandra was always considered as an extremely significant and auspicious time, when devotees should take bath at the confluence of Rivers Vitasta and Sindhu and recite / listen to renderings of Sama Veda and purify themselves as the Rohini constellation was in the vicinity of Shravana Month and it was on the Krishnaastami day during the Rohini Star that Janaardana descended as the incarnation of Shri Krishna:
Shraavanaayaam samateetaayaam yaa syaat Krishna Ashtami,
Tasyaamutpadyatey Devo Maanushyo Madhusudana/
Bhaara avataaranaartham hi tasyaantu Dwijasattama,
Ashtavimshey tu sampraaptey Dwaparaantey cha nah shrutam/
Tatraahani tu kartavyam tasmaatkaala -attadaa param,
Pujanam Devadevasya Devuaaschaiva yathaa vidhi/
Devaki cha Yashodaacha tathaa pujey Dwijotthama/
Gandhairmaalyairstathaa Bhakshairyava godhuma sambhavaaih,
Sagorasairbhakshya bhojjaih phalaischa vividharstathaa/
( It was learnt from ‘Dwijotthamaas’that Madhusudana was born in human form as an ‘Avatara’ on the Krishnaashtami day of Shraavana month to unburden the evil forces on Earth by the end of Dwapara Yuga; accordingly, the devotees should formally worship Devis Devaki and Yashoda as prescribed by way of Gandha, Pushpamaalaas, Bhakshyas made of Yava (Barley) and Godhuma (Wheat), milk products, ‘Bhakshya bhojyaas’, fruits and so on). After performing the Puja, the devotees would rejoice the Jamsashtami as a memorable festival through out the night with music, song and dance and the next full day by sporting new dresses, meeting relatives and friends and eating sweets, savouries and lot of butter and sugarcane. Pitra Constellation with Amavasya of Shraavana Month,‘Shraaddhas’ and ‘Tarpanas’should be duly executed to the Pitras who included Subhashitas, Barhishads, Agnishvaatthas, Kravyadas, Upahutas, Ajyapas, Sukalinas, and other Pitruganas; they should be worshipped with lot of veneration by way of offering flowers, prescribed food material, Tila seeds and Gandhas. Their satisfaction would bestow boons for the fulfillment of the devotee’s desires.
In the Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapada Month, Sachi Devi the consort of Mahendra was worshipped and so was Mahendra along with his ‘Ganas. Reverences to Nagas were to be paid during this period; Shraddhas should be performed to those fallen in battles preferably on the Trayodashi of the Krishna Paksha of the month. On the fourteenth day of the Paksha, there should be a puja of Ayudhas (weapons) in the night at a Durga Temple; this should be performed by the descendants of Kashyapa who should be well versed with ‘Shalihotra’ performances, besides knowledge of astronomy and Kalpa Sutras related to Atharva Veda; this function was called ‘Niranjana’.As Surya enters Kanya Rasi, Sage Agastya should be venerated with flowers, grains, pots of water, cows, bulls, cooked rice and fruits; the thousand-hooded Ananta Deva and ‘Dikpalakaas’ with ‘Dhupamaalyaalepana’ and cooked rice with jaggery; and Varuna Deva was so worshipped too. On sixth of day of Ashvauja, pujas would be performed to Goddess Ashokika by men, women, ‘Kanyas’ and children freshly bathed and decorated with vermillion along with services of Dhupa-Deepa-Pushpa-Naivedyas, while singing, dancing and rejoicing with great devotion to the Deity.
Celebrating the Birth Day of the Sacred River Vitasta on the Trayodashi of Shukla Ashvauja, a week long Festival was traditionally observed-three days before and three days later.
Pujaneeya Vitastaa syaattathaa tam dinasaptakam,
Gandhairmaalyaih sanai vedyairdeepa daanaaih sushobhanaih/
Pataakaabhirvichitraabhee rakta sutraih sa kankanaih,
Phalaischa vividhairBrahman vahni brahmana tarpanaih/
( River Vitasta should be worshipped for seven days with ‘Gandhamaalyaas’, ‘Naivedyas’, different kinds of ‘Pataakaas’/ flags, ‘Rakta Sutras’/ red threads, ‘Kankanaas’/ wrist- wears, a variety of fruits, oblations to Agni and tarpanas to Devas to make Brahmanas happy). Devotees were advised to observe fasting on Dwadashi day and pray to Narayana; if there were to be a constellation of Budha on that day there would be a double benefit, especially when a person observed ‘Snaanam’, ‘Daanam’, ‘Japam’ and ‘Shraaddha’.
Proktavaan Dwadashagunam swayam mey Madhusudanah,
Budha Shravana samyukaa Dwadashi Dwija saa yadi/
Atyanta mahati naama tasyaam Sarvamathakshayaam,
Tasyaam snaatwaa Narah Samyang Nadi dwitaya Sangamey/
Phalamaapnoti yatproktam saanihatyaam Ravigrahey,
Upaanahou tathaa chhatram purnakumbham tathaiva cha/
Vastra yugmam tathanaadhyam yah prayacchati vai tadaa,
Seshaanaam yadi chet kartaa Shwetadwipey mahiyatey/
( As Madhusudana himself asserted, Budha and Shravana constellation on Dwadashi would yield the benefit twelve times higher once the above sacrifices were performed; if there were to be a Solar Eclipse on top of it on that day and charities were effected of ‘chhatram’, ‘purna kumbham’, a pair of clothes and ‘Bhojan’ after taking bath, then that person would be esteemed in ‘Swetadwipa’!At the constellation of Chandra and Swati during the first half of Ashvauja, oblations to Agni with appropriate Mantras should be addressed to Vayu, Varuna, Surya, Indra, Vishnu, Vishwa Devas and to Agni too. In the same period Chandra-Shakra combination, prayers should be made in favour of horses and elephants, while Pujas to Bhadrakaali would help artisans.

