3:10 AM

The Essence of Puranas – Skanda Purana -3

Posted by gopalakrishna

The Essence of Puranas – Skanda (Kartika)  Purana


Siva Mantra, Siva Ratri, Siva Puja, Siva Pradosha Vrata and Siva Kavacha
Jyotirmatra Swarupaya Nirmala Jnaana Chakshusey,
Namah Sivaaya Shantaya Brahmaney Lingamurthaye/
(My humble Greetings to Siva whose Form is of splendour, Eyes are of sparkling wisdom, Linga Swarup is Brahma and  Features are of Peace and Propitiousness!)
Sage Suta while addressing a Gathering of Rishis and narrating the ‘Brahmottara Khanda’of Skanda Purana described the significance of devotion to Maha Deva by way of Siva Mantras, Siva Ratri and Siva Puja.The ‘Adi Panchakshari Mantra’ when complemented with Pranava Mantra ‘Om’ is known as the Shadakshari Siva Mantra Om Namah Sivaaya. This most Sacred Mantra is complete, composed and compact which is considered as the Soul of ‘Upanishads’and is the most potent tool utilised by Sages down the ages for realising Bhagavan; it is stated that  this simple device is the Key to multiple applications like Tirthas, Yagnas, Tapas, Japas, Yoga Practices, Vrathas, Sacrifices and Pujas. A person lost in the dark and frightful forests of ‘Samsara’, the Mantra is a beacon light; it is the ‘Badabagni’ or the engulfing fire that brings down huge trees of ‘Maha Pathakas’ or the Great Sins into ash; This Shadakshara is Ambrosia to those who have no awareness of Ritulas, Deekshas or Pujas with strict regulations and controls; methodology of Homas, Tarpans and ‘Upadeshas’ by Gurus, and extreme care for observing Physical and Mental directives and parameters. This Mantra is a God-sent facility especially to woman folk, and other people with no access of complicated Mantras much less to Vedas and Scriptures, those who are ‘Varna Sankaras’or who jumped the Rules of Superior Varnas, outlaws of Society and confirmed Sinners, Criminals and fallen men and women. Sage Suta cited the example of a King Dashahi of Mathurapuri married to Kalavati the daughter the King of Kasipura. After the wedding, the bride requested her husband to observe celibacy as she was performing a Vrata for a few days, but the King attempted force despite protests; the bride’s body became so hot that the groom had to refrain. The King realised his folly and asked his wife to teach the Panchakshari Mantra, but since she was a wife to the King advised him to approach Guru Gargacharya to be initiated with the Panchakshari Mantra. The King practised the Mantra and within hours experienced a feeling of freshness and freedom of sins. After the Vrata by the Queen, the King became completely changed and lived with happiness and good progeny, as they continued the practice of the Panchakshari Mantra always.
Siva Ratri in the months of Magha / Phalgun Krishna Paksha Chaturdasis are considered extremely crucial, especially the ‘Upavasas’ (day-night fasts) and Jaagarans (night-long awakenings). The ‘Punya’ of worshipping Siva Linga especially with Bilwa Tree Leaves along with ‘Abhishekas ’is stated to be as good as ten thousand Ganga Snaanas. Siva Ratri ‘Upavasas’are said to equate performing hundred Yagnas.These facts were illustrated by the experience of a noble King called Mitrasaha who visited forests for hunting. He killed a Rakshasa and the latter’s younger brother desired to teach a lesson to the King, took the form of a human being and wangled a job in the Royal Kitchen as a cook. Sage Vasishtha visited the King who invited the Sage for a meal. The cunning Rakshasa brother who was a cook in the Royal Kitchen served ‘Nara Maamsa’ or human flesh to Vasishtha. The Sage who found human flesh in the food became extremely angry and cursed the King to become a Raakshasa. The King being innocent of the charge appealed to the Sage to withdraw the false charge but no avail. The King grew angry and was about to give a return Curse to the Sage but the Queen named Madayanthi begged of the King not to do so but since the Manrtik waters of the King were already drawn out; he had to sprinkle the waters on his own feet and hence was known as ‘Kalmashapaad.’ But in view of the curse of Vasishtha, the King had to roam in the forest as a Raakshasa for twelve years. As the curse-period was almost over, the King-turned-Raakshasa found a young Brahmana couple roaming in the forest for fun and caught hold of the Brahmana boy; his wife who had the awareness of the Rakshasa’s background made an appeal to him and conveyed that the Rakshasa was actually a King but was converted due to Vasishtha’s curse. But the Rakshasa killed the boy and out of fury and sorrow the woman jumped into death pyre for Sati Sahagamana while cursing the Rakshasa that if even after his return as a King would ever meet his wife in union, he would die at once. Queen Madayanti was aware of the curse to the King by the Brahmana woman and conveyed the same to the King too. Thus the Royal Couple desisted themselves their desires and became ascetic-like. The King had the feeling that a Piscachi was always after him due to the ‘Brahmahatya Pathaka’ of the Brahmana Couple.That was the time when Sage Gautham called on the King and the Queen who conveyed their entire story of misfortune.The Sage suggested that King Mitrasaha and Queen Madayanti must visit a highly Sacred Kshetra called Gokarna where the utterance of Bhagavan Siva’s name itself would instantly dissolve the worst possible Maha Patakas. This Kshetra was as potent and Sacred as Kailasa and Mandarachal on whose Sikharas (Peaks) stayed Maha Deva. Demon Ravanaasura did severe Tapasya and secured a Siva Linga, but on way when Raavana asked Ganesha disguised as a care-free lad tha latter tricked the Asura and established the Parama Linga at Gokarna instead of being taken to Lanka since Ravana would have become invincible otherwise.This most sanctified Kshetra is the residing Place of Vishnu, Brahma, Kartikeya and Ganesha and had no parallel in destroying even the toughest Sins. Situated on the west coast of Bharata Desha, this most sancrosanct Temple Complex is the most sought after Center known for disbanding Brahmaghaati, Bhuta drohi, Bhratrudrohi as also hardcore and toughest crimes. On certain specified days, Darshan and Puja yield double the benefit, such as Sunday, Monday and Wednesday coinciding preferably with ‘Amavaasyas’. Sacred bathing in the Ocean, followed by Daan, Pitru Tarpan, Siva Puja, Japa, Homa, Vratacharya and Brahmana Satkaar (Gifts to Braahmanaas) as also Bilwa Puja and Abhisheka with milk, ash and Gandham (Sandal Paste) would keep a mortal on a high pedestal indeed. On the sacred Krishna Chaturdasi of Maagha (Phalguna) month, Siva Puja with Bilwa leaves, followed by Upavaas, Jaagaran and stay in the Temple Premises would set up steps to Sivaloka.Thus Sage Gautama advised the Royal Couple, who had almost lost hope in their lives! He narrated a strange incident to reinforce faith in the Gokarna Kshetra; he saw a Sarovar in the consecrated surroundings where an old, diseased and tattered Chandali woman who was almost dying. He also saw an aeroplane in the sky carrying a handful of passengers dressed like Lord Siva Himself! As they got down from the skies, they approached the old woman whom none would not even like to touch. The Sage noted that they were Sivadutas and prevented them from going nearby as he could see from his ‘Divya Drishti’(Celsetial Vision) that the wretched woman had a frightfully sinful background in her earlier life; she was an immoral, lusty and despicable prostitute who never even took the name of Bhagavan Siva and steeped in sins of all kinds. Yet, Sivadutas arrived by a special ‘Vimana’ (aeroplane) to fetch the woman to Sivaloka! The secret of the woman was that she used to take the name of Siva inadvertently, more as a byword; she had the fortune of residing in Gokarna Kshetra; she spent nights without food and was awake all through on Siva Ratri days; she had kept bilva leaves on a Siva Linga a few times again accidentally and not out of veneration. It was in this context that Sivadutas took her soul to Sivaloka having given to her a beautiful physical get-up, dressed in silks and ornaments, decorated with flowers, with fragrances spread out all around!
Siva Puja : Sivo Guruh Sivo Devah Sivo bandhuh Sharirinam, Siva Atma Sivo Jeevah Sivaadannayna kinchana/ Bhagavan Siva is Guru, Siva is Devata, Siva is the relative of Human Beings, Siva is Atma, and Siva is Life; without Siva none else exists. With Siva as the receiver, the returns are immense of whatever Daan, Japa and homa are performed. It is the tongue which praises Siva that is worth possessing; the mind which meditates Siva is worth having; the ears that listen to Siva’s holy acts are worth keeping; the eyes which look down with veneration of Siva are worthy of acquiring; the feet which roam freely in Siva Kshetras are valuable; and the limbs of one’s body are worth retaining if only they are utilised in the honour of Siva. Be it a human being as a chandala, man, woman or eunuch, a Siva Bhakta is always eligible for attaining Mukti. This was illustrated by Suta Muni to the congregation of Rishis at Naimisa Forest by the experience of Raja Chandrasena of Ujjain and a Cow-boy called Srikar. Chandrasena was an extraordinary Siva Bhakta and Manibhadra the Chief of Siva Parishad gifted a Chintamani to the King. The Kings of surrounding Kingdoms grew jealous of Chitrasena and attacked his Kingdom, but he was unnerved since he had immense faith in Bhagavan Siva and continued his prayers in the Mahakaal Temple. At the same time, a Cow-woman accompanied by her son too witnessed the King’s Puja. On return to his home, the boy who fully understood the Puja procedure practised the Puja secretly without the knowledge of his mother; he improvised a stone as a Sivalinga and performed various imaginary services to Bhagavan like Snaana, Pushpa, Chandana, Akshata, Dhup, Deepa and Naivedya. As the boy was deeply immersed in the worship, his mother called him for food but as there was no response she searched for him and he was engrossed in the Puja. The mother chided him and even threw away the so-called Puja material that was improvised; in fact when the boy was in a trance of devotion and she dragged him away; he begged of the ‘Siva Linga’ or the Stone that was improvised not to punish his mother as she was an ignorant woman. Within minutes, the Place where the boy worshipped turned out to be a huge Sivalaya with golden domes and beautifully laid walls,doors and floors and an installed Linga on a platform made of blue sapphire and other precious stones. The appearance of Sivalaya surprised the boy, his mother, entire Ujjain, Chitrasena, his enemies who surrounded Ujjain and the whole Region. The enemy Kings sought the pardon of King Chitrasena; the King extolled the devotion of the Gopa boy; the mother of the boy was overwhelmed with repentance of her indiscretion on the one hand and of supreme joy and pride for her son on the other, and the unimaginable happening became a talk of the Region. At this very time, Lord Hanuman appeared and addressed the gathering of devotees and stated that the formation of the Linga happenned at the Pradosha Time on a Saturday just on the strength of the sincerity and unadulterated faith of the boy who would be known further as Srikar, that in the eighth generation after the boy there would be an Avatara of Vishnu popularly called Sri Krishna and meanwhile that He would teach the Rituals in the Temple to the Gopabala Srikar to carry on the daily tasks from then onward.
On every Trayodasi evening, Pradosha time is observed as Mahadeva performs ‘Siva Thanadava’ (dance) on the Silveren Mountain of Kailasha as all Devas would be present and euologise Nataraja and His Supremacy. The Bhaktas, desirous of attaining the ‘Four Purusharthas’viz. Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, observe the Pradosha Time with Siva Puja, Homams, Stutis (Praises) and charities. Those devotees who are involved in such activities secure immediate relief from poverty, disease, indebtedness and discontentment.
Pradosha Vrata is observed by fasting, ‘Snaan’at three ‘ghadis’ before evening, ‘Sandhyavandana’ and Siva Puja. The Puja is initiated by way of Atma Suddhi, Bhuta Suddhi, three Pranaayamas, Matrukaa Nyasa, Devata Dhyana, Parama Siva’s Dhyana, greeting to Guru on the left side of one’s back, bowing of head on the right side, touching both the shoulders and thighs by way of Nyasa of Dharma, Jnaana, Vairagya and Iswarya; Nyasa of Naabhi and both the sides of the body to avoid Adharma, Agyaan, Avairagya and Anaiswarya; Nyasa on Hridaya (heart) with Ananta, Achyuta etc.; perform Nyasa  from Adhaara Shaki to Jnaanatmaka Shakti imagining heart as a lotus of various petals; Bhagavan with Three Eyes, Chandra on His Head, ‘Jatajut’( Twisted Hairs on the Head); ‘Neela kantha’ indicating enormous mercy; Sarpa Haara or a Chain of Snakes; Tiger Skin and so on. Thereafter the Puja is performed by way of Avahana (Welcome), Rudra Sukta Recital, ‘Panchamrita Abhishek’, Vastra, Arghya, Paadya, Achamana, Yagnopaveeta  (Sacred Thread), Aabhuushana (Ornaments), Chandana, and worship with Bilva, Mandara, Red Lotus, Dhatura, Kanera, Chameli, Kusha, Tulasi, Apamarga, Champa, Karaveera and other flowers and ‘Dalaas’(leaves); Dhupa, Deepa, ‘Naivedya’, Neerajana; Mantra Pushpa viz. Yopaam Pushpam Veda to Chandra, Agni,Vayu, Nakshatra, Parjanya,etc; followed by ‘Atma Pradakshina’, Chhatram, Chaamaram, Nrityam, Geetam, Aaandolika, and various other Services. The Grand Finale of the Pradosha Vrata ought to be ‘Siva Stuti’ as follows:
Jaya Deva Jagannadha Jaya Shankara Shaswata,
Jaya Sarva Suraadhyaksha Jaya Sarva Suraarchita,
Jaya Sarva Gunaathita Jaya Srava Varaprada,
Jaya Nitya Niraadhhara Jaya Vishvambharaavyaya,
Jaya Vishvaikavedyesha Jaya Naagendra Bhushana,
Jaya Gauripathey Shambho Jaya Chandra Sekhara,
Jaya Kotyarka samkaasha Jayaanantha Gunaashraya,
Jaya Rudra Viruupaksha Jayaachinthya Niranjana,
Jaya Naatha Kripaasindho Jaya Bhaktartibhanjana,
Jaya DustaraSamsaara Saagarottharana Prabho,
Praseeda me Mahadeva Samsaarartasya Khidyatah,
Sarva Paapabhayam hrutva Rakshamaam Parameswara,
Mahadaaridya –magnascha Mahapaap hatasyacha,
Mahashoka Vinishtascha Mahaarogaathurasya cha,
Runabhaara pareethyasya Dahyamaanasya Karmabhih,
Graheh Prapeedyamaanasya Praseeda mama Shankara.
Siva Kavacha: Realising that Bhagavan Siva was the Origin of ‘Srishti’ (Creation) which was far beyond human comprehension; Sage Sharabha scripted the famed Siva Kavacha or the Body Safeguard to humanity: ‘May Sarvadevamaya Mahadeva save me from this deep Samsaara Kupa; may His Sacred name relieve me from the totality of sins from my heart. May Bhagavan Siva save me whose Body Form is His Universe and whose resplendent and happy embodiment of ‘Chidaatma’ or Ever Happy Soul is Eternal. May Eswara, whose presence is all pervading from even the small to the smallest existence is replete in the Universe, save me from the massive stock of sins from my life! May ‘Ashtamurthi’Girisha who had taken the Form of Earth save me from my daily tribulations. May Parama Siva who assumed the appearance of Water which is life-giving provide me security of life. May Maha Siva who ends up the Universe with fearful flames and performs Rudra Tandava (dance) while enjoying the destruction of Life bestow relief to me from heat and fury.May the Three Eyed and Five Faced Siva, the’Satpurusha’ grant me Vidya (Knowledge), Abhay (shelter) and ‘Vara’(boon) at all times out of His endless mercy fron the Eastern side. May Siva, who wears Kuthara, Ankusha Pasha, Shula Nagaada and Rudrakshamaala and is also known as Neelaruchi, Trinetra, and ‘Aghora’, keep me safe in the Dakshina (Southern) side. May Omni Potent ‘Sadyojata’ who sports Chandama, Shankha and Sphatikamala on His Body look after me on the Western front. May ‘Vamadeva’Bhagavan save me from the Northern Front. May ‘Ishana’save me from the above or the sky! May Bhagavan Chandramouli save my head, Phaalanetra my forehead, Bhaganetrahaari my eyes, Viswanaatha my nose, Shrutageetakirti my ears, Panchamukha my face, Vedajihva my tongue, Girisha my neck, Neelaantha my two hands, Dharmabaahu my shoulders, DakshaYagna Vidhvmavsi my Vakshasthal Girindradhanva my stomach, Kamadevanaashak my Mahyadesh, Ganesha Pita  my navel, Dhurjati my ‘Kati’, Kubera Mitra my Pindaliyas, Jagadeeswar my Ghutnas, Pungavakethu (two janghas or thighs), and Suravandyacharan (both the feet worshipped by Devas). May Maheswara save me during the first Prahara Time; Vaamadeva the second Prahara, Triayambak the third Prahara and Vrishabhadwaja the final Prahara; Sisireswar at the begnning of the night; Gangadhar save me midnight; Gauripati at the end of night; and may Mrityunjaya save me always.Shankar should protect me from the Internal Physique; Sthhaanu from the Bahya Stithi or Extrenal Being, Pashupati saves me from the intermediate Stage of consciousness and Sadasiva may protect everybody always. Let Bhuvanaikanath save me while standing, Prananath in motion; Vedantavedya while my standing, Avinaashi Siva during my sleep; Neelakantha during our tavel; Tripuraari while passing rocky places; Mrigavyaaghra passing through forests; and Mrigavyaghya in Maha Pravaasa or deep and dense  jungles. I seek the refuge of Veerabhadra whose high blast and frightening presence shakes up the whole Universe. May Bhagavan Mrida who could devastate crore-strong of armies in split seconds and has the unimaginable might and speed to do so, and Tripurantaka whose‘Pralayakaal’Trisula could submerge the entire Creation into an endless sheet of water, save me from my bad dreams, awful omens, dreadful feelings of mind, durbhiksha (extreme poverty), Durvyasanas (terrible habits), diseases, fear of poisonous species, and victimisation of evil ‘grahas’, natural mishaps like cylones, earthquakes and floods and all such unfortunate experiences. I greet Sadasiva who is the embodiment of all Tatvas and their interpretation, the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer of all the Worlds,  the unique witness of existence, the Donor, Sin Remover, the epitome of Propitiousness, the Nirguna, the Unparalelled, Nirakar, Niraabhas, Niramaya, Nishprapancha, Nishkalanka, Nidvandhya, Nissanga, Nirmala, Gati Sunya, Nithya Rupa, Nithya Vaibhava Sampanna, Anupama Iswarya, Adhara Sunya, Nithya, Shuddha Buddha, Paripurna, Sachhidanandaghana, Adviteeya, Parama Shanta, Prakashamaya, and Teja Swarupa. Hey! Rudra, Maha Roudra, Bhadraavataar, Duhkhadavagni vidarana, Maha Bharava, Kaala Bharava, Kalpanta Bhairava, and Kapaala Maalaadhari. Hey, Wearer of Khatvanga, Khatga, Dhala, Paasha, Ankusha, Damaru, Shula, Dhanush, Baana, Gada, Shakti, Bhidipaala, Thomar, Mushal, Mudgar, Pattisha, Parashu, Parigha, Bhushundi, Shataghni, Chakra such other frightful weapons! Hey, Mukhadamshtra karaala, Vikata Attahaasya visphaarita Brahmaandala mandala, Nagendra kundala, Nagendravalaya, Nagendracharmadhara, Mritunjaya, Triambaka,Tripurantaka, Viruupaksha, Visweswara, Viswarupa, Vrishavaahana, Vidyubhushana and Vishvatomukha.You guard me, burn off fear of my death, demolish my Apamrityu and my fear of external and internal diseases, shield me from ‘Arishatvargas’or the Six Enemies of Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada and Matsara ; tear down my terror of Raakshasas, Bhutaas, Kushmandas, Betalas, Brahma Raakshasas and such other Kshudra Shaktis. Oh Lord, equip me against Naraka Bhaya (Terror of Hell), Kshudha Trishna (hunger and thirst), and apprehensions. Victory to You Bhagavan! Do strengthen my physique, mind and Soul and insulate me from all possible risks of life with this Parama Shakti Maha Siva Kavacha.

