Tirthayatra Parva: The description of innumerable tirths around Kurukshetra

Pulastya Brahmarshi uvācha, “Hey King! Then one should visit Kurukshetra that has been praised by Rishis, whose mere darshan will liberate one from all sins. One who always says, ‘I will go to Kurukshetra, I will reside in Kurukshetra’ will be liberated from all sins. If the mud from Kurukshetra brought by the wind touches the body, then even a sinful person will attain the Supreme Goal. One who resides to the south of Saraswati and north of Drishadvati in Kurukshetra can be understood to be living in the heavenly worlds. O Yudhishtira! A resolute person should reside on the bank of the Saraswati River for a month; because O King! Brahma and other devathas, Rishis, SiddhasChāranaGandarvasApsarasYakshas and Nāgas visit that supremely sacrosanct Brahmakshetra.

 

Hey Yudhishtira! One who mentally desires to visit Kurukshetra will be rid of all sins and go to Brahmaloka. O foremost among the Kurus! If one does the Kurukshetra yatra with devotion, then he will receive the fruits of Rajasuya and Ashvamedha yagnas. Then he should offer prostrations to the gatekeeper Machakruk, the mighty Yaksha, for the moment he does that, he will receive the fruits of thousand godāna. O great king! Then one should visit the supreme tirth of Bhagawan Vishnu named Satat where Shree Hari has taken up permanent residence. One should bathe and offer prostrations to Bhagawan Shree Hari, the Creator of the three worlds. One will receive the fruits of Ashvamedha yagna and go the loka of Bhagawan Vishnu by doing so. Then one should visit the world-famous Pāriplav tirth and take a bath. He will receive the fruits of Agnishtoma and Atirātra yagnas.

 

Hey king! By taking a dip in Prithvitirth, one will receive the fruits of thousand godāna. From there, if a pious man takes a dip in the Dashashwamedh tirth in Shālookineem, then he will be a partaker of the aforementioned fruits. By visiting Sarpadevi and worshipping the sacred Nāgatirth, a man will receive the fruits of Agnishtoma and will go to Nāgaloka. From there, one should go to the gatekeeper named Tarantuk. By staying one night over there, a devotee will receive the fruits of thousand godāna. One should eat moderately and then go to Panchanadatirth and take a dip in Kotitirth. By doing so, he will receive the fruits of Ashvamedha yagna. By taking a bath in Ashiwanitirth, a man will become handsome.

 

From there, one should go to the sacrosanct Vārāhatirth where Bhagawan Vishnu resides in his first Vārāha form. One will receive the fruits of Agnishtoma yagna by taking a bath there. One should go near Somatirth in Jayanti and take a bath to receive the fruits of Rajasuya yagna. By taking a bath on Ekahamsatirth, a man will receive the fruits of thousand godāna. A devoted man who goes to Kritashauchatirth will receive the fruits of Pundarikyāga and will be sanctified.

 

From there one should visit Mahātmā Sthanu’s Munjavat. By staying over one night, a man will attain Ganapatipad. Hey King! There only is the world-famous Yakshinitirth. By visiting this tirth and taking a dip, one’s desires are fulfilled. That is the renowned gateway of Kurukshetra. One should circumambulate that gateway and take a bath in that tirth which is comparable to Pushkartirth and offer prayers to the Devathas and Pitharas. By doing so, a pious man will express gratitude for the blessings received and will attain the fruits of the Ashwamedha yagna. The exemplary son of Mahātmā Jamadgni, Parashuram built this tirth. The traveller should then visit the kunds of Parashuram in solitude.

 

Hey King! The mighty fiery Parashuram has established five kunds there after killing all the kshtariya lineages at an alarming pace. It is said that he had filled all those kunds with blood. Parashuram offered tarpan to the Pitharas and Prapitamah with that blood. Then, the Pitharas becoming pleased with the offering said thus –

Pithar uvācha, “Mahābhāg Rama! Parashuram! Bhrigunandan! Vibho! We are very pleased with your devotion to your father and your gallantry. O Brilliant One! May you prosper! Ask for any boon. Tell us, what do you want?

