The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'It has been said that sojourns to sacred waters as fraught with merit; that ablutions in such waters is meritorious; and that listening to the excellence of such waters is also meritorious. I desire to hear thee expatiate on this subject, O grandsire. It behoveth thee, O chief of Bharata's race, to mention to me the sacred waters that exist on this earth. I desire, O thou of great puissance, to hear thee discourse on this topic.'
"Bhishma said, 'O thou of great splendour, the following enumeration of the sacred waters on the Earth was made by Angiras. Blessed be thou, it behoveth thee to listen to it for thou shalt then earn great merit. Once on a time, Gautama of rigid vows, approaching the great and learned Rishi Angiras endued with tranquillity of soul, while he was dwelling in a forest, questioned him, saying,--O illustrious one, I have some doubts regarding the merits attaching to sacred waters and shrines. So I desire to hear thee discourse on that topic. Do thou, therefore, O ascetic, discourse to me. What merits are earned by a person in respect of the next world, by bathing in the sacred waters on the Earth, O thou of great wisdom? Do thou expound to me this truly and according to the ordinance.'
"Angiras said, 'A person by bathing for seven days in succession in the Chandrabhaga or the Vitasta whose waters are always seen to dance in waves, observing a fast the while, is sure to become cleansed of all his sins
and endued with the merit of an ascetic. 1 The very many rivers that flowing through Kasmira, fall into the great river called Sindhu (Indus). By bathing in these rivers one is sure to become endued with good character and to ascend to heaven after departing from this world. By bathing in Pushkara, and Prabhasa, and Naimisha, and the ocean, and Devika, and Indramarga, and Swarnavindu, one is sure to ascend to heaven being seated on a celestial car, and filled with transports of joy at the adorations of Apsara. By plunging in the waters of Hiranyavindu with a concentrated mind and reverencing that sacred stream, and bathing next at Kusesaya and Devendra, one becomes cleansed of all one's sins. Repairing to Indratoya in the vicinity of the mountains of Gandhamadana and next to Karatoya in the country called Kuranga, one should observe a fast for three days and then bathe in those sacred waters with a concentrated heart and pure body. By doing this, one is sure to acquire the merit of a Horse-sacrifice. Bathing in Gangadwara and Kusavarta and Vilwaka in the Nita mountains, as also in Kankhala, one is sure to become cleansed of all one's sins and then ascend to heaven. If one becomes a Brahmacharin and subdues one's wrath, devotes oneself to truth and practises compassion towards all creatures, and then bathes in the Jala parda (Lake of Waters), one is sure to acquire the merit of a Horse-sacrifice. That part where Bhagirathi-Ganga flows in a northward direction is known as the union of heaven, earth, and the nether regions. Observing a fast for one month and bathing in that sacred Tirtha which is known to be acceptable to Maheswara, one becomes competent to behold the deities. One who gives oblations of water unto one's Pitris at Saptaganga and Triganga and Indramarga, obtains ambrosia for food, if one has still to undergo rebirth. The man who in a pure state of body and mind attends to his daily Agnihotra and observes a fast for one month and then baths in Mahasrama, is sure to attain success in one month. By bathing, after a fast of three days and purifying the mind of all evil passions, in the large lake of Bhrigu Kunda, one becomes cleansed of even the sin of Brahmanicide. By bathing in Kanyakupa and performing one's ablutions in Valaka, one acquires great fame among even the deities and shines in glory. Bathing in Devika and the lake known by the name of Sundarika as also in the Tirtha called Aswini, one acquires, in one's next life, great beauty of form. By fasting for a fortnight and bathing in Mahaganga and Krittikangaraka, one becomes cleansed of all one's sins and ascends to heaven. Bathing in Vaimanika and Kinkinika, one acquires the power of repairing everywhere at will and becomes an object of great respect in the celestial region of the Apsaras. 2 If a person, subduing his wrath and observing the vow of Brahmacharyya for three days, bathes in the river Vipasa at the retreat called Kalika, he is sure to succeed in transcending the obligation of