Kashi Mahatmya- Pride of Vindhyachal suppressed by Sage Agastya
‘Bhoomishthapi na yatra Bhoomnidivatopuschairathah sthaapiya,
ya badhhava Bhuvi Muktida syuramrutam Yasyam mrita Jantavah/
Ya nityam trijagat pavitra thatini Theero Suraih Sevyathe,
Saa Kashi Tripurari raja nagari Paayadpaayaajjagat’
(Even situated on Earth it is disconnected with it and even connected with the Upper Lokas it is situated in the lower Lokas, the City of Kasi provides salvation to all the Lokas even while it is set up in the ‘Panchabhoutika’Bhu Loka, whose dead persons attain divinity since Kasi Nagar is Maha Deva’s Capital, where Sacred Ganga flows always).
Sage Narada incited ‘Vindhyachala’ comparing it with Maha Meru and the latter grew his size to surpass the height of Meru Parvata. As a result, the course of Surya Deva was obstructed and one half of the Universe became dark and the other half became too hot to live in. All the Deities made an appeal to Lord Brahma who suggested that they should all approach Sage Agastya who could only control the situation. When the Devas approached the Sage, he was upset and sad but had no recourse to defy Lord Brahma’s command; along with his wife Lopamudra, an illustrious ‘Pativrata’ dedicated fully to her husband, the Sage had to leave Kashi which was very dear to both of them and knew fully well they would not return in their life time. The Sage took leave of Parama Siva Visweswara, Devi Annapurna, Devi Visalakshi and Kaalabhairava and also of Devi Ganga for his last dip at Kasi. The Couple experienced such grief of parting Kasi as a child would cry parting with the parents. As soon as Sage Agastya arrived, Vindhyachal was frightened that the Sage could as well obliterate his very existence as he was aware of his unpardonable mistake having upset the whole Universe. As such, Vidhyachal had taken the first command of the Sage and became diminutive in size and the course of Surya Deva got restored at once. Agastya asked Vindhyachal to be in that form till he returned back to the same Place. Subsequently, the Couple travelled Southwards of Vindhya on the banks of River Godavari and reached Kolhapuri and secured the ‘Darshan’ of Maha Lakshmi. The Sage extolled Devi Lakshmi as follows:
Matarnamaami Kamale Kamalayathakshi,
Shri Vishnu hritkamala vaasini Viswa maathah/
Ksheerodaje Kamalakomala garbha Gauri,
Lakshmi Praseeda satatam namathaam Sharanye/
Twam Sri Rupendra sadaney Madanaika maatha-
Jyothistraasi Chandramasi Chandramanoharaasye/
Surye Prabhasi cha Jagathrithaye Prabhaasi
Lakshmi Praseeda Satatham Namathaam Sharanye/
Twam Jaathavedasi Sadaa Dahanaatma Shakti-
Vedhastvayaa Jagadinda Vividham Vidhatyat/
 Vishambharopi Bibhrudaakhilam Bhavatya,
Lakshmi Praseeda Satatam Namathaam Sharanye/
Twaktyakthamyetadamaley Harathey Haropi,
Twam Paasi Hamsi Vidadhasi Paravaraasi/
Eedhyo babhuva harirapamaley Twadaaptya
Lakshmi Praseeda Satataam Namataam  Sharanye/
Surah sa eva sa Gunii sa Dhanyo, Maanyah sa eva Kula sheela kalaakalaapih/
Ekam Shuchih sa hi pumaan Sakalopi Loke, Yatrapoktava Shubhey Karunaa kataakshah/
Yasmivaseh Khanamaho Purushey Gajesvey,
Strainey Thruney Sarasi Devakuley Gruhenney/
Ratney Patatrini  Pashaou Dharaayaam/
Susreekameva Sakaley Thadihasthinanyat/
Twaktspushtameva Sakalam Shuchitaam lameta,
 Twaktameva Sakalam Twashuchih Lakshmi/
Twannama Yatra cha Sumangaleva tatra,
 Sri Vishnu Patni Kamaley Kamalalayopi/
Lakshmi Shriyam cha Kalaam Kamalaalayam cha,
Padma Ramaam Nalina Yugma karaam cha Maam cha/
Ksheerodaja amamrita kumbhakarimiraam cha,
Vishnupriyamiti Sadaa Japataam kka duhkkam/
( My greetings to You Mother! You have the broad Eyes of a Lotus; the Resider of Lord Vishnu’s own Heart and the Supreme Mother of the entire Universe with a delicate belly like the softness of a Lotus leaf; I seek protection from You for Your Kindness always. You are the Mother of Madana and are memorable with the name of Sri in Vaikuntha.You possess the coolness of Chandra, the splendour of Surya and the blistering heat of Agni; You share the reponsibility of Brahma for Creation, Vishnu for Preservation and Rudra for destruction of the Universe or in short the Karya-Karana Swarupa of the Whole World; You are the Unique Shuura Veera, Gunavaan, Vidwaan, Dhanya, Maanya, Kuleen, Sheelavaan, and the epitome of all ‘Kalaas’ or features of the World and of Piety and Purity. Even a split second gaze of Yours would bless the Beings, be it a human being, elephant, horse, Eunuch, Water body, Deva Mandir, Home, Anna (Food), Jewellery, Animals and Birds, Earth and any thing in short. When a light touch of Yours is blessed to a being, it becomes Live and Pure and the converse too is true. You are the Emblem of Propitiousness, Prosperity and Success. Every one is ready and too happy when Your any name is pronounced as Lakshmi, Shri, Kamala, Kamalaalaya, Padma, Ramaa, Nalinayugmakara, Maa, Kseerodaja, Amritakumbhikara, Era or Vishnu Priya). Sri Laksmi was pleased with Sage Agastya at his sincere and heartfelt eulogy and blessed the couple with Her appearance; She stated that since She knew as to what was tormenting the Sage, he would certainly return to Kashi during the next twenty ninth Dwapara Yuga as Veda Vyasa and take up the Sacred Task of annotating Vedas and scripting ‘Ashtaadasa Puranaas’ and gain immorality through his glorious Works!

Manasa Tirtha
After leaving Kolhapuri, Sage Agastya and his wife Lopamudra visited Srishaila; it is stated that a glimpse of the Temple ‘Shikhara’ (Minaret) where Bhagavan Mallikarjuna and Devi Bhramaraamba reside is enough guarantee against Punarjanma (rebirth). The Sage described that after Kasi, there were several important Tirthas like Prayaga, Naimisharanya, Kurukshetra, Gangadwar (Haridwar), Avanthi, Ayodhya, Mathura, Dwaraka, Amaravati, Ganda sagar Sangam, Kancheepura, Triambaka, Prabasa Tirtha, Badarikaashrama, Omkara Kshetra, Purushottama Kshetra ( Jagannatha puri),Gokarna, Pushkara, and Gaya which is well known for indebtedness to Pitras.
But the most significant one is the Manasa Tirtha, which stands for Kshama (Tolerance), Satya (Truth), Indriya Nigraha (Control of Body Parts), Daya (Mercy), Daana (Charity), Dama (Mind Control), Santosha (Happiness or Contentment), ‘Brahmacharya Paalana’or Celibacy, Jnaana Tirtha, Dhairya Tirtha and Anthakarana Shuddhi Tirtha. Such Manasa Tirthas represent the essential virtues of humanity and are the bye- products of Mind and Heart. Just as bathing in a Holy River is not mere task of body cleanlinesss devoid of mental purity, visits to Tirthas also are not necessarily as simple as diving and dunking. Indeed the physical hygiene might be the first step to Internal Transparency, but visits to Tirthas by person of cruelty, crookedness, avarice, and such other negative tendencies are of little consequence.At the same time, frequent visits to Tirthas and Snaans in Holy Rivers do pave the ways to the right paths and hence the prescription by the Scriptures till a stage arrives for Manasa Tirtha visits!

