Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 2)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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  Page 147  

CHAPTER LXVI.                           147

is held responsible for his crime and punished with a
punishment due to his guilt, except in case he enters
the city of Benares, where he obtains pardon. Regard¬
ing the cause of the holiness of this asylum they relate
the following story :—

" Brahman was in shape four-headed. Now there
happened some quarrel between him and Saihkara, i.e.
Mahadeva, and the succeeding fight had this result,
that one of the heads of Brahman was torn off. At
that time it was the custom that the victor took the
head of the slain adversary in his hand and let it hang
down from his hand as an act of ignominy to the dead
and as a sign of his own bravery. Further, a bridle was
put into the mouth (?). Thus the head of Brahman was
dishonoured by the hand of Mahadeva, who took it
always with him wherever he went~ and whatever he
did. He never once separated himself from it when he
entered the towns, till at last he came to Benares. After
he had entered Benares the head dropped from his hand
and disappeared."

A similar place is Pukara, the story of which is this : on the hoiy
Brahman once was occupied in offering there to the pukara,
fire, when a pig came out of the fire.    Therefore they nliMraT'
represent his image there as that of a pig.    Outside aridMxiTtan,
the town, in three places, they have constructed ponds
which stand in   high veneration,  and   are  places   of

Another place of the kind is Taneshar, also called
Kuritkshetra, i.e. the land of Kuru, who was a peasant,
a pious, holy man, who worked miracles by divine
power. Therefore the country was called after him,
and venerated for his sake. Besides, Taneshar is the
theatre of the exploits of Vasudeva in the wars of
Bharata and of the destruction of the evil-doers. It is
for this reason that people visit the place.

Mahiira, too, is a holy place, crowded with Brahmans.
  Page 147