The Agni Purana

by N. Gangadharan | 1954 | 360,691 words | ISBN-10: 8120803590 | ISBN-13: 9788120803596

This page describes Duties of different castes (varna-dharma) which is chapter 166 of the English translation of the Agni Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas dealing with all topics concerning ancient Indian culture, tradition and sciences. Containing roughly 15,000 Sanskrit metrical verses, subjects contained in the Agni-Purana include cosmology, philosophy, architecture, iconography, economics, diplomacy, pilgrimage guides, ancient geography, gemology, ayurveda, etc.

Chapter 166 - Duties of different castes (varṇa-dharma)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Puṣkara said:

1-5. I shall describe the codes of conduct (laid down) by the scriptures and codes of law. (The codes of conduct) are of five kinds. That is known to be the codes of conduct of the castes [i.e., varṇa-dharma] in which the authority rests on the caste alone. A thing that is laid down resting on the stages of life is said to be the code of conduct of the stages of life. The codes of (the above) both which are made prevalent by a motive is known to be naimittika (occasional or produced by a cause) like the codes of atonement. O King! the student, the householder, the forester and an ascetic are said to be the codes of conduct of stages of life. The fourth one is the practical code and the fifth one is the metaphysical code. It is said to be the practical code which has its say in the six qualities.

6. This is of three kinds. According to Manu mantra (mystic syllable) and yāga sacrifice (are) metaphysical codes. Those which belong to the two classes are justice and administration of justice.

7. Even for the same kind of things it is said that there would be option due to yāga (sacrifice). The same duty is laid down in the codes also as in the scriptures.

8. Followers of Manu (declare) that the code brings forth repetition for the purpose of the work undertaken. Otherwise the repetition is specially for the quality of limitation.

9. Followers of Manu (state) that this (repetition) is only a special practical code for the result. One would reach the world of Brahmā by doing the forty-eight purificatory rites.

10- 19. (They are) the impregnation[1], causing the birth of a male child[2], the parting of the hair[3], rites done at the birth of a child, naming the child, the first rice-feeding of the child[4] the tonsure[5], investiture of the sacred thread, the collection of four vedic observances—the completion of one’s studies, marriage, the collection of five devotional acts—towards the gods, manes, mortals, beings and sages, seven simple domestic sacrifices—the aṣṭakā and pārvaṇaśrāddha, śrāvaṇī, agrahāyaṇī, caitrī, and āśvayujī, then the haviryajñas (such as) the agnyādheya, agnihotra, darśapaurṇamāsa, cāturmāsya, āgrahāyaṇyeṣṭi, nirūḍha-paśubandhaka and the sautrāmaṇi, the seven somasaṃsthās—commencing with agniṣṭomaatyagniṣṭoma, uktha, ṣoḍaśī, vājapeyaka, atirātra etc. and the eight basic human qualities—compassion, forbearance, freedom from malice, absence of exertion, propitia-tion,charity and absence of desire. Whoever possesses these attains the supreme. One should observe silence in the six (acts)—evacuation of bowels, copulation, passing urine, cleaning the teeth, bathing and eating. One should avoid making a gift again (of an article received as a gift) drinking separately the ghee and milk in the night, removal of teeth and hotness in the seven (kinds of) flours. One should not gather flowers without bathing. It is said to be unfit for the (worship of) gods.

20. If a person not belonging to the same gotra and not related does the cremation of a dead person, he has to complete ten day rites by offering balls of rice and water.

21. If one has to dine with unequal persons there is no defiling of the row if (the two) are separated by water or grass or ashes or door or pathway.

22. The five oblations to the (five breaths) (at the commencement of taking food) should be done with the union of the ring-finger and the thumb.

Footnotes and references:


Is done when the conception is known.


Is done before the embryo begins to move.


Is done in the eighth month after pregnancy.


Is done in the six months after the birth of a child.


Is done in the third y ear of a child.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: