In the chapter 8-10 in Section 4 of Kotirudra-saṃhita of Shiva Purana, the story of greatness of Mahabala is mentioned.
Gokarṇa situated on the shore of the western ocean in Kanara district, destroys the sin of brahmin’s slaughter and other sins and yields the fruits of all desires. At Gokarṇa there are crores and crores of Shiva’s phallic images. At every step there are innumerable holy centres. In the Kṛta (Satya) Yuga the phallic image of Mahabala is white; in the Treta it is deep-red; in the Dvapara it is yellow and in the Kali age it is dark in colour. Mahabala, though it has pervaded the regions as far below as the seven nether worlds, will become soft when the terrible age of Kali arrives.
That phallic image secured by the Rakṣasa Ravaṇa as a result of severe penance was installed by Gaṇanayaka at Gokarṇa. All the gods, the Gandharvas, the Pitṛs, Siddhas, Garanas, Vidyadharas, Kiṃpuruṣas, Kinnaras, Guhyakas, Khagas, different types of Pisacas, Betalas, the powerful Daiteyas, Śeṣa and other serpents, the Siddhas and the sages, eulogise and bow to lord Mahabala. They get their cherished desires. The worship of Mahabala on the fourteenth day in the dark half of the month of Magha yields salvation particularly even to the sinners.
The Story of Saimini & Mahabala:
A girl named Saimini was the outcaste woman, who was a brahmin girl in her previous birth. She was married to a certain brahmin boy duly by her father. After getting a husband she indulged in sexual dalliance with him and maintained her auspicious rites. Then her youthful husband, the brahmin boy became distressed with a great ailment. Due to the misfortune of Saumini he died.
When the husband passed away, the woman was much distressed, dejected and despondent. For some time, she maintained her pure conduct. She remained in the house, a well-behaved lady. Thereafter, though a widow, her heart became defiled by lustful feelings because she was still in her prime of youth. She then transgressed the limits of decency. Coming to know of her misdeeds defiling the family her kinsmen gathered together, caught hold of her hair, took her far off and abandoned her.
A leading Shudra saw her roaming about in the forest, took her to his house and made her his wife. She then became very fond of sexual intercourse, began to take in meat and indulged in drinking wine. She bore that Shudra a daughter too.
Once while the husband had gone somewhere, Saumini the erring woman drank wine and badly wanted meat. In her cattleshed outside, goats and sheep had been tethered along with cows. It was dusk when nothing could be visible due to darkness. She then took a sword and went out. She killed a calf taking it to be a goat without much consideration. After taking it within she realised that it was a calf. The terrified woman blurted out “Shiva, Shiva”, thanks to some previous merit. She meditated on Shiva for a short while. But the desire for meat overwhelmed her. She minced the meat of the calf and ate it up with great relish.
When a long time elapsed thus, Saumini died and went to Yama’s abode. Yama went through her antecedents and taking into consideration her merits and demerits he sent her back from hell to be born in an outcaste family. She was born as a congenitally blind girl out of the womb of a Chaṇdala woman. Her complexion was as dark as the dying embers. During her infancy her father and mother died. She was not married to anyone. She became infected with leprosy and was utterly defiled. Emaciated and distressed with hunger, blind and moving about with a staff in her hand, she somehow subdued her gastric fire by the leavings of food of the Chaṇḍalas nearby. With great difficulty and sufferings, she passed a major portion of her life. When old age affected her limbs, she was subjected to unending grief and distress.
Once she came to know of travellers going to visit Mahabala and Gokarṇa on the Shiva festival day. Then prompted by a desire for clothes and meals she walked slowly to beg of the general public. In the outstretched hands of the suppliant woman, a meritorious traveller hurled a bunch of Bilva leaves. When that bunch fell into her hands, she felt it again and again and realising that it was not edible she cast it off dejectedly. That bunch of Bilva leaves cast off from her hands during the night, fortunately fell on the top of a Shiva’s phallic image. Thus, on the Shiva Chaturdasi night though she begged of the travellers again and again she did not get anything through the intercession of fate. Thus, unwittingly she observed the rites of Shiva Chaturdasi and kept awake during the night and obtained great bliss.
