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Essence Of Skanda Purana


Padma

Mahakaal blesses Kumari, Kalabhiti and Karandhama

King Rishyashring had seven sons and a daughter Kumari. The background of the daughter was interesting indeed. Once at the banks of Mahi Sagar Tirtha and the Vijaya Sthambha, a stray goat was thirsty, got entangled among flower creepers, its neck was snapped on the ground, its body fell into water and was dead. By the blessings of the Sacred Tirtha, the head of the Goat was fixed to the daughter of the King of Simhala named Shatha Shringa.

As the girl grew, she saw her face in a mirror to find the head of the dead Goat and soon after that she obtained the knowledge of past birth; she took permission of her parents and proceeded to Mahi Sagar and by the power of the Tirtha, got rid of her goat-head and turned out to be a very charming girl. She refused to marry despite many offers but performed severe Tapasya to Maheswara. She secured a boon from the latter that she would like to live at the Tirtha always later. She set up a Linga named Varkaresh at the same place where the goat felt thirsy. Bhagavan Siva was pleased and said that anybody who felt thirsty and died and the body’s bones were dropped into the Mahisagara Sangam then that person would stay in Swaraga for long time and return to Earth as a King. Also, whoever would take bath in the Sangam and worship Varkareshwar, the person’s desire would be surely fulfilled. If Pitru Tarpanas were performed on a Kartika Krishna Chaturdasi after Puja to Varkarkareswar, the person concerned would be blessed. After returning to her father at Simhala, he divided his Kingdom in favour of his children including Kumari. After his death, she got to her share’s Kumarikhand but soon continued to stay and perform charities at Sthambha Tirtha from her income. She reconstructed the Temple originally built by Kartikeya and dedicated the newly made Golden Temple to Siva who was immensely pleased and declared that the earlier Kumareswar Tirtha be also called Kumariswar Tirtha. As her age advanced and was to die soon, Parama Siva desired that she should not end her life as an unmarried woman and hence wanted to marry Him in the form of Mahakaal and took her to Rudra Loka, where Parvati Devi endeared her and named her as Chitralekha, since Kumari was an expert in Chitralekhan or painting.  
While this was the position, there was a pure Brahmana in Kasipura well known for chanting Manti Rudra Mantra always and was thus called Manti. After constant recitation of the Mantra, the Brahmana was blessed with the Vision of Rudra and gave the boon of begetting a very pious son from his wife. But at the time of delivery, the child refused to come out of the womb as he argued that despite knowing the importance of human birth, he was afraid of the bad qualities of human life which tended to attract innumerable sins entering into the cycle of sins and redemption. Manti prayed to Maha Deva again and blessed Manti to get the child out, naming the child as Kaalabhiti, since he was afraid of Kala Marg. Kaalabhiti grew as an illustrious youth with the knowledge of Pasupathi Mantra, Sadyojatadi Pancha Mantras and an excellent background of Vedas and Scriptures.He visited Mahi Sagar Sangama and soon after taking bath in the Tirtha, he felt considerable transformation and executed Tapasya by standing on one leg’s toe underneath the Bilvapatra Tree near the Sangam. A few months later a Stranger approached Kalabhiti and asked him to have some water as he did enough Tapasya. Kaalabhiti enquired of the latter’s background but the Stranger replied that He was not aware of His parentage or caste or religion. Kaalabhiti said that his Guru asked him not to entertain a stranger without parentage and caste. The Stranger made fun of him as there was no logic in ascertaining the details, as after all, all the human beings were born of some parents by same Paramatma, lived on the same Earth, breathed the same air, lived under the same sky, ate similar food and drank same water, the same type of blood ran into the veins etc. Kaalabhiti argued that no doubt same Siva was in all the human beings, but some were Bhaktas and some were ‘Nastiks’; nobody ate ash and dust but only edible items and so on. That was why certain regulations were set up in human life. In the past, Lord Brahma created the Universe out of ‘Panchabhutas’; four differences viz. ‘Dhvani’/ Naad Swarup (Sound), ‘Varnas’ (Omkaraful of Aksharas or Letters), ‘Padas’or words like ‘Sivam’ and Vakyas or Sentences which were of three types viz. ‘Prabhusattam’ which gave orders like do this or do that; ‘Suhruthsattam’ like ‘Itihasas’and ‘Puranas’ providing guidance and direction; and ‘Kanthasattam’ on the lines of a beloved indicating  do’s and don’ts. That was how feelings of friendship, affection and respect are promoted, thus proving that there would have to be a regulated and controlled Society. Varnashram was an extension of the Rules of a Society since the Four Classes had established rules for Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vyasyas and Sudras. Could one ignore the Directives of Vedas, Shastras and Puranas as waste? How Saptarshis could in the olden days become Brahmanas and Kshatriyas; were they fools? It is not being said that Siva is not in every being but just as Pure Gold gets converted into various qualities of the metal, human beings too are of various types, some are virtuous and some are vicious, some are of nobility and some are not and so on. The Stranger then scratched with his right foot thumb a small water line which became a big waterbody but even then Kalabhiti was not impressed as there might be some Bhuta or Pisacha trying to create a sense of awe.The Stranger said: Suppose the water of this Sarovar belonged to me, the vessel belonged to me and the rope too, then why should you not accept my water, since I am the donor of water and the owner of the Waterbody? Kalabhiti still said that he would never ever accept the water from a Stranger without knowing who he was and the details of his parentage! Smilingly the Stranger disappeared and under the Bilva Tree there appeared a Siva Linga as Devas rained Parijata flowers and then Kalabhiti realised that the Stranger was none other than Mahakaala Himself! Kalabhiti made a sincere Stuti (eulogy) to the Mahakaal Linga saying: Hey Sin terminator Kaal, Kaal margik Kaal, Kaal who has Kaal (Black) coloured ‘Kantha’ or Throat, Kaal who has Kaalarupa (Dark coloured Swarupa), Bhagavan Mahakala, I bow to the Unreserved Embodiment of Vidyas; You are known as the ‘Tatpurusha’, Maheswara of the Creation in totality; My ‘Sashtanga’ (prostrated) Namaskar.’ Parameswara gave Darshan to Kalabhiti from the Swayambhu Linga being worshipped by him and told: ‘I was testing your ‘Dharmaparaayana’or the grit of your proven virtue and am satisfied; Kaal could never impose any restriction on you due to your steadfast belief in Scriptures and the proven path of Dharma. Do follow this route always and this Sarovar created for you would confer contentment to whosoever took bath in it and worship me!’Kaalabhiti requested Mahaakal that the Linga being worshipped be popularised all over as Mahaakal Linga and that he be blessed to be always near Him. Bhagavan agreed to both the requests and blessed Kaalabhiti to become an additional Dwar Pal in addition to Nandi! As Kaalabhiti had conquered ‘Kaal’ (death), he became Mahakaal himself in the form of a Sage!
The illustrious Siva Bhakta King Karandhama visited Mahi Sagara Sangam to worship Mahakaal. He took bath in the pious waters of the Sangam, performed Special Pujas to Maha Deva and made elaborate eulogies. Sage Mahakaal (erstwhile Kaalabhiti) sat near the King and made affectionate enquiries to him. The King took this great opportunity and sought clarifications on certain doubts tormenting his mind for long still unanswered: Human beings perform ‘ Tarpans’ with water to the deceased ‘Pithras’and this water goes back to water; similarly ‘Pinda Daans’ are offered and how could one surmise that the offerings actually reach the ‘Pithras’? Mahaakal replied that not all Pithras were bound by their Karma as seven categories of Pitras like deities, Asuras, Yakshas were disembodied and were beyond the rules of Karma; They could hear from distance, accept Pujas from a distance, and acknowledge commendations from a distance; in fact they could reach anywhere and possess the knowledge of the Past, Present and Future.Their physical features possess ‘Tatvas’ including Five Tanmatras of Sound, Colour, Taste, Touch and and Smell as also Manas, Buddhi, Ahamkar and Prakriti totalling Nine Tatvas; outside the physique beyond these Tatvas dwells Bhagavan Purushottam; thus both Devatas and Pitras get contented by Rasa-Gandhas or Rasa-Tatvas.They experience ‘Shabda Tatva’ or ‘Sparsha Tatva’ and also get satisfied with the ‘Anna Saara and Jala Saara Tatvas’ or the essence food and water mitigating their hunger and thirst, irrespective of the place, rupa and condition. It was to such categories of Pitras that the Tarpans and Pinda Daans were meant and they could bless the persons performing the offerings.The second question was as to why the offerings  being made through Agni to various Devas needed to be made name wise, instead of uttering ‘Idam Bhutadibhaya’; is it necessary to specify for eg. ‘Indra Devaya edam namah’etc.The reply was simple as Superior Devas would never ever accept offerings unless through the medium of Mantras name by name. The next query was as to why Daan or Charity was to be offered along with Kusha grass, Akshatas (Rice grains mixed with Turmeric powder), water and Til (Sesame Seed) would need to be taken into hands, depending on the nature of offering. Mahakaal replied that in the past ‘daan phal’ was being short-circuited or intercepted by Asuras even before the Fruits of Charity reached the receiver; hence Brahma devised a formula that charities meant for Pitharas be offered along with tilas and water by observing ‘Pracheenaaveethi’ or changing the direction of the Sacred Thread from left to right shoulder and to Devas along with Akshatas, water and Kusa grass. A futher question of Karandhama to Mahakaal was regarding the Four Yugas and their main features. Mahakaal described that ‘Dhyana’ (meditation) was the major feature of Kritha Yuga; Yagnas or Sacrifices constituted the dominant attribute of Tretayuga; Satya or Truth was the predominant characteristic of Dwapar Yuga, while Daan was the redeeming trait of the Kali Yuga. In Krita Yuga, there was all-round happiness, contentment, perfect Varnasrama practice and devotion to Parama Siva; in Treta Yuga and Dwapara Yugas, there were gradual slippages of Dharma, rise of vices and lack of consistency in the behaviour pattern of human beings.In Kali Yuga, there has been rapid display of ‘Tamo guna’and viciousness, ferocity, violence, sadism, corruption, dishonesty and duplicity. Alongside these, there have been famines, floods, failure of crops, disease, lawlessness, debauchery, decadence of social values and a state of no return paving way to ‘Pralay’ (the Great Dissolution).
Yet another query made by Karandhama to Kaalaakal was about the Supremacy of Trimurtis, Viz. Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara. Mahaakaal replied that in the past there were intense deliberations by Maharshis at Naimisharanya and deputed Munis to Lord Brahma whether He was the most significant among the ‘Trimurthis’; Brahma replied: Ananthaya namasthasmai yasyantho Nopalabhyathe, Maheshaya cha dwavethou mahi stham Sumukhou Sada (I greet that Bhagavaan Anantha, whose terminating point is elusive; yet, My reverences are with both Vishnu and Shankara). The Munis reached Ksheera Sagar and asked the same question and Vishnu replied: Brahmanam Sarva Bhutheshu Paramam Brahmarupinam, Sadasivam cha Vandey thou Bhavetaam Mangalaya mey/ (I greet that Bhagavan who is present all over called Brahma and Sada Siva, as both are propitious to me).Then the delegation of Sages visited Kailasa and put this question to Devi Uma so that Parama Siva would get the reply indirectly and Bhagavan Shankara told Devi Parvati: Ekadashyam Pranrutyami Jaagare Vishnu Sahasraani, Sadaa Tapasyancharami preetharthamHari Vedhasou / (Devi, I observe Eakadasi by ‘Jaagaran’ (keeping awake in the night) and also perform ‘Nritya’ (dance) in Vishnu Mandir (Temple) to seek the love and blessings of both Brahma and Vishnu). As the Munis returned to Naimisharanya rather confused and decided to worship the ‘Trimurthi Swarupa’ and declared that whosoever made inter se comparisons of the Three Devas or grade them, would indeed go to Naraka, as such comparisons are unmerited, futile and evil minded).