 

Hey King! Upon hearing their kind words, Parashuram, foremost among the warriors folded his hands and spoke thus to the Pitharas standing in the sky, “Pithrugana! If all of you are pleased with me and if I am a worthy vessel of your blessings, then I want your boon of mercifulness. Pray that my tapasya will again be wholesome. I pray that with your potency I will be liberated from all the sins incurred by killing all the kshatriya lineages in anger and that the five kunds created on earth by me will become famous as a tirth.”

 

On hearing the words of Parashuram, his ancestors became pleased and joyfully said thus – “Child! May your tapas increase with this unique devotion to your Father. May you be rid of all the sins incurred by killing all the kshatriya lineages in anger. Those kshatriyas died because of their own karma. The kunds made by you will become tirth. There is no doubt in that. One who bathes in these holy tanks and offers tarpan to the Pitharas, will receive a very rare boon from those satisfied ancestors. They will make it possible for the fulfilment of his heartfelt desires and access to the eternal heavenly worlds.

 

Hey King! In this manner, Parashuram’s Pithara gave his consent and joyfully sought to take leave of him and disappeared. This is why the kunds of Bhrigunandan Mahātmā Parashuram are considered to be sacrosanct. A man who observes exemplary vows and Brahmacharya and takes a dip in the tanks of Parashuram and offers prayers will receive plenitude of gold. From there, a pilgrim should visit Vamsamoolakatirth. By taking a bath in Vamsamoolaka, a man will emancipate his lineage. There is no doubt that by bathing in Kāyashodhanatirth, a man’s body gets sanctified. By purifying his body, a man will go to the superlative worlds.

 

From there, a devotee should head to Lokodwārtirth which is revered in the three worlds. Bhagawan Vishnu had augmented innumerable worlds in the ancient days there. A man who takes a bath in the excellent tirth at Lokodwār will augment his relatives. A man should keep his mind under control and visit Shreetirth. By taking a dip there and offering prayers to the Devathas and Pitharas, a man will attain choicest riches. A man who visits Kapilātirth observing Brahmacharya and solitude and takes a dip there and offers prayers to the Devathas and Pitharas will receive the benefit of offering thousand kapila cows. A man who takes a dip in Suryatirth and prays to the Devathas and Pitharas and fasts will receive the fruits of Agnishtoma yagna and will go to Suryaloka.

 

Thereafter, a pilgrim should visit Gobhavanatirth and take a bath. By doing so, he will receive the fruits of thousand godāna. O foremost among the Kurus! A pilgrim should then go to Shamkhinitirth and take a dip in Devitirth. By doing so, he will attain a superb form. Then he should go to a gatekeeper named Arantuk. The tirth of Mahātmā Yaksharaja Kubera is at the Saraswati River. By bathing there, a man will attain the fruits of Agnishtoma yagna. The pilgrim should then go to Brahmavartatirth. By taking a dip in Brahmavarta, a man will go to Brahmaloka. From there, he should go to the excellent Sutirth. Devathas and Pitharas have taken up permanent residence there. A pious man should be ready to take a dip in this place where Pitharas and Devathas are venerated. By doing so, he will attain the fruits of the Ashvamedha yagna and will go to Pithruloka.

 

The pilgrim should then go to the exemplary Ambumatirth. A man will be rid of all diseases by taking a dip in the tirths of Kāshishwar and will be established in Brahmaloka. That is known as Mathrutirth where a man’s lineage will increase by taking a dip there and will enjoy inexhaustible wealth. Thereafter, after eating in moderation and observing the necessary tenets of dharma, he should go to Sitavana. There is a tirth of great importance that is extremely rare and not found anywhere else. That tirth will purify a man who visits either once or has darshan of it. The moment one washes their hair in that tirth, he will become sanctified.

 

There is a tirth called Swāvillomāpaha. The wise scholars are pleased after taking a dip there. By doing prānāyāma in Swāvillomāpanayanatirth, a man will purify himself and attain the Supreme Goal. The Dashāshwamedhiktirth is there. A man will attain a lofty world by taking a dip there. From there, a pilgrim should go to the renowned Mānushtirth. There a deer (blackbuck) who was wounded by the arrows of a hunter plunged into the tank and got a human body. Hence, this place came to be called Mānushtirth. A man who observes Brahmacharya and take a dip in this tirth will be rid of all his sins and establish himself in the heavenly worlds.

