Shri Maha Tripura Sundaryai Nanamah  , Shri Devi Kamashyai Namah 
 Ayodhyaa Mathuraa Maayaa Kashi Kaanchi hyavantika                                                                     
Puri Dwaravati chaiva Saptaitaah Mokshadaayikaah/


3    Triteeyodhyaaya-Hasti Shaila Mahima

Markandeya Maharshi described the Significance of Hasti Shaila  to King Suratha : Hasti Shaila was an ornament of Hari Kshetra and was famed among the Punya Koti Kshetras of Bharata where Mahendra became an Elephant as a victim of Devi Saraswati’s ‘shaapa’(Curse). At one stage, Saraswati assumed self-pride and arrogance that she was the Goddess of Learning in the whole Universe. Similarly, Devi Lakshmi felt egoistic that she was the root-cause of Wealth and Prosperity par excellence. Both Saraswati and Lakshmi entered into arguments claiming  mutual seniority of status and importance and reached Mahendra to decide. Indra replied that Lakshmi was indeed superior since not only because he was the consort of Narayana   but also because she was the Root Cause of ‘Bhoga Bhagyas’ or of Wealth and Fulfillment and moreover she was the mother-in-law of Saraswati. On hearing this Saraswati got furious and became highly critical of Mahendra as characterless as ‘Ahalyaachaara’or the Spoiler of Ahalya Devi, arrogant, partial-minded and power monger and as such cursed him to turn out to be an elephant. Devi Lakshmi was ever-merciful and understanding ; she assuaged his hurt feelings with the curse and stated that none could cross the lines of  Fate or ‘karma praarabdha’. She counselled Indra   that on descending from Swarga to Bhuloka he should as an Elephant serve and worship at Simhachala Kshetra  near Dandakaaranya to worship Nrisimha Deva as also  commend Prahlada; seek from Prahlada the ‘Naarasimhaanishtubha Maha Mantra’ to qualify for entry into Hari Kshetra in Kanchipura and meditate the compassionate Hari. Indra followed the precise advice of Maha Lakshmi;

Samgruhya Mantraraajaanam Naarasimha mahamanum,

Tadeka Dhyaanatasshakra Divya Jnaanamprajaayatey/

Tadjnaana kushalatwam hi Harikshetra praveshadam,

Avashaaccha bhavetatra Mantramadhaanumuttamam/

(After securing the Maha Mantra, Indra entered Hari Kshetra and performed concentrated Dhyana on a mountain) Then Narakesari witnessed  Indra in the Form of  an Elephant, pierced his sharp nails through its thick skin , broke into his heart with his Yoga Shakti by assuming a ‘Bimbaakaara’ when Indra was engrossed in deep Dhyana. While seeing the Bimba,  Indra was surpised to see two Brahmana Boys on the mountain.  Indra asked as to who they were; they replied that they were the sons of Shringabheri Muni of Shandilya Gotra, that they were named Hema and Shukla, that their Guru was Gautama Maharshi who  instructed them to fetch water from Bhadra River, that while bringing the pots of the water they kept the pots down and  went up a tree to cut ‘Samidhas’(twigs), that a lizard fell in the pot of water and that one Yaksha cursed the boys to become  lizards. The lizards fell on the back of the Elephant while they were cutting the twigs and that elephant  was none other than Indra! The boys then said that per chance, they as lizards fell on the back of the Elephant who entered Hari Kshetra. Indra who too  got relieved of the Saraswati  Shaapa  touched the lizards who became Brahmana  boys again and thanked Indra profusely. Indra in turn commended the Hasti Shaila as the most Sacred Mountain and blessed it:

Mudaa Shailaaya Devendro Dattavaanvaramutthamam,

Ekaadashyamahoraatram Vishnossankeertanena cha/

Yatphalam Tatphalam Nrinaam Hasti Shailasya Darshanaat,

Iti datwaa Varam Shakro Gatasswabhavanam Mudaa/

(Those ‘Maanavas’ who visit the Hasta Giri and worship it day and night on Ekadashaas by fasting and singing ‘Harinaama’ would  indeed  reap memorable fruits).

One instance of the Experience of Ganu Brahmana would suffice to amplify the significance of  Hasti Giri told Markandeya Maharshi to King Suratha: There was a Brahmana named Ganu of Bhardwajasa Gotra and an Expert in Shukla Yajurveda  living on the banks of River Sarayu; he was also an adept in Dhanurveda or a Dhanur Vidya or the Art of Archery! But this Brahmana misused his expertise in Archery and cheated  the tourists and  travellers by frightening them and earning enornous money. On learning of the dirty ways of Ganu Brahmana as a menace to the travellers, one strong and valiant hero overpowered the Brahmana, tied him up, shaved his head, insulted him and threw him in a gutter. Ganu Brahmana was put to shame and while travelling for some time reached Kanchi Kshetra providentially and went up the Hasti Giri and out of exhaustion collapsed and died.  Surprisingly, ‘Vishnu Dutaas’ were waiting Ganu Brahmana to lift him to by Vimana to Vishnu Loka! Maharshi Markandeya assured that whoever would read out or hear the account of ‘Kari Giri Darshana’ should be rewarded with Hasti Shaila Darshana Phala!

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