rebirth. Bathing in the asylum that is sacred to the Krittakas and offering oblations of water to the Pitris, and then gratifying Mahadeva, one becomes pure in body and mind and ascends to heaven. If one, observing a fast for three days with a purified body and mind, bathes in Mahapura, one becomes freed from the fear of all mobile and immobile animals as also of all animals having two feet. By bathing in the Devadaru forest and offering oblations of water to the Pitris and dwelling there for seven nights with a pure body and mind, one attains to the region of the deities on departing from this world. Bathing in the waterfalls at Sarastamva and Kusastambha and Dronasarmapada, one is sure to attain to the region of the Apsaras where one is waited upon with dutiful services by those superhuman beings. If one, observing a fast, bathes at Chitrakuta and Janasthana and the waters of Mandakini, one is sure to be united with prosperity that is royal. 1 By repairing to the retreat that is known by the name of Samya and residing there for a fortnight and bathing in the sacred water that exists there, one acquires the power of disappearing at will (and enjoy the happiness that has been ordained for the Gandharvas). Repairing to the tirtha known by the name of Kausiki and residing there with a pure heart and abstaining from all food and drink for three days, one acquires the power of dwelling (in one's next life) in the happy region of the Gandharvas. Bathing in the delightful tirtha that goes by the name of Gandhataraka and residing there for one month, abstaining all the while from food and drink, one acquires the power of disappearing at pleasure and, then one and twenty days, of ascending to heaven. He that bathes in the lake known by the name of Matanga is sure to attain to success in one night. He that bathes in Analamva or in eternal Andhaka, or in Naimisha, or the tirtha called Swarga, and offers oblations of water to the Pitris, subduing his senses the while, acquires the Merit of a human sacrifice. 2 Bathing in Ganga hrada and the tirtha known by the name of Utpalavana and daily offering oblations of water there for a full month to the Pitris, one acquires the merit of a Horse-sacrifice. Bathing in the confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna as also at the tirtha in the Kalanjara mountains and offering every day oblations of water to the Pitris for a full month, one acquires the merit that attaches to ten Horse-sacrifices. Bathing in the Shashthi lake one acquires merit much greater than what is attached to the gift of food. Ten thousand tirthas and thirsty millions of other tirthas come to Prayaga (the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna), O chief of Bharata's race in the month of Magha. He who bathes in Prayaga, with a restrained soul and observing rigid vows the while, in the month of Magha, becomes cleansed of all his sins, O chief of Bharata's race, and attains to heaven. Bathing in the tirtha that is sacred to the Maruts, as also in that which is situate in the retreat of the Pitris, and also in that
which is known by the name of Vaivaswata, one becomes cleansed of all one's sins and becomes as pure and sanctified as a tirtha. Repairing to Brahmasaras as also to the Bhagirathi and bathing there and offering oblations to the Pitris every day for a full month, abstaining from food all the while, one is sure to attain to the region of Soma, Bathing in Utpataka and then in Ashtavakra and offering oblations of water to the Pitris every day for twelve days in succession, abstaining the while from food, one acquires the merits of a Horse-sacrifice. Bathing in Asmaprishtha and Niravinda mountains and Kraunchapadi,--all three in Gaya--one becomes cleansed of the sin of Brahmanicide. A bath in the first place cleanses one of a single Brahmanicide; a bath in the second cleanses one of two offences of that character; and a bath in the third cleanses one of three such offences. Bathing in Kalavinga, one acquires a large quantity of water (for use in the next world). A man, by bathing in the city of Agni, acquires such merit as entitles him to live during his next birth in the city of Agni's daughter. Bathing in Visala in Karavirapura and offering oblations of water unto one's Pitris, and performing one's ablutions in Devahrada too, one becomes identified with Brahma and shines in glory as such. Bathing in Punaravarta-nanda as also Mahananda, a man of restrained senses and universal compassion repairs to the celestial gardens called Nandana of Indra and is waited upon there by Apsaras of diverse tribes. Bathing with concentrated soul in the tirtha that is called after the name of Urvasi and that is situate in the river Lohitya, on the day of full moon of the month of Kartika, one attains to the merits that attach to the sacrifice called Pundarika. Bathing in Ramahrada and offering oblations of water to the Pitris in the river Vipasa (Beas), and observing a fast for twelve days, one becomes cleansed of all sins. Bathing in the tirtha called Maha-hrada with a purified heart and after observing a fast for one month, one is sure to attain to the end which was the sage Jamadagni's. By exposing oneself to heat in the tirtha called Vindhya, a person devoted to truth and endued with compassion for all creatures should then betake himself to austere penances, actuated by humility. By so doing, he is sure to attain to ascetic success in course of a single