 

There is a famous river by the name of Aāpagā at a distance of one kos before Mānushtirth that is venerated by Siddha Purushas. A man who offers Syāmāk anna while serving food with the intention of serving the Devathas and Pitharas will attain enormous dharmaphala. By serving one Brahmin food there, a man will attain the benefit of serving one crore Brahmins. One should bathe there and offer prayers to the Devathas and Pitharas and stay overnight. By doing so, he will receive the fruits of the Agnishtoma yagna.

 

From there one should go to the excellent place of Brahma that is known in this world by the name of Brahmodumbaratirth. There is a Saptarshi kund there. A man who takes a bath in those holy tanks as well as in Mahātmā Kapila’s Kedāratirth will attain immense merit. The pious should go near Brahma and have his darshan for, he will become sanctified and liberated from all sins and will go to Brahmaloka. Kapila’s Kedār is also extremely rare. By going there, as one’s sins are destroyed through tapasya, he will attain the knowledge of the Unknown. Hey King! The devotee should then go to the world-famous Sarakatirth. One should have darshan of Bhagawan Shankara on Krishnapaksha Chaturdashi for all his desires to be fulfilled and to go to the heavenly worlds.

 

There are three crore tirths in Saraka. All these tirths are in Rudrakoti, koop (wells) and kunds (tanks). That is Ilāspadatirth where a man who takes a dip and offers prayers to the Devathas and Pitharas will never fall into misfortune and will receive the fruits of Vājpeya yagna. There are tirths by the names of Kimdān and Kimjapya there. By taking a dip there, a man will receive illimitable fruits of charity and japa. A pious and stoic man will receive the fruits of Agnishotama yagna by sipping the water of Kalasheetirth. To the east of Sarakatirth is the tirth of Mahātmā Narada that is known as Ambājanma. A man who takes a dip in that tirth will go to a lofty world on the instructions of Narada after leaving his mortal coil.

 

One should enter Pundarikatirth on Shukla Paksha Dasami. By taking a bath there, a man attains the fruits of Pundarika yāga. One should then go to the renowned Trivishtapatirth. There is a sacred river by the name of Vaitarani that destroys all sins. By taking a bath there and offering prayers to Bhagawan Shankara, a man will be rid of all sins and attain the supreme goal.

 

From there one should make their way to the excellent tirth known as Phalakivana. Devathas have taken up permanent residence in Phalakivana and remain engaged in tapasya for thousands of years. A man will receive the fruits of Agnishtoma and Atirātra by taking a bath in Drishdvathi and offering tarpan to the Devathas and Pitharas. A man will receive the fruits of thousand godāna by taking a dip in Sarvadevatirth. By taking a bath in Pānikhātatirth and offering tarpana to the Devathas and Pitharas, a man will receive the fruits of Agnishtoma and Atirātra yagnas; also, he will receive the fruits of Rajasuya yagna and will go to Rishiloka.

 

One should then visit Mishraktirth. There Mahātmā Vyāsa combined all the tirths for dvijas; this is what I have heard. A man who takes a bath in Mishraktirth is said to have taken a bath in all the tirths. One should then observe the tenets of dharma and abstinence and visit Vyāsavana. One should bathe in Manojavatirth to receive the fruits of thousand godāna. A man becomes sanctified by going to Madhuvati and after bathing in Devitirth and offering prayers to the Devathas and Pitharas, will receive the fruits of thousand godāna as per the instructions of Devi. A man who takes a bath in the sangam (confluence) of Kaushik and Drishdvati and eats in moderation will be rid of all sins.

 

Then, he should go to Vyāsasthali where the supremely intelligent Vyāsa Maharshi thought about giving up his body after experiencing putrashoka. At that time, the Devathas lifted him again. By going there, one will receive the fruits of thousand godāna. One should go near Kimdatta well and offer sixteen handfuls of sesame. By doing so, one will be liberated from the three kinds of rina (debt) and will attain the supreme goal. By taking a bath in Veditirth, a man will get the fruits of thousand godāna.

