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Hymn to Nilakantha
1The Sages said: O excessively refulgent sage, in which land has this holy and excellent incident happened in regard to persons progressing in Brahman? At what time? Narrate this exactly in the manner it happened.
2-3Suta said: O excellent Brahmanas of pure rites, I shall narrate what had been heard by me before, when it was being narrated by Vayu, the very breath of the Universe, at the sacrifice lasting for a thousand years. It refers to how the throat of Siva, the lord of Devas, attained blueness.
4-5On the north of the king of mountains Himavat, there are lakes, rivers and eddies, where in sacred parks, holy centres, temples, high peaks of mountains, caves and gardens noble sages of pure rites and devotion eulogise the great Lord in due manner.
6By means of Rik, Yajus and Saman Mantras, dances, songs and worships, by Omkara and obeisance they always worship Siva.
7-9The (heavenly) luminaries had come up. The Sun had reached the middle of the sky, the sages who had been performing sacred rites and discussing the holy story were so exhausted as to feel that life just clung to them. Then Vayu said, “Obeisance to the blue-necked!” On hearing that the eighty-eight thousand sages of sublimated sexuality, who were known as Valakhilyas, whose souls had been purified and who had performed holy rites, who were constant devotees of the Sun and whose diet was confined to wind, leaves and water, asked the Wind-god.
10-11The Sages said: O excellent Vayu, what has been uttered by you as Nilakantha is a great secret. It is the holiest ofall sacred things. O most excellent one among pious persons, O Wind-god, we wish to hear about it by your favour, what made the throat of the lord of Ambika blue!
12We wish to hear it particularly from your mouth. Whatever is uttered by you, whatsoever words come out of your mouth are full of meanings.
13When breath touches the proper place of articulation, then the activity of speech begins. Knowledge at the outset and desire afterwards gets activated from you, O Vayu.
14If you are motionless, the functions of sound cease. Where speech has ceased, the sustenance of body becomes difficult.
15Even there, there is your excellence, O Vayu, you are all-pervasive. O Wind-god, there is no god other than you who is all-pervasive.
16O Vayu, this world of living beings is directly visible to you from everywhere. You know the lord of speeches, Isvara, the leader (controller) of the mind.
17Tell us how was the deformity of the neck of Siva brought about? On hearing the words of the sages of pious souls, Vayu who possessed great brilliance and was honoured by the entire world, replied to them:
18Vayu said: Formerly, in the Kritayuga there was a Brahmana Vasistha. He was a mental son of Brahma. He was a righteous soul interested (expert) in deciding the (meaning of the) Vedas.
19-21He asked Karttikeya whose excellent vehicle was the peacock and who stole collyrium from the eyes of the womenfolk of Mahisa (i.e. made them widows by killing Mahisasura), a great soul. His voice resembled the thundering sound of the clouds. He assumed the guise of a boy to delight the mind of Uma. He had killed Kraunca and delighted the heart of Parvati. Vasistha devoutly asked Karttikeya of great power:
22Vasistha said: “Obeisance to you, O son of Hara; salute to you, O one born of the womb of Uma; Hail to you, O one born of the womb of Agni. Bow to you, O one born of the womb of Ganga.
23Obeisance to you, O one born of Sara (grove). Obeisance to you, O son of Krttikas; salute to you O twelve-eyed lord; obeisance to you, O six-faced god.
24Obeisance to you, having Sakti in your hand, and a divine bell or a flag staff”. After eulogising Mahasena he asked the Peacock-vehicled Lord thus:
25“What is this auspicious colour as bright as collyrium, on the throat of Lord Siva, which is lustrous as the Kunda flower or the Moon? How did it happen?
26Please narrate this to me who am a faithful devotee with self-control. I request you, O blessed one. It behoves you to narrate the holy auspicious story quelling sins, for my pleasure.”
27On hearing the words of noble-souled Vasistha, Karttikeya, the lord of great splendour, the destroyer of the armies of the enemies of Suras replied:
28“Listen to the words as narrated by me, O excellent one among eloquent persons. (I am repeating) what has been heard by me formerly as I sat on the lap of Uma.
