The Mahabharata Home
Vaishampayana said, "Having passed one night more, Rama, having the plough for his weapon, worshipped the dwellers of that tirtha and showed his regard for Mankanaka. Having given wealth unto the Brahmanas, and passed the night there, the hero having the plough for his weapon was worshipped by the Munis. Rising up in the morning, he took leave of all the ascetics, and having touched the sacred water, O Bharata, set out quickly for other tirthas. Baladeva then went to the tirtha known by the name of Usanas. It is also called Kapalamochana. Formerly, Rama (the son of Dasaratha) slew a Rakshasa and hurled his head to a great distance. That head, O king, fell upon the thigh of a great sage named Mahodara and struck to it. Bathing in this tirtha, the great Rishi became freed from the burthen. The high-souled Kavi (Sukra) had performed his ascetic penances there. It was there that the whole science of politics and morals (that goes by Sukra's name) appeared to him by inward light. While residing there, Sukra meditated upon the war of the Daityas and the Danavas (with the gods). Arrived at that foremost of tirthas, Baladeva, O king, duly made presents unto the high-souled Brahmanas.'
Janamejaya said, "Why is it called Kapalamochana, where the great Muni became freed (from the Rakshasa's head)? For what reason and how did that head stick unto him?"
Vaishampayana said, "Formerly, O tiger among kings, the high-souled Rama (the son of Dasaratha) lived (for some time) in the forest of Dandaka, from desire of slaying the Rakshasas. At Janasthana he cut off the head of a wicked-souled Rakshasa with a razor-headed shaft of great sharpness. That head fell in the deep forest. That head, coursing at will (through the welkin) fell upon the thigh of Mahodara while the latter was wandering through the woods. Piercing his thigh, O king, it struck to it and remained there. In consequence of that head thus sticking to his thigh, the Brahmana (Mahodara) of great wisdom could not (with ease) proceed to tirthas and other sacred spots. Afflicted with great pain and with putrid matter flowing from his thigh, he went to all the tirthas of the Earth (one after another), as heard by us. He went to all the rivers and to the ocean also. (Not finding any relief) the great ascetic spoke of his sufferings to many Rishis of cleansed souls about his having bathed in all the tirthas without having found the relief he sought. That foremost of Brahmanas then heard from those sages words of high import about this foremost of tirthas situate on the Sarasvati, and known by the name of Usanasa, which was represented as competent to cleanse from every sin and as an excellent spot for attaining to (ascetic) success. That Brahmana, then, repairing to that Usanasa tirtha, bathed in its waters. Upon this, the Rakshasa's head, leaving the thigh, fell into the water. Freed from that (dead) head, the Rishi felt great happiness. As regards the head itself, it was lost in the waters. Mahodara then, O king, freed from the Rakshasa's head, cheerfully returned, with cleansed soul and all his sins washed away, to his asylum after achieving success. The great ascetic thus freed, after returning to his sacred asylum, spoke of what had happened to those Rishis of cleansed souls. The assembled Rishis, having heard his words, bestowed the name of Kapalamochana on the tirtha. The great Rishi Mahodara, repairing once more to that foremost of tirthas, drank its water and attained to great ascetic success. He of Madhu's race, having given away much wealth unto the Brahmanas and worshipped them, then proceeded to the asylum of Rushangu. There, O Bharata, Arshtishena had in former days undergone the austerest of penances. There the great Muni Vishvamitra (who had before been a Kshatriya) became a Brahmana. That great asylum is capable of granting the fruition of every wish. It is always, O lord, the abode of Munis and Brahmanas. Baladeva of great beauty, surrounded by Brahmanas, then went to that spot, O monarch, where Rushangu had, in former days, cast off his body. Rushangu, O Bharata, was an old Brahmana, who was always devoted to ascetic penances. Resolved to cast off his body, he reflected for a long while. Endued with great ascetic merit, he then summoned all his sons and told them to take him to a spot where water was abundant. Those ascetics, knowing their sire had become very old, took that ascetic to a tirtha on the Sarasvati. Brought by his sons to the sacred Sarasvati containing hundreds of tirthas and on whose banks dwelt Rishis unconnected with the world, that intelligent ascetic of austere penance bathed in that tirtha according to due rites, and that foremost of Rishis conversant with the merits of tirthas, then cheerfully said, O tiger among men, unto all his sons, who were dutifully waiting upon him, these words, 'He that would cast off his body on the northern bank of the Sarasvati containing much water, while employed in mentally reciting sacred mantras, would never again be afflicted with death!' The righteoussouled Baladeva, touching the water of that tirtha and bathing in it, gave considerable wealth unto the Brahmanas, being devoted to them. Possessed of great might and great prowess Baladeva then proceeded to that tirtha where the adorable Grandsire had created the mountains called Lokaloka, where that foremost of Rishis, Arshtishena of rigid vows, O thou of Kuru's race, had by austere penances acquired the status of Brahmanhood, where the royal sage Sindhudwipa, and the great ascetic Devapi, and the adorable and illustrious Muni Vishvamitra of austere penances and fierce energy, had all acquired a similar status."
Next: Section 40