The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said, "Beholding the Pandavas afflicted with anxiety and depressed in spirits, Dhaumya, who resembled Vrihaspati, spake thus, comforting them, 'O bull of the Bharata race, O sinless one, listen to me as I mention certain sacred asylums and regions and tirthas and mountains that are approved of by Brahmanas. O king, listen to me as I speak, thyself with the daughter of Drupada and thy brothers, wilt, O lord of men, be relieved from grief. And, O son of Pandu, by hearing only of these places, thou wilt acquire merit. And by visiting them thou wilt obtain merit a hundred times greater, O best of men! First, O king, I will, so far as I recollect, speak of the beautiful eastern country, much regarded, O Yudhishthira, by royal Rishis. In that direction, O Bharata is a place called Naimisha which is regarded by the celestials. There in that region are several sacred tirthas belonging to the gods. There also is the sacred and beautiful Gomati which is adored by celestial Rishis and there also in [possibly 'is'?--JBH] the sacrificial region of the gods and the sacrificial stake of Surya. In that quarter also is that best of hills called Gaya, which is sacred and much regarded by royal ascetics. There on that hill, is the auspicious lake called Brahmasara which is adored by celestial Rishis. It is for this that the ancients say that one should wish for many sons, so that even one among them may visit Gaya, celebrate the horse-sacrifice or give away a nila bull, and thereby deliver ten generations of his race up and down. There, O monarch, is a great river, and spot called Gayasira. In Gayasira is a banian, which is called by the Brahmanas the Eternal banian, for the food that is offered there to the Pitris becometh eternal, O exalted one! The great river that floweth by the place is known by the name of Phalgu, and its waters are all sacred. And, O bull among the Bharatas, there also, in that place, is the Kausiki, whose basin abounds in various fruit and roots, and where Viswamitra endued with wealth of asceticism acquired Brahmanahood. Towards that direction also is the sacred Ganga, on whose banks Bhagiratha celebrated many sacrifices with profuse gifts (to Brahmanas). They say that in the country of Panchala, there is a wood called Utpala, where Viswamitra of Kusika's race had performed sacrifices with his son, and where beholding the relics of Viswamitra's superhuman power, Rama, the son of Jamadagni, recited the praises of his ancestry. At Kamyaka, Kusika's son had quaffed the Soma juice with Indra. Then abandoning the Kshatriya order, he began to say, I am a Brahmana.' In that quarter, O hero is the sacred confluence of Ganga and Yamuna which is celebrated over the world. Holy and sin-destroying, that tirtha is much regarded by the Rishis. It is there that the soul of all things, the Grandsire, had, in olden days, performed his sacrifice,
and it is for this, O chief of the Bharata race, that the place hath come to be called Prayaga. In this direction, O foremost of kings, lieth the excellent asylum of Agastya, O monarch, and the forest called Tapasa, decked by many ascetics. And there also is the great tirtha called Hiranyavinda on the Kalanjara hills, and that best of mountains called Agastya, which is beautiful, sacred and auspicious. In that quarter, O descendant of the Kuru race, is the mountain called Mahendra, sacred to the illustrious Rama of the Bhrigu race. There, O son of Kunti, the Grandsire performed sacrifices of yore. There, O Yudhishthira, the sacred Bhagiratha entereth a lake and there also, O king, is that sacred river known by the name of the merit-bestowing Brahmasara, whose banks are inhabited by persons whose sins have been washed away, and whose sight alone produceth merit. In that direction also lieth the high-souled Matanga's excellent asylum, called Kedara which is sacred and auspicious and celebrated over the world. And there also is the mountain called Kundoda, which is so delightful and abounding in fruits and roots and waters, and where the king of the Nishadhas (Nala) had slaked his thirst and rested for a while. In that quarter also is the delightful Deva-vana which is graced by ascetics. There also are the rivers Vahuda and Nanda on the mountain's crest. O mighty king, I have described unto thee all the tirthas and sacred spots in the Eastern quarter. Do thou now hear of the sacred tirthas, and rivers and mountains and holy spots in the other three quarters!'"
Next: Section LXXXVIII