Description of Celestial Worlds
A Bramhana by name Siva Sarma lived in Mathura who was no doubt well versed in Scriptures but gradually became worldly wise and gave more and more of priority to earning property, Bhumi, jewellery and the like. He had suddenly realised his folly and cursed himself that none of the precepts that he exhorted to others for making money was practised by him.
He then commenced Tirtha Yatras and executed Snaans, Worships, charities, daily ‘Agni Karyas’ or homams, Tarpanas, Shraddhas and such other noble tasks at various Tirthas like Ayodhya, Prayaga, Kashi, and Mayapuri. In the course of the Tirtha Yatras, Siva Sharma experienced death and felt that an aeroplane arrived from Vishnuloka with two passengers named Vishnu prashads to take him away. Along with Siva Sharma, the Ganas travelled various Lokas on way to Vishnu Loka. They first flew over Piscacha Loka where they saw the miserable creatures that gave away charities reluctantly, performed Siva Pujas for showing off to others and discouraged others to give charity, Pujas, Snaans, homas, Tarpanas and prayers. They then witnessed Guhya Loka where the inhabitants amassed money but had hidden gold, properties and jewelery that could not be traced. Then came Gandharva Loka which was full of singers who made several good turns in their mortal lives such as charities, Pujas, Tirtha Yatras, Agni Homas, recitals of Bhakti Geetas, Veda Parayanas and so on; illustrious singers like Tumbura and Narada who had ready access to Devas, Planets, Trimurtis and even lower worlds belonged to this Loka. Siva Sharma and the Vishnu Ganas witnessed Vidyadhara Loka where Gurus treated their disciples as their own sons, the well-to-do persons  performed charities like Kanya Daans, Bhu Daans, Go Daans, Suvrna Daans and led virtuous lives on Earth engaged in Veda Pathana, Vratas, Worships, and so on. The Vishnugana duo had then shown Siva Sharma a few glimpses of Naraka Loka, the scenes of retribution to sins perpetrated by human beings and the treatment given by the Yama dutas as per the Manuals of the various Hells; however the Vishnuganas portrayed Dharma Raja as a benevolent King much unlike what was normally imagined. No doubt Yama Dharma Raja was a strict disciplinarian and stickler of Rules.The Vision of Dharma Raja is as per the eyes of the Viewer who could be guilty, less guilty or non-guilty! However, Dharma Raja instructed his Yamadutas that they should not approach persons who take the names of Govinda, Madhava, Mukunda, Hari, Murari, Shambhu, Siva, Esha, Chandrasekhara, Damodara, Achyuta, Hara, Neelakantha, Vishnu, Nrisimha, Shankara, Narayana and so on. Sivasharma and Vishnuprashads then travelled to Surya Loka and found Surya Deva who was Sarvatma Veda Purusha. Those who were taught Gayatri Mantra ought to perform Gayatri Japa thrice a day at the Three Sandhyas and if they did not do so were considered as the fallen human beings attracting retribution of justice. Those who observed the ‘Sandhya Vandana’ in favour of Surya Deva and Gayatri Mata as prescribed would be blessed with long life, health, affluence, Wealth, Cattle, Friends, Progeny, Good Life Partner, viz. the ‘Ashta Ishwaryas’ or the Eight folded Prosperity. One should realise that Gayatri and Surya Deva has the ‘Vachya-Vaachaka’ relationship or of the Speech and the Target of the Speech (Gayatri Mantra and Sun God). Also, Gayatri is Brahma, Vishnu and Parama Siva and is the Quintessence of Vedas and Scriptures, defining what Supreme Energy or Paramatma is all about!
Durlabha Sarva Mantreshu Gayatri Pranavaanvita,
Na Gayatryadhikam Kinchitrayopu Parigayathey/
Na Gayatri samo mantro na Kasisaddashi Puri,
Na Viswesha samam LingamSatya satyam Punah Punah/
Gayatri Veda Jananii, Gayatri Brahmanaprasuh,
Gaataaram Shrayatey Yasmaadyatri thena gaayathey/
At the time of Solar Eclipse, what ever virtuous tasks like Snaan, Daan, Japa, Homa etc. are performed would help ‘Surya Saameepya Praapti’ or steps to attaining Surya Loka after one’s mortal life. Recital of the following Surya ‘naamaas’ (names) by prefixing ‘Om’ and suffixing ‘Namah’ during the Eclipse Time would assure removal of poverty, disease, difficulties and discontentment: Hamsa, Bhanu, Sahasranshu,Tapana,Taapana, Ravi, Vikartan, Vivaswaan, Viswakarma, Vibhaavasu, Viswarupa, Vishwakarta, Maarthanda, Mihira, Anshumaan, Aditya, Ushnagu, Surya, Arthama, Bradhna Diwakara, Dwaadashaatma, Saptahaya, Bhaskara, Ahaskara, Khaga, Sura, Prabhakara, Srimaan, Lokachakshu, Graheswara, Trilokesha, Loka saakshi, Thamaari, Shaswatha, Shuchi, Gabhastihasta, Teevramshu, Tharani, Sumahorani, Dyumani, Haridaswa, Arka, Bhaanumaan, Bhayanaashana, Chhandoshva, Veda Vedya, Bhaswan, Pusha, Vrishaakapi, Ekachakraratha, Mitra, Mandehaari, Tamishraha, Daityaha, Paapa harta, Dharma, Dharmaprakashaka, Helika,Chitrabhaanu, Kalighna, Thakshyavahana, Dikpati, Padmininatha, Kusheshayakar, Hari, Dharmarashmi, Durnireeksha, Chandamsu and Kashyapaatmaja. The two-some Vishnu Ganas and Siva Sharma approached the glittering Indra Loka which was built by Viswakarma by the power of his Tapasya. In Amaravati, the Capital of Indra Loka, nobody produces Clothes or Jewellery, as KalpaVriksha does the tasks exceedingly well. Similarly, Kamadhenu fulfils all desires of food. Indra who had performed hundred Aswamedha Yagnas is known therefore as Shataamanu and has thousand eyes. His deputies are Seven Lokapals like Agni, Vayu, Varuna etc.Siva Sharma and Vishnu Prashad then witnessed Agni Puri  where besides Agni Deva, there are Agnideva’s ‘Upasakas’ or top devotees of Agni viz. Agnihotraparaayana Brahmana, Agnisevi Brahmachari, and Panchagni Vrata’s Administrator, who are all as powerful as Agni Deva himself. Also, there are Agni Experts who could treat Mandanaagni with Jatharagni and so on. Agni is the most propitious Deity who is known as ‘Paavak’or the Purifier and is also the Third Eye of Parameswara. After visiting Agni Loka, Siva Sharma sought the details of Nirruti Loka  resided by Rakshasas, but they were of different type as they seldom cheated; in fact they were only Rakshasas by birth but were Virtuous persons by habits as they visited Tirthas, performed worship to Devas and had all the laudable qualities of resorting to Snaan, Daan, Daya (Mercy), ‘Kshama’ (Patience), ‘Shoucha’ (Physical Cleanliness), ‘Astheya’ (Non stealing), and ‘Paropakaris’ (Helpful to others). North to Nirruti Loka is situated Varuna Loka where its residents dig up a number if Wells, Sarovars and Water Bodies with their rightly earned money and along with highly tasteful water offer to travellers food, shelter and rest houses. They also nurture water-oriented marine life including fishes, crocodiles and a large variety of aquatic animals. They live fearlessly under the protection of Varuna Deva and enjoy long and contented life where there is no disease, want and difficulty of any kind. They are all highly virtuous, engrossed in devotion to Paramatma and unnerved by ‘Arishadvargas’. Vayu Loka is known as Gandhavati Loka ruled by ‘Praana Prabhanjana’Vayudeva always immersed in the worship of Maha deva; a well-known devotee of Siva at Kasi called Pavaneswar did Tapasya for ten lakh long years and had darshan of Maha Deva who appointed him as one of the Dikpalas, blessed him with the knowledge of all Tatvas and made him the Chief of ‘Praana’/ ‘Aayu’ or Life Span as also of air or the essence of Life and very existence. Siva also made Vayu the Head of ‘Gandhas’ or the Ruler of Smells. Next to Gandhapuri is Alkapuri of Kubera who was too an intense devotee turned friend of Parama Siva who was pleased to bless  Kubera as the In charge of ‘Nava Ratnas’ or Nine Gems as an Administrator, Provider and Promoter. Adjacent to Kubera Loka where the residents are eternally rich with breath-taking designs of Nava Ratnas is the Ishanapuri with high concentration of ‘Tapasvis’, always deeply engaged with the thoughts and actions of Siva; in the performance of Siva Vratas, Siva ‘Abhishekas’, Siva Archanas, and Homams oriented to Siva; and totally dedicated to Siva. This Place is also the residence of Eleven Rudras viz.  Aja, Ekpada, Abhirbudhna, Pinaki, Aparajita, Triambak, Nisha, Shambhu, Haran, Ishwara and Kapi. The next is of Chandra Loka which is the epitome of coolness, happiness, health and mental peace. Chandra was the son of Sage Atri who performed Tapasya for three thousand Divya Years to Brahma who not only blessed the Sage to beget Chandra but even brought up the child. Having come of age, Chandra too did Tapasya to Bhagavan Siva at the Avimukta Kshetra Kasi and set up a Siva Linga called Chandrasekhara. Siva was pleased with Chandra’s worship and adorned the best ‘Kala’ (feature) of Chandra on His head; later on Daksha Prajapati cursed Chandra to disappear but the best Kala of Chandra retained on Maha Deva’s ‘mastak’ (head) is revived every Purnima night but gradually wanes day by day till Amavasya and grows gradually again grows there after in the ensuing fortnight. With the blessing of Mahadeva, Lord Vighneswara gave Chandra the responsibility of ‘Beejas’ (seeds), ‘Aushadhis’ (Medicines), Water and of Brahmanas. Mondays are the days dear to Chandra and worship to him, especially if coinciding with Amavasya, has far reaching benefits of good health, mental peace, ‘Dhanya Vriddhi’ or plentiful foodgrains and stay at Chandra Loka after life. Budha Loka is near Chandra Loka and Budha (Mercury) is Chandra’s son. After securing his father’s permission, Budha set up a Budheswara Linga at Kasi and did Tapasya for ten thousand years. Maha Deva gave His darshan to Budha and gave the boon that his Loka would be situated above the residences of Stars and that the Budha Graha would be considered as the most auspicious and the least trouble-making planet to humanity. Siva also gave the boon that whosoever worshipped Budheswar would retain the ‘Buddhi’ or memory and full consciousness till the last breath. Shukra Loka (Venus)is the residing Place of Danava Guru Shukracharya who secured ‘Mrita Sanjeevani Maha Vidya’ (The Unique Discipline to revive the dead) from Shankara Deva after pleasing Him with rigorous Tapasya for five thousand years. This Vidya was not obtained by Deva Guru Brihaspati but Shukra the son of Sage Bhrigu was able to achieve.Also, Siva was pleased to bestow additional boons such as designating Shukrawar (Friday) in a week in favour of Shukra and whosoever observed fast on that day and worshipped Shukreshwara Linga at Kashi would be blessed to secure courage, comfort and contentment besides good progeny.The next Planet is of Mangala Deva (Mars) born to Bhu Devi having stayed in Kashi meditated to Visweswara in the form of a Linga named Angarakeswaraand decided that he would not cease his Tapasya till such time that from his body there must be emerging fires or Angarakas. Maha Deva was happy with the Tapasya and granted the Status of a fulfedged Planet to him. Persons worshipping at the ‘Angarakeswara’ Linga on Mangalawar or Tuesdays would be rid of ‘Graha Peeda’ and provide relief from the difficulties experienced by human beings. Belief among human beings is rampant till date that especially unmarried girls if born with Mangala Dosha are not preferred for weddings and are better wedded to unmarried boys with similar Dosha! Devapujya Brihaspati’s Loka is next to that of Mangala Deva. The son of Sage Angira, Brihaspati happened to be the most Learned Vidwan, who was ‘Jitendriya’or the Conquerer of Physical Limbs and Internal ‘Gunas’; he was steeped in the comprehension of Vedas, Shastras and all other Scriptures, had the capacity to apply the knowledge to practical situations and was ideally suited to be the Guru of Devatas. Immensely delighted by his ‘Tapasya’, Bhagavan Siva granted the most important boon of appointing him as Deva Guru; Siva stated that ‘Brihat’or Great Devas needed a ‘Pati’ or a Teacher and as such he would be known as Brihaspati to one and all. Siva also told that on Brihaspativars (Thursdays) any new task commenced after worshipping the Linga set up in the name of ‘Brihaspatiswara’ or to Brihaspati himself would be very succsessful. Sage Agastya told Devi Lopamudra that the Vishnu Bhaktas Siva Sharma and Vishnupradas were gratified to vision Shani Loka soon after passing the Brihaspati Loka. Shani (Saturn) was the Son of Surya and the brother of Yama Dharma Raja and he too executed persistent Meditation and Sacrifices to Shaniswara Linga. Maha Deva was particularly satisfied with Shani’s penance and granted him the Status of a very powerful role as one of the ‘Nava Grahas’ since human beings were punished to experience the ‘Karma phala’ during the Shani phase of one’s life or at times let them experience helpful kick-starts of benevolent tasks performed in their ‘Prarabdha’ or earlier life. Saptarshi Loka is the most hallowed Land where Seven Most Illustrious Rishis appointed by Lord Brahma reside; these Sapta Rishis are Marichi, Atri, Pulaha, Pulastya, Kratu, Angira and Vasishtha, the ‘Manasa Putras’ the Mind Borne Sons of Lord Brahma. Their Wives respectively are Sambhuti, Anasuya, Kshama, Preeti, Sannati, Smriti and Arundhati, all of them being esteemed as ‘Lokamathas’or the Mothers of the Universe. Each of the Sapta Rishis executed extraordinary Tapasya and a happy Sada Siva bestowed the Title of Prajapatis to them.  As the Dhruva Loka came nearby, Vishnuprasadas narrated the Story to Siva Sharma as to how Dhruva, the grand son of Swayambhu Manu, made the most difficult resolve to seek the ‘Darshan’ (Vision) of Vishnu as he was hurt since his step mother (Suruchi) prevented him-a mere boy- to sit on his father’s (King Uttanapad) lap, while his cousin brother(Uttam) sat; the King  did nothing even while the step mother said that Dhruva would have to do Tapasya to Narayana to reach the father’s lap. Dhruva’s own mother (Suniti) was not favoured although she was the elder Queen and the King had supported the younger wife. Dhruva took his mother’s permission, was fired by the ambition to vision Narayana and met the Sapta Rishis who taught the Mantra: Om Bhagavathey Vasudevaya. He recited the Mantra while standing, moving, sleeping, sitting, or being awake and as there was nothing else that interested him in life even at that tender age and after innumerable years of unending perseverance Vishnu made His appearance and said: ‘I am fully aware of your ambition which far surpassed the mere lap of your father; you conquered me with your steadfast and unprecedented devotion to me; I am pleased to make you the center of gravity of all celestial bodies including Surya Deva, Planets, Stars and the rest as also as the Chief of Dhruva Mandala till the end of the Kalpa’. After crossing Dhruvaloka, the Vishnu Bhaktas passed Maha Loka where Maha Tapasvis reside till the end of the Kalpa targetting Vishnu alone in their minds; Jana Loka where Brahma Manasa Putras viz. Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanaatana and Sanat Kumaras stay practising ‘Akhanda Brahmaharya’ or Endless Celibacy; and Tapo Loka where Mahatmas like Brahma Himself and of Brahma’s life span concentrate on the ways and means of promoting and innovating Virtues and Spiritual Values of the entire Universe. Even while the thoughts of Tapo Loka were in the minds of Vishnu Bhaktas, Satya Loka arrived and the three of them fell on the feet of Lord Brahma who complemented Siva Sharma for his knowledge of Vedas and Scriptures; He said that at the end of each day (to Brahma) witnessed a Pralaya and fresh Srishti was taken up and that the various Lokas witnessed by Siva Sharma would soon be forgotten.Brahma also stated that among the four kinds of Creation viz. Swedaja(born of sweat like Lice),Udbhija (created by Earth like trees), Pindaja ( born of womb like human beings and animals) and Andaja ( born of Egg like birds), only human beings had the unique prospect to control Indriyas, Gunas, Shatvargas provided they availed the opportunity; there was no Place like Bharat which happened to be the ‘Karmabhumi’ or the Place where Noble Deeds were rewarded and there was no Tirtha like Kasi and no Bhagavan like Viswanath Linga in the Universe.’ Having visited Satya Loka, Siva Sharma asked the Vishnu Prashads as to how far he would have to travel farther and the latter replied that from Prithvi to Surya Loka the distance was away by a lakh Yojanas (one Yojana is 13-16 km approx); from Prithvi to Maha Loka is one Crore Yojanas; from Prithvi to Jana Loka is two crore yojanas, four crore yojanas to Jana Loka and eight crore yojanas to Satya Loka; sixteen crore yojanas to Vishnu Loka and sixteen times higher from Vaikuntha to Kailasa Dham; in other words, the distance from Bhu Loka to Kailas is a staggering figure of two arab and fifty six crore yojanas! From Satya Loka Siva Sharma was blessed to travel further to reside at Vaikuntha.

