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.