Monday, November 26, 2007

Balarama’s Pilgrimage ( Part 5 )

Sukra Teertham (The sacred waters of Sukra)

Balarama’s next halt was at the holy place of sage Sukra. He is considered to be the chief priest of the demons (Asuras). There is a celebrated treatise on moral codes attributed to the sage (Sukra Neeti) which is said to have been compiled at that place. There is a story of sage Mahodara (one with a big belly) who got a big relief from serious trouble there. As requested by Janamejaya, sage VaiSampaayana narrates the story.

The skull that was stuck

He story is linked to the RamayaNa epic. Rama was staying in the “danDaka” forests killing ferocious demons (Raakshasas) to protect the rituals of sages. When sage Mahodara passed through the forest the skull of one of the demons got stuck on his foot. The skull penetrated into the sage’s foot and created a deep wound. The sage tried all sorts of remedies. Nothing worked. He tried meditation. He also visited all the famous pilgrimage centres as advised by other sages. The skull remained stuck on his foot.

Finally, sage Mahodara reached the holy place of Sukra. As soon as his foot touched the sacred waters there the skull came off. The wound also healed within no time. The sage was greatly relieved. Because of this the place became famous under the name of Kapaala mocanam (relief from the skull).

Balarama paid homage to the sages there, honoured the Brahmins who had assembled and proceeded further.

Rushangu Teertham

The next visit of the Yadava chief was to the hermitage of sage Rushangu. The sage in old age was looking for a suitable place to end his life. That was an accepted custom those days to take voluntary death (Swacchanda Mrutyu). He asked his sons to take him to a place where there was plenty of water. His sons brought him to the shores of river Saraswati. The sage found the place so holy that he embraced death there. Before dying he told his sons. “Those who end their lives here shall not have to take re-births any more”.

Balarama performed the ritual bath and made the people assembled there happy with food and gifts and proceeded to the holy place where sage Viswamitra attained Brahminhood.

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