Origin and ‘Mahatmya’ of Kasi
After subduing the arrogance of Vindhyachal by reducing its height below that of Meru Mountain and restored the free movement of Surya Deva across the Universe, Sage Agastya and his wife Lopamudra visited several Tirthas including Kolhapuri where Devi Lakshmi blessed and suggested them to visit Lohit Mountain where Kartikeya was performing ‘Tapas’.
Kartikeya was delighted at the visit of the Sage couple and touched the body parts of the Sage who was fortunate to have lived at Kashi for such a long time. Asked about the origin of Kasi, Kartikeya explained that originally Kasi was situated on ‘Akash’ or the Sky and not in Bhu Loka and only those blessed Yogis and Maharshis were able to vision it. But the Sacred Kasi was materialised on Earth to bless humanity, after the Maha Pralaya or The Great Dissolution, when there were neither ‘Panchabhutas’ like Surya, Vayu and Agni; only the Unique Supreme Being existed and that Super Force created Prakrithi or Maya; as the Scriptures revealed : there emerged Ekameva Dweiteeyam. Purusha and Prakriti materialised Kasi on Earth itself not only as their Transit Abode but also as a Holy Place to destroy the Sins that human beings would tend to commit.In fact, Siva and Parvati never abandoned Kasi Kshetra even during the Pralaya and hence the Sacred Place was known as ‘Avimukta Kshetra’.This Place is the provider of ‘Ananda’ (Joy) as in the days of yore, it was known as ‘Anandavan’. Eventually, Maha Deva –and the Devi placed on His left side- materialised a ‘Purushottama’ full of virtues, ‘Kalas’ and ‘Gunas’and named Him as Vishnu; Bhagavan told Vishnu that from His breathing would emerge Vedas which would provide complete awareness about every task and activity and that from His navel with various fragrances of a Lotus would surface Brahma.Vishnu resorted to instant meditation and created a water-body named Pushkarini out of His sweat and duly dug with His Chakra (Sacred Wheel). As Vishnu made severe Tapasya in a manner that Siva could hardly believe it and moved His face across in disbelief, Siva’s ‘Mani Karnika’ (Ear-ring) fell in the water and was thus named as ‘Mani Karnika’ till date as the most hallowed Tirtha. Any being from an insignificant ant to Brahma were to lose life at the Manikarnika Tirtha, the person would attain ‘Moksha’; any virtuous deeds done by way of Snaan, Sandhyavandana, Japa, homa, Vedadhyayana, Tarpana, Pinda daan; charities of cows, Bhumi, Tila, Suvarna, Ashva, Deepa, Anna (food), Vastra, Abhushana (Jewellery) and Kanyas; performance of Yagnas, Vratodyapanas, Vrushotsarga (castration of bulls) and ‘Sthapana’(Set up Siva Lingas) etc.ought to secure the corresponding ‘fruits’. Kasi is thus well known for securing ‘Punya’ of the Good Deeds done, being done, promised to be done and would be done. Visits to Kasi, extended stays at Kasi and if one is fortunate a death in Kasi are all matters of luck of human life. A youthful person feeling that the time is not yet ripe or ready for visiting Kasi since death is far away is as foolish as an old person thinking that let the few days left be enjoyed in family-life with children and grand children! The mere thought, or Vision or better still of the worship or the Abhisheka of the Holiest Linga of Lord Visveswara ought to create vibrations of life among the devotees whose faith and sincerity are directly proportionate to the intensity of their emotions. Ganga Snaan is an integral component of Kasi Tirtha. King Bhagirath was keen on reviving the lives of his grand fathers who were burnt into ashes by the curse of Kapila Muni as they misbehaved with the Muni; Bhagirath learnt that short of bringing Ganga from heavens to the Place where the ashes were still present and washing away the impact of the curse, there was no salvation the their tormented Souls. Stern Tapasya was performed to Ganga and Siva to release a bay of the Sacred River to travel down to Earth at ‘Aryavarta’and bestow salvation to the affected Souls.Those who bathe in Ganga would have bathed in all the Sacred Rivers, would have taken diksha of all Yagnas and would have completed all Vratas on Earth. Those who had amassed all kinds of sins in life would indeed get freed from them; those who suffer from ignorance, illness, poverty and the Six Enemies of life viz. excessive desires, anger, avarice, ego, jealousy and attachments would be freed by the Sacred Snanas in Ganga. Pitru Tarpans, Snaans during Solar and Lunar Eclipses, worship and Shodasopachars to Ganga are all means of securing boons from the Holy Ganga. Charities, Japas and Homas in the name of Holy Ganga as also Hymns in Praise of the River are all conduits of health, long and contented life in current life and Salvation thereafter.
 Besides Ganga, Kasi also has Dwadasa (Twelve) Tirthas of Surya Deva’s Forms viz. Lolarka whose Snaan ensures freedom from Skin diseases; Uttararka (Bakari Kunda) bestows blessings of Maha Deva and Devi Parvati as they did to devotee Sulakshna and her Goat with contentment and long life; Sambaditya provides complete freedom from diseases; Draupad – aditya  abolishes thirst and hunger; Mayukhaditya responds to devotees of Recitals of Stutis –Chaturashthak to Maha Deva and Mangalashtak to Gauri Devi** as also observance of Mangala Gauri Vrata;  Kakoladitya / Garudeswara Linga grants good health and fulfillment of human wants; Arunaditya awards removal of grief, illness and difficulties; Buddhaditya provides youth, physical fitness and mental agility; Keshavaditya destroys sins instantaneously and paves the way for Moksha; Vimaladitya is best known as Roga Nashak (demolisher of disease) and provider of good health; Gangaditya gives grit and confidence and Yamaditya saves from the severity of Yamaloka.
Deva deva Jagamaatapathey Vibho,
Bharga Bhima Bhava Chandra bhushana /
Bhuta natha Bavabheeti haraka,
Twam natosmi natha vaanchhita prada/ 
Chandrachooda Mrida Dhurjati Hara,
Thrayksha Daksha shatatanthushatanaha /
Shanta Saashwata  Siva,
Twam natosmi Natavanchita prada/
Neelalohita Samohitaryada,
Dyuklochana Virupa lochana/
Vyomakesha Pashupaashana,
twaa natosmi natavaanchitaprada/
Vaamadva Shitikantha Shuulabhruk
chandrasekhara Phaneendra bhushana/
Kaamakrut pashu pathey Maheswara
Twam natosmi natha vaanchhitaprada/
Triambaka Tripurasudane swara,
Traanakrutri nayana Trayeemaya/
Kaalakutadala nantakantaka
Twam natosmi natavaanchhita -prada/
Sharvari rahita Sharva Sarwaga,
Swarga marga sukhadaapa vargada/
Shankarogra Girirajapathey Pathey Vishva –
natha Vidhi Vishnu samstuta/
Vedavedya viditakhilenjnita,
Twam Natosmi  Nata vaanchhita prada/
Viswa rupa, Pararupa varjita
Brahmaa Jihmarahitamprada/
Braahanovishayadura Duuraga,
Twam Natosmi Natavaanchhita prada/
Mangalashtak to Devi Gauri:
Devi Twadiya Charanamuja renu Gauri, Bhaalasthali bahati hah Pranati Praveenah/ Janmaamtaropi Rajani kara charurekha, tam Gaurayatyatiram kila taysya pumsah /
Sri Mangaley Sakala Mangala Janmabhumey, Sri Mangaley Sakala kalmasha tula vastrey/
Sri Mangaley Sakala Daanava darpa hantri, Sri Mangalekhilaminda paripaahi Viswam/ Visweswara twamasi Viswajanasya katreem, twam Palayishyasi tatha Pralayopihantri/ Twannama kirtana samullasadacchapunya, Srotaswini harati paathakakula vrikshaan/ Matarbhavaani Bhavati Bhavateevra dhuhkha sambharana harini, Sharanyamihaasti nanya/ Dhanyasta yeva bhuvaneshu ta eva maanya,
Yeshu sphuratteyva Shubham Karuna Kataakshaha/ 
Yey twam smaranti satatam Sahaja -prakaashakah.,
Kaasi pureesthamatheeh natamoksha Lakshmeem /
Taanu Samsaretsmiharo Dhrutasshuddha bhudheen,
Nirvana rakshana vichakshana patrabhutaan/
Maatastwaanguli yugalam Vimalam Hridayasyam Yasyasti tasya Bhvanam Sakalam karasyam/ Yo naamatey japati Mangala Gauri Nityam Sidhyashtakam na parimuschati tasya geham/ Twam Devi Veda janamee Pranava –swarupa Gayatrasi twamasi vye Dwija Kaama dhenuhu/ Twam baahatriyamihakhila Karma Siddhavai Swaha  Swadhasi Sunah Pitru tripti hetuhu/ Gauri twameya Shashi moulini Vedhasi twam Saavidhyasi Twamasi Chakrini Chaaru Lakshmih/
Kaashyaam Tasma Mula rupini Moksha Lakshmiratwam me Sharanamihi Mangala Gauri mathah.
Illustrious King of Kasi Ripunjaya also known as Devodas who practised Dharma as one of the noblest examples whose adminisration was impeccable with ‘Varnashrama Vidhana’ in full swing, ‘Deva Karyas’ most ideal, ‘Daana Dharmas’ unparalelled, and every aspect of life being such that neither human beings, Maharshis nor Devas could raise a finger in doubt and most significantly Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara were highly satisfied. Lord Brahma performed DashaswamedhaYagna in Kasi with the active assistance of Devodas. Ganesha visited Kasi as an old Vidwan and blessed the King and his subjects. Bhagavan Vishnu, Devi Lakshmi and Garuda too visited in the guises of Brahmana Devas and as advised by Ganesha, King Devodas waited for eighteen days for the arrival of the Punyakirti (Vishnu in disguise) who gave the final ‘Upadesh’ to the King, set up a‘Bhupa Lakshmi’Linga and had ‘Nirvana Prapti’finally. Kasi is also the abode of Dharmanadi Tirtha which came to be called Panchanadi comprising Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati as also Kiran which was the Maha Swedi or the sweat of Mayuraditya who performed severe Tapas to Siva and Dhutpapa River; the Tirtha’s importance improved manifold since Maha Tapaswi Agnivindu obtained a boon after hard Tapas to Bhagavan Vishnu that Panchaganga would be His habitat and those who perform Snaan, Tarpans to Devas, Rishis and Pitras and worship of Vishnu or Vishvanath who were both the same.Vyaghreshwar Linga was set up as a request was made by a Tapasvi Brahmana to Siva observing the Rituals of Siva Ratri with complete involvement when a Rakshasa named ‘Dundhubi nihlad’the maternal uncle of Bhakta Prahlada desired to kill the Tapasvi in the disguise of a ‘Vyaghra’-a Tiger. But Siva rescued the Tapasvi from the Vyaghra and the Tapasvi eulogised to Siva to set up a Siva Linga as ‘Vyaghreswar’.Himavan, the father-in-law of Maha Deva was on a visit to Kasi and having brought a beautiful Vijayanti mala full of most precious stones sparkling the sky as though brought from Swarga; he  showed it proudly to a Tirtha Yatri but the latter made him realise the incomparable Wealth of Bhagavan Siva in the course of conversation and felt too small to gift that Mala to Siva; he then ordered that his entourage  comprising several persons must build a Siva Temple overnight with a Chandrakanti Mani Linga installed in it.Siva Ganas informed Siva and Parvati about the setting up of the Temple overnight and the latter visited it and were pleased with the gift and commended the good work; Devi Parvati requested Siva to reside in the Linga and Himavan was immensely happy that He agreed to the request, thus blessing the devotees to worship the Linga called henceforth as Shaileswar Linga. At the same Temple, a Ratneswar Linga also manifested when Siva and Parvati visited the Place and Siva explained that the Ratnas (Jewels) brought by Himavan to gift to the Siva couple were also set up at the same Temple. Meanwhile, there was considerable confusion and noise ouside the Temple as Siva and Parvati were on visit; there were shouts and cries from the crowd saying ‘help, help’. Gajasura the son of Mahishasura was around and Siva threw His ‘Shula’at the Demon who obtained a boon from Brahma earlier that Gajusura could not be killed by anyone excepting the person who conquered ‘Kama’; indeed that was only Parama Siva who burnt off Kama Deva with His Third Eye as the latter released arrows of Love but got burnt off instead. Gajasura made his death wish to Siva that He should don Gajasura’s skin and Siva granted it. The Place where Siva’s Trishul killed Gajarasura manifested a Krittivaseshwara Linga.
As Lord Brahma performed Tapas for several Yugas, there manifested a huge mass of Light that emerged from His own ‘Anthahkaran’ (Conscience), the Akshar (Word) viz. AUMKAR indicating ‘A’ or ‘Akar’which was full of Satvika Guna, Adhishthan of Rig Veda and the Creator of the Universe viz, Srishti Karak; then came the Next Word ‘U-kara’ replete with Rajo Guna representing Vishnu and finally ‘Makar’ represented by Rudra full of Tamo Guna. The sum total of Pranava Swarupa, with the ‘Naad’ or Sound and ‘Anuswarup Ardha Matra’ being Maheswara or the Supreme Energy, appeared in the Form of Omkara Linga. Next in significance is Trilochana Linga which was manifested as Bhagavan Siva was in a Yogic trance breaking through the seven sub-terrestrial Lokas like Patala onto Earth and was stated to be an embodiment of Gyana Shakti; devotees taking bath in Pilpila Kund, observe day long fast, perform night-long Jaagaran, worship Trilochana and carry out Tarpans and charities would result in Jeevan Mukti.
There are innumerable Lingas in Kasi but among the Swayambhu Lingas, the front ranking ones are Omkar Linga, Trilochan Linga, Maha Deva Linga, Kritthivasa Linga, Ratneswar Linga, Chandreswar Linga, Kedareswar Linga, Dharmeshwar Linga, Veerotsar Linga, Kameswar Linga, Viswakarmeswara Linga, Manikarneswara Linga, Avimukteswar Linga and Vighneshwara Maha Linga. Besides, other Lingas include Shaileswar Linga, Sangameswar Linga, Madhyameswar Linga, Hiranya Garbheswara Linga, Ishaaneswara Linga, Gomrekshar Linga, Vrishabhadhwajesara Linga, Upa Shanteswara Linga, Jyeshtheswara Linga, Nivasheswara Linga, Shukreswara Linga, Vyaghreswara Linga and Jambukeswar Linga. Bhagavan Siva Himself described the magnificence of Vishweswara Linga [which stood the ravages of time dating some five thousand years of the past, flourishing through Yugas with values of life since Satya Yuga where Harischandra lived for the vindication of Truth, Perseverance and Sacrifice; the Treta Yuga and Dwapara Yuga dominated by Rama and Krishna respectively and during the first phase of Kali Yuga; by surviving foreign invasions, plunders, conflicts and religious fanaticism]. Siva commended the holy activities of each day’s early mornings climaxing through the day/night, especially by observing the most propitious Kartika month with the Sin washing Ganga Snaans, resounding notes of musical instruments, Maha Nyasas, Namakam / Chamakam recitations, Veda Parayanas, Linga Abishekams with Shodasopacharas, and so on. Bhagavan Siva described that the Temple’s ‘Pravesha Kaal’ (Entry time) witnessed a frenzied and emotional outburst of devotion when Gandharvas sang Siva Stuthis, Apsaras danced, while Nandi, Bhairav, Pramadhaganaas, Yakshas, Piscachas, the cream of Sages would go wild; Nava Grahas, Lokapals and Devas as also Brahma and Vishnu would go into trance and Siva, Parvati, Ganeshwara and Skanda bestow benevolences.

