Chapter VIII

On visiting Tīrthas

1. Sūta said:

Thus asked by the son of Parīkṣit, the king Janamejaya, the best of the Brāhmaṇas, the son of Satyavatī, Vyāsa spoke, in detail, the following:

2. The virtuous Janamejaya became very much sorry and despondent when he heard in detail the improper acts of his own father Parīkṣit, the son of Uttarā.

3. Owing to insulting the Brāhmin boy, his father had to go to hell; and he was constantly thinking how to release his father.

4. The son is called “Puttra” for he releases his father from the hell, named “Put”. He is the true son that can do so.

5-6. The fortunate son of Parīkṣit became very much tormented and bewildered with fear when he heard what was the fate of his father, who died bitten by a serpent on the top of a palace, due to the curse of a Brahmin, void of any bathing, charities, and the purification acts.

7. When Vyāsa returned home, Janamejaya asked him, the whole course of events of Nara Nārāyaṇa.

8. Vyāsa said:

O King! When the terrible Hiraṇya Kaśipoo was slain, his son Prahlāda was installed on his throne.

9. During the government of Prahlāda, the chief of the Daityas, the worshipper of the Brāhmaṇas and Devas, the kings on earth began with faith to do many sacrifices for the satisfaction of the Devas.

10. The Brāhmaṇas were engaged in their Tapasyā, Dharma, and in frequenting the places of pilgrimages; the Vaisyas, in their trade; and the Śudras, in serving the other three classes.

11. The incarnation of Hari, the Nri Simha (Man-Lion) made Prahlāda, the king of the Daityas in the Pātāla (Nether regions); and Prahlāda, engaged there, spent his time in the preservation and welfare of his subjects.

12. Once, on a time, the great ascetics Chyavana Muni, the son of Bhrigu went on his way to bathing in the river Narmada, at the place of pilgrimage, called Vyārhitīśvara.

13. There he saw the great river Revā and, while he was descending in the river, a dreadful snake caught hold of him and carried him to the Pātāla. The Muni was greatly terrified and began to think of the Deva of the Devas, Janārdana Viṣṇu.

14-15. On remembering the lotus eyed Viṣṇu, the serpent lost his poison, and Chyavana Muni did not find any trouble, though carried to the Pātāla.

16. Then the serpent, coming to know of the power of the Muni, left him for fear that the Muni might curse him; the snake afterwards repented very much.

17. Chyavana, the best of the Munis, worshipped by the daughters of the serpents, roamed there and entered once into a beautiful palace of the Nagas and the Dānavas.

18. While he was walking, he was seen by the religious king of the Daityas, the Prahlāda.

19. The lord of the Daityas on seeing him worshipped him and enquired of him the cause of his coming there:

20. Are you sent here by Indra? Speak truly, O best of the Brāhmaṇas. Is it to pry into my kingdom out of the enmity between the Devas and the Daityas?

21. Chyavana said:

What have I to do with Indra? That I might be sent by him, as his spy, messenger, to your city!

22. O Chief of the Daityas! Know me as Chyavana, the son of Bhrigu, prompt in religious duties and whose eye is illumined by knowledge. Do not fear that I am sent here by Indra.

23. When I went to bathe in a place of pilgrimage, in the holy Narmada, and dropped into the river, a poisonous snake caught hold of me (and carried me here).

24. I took the name of Viṣṇu; and the serpent, hearing the Viṣṇu's name, became void of poison, and left me here as you see.

25. O king! Coming here, I see you. You are a devotee of Viṣṇu; know me, too, a devotee of the same Viṣṇu.

26. Vyāsa said:

O king! Prahlāda, the son of Hiraṇya Kaśipu, on hearing his sweet words, gladly asked him about the various places of pilgrimages.

27. Prahlāda said:

O Best of Munis! Kindly describe to me, in detail, which are the places of pilgrimages on the earth, Pātāla, and in the Heavens, that verily lead to holiness.

28. Chyavana said:

O King! He whose body, words, and mind have grown pure, to him, his every footstep is a place of pilgrimage; he, whose heart is impure and defiled, to him the holy Ganges even is a thing more hated and worse than the Kīkaṭa country (the name of Behār).

29. Every holy place will impart holiness to him whose mind is first pure and deprived of sin.

30-31. O Best of the Daityas! On the banks of the Ganges, are situated good many cities, towns, villages, places to assemble, mines, small villages, the living places of the aborigines, the chāṇḍālas, and kaivartas, the Hūṇas, Bangas, the Khasas and the other Mlechchas.

32. The inhabitants of the above places drink at their will the holy Ganges water, equivalent to Brahmā, and bathe therein and do other works.

33. O King! There not even a single soul becomes pure. What use is a holy place to him, whose heart becomes attached to the sensual objects and who can therefore be called the lost souls.

34. Know, O king! the mind as the principal factor in any religious act or in any holy place. He who wants purity, let him first make his own mind pure.

35. The residents in any holy place deceive others and thus incur great sins. The sins committed in a place of pilgrimage can never be removed; they become unending and inexhaustible.

36. As the fruit, Indravāruṇā, is never sweet though fully ripe, so whose heart is defiled, he can never be pure though he bathes hundreds and thousands of times in the Tirtha water.

37. He who wants welfare of his own and others, he should first make his mind pure; when his mind becomes pure, then, the purity of material things and the purity of conduct can have any effect; then and then only resorting to places of pilgrimages becomes efficacious.

38-39. Always avoid company with the lowest class of persons in the holy places; it is far better to show one's good will and compassion to all the souls (Jīvas) by one's intellect and by one's acts. You have asked me about the holy places of pilgrimages; I will now tell you those that are the best.

40. O king! The holy Naimiṣāraṇya is the first, next Chakratīrtha; next Puskaratīrtha; there are many others besides these that cannot be counted. O Best of kings! There are lots of other holy places in this world.

41-42. Vyāsa said:

O king! Prahlāda, the king of the Daityas, on hearing the Muni's words, became ready to go Naimiṣāraṇya and, with very much gladness, exclaimed to his followers, the Daityas O Good Ones! Get up; today we will go to Naimiṣāraṇya and we will see the lotus eyed, yellow robed Śrī Achyutam, the Viṣṇu.

43. Vyāsa said:

O King! When thus addressed by Prahlāda, the Demons were exceedingly glad; and they all marched out of Pātāla.

44. The Daityas, and Demons all united went to Naimiṣāraṇyam and filled with much pleasure, they all bathed on reaching that holy place.

45. There, accompanied by the Daityas, Prahlāda roamed about the sacred places and saw the holy Saraswati river and Her pure clean water.

46. The high-souled Prahlāda bathed in the Saraswati river and his mind was satisfied.

47. The king of the Daityas was very much pleased and he perform ablutions and charities according to due rites in that most auspicious sacred place of pilgrimage.

Here ends the Eighth Chapter in the Fourth Book of Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam, the Mahā Purāṇam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa on going to the Tirthas.