The rishis in Naimisha forest addressed Sauti saying, “O son of Suta, we wish to hear about the place you recently mentioned, called Samanta-Panchaka.”
Note: The following words are Sauti’s description, of Samanta-Panchaka, to the rishis.
O brahmanas, O best of men, you have gathered so much virtue that you deserve to hear of this place known as Samanta-Panchaka.
This is the story of Parshuram’s actions that brought balance to the world when the Treta Yuga was changing to Dwapara Yuga. Parshurama (the son of Jamadagni), the greatest among those who have ever picked up weapons, repeatedly vanquished the noble race of the kshatriyas because of their wrong-doings. And when, Parshurama, who was like a fiery meteor, destroyed the entire race of the Kshatriyas, he formed five lakes of blood at Samanta-Panchaka.
Although those waters had been filled with blood, they held hope for a better future, because the excessive wrong-doings of the kshatriyas had been balanced. However, at the end of these battles, Parshuram’s mind was completely overpowered by anger. Consequently, he stood in the middle of those waters and respectfully made offerings (of the waters at Samanta-Panchaka) to his ancestors.
Thus invoked by Parshurama’s offering, his forefathers (starting from Richika) came to Samanta-Panchaka and said these words to him:
“O Rama, O blessed Rama, O descendant of Bhrigu, we are satisfied with the reverence you have shown us with your bravery and valor. O mighty one, ask for anything you desire.”
Parshurama replied, “O forefathers, if you feel compassion toward me, then please free me from the sins and guilt that I have accumulated due to my anger which resulted in this battle with the kshatriyas. I also request that these five lakes may become famous in the world as holy shrines.”
Parshuram’s ancestors replied: “So shall it be. Now calm your mind.”
Hearing the words of his ancestors, Parshurama’s mind finally became quiet, and henceforth, the site of the five lakes was considered holy.
After several centuries, once again, when the Dwapara Yuga was changing to Kali Yuga, another great battle was fought at the very same site of Samanta-Panchaka. Eighteen akshauhinis of soldiers participated in this battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. All the kshatriyas who fought in that battle were also slain. This region is also known as Kurukshetra.
This is the significance, O brahmanas, of the region called Samanta-Panchaka. This region is considered sacred and is celebrated in all three worlds.
Note: One might question, how can a region where so much destruction has happened, be considered sacred. My understanding is that whenever a gross imbalance occurs in the world, sacred forces act to bring the world back into balance. At both times, the imbalance was created by excessive arrogance and wrong-doings of kshatriyas. Perhaps, therefore, the balance was regained through war. Even though the wars resulted in great destruction, they paved the way for a better future for the coming generations.
It should also be noted, that in both instances, sacred forces intervened in earthly affairs to bring balance, when one yuga was changing to another.
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