Avanti Kshetra Mahatmya
Devi Parvati asked Maha Deva as to why Mahakaal Kshetra was considered significant. Siva
told her that Sanatkumara, the Brahma Manasa Putra (Mind-born Son of Brahma), had the same question too. The reply was that Bhagavan liked the Kshetra for more than one reason: It was the abode of Sapta Matrikas viz. Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Rudrani, Indrani, Kaumari or Kartikeyini, Varahi and Chamundi;there was a very fascinating Mahaakal Vana;
a ‘Smashaan vatika’ immensely liked by Siva; a Kushasthali or Yagna Bhumi where Brahma performed a famed Yagna in favour of Chandra Shekhara Siva; a Maha Pashupati Vrata was executed by Devas as taught by Brahma and most importantly Siva did ‘Kapala vimochana’ or threw the Kapala (Skull) on the ground with which He begged alms from Devi Annapurni, seemingly as a parting gift to the grateful trees and plants of the ‘Mahaakaal Vana’ for their great devotion, but actually since the tremendous reverberation created by throwing the Kapala had killed all the Daityas headed by Haya who was versatile in innumerable Mayas (Illusions) and sought to stealthily  attack Devas who would have been caught competely unawares! Devas were grateful for Maha Deva’s kind mercy in averting the tragedy. Eventually this holy Place where Kapala Vimochan Temple was situated was known as Ujjain which had many other names viz. ‘Kanaka Shringa ’ which was already the abode of Vishnu even before Siva glorified it as the location of Kapala Vimochana as Brahma and Siva searched for Vishnu and found Him at Ujjainpuri already well known as the Mountain of Golden Peaks; ‘Kuthasthali’which Brahma selected for Vishnu to undertake the task of Preservation of Brahma’s creation by throwing ‘Kushagrass’ on Bhumi; ‘ ‘Avantipuri’  as Danavas defeated Devas who fled to Meru  and  approached Brahma for help when a Celestial Voice asked Devas to pray at Kushasthali where Siva was already present and after meditation by Devas, Swarga was restored to them( the word ‘Avan’ meant Protector and since Vishnu protected the Deities, Ujjainpuri was als known as Avantipuri); Kuthasthali was also known as ‘Ujjaini’  as Brahma gave boons to Demon Tripura for invincibility and  as the latter distressed Rishis and Deities Parama Siva terminated the Demon with His ‘Pashupatha Astra’ and the locale where the battle took place was known as ‘Ujjaini’; Ujjain was also called  ‘Padmavati’ since the Wealth secured from the churning of Ocean by Devas and Danavas for Amrit (Ambrosia) was distributed among Devas themselves, despite the unsucessful efforts made by Danavas in obtaining Ambrosia, but for Demon Rahu’s stealthy task of sitting in the Area apportioned for Devas for the distribution of Amrit and having his head sliced by Devi Mohini jointly appointed by Danavas and Devas for the distribution of the Amrit. Continuing the significance of Kapaala Vimochana Tirtha, Siva further informed Devi Parvati that this Holy Territory witnessed the killing of a Daitya called ‘Haalaahal’ by Matrikas at Siva’s invitation to perish him and since then became glorified as ‘Kapaala Matrika Nivas’.The Spot where ‘Kapala bhed’took place emerged a ‘Rudra Sarovar’whose water is so Pure and Sacred that by sipping it, bathed in, or preserved by devotees for consumption later on, has the impact of performing Aswamedha Yagna and laying a ladder with steps to Swarga. In fact there are countless Tirthas, each of which had a memorable history behind; for example, Shankaravaapi, Shankaraditya, Harasiddhi Devi, Vata Yakshini, Piscacha Tirtha, Kshipra Gupteswar, Hanumatkeswar, Vaalmikeshwar, Ankapaada Tirtha, Ladduka priya Ganesha, Kusumeswar, Markandeswar, Bhamani Devi, Brahmeswar,  and so on. Most significant of all these was Omkareshwar Tirtha from where the Trishul of Rudra chased Andhakasura to Patala; Siva’s ‘Simhanada’ (Lion’s roar) in the form of Simheswara frightened the demon. The Most Merciful Maha Deva noticed the demon’s genuine remorse and prayers and blessed him to join the Siva Ganas!
As regards the significance of Avanti Kshetra, Maha Deva Siva explained to Parvati that there were four major Rivers viz. Kshipra Nadi, Divya Nava Nadi, Neela Ganga and Gandhavati; eighty four Lingas in whom as many forms of Sivas resided; Eight Bhairava Rupas viz. Dandapaani, Vikrant, Maha Bhairav, Batuk, Baalak, Bandi, Shatpancha Shatak, and Apara Kaala Bhairav; Eleven Rudras viz. Kapardi, Kapaali, Kalaanatha, Vrishasan, Traimbak, Shulapaani, Chiravaasa, Digambar, Girisha, Kaamchaari and Sarpangabhushan Sharva; Twelve Adityas viz. Aruna, Surya, Vedanga, Bhanu, Indra, Ravi, Anjumaan, Suvarnaretha, Aha -Karta, Mitra, vishnu and Sanaatan; Six Ganeshas viz. Ruddhi Siddhi Daata, Kaamadaata, Ganapati, Vighna naashak, Pramodi, and Chaturdhi Vrata Priya; Eight Matrikas viz. Uma, Chandi, Eswari, Gauri, Ruddhida, Siddhida, Varayakshini and Veerabhadra; Maha Maya Sati who is called Kapala Matrika who has Seven Matrika Associates viz. Ambika, Sheetala, Siddhidayini, Ekaanamsha, Brahmani, Parvati, and Yogashalini; Eighteen Para Shaktis viz. Yogini, Bhagavati Kaumari, Shatkrittika, Charpat Matrika, Vara Matrika, Sarasvati, Maha Lakshmi, Yogini Matrika, Chathussashthi Yogini, Kalika, Maha Kali, Chamunda, Brahmachaarini, Vaishnavi, Vaaraahi, Vindhya vasini, Amba and Ambaalika; Four Dwarpalaks of Avanti Kshetra viz. Pingaleswar, Kayavarohaneswar, Bilvakeswar and Vidyamaan; Four Pavanputras viz.Hanuman, Brahmachari, Kumaresh and Maha Bali; and Ten Vishnu Rupas  viz. Vasudeva, Ananta, Balarama, Janaardana, Narayana, Hrishikesha,Vaaraaha, Dharanidhara, Vaamanarupa dhari and Seshasaayi.The importance of Avanti Kshetra got furthered enhanced by the Holy Presence of Maha Deva Himself who manifested in several forms as described above.

Narmada’s Origin, significant events ascribed to the River and her Mahatmya
In the Reva Khand of Skanda Purana, Sage Suta enlightened a Congregation of Rishis about a query of Yudhishthar (of Pandavas) to Maharshi Markandeya about the origin of River Narmada. Several Holy Persons and Brahmanas approached King Pururava to let a Holy River descend from Heaven so that various religious activities aimed at Devas and Pitras by human beings were facilitated and the King performed relentless Tapasya to Parama Siva who in turn asked Narmada Devi to descend.
She desired to have a strong base to do so and Siva asked Paryank, the son of Vindhya, to bear the brunt. As Narmada descended, there were floods of water and the Deities requested her to diminish her size and taught Pururava the details of the Rituals to perform tarpans to his ancestors which were followed by generations thereafter.But since Narmada was a virgin, she did not allow her divine touch to Deities and therefore agreed to marry King Purukutsu, who actually was Samudra Deva but was cursed by Brahma to become a human being as the King Purukutsu also learnt from Narmada about the rituals to liberate his ancestors. It was stated that Narmada ‘Snaans’ at various points of Her Course cutting the Vindhya Mountains and peaks every where on way were not only refreshing and cool but are Sacred and divinely and those who perform the baths, especially of early hours of a day, secure Punya of several Snaans of Ganga! The Sacred Snaans at that time are instant destroyers of sins committed in the current and previous lives.On the northern side of the River is situated Anantapur where Anantasiddhi Linga is popular and is stated to be the hub of Maharshis like Saavarni, Kaushik and Aghamarshan performing Vratas and Tapas. Sage Valmiki is also stated to have lived here for long till attainment of Moksha. Another important Tirth named Dipeswar or Vyasa Tirtha is known for Vrishabha daan (Charity of a bull) on Kartika Krishna Paksha Chaturdasi bestowing Swargavaas after life. At the Narmada- Varangana Sangam is popular to wash off physical ailments and nearby the Sangam is situated the Siva kshetra where rituals of ‘Snaan and Daan’during Solar Eclipse award the same impact as at Kurukshetra; this is the abode of Narmada, Siva and Vishnu the latter being called Utpalaavarta having thousand  heads! It is the belief that even flies and birds here reach Haridhaam, let alone human beings. Tripuri Kshetra is noted as a popular and powerful Tirtha where eight Swayambhu Lingas manifested on their own, where any act of Virtue would have manifold fruits of life. Sage Markandeya recalled an interesting happening about the Tripuri Kshetra: Swayambhu Manu-the first Manu-heard at Ayodhya while sleeping the remote sounds of bells and Vasishtha explained to Manu that those sounds were heard from Tripuri on the banks of Sacred Narmada, from the aeroplanes taking off from the roofs of virtuous human beings destined to celestial worlds like Kailasa, Vaikuntha and Indra loka. Swayambhu Manu immediately left for Tripuri and performed several rituals including Aswamedha Yagna and prayed to Devi Narmada who blessed the Manu that in his lineage one famous Bhagirath would be borne in Treta Yuga and would succeed bringing Pavitra Ganga to ‘Aryavarta’ from the Celestial Worlds! In the Tripuri Kshetra itself, Sage Bhrigu prayed to Trilochan Siva being desirous of the darshan of His Third Eye and as Siva obliged with His appearance, the Sage asked for the boons of obtaining Siddhis, formation of Bhrigu Tirtha with His presence always, manifesting Eight Rudras in the Bhrigu Tirtha named Bhrigu, Shooli, Ved, Chandra, Mukha, Attahaas, Kaal and Karaali; and granting benevolence to visitors of Bhrigu Tirtha as a sin-destroyer. Similarly Bhagavan Soma (Chandra) prayed to Siva to set up Soma Tirtha as the Sangam of the three Rivers viz. Ganga, Jamuna and Narmada. Narmadapuri on the bank of Narmada was indeed worthy as Sage Jamadagni prayed to Maha Deva and secured a Kama Dhenu and King Kartaveeryarjuna being jealous of the prized possession, took away the Holy Cow by force after killing Jamadagni and the Sage’s son Parasurama not only killed the most powerful King of the Time but also uprooted the concept of Kshatriyas and Kings by waging twenty one battles; he set up a Memorial named Devadroni (Kapila Dhenu) where Pinda daanas continued to be performed to Jamadagi and ancestors.Sage Markandeya narrated the renowned happening of a ‘Nishad’ (Hunter) to Yudhishthar about the formation of Trinetra Kund as the high devotee of Siva Linga discovered that the Third Eye was missing on the Linga, cut his own eye as a replacement to it by resisting extreme pain and flow of blood and pasting it on the third eye position of the Siva Linga; Maha Deva appeared before Nishad with blind faith, extreme sense of sacrifice and unnerving devotion and granted him ‘Siva Sayujyam’(Attainment of Oneness with Siva). Sapta Sarasvat Tirtha came into being since a Gandharva, who was an excellent singer of hymns extolling Parama Siva, got into the habit of drinking and Nandi cursed that the singer be born to a Chandala. The Singer became extremely repentant and entreated Nandi to show a means of reversing the curse; the Chandala had luckily retained the memory of his earlier birth as Gandharva and reached the banks of Narmada and sang hymns of Siva at ‘Shankarasthandil’or Siva Vedi when a Siva Linga appeared by name Sapta Sarasvata and the Chandala regained the earlier life as Gandharva. Shandileswar Tirtha was formed after the famous Sage Shandilya (the Founder of the Shandilya Gotra) whose Tapasya to Maheswara in his hermitage on the banks of Narmada was exemplary; along with two other Lingas viz. Pancha Brahmeswar and Pushpeshwar, the Shandileswar was well known as among the ‘Tirtha Traya’where worship of the Lingas and Pitru Tarpans / Pinda Pradaanas were  performed. Markandeya narrated to Yudhishtar the story of Chakravarthi Mandhata, who performed Yagnas near Amarakashtak Mountain and prayed to Omkareswar. He was a gift of a powerful Yagna by his father, King Yavanashva, who drank by mistake the ‘Mantra Jala’meant for his wife.Yuvanashva got pregnant instead and delivered a boy by the opening of his belly. Devas and Indra visited the child and wondered as to who might feed milk to the boy; Indra said: ‘Esha Maa Dhata’ and fed Amrit-like milk by inserting his middle finger in the baby’s mouth and hence the child’s name became Mandhata. As the boy grew he became a model King of virtue, valour and justice.Omkareswar appeared in response to Mandhata’s prayers and gave the boon of naming the Mountain of Vaidurya as Mandhata. Jaleswar or Bana Linga was the manifestation of Siva; Banasura, the son of Bali Chakravarti, meditated to Maha Deva for thousand divine years and obtained the boons of impregnability of his City by any body excepting Mahadeva Himself and also flying mobility along with him and to those whom he chose any where. As Siva gave the boons, Vishnu and Brahma too bestowed the same kind of boons and Banasura thus emerged the Great Mighty King of ‘Three Puras’ or as the dreaded ‘Tripurasura’, who came to attack Deva Lokas and Bhuloka. Sages, Devas, Brahma and Vishnu were all alarmed and approached Siva, who decided to fight the Demon by Himself and smashed him with His Aghora astra which could absorb its heat and force by Narmada only after its attack. Banasura was badly hurt and realising his foolishness prayed to Maha Deva once again. The most lenient and gracious Bhagavan granted that Banasura would not have another birth and that a Siva Linga would be manifested as Bana Linga or Jala Linga. Another instance narrated by Markandeya to Yudhishthar related to the memorable King Indradyumna who performed Maha Yagna on the banks of Narmada, had darshan of Omkareswara Linga and visioned a radiant spectacle of an Inner Linga of Maha Deva in the central portion of the Principal Omkareswar Linga; he also had a special visualization of Bhagavan Vishnu in His full resplendent and ornamented form with four hands with Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Lotus at the top portion of Omkareswara Linga and prayed to Him; the King also invoked various Holy Rivers especially Ganga to join the Mahanadi Narmada at the bottom of the Linga; and to Narmada to manifest Seven Branches from the north to south to facilitate Daanas, Homams, Vratas, Tarpans and Pinda Pradaans to Pitras and other rituals.The King’s prayers were all granted adding to the magnificence of the entire Region in which the Sacred River Narmada flowed.
Rudra Stuti: While elaborating the implication of the word OM, Markandeya told Yudhishthar that when a person breathed last reciting that single ‘Akshara’, he or she would surely reach ‘Paramagati’:
Omithekaksharam Rajan! Vyaaharan Samanussmaran,
Vah Pragati thyajan deham sa yaati Paramam Gatim.
Gayatri, the Mother of Vedas, manifested from Omkara. In the single word of Om are firmly set up the Trimurtis of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara.Omkar is the base of Vedas, from which are spread the branches of Shriti forms. ‘Smritis’ and ‘Agamas’are the fruits, flowers and leaves. Just as Omkara is the root of all disciplines of knowedge, Siva is the origin of all Deities. The Three Sandhyas of morning, noon, and Evening, the Three kinds of Agni, the Three Lokas, the Three Vargas of Dharma, Artha and Kaama are all set in Omkara. In the initial phase of Satya Yuga, Demons named Kankola, Kalikeya, and Kaalak made Devas retreat from the banks of Narmada and the Devas approached Brahma and Siva for help. Then from the Mountains was manifested a blazing Linga cutting across Patala Lokas along with a resonant sound saying ‘Om Bhurbhuvah Swaha’. Then there was a furious look to destroy the Demons and a pleasant and cool look to protect the Virtuous.The Danavas were frightened and ran helter skelter and the Righteous proceeded to perform Siva Puja. Then Bhagavan Omkara bestowed the ‘Mantra Upadesh’ or The Counsel of Sacred Mantras to Brahma and the latter extolled Omkareswar as follows: Vyoma Samsthayi, Sarvavyapi Vyomahara, Ananta, Anaatha, Amrita, Dhruva, Shaswata Shambhava, Yogapeetha Samsthita, Nitya Yoga Yogi, Siva, Sarvaprabhava, Eshaana, Tatpurusha, Aghora, Vamadeva, Sadyojata, Kaalaatheetha, Avyaya, Buddha, Vajra dehopa- mardana, Adyaksha, Vidhu, Shasta, Pinaakini, Tridasha adhipa, Agni, Rudra,Hutasha, Pingala, Pavana, Hara, Jwalan, Dahan, Vastu, Bhasmaanta, Kshamaantaka, Apamrutyunhara, Dhata, Vidhata, Karta, Kaal, Dharmapati, Shasta, Viyokta, Anavama or Nyunatarahit, Priya, Nimitta, Vaarun, Hantha, Kruradrishti, Bhayavaha, Urdhva Drishti, Viruupaaksha, Damshtravaan, Dhumralochana, Baala, Atibala, Paashahasta, Mahaabala, Sweta, Virupa, Rudra, Deerghabaahu, Jadaantaka, Sheeghra, Laghu, Vayuvega, Bhima, Badaba mukha, Panchaseersha, Kapardi, Sukshma, Teekshna, Ksapantaka, Nidhisha, Raudravaan, Dhanvi, Soumyadeva, Pramardana, Anantapalak, Dhara, Pataalesha, Sadhumna, Shasvata, Sharva, Sarvapinga, Kaalavaan, Vishnu, Esha, Mahatma, Sukha, Mrutyuvivarjita, Shambhu, Vibhu, Ganaadhyaksha, Tryaksha, Divaspati, Samavaada, Vivaada, Prabha Vishnu, and Vivardhan. The above Rudra namaas are to be prefixed with ‘Om’. Brahma made the above ‘Stuti’ (Commendation), performed ‘Sashtanga’, ‘Parikrama’ and Mental Visualisation. As Siva was highly satisfied with the above, Brahma desired the boon from Bhagavan that whoever read, or heard or recided mentally the above Rudra Stotra would enjoy the best of this life and post life, and secures full contentment always.