month. Bathing in the Narmada as also in the tirtha known by the name of Surparaka, observing a fast for a full fortnight, one is sure to become in one's next birth a prince of the royal line. If one proceeds with restrained senses and a concentrated soul to the tirtha known under the name of Jamvumarga, one is sure to attain to success in course of a single day and night. By repairing to Chandalikasrama and bathing in the tirtha called Kokamukha, having subsisted for sometime on potherbs alone and worn rags for vestments, one is sure to obtain ten maidens of great beauty for one's spouses. One who lives by the side of the tirtha known by the name of Kanya-hrada has never to go to the regions of Yama. Such a person is sure to ascend to the regions of felicity that belong to the celestials. One who bathes with restrained senses on the day of the new moon in the tirtha known by the name of Prabhasa, is sure, O thou of mighty arms, of at once attaining to
success and immortality. Bathing in the tirtha known by the name of Ujjanaka which occurs in the retreat of Arshtisena's son, and next in the tirtha that is situate in the retreat of Pinga, one is sure to be cleansed of all one's sins. Observing a fast for three days and bathing in the tirtha known as Kulya and reciting the sacred mantras that go by the name of Aghamarshana, one attains the merit of a horse-sacrifice. Observing a fast for one night and bathing in Pindaraka, one becomes purified on the dawn of the next day and attains to the merit of an Agnishtoma sacrifice. One who repairs to Brahmasara which is adorned by the woods called Dharmaranya, becomes cleansed of all one's sins and attains to the merit of the Pundarika sacrifice. Bathing in the waters of the Mainaka mountain and saying one's morning and evening prayers there and living at the spot for a month, restraining desire, one attains to the merit of all the sacrifices. Setting out for Kalolaka and Nandikunda and Uttara-manasa, and reaching a spot that is hundred yojanas remote from any of them, one becomes cleansed of the sin of foeticide, One who succeeds in obtaining a sight of image of Nandiswara, becomes cleansed of all sins. Bathing in the tirtha called Swargamarga one is sure to proceed to the regions of Brahman. The celebrated Himavat is sacred. That prince of mountains is the father-in-law of Sankara. He is a mine of all jewels and gems and is the resort of the Siddhas and Charanas. That regenerate person who is fully conversant with the Vedas and who, regarding this life to be exceedingly unstable, casts off his body on those mountains, abstaining from all food and drink in accordance with the rites laid down in the scriptures, after having adored the deities and bent his head in worship of the ascetics, is sure to attain to success and proceed to the eternal regions of Brahman. There is nothing unattainable to him who resides in a tirtha, restraining lust and subjugating wrath, in consequence of such residence. For the purpose of repairing to all the tirthas in the world, one should mentally think of those amongst them that are almost inaccessible or sojourns to which are attended with insurmountable difficulties. Sojourns to tirthas is productive of the merits of sacrifices. They are competent to cleanse everybody of sin. Fraught with great excellence, they are capable of leading to heaven. The subject is truly a great mystery. The very deities should bathe in tirthas. To them also they are sin-cleansing. This discourse on tirthas should be imparted to Brahmanas, and to such honest or righteous persons as are bent upon achieving what is for their own good. It should also be recited in the hearing of one's well-wishers and friends and of one's obedient and devoted disciples. Angiras possessed of great ascetic merit, had imparted this discourse to Gautama. Angiras himself had obtained it from Kasyapa of great intelligence. The great Rishi regard this discourse as worthy of constant repetition. It is the foremost of all cleansing things. If one recites it regularly every day, one is sure to become cleansed of every sin and to proceed to heaven after the termination of this life. One who listens to this discourse recited in his hearing,--this discourse, viz., of Angiras, that is regarded as a mystery,--is sure to attain in one's next life to be born in
a good family and, what is more, one would become endued with the memory of one's previous existence.'"
130:1 The river Chenab in the Punjab was known in former times by the name of Chandrabhaga. So the river Jhelum was known by the name of Vitasta.
130:2 The sense is that one proceeds to the region of the Apsaras and becomes an object of respect there.
131:1 i.e., one acquires sovereignty.
131:2 It is difficult to understand the connection of the second line of verse 31. It does not mean enters the eternal region called Andhaka that rests on nothing. Human sacrifices were performed sometimes in former days.
Next: Section XXVI