13    Procedure of Koti Homa by the King of Kashmira
Samvatsarasyaatha kaaryo Lakshahomo Maheekshitaa,
Kotihomastathaa kaatya Eka yeva Dwijottama/
Tayorvidhaanam vigneyam Kalpeshvaathaadharvaneshu cha/
(Every year, the King has to perform Laksha Homa / Koti Homa as per the procedure stated in the Kalpa Sutras of Atharva Veda) and as per interpretations of Priests, Vedajnaas and senior Brahmanas. The King would be given a Royal Bath, the Chief Priest would take fast and offer oblations to Agni Deva as addressed to Vishnu, Shakra, Savita, Brahma, Rudra, Varuna etc. The entire Kingdom, especially the Capital where the Function was organised, would be decorated with colourful ‘Pataakaas’ / flags and ‘Dhwajas’/ banners; the ‘Raja Margas’ (Main Roads) are cleaned up and washed; all the Officials, renowned citizens and important guests would turn out in their best attires; the King would be given further baths with ‘Panchagayvas’/ five bye- products of cows by Gana Nayakas with pots of Earth, silver, gold or other metals as also water of Sacred Rivers; the citizens wear their best dresses, badges, decoratives, and fragrances; the King would then pay reverences to Brahmanas and important personalities like Ministers, officials, Nagas and then go out in a procession to meet common citizens. Then the King should undertake a pilgrimage to various Temples across the Kashmira Mandala, by observing patience, courtesy and daily pujas as instructed by the Chief Priest. Before launching the annual Yatra, the King should worship Vinayaka on the first day by offering sweets to the Deity, on the second day worship, on the second day to ‘Nava Grahas’, to Gandharvas on the third day, fourth day to Piscachaas, fifth day to local Nagas, Brahmanas on the sixth, and on the seventh day to the deprived and vulnerable sections of th Soceity. Thereafter, the pilgrimages would be taken up to the Temples of Vinayaka, Lakshmi, Skanda Kumara, Surya, Mahadeva, Shakra, Dhanada, Chandra over a span of a fortnight; the Yatras would also include the abodes of a number of illustrious Nagas.
14    Some Details of Naga Chiefs and origin of ‘Maha Padma Sarovara’
In this connection, Sage Brihadashwa gave a long list of the famous Nagas to King Gonanda as conveyed by Maharshi Vaishampayana to King Janamejaya: He said that King Nila was the most popular and virtuous who lived in the Region as the Destiny Maker of Nagas and the Originator of Kashmira.
There then would follow the long list of Vasuki, Upatakshaka, Kambala, Ashwatara, Karkotaka, Dhananjaya, Helapatra, Ananta, Nandopananda, Kulika, Swetashankha, Palaasa, Helihala, Shankha paala, Chandana, Nandana, Neela, Mahaanila, Vatika, Sandsika, two Padmas, two Maha Padmas, two Kaalaas, two Kacchaapaas, two Samudras, two Gajaas, two Takshakaas, Hastikarna, Hastis, Vamanas, Varahas, Kupana, Paniya, Anika, Kankaaksa, Kalinkaaka, Arjuna, Pundirika, Dhanda, Khadaa, Sapala, Khericha, Lahura, Ledira, Ledina, Kheda, Jayanta, Sudama, Sarashwa, Praduymna, Andhika, Sambu, Salva, Agarasukha, Nilasura, Anishta, Sumukha,Veda, Khadgapucchha, Vibhishana, Priya Swami, Kumara, Kalapa, Puraanaka, Aapada, Vali, Vibhuti, Kalanajara, Krita, Treta, Dwapara, Sama, Ananda, Jayananda, Trisirsha, Jatila, Gandha, Soma, Gargya, Mahodara, Makara, Makaraaksha, Shatrughna, Rama, Lashmana, Mahadeva, Karkara, Karavata, Varaghosha, Sumangala, Shambharta, Karahala, Dhaumya, Galava, Ukola, Sukhola, Vahnirupa, Kalusha, Kripana, Kutaka, Hari, Shalabha and countless other Naga Chiefs.
Having narrated the names of lakhs of Naga Chiefs, Sage Brihadashwa stated that it would just not be possible to count neither the names nor the numbers of the next generations of the Naga Chiefs who settled in Kashmira over the passage of time of hundreds of years, but one fact was clear that the descendants of the Original Chief King Nila imbibed his qualities of bestowing boons to humanity and were followers of the unparalleled Vasuki Deva.
The Sage further described to King Gonanda that Nagas lived in peace for generations; while Naga Bindusara was the Guardian of the Eastern direction of Kashmira, Naga Shrimadhaka of South, while Naga Uttara Maanasa was the Sentinel of the Northern direction, despite the threat of Tarkshya (Garuda). As Garuda Deva lifted and killed lakhs and lakhs of Nagas, Lord Vishnu prevented this havoc by instructing Garuda and eversince then peace prevailed in favour of Nagas.

Meanwhile Naga Chief Sadangula got into the vicious habit of lifting away several women and killed them inspite of King Nila’s instructions not to harm human beings; the King banished Sadangula out of his Place and replaced him with another Naga Chief Maha Padma and allotted that area; Sadangula was allotted an area in Chandrapura of King Viswagaswa where there was a lesser threat to women. But Durvasa Muni visited the Place of Sadangula as a mad person in disguise and as he did not receive proper reception cursed the Place to turn in into a huge lake. Maha Padma Naga sent by King Nila approached King Viswagaswa to allot a place in Chandrapura for the family of Sadangula and the Lake since converted by the curse of Durvasa was called since then as Maha Padma Lake, which was one yojana wide and another yojana long, which had no crocodiles and was cool and charming, near by which a beautiful Nagar called Vishwagaswapura.

15    Quick account of Sacred Places in Kashmira
King Gonanda desired to hear of a brief account from Sage Brihadashwa of various Sacred Places in Kashmira and the latter obliged Gonanda as follows commencing from Shri Ganesha:

Vinayakam tu Gangeyam nistrutam Vardhanadrumaat,
Twam drushtwaa Sarvakalyaaneem siddhimaapnoti Maanavah/
Yadhaavidhim kaamyavaram tasya Dakshinaapaschimey,
Deshetu kroshamaatrena drushtwaa kaaryaani saadhayet/
Bhurjaswaami Hidimbesho Lovaarah Shri Vinaayakah/
Utankesho Guhaavaasi Bhimeshah Soumukhastathaa,
Bhadreaswaro Mahaasyascha Mahaashana gaveshano/
Poulastyo Girivaasicha Jayeswara Mahehwarou,
Ekaikamebhyo drushtvaa tu Ganesham Susamaahitah/
Karyasiddhimavaapnoti Puraayam Phalamupaashnutey/

( On merely viewing the Idol of Vinayaka, the son of Devi Ganga who descended from ‘Vardhanadruma’mountain, any human being would attain all kinds of propitiousness and ‘Siddhis’. One’s darshan of ‘Kaamyavara’ Vinayaka in a Temple hardly a ‘krosha’ of a distance would bestow fulfillment of wishes. Attainment of Karya Siddhi or success in one’s endeavours would be certainly possible by worshipping Ganesha by any name like Bhurjaswami, Hidimbesha, Lovaara, Shri Vinayaka, Utankesha, Guhaavaasi, Bheemesha, Sowmukha, Bhadreaswara, Mahaasya, Mahashana Gaveshana, Poulastya, Girivaasi, Jayeshwara and Maheshwara).

The Idol of Skanda set up Pulastya Muni should be seen after taking bath in ‘Paatra Kunda’to secure ‘Punya’ of ‘Go-daana’ in charity; the Deity is also called: Maalivana, Gautamesha, Vishwaamitreshwara, Shounaasika, Vasishthesha, Maakharesha, Sureswara, Skandeshwara, Vishaakhesha and Poulastyapara. Indra:

Pulastyanirmitam Shakram Bharadwajakritam tathaa,
Kaashyapam kaarnavamaaha Satyam Vaasishtham cha Shatakrutam/
Drushtwa Swargamaapoti Gosahsra phalam labhet/

(Viewing the Pratima of Shakra who performed hundred ‘Kratus’ as set up by Sages Pulastya, Bharadwaaja, Kashyapa, Kaanva, Agastya and Vasistha would yield the benefit of securing Swargam as also of the charity of a thousand of cows).
Worshipping the Idol of Agni as installed by Maharshi Angirasa would secure the ‘phala’ of accomplishing ‘Diwa’ (Heaven): Agneraangirasam drushtwaa Pratimaam praapruyaad divam/

Yama Dharma Raja:

Thaijasey tu narah snaatwaa drushtwaa pretaadhipam Yamam,
Swargalokamavaapnoti tila dhenu phalam bhavet/
Snaatwaa tu Pushkarey drushtwaa Surya sutam tathaa,
Sarva paapa vinirmuktah Swargalokey maheeyatey/

(Paying reverence to Yama Dharmaja, the Head of Pretas, after taking bath in the River Thaijasa would yield Swarga and the fruits of charity of ‘Tilaas’ and ‘Dhenu’. Also ‘Pushkara Tirtha Snaana’ and homage to Surya Putra would result in the destruction of sins and ascent to heavens).The Idols of Yama, Sutankesha and the Chief of Pretas which were installed by Vasishtha Muni in Kashmira are better viewed during the nights after worshipping Virupaksha Deva for demolishing human fears of Rakshasaas as also of sins. Veneration of Idols of Varuna and King Bali Bali installed by Pulastya in a Temple near Maha Padma Sarovara-in the northern part of ‘Mansa Lake’, would kill diseases and ‘kilbishaas’or wrongdoings besides fetching ‘Go-daana phala’. Viewing the Idol of Dhaneshwara adjacent to God Vitastaksha, as installed by Agastya would assure prosperity and riches.