Viswamitra sends mortal Trishanku to Swarga
In the NagaraKhand of Skanda Purana, King Trishanku of Surya Vamsa made an odd request to the his Guru Sage Vasishtha that he would like to go to Swarga with his mortal body and that such a Yagna be performed enabling him to do so. Vasishtha ridiculed the idea and the King asked the Sage’s sons to find a way out, lest he might abandon Vasishtha as his Guru; the infuriated sons cursed the King to turn out to be a ‘chandala’of low caste.
The frustrated Trishankhu in the form of a chandala left the Kingdom making way for his son Harischandra as the King and wandered in forests where he met Sage Viswamitra who took up the issue as a challenge, especially because he was a traditional competitor and enemy of Vasishtha.The Sage asked that Trishanku should first get rid of the form of a chandal and desired him to perform a Holy Pilgrimage. As both of them were set on visiting Tirthas, they reached Arbudachal (Abu) to visit ‘Achalaswar’ and met Markandeya who advised them to take a trip to Haatakeswar and take bath in the Patala Ganga there. To their great surprise, the Snaan and worship at that place did the miracle and Trishanku got rid of the curse of his becoming a chandala. Even as Trishanku was preparing to perform a Grand Yagna, the Sage approached Lord Brahma to be the Chief Guest who refused saying that it was against the realm of possibility that a human in his form could reach Swarga. This nodoubt frustrated Trishanku as also Viswamitra but the latter never gave up the effort and did harsh Tapasya to Bhagavan Siva who out of generosity granted the boon of ability to duplicate the task of Brahma’s Creation; the Sage succeeded in creating another Sun, Moon, Sky, Air, Water etc. Indeed the parallel Srishti panicked Brahma and the compromise reached was that if Brahma took Trishanku to Swarga in the latter’s mortal body; Viswamitra would refrain from making a paralell creation.
As Sage Viswamitra found the significance of Haatakeswara Kshetra where Trishnaku’s curse of becoming a Chandala was washed off, the Sage concentrated on this Kshetra only and stopped visiting other Kshetras like Kurukshetras. The word had gone round and many Munis established their Ashrams there. In fact the Place became so famous that many Pilgrims had dips in the Patala Ganga Tirtha and worshipped Haatakeswar and even without performing Yagnas, Vratas, Charities and Yatras to other established Kshetras, devotees found it easier to visit Haatakeswar and secure Swargaloka! Having noticed this, Devas were not receiving their share of Yagnas and devotees stopped Karmik activitesand made huge influx to Haatakeswara. Vayu Deva closed the traffic links after getting Indra’s permission to cover up the route to Haatakeswar and there was highly a confidential approach through ‘Nagabila’in Nagaloka in exceptional cases only in a roundabout unknown manner. As Indra had killed Vristrasura who was a Brahmana, he became a victim of the Sin of Brahmahatya and at one stage even attempted suicide by jumping from a mountain top; but a Celestial Voice advised him to pay homage to Hatakeswara Linga after purifying in Patala Ganga nearby the Kshetra through the Nagabila to absolve him from the Brahmahatya sin.Thus Indra got rid of his great sin and regained his throne.

Origin of Nagara, Shankha Tirtha, Achaleswara / Siddheswara Lingas
Deva Guru Brihaspati suggested to Indra Deva that Nagabila leading to Patala Loka from Bhu Loka be closed and that one of the sons of Mountain Himalaya viz. Mainaaka, Nandivardhana and Raktashringa could accomplish the task. Himalaya asked Raktashringa to do so but the latter replied that Indra had cut his wings already in the past.Indra agreed to carry Rakta -shringa by his hands, that the Mountain would be blessed with green trees, fruits and flowers;
that a Temple, Punya Tirtha and an Ashram for Sages would be constructed too.Indra also gave the boon to Raktashringa that on the top of the Mountain there would be a Nagar to live in by Vidwan Brahmanas; that a King named Chamatkar would administer the Nagar and that Hatakeswar Linga would be worshipped by one and all including Devas.That was how Nagabila was closed forever. The King Chamatkar went hunting in a forest and killed a deer and baby deers; while dying, the deer cursed the King to become a leper. The leper King took pity on a Brahmana and suggested to take bath in Shankha Tirtha which healed several persons of physical infirmities by taking bath and observing fatsting there on Chaitra Purnima. The Brahmana disclosed the background of the Tirtha that in the past there was one Sage named Likhit.His younger brother Shankha who was also a Tapasi ate a few fruits of Likhit’s garden, but the enraged Likhit said that as per the rules of the Ashram, the punishment to thieves was to have the culprit’s hands cut! Shankha whose hands were cut did harsh Tapasya to Maha Deva and obtained the boons of not only restoring the hands which were chopped but also forming a Tirtha known as Shanka Tirth.After Chamatkar left his kingdom since he became a leper, there was confusion in it and Parasu Rama killed the incumbent King in a spree of destroying Kshatriya Kings and Chamatkar was thus saved and built the beautiful Nagara which was donated to Brahmasas.Raja Chamatkar performed Tapasya to Siva subsequently and secured the boon of materialising Achaleswara Linga; this highly sacred Linga has the unique feature of its shadow of Its position always on the rear side only, irrespective of Sun’s movement! If one was unable to see the shadow then the concerned person’s life was stated to be in danger within the next six months! Muni Suta described that this Region of Chamatkara Pura comprised three other major Tirthas viz. Gaya Tirtha, Nrisimha Sthaan, and Gokarneswara Siva. In the past, the Region was known as Haataka Kshetra, but since it was donated away to Brahmanas, it came to be known as Chamatkarapura. Lord Indra blessed Raktashringa that ‘Parikama’ of the Mountain would bestow the fulfilment of one’s desires and a ‘Nishkama Parikrama’ would be a stepping stone to Moksha. Another Siva Linga popular as Siddheswara in the Region had the potency of retaining the youth of a devotee and the vision of past, present and future by continously reciting the Shadakshara Mantra : ‘Om Namah Sivaya’.

Most Significant ‘Siva Kshetras’ as identified by Maha Deva
Devi Parvati’s query as which were the most significant Siva Kshetras, Maha Deva Himself announced the following sixty eight ones along with the details of corresponding Siva’s names:
Kasi (Vishwanath), Prayag (Maheswar), Naimisharanya (Deva Deva), Gaya Prapitamaha (Brahma), Kurukshetra (Sthanu), Prabhas (Shashishekhara), Pushkar (Ajagandhi), Visweshwara (Vishwa), Attahaas (Mahanaad), Mahendra (Mahavrat), Ujjain (Mahaakaal), Marukot (Mahotkat), Shankhakarna( Maha Teja), Gokarna ( Mahabal), Rudrakoti ( Maha Yoga), Sthaleswar (Mahalinga), Harshit (Harsha), Vrishabhadwaj ( Vrishabha), Kedar (Ishaana), Madhyamakeshwar (Sharva), Suparna (Sahasraankshu), Kartikeswara (Susukshma), Vastrapath (Bhav), Kanakhal (Ugra), Bhadrakarna (Siva), Dandak (Dandin), Tridanda (Urthvaretha), Kurujangal  (Chandisha), Ekamra (Krittivasa), Chhagleya (Kapardi), Kaalinjar (Neelakantha), Mandaleswar (Sri Kantha), Kashmir (Vijaya), Marudeswar (Jayanta), Harischandra (Hara), Puraschandra (Shankar), Vameswar (Jati), Kukkuteswar (Sowmya), Bhasmagatra ( Bhuteswar), Amarakanthak (Omkara), Trisandhya (Trayambak), Viraja (Trilochan), Omkareswar ( Deepta), Pashupatinath in Nepal (Pashupati), Dushkarna (Yamalinga), Karaveera (Kapali), Jaleswar (Trisuli), Sri Shaila (Tripurantak), Ayodhya      (Nageshwar), Patala (Haatakeswar), Kaarohan (Nakuleesha), Devika (Umapati), Bhairav  (Bhairavakar), Purvasaagar (Amar), Saptagodavari Tirtha (Bhim), Nirmaleswar (Shambhu), Karnikar (Ganadhyaksha), Kailasa ( Ganadhipa), Gangadwar (Himasthaan), Jala Linga (Jalapriya), Badabaagni (Anala), Badarikashwar (Bhima), Sreshthasthan (Kotiswar), Vindhyachal (Varaha), Hemakuntha (Virupaaksha ), Gandhamaadan ( Bhurbhuva),  Lingeswar ( Varada) and Lanka ( Naraantak).Bhagavan Siva told Devi Parvati that in a house if somebody recites the names of Siva three times a day, there would not be any threat from Bhutas, Pretas, diseases, illnesses, serpents, thefts, Kings or persons in power. Among the sixty eight Siva Kshetras aforementioned, eight of them are stated to be most noteworthy and these are Naimisharanya, Kedar, Pushkar, Kurujangal, Kasi, Kurukshetra, Prabhasa and Haathakeswar, where formal bathings are considered extremely Sacred and effective. The single most important Kshetra is however deemed to be that of Haatakeswara, as stated by Siva Himself.

Origin of Kedar Kshetra and its importance
As Maha Deva was performing ‘Tapasya’on the Mountains of Himalayas in the form of a Mahisha, He found Indra the King of Devas doing sincere penance at Gangadwara Kshetra, since the latter was dethroned from Sura Loka by the Demon Hiranyaksha and associates. Siva appeared before Indra and asked him as to whom all among the Daityas should be submerged under water (Ke daarayami?).
Indra named five of the most dangerous Demons, viz. Hiranyaksha, Subahu, Vaktrakandhar, Trishringa and Lohitaaksha. Siva in the shape of Mahisha destroyed the outer walls of the Demon’s fort, pulled all of them, drowned them underneath deep waters and killed them. He asked Indra to get back to Swarga and be the Ruler of Trilokas once again.Bhagavan also materialised a Sacred ‘Kund’ (Pond) full of milk-like sweet water. Indra declared that whosoever drinks the water of the Kund with both palms together thrice would be blessed for three past generations; the left palm full of water would provide solace to mother-side ancestors, the right palm full of water to father-side ancestors and both the palms together would uplift the self. Since Siva asked Indra: Ke daarayami, the Kshetra was called ‘Kedara’. Indra constructed a beautiful Temple with Kedara Linga as the highlight and all the Devas visit the Temple and worship Bhagavan and the Kund daily. The Kshetra is open for eight months from Chaitra ie from Meena gati Surya till Vrischika Sankranti and closes for the rest of the four months there would be no access to the snow-clad mountains during which time Siva is stated to shift to Haataka Kshetra from Vrischika Sankranti till Surya in Kumbha Rasi. Bhagavan further stated to Indra that when any devotee drinks the water of Kedara Kund and gives away Pinda daan to Pitras at Gaya would attain Brahma Gyan instantly and would be free from the cycle of births and deaths to attain Moksha.

