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HomeSkanda Purana - Vaishnava KandhaSkanda Purana - Vaishnava Kandha - Venkatacalamahatmya Kandha - 1

Skanda Purana – Vaishnava Kandha – Venkatacalamahatmya Kandha – 1

Skanda Purana

By G.V. Tagare

-1950-

Book 2
Vaishnava Kandha

Section 1
Venkatacala-mahatmya Kandha

Chapter 1

Nārada’s Vision of Yajñavarāha (Stationed on the Peak of Sumeru)

NOTE: Yajñavarāha refers to the Boar-incarnation of Viṣṇu is identified with the Vedic sacrifice. Some Vedic scholar composed a poetic description of the Divine Boar in Yajña-terminology. It was so beautiful that it was adopted by Purāṇa-writers (e.g. BdP I.i.5.9-23, VāP I.6.16-21, BmP 213.33-42, MtP 248.67-73), Smṛti writers like Viṣṇu 1.3-9 and even by Śaṅkara in his Com. on Viṣṇu-sahasranāma v. 118 on Yajñāṅga.

1In the holy forest called Naimiṣa[1] great sages, foremost of whom was Śaunaka, performed a Satra (‘Sacrificial Session’) of twelve years’ duration for the protection of the world.
2A sage of great intellect, named Ugraśravas[2], a narrator of (sacred) tales, son of Romaharṣaṇa and a disciple of Vyāsa, approached them.
3Duly honoured and adored by them, Sūta, the most excellent one among Paurāṇikas (‘persons well-versed in, mythological tradition’), narrated that divine Purāṇa named Skanda.
4He narrated in detail the account of creation, annihilation (of the universe), genealogy, histories of dynasties of kings, lineage of sages and the details of Manvantaras[3].
5On hearing the stories of the greatness and powers of the holy places those leading sages spoke to Sūta of perfect self-control with a desire to listen to the stories.
6The sages said: O omniscient son of Romaharṣaṇa, well-versed in the Purāṇic lore, we wish to hear about the greatness of the prominent mountains on the surface of the earth. O highly fortunate sage, tell us what are the important mountains.
7Śrī Sūta replied: Formerly on the banks of the river Jāhnavī (i.e. Gaṅgā) I asked Vyāsa, the most excellent one among great sages, this very question. He, the most excellent one of my preceptors, said to me:
8-13Vyāsa said: Formerly, in the divine Yuga, O Sūta, Nārada, the most excellent one among sages, went to the peak of Sumeru which is extremely resplendent on account of different kinds of gems and jewels. In its middle he saw the vast and divinely brilliant abode of Brahmā. In the region to the north of it he saw an excellent Pippala tree (holy fig tree). It was a thousand Yojanas high and twice that in extent. At its root he saw a heavenly Maṇḍapa (hall) equipped (i.e. decked) with different kinds of gems and jewels. It was adorned with thousands of ruby-columns. There were clusters of necklaces of Svastika design made of lapis lazuli, pearls and other jewels. It was rendered splendid by means of divine Toraṇas (‘ornamental arched doorways’). There were many kinds of birds and animals made of splendid gems and jewels of all the nine kinds. It had a big entrance made of topaz. The Gopura (the minaret or a lofty towered gate at the gateway) had seven storeys. It was rendered splendid by means of two panels of doors made of brilliant diamonds.
14After entering it he saw a divine pearl-set platform within. The great sage climbed on to the lofty dais set with lapis lazuli.
15In its middle he saw an exceedingly lustrous throne that was unequalled (in workmanship) and very high. It had eight brilliant legs and was studded with pearls.
16In its middle there was a divine lotus lovely and splendid with a thousand petals. It was white and resembled a thousand moons in beauty and splendour. It sparkled exceedingly with its pericarp and filaments.
17In its middle he saw a beautiful being in the form of a man as huge as the Kailāsa mountain. He had a brilliance of ten thousand full moons. He was seated within the lotus.
18He had four arms and highly magnificent limbs. He had the splendid face of a boar. The excellent Puruṣa had a conch and a discus (in two hands) and held (the other two) in gestures of granting boons and immunity from fear.
19He wore yellow garments. The Lord with long eyes resembling lotuses had a gentle face resembling the full moon. His lotus-like face had the fragrance of incense.
20The sound of Sāman hymns issued from him. He was an embodiment of Yajñas. The wooden sacrificial ladle (Sruc) constituted his snout. The Sruva (ladle) was his nose. He resembled the[4] Milk Ocean. A crown enhanced the brilliant splendour of his face.
21He had the Śrīvatsa mark on his chest. He shone with a splendid white sacred thread. His strong and broad chest projected forward shining brightly with the splendour of the Kaustubha jewel.
22He was bedecked in divine ornaments of gold studded with excellent gems and jewels. He was as sparkling as the autumnal cloud overspread with clusters of lightning streaks.
23With the sole of his left foot placed on a footstool he constantly shone brilliantly with ornaments like bangles, armlets, bracelets and earrings.
24Day and night, he was attended upon by Brahmā and the leading sages, Vasiṣṭha, Atri, Mārkaṇḍeya, Bhṛgu and many others.
25-26He was served and attended upon by Indra and other Guardians of the Quarters and groups of Gandharvas and celestial damsels. Nārada bowed down to the Lord of Devas and approached him. He eulogized Dharādhara (‘the Uplifter of the Earth’) with excellent passages from the Upaniṣads. Extremely delighted Nārada stood near the Lord.

