The Brahma Purana

by G. P. Bhatt | 1955 | 243,464 words

This is the Brahma Purana in English (translation from Sanskrit), which is one of the eighteen Maha Puranas. The contents of this ancient Indian encyclopedic treatise include cosmology, genealogy (solar dynasty etc.), mythology, geology and Dharma (universal law of nature). The Brahma Purana is notable for its extenstive geological survey includin...

Chapter 57 - Mode of Procedure for a Holy Dip in the Ocean

Brahmā said:

1-3. By visiting Śvetamādhava and Matsyamādhava by his side and by bowing to the first incarnation of Mādhava in the form of a Fish, one is liberated from all miseries. Lord Matsya Mādhava had at the outset assumed the form of Rohita fish. He had been thinking of the earth stationed at the bottom of the nether worlds. He established himself there in order to redeem the Vedas.

4. He goes to the greatest abode where Hari himself is present. Returning to this place (earth) in due course of time he shall become a king on the earth.

5. By resorting to Matsyamādhava a man becomes unthwartable. He shall be a donor, enjoyer of pleasures, a worshipper, a devotee of Viṣṇu and truthful in speech.

6. Afterwards he attains Yoga pertaining to Hari and gains salvation. O leading sages, the greatness of Matsyamādhava has been recounted by me. By visiting him the devotee will obtain all cherished desires.

The sages said:

7. O Lord, we wish to hear further. The rites of wiping off, causing sprinkling of water by means of Kuśa grass, ablution, charitable gifts, etc are performed on the sea-shore. Kindly mention the entire benefits thereof.

Brahmā said:

8-10. Listen, O leading sages, to the benefit of Mārjana rite performed duly. One attains excellent merit due to devotion. Out of devotion one must direct one’s mind towards him. The rite of taking holy dip in the eddy called Mārkaṇḍeya Hrada is to be preferably performed in the forenoon. Especially on the fourteenth day of the lunar fortnight this rite is destructive of all sins. Similarly, the rite of ablution in the ocean is equally praise-worthy at any time. Especially on the full moon day (by the holy dip) one attains the benefit of a horse-sacrifice.

11. The Pañcatīrthi (a set of five holy centres and sacred waters) is as follows:—The eddy named after Mārkaṇḍeya, the holy banyan tree, the shrine of Kṛṣṇa, the shrine of Balarāma and the great Indradyumnasaras (Lake of Indradyumna).

12. One should visit the Tīrtharāja (king of holy centres, the holy Banyan tree) on the full moon day in the month of Jyeṣṭha. If the constellation Jyeṣṭha coincides with it, it is especially auspicious.

13-15. The devotee should be pure mentally, verbally and physically. He should not think of anything else. He should be free from all Dvandvas (mutually opposed pairs). He should free from lustful attachment and rivalry. The beautiful banyan tree is the Kalpa tree itself. After taking holy dip near it, the devotee shall circumambulate the lord thrice with great concentration. O Brahmins, by visiting this Lord one is liberated from sins accumulated in the course of seven births. He attains extensive merits and the desired salvation.

16. O brahmins, I shall mention its names and size, in the Yugas Kṛta, etc, in due order.

17. The names of the banyan tree in the Kṛtayuga etc are respectively.—1) Vaṭa, (2) Vaṭeśvara, (3) Puruṣa and (4) Purāṇapuruṣa, O brahmins.

18. The sizes of the Kalpa tree in the four Yugas are 1) one Yojana 2) three fourths of a Yojana (3) half a Yojana and 4) one-fourth of a Yojana.

19. After bowing to the banyan tree repeating the mantra mentioned before, the devotee shall go to the South to a distance of three hundred bow’s lengths.

20. At this place one can behold Viṣṇu. Here is a pleasing entrance to the heavenly world. A log of wood equipped with good qualities is dragged by the waters of the ocean.

21. By bowing to him and then by worshipping him, the devotee is liberated from all ailments, sins, evils and things of other sorts.

22-24. Through the heavenly door the devotee views the ocean as one with fierce foams. He shall then perform the rite of Ācamana. Remaining pure be should meditate afterwards, fix the eight-syllabled Mantra in the (fingers of the) hand and (limits of) the body that is the Mantra which learned men say thus—Oṃ namo Nārāyaṇāya.

What can be done with many Mantras that cause only mental confusion? This mantra Oṃ namo Nārāyaṇāya is the means of achieving everything.

25. The waters are glorified as Nāras because they are the sons of Nara (human beings). At the outset the waters had been the abode of Viṣṇu. Hence, he is known as Nārāyaṇa (having Nāra (waters) for abode.

26. The greatest in the world is Nārāyaṇa. The greatest among Devas is Nārāyaṇa. Truthfulness is devoted to Nārāyaṇa.

27-33. The element earth is devoted to Nārāyaṇa, the element water is devoted to Nārāyaṇa, the element fire is devoted to Nārāyaṇa, the element sky is devoted to Nārāyaṇa, the wind is devoted to Nārāyaṇa, the mind is devoted to Nārāyaṇa, the ego and the cosmic intellect are of the nature of Nārāyaṇa. The past, present, future, whatever is called by the name Jīva (living-organism) is of the nature of Nārāyaṇa.

Sound and other objects of sense-organs, ears and other sense-organs the Prakṛti and Puruṣa—these are of the nature of Nārāyaṇa.

Lord Nārāyaṇa occupies water, dryland, nether worlds, heaven, sky and mountains supporting all these visible objects.

Of what avail is much talk? The whole universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings, from Brahmā to the blade of grass—is identical with Nārāyaṇa.