Birth of Viswamitra, cause of his rivalry with Vasishtha and his curse to Saraswati
Pursuant to Indra’s boon to Himalaya’s son to Raktashringa [See the reference of the ‘Origin of Nagara’ afore-mentioned] that Chamatkarpuri would be donated to Vidwan Brahmanas, the Township banished one of the Brahmanas called Chanda Sharma because of difference of opinion about the manner of worship and he had to leave the Town, settled on the banks of River Saraswati and built an Ashram along with his wife called Shakambhari.
Chanda Sharma made and worshipped to Twenty Seven Siva Lingas regularly and pleased Maha Deva who appeared before him and materialised a Sacred Linga and a Temple which became very popular eventually far more than Chamatkarpuri. Sakambhari too worshipped Devi Durga, day and night, and blessed her that whoever worshipped the Idol of Durga on Aswin Shukla Maha Navami would attain boons both materailistic and spiritual. Devi Durga also granted a boon to Sakambhari that the Sixty Four Matruganas would be also present in the same Durga Temple. Since the appearances of Maha Deva to Chanda Sharma and Durga Devi to Shakambhari, the Place became extremely popular as Brahma Nagar in the banks of River Saraswati, where among many other Sages, Viswamitra stayed for long till such time that he cursed Sarasvati and shifted to the Ashram of Sage Markandeya on the banks of River Narmada; the curse was that the River Sarasvati would flow blood and not clear water! Sage Vasishtha reversed the curse of Viswamitra. The episode of Viswamitra’s curse to River Saraswati is as follows:
In the days of yore, Sage Bhrigu’s son Maha Muni Rucheek was on ‘Tirtha Yatra’and reached a Place called Bhojkat on the banks of River Kaushiki, ruled by King Gaadhi. As the Muni was at the River for taking his ‘Snaan’, he saw an extraordinarily pretty girl and on enquiry came to learn that she was the daughter of the King named Tribhuvan Sundari who arrived there to worship Devi Gauri in the Temple there with the desire to secure a suitable husband. Sage Rucheek approached King Gaadhi with a proposal to marry his daughter and the latter did not relish the offer since the Sage was old and none too handsome but could not directly convey the negative reply as the Sage might curse either the King or his daughter. He had indirectly suggested that he would expect ‘Kanya sulkam’ or dowry as per the Royal Tradition and the dowry would be seven hundred white horses with black ears which could run as fast as wind; the King felt that this kind of difficult demand would surely dissuade the Sage. On the other hand, Sage Rucheek prayed to Devatas and recited sixty four Ruchas (stanzas) in Chanda or symmetry invoking seven hundred mighty horses coloured white with black ears along with strong riders who could run like wind! That specific Ghat of Ganges was thus known as ‘Ashva Tirtha’.As per the earlier understanding the King could not wriggle out and had to marry off the daughter to the Muni. Almost after the wedding, the Muni told the bride that he was going off for performing Tapasya and asked her for a boon. The bride’s mother advised the daughter to ask the Sage for an excellent boy full of Brahmana’s virtues for herself and for a brave Kshatriya boy for the Queen.The Sage performed ‘Putreshtu Yagna’to fulfill the desires of the daughter and her mother, viz. a boy of great Brahmanik radiance and another boy with unusual Kshatriya’s vivacity respectively and gave away two seedlings one for herself and another for her mother. He instructed that his wife should embrace a Pipal Tree and her mother should embrace a ‘Bargad’ Tree after consuming the respective seedlings. But the daughter and the mother wanted to test the Sage and thus exchanged the seedlings and the trees. The Sage discovered that exchanges of the seedlings and the trees took place and got quite angry, but the young wife sincerely begged the husband to conceive a boy with Brahmanic qualities although he might have the Kshatriya background.The Sage replied that there could not be a reversal of the situation, yet the boy born of Kshatriya origin might however be an illustrated Sage or a Rajarshi. Thus were born Vishwamitra to Tribhuvansundari and Jamadagni to the Queen. Jamadagni begot Parasurama who not only destroyed King Kartaviryarjuna for killing Sage Jamadagni but also wiped out Kshatriyas in a series of twenty one battles and uplifted the supremacy of Brahmanas as a race. On the other hand, Viswamitra became a Rajarshi with the qualities of a Brahmana. After Gaadhi, Viswamitra became the King and once went on a hunting spree; as he was tired he approached the Ashram of Maharshi Vasishtha who gave him the honours as a King. Vasishtha made the offer of hosting a lunch not only to Viswamitra but his entire entourage comprising a large army, elephants, camels, horses and bullock-carts. He invited a Kamadhenu (Cow which fulfils all desires) named Nandini which materialised a grand and tasty lunch comprising ‘bhakshya’ (sweets and savouries), ‘bhojya’ (Cereal preparations), ‘Lehya’ (tongue teasers), Choshya (intakables), and ‘Paneeyas’ (liquids) all ready within minutes. King Viswamitra was highly impressed and desired to possess it at any cost in exchange of chariots, elephants, horses or any other material. Vasishtha politely declined the offer to exchange and said that he could not sell his mother-like cow. No amount of persuasion helped and finally Viswamitra resorted to force. Being helpless, Vasishtha implored Nandini to protect herself; Nandini too failed in her self-protection despite her divinely efforts. Viswamitra raised his sword to kill Nandini and then Vasishtha with his Mantrik-power paralysed the raised hand.The utterly confused entourage of army, elephants, horses etc. ran helter-skelter as the normally composed Vasishtha was provoked and might destroy everybody with his mantras. King Viswamitra’s raised hand was stuck for long; he realised his folly stating that Vidya without politeness and prosperity without avarice were his ruin and being highly remorseful made a desperate appeal to the Sage to free the arrested hand. The kind Vasishtha warned Viswamitra not to enter into problems with Brahmanas and Sages out of ego and bravado any longer. The King who was put to shame by a Brahmana  realised that Brahmanic Strength was far more effective than Kshatra Might; having installed his son as the King went away to perform rituals, worship, homas, and severe Tapasya for thousands of years, some time eating fruits, later on dried leaves, subsequently water only and finally without any intake. Lord Brahma was contented with the Tapsya and Viswamitra requested for securing ‘Brahmanatva’. Brahma conferred the Title of Brahmarshi but Vasishtha protested and having shifted to the banks of Sarasvati River, built an Ashram at Shankha Tirtha in Haatakewara Kshetra to perform Tapasya there. Meanwhile Viswamitra invoked a ‘Maarana Shakti’ to kill Vasishtha who noticed certain change in the Climate and by his Sacred Vision came to realise that Viswamitra was despatching a Maarana Shakti against him. He also deduced that Viswamitra used Sama Veda Mantras to create the Shakti and as such strengthened himself with the antidote Mantras from Atharva Veda. The Shakti touched Vasishtha and became ineffective, although he had severe sweat from his body which created a stream which eventually turned out to be a Sacred Kund whose ‘Snaans’ conferred the power of prosperity, longevity, good progeny and satisfaction in life. Since the River Sarasvati took a pro-active role in protecting Vasishtha from the ‘Maarana Shakti’, Viswamitra cursed the River that its flow would carry blood and not water, thus causing many Sages and the Virtuous shifting away as its purity vanished instantly and none came forward to bathe in it. Even Vasishtha shifted away to Arbudachal and Viswamitra settled at Haataka Kshetra performing very rigourous Tapasya as a result of which, Parama Siva gave the boon of making parallell Srishti as against the creation by Brahma in the normal way! Devi Saraswati approached Vasishtha crying away; Vasishtha went to the Place of Sarasvati’s origin, obtained a branch of the Tree and concentrated on the Bhumi reciting Brahma Mantra whereby the waters of the River turned normal and in fact became fresher, tastier and rejuvenated.

Prabhasa Kshetra Mahatmya
In the final ‘Prabhasa Khanda’ of Skanda Purana, Sage Lomaharshana described to the Congregation of Munis headed by Suta Maha Muni at Naimisharanya the details of the Eighteen Maha Puranas and as many Upa Puranas. The Maha Puranas along with the number of Stanzas contained in each of them are:Brahma Purana (10,000 stanzas), Vishnu Purana (23,000), Siva Purana (24,000), Padma Purana (55,000), Vayu Purana (24,000), Srimad Bhagavata Purana (18,000), Narada Purana (25,000), Markandeya Purana (9000), Agni Purana (16,000), Bhavishyat Purana (14,500), Brahma Vaivarta Purana (18000), Linga Purana ( 11,000), Varaha Purana (24,000 ), Skanda Purana (81,000), Vamana Purana (10,000), Kurma Purana (17,000), Matsya Purana (14,000), Garuda Purana (18,000) and Brahmanda Purana (12,200).
The Upa Puranas are Sanatkumara, Narasimha, Skanda, Siva Dharma, Durvasa, Narada, Kapila, Manu, Ushana, Brahmanda, Varuna, Kalika, Maheswara, Samba, Shaura, Parashara, Maricha and Bhargava. The Maha Puranas are broadly categorised covering the Gunas (Characteristics) of Satvik, Rajasic and Tamasic nature of Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara, thus Vishnu Purana, Bhagavata, Narada, Garuda, Padma and Varaha Puranas of Satvik nature; Brahmanda, Brahma Vaivarta, Markandeya, Bhavishya, Vamana and Brahma Puranas of Rajasik nature; and Matsya, Kurma, Linga, Siva, Skanda and Agni Puranas of Tamasik nature.The major aspects covered in each of the Puranas are Sarga (Creation), Pratisarga (Destruction), Vamsa (The description of Dynasties), Manvantar and Vamshanucharit (about the events covering the generation next). Having thus given the background of the various Puranas, Sage Lomesh concluded the narration of Skanda Purana’s final ‘Khanda’with the following Invocation to Bhagavan Siva:
Om Namo Deva devaya Sivaya Paramatmaney,
Aprameya swarupaaya Vyaktaavyakta Swarupiney/
Twam Patir yoginaa mesha Twayi Sarva Prathishthitam,
TwamYagnastvam Vashatkaarastham Omkarah Prajapatih/
(My Greetings to You, Devadideva Paramatma Siva! You have a Sacred Form which is rootless with a ‘Saakara’ or Fully Manifested Form and at the same time a ‘Niraakara’ or of Unmanifested and Unknown Appearance. You are in the control of Yogis, and everything is established in You. You are the ‘Vashatkar’ (the knowledge content of enjoyble sound), the Omkar and the Prajapati.
Bhagvan Siva told Devi Parvati that in Kali Yuga the World would be full of ‘Nastiks’ (non-believers of God), so-called ‘Hetuvaadis’or Reason-mongers and Sinners; they would neither have mental capability nor faith in themselves. They would tend to argue in circles foolishly and often dispute the very existence the Supernatural Force which created, preserved and destroyed the Universe. They would heckle at the purpose of visiting Punya Kshetras while Almighty created as many as three crore and fifty lakh Tirthas and Kshetras all over ‘Bharat’, the ‘Karma bhumi’, with the hope that human beings might avail the golden opportunities of visiting at least a few of these Sacred Places, either by decision, coincidence, or even by mistake! Maha Deva further told Parvati that with sincerity and devotion any Place was worthy of worshipping to the Supreme Energy and the existence of the available Tirthas was only suggestive, but some of these had definite ‘Mahatmya’and happened to raise strong faith so as to anchor one’s devotion to. On Earth, the Naimisha Tirtha and on Sky Pushkar Tirtha are well established. Also, there are Kedar, Prayag, Vipasha (Vyas), Urmila, Krishna, Vena, Maha Devi, Chandrabhaga (Chenav), Saraswati, Ganga Saagara Sangam, Kasipura, Shatabhadra, Sindhu, Godavari, Kapila,Shona, Payodhi, Kaushiki, Devakhat, Gaya, Dwaravati and Prabhasa. Emphasising Prabhasa, Maha Deva said that He materialised a highly powerful Linga there which had the radiance of Sun and the heat of Agni and the Sacred Mix of Three Shaktis viz.’Iccha’( Desire), ‘Gyan’ (Knowledge) and ‘Kriya’(Devotional Acts). This is the Place where the most famous Somnath Linga manifested as ‘Swayambhu’ or on its own. Prabhasa Kshetra is known for attaining Siddhis and Salvation. Its East is adorned by the destroyer of darkness Suryanarayana, while the West has the abode of Madhava Deva, South has the Sea and North is Devi Bhavani. The Tirtha is five Yojanas wide and long square with Vajrini in East, Nyankumati in the West, Maheswari in the South and the Sea in the North. The Garbha Griha or the Sanctum Sanctoram is spread over from South to North by Sea to Kauraveswari Devi while from East to West is spread over from Gomukha to Aswamedhik Tirtha.Within the Garbha Griha are a number of Tirthas, Sarovars, Wells, and Deva Mandirs which are all sin-destroyers and Providers of Desires. The First Part of the Prabhasa Kshetra is dedicated to Maheswara, the Second Region is of Vaishnava and the Third Part is Brahma ‘Bhaga’. The Central Region has crores of Tirthas. The Brahma Vibhaga is stated to be dominated by Icchha Shakti, Vaishnava Bhaga is known for Kriya Shakti and the Rudra Bhaga is governed by Gyana Shakti. Bhagavan Siva stated that apart from Himalaya, Gandhamaadan, Kailas, Nishadh, Meru, Trikut, Manasarovar, Devodyan and Nandanavan, Prabhasa is one Place where He would like to accord significance.Those who stayed in the Kshetra and recite Mrithyunjaya Mantra and Shata Rudreeya on daily basis would secure Brahma Gyan within six months. Shata Rudra Mantra is denoted as the Soul of Siva Swarupa. Even mere stay in Prabhas is eventful without Bhakti bhava and worship with recitals and other acts would indeed derive far larger and unimaginable consequences. Since Somnath Linga is present at Prabhas, crores of Rudra’s manifestations are attracted from all over the Universe, especially on Vaishakha Chaturdasi. There is a concentration of Practitioners of Yoga, Sankhya and Pancha Ratras as they are readily dedicated to Prabhas which is considered as a happening Kshetra. Vedavadi Purush who is immersed in Veda Gyan known as Kaalagni Rudra or Kalabhairava Rupa is firmly seated in Prabahas. Death in Prabhasa is a sure climb-up to Kailasa. This Kshetra is protected by Vishwanath in South and Dandapaani in North. Various Ganaadhakshas who act as per the commands of Bhagavan include Maha Rudra, Chandisha, Ghantaakarna, Gomukha, Vinayaka, Mahanaada, Kaakavaktra, Subhekshana, Eakaksha, Dundubhi, Chanda, Taalajaghna, Bhumi Danda, Danda, Shankhukarna, Vaidhruti, Taaladanda, Maha Teja, Chipitaaksha, Hayaanana, Swavaktra, Vidaalavadana, Simhamukh, Vyaghramukh and Virabhadra.These Ganadhyakshas are led by Ganesha to guard the Kshetra. They keep an eye on the evil-doers and facilitate Bhaktas in their Rituals and other activities. Those who undertake bathings in the Kshetra attain the result equivalent to ten ‘Godaanas’. Those who die in Praachi Sarasvati would reach Siva Loka. Those who give away material such as Curd and Blankets have unique benefits. Those who provide food to a needy Brahmana at Brahmasthan secures benefits by a crorefold. As regards Soma Linga Swarup, it assumes Rigveda Form in the early morning, before noon time the Yajurved Form, afternoon the Linga assumes Sama Veda Form, and the evening time the Atharva Veda Form. In the Prahasa Kshetra, the Siva Swarup Soma Linga has the unique features of Nirbhaya, Nirmala, Nitya, Nirapeksha, Nirashraya, Niranjana, Nishprapancha, Nissanga and Nirupadrava. The Sparsha Linga of Someswara had been in existence since humanity arrived; Kalpas after Kalpas or ages after ages and each time there was a Pralaya and new eras commenced, Bhagavan assumed new Names with the change of Brahmas for the sixth time and the seventh one at present is called Shatanand as Siva’s name is Someshwara. The names in the first Kalpa of Brahma and Siva respectively were Virinchi and Mritunjaya, and the subsequent ones were Padmabhu and Kaalaagni Rudra, Swayambhu and Amritesh, Parameshthi and Anamaya, Surajyeshtha and Krittivasa, and Hemagarbha and Bharavanath.The eighth and the next Brahma-Someswara combination would be Chaturmukha and Prana natha. Similarly the names of Parvati Devi in the first Kalpa onward were Jaganmatha, Jagadyoni, Shaambhavi, Viswa Rupini, Nandini, Ganambika, and Vibhuti. The eighth to the eighteenth Devis would be Shubhra, Ananda, Vaama -lochana, Varaaroha, Sumangala, Mahamaya, Anantha, Bhutamata, Uttama, Pitru Kalpa and Dakshayani; the nineteenth was that of Parvati. The present name of Somanatha Siva emerged since Chandra deva performed severe Tapasya to Siva and secured the boon of creating Siva Linga to be named Soma Linga. Chandra Deva obtained several boons from Parama Siva that the devotees worshipping Someswara Linga would become free from various ‘doshas’ or deficiencies like ‘Bhuta dosha’ or threats from Supernatural Spirits like Dakinis, Pretas, Betals, Rakshasas, Nava Grahas, Putanas, Piscachas, Matrukas, Bala Grahas, Jvara rupi Grahas, and Vridha Grahas; diseases like Atisaara, Bhagandar, Pathari Rog, Mutra kruccha, and such others; Sarpa Doshas; ‘Chora Bhaya’ (Fear of Thieves) etc. would all be burnt like dry wood against fire. Kaalaagni Rudra’s presence in the Kshetra is the safest shield against any kind of problems, both mild and insurmountable alike. Bhagavan Siva told Parvati further that there might be crores of Tirthas but Prabhasa was unique as that was the seat of all the ‘Tatvas’of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva; Brahma was endowed with twenty four Tatvas, Vishnu with twenty five Tatvas and Siva with thirty six Tatvas. Thus Prabhasa is the most powerful Tatvamaya Kshetra, providing propitiousness to men and women of all ‘Varnas’, animals, birds and reptiles! This Glorious Tirtha comprises all the Pancha Bhutas or Five Elements of Nature with Brahma in the Form of Prithvi, Vishnu in the Form of Water, Rudra in the Form of Tejas (Illumination / Heat), Kubera in the Form of Vayu (Ether), and Sada Siva Himself in the Form of Aakasha (Sky).There are Eight ‘Adi Guhas’ or Original Caves signifying water viz. Amaresh, Prabhas, Naimisha, Pushkar, Aashaasdhi, Danda, Bharabhuti, and Laangali. Also, there are ‘Ati Guha’ Kshetras signifying Tejas viz. Harishchandra, Sri Shaila, Jaaleswar, Preetikeswar, Mahakaal, Madhyama, Kedara and Bhairava. Further, there are ‘Guha Gruhantara’ Kshetras signifying ‘Vayu’ viz. Gaya, Kasi, Kurukshetra, Kankhal Tirtha, Vimala Tirtha, Attahaasa, Mahendra and Bhima. Signifying ‘Akaash’ (Sky), Eight ‘Pavitratmak’ (hallowed) Kshetras are Vastrapath, Rudrakoti, Jeshyeswar, Mahalaya, Gokarna, Rudrakarna, Karnaaksha and Sthapa. There are also eight more Kshetras denoting ‘Prithvi’ (Earth) viz. Chhagal, Bruhasudh, Maakoth, Achaleswar, Kalanjaravan, Shanka -karna, Sthaleswar and Suleswar. Among all these, Prabhas is the abode of water and radiance representing both Siva and Vishnu, a vital fact unnoticed by several devotees! Lord Siva re-emphasised the fact that from the Sea in South to Kaureswari River born to Surya Deva the Region in between is Prabhasa literally meaning Radiance. That is why Devotees visiting Prabhasa Kshetra never miss having a Darshan of Surya Deva Temple and perform ‘Arka Puja’ and Daan. Not far from Surya Temple is the renowned Siddheswara Linga which fulfills the wishes of devotees from the days of yore known as Jaigeshaveshwar. In the earlier ‘Kalpa’, there was one Great Yogi named Jaigeshva who was an extraordinary devotee of ‘Mahodaya’, a Swayambhu Linga; as Parama Siva was fond of smearing ashes on His body, the Yogi too smeared ash and even slept on ashes. Mahadeva was pleased and gave darshan to Jaigeshwa, complemented on his spiritual efforts, blessed him to become popular as Yogacharya and granted him Salvation; the Mahodaya Linga came to be called as Jaigeshwara Linga and in Kaliyuga when Sages called Balkhilas attained Siddhis and the Linga came to be popular as Siddha Linga.
Another interesting incident was narrated by Parama Siva to Devi Parvati as to how Chandra was associated with Someswara Linga and Somnath Temple: As Chandra neglected his twenty seven wives viz. ‘Nakshatras’ (Stars) excepting Rohini, Daksha Prajapati who was the father-in-law of Chandra cursed him to fade away in his brightness and Chandra became dimmer by each day. He worshipped a Siva Linga established by Brahma Himself for long and Bhagavan Siva modified the curse of Daksha that Chandra would lose his sheen from Purnima onward till the end Krishna Paksha or the second half of the dark fortnight and gradually become brighter by each night subsequently from Amavasya of the dark month to Purnima again. The Place where the boon was granted by Siva to Chandra to partially reverse Daksha’s curse (to brighten up the first half and darken up the second half by each night) was Prabhasa derived from the word ‘Prabha’.Chandra requested Viswakarma, the Architect of Devas to design and develop the Prabhasa Region as also construct Someswara Linga Temple and appointed Priests to carry on the daily rituals of worship attend to the devotees.The name of Someswar had become synonymous with Eswara as Chandra. Siva came to adorn His Head with Chandra eversince he was born at the time of churning the Ocean, keeping the ‘Halahal’ (Poisonous flames) in His throat and Devi Mohini’s distribution or Amrit, Rahu Graha’s cheating into the queue of Devas, Chandra’s complaint and Rahu’s chase to Chandra and Siva’s rescue to Chandra.  Further, Chandra being the nearest luminous Planet to Earth, Lord Brahma bestowed special dispensations to him viz. to provide various ‘beejas’ (seeds) and ‘Aushadhis’ (medicines and medicinal plants). The beejas facilitate the production of rice, wheat, oils, grams etc.while plants enable to produce fruits, vegetables, sugar and such edibles besides medicines of innumerable variety of life giving and life sustaining nature. Chandra is also the Chief Controller of Brahmanas. Devotees who observe Bhakti, Snaan, Daan and worship at Prabhasa are bestowed with all kinds of benefits, especially when they recite the Mantra:
Om namo Devadevaya Siti kanthaya Dandine,
Rudraya Vaamahasthaya Chakriney Vedhase namah/
Sarasvati cha Savitri Devamata Vibhavari
Sannidhaney Bhavatwatra Tirthey Paapapranashiney/
This Mantra is common to any devotee performing ‘Snaan’ at any Tirtha. To the South of Somnath is situated the Padma Tirtha. One should take a resolve even at Somnath that a devotee would resort to have the head tonsured and after the ‘mundan’ take bath and then enter the Padma Tirtha for a sacred bath in the Ocean as one should not enter it otherwise. It is the belief that the head hair carries all sins and thus needs to be removed before the Tirtha. For women however tonsure is not prescribed but making a symbolic cut would suffice.The following Mantra needs to be recited before a dip in the Ocean:
Om Namo Vishnu Guptaya Vishnurupaya the namah,
Saannidhye Bhava Devesha Saagare Lavanaambasi /
The devotees are then required to perform Tarpan to Devas, Rishis and Ancestors of three generations.Brahma is stated to have commanded Samudra Deva (the Ocean) that the salt water be converted as of Amrita Tatva. Near Agni Teertha, flows the Sacred River Saraswati which comprised Five Streams viz. Harini, Vajrini, Nyanku, Kapila and Sarasvati. Lord Vishnu instructed the River Sarasvati to carry out ‘Badabagni’ (Submarine Fire) from North of Bharat to Prabhasa Kshetra Westward into the Ocean. But Samudra was frightened as Badabagini was carried by Saraswati and high tides appeared as a result. Lord Vishnu advised that Badabagni should be sucked into the Ocean in very small quantities as through a needle’s eye; thus the same continues to be sucked in slowly and hence the fury of the tides due to the exhalation of Badabagni at Prabhasa.Besides the Someswar and Siddheswar, Agni Tirtha and Padma Tirtha and River Sarasvati, Prabhasa Kshetra also possesses Kapardeswar, Kedareswar, Bhimeswar, Navagraheswar, Eleven Rudras and Balarupadhari Brahma, Sweteswar, Bhaireswar, Kalkaleswar, Ukthunkeswar, Vaidyanareswar, Gauthameswar, Yogeswar, Pandaveswar, Pratyushewar, Anileswar, Prabhaseswar, Rameswar, Lakshmaneswar, Bhuteswar, Lomeswar, Ratneswar, Vainateneswar and so on as also Eleven Rudras and Brahmarupadhari Brahma. The visit of Prabhasa Kshetra is stated to be incomplete without the worship of three major Devis, viz. Mangla, Visalakshi and Chatvar: representing three types of Power that is, the Power of Will, the Power of Action and the Power of Knowledge respectively. Mangala Devi represents Brahma Shakti; Visalakshi represents Vishnu Shakti and Chatvar the Siva Shakti. Chandra performed rigid Tapasya to the Shakti of Will for thousand years and since Chandra’s will power was on test to secure propitiousness, the Devi was called Mangala. In a fierce battle between Devas and Danavas, the tricky Demons were elusive and Vishnu remembered Mahamaya called Visalaakshi or the Shakti with large eyes to overcome the Danavas. The Goddess called Chatvara Priya who was the embodiment of Knowledge with the ‘Amsa’ (Feature) of Siva was another Devi worshipped without fail at the Prabhasa. Most importantly, devotees to Prabhasa are blessed to perform Shraaddha / Tarpan at the Sacred Goshpada Tirtha. It has been stated that Pirtu Devas jump with joy that their sons, grand sons and great grand sons who arrived at the Tirtha expect that they would satisfy them with ‘Shraaddhas’with wheat / rice, til, honey, akshatas (rice with turmeric) and ‘kheer’ to quench their thirst and hunger: The Mantra says:
Pita Pitaamahschaiva Prapitaamaha eva tu,
Maata Pitamaheechaiva thathaiva prapitamahe/
Matamahastaspita cha prapita maha kaadayah,
tesham pinde mayadattho hyaksharyamupatishthatu,
Om namo Bhagavatey Bhatrey Somabhaumejya rupiney/ 
Right from Brahma and all Devas anticipate that the devotee would performTarpanas in their favour but also Rishis, Pitras, and deceased Parents of two generations.