Sage Brihadashwa listed out innumerable other Pratimas all over Kashmira Region of Bharata Desha and their worship installed by Maharshis and past Kings; for instance Sashanka would give access to Chandra loka, Manibhadra would provide wealth, Kama Deva blesses with physical satisfaction while various other Deities like Kapilanjali, Sureshwari, Bhadreshwari, Goutameshi, Kala seela, Udyogeshwari, Gavaski, Chandika, Durga, Gauri, Suvijaya, Brahma- chaarini, Chakreswari and so on would all fulfill one’s own desires and ambition.

Idols of Surya Deva:

Kartaveeryaarjuna Swaamim drushtwaa tam cha Divakaram,
Maartandam Kashyapa Swamim Vishwagashwakitam Ravim/
Suchandresham Suchakresham Surabheeswaminam Ravim,
Drushtvaikaikamathai tebhyo Hayadaava phalam labhet/

(On viewing the Forms of Kartaviryarjuna Swami or of Divakara, Kashyapa Swami or of Martanda, Vishwageshwa or of Ravi, and such others like Suchandresha, Suchakresha and Surabhi Swami Ravi, the person concerned would achieve the ‘Punya’ of ‘Ashva daana’. Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara Swarupas: Sage Brihadashwa elaborated to King
Gonanda about the strong presence of Tri Murtis in Kashmira Region as follows:

Brahmaanam varadam drushtwaa Shailarupa dharam swayam,
Vishnu Swamim Hara Swamim Kashapa Swaminam tathaa/
Drushtwaitaan Swargamaampnoti Bhumi paala Pitaamahaan,
Chakraswami sameepastham Haram drushtwaa Sudarshanam/
Swayambhuvam Vahnikrutam tathaa vai Pingaleswaram,
Bindunaadeswaram Devam Devam Bhadreshwaram tathaa/
Chandreshwaram Sajyejeshtham Vaakakhilyeshwaram Harim,
Keshavesham samesham cha Dhoumyesham Varuneshvaram/
Chakreshwaram Suchandresham Kashyapesham vilohitam,
Kaamesham Savaasishthesham Bhutesham saganeshwaram/
Suryeshwaram Maha Raja Bhasmesham Vimaleshwaram,
Drushtaikaikamathaitebhyo muchatey Sarva kalbishaih/
Himachalesham Shankhesham Devam Vaivartileshvaram,
Maha Nandeshwaram Shambhum Varadam Kashyapeshwaram/
Rajeshwaram Nrisimhesham Bhavesham Dhanadeshwaram,
Sadaa Sannihito Rajan Devo Bhuteshvaro Harih/

(King Gonanda! The all merciful Brahma Deva assumed the Form of a Mountain and presented himself as Vishnu Swami, Hara Swami and Kashyapa Swami. All those who could visualise the various manifestations would indeed be relieved of their sins, crimes and transgressions. Some of such Sacred Murtis include the following: Sadarshana Hara nearby a Place called Chakra Swami; Swayambhuva as installed by Vahni Deva /Agni; Pingaleshwara, Bindunaadeshwara, Bhadreshwara Deva, Chandreshwara together with Jyeshthesha; Vaalakhilyeshwara, Hari, Keshavesha, Samesha, Dhaumesha, Varuneshwara, Chakreshwara along with Suchandresha, Kashyapesha, Vilohita, Kamesha with Vasishthesha; Bhutesha together with Ganeshwara; Suryeshwara, Bhashmesha with Vimaleshwara, Himalayesha, Shankhesha Deva, Vaivishweshwara, Maha Nandeswara, Shubha, Varada, Kashyapeshwara, Rajeshwara, Nrisimhesha, Bhavesha, Dhanadeshwara! King Gonanda! These and innumerable other manifestations of Bhuteshwara Hari are always ever-present in the Kashmira Region of Bharata Varsha)!
Kashmira Raja! May Nandeshwara who is always present with Maha Deva as an inseparable Entity provide the best of blessings to the Kashmiras as he too is ever compassionate and forgiving as Maha Deva himself!

16    ‘Nandyopaakhyaana’: Nandeshwara born in human form and back to Maha Deva
King Gonanda enquired of Sage Brihadashwa about the background of Nandeshwara. A Brahmana named Shilaada performed severe Tapasya on Nandi Mountain to Maheshwara by eating nothing else but ‘Shilaachurana’ (rock powder) for hundred years seeking a boon to secure a highly virtuous son. Maha Deva was pleased and granted the boon, while Nandi desired to be born as a human being provided that he should go through the process of normal human birth. Maha Deva was pleased with Nandi’s offer and said that in any case Sage Bhrigu gave a curse to Nandi that owing to an indescrition of his at the Shiva-Parvati wedding, he was destined to a human birth. Nandi was materialised from the cool rays of Chandra Deva as a child and the highly elated Shailada pampered the child and performed all the ceremonies of childhood. As Nandi grew and revealed that he would have to go back to Maha Deva soon, Shailaada was shattered and became uncontrollable. Nandi then did Tapasya to Maha Deva for hundred years on the Mountain of Himalayas on one of the peaks called Haramukuta, where there was a lake called Kalodaka. Meanwhile Shilaada prayed to Devi Parvati to please allow Maha Deva to respond to Nandi’s tapasya and performed Yagna on Mountain tops. Maha Deva proceeded towards the Haramukuta but as the route was rough and rocky, the bull by which he and Parvati were travelling could not proceed further and he alone without Parvati or bull took to a circuitous route on foot and on way crossed Shatadru, Vipasu, Iravati and Chandrabhaga, Vishnupada and the confluence of Vitasta and Sindhu to finally reach the Bharata Mountain. He took considerable time to ascend the peak, even as the Mountain grew higher and higher; the exasperated and exhausted Maha Deva grew up in his body stature and stamped his foot on the mountain’s head since when the mountain was known as Mundaprastha. The mountain could not bear the hit of Parameshwara, came out in human form and sought pardon of the Deva. A water body emerged out of the stamping of the foot and was called Kripani Tirtha, subsequently known as Apsara Tirtha as that was the swimming pool of Apsaras. Then Parama Shiva was enchanted by the most charming Place called ‘Brahmasara Tirtha’ and could not resist the temptation of swimming in it and converted himself as a Swan! The bird broke the Mountain and saw for Himself the Sacred Place where Shailaada was performing Yagna to please Parvati and him self to extend the human life of Nandeswara. As the Swan saw the Sacred Places of Vatika and Sandika where the Yagna was being organised, it also witnessed the Kapila Tirtha. Lord Brahma saw Parameshwara in the Form of a Swan and prostrated before him. As Shakra was there too along with a group of Devas, he saw Brahma there and knelt down and prayed to him thus:

Namastey Devadevesha Jagatkaranakaarana,
Trailokyanatha Sarvajna Sarveswara Namostutey/
Twattonyam naiva pashyaami Jagatyatmin hi kaaranam,
Twayaa Sarvamidam vyaptam Trailokyam sacharaacharam/
Srashtaa twamasya Sarvasya Samhartaa Paalakastathaa,
Yadonmeelayasey netrey Trailokyasyodbhavastadaa/
Bhavateeha Jannatha yadaa cha Swapishey Vibho,
Tadaitakhilam Sarvam Trailokyam tu pranashyati/
Bhumidhrutaa Dharayatitwyedam sacharaacharam,
Twayaa dhrutaa dhaarayanti tathaivaapokilam jagat/
Twattejasaa jagat sarvam vahnidhaarayati Prabho,
Twattejasaa tathaa Vaayurbhaavayat –sakhilam Jagat/
Shabdayonim tathaakaasham Jagat dhaarayatey Prabho,
Veeryena tey Mahaabhaagatwam cha proktastathaaparah/
Twam Buddhistwam tathaivaatmaa Sarvasyaasya prakeertitah,
Avyaktah Purushaschaiva Rajahstatvam tathaa tamah/
Indriyaaneendriyaarthascha Bhutatanmantra sanjakah,
Jnaataa Jneyam tathaa Kshetram Kshetrajnah Parame -swarah/
Dhyaataa Dhyeyam tathaa Dhyaanam Yagnaani vividhaanicha/
Sarvamey tatwamey vaikastatwattah kimapuram Prabho/
Yannatosi Mahabhaga yetanmey Samshayo Mahaan/

(Namastey, Deva Deva, You are the Prime Motivation of the Motives and the Chief Cause of the Causes; you are the Head of the Three Lokas, the All-Knowing Sarveshwara; there could not be any other reason than yourself in the entire Srishti and are also the Omni-Pervading; You are the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer too; as your eyes are open, the Worlds are born and alive and as you have the proverbial forty winks, the Worlds vanish too; as Earth holds the weight of all the Moving and Non-moving Entities of Creation,while Earth is upheld by water but who else is the holder of water and every thing else! You are the radiance that Agni carries all over the Universe and You are the Energy that Wind carries all over; You are the ‘Shabda’/ Sound that Akasha (Sky) carries all over; You are the ‘Buddhi’or the Intelligence and ‘Atma’ or the Soul as also the Unknown Purusha Swarupa being the fountain-head of the three ‘Gunas’ or Satwa-Rajasika and Tamasika Characteristics; You constitute the Physical Limbs and their end- sensations-as in respect of tongue and speech, ears and hearing, eyes and vision etc.; You are the ‘Bhuta’ or composition of Gross Elements and ‘Tanmatras’ / their Concentrated Reactions; You are the ‘Jnaata’or the ‘Obtainer’ and the ‘Jneya’ or that which is ‘Obtainable’; The ‘Kshetra’ or the Physique and the ‘Kshetrajna’ the Soul / Inner Consciousness’; ‘Dhyata’ or the Thinker, the ‘Dhyeum’ or the Thought, and the ‘Dhyanam’ or Thinking. Maha Bhaga! Is there else in ‘Existence’ beyond you!).

As Shakra prayed to Brahma as above, Brahma replied that Maha Deva himself was before him in the Form of a Swan and alerted him to lead the Devas present too to join Shakra to pay tributes to Maha Deva directly and Indra paid homage as follows:

Namastey Deva Devesha Mayaavrutajagatraya,
Yajamaano Mahi swam chathoyaagneendurka Vaayaah/
Tanavastey Vinirdishtaa yaabhyarvyaptam Jagatriam,
Braahmeem tanum tathaasthaaya Raajaseem twam Jagadguro/
Lokaansrujaasi Bhutaatmamstava Kaaryam na vidyetey,
Paorusheem tanumaasthyaaya Saatwikeem twam Maheswara/
Paalayasyakhilam Deva thrailokyam saakshivbat sthitah,
Kaalaakhyaam taamaseem krutwaa jagat samhaarasey tathaa/
Vrisha rupa dharo Dharmo vaahanatwamupaagatah,
Vaamaardham dayitaakaayam Brahmachari bhavo dhavaan/
Namah Shashaanka lekhaanka jataabhaara Maheshwara,
Gangaataranga nirdhuta jataabhaara namostutey/
Tripuraarey Namastestu Namastvandhaka ghaatiney,
Shulaagra bhinna daityaamsha rudhiraadra namostutey/
Kapaala maaliney tubhyam Parvatidayitaayacha,
Ugraayudhaaya Bhimaaya Bhimaayudha dharaayacha/
Urdhwa Lingaaya Sheeghraaya Krathaaya Kratanaayacha,
Maangalyaaya Varenyaya Mahaa Hamsaaya meedhushey/
Bheemaakshaaya Bhusundaaya Vyaala Yagnopapeetiney,
Kshamaswa mama Devesha yan mayaasi na Pujitah/
Tavaiva Mayaya purvam mohitena Jagatprabho,
Prasannosi dhruvam yena jnaatosi vai mayaa/
Suprasaadodi Devesha pranatosmi Maheshwara/

( Our obeisances to you Deva Devesha who has spread out ‘Maya’ or Illusion all over the Three Worlds; the Pancha Bhutas viz. Prithivi, Water, Radiance, Wind power, Sun, Moon and Sky are all the ramifications of Your ‘Swarupa’ or Form extended all over; You assumed the Brahmi Shakti of ‘Rajasa’facilitating Creating, Satvika Shakti to administer and uphold the worlds as a Unique Witness and finally by taking the ‘Kala Swarupa’ perform ‘Jagat Samhara’ or demolition of the Universe; Dharma Swarupa!You take over the Form of a Bull and as an ‘Ardha Naareswara’and as a ‘Brahmachari’ perform the killing of Daityaas with ease and without effort; Our greetings to you, Shashakadhara, Maheshewara, Jatadhaari wet with the waves of River Ganga worn on your head; You were the devastator of Tripurasura and Andhaka; You look dreadful as the killer of Daityas with their bodies strewn on top of your ‘Shula’ with their gushing blood; the ‘Kapaala Maaliney’/ wears garlands of Skulls around neck; ‘Ugraayudhaya’/ Carrier of Fearful Weapons; Bhimaaya / Bhima Shankara Linga; ‘Urthwa Lingaya’; ‘Sheeghraaya’/ The Speediest; Krathaaya, ‘Krathanaaya‘Mangalyaya’ / The Most Auspicious; ‘Varenyaaya’ or the Most Excellent and Distinguished; ‘Maha Hamsaaya’/ the Outstanding and Unique Swan; ‘Bhusundaaya’ / like the Great Yogi /Trikala Gyani and renowned Master of Pranayama who built a Mountain like Nest on Kalpa Vrikshka on Meru; and ‘Vyala Yagnopaveeta’/ wearing a serpent as his Sacred Thread. By so saying, Indra sought Hara Prabhu as he was overcome by a severe Maya / Illusion and could not recognize Maha Deva as the Great Swan).