 

There are two world-famous tirths by the name of Ahan and Sudin. By taking a bath in both of them, a man will go to Suryaloka. From there, one should visit the renowned Mrigdhoomtirth and bathe in the Ganges. One receives the fruits of the Ashvamedha yagna by offering prayers to Mahadeva. By taking a dip in Devitirth, a man receives the fruits of thousand godāna. One should then visit the famous Vāmanatirth. One should take a bath in Vishnupada and offer prayers to Vamana. By doing so, he will be rid of all sins and will go to Vishnuloka. By taking a bath in Kulampunatirth, a man will sanctify his whole lineage. One should then bathe in Pavanahrid. That is the excellent tirth of Marudgana. By taking a bath there, a man will be honoured in Vishnuloka.

 

One should take a bath in Amarhrid and offer prayers to Amareshwar Indra. By doing so, one will be celebrated in the heavenly worlds by the virtue of the immortals. By taking a dip in the appropriate manner in Shālisurya tirth in Shālihotra, one will receive the fruits of thousand godāna. One attains the fruits of Agnishtoma yagna by taking a bath in Saraswatitirth named Shreekunj. Thereafter, one should make their way to Naimishakunja. It is said that the pious sages living in the Naimishāranya had gone to Kurukshetra on a pilgrimage. It is then that they had built the Saraswatikunja that came to called as Naimishakunja.

 

That is the place of Rishis who find it extremely pleasurable. By taking a bath in that Kunja, a man attains the fruits of Agnishtoma yagna. O repository of Dharma! One should then proceed to the exemplary Kanyātirth. By taking a bath in Kanyātirth, a man attains the fruits of thousand godāna. Hey King! One should then go to the exalted Brahmatirth. By taking a bath there, even a man who is a non Brahmin will attain the benefit of Brāhmanatva. By becoming a Brāhman, he will become sanctified and attain the supreme goal. From there, one should visit Somatirth. One will go to Somaloka by taking a bath there. One should then go to Saptasārasvat tirth that is famous for the accomplishment of Mankanaka Maharshi. I have heard that one time Mankanaka Maharshi cut his hand with the sharp tip of the grass. At that time, plant sap started oozing out of the wound. On seeing the plant sap oozing out, Maharshi became ecstatic and started dancing.

 

When he was dancing, the whole universe became enchanted by his radiance and also started dancing. At that time, Brahma along with Devathas as well as the pious Maharshis requested Mahadev to intervene in the matter of Mankanaka Maharshi.

 

“Deva! Please think of something so that he will stop dancing.” Mahadev went to the dancing sage with the intention of helping the Devathas and said thus – “O great Maharshi! Why are you dancing? What is the reason for this ecstasy?”

 

Mankanaka Maharshi uvācha, “O Supreme One! I am a tapasvi who is resolute in the path of dharma. This plant sap is oozing out of my hand. Can you not see it? I am dancing ecstatically on seeing this.” Maharshi was taken over by his enthusiasm. On hearing his words, Mahadev laughed saying thus- “O Wise One! I am not at all surprised on seeing this. Look towards me.”

 

Saying thus, Mahadev knocked his thumb with his finger. Upon hurting his thumb, white ashes like ice became falling. On seeing this astonishing sight, the sage became embarrassed and fell at the feet of Mahadev and decided that he will not think that any Devatha is greater than Mahadeva from that moment on.

 

He said, “Bhagawan! You are the refuge for both Devathas and asuras in this universe. O Maheshwar who is adorned with the trishul! You have only created this whole universe with all the beings. You only devour all the beings at the time of the pralaya. When Devathas only can’t know your true form, then what can be said about me?

 

O Chaste One! Brahma and the other gods are seen in you only. You are the action and the doer in this universe. It is because of your benediction that all the devathas remain fearless and happy.” After praising Mahadev in this manner, the sage continued thus- “Mahadev! I beg for your mercy and blessings that my tapasya is not in vain and is destroyed.” Mahadev became pleased with his devotion and said thus, “O Brahman! Your tapasya will increase thousand-fold with my blessings. O great sage! I will stay with you in this ashram. There will be no material that will unattainable in this earthly world and other worlds to one who takes a bath in Saptasārasvat and offers prayers to me. Not only that, he will go to Saraswatiloka and there is no doubt about it.” Saying this, Mahadev disappeared from there.