Then in the next morning, overcome with great grief the dejected woman returned to her native place alone slowly. Exhausted by long starvation, and faltering and staggering at every step she somehow covered the long distance but fell down unconscious. Seated in an aerial chariot brought immediately by Shiva’s Gaṇas, thanks to Shiva’s mercy, she went to Shiva’s region. At the outset the unchaste woman had cried out Shiva’s name unwittingly, she acquired a great merit whereby she reached the divine abode of Mahabala. At Gokarṇa on Shiva’s Tithi during the night she had kept awake and observed fast. She had performed the worship of Shiva’s image with Bilva bunch. That was the fruit of a meritorious action performed unconsciously. She was liberated thanks to the grace of Mahabala.
Thus is the great image of Mahabala, destructive of sins and the bestower of the highest bliss instantaneously.
The story of king Mitrasaha & Mahabala:
There was a highly virtuous king Mitrasaha in the glorious family of Ikṣvaku. He was the greatest of skilled archers. The virtuous and auspicious-natured lady Madayanti was his beloved wife, like Damayanti of Nala. She was known as a chaste lady.
Fond of hunting, once that king Mitrasaha went to a thick forest accompanied by a huge army. Sporting about there, the king killed a wicked demon Kamaṭha who used to harass good men. The demon’s younger brother, a deceitful sinner thought “I shall conquer him by deceitful means” and with this evil intention approached the king.
On seeing him humble in behaviour in seeking service under him, the king made him the chief cook without knowing his real nature. After indulging in hunting sports for sometime in the forest, the king abandoned the game and joyously returned to his capital. On the Shraddha day of his father the king invited his preceptor Vasiṣṭha to his palace and fed him devoutly. The demon in the guise of a cook had mixed human flesh in the food of the preceptor.
The preceptor said: — “O wicked king, fie upon you. Human flesh has been deceitfully offered to me by you. Hence you will become a demon.”
On realising that it had been perpetrated by the demon, the preceptor pondered over and prescribed a timelimit of twelve years for the curse. Thinking that the curse was unjustified, the infuriated king was about to return the curse with a handful of water. Then the chaste and virtuous queen Madayanti fell at his feet and entreated him to spare the curse. Out of deference for her entreaties the king desisted from cursing, but dropped the handful of water on his own feet which became deformed. From that day onwards the king became famous in the world as Kalmasanghri by the virtue of that water.
By the curse of his preceptor the leading sage, the king Mitrasaha became a terrible violent Rakṣasa, roaming in the forest. Transformed as Rakṣasa, he roamed about in the forest devouring various living beings, men and others. Once, somewhere in the forest, the king who was as hideous saw a newly married couple—a young sage and his young wife indulging in sexual dalliance. The demon habituated to eat human flesh in his distressed state due to the curse caught hold of the young sage in order to eat him like a tiger seizing a fawn. The young woman, on seeing her husband seized by the demon, was much frightened and implored him with piteous cries. In spite of repeated importunities, the man-eating ruthless wicked demon cut off the head of the brahmin sage and devoured it. The distressed, grief-stricken chaste lady lamented much. She gathered the bones of her husband and lighted a funeral pyre. The chaste lady entered fire after proclaiming “From now onwards if you become united with any woman in sexual embrace you will die.”
After undergoing the results of his preceptor’s curse to which there was a time-limit, the king regained his original form and joyously returned to his palace. Madayanti who knew of the curse of the chaste brahmin lady prevented her husband who evinced a desire for sexual embrace. She was much frightened of widowhood. The issueless king became disgusted with kingly pleasures. Eschewing all riches, he went to the forest. There he was tormented the thought that he killed the sage. Dejected in mind the king wanted to get rid of Brahmahatya. He tried japas, holy rites, sacrifices and various other means. When Brahmahatya did not leave him inspite of the means like the ceremonial ablution in holy centres, the king went to Mithila. There he saw the sage Gautama approaching him. The king felt satiated on seeing him. He bowed to him again and again. When the sage enquired of his welfare, the king heaved a sigh of grief and distress. The king said: — “O sage, this endless Brahmahatya harasses me. A brahmin boy had been devoured by me in the clutches of a curse. That sin cannot be suppressed even by thousands of expiatory rites. I tried various means to quell it. But it did not leave me off. Is it not due to my being a sinning soul? Now it seems to me that I have attained the fruits of my birth because merely by your sight my heart is filled with bliss. I, the sinner, seek refuge in your lotus-like feet. Grant me peace, whereby I can be happy.”
