Lalitopakhyana (Lalita Mahatmya)

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | 103,924 words | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes dialogue between agastya and hayagriva: the nature of violence, etc. which is Chapter 6 of the Lalitopakhyana (or Lalita-Mahatmya), an important scripture within Shaktism embedded as the final part in the Brahmanda-Purana. It is presented in the form of a dialogue between sage Agastya and Hayagriva, which is incarnation of Vishnu and also includes the Lalita Sahasranama.

Chapter 6 - Dialogue between Agastya and Hayagrīva: The nature of Violence, etc.

1. Then Agastya made Hayānana (Hayagrīva) sit on a wonderful seat and approaching him, spoke these words:

2. “O holy lord conversant with all religious activities, the most excellent one among those who know all logically-established doctrines (siddhāntas), seeing people like you is a contributory cause for the prosperity of the world.

3. Mention in details to us all these things, namely—the manifestation of the great goddess, her other forms and the most important ones of her sporting activities and pastimes.”

Hayagrīva said:

4-5. (The Goddess) is beginningless. She is the support of everything. Sat and Asat Karmans are her forms. She can be perceived only through meditation. Meditation and vidyās (lores) are her limbs Heart is her base. She becomes manifest on attaining the oneness of souls on the ground of continued performance of holy rites.

6. At the outset, Śakti manifested herself through the-profound meditation of god Brahmā. That Śakti is well-known. by the name of Prakṛti. She is the bestower of Siddhi desired by the Devas.

7-9. The second form appeared when the churning for the sake of Nectar was being carried out. That form fascinated Śarva (Śiva). It cannot be comprehended by the mind or expressed through words. On seeing it, even Īśa (god Śiva) became charmed and enchanted although he is omniscient. When prohibited by her, he left off Pārvatī all of a sudden and he indulged in sexual intercourse with her (i.e. Mohinī).

He begot of her (the son) Śāstā, the suppressor of Asuras.

Agastya said:

10. Alas, how was it that the chastiser of the god of Love, the lord of all Bhūtas (goblins and living beings), the lord who has all the senses under his control, was enchanted and fascinated by the goddess (Mohinī) and how he procreated a son?

Hayagrīva said:[1]

11. Formerly, the overlord of the city of immortal ones, the lord endowed with prosperity and glory of victory, (ruled over and) protected the three worlds including Devas, Asuras and human beings.

12. Mounting on his lordly elephant that was like the peak of Kailāsa, he moved about in all worlds (duly) honoured and respected by everyone. Knowing that he (Indra) was elated, the immutable lord of Bhavānī called Durvāsas and sent him to his (Indra’s) presence.

13. The sage Durvāsā assumed the guise of an insane person. He wore a piece of skin of an antelope and held a staff in his hand. His body was rendered greyish on account of dust. He walked along the path of Vidyādharas (i.e. the sky).

14. In the meantime a certain Vidyādhara lady of very beautiful form came in front of him by chance.

15. After propitiating the great goddess Ambikā by means of a penance for a long duration, she became delighted in her mind on receiving a garland handed over to her by the goddess.

16. On seeing that fawn-eyed lady, the leading sage asked: “Where are you going, O timorous lady? Whence was this got by you?”

17. After bowing down to the noble-souled sage, she said humbly—“It has been given, O Brāhmaṇa, by the goddess who was pleased with my long-term penance.”

18. On hearing her words, he asked for that excellent garland. She became delighted on being requested thus and immediately she gave it to the noble-souled sage.

19. Saying, “I am delighted and contented”, he quickly received it with both the hands. He then placed it on his own head with devotion and very gladly spoke to her.

20-21. “What is not accessible to Brahmā and others has been fortunately obtained by me. Let your devotion to the lotus-like feet of the goddess be splendid and profound. You will have a splendid form and figure, O gentle lady, you may go happily.”

Becoming satisfied, she bowed down her head before him and went away in the manner she had come.

22-24. After sending her off, he once again resumed his walk along the path of Vidyādharas (i.e. firmament). He took up a lute from the hands of a Vidyādhara girl. He took divine garlands, unguents and ornaments (from other Vidyādhara girls). He wore them at some places while he held them up at other places. (He burst out) singing in some places and was laughing at other places.

Thus sporting about as he pleased, the sage went to the place where Purandara (Indra) was present. The sage handed over the garland kept in his hands to Śakra (Indra).

