Redemption of five Apsaras by Arjuna ||1||

Obeisance to Sri Ganesa. Om, salute to Brihaspati. Obeisance to that Brahma. Bow to Vishnu.

1The holy sages said: O wide-eyed one, recount those five Tirthas (i.e. holy places of ablution) which are on the shores of the Southern Sea. They are spoken of very highly (by people).
2Narada and others say that these Tirthas yield the benefit of all the Tirthas. We wish to hear the story and the greatness of those Tirthas.
3Ugrulruvas said: Listen to the great power of Kumiranatha with wonderfully meritorious holy stories. It is what Dvaipayana (Vyasa) formerly recounted to me with body covered with hair standing on end and drops of perspiration of delight.
4In this connection. let the Gatha (i.e. religious verse) sung by Kumara be heard, o excellent sages. It has been adored by all the Devas, Sages and Manes.
5“If a man resorts to Madhvacara-Stambha Tirtha (Sadhvacara- Stambha-Tirtha) his residence will invariably be in Brahmaloka like that of mine.
6Vishnuloka is greater than Brahmaloka; Siva’s world is greater than that; since he loves his son, Guhaloka is the greatest.”
7In this connection, there is a wonderful story or Phalguna (i.e. Arjuna) formerly described by Narada. I shall tell that story in detail to you, o excellent sages.
8Formerly, for a certain reason, from Manikuta, Kiriti (Arjuna) went to the five Tirthas on the Southern Sea in order to take his holy bath.
9-12Out of fear, ascetics always used to avoid those Tirthas. The first Tirtha of Kumaresa (Lord Karttikeya) is a favourite of the sage Kumaresa . The second one of Starhbhesa is a favourite of the sage Saubhadra. The other (third) one is Barkaresvara. It is an excellent Tirtha loved by Paulomi. The fourth one is Mahakala, a favourite of the king Karandhama. The fifth one is called Siddhesa. It is a favourite Tirtha of Bharadvaja. The leading scion of the family of Kuru saw all these five Tirthas. They were highly meritorious but they were avoided by ascetics.
13-15On seeing them nearby, he asked the great sages, the followers of Narada: “These Tirthas are very beautiful and have wonderful powers. Tell me, why are they always avoided by the expounders of the Vedas?” The Ascetics replied: Five crocodiles live ,in them. They take away the ascetics. Hence, o Scion of the family of Kuru, these Tirthas are avoided. On hearing this (that warrior) of great arms made up his mind to go to those Tirthas.
16-17Then those ascetics told him: “O Phalguna, it does not behove you to go therein. Many kings and sages have been killed by crocodiles. In the course of the last twelve years, you have taken holy dips in millions of Tirthas. Of what worth are these Tirthas unto you? Do not become one observing (the suicidal vow of) Patangavrata (i.e. way of moths falling into the fire).”
18Arjuna said: May the quintessence of what has been spoken (advised) by (you) people showering kindness (on me) be explained here (and now). A man seeking piety and virtue should not be prevented by noble-souled ones.
19If a foolish-minded person prevents a man desirous of performing holy rites, he will be reduced to ash by the deep sighs of the people dependent on him.
20Life is momentary like the lightning-streak. If that is spent for the sake of holy rites. let it pass away like that. What is the harm therein?
21Only they are the genuine men on the earth, whose life. wealth, wives, sons, fields and abodes are utilized (and sacrificed) for the sake of Dharma.
22The Ascetics replied: Since you say in this manner, o Pirtha, let your life be prolonged; may your Jove be always directed towards righteous life. Go ahead and do as you desire.
23On being told thus, the most excellent one among the descendants of Bharata bowed down to them. He was encouraged with blessings. He went ahead to visit those holy Tirthas.
24Thereafter that hero, the scorcher of enemies, went to the excellent Tirtha of the great sage Saubhadra. He plunged into it and began to bathe in it.
25Thereupon a great crocodile that had been moving about under the waters caught hold of Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, a tiger among men.
26Kaunteya seized that tremulous aquatic animal with force. That hero of mighty arms, the most excellent one among mighty persons, rose up along with it.