As Indra’s eulogy was over, Maha Deva discarded his Form as a Swan and as Brahma, Indra and Devatas too were present along with Devi Parvati and the Great Bull reached there by now went to Kalodaka where the Yagna was being performed and further proceeded the Place where Nandi was performing his Tapasya. Nandi was weak and was almost dead. Having revived him, Maha Deva gave back Nandi’s past birth’s memory that he was a ‘Pratihaari’ (Gate Keeper) of Kailasha, that as Brahmana Shilaada’s penance and Bhrigu Maharshi’s Shaapa to Nandi coincided, the latter took to a human form and did penance to seek extension of life to please his father Shilada who had attained salvation herebefore. Maha Deva then blessed Nandi:

Ganeswaratwamaasaadya mayaa saha nivatsyasey/
Asmaad Yojana maatrena Purvey bhaagey Gano mama,
Twayaa saartham navatsyaami Bhutwaa Bhuteswaro Harah/
Tava Nandina pratishthaanam Vasishtho Bhagavan Rishih,
Kartaa Desho shubhey tasmin mama chaapyuta Bhutaley/
Sannidhaanam karishyaamastatra nityam vayam Dwija,
Purvotpannah sa Jyeshthesha-statra Lingo mama Dwija/
Tatraapi Sannidhaanam tey Nityam Vijnaatumarhasi,
Rishikoti Sahasraani madbhaktyaa vaa Dwijottama/
Tatra samsnaapayanti sma Jyeshthesham tey sadaiva tu,
Brahman Divyena toyenashubheynnottara maanasaat/
Teshaam tapah prabaavena Bhaktya cha mama Paarshada,
Sodarasya cha Naagastha sthaanamuttara maanasah/
Swayam praapto Mahaabhaaa tatra ramsyasi nityashah,
Yashmaaddeshaattadhaa yaati Dakshinena Mahaanadi/
Hiranyayani puraaya jalaa naamnaa Kanaka vaahini,
Jyeshthesho vasati bhutairvasa praakaamyatey Dwija/

( Maha Deva blessed Nandi to secure a significant status among ‘Shiva Ganaas’ and stay about a Yojana away to the East of that Place where he himself would be present at Hara Bhuteshwara in the Form of Jyeshthesha Linga and Sage Vasishtha would install Nandi as also of himself in his presence. He also assured Nandi that both he and Jyeshthesha would reside at that Place together always in his ‘Sannidhi’ and that Maha Deva’s devotees of ‘Rishi Koti’ would perform ‘Abhishekas’ with the Sacred Waters of the Lake ‘ Uttara Maanasa’. Nandi prostrated before Maha Deva and the latter himself accompanied Nandi to reach Uttara Maanasa Lake-where Sodara Naga resided- flowing from ‘Hiranayani’/ ‘Kanakavaahini’ atop the peak of ‘Haramukuti’ mountain).

17    The Legend of Kapateshwara in Kashmira

In the distant past, thousands of Rishis used to swarm the banks of Drushdyuti Tirtha near Kurukshetra with a strong belief that penances performed at the Tirtha would bless them with the Darshan (Appearance) of Rudra Deva. There was a dream which one of the highly respected Rishis got revealed that bathing in a Sarovara followed by sincere prayers in the large residing complex of Nagas in Kashmira would help enable Rudra Darshan and also facilitate attainment of Rudrahood; a word went round among those who were present and there was a bee-line of devotees to the specified Lake in the large predomimently Naga Area in Kashmira. But to the surprise of the devotee visitors, there was no water in the Sarovara at all and there were huge logs of wood covering it up. A few distinguished and exceptional devotees who tried to move the heavy logs were able however to discover water underneath and as they sprinkled the drops of water on themselves succeeded to accomplish ‘Rudratwa’. But the majority of the devotees returned back with no success. One ardent Brahmana named Gaura Parashara was highly dejected that there was no water in the Sarovara but persisted to continue in his penance for long time with unswerved faith and devotion. Finally, Maha Deva appeared in the disguise of an elderly Naga and asked the Brahmana as to why he was spoiling his health and torturing his body with continued penance. The Brahmana replied that he would rather die than give up his meditation. After his initial test of the Brahmana’s determination, Maha Deva revealed his identity. Guara Parashara was no doubt elated extremely at the Shiva Darshana but was still disappointed that he could not achieve ‘Rudratwa’ yet! Maha Deva replied:

Drakshyanti ye Janaah sarvey kaashta rupam samaasthitam,
Kadaachida Dwija Shaardula Sarva kaalaantu no Dwija/
Ayam cha satatam Nandee kaashtha rupee Gano mama,
Darshanam daasyatey Nrinaam tadanugrahakaamyayaa/
Tena drushtwaacha yaasyanti swasharirena Rudrataam,
Kapatenacha dasyaami naranaam darshanam yadaa/
Tadaa sanjgnaamavaapyaami Kapateswara ituta,
Thoyasya bahileebhavo Deshosmin Brahmanottama/
Darshanasya madeeyasya purvarupam bhavishyati,
Ityetat kathitam thubhyam Kapateshwara sambhavam/

(Brahmana! Those faithful devotees who desire to vision me could do so even in wood if not always. My ‘Gana’ Nandi would be always perceivable in wooden forms too. Once a devotee could glimpse Nandi, he should be able to secure Rudratva and I am there too in disguise as Kapateshwara; indeed there is plenty of water in Kashmira, even if camouflaged under wood!)

18    Vishnu Swarupas in Kashmira

King Gonanda desired to know from Sage Brihadashwa about the dwelling places of Bhagavan Vishnu in the Kashmira Region. Viewing the figure of Chakradhaari Hari Pundarikaksha would bestow ‘Dasha Dhenu Phala’ or the value of charity of ten cows. A close look at the Pratima of Narasimha would grant the fruit of performing an Ashwamedha Yagna; the vision of Vishnu’s manifestations of Vasishtha, Kadru, Devi Vinata and Guatama would secure the ‘Punya’ of performing ‘Agnishtoma’; Nrisimha Deva’s another Rupa in the form of Maha Padma Sarovara too would fetch the same blessing as of Agnishtoma.

Devam Shakrakrutam drushtwa Varunena tathaa krutam,
Brahmanaacha Dhaneyshena Yamena cha Harenacha/
Diwaakarena Somena Vahninaa Pavanena cha,
Kashyapenaatha Bhriganaa Pulastyena tathaatrinaa/

( Sighting the Vishnu Pratimas installed by Sakra, Varuna, Brahma, Dhanesha, Yama Deva, Maha Deva, Diwakara, Soma, Agni Deva, Pavana, Kashyapa, Bhrigu, Pulastya and Atri would all yield the benefit of ‘Dasha Godaanaas’ / ten cows in each case). Also, Vishnu Rupa darshana in various forms installed near Meru Mountain such as Bhurjaswami, Mahaswami, Shata- shringa, Gadadhara, Bhriguswami, Janardana, Taittireyeshwara, Dandakaswami, Ramaswami etc. besides Sapta Rishis near Sumutha and several other Vishnu Idols would fetch ‘Godaana Phala’. The Vishnu Image installed by the illustrious Pruthu Chakravarti of Magadha was stated to secure the advantage of performing ‘Pundarika Yagna’

19     Parashurama, his annihilation of Kshatriyas and his connection with Kashmira

In the context of describing Bhagavan Vishnu’s images in Kashmira, King Gonanda wondered as to why the Vishnu’s Idol installed by Bhrigu Maharshi in his Ashram on the Mountain named Gridhrakuta was transferred nearby his Ashram by Parashurama for veneration. The reason was not far to seek since Parashurama avenged the murder of his father Maharshi Bhrigu by the noted King Kartaveeryarjuna of Haihaya Clan of Kshatriyas in particular as also of Kshatriyas in general for their oppression of their Subjects and more specifilally of Brahmanas in specific; Bhargava Rama attacked Kshtriyas in as many as twenty battles with their Kings and kinsmen and destroyed them on mass-scale to ensure that there were hardly any traces of the then much hated Kshatriyas left in Bharata Varsha. A few remnants of Kshatriyas fled away to the safe haven of Kashmira on the banks of Rivers Madhumati and Rajanirmala and even from those Places, Parashurama hunted and eradicated them like Rudra Deva himself with his own hands full of their blood. It was in that frame of ferocious and vengeful mind, that he transferred the Idol of Keshava from the hermitage of his father Bhrigu to his own ‘Ashram’. Then he undertook a trip to Kurukshetra to convey his revenge against the acts of cruelty that Kshatriyas perpetrated to his father and forefathers. But he had a vision that his forefathers were so merciful that they desired him to desist from further acts of violence and atone his actions of vindictiveness and take up a Tirtha Yatra (pilgrimage) to Holy Kshetras:

Tena paapena tey Putra shareeram kalmasham yadaa,
Tasmaad vrajaswa Tirthaani Paananaartha mihaat –manah/
Bhavishyaasi yathaavan twam Shuddha dehascha putrakah,
Naapaishyati hi tey taavat karebhyoh rudhiram drudham/
Yadaa karau virudharau Putra tawa Bhavishyatah,
Tadaa twam nirmaleebhutah tapah kuru yathaa sukham/

(Since your physique has absorbed several sins in the killings, you need to undertake Tirtha Yatraas as your hands are still sullied with blood; there after, you should perform penance with clean heart and soul). Rama then left for several Sacred Places, reached Gridhrakuta in Kashmira, bathed at the confluence of Rivers Saraswai and Sudha, did ‘Tapasya’ at Partheswara, moved on to the River Punyoda originating from Brahmasara which was renamed as Ramahrada after him, proceeded further to the Residence of Ananta Deva a Chief of Nagas, installed an Idol of Saranga and rested there at the ‘Ashramaswami’after a hectic activity of pilgrimages. He then had a luminous vision of Madhusudana which was as follows:

Tushaarachaya sankaasam Swetaambhara vibhushitam,
Mukutenaarka varneyna kundalaschaiva viraajitam/
Chaturbhujam Chaturbaahum Chaturvedaashrayaanvitam,
Shariradhaaribhih Shaastreyrudeerita jayaviswanam/
Tam drushtwaa pranato Raajasamtushtaava Madhusudanam/

( The vision of Madhusudana resembled a mass of frost, robed in white, embellished with a Sun-coloured ‘kireeta’ (coronet), ear rings of rare brightness, four faced, four armed and as an embodiment of four Vedas carrying powerful weapons smeared with the blood of enemies along with joyful shouts of victory).On viewing the Unique Revelation, Parashurama extolled Madhusudana as follows:

Namastey Deva Devesha pranataarti vinaashana,
Chaturmurti Mahamurti Chaturveda Mahaabhuja/
Govinda Pundarikaaksha Varaahaadya Namostutey,
Damshtrogrodbhuta Bhubhaaga Samchurnita shilocchaya/
Twam Sadaiva Varaahosi yenedam dhyaaryatey Jagat,
Karajaagravinirbhinna Hiranyakash purasey/
Namastubhyam Nrisimhaaya Jwaalaa maalaa kulatmaney,
Trivikramaaya Devaaya Namastey Vijigeeshavey/
Somabhushita vaktraaya Namoswashirasey Prabho,
Twam Deva Sarva Devaanaam paraagatih/
Twam Deva Sarvadevaanaam Duhkhitaanaam paraa gatih, Indriaayaaneendrayarthaascha Maha bhutaani yaanicha/
Mano Budhistathaivaatmaa Avyaktam Purushodbhavam,
Satvam Rajastamaschaiva Brahma Vishnu Maheswarah/
Twayaa Sarvamidam Vyaaptam Trailokyam sacaraacharam,
Twayaa vinaa na Pashyaami kinchideva Jagattraey/
Twattesjasaa Maya Deva nihataah Kshatriyaah Bhuvih,
Koti samkhyascha nihataah Saimhikhya Mahabalaah/
Sookshmaatisukshmascha Devesha Mahadbhdyopi mahattarah,
Ksheerodakanyaadayita Kamarupa Namostutey/
Kaamakaamada Kaamaaripujitaagha vinaashana,
Chaturbhih satatam vaktrey Padmajanmaabhi samstuta/
Kaamoham tey karishyaami Jagatkaarana kaarana,
Stuta Trailokya naathesha Sarvathaiva Namostutey/
Namah Paarsveshu tey Deva Namastey Sarvatah Prabho,
Parvateshu Samudreshu Lokeshu Gaganey tathaa/
Namastestu Namastestu Sarvatraiva Namostutey,
Yevam Stutastu Ramena Ramamaah Janardanah/
Rama Rama Mahabaaho Varam Varaya Suvrata,
Veeryena tapasaa Deva Stotrenaanena Suvrata/
Paritushtosmi tey Vatsa yathaa naanyasya kasyachit/

(Namaste Deva Deva! You are the demolisher of the miseries of those who seek your protection; you are the Four Faced, the Unique Faced, the Embodiment of Four Vedas and the Mighty Armed; you are Govinda, Pundarikaaksha, and Varaha Deva who lifted the entire Bhumi by the sheer grit of your jaws; you are the most fierce Nrisimha Deva who assumed a matchless Man-Lion Form and tore off with your iron nails the most muscular chest of the Hiranyakashipu Daitya who tormented the Three Lokas as the repulsive symbol of cruelty and violence; you are the Vamana Deva who as a Brahmana boy sought an ‘insignificant’ charity of mere three feet from the famed King Bali and expanded your Physique to occupy the whole Universe comprising the Upper Lokas, Earth and the Underworlds; the Hagreeva Deva with Soma adorned in his mouth who killed Madhu Kaitabha Demons and restored Vedas stolen by them from Brahma; you constitute the corporeal limbs and their end-uses; the Exterior senses; Inner faculties and the heart and soul of the all the Beings in Creation; the Pancha Bhutas of Earth, Water, Radiance, Wind and the Sky; the Satwa-Raja and Tamas Gunas or the basic features of the Beings; the all-pervading, the all knowing, and the all-mighty; and the minuscule-yet the massive; and indeed the most Incomprehensible and the Form less couched in Maya or the huge Illusion. Deva Deva! Your are the Lakshmi Swarupa, Kama Swarupa; the Root, ramification and the exterminator of Kama / Desire; the Basis of the Bases; the Mountains, Oceans, Lokas, and the Sky and the Vara /boon and the Varaya the Boon Provider). It was on these lines that Parasurama extolled and as Janardana was pleased with the gallantry, atonement and the commendation of his Admirer, the latter’s request to shift Vishnu’s Idol installed by his father Sage Bhrigu at Parasurama’s own ‘Ashram’ from the top of Gridhrakuta Mountain.