Dwaraka ‘Mahatmya’
Having recounted in brief the events that happened in Dwapara Yuga and its Central Figure Sri Krishna as the Avatar of Maha Vishnu, his various childhood miracles of killing several cruel Demons, his magnificent role in Maha Bharata culminating in the Historic Battle of Pandavas and Kauravas vindicating Virtue and Truth against Vice and Falsehood and finally the mortal end of his incarnation, Maha Muni Shaunaka faced the inevitable apprehension of Rishis as to how human beings would redeem themselves from the grave sins that would be committed in Kali Yuga without the presence of Lord Krishna!
Some of the prominent Sages of that time approached Lord Brahma and posed the question that in the impending Era of Sin, how could the virtuous and God-fearing devotees in a rather minority existence vis-à-vis the majority of the wicked or at any rate the escapist human beings of Kali Yuga would survive, let alone worship the Almighty! Lord Brahma directed the Sages to Patala Loka to meet Bhakta Prahlada (who caused of the death of his father, the Demon Hiranyakasipu, by Narasimha the Avatar of Lord Vishnu) and King Bali (who gave away three Worlds in charity to Lord Vamana in another Avatar of Vishnu). Both Prahlada and Bali were distressed about the impending dark days of Kali Yuga when moral and spiritual standards would be eroded from bad to worse with the passage of time. However, they revealed that by the Grace of Bhagavan Vishnu there was a Sacred Place on the Western Coast of Bharat called Kushasthalipuri where the Holy River Gomati flowed and submerged with the Ocean. There was the hallowed Temple of Dwaraka with the benign presence of Tribhuvan Vishnu in the form of Krishna with four hands with Shankha, Chakra, Gada and  ‘Abhaya Mudra’ (the Protective Hand); before leaving the mortal World, Krishna left behind sixteen of His ‘Kalas’or Divine Powers which were imbibed into the Idol. Bathing in Chakra Tirtha in Dwaraka would have far reaching benefits to wash off sins and confer boons of fulfillment, Peace and excellent health. While approaching the Temple, devotees are advised to recite ‘Vishnu Sahasranama’, ‘Bhishmastatvaraj’, ‘Gajendra Moksha’ etc. as also sing hymns of ‘Krishna Leelas’ or ‘Vishnu Avataras’. At the outset, they pray to Ganesha to ward off any impediments in the ‘Yatra’ and Darshan of Krishna, pray to the elder brother of Krishna viz. Balarama and then proceed to have the Vision of Shyama Varna (Blue coloured) Krishna, even a glimpse of whose ‘darshan’ destroys the sins committed during their childhood, youth or elderly age of the current and earlier lives. It is said and firmly believed that each step in the Temple is as fruitful as performing an ‘Aswamedha Yagna’. A Pilgrimage to Dwaraka is as propitious as reaching ‘Vishnu Dham’.Afer worshipping Bhagavan Krishna, the devotees visit the Holy River Gomati whose mere vision brings in auspiciousness. Prahlada narrated the tale as to how Sage Vasishtha was responsible to bring Gomati from Heaven to Earth. After Pralaya or the Great Dissolution, Lord Vishnu was in Yoga Nidra and from His navel sprouted a Lotus on top of which sat Lord Brahma; Vishnu commanded Brahma to undertake the task of ‘Srishti’ (Creation). Brahma created His Ten ‘Manasa Putras’, including Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana and Sanat Kumaras with the hope of helping in the task of Creation, but they were more interested in performing ‘Tapas’ instead of being householders; they chose the West Coast to execute the meditation for several years and fortunately had the vision of ‘Sudarshana Chakra’ and asked the Manasa Putras to offer ‘Arghya’ (water) to welcome Maha Vishnu who was about to arrive. But there was no water to tender Arghya; Lord Brahma asked Ganga to flow down to Earth from Heaven with the name of Gomati and to follow Sage Vasishtha to follow as a daughter to a father. The Manasa Putras thanked Ganga and Vasishtha and desired the Sage to father the Sacred Gomati, with whose waters the Sages performed Arghya on the arrival of Bhagavan Vishnu. The Sacrosanct Spot where Sudarshan Chakra made its appearance was since called as Chakra Tirtha. A devotee is to certainly go to the River, do ‘Sashtanga’ or  prostration, clean the hands, take up Kusha grass and ‘Akshatas’ or rice  grains mixed with Turmeric powder and provide ‘Arghya’ by reciting the Mantra : Brahmalokat samayatey Visishtatanaye Shubhe, Sarva paapa vishuthaartha dadamarghya cha Gomati / Vasishtha duhitaddevi Shaktijyeshthe Yashaswini, Thrailokya vandithy Devi Paapam me hara Gomati! (Gomati! You arrived here from Brahma loka as the daughter of Vasishtha; may you clean up my sins as I offer ‘Arghya’to you; Your Shakti is mighty Gomati Devi, the great destroyer of my failings). After saying this, the devotee needs to apply ‘mrittika’ or the mud of the River bank on the body parts, perform ‘Snaan’ with Veda Mantras, offer Tarpanas to Devas, Rishis and Pitras and charities especially of Cows to redeem from ‘Pitru Runa’ of indebtedness to forefathers. From the River Gomati to Chakra Tirtha, a similar procedure is followed with the following Mantra before taking the bath: Om Namo Vishnu Rapaaya Vishnu chakrayathey namah, Gruhaanaarghya maa dattham Sarva kaama prado bhavah. (My Greetings to You Vishnu Chakra who is Vishnu Himself; do accept my ‘Arghya’and fulfil my desires). ‘Vishupaadotbhava Tirtha’ in Dwaraka is the Sarovar which Lord Krishna materialised by asking Ganga to arrive to facilitate Devi Rukmini’s bathing and is also called Vaishnavi since it generated from Lord Vishnu’s feet; this Tirtha’s Snaan by devotees followed by Pitru Tarpans, Shraddhas, and charities especially to ‘Anga viheen’ or those who are blind or otherwise defective of any limb are considered vital. Gopi Sarovar symbolises the arrival of Gopikas and Gopas from Vraja Bhumi to Dwaraka to personally meet Krishna and desired to stay back as they went in raptures on meeting Him; Lord Krishna was asked by Gopis whether He missed them too and Krishna replied with a smile that He always resided not only in the hearts of Gopas and Gopikas but all the human beings, the entire ‘Charachar’ (mobile and immmobile) beings as He was the Creator and Sustainer. As He bestowed the Brahma Gyan to Gopikas, they decided to live there always and Bhagavan desired ‘Maya’the Architect of Daithyas that a significant Tirtha built as the abode of all Gopikas.Devotees visiting the Gopi Saraovar are advised to offer Arghya by reciting the Mantra: Namasthey Gopa Rupaya Vishnavey Paramaat -maney, Go Prachaara Jagannatha Gruhaarghya namosthutey. Similarly, other Tirthas of distinction include Brahma Kund, Chandra Sarovar, Indra Sarovar, Mahadeva Sarovar, Gauri Sarovar, Varuna Sarovar and Panchanadi Tirtha. Those who are not able to visit Dwaraka may atleast read the details of this extraordinary Kshetra, especially on Dwadasi Tithis of each month and definitely on Krishna Ashtami days of every Year. Sitting at one’s own home, one would have access to the most merciful Sri Krishna who always cares for those who cares for Him. Each minute that is spent in His Glorious Memory is certain to be rewarded. Each step taken toward Him for His vision is a step to Vaikunthadham. ‘Jagarans’ or Awakenings of Night by taking Krishna’s name, constant vision of His Swarup (Idol), ‘Kirtans’ about Him, reading the Sacred Gita Vachan,  hearing about His Leelas, dedicating to Him wholly as though nothing else matters in life are all the deeds to take those small, firm but steady steps to Vishnu dham! 

Om Tat Sat


(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)


Sirisha said...

Om Shakthi <3 Shivoham Shivoham <3 Jai Gurudeva <3 Very useful n interesting information,thankz a ton n Almighty bless you <3

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