End of Arjuna’s Pilgrimage ||58||

1Arjuna enquired: Why is this holy spot a Guptaksetra (‘a secret well-guarded holy spot’)? Why is it a secret, O Narada? Its great power has never been told to anyone (else).
2Narada replied: Listen, O son of Pandu, to the old story about the name Guptaksetra, and how this (spot) became concealed and secret due to a curse.
3Formerly, for some reason, the presiding deities of all the Tirthas collectively went to the assembly-chamber of Brahma in order to pay obeisance to the god.
4-7There were the (presiding) deities of Pushkara, Prabhasa, Nimisa, Arbuda, Kurukshetra and the holy Dharmaranya. There were the deities of Vastrapatha, Sveta and Phalgutirtha, of Kedara and crores of other Tirthas as well. There were the presiding deities of the confluence of Sindhu and the sea, of Mahi-Sagara and Ganga and Sagara. There were the deities of Sukara (i.e. Varahakshetra) and the rivers, the chief of whom were Ganga and Reva. There were the deities of all the whirlpools, the chief of whom was Sopa Hrada.
8They came in groups in order to know their (comparative) excellence. Those deities who were free from impurities came to the great assembly of Brahma.
9On seeing that all the Tirthas had come, Pitamaha stood up along with all the members of the assembly.
10After bowing down to all the Tirthas, the Lord (Brahma) with his eyes glistening due to surprise and beaming like full blown (lotus), addressed them with palms joined in reverence:
11“Today our entire abode has been highly sanctified by you all. We too have been purified by meeting you all.
12Seeing the Tirthas is conducive to welfare. So also their touch, holy bath in them. Their glorification and recollection cannot take place without great merit.
13Even those who are very ruthless, terrible and contaminated by great sins are sanctified by the Tirthas. All the more so in the case of those who are established in Dharma (i.e. abide by all sorts of pious and devout activities).”
14After saying this, he commanded his son Pulastya, “Bring Arghya quickly for the sake of these Tirthas so that I shall honour them.”
15-17Pulastya said: O Lotus-born Lord, innumerable Tirthas are seen here (yet) as you order me, O dear father, I shall bring only one Arghya. For in the Texts on Dharma, this verse occurs: “If there be innumerable persons worthy of being offered Arghya and adored, it should be offered to only one who is the most distinguished and excellent among them.”
18Brahma said: O dear son, the words uttered by you are very significant and well said. Do so. Bring only a single Arghya very quickly.
19Narada said: Thereupon Pulastya quickly brought the excellent Arghya. Brahma took it up in his hands and spoke these words to the Tirthas:
20“Let one chief among you be declared jointly by you all. I shall offer Arghya to him. Thus (the fault of) unfairness will not accrue to me.”
21The Tirthas said: We do not know at all our relative superiority. That was why we have come here. You understand it yourself and hence may decide the same.
22-24Brahma said: I do not know in any way the superiority among you. Obeisance to you all. It behoves you all to let me know your own respective boundless superiority. How can we judge in the presence of such great ones as Ganga, Gaya, Kasi, Puskara, Naimisha, Kurukshetra, Reva, Mahi-sagara-sangama and hundreds of Tirthas like Prabhasa etc.?
25Harada said: When this was stated by the Lotus-born Lord, no one said anything. After a long time Mahi-sagara-sangama said:
26“O Four-faced Lord, quickly offer the Arghya unto me, since no one can (compete) even with one croreth of my portion.
27When the earth was being scorched by king Indradyumna, the river named Mahi took its origin with all the Tirthas melted into it.
28That river is the collective form of all the Tirthas. They are united with me. Hence I too am identical with all the Tirthas and well-known in the three worlds as such.
29Guha (i.e. Skanda) installed the great Linga of Isvara named Kumareshvara. I have been given the status of the chief among the Tirthas by the noble-souled Guha himself.
30Narada established the splendid sacred place on my banks. Formerly I have been given the status of being the most excellent among all the holy spots by Narada himself.
31Thus for three excellent reasons, let the Arghya be given to me. No other Tirtha is on a par with even a part of (my) quality (sanctity).
32When this was spoken by the king of Tirthas, O son of Pritha, O descendant of Bharata, no one said anything as they waited for what Brahma might say.
33Thereupon Dharma, the eldest son of Brahma, smeared with white unguents and wearing white garlands, lifted his right hand and spoke these words:
34“Alas! This is painful and ill-said by the king of Tirthas out of delusion, since one’s own good qualities should not be spoken of by oneself even if they be real. They should never be mentioned by good people.
