Matsya Avatara


15    Yudhishtara’s atonement of killings at Kurukshetra by Visit to Prayaga Kshetra
Nandikeshwara informed Brahmarshi Narada that Maharshi Markandeya pacified Yuddhishtara about the havoc created at the Maha Bharata Battle where eleven Akshouhinis of warriors fought from Kuru Vamsha and seven Akshouhinis from Pandavas and survivors were but a few and far between. There was such huge bloodshed and slaughter where brothers killed brothers, grand sons killed grandfathers, and nephews killed uncles. A person of Yudhishtara’s virtuosity had to be a liar and fraud to announce ‘Ashvatthhama hatah’ loudly and whisper: ‘Kunjarah’ to let down his revered Guru Drona so that Arjuna could pierce his arrows into the Guru’s body; and arranged Shikhandi to face Bhishma ‘Pitamaha’who taught Pandava Kumaras to put their feet on the ground! Thus overwhelmed by extreme remorse and sense of shame, Yuddhistra wondered: Katamo viniyogo vaa niyamam Tirthamevacha, Yenaaham sheeghramaa- munchey mahaa paataka kilimbhashaat/ Yatra sthitwa naroyaati Vishnuloka manutthamam/ (Is there a dispensation / atonement or a possible relief or Tirtha!). Maharshi Markandeya replied: Shrunu Rajan Mahabaaho Sarva paataka naashanam, Prayaaga gamanam shreshtham naraanaam punyakarmanam/ (Dharma Raja! For all human beings, the most propitious deed would be to make a visit to Prayaga that would destroy all ‘paatakas’. Prayaga is near Pratishthanapura (near Jhansi) which was in the days of yore a residing place of the famed Kambal and Ashvatara Nagas who were the descendants of Maha Naga Vasuki Deva and was also the illustrious Prajapati Kshetra known all over the Three Lokas of Prithvi, Patala and Swarga. It is believed that bathing at Prayaga Sangam-the Meeting Place of the Three Most Sacred Rivers of Ganga, Jamuna and Sarasvati- fetched the ‘Punya’ (Phala) of demolishing all the sins committed thus far, that those who died at this hallowed place would have no rebirth and that Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara were always present there to bless the devotees and keep vigil to protect the Kshetra. Indra too was ready to make sure they were no disturbances of Adhi Daivika, Adhyatmika and Adhibhoudhika nature. Surya Deva always kept a watchful vision, especially of his daughter Yamuna. Markandeya thus explained to Yudhishtara:
Prayaagam smaramaanaasya sarvamaayaati sankshayam/
Darshanaat tasya teerthasya Nama sakeertanaadapi,
Mrittikaalambhanaad vaapi narah paapaata pramuchyatey/
(At the very thought of Prayaga, its ‘darshan’/ vision, ‘naama-samkeertana’or the chanting of its hymns, and the smearing of the mud of its river-bed are all the means of obliterating wrong doings and crimes of the persons concerned). Even as one entered the Prayaga Kshetra, one would experience a vibration or an intense feeling of mental quiet and as one sights the River of Ganga, all the sins would fade out. At the point of Ganga-Yamuna -Sarasvati Sangam (confluence) if one took a dip, not only all the piccadillos would get washed out but whatever desires came to the top of one’s mind would be fulfilled. When Pitru Tarpans and Shraddhas are dutifully performed at the Sangam, the responses of Devas and Pitrus would literally be on line instantly. It is believed that Bhagavans, Brahma, Shankara / Narayana are visioned before the devotees in the form of the Rivers! A stay of atleast a month at Prayaga with full control of body, mind and soul would lead to shaping one’s own life ahead; little wonder that Devas, Danavas, Gandharvas, Rishis, Siddhaas, Chaaranas and all make frequent trips the Sangam for the fulfillment of their own wishes and prayers. Among those human beings, who are ‘daridras’or born poor, or sufferers from long-drawn diseases and infirmities due to old age, if somebody happened to breath last in this Maha Kshetra, they would alight into ‘Vimanas’destined to Swarga and enjoy the company of Gandharva and Apsaras. Also, when a person performs Go-daana, Bhu daana, Griha daana, Suvarna daana, Rajita daana, Mani daana, Dhana daana, Vastu daana, Kanya daana, Shayya daana, Vidya daana, Vahana daana, etc. he or she is qualifed with returns of thousand fold, lakh fold and crore fold, depending the index of the utility and happiness to the receiver of the daana and the sacrifice that the donor made in parting with the quality, quantity, numbers and of the daana under reference.
