(Last Updated on : 25-01-2014)
Fire God in Agni Purana narrates that Gaya is the foremost of all holy places. The story related to Gaya says that a demon named Gayasura practised austere penances. The gods became afraid of his austerities, visited Lord Vishnu leisurely rolling on the waves of the ocean of Kshira (curdled milk) and asked him to protect them from the hands of Gayasura. Agreeably to their request, the god visited the demon, told him to ask for a boon, as his time had come. The demon replied that he would be the holiest of all sacred places. The god Hari complied with his request, granted him the boon, and went away. The gods went to their respective places in heaven air and earth, terrified by the presence of the demon. The gods headed by Brahma told Hari, that the heaven, earth and air had been made desolate through the tyranny of the demon; whereupon the god Hari asked Brahma to go and pray for the body of the demon for a sacrifice.
The story further says that having heard this Lord Brahma
and his companions visited the demon Gayasura. Gayasura delivered himself up to the god Brahma, and fell down at his feet. Lord Brahma performed the sacrifice in the skull of the demon, and was about to depart, when Lord Vishnu
desisted him from going, and asked him to offer the final oblation in connection with the sacrifice.
It has been said that the gods granted Gayasura the boon which said that the gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shambhu etc., will dwell in the precincts of Gaya
. It will be the most hallowed of all places of pilgrimage, leading to the region of Brahma the departed souls of the ancestors of those who shall visit these on pilgrimages.
in his description states that the holy Tirtha of Gaya extends over a space of ten miles. The god Brahma made a gift of fifty five villages to the Brahmans
in connection with the sacrifice. Streams and reservoirs of milk, honey, and clarified butter were allowed to flow and were set up. Boiled rice was piled up in the form of hills along the public thoroughfares. Kalpatrees which yield everything for the mere asking of it, and the Kamdhanus were found in plenty in the region of Gaya.
The Purana narrates that chambers of gold and silver were erected to be taken possession of by the Brahmans. In short these costly things were given away, lest the renowned Brahmanas might not be disposed to accept gifts and presents which were of less value. But when the Brahamanas in Gaya yielded to temptation all their grace was withdrawn and they were cursed by the gods. It was said that the Brahmanas were asked to depend on the bounties of the pilgrims resorting to this place.
With regard to the essence of Gaya it has also been said that the soul of the dead relations of a man begin to ascend the steps of heaven, the moment he leaves his house and starts on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Gaya. Before setting out, he should duly perform the Sraddha ceremony of his fathers, and circumbulate in sack cloth his native village. Every day as he would travel on towards the holy city, he would take due care to subdue his mind and never to seek alms of any body.
Finally the Fire God concludes saying that a Sraddha ceremony if performed in Gaya brings in the best result.