Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 9 Chapter 6
THE NINTH BOOK
On the coming in this world of Lakṣmī, Gangā and Saraswatī
1-10. Nārāyaṇa said:
“O Nārada! Saraswatī lives always in Vaikuṇṭha close to Nārada. One day a quarrel arose with Gangā, and by Her curse, Saraswatī came in parts as a river here in this Bhārata.
She is reckoned in Bhārata as a great sanctifying holy and merit-giving river. The good persons serve Her always, residing on Her banks.
She is the Tapasyā and the fruit thereof of the ascetics. She is like the burning fire to the sins of the sinners. Those that die in Bhārata on the Saraswatī waters with their full consciousness, live forever in Vaikuṇṭha in the council of Hari.
Those who bathe in the Saraswatī waters after committing sins, become easily freed of them and live for a long, long time in Viṣṇu-Loka.
If one bathes even once in the Saraswatī waters, during Chāturmāsya (a vow that lasts four months), in full moon time, in Akṣyayā or when the day ends, in Vyatīpāta Yoga, in the time of eclipse or on any other holy day or through any other concomitant cause or even without any faith and out of sheer disregard, one is able to go to Vaikuṇṭha and get the nature of Śrī Hari.
If one repeats the Saraswatī Mantra, residing on the banks of the Saraswatī, for one month, a great illiterate can become a great poet. There is no doubt in this.
Once shaving one's head, if one resides on the banks of the Saraswatī, daily bathes in it, one will have not to meet with the pain of being again born in the womb.
O Nārada! Thus I have described a little of the unbounded glories of Bhārata that give happiness and the fruits of all desires.”
11. Sūta said:
“O Saunaka! The Muni Nārada hearing thus, asked again at that very moment to solve his doubts. I am now speaking of that. Hear.”
12-15. Nārada said:
“O Lord! How did the Devī Saraswatī quarrel with the Devī Gangā and how did she by Her curse turn out in India, into a holy river in giving virtues?
I am becoming more and more eager and impatient to hear about this critical incident. I do not find satiety in drinking your nectar-like words. Who finds satiety in getting his good weal?
Why did Gangā curse Saraswatī, worshipped everywhere. Gangā is also full of Sattva Guṇas. She always bestows good and virtue to all.
Both of them are fiery and it is pleasant to hear the cause of quarrels between those two. These are very rarely found in the Purāṇas. So you ought to describe that to me.”
16-21. Nārāyaṇa said:
Hear, O Nārada! I will now describe that incident, the hearing of which removes all the sins.
Lakṣmī, Saraswatī and Gangā, the three wives of Hari and all equally loved, remain always close to Hari.
One day Gangā cast side-long glances frequently towards Nārāyaṇa and was eagerly looking at Him, with smile on Her lips. Seeing this, the Lord Nārāyaṇa, startled and looked at Gangā and smiled also.
Lakṣmī saw that, but she did not take any offence. But Saraswatī became very angry. Padmā (Lakṣmī) who was of Sattva Guṇa, began to console in various ways the wrathful Saraswatī; but she could not be appeased by any means. Rather Her face became red out of anger; she began to tremble out of her feelings (passion); Her lips quivered; and She began to speak to Her husband:
22-38. The husband that is good, religious, and well qualified looks on all his wives equally; but it is just the opposite with him who is a cheat.
O Gadādhara! You are partial to Gangā; and so is the case with Lakṣmī. I am the only one that is deprived of your love. It is, therefore, that Gangā and Padma are in love with each other; for you love Padma. So why shall not Padma bear this contrary thing!
I am only unfortunate. What use is there in holding my life? Her life is useless, who is deprived of her husband's love.
Those that declare you of Sattva Guṇas, ought not to be ever called Pundits. They are quite illiterate; they have not the least knowledge of the Vedas. They are quite impotent to understand the nature of your mind.
O Nārada! Hearing Saraswatī's words and knowing that she had become very angry, Nārāyaṇa thought for a moment and then went away from the Zenana outside.
When Nārāyaṇa had thus gone away, Saraswatī became fearless and began to abuse Gangā downright out of anger in an abusive language, hard to hear:
“O Shameless One! O Passionate One! What pride do you feel for your husband? Do you like to show that your husband loves you much? I will destroy your pride today. I will see today, it will be seen by others also, what your Hari can do for you?”
Saying thus Saraswatī rose up to catch hold of Gangā by Her hairs violently. Padma intervened to stop this. Saraswatī became very violent and cursed Lakṣmī:
“No doubt you will be turned into a tree and into a river. In as much as seeing this undue behaviour of Gangā, you do not step forward to speak anything in this assembly, as if you are a tree or a river.”