20     Tirtha Yatras in Kashmira and their rewards

King Gonanda requested Sage Brihadwasha to narrate an account of Sacred Tirthas in the Kashmira Desha as well as the fruits of visiting them. Brihadashwa commenced the narration by an ascent to Grudhrakuta Mountain after a bath in the converging point of the Rivers Vitasta and Madhumati, which would accord a reward of giving away thousand cows in charity and ‘Swarga Prapti’ after life. Bathing in the River Kumunari followed by ascent on Indranila Mountain would accrue similar ‘Punya’. One would achieve the reward of performing ‘Vahnishtoma’ by a darshan of Bhagavan Chakresha installed by Sage Sandilya on the banks of River Madhumati after taking a formal bath at the Krishna-Vitista ‘Samyoga’ (confluence).Further,

Shandilya Madhumatyoschya snaato yah Sangamey Narah Sarva paapavinurmuktah Swarhalokam sa gacchati/

(‘Snaana’ at the confluence of Shandilya and Madhumati would demolish the sins of persons concerned).Darshana of the Deity Rajavaamsa Hari at Rajovinirnmala would be another firm sure step for sin-demolition. Vision of Gouri Shankara Mountain Peak and darshan of Durga Devi soon after her so-called first monthly period should bless a person with access to Chandra Loka. Interestingly, even during the Krishna Paksha or the dark period of a month, the Kashmira Region would normally be bright! Separate ‘snaanas’in the two Rivers Telala and Bhurjala would fetch those persons the advantage of ‘Shata Go-daana’ while bathing at the confluence would carry the benefit of performing Vajapeya Yagna. The meeting point of these two rivers with Madhumati Nadi would yield the advantage of Gaja daana and also of appreciation from Rudra loka. Bathing in the River of Uttara Manasa bestows the ‘Gosahasra daana phala’. Haramunda Sarovara Snaana provides the benefit of ten cows being given in charity, while climbing the Haraminda hill would equal to ‘Rajasuya yagna phala’. ‘Ganga-Manasa Sangama Snaana’ too would accrue similar result. Bathing in Agastya Tirtha which was built by ‘Vaalakhilyas’ would secure the ‘Teja’or Radiance of Maharshis. Then

Kalodakam Nandikundam Shankham Chakram Gadaam tathaa,
Padmam Sa Kapila Tirtham Tirthou Vaatikashandikou/
Tirthamapsaraam punyam Brahmanah Parameshtinah,
Kripaani tirthamaasadya pratekam Goshtam labhet/

( Visits to the Tirthas viz. Kalodakam, Nandikutam, Shankham, Chakram Gada, Padmam, Kapila Tirtham as also Vatika and Shandika, the enchanting ‘Apsara Tirtha’, Brahma Tirtha and Kripani Tirtha would all attract ‘Goshata Daana’ at each of the above Places.

Brahmano Yaga bhumischa tatra puraya Mahipatey,
Shakra Tirtham Deva Tirtham Tirtham Brahmana kundika/
Drushtvaaikaikeyam yaitebhoy Goshatasya phalam labhet,
Hamsadwaram cha Sangamya Swargamaapnotyasamshayam/

(At the Brahma Yaga Bhumi, there are Tirthas viz. Shakra Tirtha, Deva Tirtha, Brahmana kundika and by visiting either of these would award the ‘Punya’ of charity of hundred cows’ while Hamsadwara Sangama would grant achieving Swarga loka). On reaching the Starting Point of River Sindhu, one is stated to have executed Rajasuya Yagna, while one would have performed the Poundarika Yagna if the person concerned bathed in ‘Bindusarasa’. There are other Rivers of sanctity viz. Chitrapatha, Mriganandana and Mriga and purification in any of these is stated to equal the value of bathing in Rivers like Godavari, Vaitarani, Mandakini, Chandra bhaga and Gomati viz. charity of hundred cows, burning off sins and Swarga prapti. Chitrakuta was the most hallowed Mountain where Devi Uma and Maha Deva were wedded and the popular belief was: Tatraanulepanam Divyam yena liptatanunnnarah, Surupahbhaagi bhavati subhajas –chaiva jaayatey/ (A heavenly ointment was available there and its application was endowed excellent physical charm and beauty). Brihadashwa informed the King further:

Pada Gavya sarastatra Panchagavyasarah prudhak,
Tatraanye Pancha Bhupaala Punyam Taila Saras –tatha/
Udvurtana Sarah Punyam Punyam chaapyatasisarah,
Siddharthaka Sarastatra tathaamalakavaarinah/
Madhuparka Sarah Punyam Punyamrushnodakam tathaa,
Ekamekamayai tebhyo drushtwaa Swarlokamaapnuyaat/

(Besides Gavyasara and Panchagavyasara, five consecrated Lakes were popular viz. Tailasara, Udurtanasara, Apyatasisara, Siddhadhakasara, Amalakavaarina and Madhuparkasara as also Madhuparkasara and Ushnodaka. Any one of these would assure access to Swargaloka). Proceeding further up the Chitrakuta Mountain, one could sight the Saptarishi Tirtha which would bestow fulfillment of all desires. Another significant Tirtha was Vishnupada which was ‘Kramasara’ too as Vishnu stalked his steps over the worlds by foot and Brahma himself was stated to have performed Veda Yagnas; this Tirtha ensured that there no remnants of sins left in favour of the pilgrim concerned. Bathing in the River Koundinya which emerged from the mouth of Kramasara Lake was as powerful as executing a Pundarika Yagna while the River Kshira gave the benefit of ‘Shata Go Daana’, but the ‘Snaana’ at the meeting point of both these Rivers would gain Sahasra Go Daana.

‘Snaanas’ at River Vishoka and its confluence with Koudini would result in Devasathva and Vajapeya Yagnas while those at Vriddha Tirtha-the abode of Vasuki the Chief of Serpents and at Devasara would bestow the fruits of ‘Gosava’and ‘Devaloka prapti’. Similarly bathings at ‘Agni Tirtha’ would fetch Agni Loka; Vinataaswami and Kadruswami Lakes with hundred Go-daanas each; Sandhya Pushkarini (Swarga Prapti); Brahmakunda and Nilakunda (Ananta Punya); Vinashana Tirtha (VajapeyaYagna); Vitasamajjana (thousand cows); Chaturvedi Tirtha (gift of daughter’s wedding); Confluence of Vitasta and Dhyanadharini (Vajapeya); Harshapatha (gold); Deva Tirtha (securing a son); Triloki (fame in Trilokas); Kapoteswara (attainment of Rudra Loka); Pundarika Tirtha ( Pundarika Yagna); charity at the confluence at Vitasta and Dhyanadharini (unending Punya till next fourteen Indras); Katha Tirtha ( ten cows); Auojasa Tirtha ( Vajapeya Yagna); Shaila prastha and Vaiswana Tirthas ( instant wealth); Kama Tirtha ( immediate realization of desires); Apsara Tirtha ( attractiveness and charm); Tirthas of Rishikulyta, Deva Kulya, Ashwa Tirtha, Prabhasa, Varuna, Vahni Tirtha, Chandra Tirtha, Naga Tirtha, Chakra Tirtha and Vamana (godaana Phala); Nanda Tirtha, Skanda Tirtha, and Sureshwara (‘Mahima’ from Swarga); Pandava Tirtha (successful fulfillment of Pancha Yagna responsibilities of each house holder); Ucchaisha Tirtha (Recognition in Rudraloka); Ramaahlada Tirtha (lot of gold); Sindhu-Kanakavasini Sangama (Rajasuya Yagna); River Pavana and Rajobindu Vinirmala (PundarikanYagna); Lake Manasa on Ashadha Purnima (Agnishtoma); Meeting Place of Lake Maha Padma and River Hiranya ( Ashvamedha); Bahurupa ( appreciation from Vishnu loka); and Tirthas of Shatashringa, Vaishravana, Bhujaswami as also of Vasus, Rudras, Sadhyaas, Maruts, Bhrigus and Angiras ( Ten Go-Daanaas).

Highlighting the significance of River Vitasta, Brihadashwa informed about the trilateral confluence of Palasha-Shilama and Vitasta, bathing at that Place would fetch the fruit of ‘Shata Godaana’ (hundred cows).