O Brahmins, I do not see anything greater than Nārāyaṇa. All these visible and invisible things in the world are pervaded by him.

34. The waters are the abode of Viṣṇu. He is the lord of waters. Hence, one should always remember Nārāyaṇa, the dispeller of sins, in the waters.

35. Particularly at the time of bath the pure devotee shall worship and remember Nārāyaṇa in the water. He shall meditate on him and perform the Nyāsa rite in the fingers of hand and (the limbs of) body.

36-42. He should fix Oṃkāra and Nakāra (syllable Na) in the thumbs of his hands. The other syllables he shall fìx in the index and other fingers covering the whole palm.

He shall fix Oṃkāra in the left foot and Nakāra (syllable Na) in the right foot. He shall fix the syllable Mo in the left hip and the syllabic in the right hip.

He shall fix the syllable in the umbilical spot and the syllable Ya in the left arm. After fixing the syllabic Ṇā in the right arm he shall fix the syllable Ya on the head. The mantra is Oṃ namo Nārāyaṇāya.

The learned devotee shall meditate on Nārāyaṇa, in the heart, at the sides, behind, in front, below and above and thereafter begin Kavaca[1] (coat of mail):—

May Govinda protect me in the East, Madhusūdana in the South, lord Śrīdhara in the West and Keśava in the North.

Similarly, may Viṣṇu protect in the South-East; the undwindling Mādhava in the South-West; Hṛṣīkeśa in the North-West and Vāmana in the North-East.

May Varāha (Boar) protect the ground and Trivikrama above. After making Kavaca (the coat of mail) the devotee should think about the soul.

43. I am lord Nārāyaṇa who holds the conch, discus and club. After meditating on the Self he should repeat this mantra.

44-45. “You are the fire, O Lord of bipeds, he who provides (them) with Semen, he who excites their lust. You axe Pradhāna (Prakṛti and chief) of all living beings; the unchanging lord of all individual souls. You are the Araṇi (Source of fire) of the nectar. O Lord of waters, you are the source of origin of Devas. O Tīrtharāja, (king of holy centres), remove my sins, obeisance be to you”.

46. It is only after uttering this duly that one should perform the rite of ablution. Otherwise, O excellent brahmins, the holy dip there is not valued much.

47. After performing the rites of ablution and cleansing by means of the Mantras with the water as their divinity, the devotee shall thereafter repeat the Aghamarṣaṇa Mantra three times (all the while) standing within water.

48. O brahmins, just as the horse-sacrifice removes sins so also does the hymn Aghamarṣaṇa[2] remove all sins.

49-51. He should come out of water and wear two washed cloths free from impurities. He shall perform the Ācamana rite and the Prāṇāyāma. He shall then pray to the junction as well as the sun-god. Thereafter he should offer a handful of water libation along with flowers. With his hands lifted up he should pray to the sun-god with the significant hymns pertaining to him. Thereafter, he shall repeat the sacred Gāyatrī Mantra, hundred and eight times. He shall stand there with perfect concentration after repeating other Mantras pertaining to the Sun-god.

52. After circumambulating the sun-god and bowing down to him he should sit facing the east and perform the rite of vedic study, then he should perform Tarpaṇa rites to the Gods and sages.

53. He should perform Tarpaṇa rites for sages, manes and others. He the knower of Mantras, should perform Tarpaṇa by repeating their names and Gotras. The water shall be mixed up with gingelly seeds.

54. The brahmin shall be authorized in the Tarpaṇa rite to the manes only after performing Tarpaṇa rite to the deities at the outset with due attention.

55. At the time of Śrāddha, when the ball of rice is offered, the devotee shall offer it with a single hand. When performing the rite of Tarpaṇa he shall use both hands. This is the procedure to be followed always.

56. After repeating the name and Gotra (Spiritual lineage) he shall say ‘Tṛpyatām’ (may be pleased). Otherwise he should not utter anything. The left-hand should be joined to the right hand (and thus the libation should be offered.

57. If out of delusion the devotee performs the rite of Tarpaṇa with the gingelly seeds kept on any of his limbs, it would be as though he had performed the rites of Tarpaṇa to the forefathers by means of skin, flesh, blood and bone.

58. One should not perform the rite of Tarpaṇa to the deities and Pitṛs with the gingelly seeds kept on any of the limbs. That water will turn into blood and he who offers it shall be sinful.

59. O leading sages, if the person who offers libation stands in water and if the libation is offered on the dry ground, that offering is made futile. It does not benefit anyone.

60. If the man stands on the ground and offers libation into the water, that water libation does not approach the manes. It turns futile.

61. One should not stand in water and offer water libation to the manes. He should come out and perform water libation on a pure spot.

62-65. The Tarpaṇa rite shall not be performed in water or in vessels. While performing the rite one shall not be wrathful nor should one perform it with a single hand. The water libation that is not made on the ground does not benefit the manes.

O brahmins, the earth has been given by me to the manes as their everlasting abode. Hence water libation should be offered there alone by one who seeks pleasure for the manes.

They were born on the surface of earth. They died on the surface of earth and merged with it. During life time it was on this earth that they stood. Hence, one should offer water libation on the ground.

He should spread Kuśa grass with their tips to the East in regard to the Gods; to the South in regard of the manes. He should invoke gods and manes by repeating their Mantras separately.

Footnotes and references:


Kavaca—Protective armour, composed of mystic syllables to be essentially recited at the worship of a deity.


Aghamarṣaṇa mantra: RV. X. 190.

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