THE ARRIVAL OF GODDESS EARTH TO THE PRESENCE OF VARĀHA

27-29In the meantime there arose the sound of the divine Dundubhi drum. Thereafter there came Goddess Earth accompanied by her friends. She was exceedingly brilliant with her robes in the form of the oceans abounding in gems and jewels. She bent under the weight of her breasts in the form of Sumeru and Mandara. She was dark in complexion like fresh leaves of Dūrvā grass. She was adorned in all ornaments.
30-33She was accompanied by her friends Ilā and Piṅgalā. Then (Goddess) Earth scattered at the feet of Lord Śrī Varāha a (big) collection of flowers brought by them. Then she bowed down to the Lord of the Chiefs of Devas and stood there with palms joined in reverence. Śrī Varāha embraced that Goddess and placed her in his lap. With his mind exceedingly pleased the Lord enquired about the happiness and welfare of Earth.

DIALOGUE BETWEEN EARTH AND VARĀHA

34Śrī Varāha said: O Goddess Earth, I established you on the delightfully pleasing head of Śeṣa. I placed the world (people) on you with the mountains as your assistants. Thereafter I came here, O gentle lady. Why have you come here yourself?

35-36Earth replied: You lifted me up from the nether worlds and made me stable and steady on the (head) of Aṇanta splendid with a thousand hoods, as if on a high pedestal studded with jewels and precious stones. O Lord, you placed the mountains capable of sustaining me as my assistants. O Puruṣottama, they are holy and identical with you. Now, O mighty one, tell me about the chief ones among them, who are my supports.