29O great sage, this is the dialogue between the great Atman Siva and Parvati. I shall narrate it to you (for your delight).
30-43On the beautiful peak of Kailasa Lord Siva who had destroyed Madana (god of love) was comfortably seated on a charming golden rocky slab embellished with pearls, jewels and gems. The peak of the mountain appeared wonderful with variegated minerals. It was over-grown with many trees and creepers. It was beautified by the Cakravaka birds. It was resonant with the humming of the bees and the continuous sound of waterfalls. The interior of the caves was resounded with the sounds of inebriated Kraunca birds and peacocks. The peak was full of Apsaras-s, Kinnaras and Jivanjivaka birds. It was beautified by Jati creepers. It was sweetened with the cooings of cuckoos. It was resorted to by Siddhas and Caranas. The sound of the celestial cow Saurabheyi spread everywhere. The place beneath was resonant with the rumbling sounds of clouds. The caves were full of the trumpeting of the elephants frightened on seeing Vinayaka. (It was filled) with the sounds of musical instruments like Vina (Lute) and others, fascinating to the ears. It was resorted to by the bevies of ladies swinging in Hindolas (swings). It was echoing (with) the tinkling sound of bells fitted to the flagstaff. (It was full of sounds) with musical (wind) instruments and drums and the stroking (of arms) by powerful people. The sounds filled all the houses there. In some places the attendants of Mahadeva were laughing boisterously. Their faces were hideous and terrible. Different odours emitted from their bodies. They sported about here and there in the steps leading to the place embedded with gems, crystal and diamonds. The Lord of Bhutas was surrounded by his attendants whose faces resembled those of tigers, lions, elephants, horses, fierce cats and foxes. Some were short, some tall, some lean, some stout; some had protruding bellies; some had potbellies. The calves of some were short; the lips of some hung loose; the calves of others were as big as the palmyra; the ears of some were like those of a cow; some had a single ear; some had long ears; some had no ear at all. Some had many legs. Some had great legs. Some had only a single foot. Some had no foot at all. Some had many heads. Some had huge heads. Some had a single head. Some had no head at all. Some had many eyes. Some had large eyes. Some had a single eye. Some had no eye at all. The Lord was surrounded by great Yogins as his attendants. The daughter of the Lord of mountains spoke thus to the Lord:
44-45The Goddess said: “O lord, lord of past and future creations, O bull- emblemed one, O Mahadeva, there is something resembling a dark cloud shining on your throat. It is neither too bright nor too clear. It resembles the heap of blue collyrium. O destroyer of Kama’s body, O lord, what is this that shines on your throat?
46What is the cause of this blue tinge? What is the reason for the blueness of your throat, O lord. Please narrate this duly to me. I am interested in it”.
47On hearing these words of Parvati, Siva, the consort of Parvati, narrated the auspicious story.
48“Formerly when the ocean of milk was being churned for extracting Amrta, by Devas and Danavas, the poison as lustrous as the deadly fire, rose up in front.
49O splendid-faced lady, on seeing it the groups of Devas and Daityas became pale-faced and dejected. They approached god Brahma.
50On seeing the groups of Devas frightened, Brahma of excessive lustre spoke: “O blessed ones, why are you frightened? Why are you dejected in mind?
51O excellent gods! Eightfold Aisvarya (Lordship and prosperity) has been assigned to you by me. By whom were you deprived of that Aisvarya?
52You are the lords of the three worlds. You are free from ailments and worries. Among my creations there is no one who dares flout my behests.
53You move about on aerial chariots as you please. You are capable of activising people in spiritual, physical and godly rites and assign the fruits thereof.
54Hence, wherefore are you frightened like the deer harassed by lions? What is your affliction? Whereby is your helplessness and distress? What is the source of your fear? You narrate all this precisely and immediately”.
55On hearing the words of Brahma, the great Atman, the leaders of Devas, Daityas and Danavas spoke thus in the company of sages:
56“When the ocean was being churned by the noble Devas and Asuras, the poison resembling serpents, bees and blue clouds appeared before us. It was terrible and bright as the fire at dissolution of the Universe.
57It has come up like Black Death; it has the splendour of the sun at the close of Yugas; it has the refulgence of the sun about to destroy the three worlds; it sparkles all round.