27On being raised up by Arjuna of great renown that crocodile became a woman of auspicious features adorned with all ornaments.
28-30Her tresses were lustrous, O Brahmanas. She was very charming and had a divine form. On seeing this great miracle, Dhananjaya, the son of Kunti, became excessively delighted. He spoke these words to that woman: “O lady of auspicious features, who are you? Whence did this happen that you became an aquatic animal? What for have you committed this great sin?”
The woman replied: I am a celestial damsel, o son of Kunti, and I used to roam about and stay in the forests of Devas.
31I am a permanent beloved of Kubera, named Varca. O warrior of powerful arms, I had four other friends, all of whom were splendid ones, capable of going (anywhere) as they pleased.
32-36I started along with them from the abode of the king of Devas. Then all of us saw a Brahmana who was abodeless (i.e. a Samnyasin). He was handsome. He was reciting the Vedic Mantras. He was residing in a lonely place. Oh ero, that forest was enveloped in the splendour of his penance. Like the sun, he brightened the entire region (around him). On seeing his penance, wonderful appearance and handsome features, I descended down to that spot with a desire to cause some hindrance to his penance. All of us, Saurabheyi, Sameyi, Budbuda, Lata and I simultaneously approached that Brahmana, O descendant of Bharata, singing, sporting, cajoling and enticing him.
37-38That sage of great heroism did not turn his mind or attention towards us. That excessively refulgent one did not waver at all. He remained engaged in the spotless penance. O great Ksatriya hero, that Brahmana became angry with us and cursed us: “You will become crocodiles and stay under water for a hundred years.”
39Thereupon all of us became distressed and pained, O most excellent one among the descendants of Bharata. We sought refuge in that Brahmana ascetic devoid of sins:
40“We had become arrogant due to our beauty, youthful age and love. We have committed an improper thing. O Brahmana, it behaves you to forgive us.
41This alone is a slaughter (death) of us that we came here to tempt you whose soul has reached a praiseworthy state. That is enough for us, O ascetic.
42People who deliberate on virtue and piety consider that women have been created as those who should never be killed. Hence, O sage conversant with Dharma, this view of learned men (should be accepted by you) righteously.
43Good men protect and defend those who seek refuge in them. You are worthy of being sought refuge in. We have approached you. Hence it behoves you to forgive us.”
44On being told thus, that righteous Brahmana,, the performer of splendid rites, having the lustre of the sun and the moon, condescended to favour us, O heroic warrior.
45The Brahmana said: Considering the conduct of all of you I am a bit confused in my mind. Alas, your impudence and temerity! Alas, your delusions! Your inclination towards sinful activity!
46If people were to be aware that death is always perched on their heads, they cannot even relish their food; much less would the commission of a misdemeanor appeal to them.
47Alas, the birth of one among human beings is the rarest among all births; even that is being slighted by certain vicious ones deluded by women!
48We put to them this question: What is the cause of your birth? What is the gain thereby? Think about this seriously in your minds and then let it be replied.
49We do not blame these (women) from whom comes birth. We censure only those persons who are reckless with them, who associate with them without any restraint.
50Since couples are created by the Lotus-born Lord for the growth of the universe, that process should be maintained. There is no sin or harm in it.
51The maintenance of the stage of a householder is blessed, if it is carried out with that woman who is given (in marriage) by kinsmen in the presence of Fire-god and in the assembly of Brahmanas. Only then can it yield all benefits.
52-53The union of Prakriti and Purusa with each other can be conducive to Guna only when it is achieved. If it is not achieved, it is for Aguna (absence of Guna). In this manner, one’s own householdership achieved with effort is excellent and is conducive to great Guna (i.e. goodness, welfare). If it is not achieved, it is for Aguna (i.e. evil).
54In the city with five entrances, the gatekeeper is accompanied by eleven soldiers. (Though) he is with his woman, how can he have many children if he is insentient ?
55The union with a woman is for the service to the whole universe through Paficayajnas (‘five holy rites’) and other sacred activities. Alas, it is being utilized otherwise by foolish persons!