Implored thus by the king, the kind-hearted Gautama instructed him in the expiatory means for terrible sins. Gautama said: — “O excellent king, well done You are blessed. Eschew all fear from sins. As long as Shiva is the ruler, there can be no terror to devotees who seek refuge in him. There is a Shiva’s temple named Gokarṇa. It destroys all great sins. Shiva himself is present there in the name of Mahabala. Mahabala is the emperor of all phallic images. It assumes four different colours in the four Yugas. It dispels all sins. Great sinners go there, take their ceremonial ablutions many times in the sacred waters and worship Mahabala. They have all attained Shiva’s region. Worship Mahabala. Thus, you will be rid of sins and attain Shivaloka.”
The king highly delighted in the mind reached Gokarṇa. He took his dip in the holy ponds and worshipped Mahabala. His sins were wiped off without the least vestige. He attained the great region of Shiva.
The story of origin of Vaṭukas – Shiva Purana
In the chapter 13 in Section 4 of Kotirudra-saṃhita of Shiva Purana, the story of Vatukas is mentioned.
Once a Asura named Andhaka resorted to the deep ditch of the ocean and kept the three worlds under his control. He harassed the gods. He used to come out of the ditch and harrass the people. Then he re-entered the ditch. The gods were grief-stricken. Imploring Shiva again and again, they mentioned their miseries to him. On hearing the words of the gods, the lord Shiva agreed to slay that Asura Andhaka.
Shiva said: “O gods, proceed with the army. I too shall come along with the Gaṇas.”
When that terrible antagonist of the gods and the sages came out of the ditch, the gods went and occupied it. The Asuras and the gods fought a terrible battle. By the blessings of Shiva, the gods became very strong. Attacked and tormented by the gods, the Asura returned to the ditch when he was pierced through with the trident by Shiva, the supreme soul.
Remaining there he meditated on Shiva and prayed— “On seeing you at the hour of death, one becomes identical with you instantaneously.” Thus eulogised, the delighted Shiva spoke to him— “Mention the boon you wish to have. I shall grant it to you.”
On hearing these words, the Asura said again after bowing to and eulogising Shiva with pious feelings. Andhaka said: — “O lord of gods, if you are delighted grant me the auspicious devotion to you. Taking unusual compassion on me, be stationed here.”
Requested thus, Shiva hurled that Asura into that ditch. He himself stood there in the form of a phallic image with a desire to help the world. If a man worships Andhakesha every day, his desires are fulfilled within six months. The brahmin who worships the beneficent phallic image for his livelihood for six months becomes a Devalaka, the worshipper of idol for subsistence. He is not authorised in ordinary rites of brahmins.
The Story of Devaloka:
There was a brahmin Dadhichi who was well-versed in the Vedas and highly virtuous. He was engrossed in his devotion to Shiva and was interested in Shiva’s lore. His son was known as Sudarshana whose wife was Dukula. She was born of a defiled family. The husband was always under her control. He had four sons. Of course, he used to worship Shiva every day.
Once, Dadhichi had to go and live in another village along with his kinsmen. The kinsmen did not let him go back. While leaving home, Dadhichi, the excellent devotee, had already instructed his son, “Be devoted to Shiva.”
Sudarshana’s son also worshipped Shiva. Once, on a Shivaratri occasion when all observed fast, Sudarshana had his sexual intercourse with his wife and then performed the worship. But before he performed the worship, he abstained from taking bath. For this misdeed Shiva was infuriated and said:
“O knave, you had sexual intercourse with your wife on the occasion of Shivaratri. Without taking bath you performed the worship. You are an indiscreet fellow. Because you have done this consciously, be sluggish and insensible. You are an untouchable person for me. Avoid touching me.
Cursed thus by lord Shiva, Sudarshana, the son of Dadhichi, attained insensibility immediately, deluded by Shiva’s. Maya. Meanwhile Dadhichi, the excellent devotee of Shiva, returned from the other village and heard the details. He too was rebuked by Shiva. Hence, he felt much distressed. He cried— “Oh I am doomed by this foul deed of my son.”