25. The lord of the Devas took the garland and placed it on the shoulder of the elephant. The elephant took it and threw it on the ground.

26-28. On seeing the garland hurled down on to the ground, the ascetic spoke angrily—“The garland handed over to you by me was not worn on the head by you. It has been slighted and dishonoured by you who have become arrogant on account of the lordship of the three worlds. Indeed, what is worn by the great goddess is invariably honoured and worshipped by Brahmā and others. The entire world ruled over by you including Devas, Asuras and human beings shall become ugly and devoid of splendour on account of my curse.”

29. After cursing him thus, although he was honoured and worshipped by Indra who became humble, the sage, O Brāhmaṇa, went on silently remembering the future duties.

30. Thereafter his (Indra’s) glory of victory went over to Bali the Daitya, Nityaśrī (the eternal glory) passed on to Vāsudeva the eternal Puruṣa.

31. Indra went back to his city accompanied by all Devas. He lost all his splendour and magnificence. With a dejected mind, the lord of Devas thought about his state.

32. Seeing ill omens in the city of the immortal ones, he sent for Bṛhaspati and spoke these words:[2]

33. “O holy lord, conversant with all holy rites, efficient one with the knowledge of the affairs of the three units of time (i.e. past, present and future), inauspicious omens, which, were never seen before, are being observed.

34. What will be the effects of these? What is the remedy?”

On hearing these words of Devendra, Bṛhaspati in reply uttered these words splendid and associated with piety and of meaningful purpose,

35. “No action (committed by man), O king, can perish even in hundred crores of Kalpas unless atonement is performed or the result is experienced.”

Indra said:

36. “Of what nature is Karman (Action)? Of what nature is atonement? O holy Brāhmaṇa, I wish to hear everything. Explain to me in detail.”

Bṛhaspati said:

37. Five types of actions committed by a king, they say constitute a sin, viz.: (violence) killing, stealing, drinking and sexual intercourse with other women.

38-39. Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas and Śūdras, the quadrupeds such as cows, horses, asses and carriels, oviparous beings, aquatic beings, animals of the lowest strata and the boneless creatures (i.e. reptiles), these are in this order, ten thousand, thousand, hundred, ten, ten, ten, five, three, one and half in number.[3]

40. In the matter mentioned, one can point out sin in the case of Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas and women. Expiation is for the father, mother, preceptor, master and sons.[4]

41. A sin committed at the behest of a preceptor is significant when the command is disregarded[5] (transgressed).

A king may kill one Brāhmaṇa for the purpose of supporting ten Brāhmaṇas.

42. Or a Brāhmaṇa shall kill a Brāhmaṇa for the purpose of supporting a hundred Brāhmaṇas.

One shall punish a Vaiśya for the sake of five theologians or philosophers.

43. For the sake of ten Vaiśyas, one shall punish one or (more) Vaiśyas. Similarly, for the sake of a hundred Vaiśyas one shall punish one Brāhmaṇa.

44. For the sake of a thousand Śūdras, one shall punish a Brāhmaṇa; for the sake of hundred and fifty Śūdras, one shall punish one Śūdra.

45. One shall eschew three-fourths (of property) for the sake of kinsmen and friends: half for the sake of wives and sons and nothing for the sake of oneself.

46. If a person kills a Brāhmaṇa or a Kṣatriya or a Vaiśya or a cow or a horse or anything else in case he or it were to attack him with an intention of killing him, he is not affected by its sinful effects.

47. The killing and the merit in saving the following, O excellent one among the Suras, increases ten times the preceding one in the case of each succeeding one—one’s own wife, son, brother and kinsman.

48. Good men say that the atonement for the slaughter of the king, the Brāhmaṇa proficient in the Vedas, a pious man practising penance and holy rites, and one who is conversant with the Vedas as well as Vedānta is once, twice, fifty times and ten thousand times.

49. If ways and means of protecting them are provided for and liberal gifts are distributed among them, they say that the merits gradually increase in the case of succeeding one as mentioned before. In the case of visiting or bowing down to them or serving people similar to them (the result is also similar).

50. For the sake of gods and Brāhmaṇas, the king shall always kill lions, tigers and other animals that cause harm to the people.[6]

51. In cases of emergency, even for one’s own sake, one may kill and eat animals fit for sacrifice.

52. One shall not cook food solely for one’s own sake. One shall not cook animals solely for one’s own sake. By cooking for the sake of gods and Brāhmaṇas, one is not affected by sins.