56Oh, listen. If not, your desire of listening becomes splendid (?). Still we cry and shout with our arm raised. But who hears ?
57The semen virile is the essence of the six dhatus (‘essential constituents of the body’). If a good Yoni (vagina) is avoided and it is deposited in a Kuyoni (despicable Yoni), the defects are many as told by Yama.
58At the outset he is the enemy of medicinal herbs. Then he is the enemy of self, enemy of departed parents, enemy of the whole universe. He goes to the hell of Andha (Tomisra) and remains there for endless years.
59Pitrs, Devas, sages, common people and all living beings depend upon man. For that purpose one should put restraint on oneself.
60They say that a man of self-restraint is a Sattirtha (‘a holy spot’). That man has perfect control over speech, mind, tongue, hands and ears. Others are Kakatirthas (‘contemptible ones’).
61Men of Tamasa nature take delight in a crow-like (i.e. evil-natured) person (mis)taking him for a swan. What benefit do Devas derive thereby? Let this be thought of.
62If one reflects in one’s heart about the structure of the universe in this manner, how can one’s mind indulge in and be diverted by sinful activities even for the sake of the three worlds?
63This (fact) has been read by other men in the sacred literature. It has been directly perceived by me in the world of Yama. How will I become deluded then, o women?
64What anger (should I feel) towards you all? People carry out those things for which they have been created, whether they are real or unreal.
65(The words) Satam (hundred), Sahasram (thousand) and Visham (all)-all denote inexhaustibleness. The measure ‘hundred’ only does not denote ‘inexhaustibleness’ (or unendingness).
66-67As crocodiles you wilJ be catching hold of persons in the water. If an excellent man takes you out of the water and throws you on the ground you will all regain your own respective forms. Falsehood has never been uttered by me even in jest. The purification by his auspicious contact will be conducive to your good?
68-72The woman said: Thereafter, we saluted that Brahmana, After circumambulating him, we went away from that place and thought thus as we were extremely miserable and dejected: ‘Where can all of us in the shortest possible time meet that man who will give us back our own respective previous forms?’ After thinking thus for a short while, o descendant of Bharata, we saw the celestial sage Narada of great fortune. On seeing that celestial sage of unmeasured lustre, all of us became delighted. After saluting him, o son of Pritha, we stood there with our misery (visible) in our faces. He asked us the cause of our misery and we told him the same.
73-76After hearing the same exactly, he spoke these words: “in the southern ocean there are five Tirthas in a marshy place. Go to those beautiful and meritorious places. Do not delay. Dhananjaya, a son of Pandu, a tiger among men, (a hero) of pure soul, will liberate you all stationed there, from this misery. There is no doubt about it.” After hearing his words, o warrior, we have all come here. It behoves you to make those words true, o son of Pandu. Indeed the birth of good men like you is for the help of the wretched and miserable people.
77On hearing her words, the son of Pandu took bath in all the Tirthas one by one and redeemed them who had become crocodiles. He made them regain their original forms.
78Then they bowed down to that warrior. They uttered blessings and good wishes for his victory. As they were about to go, Dhananjaya, the son of Prithi, said to them:
79-80“This is the doubt surging in my heart. Why did sage Narada permit you to stay (here) in your exile? Even the
basest fellow works in the interest of persons whom he adores. Why did Narada say that you could stay in these Tirthas worthy of his adoration?
81Similary, how could you all stay here in spite of the fact that the very powerful Navadurgas (nine Durgas i.e. goddesses), Siddhesa and Siddhaganapa (Lord of the Siddha groups) are here?
82Each of these is competent to ward off even Devas. How was it that none of them prevented you all from obstruction (the functioning of) these Tirthas?
83As l think of this my mind wavers. My curiosity has been aroused much. It behoves you to tell only the truth.”
84-85The celestial damsels said: You have put a relevant question, o son of Kunti. Now look in the direction of the North. Here comes the praiseworthy sage Narada surrounded by his Brahmana (followers). He will answer every questions you have put . After saying this, they went up into the sky.