Nov 07, 2011 CANADA (SUN) Reprisal of a 2008 Sun serial on the Vamana Purana by Srila Vedya-vyasa, excerpted and categorized into various subject areas.
SOME SACRED PLACES OF PILGRIMAGE
Describing about the greatness of Aushanas, the most sacred place of pilgrimage, Lomaharshan narrates the following tale-
"During Treta Yug, Lord Rama had killed many demons while he was in exile. Once, while he was living in Dandak forest, he had severed the head of a wicked demon with his Kshura arrow.
The severed head of the demon was carried by the arrow for quite a distance and coincidentally it got stuck on the thigh of sage Rahodar. It became very difficult for him to perform his religious duties. Bad smell emanating from the severed head was unbearable. Some sages advised him to pay a visit to Aushanas to become free from his problem.
Rahodar went to Aushanas and as soon as he touched the holy water of the river, the severed head got detached and fell in the river. Delighted, he went back to his hermitage. From that day, Aushanas also came to be known as Kapaalmochan."
The sages asked Lomaharshan about the origin of Kamyakvan Tirtha. Lomaharshan replied-
"Once upon a time, the sages of Naimisharanya came to Kurukshetra to take bath in river Saraswati. But, since they were large in number, the banks of river Saraswati could not accommodate all of them. In their helplessness, they created an imaginary place of pilgrimage named Yagyopavitik Tirtha and took an imaginary dip in it. But many of the remaining sages were unable to do even this.
When Saraswati saw such a large gathering of Brahmins, desirous of having bath in her holy waters, she created a garden (Kunj) and started flowing towards west. This very garden later on developed into a dense forest and became famous as Kamyakvan."
The sages asked Lomaharshan about the origin of Vashishthapava Tirtha and about the reason why sage Vashishth was carried along by the powerful current of Saraswati river. Lomaharshan said-
"There was great rivalry between sage Vashishth and sage Vishwamitra. In course of time, it turned into a bitter enemity. Vashishth had his hermitage at a place called Sthanu Tirtha and Vishwamitra's hermitage was situated just towards the west of it. Vishwamitra was jealous of Vashishth's accomplishment.
Once, Vishwamitra asked river Saraswati to bring Vashishth to his hermitage with the help of powerful currents so that he could kill him. River Saraswati became sad and refused to obey him, which made Vishwamitra angry. He again repeated his commands. Seeing no other option, she went to Vashishth's hermitage and narrated the whole story to him. Vashishth agreed to be carried away by her current.
When Vishwamitra saw Vashishth, he furiously started looking for some weapon to kill him. Saraswati became scared and carried Vashishth to safety as she did not want to acquire the sin of collaborating in the killing of a Brahmin. Vishwamitra angrily cursed her- "May your water be mixed with blood and may the demons thrive on your banks."
This way, Saraswati flowed with her water mixed with blood for one year. All the sages, deities, Gandharvas and Apsaras were worried at this happening. But, this was not the case with the demons, who lived happily at the bank of river Saraswati thriving on the blood mixed in her water. They used to live happily- dancing and rejoicing, as if they had won the heaven from the deities.
One day, some sages arrived at the bank of river Saraswati and became distressed after seeing her water mixed with blood. They asked her about the reason. She revealed the whole story and the misdeeds of Vishwamitra. The sages then requested river Aruna- the liberator of all sins to change her course and start flowing towards river Saraswati. As soon as river Aruna submerged into river Saraswati, she (Saraswati) regained her purity once again."
The sages then asked Lomaharshan about the origin of Sthanu Tirtha and the importance of Sthanu Vata. They also expressed their desire to know about the reservoir named Saanihitya and how Indra had filled it up with mud. Sage Lomaharshan replied-
"Once, Sanat Kumar upon being asked by Baalkhilya and other sages the same question, narrated the following tale- During the period of final annihilation, when the whole earth was submerged in water, Lord Brahma manifested inside an egg. He slept there for thousands of Yugas. When he woke up from his sleep, he found the world devoid of any inhabitants. Being under the influence of Rajo Guna, he planned to commence his creation. At the same time, Lord Vishnu awakened from his sleep and broke that egg after seeing that the whole world had merged inside him. Subsequently, Lord Brahma began his creation starting from the word- 'OMKAR'. After that, the terms- Bhur, Bhuvah and Swah respectively came into existence.
The brilliant effulgence radiating from the egg had dried up the water as a result of which, the remaining water had turned into the shape of an embryo. The reservoir- Saanihitya is situated at the same place where the egg had manifested itself. Meru Mountain is nothing but the outer shell of that egg and all the other mountains are its membrane. The oceans and the rivers are the fluid inside that egg. There is a great reservoir near the navel area of Lord Brahma. A big Banyan tree is situated just in the middle of that reservoir. This tree appears like a pillar (Sthanu). All the three major castes (Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya) originated from that tree. Lord Brahma then created his Manasputras- Sanat, Sanandan etc. Subsequently, he created the Saptarishis and the Baalkhilyas. All the Baalkhilyas did a severe penance for thousands of years without having a morsel of food. They had become very weak but still Lord Shiva was not pleased with them.
Once, Lord Shiva and Uma were traveling by aerial route when suddenly Uma saw the weak Baalkhilyas engaged in penance. She was saddened to see their frail bodies and requested Lord Shiva to end their miseries. Lord Shiva told her that the Baalkhilyas had not attained a bit of virtuousness inspite of their severe penance. "They have still not become free from anger and desires", said Lord Shiva. But Uma was reluctant to believe his words. Lord Shiva then asked her to wait there and himself went to show their real worth to her to prove his point.
Lord Shiva then shed his apparels and became naked. As a mendicant, he visited the hermitages of all the Baalkhilyas. At that time the Baalkhilyas were engaged in penance and hence only womenfolk were present at the hermitages. The womenfolk, infatuated by Lord Shiva, started running after him. When the Baalkhilyas came to know about this, they uprooted his private organ (Linga) and threw it on the ground. Hardly had the Linga fallen on the ground, the whole world got engulfed by the process of destruction. All the sages and learned saints became worried and went to seek Lord Brahma's help. Lord Brahma revealed to them that this destruction was due to Shiva's wrath. He also told them about the futility of their penance as they were still under the influence of anger and lust. "You cannot attain perfection until your flaws are removed", said Lord Brahma."