Nov 30, 2023
Nov 30, 2023
by P C K Prem
As I Know: The Lord of the Mountains – Shiv Purana: 110
Creation of the worlds begins with the birth of Prakriti and Purusa…Brahma takes birth from a lotus that emerges out of the naval of Vishnu when he sleeps and now Brahma creates fourteen divine worlds…the importance of Kashi…Abhimukta region
The birth of Prakriti and Purusa a divine happening astonished all and thereafter, the creation of the worlds and created beings began.
Once, a wish arose in the mind of the lord to appear in two images. In saguna image, he appeared as Purusa – Shiva and woman – Shakti. The images stayed invisible and then, naturally, the lord created Prakriti and Purusa – dissimilar embodiments of consciousness. Purusa and Prakriti were surprised to see the miracle and were also in doubts.
At that time, a voice from above said, “You meditate and thereafter, create a wonderful world.” They told the Supreme Lord, “O lord, there is no suitable place for intense tapa. Where do we situate and undergo tapasya?”
For the comfort of Purusa and Prakriti, Shiva, the nirguna created a beautiful divine town, in his image, situated in the sky and offered the marvelous place to undergo meditation to the divine images. Purusa – Sri Hari meditated for ages. At that time, from the divine body, streams of water began to flow and it filled the entire sky and consequently, everything was invisible. It astonished Vishnu in tapa.
At that time, a jewel fell from one of the ears and the place was named tirtha Manikarnika. When the water began to overwhelm every animate and inanimate being, then Shiva absorbed it in the trident and thereafter, Vishnu slept there with spouse Prakriti. From his naval, a lotus emerged, and from this lotus, Brahma took birth. With the consent of Shiva, he began to create the world. Brahma created fourteen bhuvans – divine worlds, the heavens that constituted Brahmanda with an area of fifty crores yojnas, sages believed. Shiva thought or perhaps taught how created beings in the fetters of karmas could attain him.
He thought and then, left Panchakrosi, the basis and source of granting moksa to created beings and thereafter, established ‘Abhimukta-linga,’ a component of the body and asked it not to abandon the place. Lord unburdened the consecrated region Kashi with the pointed Trident and situated it on earth. At the time of Annihilation after one day of Brahma, Shiva picks up the region and situates it on Trident. So the process of creation, preservation and destruction continues and as such Kashi remained indestructible, and therefore, ‘Abhimukteshwara-lingam was always present to grant liberation from sufferings to created beings. Kashi granted deliverance and still it continues to award created beings earthly joys and later, it takes the created beings on to the path of moksa.
Lord is treasure of sattva gunas inside but from outside it is manifestation of tamas qualities for the created beings, a clear choice perhaps. As a symbol of death and destruction, he is Rudra, who is nirguna no doubt but still for the created beings, he is saguna. Rudra saluted Shiva, praised the lord for long and then said, “O Visvanatha Maheshwara, I am a fraction of you, O Sambadeva. Be kind and generous. For the wellbeing of created beings, you ought to stay here. O lord of the worlds, stay here and be a cause of moksa for the created beings.”
Abhimukta, the controller of senses Visvanatha, requested Sankara with tearful eyes, “O Mahdeva, the great lord Sankara, you deliver created beings from the curse and disease of death. You are the lord of the three worlds and so the created beings, the gods of heavens, Vishnu and Brahma worship you. You make Kashi the principal region of divine abode. I shall meditate on you forever for the absolute joy. You fulfill earnest wishes of all living beings because there is none other, and so stay here with goddess Parvati – Uma for the happiness of beings. I request you, stay and bestow blessings on devotees.” Afterward, with the blessing of the lord, the whole region of Kashi turned supreme abode of lord as the devotees prayed.
Varanasi is another holy tirtha that grants moksa to human beings if they observe utmost discipline. Varanasi is a place of great significance the great lord told of its glory when goddess Parvati asked. “If sages, brahmins and devotees observe fast, exercise restraint on senses and undertake tapa at Abhimukta region, they attain moksa.”