Padma did not become at all angry, even when she heard of the above curse. She became sorry and, holding the hands of Saraswatī, remained silent.
Then Gangā became very angry; Her lips began to quiver frequently. Seeing the mad fiery nature of the red-eyed Saraswatī, she told Lakṣmī:
“O Padme! Leave that wicked foul-mouthed woman. What will she do to me? She presides over speech and therefore likes always to remain with quarrels.
Let Her show Her force how far can she quarrel with me. She wants to test the strength of us. So leave Her. Let all know today our strength and prowess.”
39-44. Thus saying, Gangā became ready to curse Saraswatī and addressing Lakṣmī, said:
“O Dear Padme! As that woman has cursed you to become a river, so I too curse her, that she, too, be turned into a river and she would go to the abode of men, the sinners, to the world and take their heaps of sins.”
Hearing this curse of Gangā, Saraswatī gave her curse:
“You, too, will have to descend into the Bhūrloka (the world) as a river, taking all the sins of the sinners.”
O Nārada! While there was going on this quarrel, the four-armed omniscient Bhagavān Hari came up there accompanied by four attendants of His, all four-armed, and took Saraswatī in His breast and began to speak all the previous mysteries.
Then they came to know the cause of their quarrels and why they cursed one another and all became very sorry. At that time Bhagavān Hari told them one by one:
45-67. O Lakṣmī! Let you be born in parts, without being born in any womb, in the world as the daughter in the house of the King Dharma-dhvaja. You will have to take the form of a tree there, out of this evil turn of fate.
There Śankhachūḍa, the Indra of the Asuras, born of my parts will marry you. After that you will come back here and be my wife as now. There is no doubt in this.
You will be named Tulasī, the purifier of the three worlds, in Bhārata.
O Beautiful One! Now go there quickly and be a river in your parts under the name Padmāvatī.
O Gange! You will also have to take incarnation in Bhārata as a river, purifying all the worlds, to destroy the sins of the inhabitants of Bhārata.
Bhagīratha will take you there after much entreating and worshipping you; and you will be famous by the name Bhagirathi, the most sanctifying river in the world. There, the Ocean born of my parts, and the King Śantanu also born of my parts will be your husbands.
O Bhāratī! Let you go also and incarnate in part in Bhārata under the curse of Gangā.
O Good-natured One! Now go in full Amsas to Brahmā and become His wife. Let Gangā go also in Her fullness to Śiva.
Let Padma remain with Me. Padma is of a peaceful nature, void of anger, devoted to Me and of a Sāttvic nature. Chaste, good-natured, fortunate, and religious woman like Padma are very rare.
Those women that are born of the parts of Padma are all very religious and devoted to their husbands. They are peaceful and good-natured and worshipped in every universe.
It is forbidden, nay, opposed to the Vedas, to keep three wives, three servants, three friends of different natures, at one place. They never conduce to any welfare. They are the fruitful sources of all jealousies and quarrels.
Where, in any family females are powerful like men and males are submissive to females, the birth of the male is useless. At his every step, he meets with difficulties and bitter experiences.
He ought to retire to the forest whose wife is foul-mouthed, of bad birth and fond of quarrels. The great forest is better for him than his house.
That man does not get in his house any water for washing his feet, or any seat to sit on, or any fruit to eat, nothing whatsoever; but in the forest, all these are not unavailable. Rather to dwell amidst rapacious animals or to enter into fire than remain with a bad wife.
O Fair One! Rather the pains of the disease or venom are bearable, but the words of a bad wife are hard to bear. Death is far better than that.
Those that are under the control of their wives, know that they never get their peace of mind until they are laid on their funeral pyres. They never see the fruits of what they daily do. They have no fame anywhere, neither in this world nor in the next.
Ultimately the fruit is this:— that they have to go to hell and remain there. His life is verily a heavy burden who is without any name or fame.
Never it is for the least good that many co-wives remain at one place. When, by taking one wife only a man does not become happy, then imagine, how painful it becomes to have many wives.
O Gange! Go to Śiva. O Saraswatī! Go to Brahmā. Let the good-natured Kamalā, residing on the lotus remain with Me.
He gets in this world happiness and Dharma and in the next Mukti whose wife is chaste and obedient. In fact he is Mukta, pure and happy whose wife is chaste; and he whose wife is foul-natured, is rendered impure unhappy and dead whilst he is living.
Here ends the Sixth Chapter of the Ninth Book on the coming in this world of Lakṣmī, Gangā and Saraswatī in the Mahāpurāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.