35If during the state of affluence, anyone disdains others and proclaims his own good qualities, this is egotism of Rajas nature. It is reprehensible.
36Hence despite the existence of good qualities, this Tirtha will remain unknown and in a ruined condition on account of this egotism.
37It may be known as Stambhatirtha, since it has become boastful. Even Brahma obtained the (evil) consequence of boast-fulness immediately. What to say of others?”
38When this was uttered by Lord Dharma, a loud exclamation “Ha! Ha!” (Alas! Alas!) was heard. Thereupon the Lord of Yogins (i.e. Guha) and I came to the spot, O son of Pandu.
39-40Approaching Lord Dharma, Guha spoke these words: “It is highly improper, O Dharma, to give this curse out of impudence and rudeness. Let anyone among the Tirthas say whether this Mahi-sagara-sangama does or does not deserve this exalted magnificence.
41It is true, that his own good quality was proclaimed by the king of Tirthas. But what is the fault here? For otherwise making a false statement becomes a good quality!
42It is not proper on the part of the protectors (of people) to take such actions without proper reflection. If they do so, to whom can the subjects resort?”
43-44When this was spoken by Guha, Dharma spoke these words: “This is true that Mahi-sagara-sangama is a worthy one deserving the honour of being the chief among all the Tirthas and the Arghya (worship) from Pitamaha (i.e. Brahma). But one’s own good qualities should not be proclaimed by oneself. This is the perpetual vow of good people. Self praise, even indirectly will unseat even Brahma.
45-48Did not Yayati formerly fall from heaven on to the earth because he boasted about himself along with remarks disparaging to others? The standards formerly fixed by the wise ha (i.e. Siva) should be honoured by us. What sensible man will transgress them? It is for this purpose that your father has commanded and appointed us. We have maintained it. If Lords like you do as you please, this is forsaken by us. Let some other person be assigned.” After saying this, he was about to set aside his seal of authority. I then thought over the point at issue and spoke thus:
49-54“Obeisance to great Dharma, to the noble-souled creator of the universe, to the Lord perpetually adored by Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, to the destroyer of sins. If, O Dharma, you lay down your seal of authority for any reason, what shall be our state? O Lord, do not ruin the universe. It behoves you to honour Guha, the Lord of Yogins, since the son of Siva must be personally and directly honoured like Siva. It behoves Guha the Lord and master to honour you. Thanks to the unity between you two, the universe shall live happily. Let not the curse pronounced by you on the king of Tirthas, O bestower of honour, be a repudiation of the king of Tirthas. Let it be made a blessing.”
55-56Even as I uttered this, the Lotus-born Lord praised me and said, “What has been said by Narada is relevant. O Dharma, carry out his suggestion. Honour Guha since Guha is our master.” When this was spoken by Brahma, Dharma spoke these words:
57-58“Obeisance to Guha, the Siddha, of whom we are the servants. O Lord Skanda, listen attentively to this submission of mine. This great Tirtha will become unknown and lose its fame due to its boastfulness. But known as Stambhatirtha it will become very famous.
59-65It will be well-known as Stambhatirtha and yield the benefit of all the Tirthas. if any man performs charitable rites or holy ablution here, he will have all those benefits exactly as mentioned. Listen attentively to the benefit of the pilgrimage to Mahisagara when the New-Moon day falls on a Saturday. it is equal to the following: ten pilgrimages to Prabhasa, seven to Pushkara, eight to Prayaga, five to Kurukshetra, three to Vastrapatha, five to Ganga, four to Kupodari, six to Kasi and five to Godavari. That is the benefit of (the pilgrimage to) Stambhatirtha on a New-Moon day coinciding with Saturday.” When the boon was granted thus, Skanda became delighted in his mind.
66With great concentration, Brahma offered Arghya (worship) to Stambhatirtha. The Lord of unmeasured splendour granted it the status of being the most excellent one among all the Tirthas.
67-68He honoured the Tirthas and Lord Guha and bade farewell to them. Such is the legend indicating the origin of the name Guptakshetra. Again, for increasing its reputation celestial damsels were sent here by me. They have been liberated from the state of being crocodiles, O scion of the family of Kuru, by you.
69-70That is because your birth as well as that of Krishna in this world is for the sake of protecting all forms of Dharma. The great benefit of all the Tirthas has been recounted to you. On hearing this from the beginning a person is liberated from all sins.
71Suta said: On hearing this, Vijaya (i.e. Arjuna) the intelligent one, was very much surprised. He praised (Narada). On being bidden farewell by Narada and others he went to Dvaraka.