The father then worshipped Parvati with excellent rites, sincere devotion and perseverance for the happiness of his son. Sudarshana himself performed the worship of Parvati with great devotion adopting the path of Chaṇḍi worship and with auspicious hymns. Thus, by various means and with sincere devotion the father and the son propitiated the goddess Parvati who is favourably disposed towards her devotees. By the devotion of their service Chaṇḍika was delighted. She adopted Sudarshana as her son. For the sake of her adopted son, she herself implored Shiva. Shiva who was angry had become quite calm. The son also was delighted. Then realising that lord Shiva the bull-bannered deity was delighted, she bowed to him herself and placed the son on his lap.
Making the ablution of the son with ghee, Parvati handed over to her son Sudarshana the three-stringed sacred thread with a single knot and imparted instruction in Shiva Gayatri consisting of sixteen syllables. Then the brahmin boy performed the Saṃkalpa puja (worship by mental conception) sixteen times with the five-syllabled mantra with the word Shri prefixed to Shiva. Beginning with ceremonial ablution and ending with the concluding obeisance he worshipped the bull-bannered deity by means of devotional mantras, musical instruments and adorations in the presence of the sages. He recited various names of Shiva. Then the delighted Shiva said: --
“Wealth, foodgrain etc. whatever is offered to me shall be taken by you. There is no sin in this action. In the rites concerning me you will officiate as the chief, especially so in the rites concerning the goddess. Ghee, oil etc., everything offered to me shall be taken by you. When the Prajapatya rite is performed only one of you shall be there. Then alone is the worship complete. Or everything becomes fruitless. The Tilaka must be made round. Then you shall take bath. Sandhya prayers to Shiva shall be offered and his Gayatri repeated. After rendering service to me at the outset, the other rites shall be performed according to the family tradition. When everything is thus performed there shall be welfare. Your blemishes have been excused by me.”
After saying this, the supreme soul Shiva consecrated his four sons as Vaṭukas in the four quarters. After keeping Sudarshana as her son with herself she granted boons to his sons and blessed them in several ways.
The Goddess said: — “Between you two whoever becomes my Vaṭuka shall be victorious. No doubt need be entertained in this respect. He who worships you has worshipped me too. You shall perform your duties always.”
Thus, boons were granted to the noble Sudarshana and his sons by Shiva and Parvati out of pity for the welfare of the worlds. Because they had been established by Shiva and Parvati they are known as Vaṭukas. Those who neglect penance are known as Tapodhamas.
In the chapter 5-7 in Section 4 of Kotirudra-saṃhita of Shiva Purana, the story of greatness of Nadikeshvara is mentioned.
A noble brahmin in city named Karniki on the western bank of river Reva, born of the family of Utta, entrusted his wife to the care of his two sons and went to Kashi. The brahmin died there itself. On getting the news the two sons performed the obsequies. The wife looked after the sons, seeking their welfare. After bringing up the sons she divided the assets. She reserved some amount for her funeral expenses. After sometime when she was going to die, she made pious gifts of various sorts. Providentially she did not die. The son observing her ailments said: -
“O mother, what is amiss that you suffer so much. Please tell us so that we shall carry it out with pleasure.”
On hearing these words, she said— “There is much that is amiss. If you do the same, I shall die happily.”
The elder son replied— “Please do mention. I shall do the same.” She then replied: -
“O son, I had a great desire to go to Kashi. That was not to be. Now I am dying here. My bones shall be cast off into the waters of the Ganga assiduously. That pious act will bless you, to be sure.”
The son said: — “O mother, you shall die peacefully and with confidence. I shall carry out your task first and then attend to mine.”
After saying this, he handed water to her and went to his house. Remembering Shiva, she died in the meantime. After performing her obsequies and the monthly Shraddha he started on his journey. The elder son who was famous as Suvada took her bones and started on his pilgrimage. He engaged a servant to accompany him. He consoled his wife and sons. He performed Shraddha, Dana and other pious rites. He then set out from his house after Mangala Smarana accompanied by the servant. He walked about twelve kilometres that day and when the sun set, he halted at the house of a certain Brahmin in the auspicious village of Viṃsatigrama. He performed Sandhya and other rites duly. He recited the hymns of prayer to Shiva of wonderful activities. The brahmin stayed there accompanied by the servant. The night had passed by two muhurtas when something surprising happened.