Palaashaacha Shilaamaacha Vitastaam yatra gacchati,
Gosavasya phalam tatra prateykam kathitam pura/
Nadi Kularaaneecha swamujjatey Vithastathaa
tatra Snaathswaa Kulam sheeghram puneetey Maanavottamah/

(Instant body purification would be assured to the entire family and ‘Kula’ or it’s Sect by a thrust into the Sacred waters where the hallowed Vitasta met River Kularani). Taking baths at the Separate Meeting Points of Pushkara-renowned for the frequent visits of Sapta Rishis- and of Vaaraaha Tirthas with the Holy River of Vitasta would earn ‘Atiratra and Agnishtoma Phala’in the former case as also ‘Vishnuloka prapti’ and ‘Kuloddharana’in respect of the latter case respectively. Snaanas at the area where Tirtha ‘Narayana Sthaana’ and River Vitasta met should also bestow the same results as in the previous case.

Referring to the River Mahuri, Sage Brihadashwa said that Maahuri tu Nadi Punya Mathuraiva viseshatah / Maahuri River is as significant as Mathura; its tributaries are all the Sacred Rivers like Shatanila, Shamaala, Vimalodaka, Rahula, Shrimaadhya, the second Mahanadi Shuddhaa, Samula and Surasa; holy dips in the ‘Sanagamas’ of these Rivers with Mahuri would fetch ‘Dasha Go-Daana Mahima’, while bathing in another nearby Tirtha called Ananta would gladden the hearts of Nagas. Similar ‘Punya’ of Go-danaas would accrue to those devotees taking plunges in Bindu Nadeshwara Tirtha, Soma Tirtha, Tungesha Tirtha Kshetra, Utankaswami, Rama Tirtha, Bhrigu Tirtha, and Angirasa Tirtha.

In conclusion, Sage Brihadashwa gave a vivid description to King Gonanda of the Illustrious Kashmira, its Origin, people of virtue, its significance and innumerable Sanctified Places dotted all over; Oh King! all the Rivers, Lakes and Mountains in Kashmira are indeed most sacrosanct and hallowed; the Sacred ‘Pratimas’ / Figurative Representations of Deities installed by Maharshis or Respected Personalities of Fame in Kashmira were unique icons highly worthy of veneration; all the Tirthas and Rivers which were recognised by all Nagas as hallowed symbols of Purity and Virtue; ‘Punya Snaanaas’ in these Tirthas and Rivers are indeed worthy of hundreds of Gold and Ornaments, especially the bathings of the Holiest Vitasta and its various Tributaries; this Outstanding River of Kashmira would relieve all kinds of sins-except of course the worst ‘Mahapatakas’- and added to such abolition of sins would bestow further the boons of performing ‘Agnishtomas’! Sacred Baths before sun rise especially on the ‘Shukla Trayodashis’ in winter with Goroja ointment applied on one’s heads would demolish all sins, fulfillment of all desires, Yagna Phalas, and ‘Moksha Prapti’, possibly through out the year. After bathing with sincerity and devotion, one should offer ‘Naivedya’ of cooked rice and pulses with ghee to the Holy River and provide the ‘Prashaad’ to Brahmanas and this act of veneration would indeed result in unimaginalble ‘fruits’. Such acts of devotion must be performed at the Holy Places along the River Vitasta at the Spots like the Ashramas of Vitastaakhya, Dhoumesha, Vitasta- Sindhu and several of such confluences.

21     ‘Phala Shruti’ of Nilamata Purana

The virtuous Brihadashwa concluded his narration of Nilamata Purana to King Gonanda as follows:

Kashmirakaanaam Tirthaanaam phalam tey Kathitam mayaa,
Sakalam Nila Vaakyamcha Gamishyaami Sukhi bhava/
Idam dhaaryam prayatnena yanmayaabhitam tava,
Shrutvaitata phalamaapnoti Dasha Go-daanaam Narah/

(The unfolding of facts as described above by King Nila concerning Tirthas in Kashmira and the rewards in visiting them should make one delighted; retention of these details in memory with some effort would indeed yield the remuneration of charity of ten cows).
While winding up the recounting of Nilamatha Purana, King Janamejaya specifically asked Maharshi Vaishampayana about the Mahatmya of River Vitasta. The Maharshi replied that Devi Daakshaayani / Sati Devi the better half of Maha Deva was herself a sacred manifestation of Kashmira:

Harasya dayitaa Bhaaryaa Sati Daakshaayani shubhaa,
Saivomaa kathitaa Rajan praapotey Vaivaswatentarey/
Himadra tanayaa saiva Yamunaa paapanaashani,
Manvantaraantey saivokthaa nourgarishtha Jagattraye/
Kashmiraa kathitaa Devi Vitastaa saiva nimnagaa,
Pataalaadyutthitaa Devee Shulaghaatita Taranginee/

( Devi Katyayani the wife of Hara was Sati Devi at the end of Vaivaswantaraa and was also the River Yamuna which sprang from Patala loka by the hit of Skanda’s Sula; that was the River Vitasta identified with Sati Devi herself).

River Vitasta was considered as Sacred and Sin-demolishing as River Ganga; in fact Bhagiratatha brought the River from the Heavens to purify the bones of the dead ‘Sagara Putras’, where as Vitasta did not have any such eventuality but purified the persons of all their blemishes.All those who drank the holy waters of Vitasta were all destined to ascend to Swagraloka where they would be treated to drink Somarasa. While Devas were satisfied with the oblations that were made at the Yagnas on the banks of the holy Vitasta, Pitras were contented with the ‘Shraadhas’ and ‘Tarpanas’ and Brahmanas with ‘Mrishtaanna bhojana’ along with Dakshinas. Nagas, Rivers, Maharshis, Brahmanas, persons of all other ‘Varnas’, Devas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Apsaras and Rakshasaas and so on approach the Great Vitasta for their own reasons and most sigificanly to wash their body, heart and soul!

Further the various prominent Rivers approach The Most Hallowed Vitasta:

Sindhurtrikoti cha tathaa Vishoka Punyaa Nadi Harshapathaa Shivaa chaiva,
Punyaa Sukhaa Chandravati Sugandhaa Punyodaka kilbisha nashani cha/
Kulaaranih Paapaharaacha Krishna Nadi Supunyaa Madhumatyaathaapi,
Nadi Paroshani cha tatthaatra Punyaa Praayanti Divyaa varadaam Vitastaam/
Gangaa Nadi Shambhujataakalaapey Chandrena Devena tathaa vibhinna,
Proktaa Nrilokey Nripa Chandrabhaagaa aayaati punyaam vitataam Vitastaam/

(All the great Rivers like Sindhu, Trikoti, Vishoka, Harshapatha, Sukha, Chandravati, Sugandha, Punyodaka, Kulakarni, Krishna, Madhumati, Paroshini, Chandrabhaga, which is the alternate Rupa of Ganga, do all move towards the Unique and Immortal Vitasta River) and so do all Tirthas, Sarovaras, Nadis, ‘Tadakas’and Wells; all others concerned mentioned above approach the Celestial River to maximise their ‘Punya’, especially on Bhadrapada Shukla Trayodashi.

Shrutwaa Vitasta Mahaatmyam muchyatey sarvakilbishaih,
Shrutwaa Nilamatam Sarvam Dasha Dhenu phalam labhet/

(Paying sincere attention to ‘Vitasta Mahamya’ would indeed destroy all sins and transgressions. But closely following the proceedings of Nilamata Purana should grant the additional worth of ‘Dasha Go-Daana’).



Om Tat Sat

(End of Nilamatha Purana)

(My humble salutations to  the lotus feet of Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamy ji and also my humble greatulness to  Brahmasree Sreeman V D N Rao ji  for the collection)


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