Lalitopakhyana (Lalita Mahatmya)

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

This page describes the sins of theft (steya) and drinking liquor (madya) which is Chapter 7 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 7 - The sins of Theft (steya) and Drinking liquor (madya)

Note: N. continues the 2nd chapter. Hence the 1st verse here is 2.70 in N. Our text seems to have deleted N. 2.77 and 79.

Indra said:

1. “O holy lord, the characteristic of violence has been entirely recounted. What is the characteristic feature of stealth? Tell me in detail”.

Bṛhaspati said:

2-3. “Killing of animal kind is a greater sin than ordinary sins. A sin still greater than this is the murder of one who has sought shelter and has trusted you. Even if one kills (a member of) the lowest and the last of all castes, although he may be a great sinner but has trusted (himself to you) one then incurs a sin greater than Brāhmaṇa slaughter. One has no means of atonement for the same sin.

4. There is no expiation at all for the sin of stealing wealth and property of a poor man, of a person who has earned it with very great hardship, of a man who has realized Brahman and of a person who has a large family consisting of his wife and children and who wishes to sustain himself with it.

5. The theft of the property of a person who has trusted you is a greater sin. One should never steal the wealth of a poor man whether he has trusted you or not.

6. Therefore, one who unhesitatingly kills the thief of gold, gems and jewels of twice-born ones and deities (in temples) acquires the fruit of a horse-sacrifice.

7. On account of theft (in regard to the property) of the preceptor, deity, Brāhmaṇa, one’s own. friend, son and others, the sin accruing in this order is ten times the preceding one.

8. The person who steals wealth from a Cāṇḍāla, a Śūdra, a Vaiśya, a Kṣatriya and a Bṛāhmaṇa is defiled by sins ten times more dreadful in each case than the previous one.

The story of Kirāta Dvijavarman[1]

9. In this context they cite the following traditional legend. It is a greater secret than all other secrets. It is destructive of all sins.

10. Formerly, there was born in the city of Kāñcī a thief named Vajra. All the people in that beautiful excellent city were endowed with riches. All of them were happy persons devoid of illness. They had perfect control over their sense-organs. They were endowed with gracious sympathy (for others).

11. In this city flourishing exceedingly with all sorts of riches, that thief starting with a small amount and proceeding ahead little by little amassed a great deal of money.

12-13. He dug a pit in the jungle and greedily deposited wealth therein. A certain Kirāta (forester) saw him hiding it. In the middle of night, when he (Vajra) had gone far away, the Kirāta came there and removed one-tenth of stolen wealth without being noticed by Vajra. He went along h is way bearing the burden of firewood.

14. Vajra who was covetous of wealth covered the pit with a rock and filled it with mud and sand with great labour. Thereafter, he went back to the city.

15. Getting more and more wealth, he thus deposited it under the ground. After reaching home, the delighted Kirāta said to his wife.

16. “As I was going about gathering firewood, O timorous woman, this wealth was acquired by me at a lonely place on the way. O lady seeking wealth, keep this safe.”

17. On hearing it, she took wealth and placed it within. Thinking about various things she spoke thus to her husband.

18. The Brāhmaṇa who passes by my house everyday-saw me and said:—“Ere long you will be very fortunate”.

19. If one (you) were amidst the women of the first four castes one would rather be a king’s beloved. But Lakṣmī, the goddess of wealth, does not stay for a long time amongst Bhillas, Kirātas and Cāṇḍālas as well as in the family of a Śailūṣa (Musician, actor, dancer). This is due to the curse of sage Vālmīki.

20. Still in the case of one blessed by merits, the cause of great fortune, his statement can never be in vain, as seen, before.

21. On only that wealth which is acquired with very-great difficulty by means of one’s own efforts stays with one for a long time. All else goes away in course of time.

22. One should utilize for sacred activities that wealth which comes to him by chance. Hence build and dig splendid tanks, wells etc. with this amount.”

23-24. On hearing these words of hers, urged by his own future fortune, he looked for a level ground with plenty of water in different localities.

Afterwards, he built a tank with perennial supply of water in the eastern region. The water was free from impurities and the tank was one that could be completed only by spending a big amount of wealth.

25. When the entire wealth was spent on workmen and the artisans and he still saw the work incomplete, he became worried and anxious.

26-28. (He thought thus)—“Unknown to him I shall follow that thief named Vajra. Indeed much wealth has been kept under the ground by him. Little by little I shall ultimately remove much wealth”. After mentally deciding thus, he followed him without being observed by him. Fetching wealth in that manner he completed the bund with that (money). In the middle (of the tank) there was the palatial temple of lord Śārṅgin (Viṣṇu) surrounded by water (constructed by him).