There was a fine cow tied up in the courtyard. The brahmin of the house who had gone out returned after nightfall. On seeing the cow, tethered in the courtyard, not yet milked, the distressed brahmin desirous of milking it told his wife. In order to milk the cow, he called his wife quickly and said “O beloved, the cow is not yet milked.” Thus, urged she brought the calf. The owner of the house, dragged by the leg the calf kicked. Infuriated by the kick of the calf, he hit the calf severely with the pieces of firewood. Hit by him the calf became utterly exhausted. Due to anger neither the cow was milked nor the calf was untied by the brahmin. For the pleasure of getting milked, the cow mooed loudly. On hearing the mooing sound of the cow, the calf said: -
“O mother, why do you cry? What is the misery that has befallen you? Please tell me lovingly.” On hearing this, the cow said.
“O son, listen to me. Although I am unable to express my grief adequately, you have been hit by the wicked man. Hence, I am distressed.”
On hearing his mother’s words, the calf taking his stand by the principle of previous action replied enlightening his mother. “What should be done? Where should we go? Since the results are bound by previous actions, we experience joy or sorrow accordingly. This is a wrong notion that another man gives us sorrow or pleasure. This is also an illusory concept that it is I who do this or that. Misery or happiness results from our own actions. Hence action is prominent and everything is founded on action. All the living beings are bound by action. They are not to be bewailed by you.
On hearing these words of her calf full of wisdom, the distressed cow sorrowing for her calf, said thus. The cow said: — “O dear son, I know fully well that all the people are subservient to their actions. Still, seized by Maya I feel much distressed. I have cried a lot but the sorrow has not subsided.” On hearing these words, the calf spoke to her again. The calf said: — “If you know thus, can anything be gained by crying? Hence leave off your sorrow.”
On hearing the words of her son, the distressed cow heaved a deep sigh and spoke to the calf. The cow said: — “My distress will disappear only when a similar misery befalls the brahmin. I am telling you the truth. Tomorrow morning, I shall hit him by my horns. No doubt, when hit he will lose his life.
The calf said: — “The fruit of previous actions we experience now. What is the fruit you are going to reap as a result of this brahmin-slaughter? When merits and demerits are on a par one takes birth in Bharata. O mother, when they are wiped off by enjoyment or suffering, liberation is achieved. Sometime the action is destroyed, some time the action results. That is why you have begun to perform this misdeed. Whence am I your son? Whence are you, my mother? This fond consciousness of sonhood and motherhood is futile. Ponder. Where is mother? Where is father? Where is husband? Where is wife? Know that none belongs to anyone here. All reap the fruits of their own actions. O mother, knowing thus you cast off your misery strenuously. If there is a desire for pleasure hereafter you shall do good deeds here.”
The Cow said: — “O son, I know this but delusion does not forsake me. I am much distressed by your misery. I shall return tit for tat. I know the place that dispels the sin of brahmin-slaughter. Going there I can get rid of the sin of Brahmin-slaughter.”
On hearing these words of the mother cow, the calf observed silence. On hearing this wonderful dialogue between the two, the pilgrim brahmin was surprised and he thought within himself. “I shall leave in the morning only after seeing the wonderful sequel. I shall go to that holy spot myself.” He and his servant went to sleep. When the day dawned, the owner of the house got up. Awakening the traveller, he spoke these words. The brahmin said: --
“Why do you sleep? It is already day-break. Go on your journey to the place where you desire to go.”
He replied — “Please listen, O brahmin, there is an acute pain in the stomach of my servant. We will stay a little longer and go thereafter.” Creating such a pretext the man continued to sleep, desiring to know the details of the wonderful incident that had surprised him much.
At the time of milking, the brahmin who wanted to go somewhere on some business spoke to his son. The father said: — “O son, I am going out on some business. Dear, you shall carefully milk our cow.” After saying this, the brahmin left the house. Thereafter the son got up and untied the calf. The cow approached him herself for being milked. The brahmin’s son, eager for milk, took the distressed calf hit by his father near the cow in order to tie it up. The infuriated cow hit him with her horn. The boy, hit in a vulnerable point, fell unconscious. People gathered there, saying— “O, the boy is struck by the cow. Fetch water? fetch water?” By the time they attempted to do something, the boy died. When the boy died, there was a great hue and cry. His mother was struck with grief. She cried again and again. “What shall I do? Where shall I go? Who can remove my grief?” After lamenting thus, she struck the cow and let it off. The cow which had been white in colour turned black immediately.