 

Thereafter, one should go to Aushanasatirth where Brahma, Devathas and sages reside. To please Shukracharya, Bhagawan Kartikeya remains there at all the three times of Sandhya. Kapālamochanatirth destroys all sins. A man will be rid of all his sins by taking a bath there. One should then go to Agnitirth. One will go to Agniloka and augment his lineage by taking a bath there. Vishwāmitratirth is also there. One will attain Brāhmanatwa by taking a dip there. A pure-hearted man who goes to Brahmayonitirth and takes a bath there will attain Brahmaloka. He will also purify seven generations of this lineage.

 

Hey King! Next one should visit the renowned Prithudakatirth of Kartikeya. One should take a bath there and offer prayers to the Devathas and Pitharas. The moment one takes a bath in Prithudakatirth, all the sins committed either knowingly or unknowingly be it man or woman will be washed away and the pilgrim will receive the fruits of Ashwamedha yagna and will attain the heavenly worlds. Kurukshetratirth has been said to be the most sacrosanct, Saraswati River is even more sacred than Kurukshetra, the tirths of Saraswati are said to be more sacrosanct than Saraswati itself and even more sacred than those tirths is Prithudaka.

 

That tirth is the supreme tirth and one who leaves their mortal coil at Prithudakatirth will not have fear of another death. This has been stated by Sanat Kumara Paramarshi and Vyāsa Mahātmā. A pilgrim should offer prayers at Prithudakatirth with devotion. There is no tirth that is as sacrosanct as Prithudaka. That is only mighty, sacred and holy and there is no doubt about it. It has been said by wise persons that even a sinner can go to the heavenly worlds if he has a bath in Prithudakatirth. Madhusrava tirth is also there. One will get the fruits of thousand godāna by taking a dip there.

 

One should then make their way to the renowned tirth of Saraswati-Arunāsangam. One should take a bath there and fast for three nights to be rid of Brahmahatya dosha. One will also receive the fruits of Agnishtoma and Atirāta yagnas. He will also sanctify seven generations of his lineage. There is the famous Ardhakeel tirth that Darbhi Muni had created in the ancient times taking pity on Brahmins. There is no doubt that a man who observes vows, upanayan and upavāsa will become knowledgeable about Karmakānda and mantras. Even a man who is ignorant and bereft of the knowledge of kriya and mantra will become a scholar by taking a bath there and observing vows. This has been seen by ancient Maharshis clearly.

 

Darbhi Muni also brought four oceans over there. A man who takes a dip in them will never fall into misfortune and will receive the fruits of four thousand godāna. One should then go to Satasahastra and Sāhastrak tirths. They are both world-famous tirths. A man who takes a dip in them will receive the fruits of thousand godāna. The importance of the dāna and upavāsa done there exceeds thousand times. One should then make their way to Renukatirth. First, one should take a bath there and then offer prayers to the Devathas and Pitharas. By doing so, a pilgrim is rid of all sins and will attain the fruits of Agnishtoma yagna.

 

A man who takes a dip in Vimochanatirth keeping anger and his sensory organs under control will be rid of all blemishes. A stoic man observing Brahmacharya should then go to Panchavatitirth, for he will establish himself in the worlds of wise men. Bhagawan Shiva who is Vrishabhdhvaja and Yogeshwar resides there. By worshipping Deveshwar, he will become accomplished. There is a tirth by the name of Thejas that is associated with Varunadevatha that dazzles on its own brilliance. There Brahma and other devathas along with the exemplary Rishis had crowned Kartikeya as Devasena’s husband. Kurutirth lies to the east of Thejastirth.

 

A man who observes Brahmacharya and is in control of his sensory organs will be rid of all sins and will go to Brahmaloka after taking a dip in Kurutirth. One should then eat in moderation and observe the basic tenets of dharma and go to Swargadwāra. A man who offers prayers in that tirth will go to Swargaloka and attain Brahmaloka. From there, a devotee should head to Anarakatirth. A man who bathes there will never experience misfortune. Brahma, Narayana and other devathas reside there. Rudrapatni Durga is seated here. A man who offers prayers to Durga Devi in proximity will never fall into misfortune.