THE DESCRIPTION OF ŚEṢĀCALA’S EXCELLENCE AMONG ALL MOUNTAINS

37-41Śrī Varāha said: O Vasundharā, the following mountains[5] are your supports: Sumeru, Himavān, Vindhya, Mandara, Gandhamādana, Sālagrāma, Citrakūṭa, Mālyavān, Pāriyātraka, Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, Siṃhādri, Raivata and the great golden mountain named Añjana, the son of Meru. These have been served (i.e. resorted to) by me, by groups of Devas and by those of sages. O Mādhavī, I shall describe the chief ones among these accurately. Listen: Sālagrāma, Siṃhādri and the leading mountain Gandhamādana—these excellent mountains, O Goddess, have occupied the quarter of Himavān (i.e. the north). O Vasundharā, I shall name the mountains famous in the south.
42Aruṇādri[6], Hastiśaila, Gṛdhrādri and Ghaṭikācala—all these excellent mountains are near Kṣīrā river.
43To the north of Hastiśaila, five Yojanas (i.e. 60 km) away, is the river Suvarṇamukharī[7], the most excellent one among all the rivers.
44On its northern bank is the excellent lake named Kamala. On its shore dwells Lord Hari who bestowed boons on Śuka.
45Kṛṣṇa, the destroyer of the agony of devotees, (is present there) along with Balabhadra. He is always propitiated by Vaikhānasas (‘recluses’) and groups of sages.
46In an excellent forest to the north of the lake named Kamala is the great abode of Vāsudeva named Śrī Veṅkaṭācala[8]. The forest was rendered splendid by Haricandana trees. It extended to two and a half Krośas (i.e. 2½ x 3 = 7½ km) (i.e. its distance from the lake was 7½ km).
47-48The leading mountain was one Yojana high (12 km) and extended to seven Yojanas (84 km). O Goddess, it is golden and very long with ridges abounding in gems and jewels. On that mountain the following always reside: groups of Devas beginning with Indra, leading sages beginning with Vasiṣṭha, Siddhas, Sādhyas, Maruts, Dānavas, Daityas, Rākṣasas and groups of celestial damsels beginning with Raṃbhā.
49Nāgas, Garuḍas and Kinnaras perform penance there. The rivers there, occupied by these, yield merits on being visited. O Mādhavī, there are many divine lakes too here.
50-52(A description of the pre-eminence of Svāmipuṣkariṇī among all the Tīrthas) Listen to the (following) most excellent ones among all the Tīrthas[9]: Cakratīrtha, Daivatīrtha, Viyadgaṅgā, Kumāradhārikātīrtha, Pāpanāśana, Pāṇḍavatīrtha and Svāmipuṣkariṇī. They say that these seven Tīrthas are the most excellent ones on the splendid Nārāyaṇagiri. The splendid Svāmipuṣkariṇī is the most excellent one among these.
53I dwell with you on the western bank of this. On its southern bank dwells Śrīnivāsa, the Lord of the universe.
54-55O Earth having the oceans for your robes, it is on a par with all the Tīrthas beginning with Gaṅgā. O Earth, Svāmisarovara (i.e. Svāmipuṣkariṇī) has attained the leadership of all the Tīrthas in the three worlds including both lakes and rivers. All the Tīrthas reside on this divine mountain in order to serve the sacred Svāmipuṣkariṇī. I shall mention their number to you.
56There are sixty-six crores of Tīrthas on this excellent sacred mountain, O Vasundharā, and among them six Tīrthas are extremely prominent.
57Tuṃba Tīrtha[10] is a great Tīrtha and is like the embryo of five leading Tīrthas. It dispels the fear of being in the womb (again) in the case of those who take their bath here, ū excellent Earth.
58Dharaṇī said: O mighty one, six Tīrthas have been mentioned by you on the mountain. Tell me their greatness in proper sequence. O Uplifter of Earth, describe the merits acquired by men who take their bath therein.
59-61Śrī Varāha said: O Mādhavī, listen. I shall relate to you the greatness of Nārāyaṇādri (i.e. mountain Nārāyaṇa). Devas, sages, Yogins beginning with Sanaka and learned men called that mountain which is the abode of the Supreme Soul, Añjanādri in Kṛta Yuga. They called that mountain Nārāyaṇagiri in Tretā, and mount Siṃha in Dvāpara and Veṅkaṭācala in Kali.
62-63A person who is a thousand Yojanas away, or who is in another continent, may bow down with great devotion in the direction of the pre-eminent mountain. He shall then be rid of all sins and shall go to Viṣṇu’s region. I shall recount to you the greatness of the six Tīrthas on that (mountain) in a sequence.