On seeing this surprising event the brahmin traveller set out and followed the cow as it ran away. Lifting up its tail, the cow ran off to the river Narmada. Coming near the Nandikesha shrine, it dipped itself into the waters of the Narmada thrice. It regained its white colour and went away the way it came. The brahmin was surprised. Blessed indeed is this holy centre that removes the sin of Brahmin-slaughter. The brahmin and the servant took their baths there. After the holy dip they started on their journey praising the river. On the way they met a beautiful maiden fully bedecked in ornaments.
She said: — “O brahmin-traveller where do you go in such bewilderment? Eschewing all deceit tell me the truth here. On hearing these words, the brahmin narrated everything truthfully. The brahmin was again addressed by the women, “Stay here”.
On hearing her words, the brahmin stopped and replied humbly — “Speak out what you desire to say. She said again “In the holy spot that you have just seen, cast off the bones of your mother. Why shall you go elsewhere? Your mother will assume a divine form and will immediately attain the good goal of Shiva. In the month of Vaisakha on the auspicious seventh day in the bright half, Ganga comes here always. Today is that seventh day. The river is in the form of Ganga there.” Saying so the lady vanished. She was Ganga herself. The brahmin returned. As soon as he cast off half the bones of his mother from his bundle into the holy river, a wonderful incident happened. He saw his mother endowed with a divine form. She said — “You are blessed. You have fulfilled your duty. The family has been sanctified by you. May your wealth, food-grains, longevity and line flourish.” Blessing her son frequently, she went to heaven. With contented soul he returned to his abode.
By worshipping at Nandikesha with devotion, people become freed from all sins such as the slaughter of a Brahmin etc. At Nandikesha, Shiva appeared to save Risika, the chaste lady of a Brahmin from powerful Asura named Mudha and blessed her. Ganga also promised to stay there for a day in the month of Vaisakha.
Results are bound by previous actions; we experience joy or sorrow accordingly. This is a wrong notion that another man gives us sorrow or pleasure. This is also an illusory concept that it is I who do this or that. Misery or happiness results from our own actions. Hence action is prominent and everything is founded on action. All the living beings are bound by action. They are not to be bewailed by you.
In the chapter 3-4 in Section 4 of Kotirudra-saṃhita of Shiva Purana, the story of Anasuya & Atri is told.
Atri was the son of Brahma & great sage of perfect knowledge. There was severe drought for very long period. Anasuya, the wife of Atri said to her husband, “I cannot bear the distress of living beings. Atri sat in yogic pose and the meditated-on Shiva through his own soul. Anasuya made a beautiful clay image through mantras in accordance with the rules, she worshipped Shiva through mental modes of service. After serving Shiva repeatedly she eulogised him with devotion.
Anasuya circumambulated her lord and Shiva. After prostration she went round anticlockwise too. On seeing that beautiful lady, the Daityas and Danavas were excessively agitated by her brilliance. They kept themselves away as people do from a blazing fire.
As long as the sage was engrossed in Praṇayama, the gentle lady continued her service. The couple thus engaged in their activities remained there, alone. On account of his penance and her worship the gods and the sages, Ganga and the rivers came there in order to see them with pleasure. On seeing his penance and her service they were surprised. On seeing their wonderful activity, they asked one another. “Which of the two—the penance or the service, is the greater?” They themselves replied — “Arti’s penance is good but Anasuya’s service is better”. Others said “Difficult penances had been performed by sages of yore but nothing like Dadhici’s penance was ever performed by any”. After praising them thus, they went away but only Ganga and Shiva were left.
Ganga said: — “Delighted in worshipping us the chaste lady is too much engrossed in virtuous rites. I shall help her and then go.” Shiva too, drawn by the meditation of Atri, stationed himself there in full digits. He did not go to Kailash. Anasuya decided pot to eat anything.
Once that great sage Atri woke up and spoke to his wife “Give me water.” Of course, the chaste lady took the water pot and went into the forest. (But she began to muse) “Whence can I fetch water? What shall I do? Where shall I go? How can water be fetched?” Wondering thus she saw Ganga. By the time she went over to her, Gaṅgā, the most excellent river, assumed a beautiful form and spoke to her.
Ganga said: — “O gentle lady, I am delighted with you. Where are you going? Tell me now. O fortunate lady, you are blessed. I shall truly carry out your behest.”
On hearing her words, the wife of the sage, was greatly surprised. She replied with great pleasure: O beautiful lady with eyes like lotus-petals, whence have you come? Please tell me the truth.