Tatra daanam prakrutavyam yathaa vibhava sambhavam,
tena teertha phalam chaiva vardhatey naatra samshayah/
Swargey tishthati Rajendra yaavadaabhuta samplavam/
(Charity in Prayaga has to be according to the means of the donor; if done so the benefits would get multiplied and the donor would continue to reside in Swarga till the Pralaya time, undoubtedly). If Kanya daan is performed at Prayaga as per Vedic Rites, the Kartas would never have to visit ‘Naraka’ and on the other hand the couple would live for long with happiness and excellent progeny of grand children for ensuing generations too. Even at the time of ‘Pralaya’, Maharshi Markandeya conveyed to Yudhishtar, then too Bhagavan Vishnu would take the Form of an infant and rest in Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep) atop an ‘Akshaya Vriksha’ in Prayaga submerged in endless water; such is the Mahatmya of Prayaga. That was the reason why even Brahma, Devas, Rishis, Siddhaas, Chaaranas, Lokapalakas, Sadhya ganas, Pitru Devas, Sanaka and other Parama Rishis, Angira and other Maharshis and Brahmarshis, Nagaas, Garuda, and all other Celestial Beings, and above all Vishnu and Maheswara had been extolling the unimaginable significance of this unparalelled Punya Kshetra.
Tatraabhishekam yah kuryaat Sangamey shaamsitavratah,
Tulyam phalamavaapnoti Rajasuyaashwamedhayoh/
(Those persons with ‘Vrata nishtha’ or abiding by the Vrata bathe in this Sangama Kshetra, would secure the fruits equivalent to performing Rajasuya and Ashwamedha Yagnas).
Yaa gatiryoga yuktasyasatyasthasya maneeshinah,
saa gatistasyajatah praanaan Gangaayamuna sangamey/
(Persons who die at the Ganga-Yamuna Sangam would have the same kind of ‘Parama gati’or unique position that only ‘Yoga Nishta’/Experts in Yoga or Satyaparayana Vidwans /Great Persons of Learning and Truthfulness) could think of). Further, those who had not visited Prayaga wasted their valuable lives and those who had would have their sins abandoned like Rahugraha left Chandragraha after Lunar Eclipse! Incidentally, formal bathings in the ‘Sangam’after Lunar or Solar Eclipses by prayers to Moon and Sun respectively should not only wash off their sins instantly but also reside in the respective lokas for unimaginably long times. At Prayaga, all the Trimurthis are believed to reside, since Brahma stays in the northern portion of the five yojana long Kshetra in a hidden form to ensure that wrongdoings are forestalled as watched by teams of Devas under his supervision; Bhagavan Vishnu is present in the Sangam area in the Venee Madhava Rupa and Parama Shiva in the Form of Akshaya Vriksha. In the neighbourhood of Prayaga are quite a few other Tirthas: on the southern banks of Yamuna where two famed Nagas called Kambal and Ashvatar resided and taking thar water and bathing it is expected to destroy all the sins of the Yatris; there is a ‘Hamsaprapatan’ on the northern side of Pratishthana pura where bathing fetches the punya of performing Ashwamedha Yagna; ‘Hamsapandura’ Tirtha where bathing enables at the end of life to reach Swarga for the company of Apsaras like Urvashi; another Tirtha known as ‘Tripathaga’where bathing as long as possible would enable so many bones of the body to rest in Swarga. In fact, the Tirthas nearby this hallowed Place are all significant, each bestowing great benefits. Fully convinced of the significance of Prayaga Kshetra as described by Markandeya, Yudhishtar visited the Place along with his brothers and Draupadi, where he performed ‘Tarpanas’ to Pitaras, and relatives and associates who attained ‘Vira Swarga’ at the battle.With surprisingly, Lord Shri Krishna too appeared before Pandavas and asserted:
Mama vaakyam cha kartavyam Maharaja braveemyaham,
Nityam japaswa juhwaswa Payaago vigatajwarah/
Prayaagam smara vai nityam sahaasmaabhir yudhishtarah,
Swayam Praapyati Rajendra Swarlakokam na Samshayah/
Prayagamanu -gaccheda vaa vasatey vaapi yo narah,
Sarva paapa Vishuddhaatmaa Rudralokakamsa gachati/
(Yudhishtara! you should always perform ‘japa’ and ‘havan’at Prayaga and side by side, take the name of Prayaga devoid of any sorrows whatsoever. Undoubtedly indeed, you would all reach in Swarga in course of time. Those who visit Prayaga and reside for a few days there would certainly get rid of all kinds of transgressions and attain Rudraloka!)

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