THE FOURTH BOOK
On going to the Tîrthas
1. Sûta said :-- Thus asked by the son of Parîksit, the king Janamejaya, the best of the Brâhmanas, the son of Satyavatî, Vyâsa spoke, in detail, the following :--
2. The virtuous Janamejaya became very much sorry and despondent when he heard in detail the improper acts of his own father Parîksit, the son of Uttarâ.
3. Owing to insulting the Brâhmin boy, his father had to go to hell; and he was constantly thinking how to release his father.
4. The son is called Puttra for he releases his father from the hell, named Put. He is the true son that can do so.
5-6. The fortunate son of Parîksit became very much tormented and bewildered with fear when he heard what was the fate of his father, who died bitten by a serpent on the top of a palace, due to the curse of a Brâhmin, void of any bathing, charities, and the purificatory acts.
7. When Vyâsa returned home, Janamejaya asked him, the whole course of events of Nara Nârâyana.
8. Vyâsa said :-- O King! When the terrible Hiranya Kas'ipoo was slain, his son Prahlâda was installed on his throne.
9. During the government of Prahlâda, the chief of the Daityas, the worshipper of the Brâhmanas and Devas, the kings on earth began with faith to do many sacrifices for the satisfaction of the Devas.
10. The Brâhmanas were engaged in their Tapasyâ, Dharma, and in frequenting the places of pilgrimages; the Vais'yas, in their trade; and the S'ûdras, in serving the other three classes.
11. The incarnation of Hari, the Nri Simha (Man-Lion) made Prahlâda, the king of the Daityas in the Pâtâla (Nether regions); and Prahlâda, engaged there, spent his time in the preservation and welfare of his subjects.
12. Once, on a time, the great ascetics Chyavana Muni, the son of Bhrigu went on his way to bathing in the river Narmada, at the place of pilgrimage, called Vyârhitîs'vara.
13. There he saw the great river Revâ and, while he was descending in the river, a dreadful snake caught hold of him and carried him to the Pâtâla. The Muni was greatly terrified and began to think of the Deva of the Devas, Janârdana Visnu.
14-15. On remembering the lotus eyed Visnu, the serpent lost his poison, and Chyavana Muni did not find any trouble, though carried to the Pâtâla.
16. Then the serpent, coming to know of the power of the Muni, left him for fear that the Muni might curse him; the snake afterwards repented very much.
17. Chyavana, the best of the Munis, worshipped by the daughters of the serpents, roamed there and entered once into a beautiful palace of the Nâgas and the Dânavas.
18. While he was walking, he was seen by the religious king of the Daityas, the Prahlâda.
19. The lord of the Daityas on seeing him worshipped him and enquired of him the cause of his coming there.
20. Are you sent here by Indra? Speak truly, O best of the Brâhmanas. Is it to pry into my kingdom out of the enmity between the Devas and the Daityas?
21. Chyavana said :-- What have I to do with Indra? That I might be sent by him, as his spy, messenger, to your city!
22. O Chief of the Daityas! Know me as Chyavana, the son of Bhrigu, prompt in religious duties and whose eye is illumined by knowledge. Do not fear that I am sent here by Indra.
23. When I went to bathe in a place of pilgrimage, in the holy Narmadâ, and dropped into the river, a poisonous snake caught hold of me (and carried me here).
24. I took the name of Visnu; and the serpent, hearing the Visnu's name, became void of poison, and left me here as you see.
25. O king! Coming here, I see you. You are a devotee of Visnu; know me, too, a devotee of the same Visnu.
26. Vyâsa said :-- O king! Prahlâda, the son of Hiranya Kas'ipu, on hearing his sweet words, gladly asked him about the various places of pilgrimages.
27. Prahlâda said :-- O Best of Munis! Kindly describe to me, in detail, which are the places of pilgrimages on the earth, Pâtâla, and in the Heavens, that verily lead to holiness.
28. Chyavana said :-- O King! He whose body, words, and mind have grown pure, to him, his every footstep is a place of pilgrimage; he, whose heart is impure and defiled, to him the holy Ganges even is a thing more hated and worse than the Kîkata country (the name of Behâr).
29. Every holy place will impart holiness to him whose mind is first pure and deprived of sin.
30-31. O Best of the Daityas! On the banks of the Ganges, are situated good many cities, towns, villages, places to assemble, mines, small villages, the living places of the aborigines, the chândâlas, and kaivartas, the Hûnas, Bangas, the Khasas and the other Mlechchas.
32. The inhabitants of the above places drink at their will the holy Ganges water, equivalent to Brâhma, and bathe therein and do other works.
33. O King! There not even a single soul becomes pure. What use is a holy place to him, whose heart becomes attached to the sensual objects and who can therefore be called the lost souls.
34. Know, O king! the mind as the principal factor in any religious act or in any holy place. He who wants purity, let him first make his own mind pure.
35. The residents in any holy place deceive others and thus incur great sins. The sins committed in a place of pilgrimage can never be removed; they become unending and inexhaustible.
36. As the fruit, Indravârunâ, is never sweet though fully ripe, so whose heart is defiled, he can never be pure though he bathes hundreds and thousands of times in the Tîrtha water.
37. He who wants welfare of his own and others, he should first make his mind pure; when his mind becomes pure, then, the purity of material things and the purity of conduct can have any effect; then and then only resorting to places of pilgrimages becomes efficacious.
38-39. Always avoid company with the lowest class of persons in the holy places; it is far better to shew one's good will and compassion to all the souls (jîvas) by one's intellect and by one's acts. You have asked me about the holy places of pilgrimages; I will now tell you those that are the best.
40. O king! The holy Naimis'âranya is the first, next Chakratîrtha; next Puskaratîrtha; there are many others besides these that cannot be counted. O Best of kings! There are lots of other holy places in this world.
41-42. Vyâsa said :-- O king! Prahlâda, the king of the Daityas, on hearing the Muni's words, became ready to go Naimis'ranya and, with very much gladness, exclaimed to his followers, the Daityas :-- O Good Ones! Get up; today we will go to Naimis'âranya and we will see the lotus eyed, yellow robed Srî Achyutam, the Visnu.
43. Vyâsa said :-- O King! When thus addressed by Prahlâda, the Demons were exceedingly glad; and they all marched out of Pâtâla.
44. The Daityas, and Demons all united went to Naimis'âranyam and filled with much pleasure, they all bathed on reaching that holy place.
45. There, accompanied by the Daityas, Prahlâda roamed about the sacred places and saw the holy Sarasvatî river and Her pure clean water.
46. The highsouled Prahlâda bathed in the Sarasvatî river and his mind was satisfied.
47. The king of the Daityas was very much pleased and he perform ablutions and charities according to due rites in that most auspicious sacred place of pilgrimage.
Here ends the Eighth Chapter in the Fourth Book of Srî Mad Devî Bhâgavatam, the Mahâ Purânam of 18,000 verses by Maharsî Veda Vyâsa on going to the Tîrthas.