“Whoever, of any caste, creed or colour, pious or impure, virtuous or wicked dies here, attains moksa,” he told. It was blissful in totality and bestowed deliverance. Later, he told, “O goddess, if anybody dies here, he attains salvation. He does not require knowledge, bhakti or karma or charity, punya, culture, traditions, dharma, hymns, prayers and higher caste. In whatever way a created being dies, he attains moksa…” He continued, “Even Brahma, Vishnu and gods of heavens do not know the glory of this holy puri – abode of the lord and so the holy place is famous as Abhimukta region.
Later, monk Suta told of Sage Gautama and Ahalya who were helpful to the people facing draught. Gautama prayed to Varuna to arrange water and the lord performed the duty religiously. Sage wanted people to live a clean life and do punya karmas. During difficult times of famine and draught, he prayed, and the intense tapasya of the saintly couple helped people but somehow people were against the couple. Now, they prayed before Ganesha, who agreed to what people said but with difficulty and so the outcome was not happy… later, Triyambakam Jyotirmaya Lingam, the destroyer of sins came up at the place he told in brief.
In this context, legend of sage Gautama and Ahalya, his holy spouse is quite pertinent he told again.
Sage Suta to fortify strength of devotion, narrated the legendary tale (he had heard from Vyasa) of an ancient sage Gautama and Ahalya, his saintly consort. He was engaged in rigorous tape in the mountain of Himgiri situated in the southern part of the country for ten thousand years. Unfortunately, a severe draught hit the region and life of created beings was under threat. Human beings and vegetation suffered immense loss and many deaths. Living beings to save life ran away to different directions. At that time, Gautama undertook intense tapa for six months and pleased the lord of Water, Varuna. Lord spoke of the injunction of providence and the design of gods and then, to fulfill the wish of sage for the wellbeing of people, asked him to dig a deep pit.
Varuna filled the pit with inexhaustible divine water and blessed. Later, the place became a famous sacred place of holy journey that was appropriate for acts of charity, oblations, tapa, prayer, worship and shraddha to please the dead souls – pitres, which granted lasting joy to living beings. Sage Gautama was source of eternal joy to the people, who felt relieved. He did acts of charity, provided happiness to the people and derived joy when he served people. His teachings carried a sacred objective of genuine welfare with regard to the people. His sense of service to the people was supreme. “Virtuous and holy souls serve others, bring purity and nobility in everybody and even accept sufferings of others happily. Generous, egoless, self-effacing and disciplined people believe in dignified acts and spread spirit of punya karmas, the basis of good life.” The message of Gautama it was.
Eternal source of water of divine blessing proved beneficial, and many created beings to avoid scarcity of water, draught, and famine began to settle there as Gautama’s prayer, worship, tapasya, and Ahalya’s radiance of dedication and dharma enhanced its celestial magnificence and beauty. Sages, seers, monks in thousands, birds, animals, beasts and numerous other living beings came to the region and settled gladly as peace, prosperity and contentment filled lives with the limitless pleasure and plenty of blessings and prayers of divine couple – Gautama and Ahalya brought unique gratification to the citizens.
After some time, possibly it was will of divine intervention that the women of monks and sages staying in the ashrama, were angry as issue of water sarovara, the water lake arose. They provoked spouses against and holy couple and later, they meditated on Ganesha. All brahmins now engaged in tapa meditated on Ganesha. Ganesha was happy and when asked the devotees what the sages and monks wanted, they implored, ‘whoever stays in the ashrama should get angry with Gautama and Ahalya and throw them out of the ashrama.’ It surprised Ganesha and so advised monks not to indulge in unjustifiable acts and told, ‘It will harm. If you try to injure or cause damage to the reputation of a person, who helps and gives joy it would recoil and destroy you. He arranged water for you and gave you new life and so, if you persist in humiliating and injuring the divine couple for wrong reasons, you will harm a noble cause and it would do no good.’
Monks and brahmins were not happy and so they wanted the boon so that they could banish the dignified couple. Ganesha blessed as they persisted and disappeared. The boon worked effectively.
One day, a very feeble and bony cow appeared in the paddy fields and enjoyed green grass. Cow was in truth Ganesha in disguise. Gautama came and with a tiny straw tried to drive the cow away but the very touch of straw was unbearable, and so the cow fell on the ground and died. Brahmins’ women and other people, who were hiding somewhere near the paddy fields, appeared and cursed the holy couple, who did not know, what had happened? All people held Gautama responsible for the murder of an innocent cow. Even Ahalya felt anguished as she noticed the sage in agony.