THE GREATNESS OF KUMĀRADHĀRĀ[11]

64-67O gentle lady, listen attentively to the destroyer of all the sins. On this prominent mountain, O Vasundharā, there is a lake named Kumāradhārikā. It sanctifies all the worlds. When the Sun is in the Zodiac Aquarius, in the month of Māgha, on the great full-moon day conjoined with the star Maghā, a devotee shall take his holy bath in that lake at midday, in the place where Kārttikeya, the son of Pārvatī, born of Fire-god, worships Śrīnivāsa along with Devasenā. O lady devoid of impurities, listen to his meritorious benefit. He shall attain, O Dharā, the mother of all the worlds, that benefit which one gets by taking one’s holy bath regularly for twelve years in all the Tīrthas beginning with Gaṅgā.
68He who makes a gift of food in that holy spot along with monetary gifts in accordance with his capacity, attains as much benefit as is mentioned in the case of the holy bath.
69-70The person who takes his bath in the Tumba Tīrtha in the mountain-cavern when the Sun is in the Zodiac Mīna (Pisces), when it is the full-moon day associated with the Asterism Uttarā Phālgunī and in the excellent fourth Prahara (‘watch of the day’)—Such a person is not born again in a womb, O Goddess.

THE GREATNESS OF ĀKĀŚAGAṄGĀ

71When the Sun is in the Zodiac Mesa (Aries) in conjunction with the Citrā star and it is a full-moon day, the devotee shall take his holy bath in the waters of Ākāśagaṅgā in the morning. He shall attain salvation[12].

THE GREATNESS OF PĀṆḌAVA TĪRTHA

72-74When the Sun is in the Zodiac Vṛṣabha (Taurus) in the month of Vaiśākha, the devotee should take his holy bath in the Tīrtha named Pāṇḍava at the hour of Saṅgava (i.e. three Muhūrtas after the dawn) on the following days: The Tithi should be Dvādaśī (twelfth) in conjunction with Sunday if it is the bright half or in conjunction with Tuesday if it is the dark half or, whether it be dark or bright half, on any Sunday in combination with Puṣya or Hasta star[13]. The man who takes bath thus shall not attain any misery here. He shall attain happiness in the other world.

THE GREATNESS OF THE HOLY POOL OF PĀPANĀŚANA

75-77O lady of exalted fortune, the devotee should take his holy bath regularly in the Tīrtha named Pāpanāśana on the top of the prominent mountain on any of the following days: Whether it be bright half or dark half, Saptamī (i.e. seventh tithi) should be in conjunction with a Sunday or the star Puṣya or the star Hasta[14]. That excellent man shall be liberated from the sins acquired in the course of a crore of births.

THE GREATNESS OF DEVATĪRTHA

78-83Listen, O gentle lady, to the greatest secret. On the great mountain named Ananta, on the peak to the north-west of my divine abode, there is an exceedingly splendid lake in the cave of the mountain. It is called Devatīrtha. O gentle lady, I shall tell you the (appropriate) time of taking holy bath in that highly meritorious Tīrtha, (which is when there is) the combination of a Thursday with the Puṣya star, or of a Monday with the Śravaṇa star or on a Vyatīpāta day[15]. Listen to the merit of the person who takes holy bath on all these days. All his sins whether committed knowingly or unknowingly shall perish. This Tīrtha, i.e. Devatīrtha is exceedingly sacred. By taking his holy bath in Devatīrtha all his merits increase. He will be endowed with sons and grandsons. He will attain a long life. At the end of his life he goes to heaven and is honoured in the world of the Moon[16]. One who makes a gift of food on that day (will attain the same benefit) as one who makes a gift of food throughout his life. O Goddess Vasundharā, a great secret has been disclosed to you.
84Vyāsa said: On hearing (these words) Goddess Earth became highly delighted in her mind. With pleasing words she eulogized the Uplifter of Earth, Varāha, who has none equal to him.