58Vishnu whose complexion was fair and reddish has been burnt by the poison that rises with lustre of black fire. He has turned black (in complexion).
59On seeing the whitish red-complexioned Janardana rendered black, all of us got frightened. We seek refuge in you”.
60On hearing the words of Devas and Asuras, (Brahma) of great splendour replied, desiring the welfare of the worlds:
61-62“O ye Devas, sages and saints, all of you listen. The poison, resembling black fire, that rose up when the great ocean was being churned is known as Kalakuta. Even as it rose up, (Vishnu) was rendered black.
63Neither Vishnu nor I nor the leading Devas can bear the brunt of that poison, excepting Siva.”
64After saying this, the lotus-born Brahma, grandfather of the worlds, the deity who has the lustre of the interior of the lotus and he who is not born of a womb, began to pray:
65“O Virupaksa, obeisance to you of many eyes, who wields Pinaka bow and thunderbolt in the hands.
66Obeisance to you, Lord of the three worlds. Hail to you, Lord of living beings, the destroyer of Asuras, the three eyed sage.
67Obeisance to you who are Brahma, Rudra and Vishnu. Bow to you (the deity of) Samkhya and Yoga and (to you) who are the aggregate of Bhutas.
68Obeisance to you, the destroyer of (the body) of Kama, the slayer of Kala. Hail to you, Rudra, the Lord and god of Devas.
69(Obeisance to you) with matted hair, terrible (yet) propitious, bearer of a skull, the multiformed (yet) singleformed Siva, the bestower of boons.
70Obeisance to you, the destroyer of Tripuras, the lord of Mothers and worthy of respect. Obeisance to you the enlightened, pure, liberated and absolute one.
71Obeisance to you, the lord holding lotus in the hand, the quarter-clad, the tufted lord, the maker of three worlds. Bow to Candra and Varuna.
72Obeisance to you, the foremost of the fierce, the sage, of many eyes, possessed of Rajas, Sattva and Tamas and to one of unmanifest source of origin.
73Obeisance to the eternal, non-eternal and eternal-cum- non-eternal one; to the manifest, unmanifest and manifest-cum- unmanifest.
74Obeisance to the comprehensible, incomprehensible and comphrehensible-cum-incomprehensible one, to the Deity quelling the distress of devotees. Obeisance to you who areNara- Narayana.
75Obeisance to you the lover of Uma, obeisance to Sarva; obeisance to you, the deity marked by Nandicakra; obeisance to you who are fortnight, month and half a month; obeisance to you who are Samvatsara.
76Hail to you, the multi-formed, shaven headed, staff bearing, armoured god. Obeisance to the bearer of a skull, the quarter-clad (naked), tuft-bearing god.
77Obeisance to you with flagstaff and chariot. Obeisance to you the self-controlled and the celibate. Obeisance to you who are Rik, Yajus and Saman. Obeisance to you O god, of such activities as these”.
78Thus I had been eulogised by Devas who bowed to me, O splendid-faced lady.
79“On realising my devotion, the lord of Devas whose hair and tresses are flooded with Ganga water still remains subtle. Thanks to the surpassing Yogic power, he is inconceivable. He remains invisible like the moon that has been hidden (by the clouds).”
80Thus I had been eulogised by lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe, by means of diverse hymns taken from the Vedas and Vedangas.
81Then I became delighted with Brahma, the great and noble Atman. After that I spoke to him in subtle words.
82“O lord, lord of past and future, lord of the worlds, lord of the Universe, O Brahma of good rites, what shall I do for you?”
83On hearing my words, the lotus-eyed Brahma replied: “O Isvara, O lord of the past, present and future, may this be listened.
84-85O lotus-eyed lord, when the ocean was being churned by Devas and Asuras, the terrible poison, resembling a cloud, shining like a blue cloud, having the lustre of the Samvarta fire, refulgent like the sun at the end of the Yugas, appeared in front like the Black Death.
86It has the brilliance of the sun capable of destroying the three worlds. It spaRikles all round. The poison having the lustre of deadly fire has risen in front.