Karandhama sought reply from Mahaakaal about the Types and Description of Sins. Adharmas or Acts of Sin are mainly of three categories: ‘Sthuula’ (in Gross Form), ‘Sukshma’ (Small in content) and ‘Athyantha Sukshma’ (Minute). These sins are performed by Mind (Manas), Tongue (Vani) or Karma (Action). The Manasik type is four-fold: Thinking of other’s women, wealth, material loss and difficulties. ‘Vachik Paap karma’ (Sinful Utterances) like lies, unpalatable sayings, blaming others and using provocative language. The physically performed Sins are consuming the non consumable and resorting to violence, vicious deeds and swindling other’s belongings; also, harbouring hatred to Maha Deva, visiting Temples but not greeting Gods and Goddesses nor praising the Deities; criticising them, being playful to them, behaving unpardonably to Siva Bhaktas and keeping hatred to them. The Pancha Maha Patakas or the Major Five Sins are Brahma hatya, consuming intoxicants, thieving, adultry and keeping company to those who perform these major sins. Those who do harm to Brahmanas or the Virtuous out of hatred, jealousy, anger, temptation or fear are sinners called ‘Brahmaghatis’. Those who pick up quarrels with Good persons on flimsy pretexts and obtain vicarious pleasure are as good as ‘Brahmahatyaras’. Abandoning one’s parents, providing wrong witnesses; exposing villages, houses, forests and Cow-sheds on fire are considered as sins of high order. Taking away everything from the poor, kidnapping women, children and animals; robbing men, women, animals, ‘Bhumi’, gold and precious metals, medicines, items of luxury, textiles, and any other material , raping, etc. are clear examples of sins. In the context of committing sins of major, medium, small, tiny, ignorable or the least acts of acceptance, the best evidence is one’s own conscience. Besides being repentant, helpful qualities of a sinner include the courage to own a sin, the capacity to refrain from repeating it and discouraging others not to do it.
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