Nov 08, 2011 CANADA (SUN) Reprisal of a 2008 Sun serial on the Vamana Purana by Srila Vedya-vyasa, excerpted and categorized into various subject areas.
The Greatness of Saanihitya Sarovar and Sthanu Tirtha
Sanat Kumar says-
"Describing the greatness of Saanihitya Sarovar, Lord Shiva told the sages that a devotee cannot attain salvation unless he pays a visit to this sacred place of pilgrimage. There is no other Tirtha like this one. "I would be easily accessible to a devotee who worships me with total devotion." After saying this, Lord Shiva disappeared.
In course of time, the heaven became crowded with human beings due to virtues attained by going on pilgrimages to Sthanu Tirtha. The deities became worried at this development and went to seek Lord Brahma's help. Indra said- "If things continue like this then the heaven will be dominated by mortals and we will have no option but to move out from there. Now, its your duty to protect us." Lord Brahma ordered Indra to fill up Saanihitya Sarovar with mud so that the Sthanu Linga gets concealed and devotees no longer visited that sacred place of pilgrimage.
Saanihitya Sarovar was filled up with mud as Indra created a dust storm, which lasted for several days. But still Indra's objective remained unfulfilled as Lord Shiva lifted Sthanu Linga and Tirtha Vata (Banyan tree) in his hands. There were some sages present on the bank of Saanihitya Sarovar at the time of this incident. They smeared their bodies with that mud and due to this, all of them went to Brahma loka."
King Ven, Birth of Prithu
Sage Markandeya then goes on to describe about the splendours of Sthanu Tirtha-
"Surya was Manu's father. Ven was Manu's grandson. He was wicked and always criticised the Vedas. Being displeased by his irreligious son, Ven's father left for the forest to do penance where he attained salvation.
In course of time, Ven's tyranny spread across the length and breadth of the earth. In a very short time, he became the lord of whole earth. He had strictly warned his subjects against worshipping any other deity except him. Sages became furious by his irreligious stricture and tried to change his mind but their efforts went in vain. Ultimately, Ven was killed by the angry sages. After his death, the sages churned his left hand, which resulted in the manifestation of a dwarf. The sages considered him to be unfit to become a ruler and churned Ven's right hand for the second time. This time, a divine entity manifested, who had all the auspicious signs on his body. The deities crowned this divine entity as the king and named him Prithu. Prithu proved to be a just king and his subjects were satisfied by his rule.
One day, sage Narad arrived at Prithu's court. Wanting to grab the opportunity, he asked Narad how his father could be liberated from his sins. Narad told him that his father was presently living among the Mlechchas and was suffering from diseases like consumption and leprosy. "He would be cured of his diseases if he is taken to Sthanu Tirtha and made to take a dip in the holy Saanihitya Sarovar", said Narad.
He went to the site and found his father living among the Mlechchas. After taking the Mlechchas' permission, he brought his father to Sthanu Tirtha. His effort of helping his father to take a bath was resisted by the deity- Vaayu who said- "The waters of Saanihitya Sarovar would get polluted if such a lowly sinner took a bath in it. First of all, you must go on a pilgrimage and visit all the sacred places to make your father pure. Only then he will be entitled to take bath here".
Prithu accompanied by his father went on a pilgrimage and visited all the sacred places. When both of them returned to Sthanu Tirtha, his father had become pure by this time. Ven took his bath and became liberated from his sins. He worshipped Lord Sthanu and eulogised him with total devotion."
Other Prominent Lingas
Sanat Kumar says-
"The sacred places of pilgrimage named Shukra Tirtha and Soma Tirtha are situated towards north and south of Sthanu Vata respectively. Daksha Tirtha is situated towards its south and Skand Tirtha towards its west. The sacrosanct Sthanu Tirtha is situated just in between all these four places of pilgrimage. Near Sthanu Tirtha is a Shiva Linga and Goddess Uma dwells there. There is a Maha Linga established by Takshak towards the north of Sthanu Vata while the Shiva Linga constructed by Vishwakarma is established towards the east.
By the side of that Banyan tree (Vata Tirtha) is situated- Bateshwar Linga, which was established by Lord Brahma. Some other prominent Lingas established in the vicinity of Sthanu Linga are- Gokarna Maha Linga established by Ravana, Kumareshwar, Hastipadeshwar Shiva, Siddheshwar Linga, Hibhavateshwar Linga etc."
Ven Attains Heaven
Sanat Kumar says-
"Lord Shiva became pleased by his devotion and blessed Ven that he would manifest from his body as Andhak in his next birth. Due to the sins acquired by criticising the Vedas, he would be born in the family of the notorious demon Hiranyaaksh." Lord Shiva then asked Ven to demand any boon.
Ven requested Lord Shiva to bless his attendant who had transformed into a dog due to his sin acquired by eating divine food. Lord Shiva blessed the attendant as a result of which, he regained his original form. Right then, Prithu arrived there. After seeing him, Ven expressed his gratitude for his tremendous effort without which, he would not have been liberated from his sins. After blessing Prithu, Ven departed for heaven.
In his father's absence, Prithu continued to rule justly. He performed many religious activities and gave unlimited donations to the Brahmins. After ruling for a long period, he went to Kurukshetra where he did a severe penance and attained the supreme abode after his death."