Ganga said: — “O chaste lady, on seeing the service rendered by you unto your lord and to Shiva the great soul and on taking view of your holy rites, I am staying near you. I am Ganga come here attracted by your worship. Choose whatever you wish.”
On hearing what Ganga said, the chaste lady bowed to her and said— “If you are pleased madam, give me water now.”
On hearing her words Ganga said— “Dig a pit.” She then made a pit in a trice, came and stood before her. Ganga entered the pit which became full of water in surprise, Anasuya took the water and said: - “If you are delighted, if you have sympathy for me, you will please stay here till my husband comes.”
The delighted Ganga said— “O sinless lady, you will give my water to Atri.” When Ganga said thus, Anasuya acted accordingly. She gave the divine water to her lord and stood before him. The sage performed the Achamana duly with great pleasure and drank the divine water. On drinking it he derived great happiness.
“O this is not the water usually drunk by me.” After thinking thus, he suddenly looked all round. On seeing the trees dry and withered and the quarters rough and arid, the excellent sage spoke to her “No rain has fallen?” On hearing what he said, the beloved lady replied in the negative. He then asked her whence she brought that water for him.
When he said this, Anasuya was much surprised. She then thought within herself. “If I tell him the truth it will be the exhibition of my greatness. If I do not tell him, it will be a violation of my rites. I shall tell him in a manner to avoid the contingencies. Even as she was musing thus, she was asked again and again. “O lord, please hear me. I shall tell you what has happened.” Anasuya said: --
“Thanks to the power of Shiva and you merit, Ganga has come here herself. This is her water, to be sure.”
On hearing this, the sage was surprised in his mind. Remembering Shiva mentally he spoke to his beloved with great pleasure. Atri said: — “O beautiful lady, whether you speak truth or lie, I cannot believe it. This is something rare. If I see that myself, I shall believe it, not otherwise.”
On hearing his words, the beloved wife spoke to the husband: — “O lord, please come with me if you wish to see Ganga, the foremost among the rivers.” After saying this and remembering Shiva, the chaste lady took her husband to the place where Ganga was present. Going there and seeing the beautiful pit full to the brim with water, the excellent sage said— “She is blessed.” “Is this the fruit of my own penance or of somebody else?” After saying this the leading sage eulogised her with devotion. Then the sage took a clean bath in that excellent water. The sage performed the routine rites. Anasuya too, of good rites, performed likewise. Then Ganga told her “I am returning to my place.” When this was said, the chaste lady spoke to the leading river again.
Anasuya said: — “O goddess if you are delighted, if you are kind to me, you will stay in this penance-grove for ever.”
The sage said likewise— “O leading river, you shall stay. O goddess, be favourable to us and bless us with your support.” On hearing his pleasing words, the leading river Ganga was delighted in her mind and spoke to Anasuya. Ganga said: — “I shall stay back for helping the gods if you pass on to me a year’s merit accruing to you by worshipping lord Shiva. I am not so much satisfied with charitable gifts, or ceremonial ablutions in the holy centres or sacrifices or the practice of Yogic rites as I am satisfied with chastity. If you seek for welfare, you give up that merit for the benefit of the world, then I shall become steady and stable here.”
On hearing these words, the chaste Anasuya passed on a year’s merit to Ganga. On seeing this performance of Anasuya, a chaste woman, Lord Shiva was delighted and appeared out of his earthen phallic form. Shiva said: --
“O chaste lady, on seeing this activity of yours I am delighted. Mention the boon you wish to choose, since I am very fond of you.”
Then the couple glanced at the wonderfully beautiful form of Shiva. On seeing five-faced Shiva they were much surprised. Bowing to and eulogising Shiva, the benefactor of the worlds, the couple endowed with great devotion spoke to him after worshipping him. The couple said: --
“O lord of gods, if you are delighted, if the mother of the universe is also delighted, please stay in this penance-grove and be the bestower of happiness to the worlds.”
Then the river Ganga was delighted. Shiva too was pleased. They stayed at the hermitage of the excellent sage. Lord Shiva, the destroyer of miseries was known as Atrishvara. Ganga too stayed in the pit by her magical power. Thence onwards there is a perennial supply of water in that pit deep only by a hand’s length. Ganga flows gently there.
Chastity is much better than giving charitable gifts, or ceremonial ablutions in the holy centres or sacrifices or the practice of Yogic rites.