87On seeing it we are much frightened and agitated. O Mahadeva, desiring the welfare of the worlds, you will please drink it. O Sir, you are the enjoyer of the most splendid, you are the excellent lord.
88O Mahadeva, excepting you, there is no one to endure the poison. No other person is sung about (= glorified) as capable of it, in the three worlds”.
89-90On hearing these words of Brahma, O splendid faced lady, I concurred and said “So be it”. Then I began to drink the poison that resembled death. As I drank the terrible poison frightening even the gods, O lady of excellent complexion, my throat immediately turned black.
91-92On seeing the poison that had the lustre of the petal of blue lotus and that had appeared like the king of Serpents, Taksaka, clinging to my throat and putting out its tongues, Brahma, the grandfather of the worlds, possessor of excessive splendour, spoke: “O Mahadeva, of good rites, really you shine due to this throat”.
93-94O daughter of the excellent mountain, on hearing his words, even as the Devas and Daityas were watching along with Yaksas, Gandharvas, Bhutas, Pisacas, Nagas and Rakshasas, O sweet-faced lady, the terrible poison was contained in the throat. Hence I became famous as Nilakantha (Blue-throated).
95O daughter of the king of mountains, on seeing the Kalakuta, that poison of fierce potency, being retained by me in the throat, Devas and Daityas were wonder struck.
96Then, O fair lady with the gait of inebriated elephant, all the Devas and Daityas, Nagas and Rakshasas spoke thus with palms joined in reverence:
97“Wonderful is your strength, prowess and valour. Oh, wonderful is the strength of your Yoga. O lord of Devas, wonderful is your lordship, O lord, whose dishevelled hair is flooded with Ganga water.
98You alone are Vishnu, the four-faced Brahma and Yama, the god of death; you alone are the bestower of boons; you alone are the sun, the moon, the earth and the water.
99You alone are sacrifice, the rites and observances; you alone are the past and future. You alone are the origin and end; you alone are both gross and subtle Purusa.
100You alone are the subtlest of the subtle; you alone are the fire and the wind; you alone are the creator, protector and annihilator of the world, both mobile and immobile.”
101After saying these words and bowing their heads, the leading Devas, the noble souls, went to Meru in their aerial chariots.
102Thus the greatest of secrets, the holiest of holy things, the story of what is famous as Nilakantha has been narrated to you.
103This story has been narrated by the self-born deity. It is the sacred story that quells sins. I shall now mention the fruit accruing to that person who retains this story recounted by Brahma.
104O fair lady of good loins, on reaching his body, poison from mobile and immobile things becomes ineffective immediately.
105It quells inauspiciousness and removes (the effect of) bad dreams. The person attains the love of women and leadership in royal assembly.
106In disputes he becomes victorious; in battle he attains valour; on expedition he attains welfare; he has perpetual riches in his house.
107-109I shall tell his goal at the dissolution of his body, O excellent-faced lady. He becomes blue-throated, green-moustached and moon-crested; he attains three eyes; he holds the trident in his hand, and has bull as his vehicle; he holds the Pinaka bow he becomes as strong as Nandin with deeds as glorious as the exploits of Nandin. At my behest he wanders over all the worlds; his movement is unimpeded like that of the wind. He gains my strength and lives as such till the final dissolution of the world.
110O beautiful lady, I shall now mention the goal both here and hereafter of those persons who are my devotees and who hear this story.
111A Brahmana secures (attains mastery over) Vedas; a Ksattriya conquers the earth; a Vaisya derives profit; and a Sudra attains happiness.
112A sick man is freed from ailments; a man in bondage attains release; a pregnant woman gets a son; and a virgin gets a good husband. Everyone regains everything he loses in this world as in the other.
113On hearing this divine story of the Lord, one obtains the same fruit as is obtained when one hundred thousand cows are duly gifted away.
114He who commits to memory one verse or half of it, one quarter of a verse or even half of it, attains Rudra’s Loka.
115After recounting this story of pious fruits to the Goddess, the Lord with the moon embellishing his crest, the Lord beloved of Guha, went along with Uma to the cave of Kiskindha seated on his bull.
116After recounting this story of great length quelling sins, Vayu went away. After studying everything, the excellent Brahmanas went to the auspicious path of Aditya.