 

Hey King! The shrine of Vishwanath Umavallabha Mahadev is there. One will be liberated from all sins by visiting that sacred shrine. By having darshan of Bhagawan Narayana in close proximity, a man will take on a brilliant form and go Bhagawan Vishnuloka. By taking a dip in the tirths of the devathas, a man will be rid of all sorrows and will shine like the moon. A pilgrim should then go to Swastipura and do the parikrama. He will attain the benefits of thousand godāna. By going to Pāvanatirth and offering tarpan to devathas and Pitharas, a man will receive the fruits of Agnishtoma Yagna.

 

There is a well by the name of Gangahrid. Three crore tirths reside in that well. A man who bathes in that tank will go to Swargaloka. One who takes a dip in that tirth and worships Mahadev will attain the seat of Ganapati and augment his lineage. From there, one should head to the renowned Stānuvatatirth and take a bath and stay overnight. By doing so, one will go to Rudraloka. One should go to Vasishtha’s ashram that is famous as Badaripāchana. A pious man should stay there for three nights fasting and living on ber phala. A man who fasts for three nights eating only ber phala for twelve years will be equal to Vasishtha. A pilgrim should go on the Rudramarga and fast day and night. By doing so, he will be established in Indraloka.

 

A man should then go to Ekarātratirth and stay overnight observing the tenets of dharma. By doing so, he will be worshipped in Brahmaloka. Then he should go to the world-famous ashrama of Mahātmā Surya. By taking a dip in that tirth and offering prayers, a devotee will go to Suryaloka and augment his lineage. A man who offers prayers in Somatirth will attain Somaloka. A pilgrim should then make his way to Mahātmā Dadhichi’s renowned sacrosanct tirth which is the birthplace of the son of Saraswati, Angirā, the repository of tapas.

 

A man who takes a dip there will attain the fruits of Ashvamedha yagna and will attain Saraswatiloka. One should observe Brahmacharya and visit Kanyāshramatirth. By fasting there for three nights and eating in moderation, a man will attain a hundred divine girls and will go to SwargalokaFrom there, he should go to Sanihatitirth. Brahma, devathas and exemplary Maharshis visit this place every month and amass great benediction. A man who takes a dip in Sanihatitirth during the solar eclipse will receive the fruits of hundred Ashvamedha yagnas.

 

All the tirths, rivers, minds, waterfalls, wells, temples and other sacred entities on earth and heaven will definitely descend on Sanihati every month. The impact and aggregation of all these tirths is the reason it is called Sanihati. A man who takes a bath and sips a little of its water will be established in Swargaloka. A man who performs shraddh of the ancestors on Amavasya during the solar eclipse will receive many benefits – namely, a man will receive the fruits of thousand Ashvamedha yagnas the moment he has a bath or does the shraddh, all the sins committed by man or woman will be destroyed the moment he or she has a bath there and that pilgrim will go to Brahmaloka in a vehicle that is the colour of a lotus.

 

One should offer prostrations to the dwārapāl yaksha Machakruk and take a bath in Kotitirth. By doing so, he will receive plenitude of gold. One should observe Brahmacharya and maintain solitude and take a bath in Gangahridtirth. By doing so, one will receive fruits of Rajasuya and Ashvamedha yagnas. For people living on earth Naimisha, for celestial beings Pushkar and for those residing in the three worlds Kurukshetra is the specific tirth. If the dust carried by the wind from Kurukshetra falls on the worst kind of sinner, then he will reach the Supreme Goal. People who reside to the south of Saraswati and north of Drishadvati in Kurukshetra can be deemed to living in Swargaloka.

 

Once the words, ‘I want to go to Kurukshetra, I want to reside in Kurukshetra’ is uttered by one, then it can be understood that the person is rid of all sins. Kurukshetra is Brahma’s sacrificial altar which is revered by all the sages. A person who resides here will not have any grief in their life. The middle area of Tarantuk and Arantuk and Ramahrid and Machakruk is Kurukshetra also known as Samanta Panchaka. This is called as Brahma’s northern sacrificial altar.

 

[Excerpt: Tirthayatra Parva, Vanaparva, Mahabharat]

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