53-54. Formerly, goddess Māyā with an inclination for enlivening the universe created Devas, Asuras and human beings as well as fourteen types of animals for the sake of protecting them. After prescribing Yajñas and injunctions regarding them she spoke to them.

55-56. “O men, perform sacrifices unto Devas with these animals in accordance with these injunctions. Those who make sacrificial offerings become sanctified and nourished by the Yajñas. He who does not continue this regular system and routine thus evolved, shall become indigent and worthy of being cast into hell in the course of every birth.

57. For the sake of gods and manes, for guests and preceptors as well as on the arrival of a great man, a twice-born person may kill animals worthy of being used for sacrifice.

58. If in an emergency a Brāhmaṇa eats the meat of an animal worthy of being sacrificed, he is not blameworthy or sinful. Rites ordained should be performed and activities forbidden should be avoided.

59. Formerly, there was a great sacrifice unto the Devas performed by Yuvanāśva. There was dispute and quarrel among the Devas (when each said), “This is mine”, “This is mine”.

60. Thereupon, Brahmā, the grand-father of all the worlds, divided the animals and human beings and allotted them to Devas severally.

61. Thereat, the great Śakti assisted by the groups of Bhūtas (goblins) became furious. Then Brahmā equipped with tactful policies, said to her.

62. On seeing (the goddess) appearing in front, Brahmā became afraid of the goblins. He bowed down with palms joined in reverence and repeatedly said “Be pleased”. He then continued:

63. “Since you have appeared in front of me, I am contented and blessed. All these activities auspicious as well as inauspicious have been created by you.

64. Śrutis and Smṛtis have been composed by you alone. It is by you alone that all the subsidiary sacrifices in a great Kratu have been arranged and ordained but through me.

65. May all those animals, O great goddess, allotted severally to the Devas be your own. Let them be for the satisfaction of Bhūtas (goblins, and other living beings).”

66. After saying this, Pitāmaha (god Brahmā) vanished from their presence. He performed great Kratus in accordance with the injunction laid down by her.

67. He performed the sacrifice for the great Śakti after killing animals fit for sacrifice. The different divisions of the same are not recounted here because they have been mentioned in the Vedas.

68. Excepting a Brāhmaṇa the women and the Śūdras may accept meat. In cases of emergency even a Brāhmaṇa may consume it with the permission of the preceptor.

69. (The Mantras to be uttered)

“This Piṇḍa (mass of flesh) originates from Śiva. It has very much attained the state of Śiva. Understand, O sacrificial animal, you are not Aśīva (inauspicious). You arc Sacchiva (good and auspicious).

70. Īśa is the maker of the entire universe, its source of origin and dissolution. Since Rudra is superior to the universe, you, O sacrificial animal, are Rudra”.

71. One is not smeared with sins and defects if one slaughters a horse, cow, elephant, camel, buffalo etc. (by uttering this Mantra.) whether it is for his own sake or for the sake of others.,

72-73. (Similarly, one is not defiled by killing) serpents, mice, hogs and scorpions causing harm to our domestic life. This is something (like a sacrifice) in the case of those who carry on a house-holder’s life and who desire the benefits of a holy rite. In the case of others who have achieved the power of great meditation and will and whose splendour is very-auspicious, it shall bestow the benefit of Iṣṭāpūrta (sacrifice and charitable activities).

What they wish for can be achieved by means of Japas, Homas, Arcanās (worships) and other things.

Footnotes and references:


vv. 11-31 describe sage Durvāsā’s curse to Indra for his arrogance.


VV. 32ff give a discussion between Indra and Bṛhaspati regarding the nature of Karma. The nature of violence (Hiṃsā) is discussed in this chapter.


idam in V. 39 is meaningless. The other (N) edition reads:

ānupūrvyād agham bhavet / 2.39

“The sin will accrue in the aforesaid order”.


Two crucial misprints have rendered the verse absurd. In 40A ìnstead of pāpam (ādiśet) read ‘pādam’ (ādiśet) meaning ‘one-fourth of atonement should be prescribed for Brāhmaṇa etc.’

40b. (Putrāṇāṃ) caiva niṣkṛtiḥ is obscure.

N. reads naiva niṣkṛtiḥ, ‘There is no expiation at all in the case of etc.


N. 2.40 reads ardhakam for arthakam

“The sin is half in transgressing the preceptor’s order”.


VV. 50-75 state circumstances under which violence to life is condonable.

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