All ill-treated and cursed the holy couple and condemned them for the unpardonable sin.
Brahmins said, “Do not show your face, O brahmin. Go away. So long you stay, prayers, worship and yajnas will be futile and as the lord of fire will not accept oblations and sacrificial fuel, we pour in the yajna’s fire it would bring no good reward. Do not delay. O slaughterer of cow, you leave the ashrama with the family at once so that we take bath and purify…”
Without a thought, the angry brahmins abused the innocent couple and threw stones on them and thus, tortured saintly people. Gautama and Ahalya left the ashrama and at a distance of a kosa, built up another ashrama. However, brahmins did not permit Gautama to stay and told him that he had no right to perform any religious ceremony or yajna, for he was a sinner. When he wanted to repent for the sin, they told him, “If you go around the world three times and return, observe fast for one month and thereafter, you go around this mountain – Brahmagiri one hundred times, only then you will be pure. Or you bring Ganga, take bath and make one crore lingams, undertake severe tapa and meditate on Shiva….” Therefore, the mischievous and evil-minded brahmins continued to make everything difficult for Gautama.
Gautama agreed to the suggestions of brahmins and so was engaged in the arduous task and bhakti for the atonement of sin that he never committed. However, the holy couple contemplated on Shiva and pleased the great lord, and thereafter, prayed for the boon so that they get rid of the sin. Lord blessed and told that ‘they were always virtuous, pure and untainted. Those who tortured and abused you would never attain liberation from a sinful life.’
However, Gautama said, “O lord, the monks and brahmins were very generous. They favoured me immensely and so I undertook tapa and had your divine glimpses. They abused but it helped me attain your blessings.”
Such were the final words of a saint, who knew how to pardon and show grace, again a work of lord’s boon. Shiva was very happy with the intensity of sage Gautama’s devotion. The lord blessed the sage, and was extremely happy and therefore, the lord offered to monk Gautama some holy water as desired for the benefit of people. Brahma had some nectar like water in excess after he had used it in a marriage.
Gautama said in prayerful words, “O Ganga, you purified all the worlds and now, please cleanse us both from impurities so that salvation is possible, and fear of hell fades away and also stay, I request, until the age of twenty-eighth Vaivasvata Manu.”
Ganga heard, looked at lord Shiva and said, “O lord, if you grant me the status of Supreme River and I get the highest status among rivers and if you, O goddess Ambika and ganas stay here, then, I shall live on earth.”
Lord happily agreed. At this moment, all the gods of heavens, sages, regions, directions and holy souls arrived, paid obeisance and praised her, sang songs of glory of sage Gautama, Ahalya, Ganga and later, worshipped lord Shiva. Gods wanted holy Ganga to stay on for the wellbeing of human beings and gods. On the other hand, Ganga wanted them to prove if she was of any special virtue that was valuable to the created beings.
“O Goddess, whenever, Guru Brihaspati will enter zodiac house of leo – singh rashi, all of us would come here. Please believe. For eleven years, the sins of people would contaminate and pollute us and to clean and sanctify, all the gods shall come to you so that the holy water washes away our impurities. Holy water will naturally cleanse and it is the truth. All gods request you O holy goddess and Sankara, kindly stay here and favour. Gods will stay here until guru Brihaspati lives. After taking bath three times a day, in the holy water and praying before Sankara will grant glimpses of lord, and again it would clean us, and afterward, after you permit, gods will go back to heavens.”
The lord and holy Ganga heartily agreed to the request and stayed for the benefit of created beings. At that place, Ganga became Gautami – Godavari and the sacred lingam became famous as illuminated lingam – Triyambakam Jyotirmaya Lingam, the destroyer of sins. When Brihaspati stays in the house of Singh rashi – leo …all the gods, tirthas, regions and directions and celestial beings, human beings, Brahma, Vishnu and many other celestial souls arrive and stay on the bank of holy river Gautami and offer prayers before the divine lingam, the destroyer of sins and this way, the ever generous lord blesses the devotees.
Continued to Next Page
More by : P C K Prem