EULOGY OF VARĀHA BY GODDESS EARTH

85Dharaṇī said: Obeisance to you, O Lord of the Chiefs of Devas, O Acyuta, with the face of a Boar, O Lord resembling the Milk Ocean, O mighty one with adamantine curved teeth.
86At the beginning of the Kalpa I have been lifted up from the waters of the ocean, O Lord, by you with a thousand arms. O Viṣṇu, I hold up the worlds.
87O Lord shining with the sacred thread and many divine ornaments, O Lord adorned with divine gems and jewels, the wearer of exceedingly reddish robes.
88Obeisance, obeisance (to you, O Lord) with lotus-like feet on a par with the rising Sun, O Lord with the curved teeth resembling the Crescent Moon, O Lord of great strength and exploit.
89O Lord with limbs smeared with sandal paste of divine origin, having earrings made of heated gold, O Lord bedecked in golden armlets, shining with sapphire gems.
90O Lord who had torn up Hiraṇyākṣa with the tips of adamantine curved teeth, O Lord of great strength with eyes beautiful like lotuses, O Lord fascinating with the sounds of Sāman hymns.
91O Lord with the Vedas as the crest jewel, O immanent soul of everyone, O Lord with enchanting exploits, O Lord, saluted by the Four-faced Lord (i.e. gcd Brahmā) and Śaṃbhu, O ūord with large eyes.
92O Lord, the embodiment of all the lores, O Lord beyond the worlds, obeisance, obeisance. O infinite one, the embodiment of bliss, O Kālakāla (? Death unto the god of Death), repeated obeisance to you.

DEPARTURE OF LORD VARĀHA ALONG WITH DHARAṆĪ TO ŚEṢĀCALA

93-95After eulogizing the Lord thus Goddess Earth saluted him (falling) on his feet. On seeing her saluting the eyes of the Lord beamed with delight. He lifted up Goddess Earth with his arms and embraced her. He sniffed the face of Dharaṇī and placed her on his left lap. He then rode on Lord Garuḍa and went to Vṛṣabhācala. The Lord of the Earth was eulogized by the leading sages beginning with Nārada.
96On the western bank of Svāmipuṣkariṇī, honoured by all the worlds, remains seated the Lord having the face of Boar. He is worshipped there by the leading sages, Vaikhānasas (‘anchorites’) of great magnificence, noble souls on a par with Brahmā.

GREATNESS OF VEṄKAṬĀCALA

97Vyāsa said: After seeing him, O Sūta, Nārada related it (to the sages) formerly. I heard this there in the assembly of sages.
98O Sūta, you had asked about the greatness of the mountains that has been duly recounted by me accurately in the manner it was originally heard from Nārada.

THE BENEFIT OF (LISTENING TO THIS) CHAPTER

99-100O Sūta, he who reads (recites) this holy discourse of us both on piety and devotion in front of the Lord or in front of Brāhmaṇas or in front of all castes listening to it with great devotion, shall attain pre-eminence in the company of sons and grandsons.
101All the persons who listen shall attain what is desired.
102-103Sūta said: Thus said the holy lord Vyāsa to me—Vyāsa who was attended to by the sages. O leading sages, everything has been recounted by me here in the same manner as has been heard formerly from my preceptor Kṛṣṇadvaipāyana. On hearing these words of Sūta, they became delighted in their minds.
104The sages said: O Sūta, the greatness of the holy mountain named after the Lord of Serpents, Śeṣa, has been told by you. This mountain is the holiest among all the holy mountains on the earth. This greatness is destructive of sins. It yields the benefit of salvation.
105Varāha accompanied by Dharaṇī went to mountain Vṛṣa. After reaching it what did he say to Goddess Earth? O highly intelligent one, recount it to us.

NOTES:

[1] Naimiṣa—Usually identified with modern Nimsar at a distance of 20 miles from Sitapur and 45 miles NW of Lucknow. But V. V. Mirashi places it on Gomatī somewhere in Sultanpur area some 40 miles from Ayodhyā (Purāṇa X-1-34). The Naimiṣāraṇya on Dṛṣadvatī mentioned in VāP I.1-12 is not intended here.
[2] Ugraśravas is not a direct disciple of Vyāsa. His father Romaharṣaṇa. was so. The term ‘disciple’ is used loosely as a Paraṃparā Śiṣya. At the time of SkP the Sūta became dignified as he is called ‘Śrī Sūta’. He is called Paurāṇika, an office-bearer in Kauṭilīya Arthaśāstra. Probably an example of social mobility in the case of Ugraśravas.
[3] These are regarded as the five traditional characteristics of a Purāṇa. They are also mentioned in AP 1.14, BSP 1.2.4-5, GP 1.215.14, KP 1.1.12, VP III, 6.25Amarasiṃha (5th cent. CE) has recorded these in his Lexicon (1.6.5). Although these characteristics have been unanimously accepted by Purāṇa-writers as essential parts of a Purāṇic Text, actually the Purāṇa Texts that have come down to us hardly conform to this definition.
[4] Vide supra p. 1, fn 2This is an echo of the Yajñavarāha description in other Purāṇas.
[5] VV 37-41 give a list important mountains. They are identified as follows: Sumeru—Rudra Himalaya in Garhwal (De 196), Himavān—The Himalayas, Mandara—A hill situated in Banka subdivision in Bhagalpur, Bihar (De 124), Gandhamādana—(I) A part of Kailāsa on the southern side (De 60); (II) he northern parapet of the Hindukush System (AGP 91), Śālagrāma—A hill in the Haimavatī region, near the source of Gaṇḍak, Mālyavān—Karakorum between Nīla and Niṣadha (De 123), Pāriyātraka—The western part of the Vindhya range (De 149), Mahendra—The range of hills from Orissa to Madura in Tamil Nadu (De 119), Malaya—Southern part of the Western Ghats south of Kāverī (De 122), Siṃhādri—A part of the Himalayas, Raivata—Mt. Girnar near Junagarh in Gujarat (De 165), Añjana (Giri)—The Suleiman range in West Panjab, Pakistan (De 8).
[6] Aruṇādri or Aruṇācala, Tiruvannamalai in the South Arcot District, is ‘The Fire-mountain’ described in Aruṇācala-Māhātmya.
[7] One of the most sacred rivers in South India. It rises in Agastyācala and falls into the southern sea. It flows through the North Arcot District with the sacred Śiva Kṣetra Kālahastī on its bank. It flows near Vṛṣabhācala and has Veṇā, Vāghurā and Kalyā as its tributaries.
[8] Vide supra p. 1, fn. 1Its other names are Vṛṣa or Vṛṣabha, Cintāmaṇi, Jñānādri, Tīrthādri and Puṣkarādri.
[9] The following are the locations of Tīrthas vis-a-vis the Veṅkaṭeśa Temple: Svāmitīrtha or Puṣkariṇī—is a tank near the Veṅkaṭeśvara or Tirumal Temple. Cakratīrtha—This lies to the north-west of the Tirumal temple. Daiva Tīrtha—This Tīrtha is a tank in the forest to the north-west of the Tirumal Temple. Viyadgaṅgā or Ākāśagaṅgā—This lies two miles to the north of the Tirumal Temple. Kumāradhārikā or Kumāradhārā—This lies six miles to the north-west of the Tirumal Temple. Pāpanāśa Tirtha—This is a low waterfall at a distance of three miles to the north of the Tirumal Temple. Pāndava Tirtha—It lies about a mile to the north-east of Śrī Veṅkaṭeśvara Temple.
[10] Also called Tumburu or Phālguni Tīrtha: This is situated ten miles to the north of the Tirumal Temple in a forest.
[11] This is regarded as the birth place of Kumāra Kārttikeya, Skanda or Subrahmaṇya. Hence the Tīrtha is named after him. Cf. Varāha Purāṇa (VrP) Part II, Ch. 1, vv 61-65; MkP Ch. 4.
[12] For the auspiciousness of this occasion cf. VrP 11,1.68-69.
[13] Cf. VrP II,1.70-71.
[14] Cf. VrP II.1.72-73.
[15] Cf. VrP II.1.74-80.
[16] Vyatīpāta is an astronomical Yoga when the Sun and the Moon are in the opposite Ayana and have the same declination, the sum of their declinations being 180(MW 1030A)

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