29. That tank became a very splendid and huge reservoir of water that never dried up. In the middle of the bund, he built a big shrine of Śaṅkara.

30. The forest that had been infested with many wild beasts was denuded. Thereby he prepared many excellent fields of very great value.

31-33. The fields were divided. Some were dedicated to the Deities and others were donated to Brāhmaṇas. He invited many Brāhmaṇas of whom the leader was Devavrata. He made them pleased by means of gold and clothes and spoke these words:

“Where (i.e. what a lot of difference there is) am I a Kirāta named Vīradatta selling firewood? Where is the construction of the great bund? Where is the building up of a great shrine? Where is the allotment of fields and abodes of Brāhmaṇas? It was only due to your kindness, O excellent Brāhmaṇas that everything has been achieved.”

34-37. Accepting that offer, the Brāhmaṇas, the leader of whom was Devavrata, who became contented, named that Kirāta as Dvijavarmā. Those noble-souled Brāhmaṇas of great prowess named his wife Śīlavatī. For the sake of protecting them, the Kirāta of great self-control took up his residence there itself along with his wife and Kinsmen.

Delighting all Brāhmaṇas, he named the city Deva-rātapura after the name of the priest.

38-39. Thereafter, falling within the power of the passage of Time, Dvijavarmā died and the messengers of Yama, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra assembled there. A war broke out amid them, and it could be compared only to the war between Devas and Asuras. In the meantime sage Nārada came there and said:

40-41. “Do not fight among yourselves. Listen to my words. It was by means of theft that this Kirāta constructed the Bund sometime back. He shall be transformed to a gaseous state and move about alone till the death of the owner of wealth (i.e. Vajra). As for him (i.e. Vajra) since he has taken away wealth from many (he too shall move about in a gaseous state) until all of them die.”

42. On hearing the words of Nārada, all the messengers went back. Dvijavarmā assumed a gaseous state and moved about in space for a period of twelve years.

43. The sage said to his wife—“You have not committed any defect or sin. With the meritorious acts committed by you, go to the region of Brahmā from this world.”

44. On seeing her husband transformed to a gaseous state she did not relish the idea of going to the abode of Brahmā. Attaining the state of complete indifference to worldly affairs, she spoke thus to the sage.

45-46. “I shall never go to the abode of Brahmā without my husband. I shall stay here itself till my husband regains his body. Thereafter, I shall pursue the same goal as my husband. Or, is there any act of atonement and expiation to be performed by me or by him?”

47-50. On hearing her words thus the ascetic was pleased and he said: “Your body that is capable of experiencing joy and sorrow can perform rites too. An atonement can be had through my influence. I shall mention it to you. Before taking any food one must have his holy dip in the great Tīrtha everyday. After devotedly worshipping Śiva along with Ambikā he must meditate on Maheśāna (god Śiva) in his heart and then repeat the Mantra called Śatarudra Manu.[2] (In the course of this period) he shall have only roots, fruits and bulbous roots for food. By repeating this Mantra one thousand and eight times even the slayer of a Brāhmaṇa becomes liberated from sins. There is no doubt at all that he will be liberated from all other sins as well.”

51. After commanding her thus the ascetic imparted Rudrādhyāya to her. After blessing that woman thus, he vanished there itself.

52. For the sake of doing something pleasing to her husband, she performed rites of meditation and the repetition of the great Mantras. Liberated from the sin of theft, he regained his physical body.

53-55. Thereafter, the thief named Vajra met with his. death. Others too to whom the wealth stolen by him belonged passed away. Yama called them together and said thus:—

“Sin has been committed by you. Luckily some meritorious deeds also have been performed. What is the fruit that you wish to experience first of the auspicious activities?

56. On hearing his words thus, Vajra and others said:—

“At the outset the fruit of meritorious deeds shall be enjoyed. Afterwards that of the sins shall be experienced.”

57-59. Yama said once again. All of you go to heaven immediately, on the strength of this (meritorious deed of Dvijavarmā) along with your wives, sons and friends.” They got into an excellent aerial chariot with Dvijavarmā as their leader and guide. Endowed with the relevant benefits, they went speedily to heaven.

Accompanied by his wife Dvijavarmā passed beyond all worlds and attained Gāṇapatya (the state of being the commander of the Gaṇas—Attendants of Śiva). Even today he rejoices in Kailāsa.”

