The Shiva Purana (English translation)

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “glory of the gift of food” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 11 - The glory of the gift of food

Vyāsa said:—

1. Those who commit sins go along (he path to Yama with great misery. O holy lord, now narrate the righteous deeds which render pleasure in the path of Yama.

Sanatkumāra said:—

2. Auspicious or inauspicious, one has of necessity to reap the fruit of actions committed by him without thinking. I shall now mention those sacred rites that yield happiness.

3. Men who perform auspicious rites here, whose minds are gentle and who are merciful pass through the terrible path of Yama happily.

4. He who makes gifts of sandals of leather or wood to leading brahmins goes happily to the abode of Yama on a great horse.

5. By making gifts of umbrella they go holding an umbrella. By making gifts of palanquin he goes by means of a chariot.

6. By making gifts of beds and seats he goes with ample rest. Those who make shady parks or those who plant trees on the wayside go without weariness even in the hottest region.

7. Men making flower gardens go by the aerial chariot Puṣpaka. Makers of temples feel at home on the way.

8. The founders of hermitages of ascetics and Rest houses for the orphans feel as if they play in the house.

9. Worshippers of the gods, fire-god brahmins and their parents go along that path as they please. They are honoured on the way.

10. Those who gift lamps, go brightly illuminating all the ten quarters. By giving dwellings and asylums they go without ailments on the way.

11. Those who habitually serve their preceptors go without difficulty. They get ample rest on the way. Those who gift musical instruments to brahmins go happily feeling at home on the way.

12. Givers of cows go along the path flourishing with all their desires. They get those food-stuffs and drinks which they give away here, on that path also.

13. By giving water for washing the feet one goes along the path full of water. He who gifts oils for massaging the feet goes on horseback along that way.

14. O Vyāsa, Yama never comes near the man who always makes gifts of water for washing the feet, oil for massaging, lamps, foodstuffs and dwellings.

15. By making gifts of gold and gems he crosses all impassable hurdles. By gifting silver and oxen he goes to Yamaloka happily.

16. By these and similar charitable gifts people go happily to Yama’s abode. They attain different pleasures in the heaven.

17. Of all charitable gifts the gift of food is the greatest. It is pleasing. It gives pleasure immediately. It enhances strength and intellect.

18. O excellent sage, there is no other charitable gift on a par with the gift of food. All living beings originate from food. In its absence they die.

19. Food gives blood, flesh, fat and semen and out of semen living beings are born. Hence the universe is identical with food.

20. Hungry men are not delighted even if they possess these things viz—gold, gems, horses, elephants, women, garlands, sandal paste and the like.

21. All persons, the child in the womb, the new born babe, the child, the middle aged man, the old man, the gods, the dānavas or Rākṣasas desire food.

22. Hunger is the acutest of all ailments. There is no doubt that it perishes on the application of the medicinal ointment viz food.

23. There is no misery equal to hunger; no sickness equal to hunger; no happiness on a par with being free from sickness and no enemy equal to anger.

24. All embodied beings die when scorched by the fire of hunger. That is why it is glorified that there is great merit in the charitable gift of food.

25. The giver of food is the giver of life. The giver of life is the giver of all. Hence one attains the benefit of gifting everything by means of the charitable gift of food.

26. If a man performs holy and sacred rites after being nourished with the food gifted by someone, the merit of the sacred rites is shared half and half by the two—namely by the giver of food and the performer of the rites. There is no doubt in this.

27. The giver of charitable gift of food obtains here and hereafter whatever means of pleasure there are in the three worlds such as gems, women and vehicles.

28. This body is the greatest of the means of achievement of virtue, wealth, love and salvation. Hence one should preserve one’s body with food and drink.

29. They praise only food. Everything is founded on food. There has never been a charitable gift like that of food, nor will there ever be any.

30. O sage, the entire universe is sustained by food. It is food that infuses virility in the people. The vital airs are founded on food.

31. Even by putting one’s family to inconvenience and trouble one should give food to a mendicant brahmin of noble soul, if one wishes for one’s prosperity.

32. He who gives food to a suppliant brahmin in distress actually makes an excellent deposit facilitating his benefit in the other world.

33. A householder, desirous of prosperity shall worship a brahmin who has approached him at the proper time for his livelihood, or who is travel-weary and comes to his house as a guest.

34-35. O Vyāsa, a giver of food, of good conduct and free from malice, is honoured. A gift of food never goes in-vain be it to a dog or a person who cooks dogs. If a person eschews anger that surges up he derives happiness here and hereafter. He should not encourage it even if it is natural. One shall try to eschew it somehow.

36. He who gives food to a weary, unknown traveller, without feeling distressed for the same will derive prosperity.

37. The meritorious benefit of the man, O great sage, who delights Pitṛs, gods, brahmins and guests with food-stuffs, in really immense.

38. Gift of food and drink whether to a Śūdra or to a brahmin is equally excellent. One should not ask the spiritual lineage,[1] branch of the Vedas[2] or the country of the recipient.

39. He who gives food when begged by a brahmin, goes to the highest heaven and remains there till the final dissolution when all living beings are destroyed.

40. The garden of a food-giver acquires the fruits of his cherished desire as the brahmins do in the highest heaven.

41. O sage, O great sage, listen to the divine regions which are created in the heaven by the gifts of food, for the giver of food.

42. The abodes of those noble souls in the heaven shine in various shapes and are equipped with every desirable object.

43. The trees bear the fruits of all desires. The golden lakes in the mansions, the auspicious wells and tanks are all excellent.

44. The auspicious drinks of various varieties are proclaimed. There are huge mountains of food-stuffs, garments and ornaments.

45. Milk flows in rivers there. There are huge mountains of ghee. The palaces are white in colour. Beds are brilliant like gold.

46. The giver of food goes to these regions. One should be a giver of food if one wishes for one’s own good in this or in the other world.

47. These regions of the meritorious givers of food are very brilliant. Hence food shall be given as gift by the people.

48. Food is Brahma himself. Food is Viṣṇu himself. Food is Śiva. There has never been nor will there ever be a gift on a par with that of food

49. Even after committing a great sin if a man gives food to the needy he becomes rid of all sins. He goes to heaven.

50. The eight gifts are honoured most in the land of the dead viz food, drink, horse, cow, garments, bed, umbrella and scat.

51. If a man wishes to go to the city of Yama in the aerial chariot, he shall necessarily make these special gifts.

52. This sacred narrative gives instances of the virtue of gifts of foodstuffs; whoever reads this or teaches this to others flourishes indeed.

53. O great sage, if a person listens to this or narrates this at the performance or Śrāddha to brahmins, it results in a never-ending gift of food to the Pitṛs.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Gotra is a family name supposed to be sprung from and named after celebrated teachers as Vasiṣṭha, Gautama, Kaśyapa, Bharadvāja, etc.

2.

Caraṇa signifies a particular branch of the Vedas to which a family belonged.