Indra said:

60. O highly intelligent one, mention the divisions and the comparative merits of construction of bunds and other meritorious deeds. It is conducive to the increase of merit.”

Bṛhaspaii said:

61-62. “Dvijavarmā of great reputation (attained everything) after acquiring half of the meritorious deeds. Vajra acquired a half of the remainder. Others were endowed with a further moiety of what still remained.

Action is committed by one in four ways—by the mind, by the speech, by the casual movement of the body and by the wilful activity of the body. These perish due to the expiatory rites performed by the very same parts of the body.

Indra said:

63. “What is the nature of Āsava? (Liquor). What is its defect? What is its merit? What type of cooked food is defective? Mention this in detail to me.”[3]

Bṛhaspati said:

64. The different types of intoxicating beverages are as follows: Paiṣṭika (made from flour or rice), Tālaja (from the date palm) Kaira (coconut palm-juice), Mādhūka (made from honey or Madhūka flowers), Guḍasambhava (prepared from molasses). In regard to sinful nature the later ones mentioned above are half as dreadful as the earlier ones.

65. Āsava can be used as a beverage by the three castes beginning with the Kṣatriyas. Excepting a Brāhmaṇa lady, all women can drink liquors beginning with the third one i.e. Kaira (coconut palm juice, and prepared from honey and molasses).

66-67. A widow, a virgin and a woman in her monthly period shall avoid drinking liquor. If a woman drinks liquor out of covetousness and not in the company of her husband, she is called Unmādinī (a mad woman). One should avoid her like a Cāṇḍāla woman.

68. The ratio of drinking liquors in the case of four castes beginning with the Brāhmaṇas shall be ten to eight or six to four. In the case of women it shall be half of the above. If they drink in the company of their husbands it shall be one-fourth of the above.

69-71. After drinking liquor out of delusion, a Brāhmaṇa should perform Kṛcchracāndrāyaṇa expiation. Or he shall repeat Gāyatrī Mantra or Jātavedasa Mantra ten thousand times. If a man repeats Ambikāhṛdaya Mantra he shall become pure. A Kṣatriya among the three castes shall be purified by repeating those Mantras half the number of times. In the case of women the number of repetitions shall be one-fourth or they can get the same done through Brāhmaṇas. One should repeat the Mantras a thousand times under water and become purified thereby.

72. Lakṣmī, Sarasvatī, Gaurī, Caṇḍikā, Tripurā, Ambikā, Vaiṣṇavī, Bhairavī, Kālī and Māhendrī are the Mothers.

73. There are other Śakti goddesses. In worshipping them the liquor prepared from honey is approved of. A Brāhmaṇa who has mastered the Vedāṅgas shall perform worship without wine.

74. Those who are unattached to worldly objects attain the greatest goal through their power (i.e. the power of Mothers). They shall eat only what is dedicated and offered to them first. Without thinking about other deities they must be meditated upon. They must identify themselves with Mothers.

75. This remembrance of the fact of the supreme power (parā-Śakti) is prescribed as the expiation for all sins committed either knowingly or unknowingly.

76. The base fellow who drinks liquor without worshipping Parā Śakti shall stay in hell called Raurava for a period calculated at the rate of a year for every drop so-consumed.

77. He who drinks liquor with a desire for enjoying pleasures is the vilest of men. Excepting a fall from precipitous rock or immolation into the fire, there is no other means of atonement for him.

78-79. A Brāhmaṇa should not drink liquor out of delusion or for the sake of friendship or because of passionate addiction.

A Brāhmaṇa shall be purified of sinful defects due to the blessings of great men, by repentance of one’s own action, by worshipping Parāśakti, by the observance of Yamas and Niyamas, by means of Kṛcchracāṇḍrāyaṇa expiatory rites calculated on the basis of the number of days (on which the sin is committed). If the sin is committed consciously the expiation shall be twice as much.

Footnotes and references:


The story illustrates how the fruit i.e. merit of good actions from theft of property is distributed among the parties concerned.


Name of a celebrated hymn in Vāj. Saṃhitā XVI. 1-66. But how was the Kirāta lady regarded eligible for repeating Vedic Mantras?


Liquor-drinking is a great sin (Mahāpāpa). The remaining chapter deals incidently with different types of wines in ancient India, the permission to non-Brahmin men and women to drink and strict prohibition for Brāhmaṇas even while worshipping ‘Mothers’ (Mātṛ-goddesses).

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