The Agni Purana

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

This page describes Rules and regulations relating to the vows (vrata-paribhasha) which is chapter 175 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 175 - Rules and regulations relating to the vows (vrata-paribhāṣā)

Fire-god said:

1. Listen O Vasiṣṭha! I shall describe the vows [i.e., vrata] for men and women (to be observed) in order on the phases of the moon, weeks, asterisms, particular day (of a week), month, season, year and the entry of the Sun (from one constellation into another).

2. The vrata (vow) is a restraint as told in the scriptures. It is known to be a penance. The special observances of dama (subduing) etc. are for the vow.

3. A vow is designated as a penance because it causes mortification of the body for the doer. It is said to be a restraint as it controls the collection of senses.

4-9. O brahmin! Those brahmins who do not worship fire get prosperity by vows, fasting, restraints and many kinds of gifts. The gods etc. who confer enjoyment and emancipation become pleased. One who has turned back from sins and lives with qualities it is known as upavāsa (fasting). It is devoid of all enjoyments. One who is fasting should reject bellmetal, flesh, masūra (a kind of pulse), chick-pea, koradūṣaka (a species of grain), vegetable, wine, food from others, (association with) a woman, flowers, ornaments and dress, incense, perfume and unguent. (People) do not commend the cleaning of teeth and (use of) collyrium. The five things got from a cow should be used in the place of the toothstick in the morning and the vow commenced. Fasting gets vitiated by frequent drinking of water, the chewing of betels, dreaming and having intercourse during the day.

10-17. Forbearance, truth, compassion, charity, cleanliness, control of the senses, worship of gods, making oblation to fire, happiness and not stealing are remembered to be the ten general virtues (to be practised) in all vows. Befitting one’s capacity one should repeat the sacred hymns and offer oblations (to fire). One should bathe daily, eat moderately and worship preceptors, gods and brahmins. One should avoid taking alkaline substances, honey, salt, wine and meat. Among the grains (all the grains) except sesamum and mudga (a kind of kidney-bean) are commendable. Wheat, kodrava (a species of grain), cīnaka (a kind of paddy), devadhānya, leguminous grain, sugar, śitadhānya (barley or white paddy?), roots from the market are deemed to be alkaline things. Rice, ṣaṣṭika (a kind of rice), mudga (a kind of kidney bean), sesamum, barley, śyāmāka (a kind of corn), rice grown without cultivation and wheat etc. are conducive to vows. One should avoid taking pumpkin, bottle-gourd, brinjal, uālaṅkī [pālaṅkī] (?) and pūtikā (a kind of herb). Sweet porridge, the flour of barley, pāṭā-herb, curd, ghee, milk, śyāmāka (a kind of corn), rice, rice growing without cultivation, mūlataṇḍula are conducive as haviṣya (fit to be offered as oblation) at the time of vows (in general) and nakta (vrata) (eating food only in the night) in the rites of offering made to fire. Except wine and meat, the other things are said to be conferring good in a vow.

18. A brahmin who observes the prājāpatya should eat in the morning for three days, in the evening for three days, without seeking alms for three days, and should not eat the next three days.

19. A brahmin who is practising the atikṛcchra should eat one morsel a day for three days three times as before and fast for three days at the end.

20. The expiation sāntapana is known to be (that of taking) cow’s urine, cowdung, milk, curd, clarified butter and water with the kuśa and fasting for a night.

21. Maintaining with the (six) materials used in the sāntapana, each one for a day for six days together with fasting in seven days is known to be mahāsāntapana, which removes the sin.

22. Parāka is fasting for twelve days and it destroys all sins. If it is three-fold (of above) it is said to be mahāparāka.

23-30. Commencing with fifteen morsels (of food) on fullmoon day, reducing one morsel a day and no food on new-moon day and then increasing a morsel a day is (known to be) cāndrāyaṇa. Or one pala (a measure of weight) of urine of a tawny cow, cowdung of half the volume of a thumb, seven palas of milk, two palas of curd, ghee one pala, one pala of water (in which kuśa has been dipped) should be collected. Among these, urine of cow should be gathered with the syllable gāyatrī[1], cowdung with gandhadvāra[2], milk with āpyāyasva[3], curd with dadhikrāvṇa[4] clarified butter with tejo asi[5], and water in which kuśa has been dipped with devasya[6]. It is brahmakūrca by doing as above. Then one should repeat the hymn āpo hi ṣṭhā[7]. They all should be mixed with the (repetition of the) hymn aghamarṣaṇa[8] or the praṇava (syllable oṃ). After drinking (the mixture) one gets free from all sins and reaches the world of Viṣṇu after fasting. A person who fasts, eats only in the evening, an ascetic, and one who eats only in the sixth part of the day, avoids (eating) meat, performs the aśvamedha (sacrifice) and speaks truth would reach heaven. The maintenance of sacred fire, the installation (of images of deities), (the performance of) sacrifices, (making) gifts and (practice of) vows, observance of religious vow, the rite of letting out a bull, tonsure, (the investiture with) the girdle and the auspicious bathing should be avoided in the malamāsa (a solar month in which two new moons occur).

31. The lunar (month) would be from the new moon to the new moon. The sāvana (month) (would be of) thirty days. The solar month (would be reckoned) from the movement (of the sun from one constellation to another). An astral (month) is from (one) revolution of an asterism.

32. Solar month (should be taken) for the marriage etc., and sāvana for sacrifices etc. Lunar month is recommended for the annual ceremony and ancestral rites.

33. The fifth one would be that which concludes with the-(month of) āṣāḍha (July-August). One may perform the ceremony (for the ancestors) at that time whether the Sun moves into the constellation Virgo or not.

34. Whenever a lunar day occurs twice in a month in a year, there the second one is known to be the excellent one and the first one would be bad.

35. One should fast in an asterism when the Sun sets in that. The lunar days are meritorious during the day. They are auspicious in the night in the rite observed in the night.

36-37. The combination of the lunar days—second and third, fourth and fifth, sixth and seventh, eighth and ninth, eleventh and twelfth, fourteenth and full moon, the first and the new moon is of great consequence. This is individually very bad and destroys the meritorious act done previously.

38. It has been stated that (there would be) immediate purity for the kings, ministers and ascetics in (the case of) calamity at the time of marriage etc. as also in the forest path or some danger or in the assembly.

39-41. A king should not obstruct the vow of those who had undertaken a prolonged penance or of a woman. If a pregnant woman or a woman who has delivered a child or a girl who is in her monthly course becomes impure after beginning a long vow she may arrange always to do the same by someone else. If the vow is broken on account of anger or mistake or greed, one should not eat for three days. Otherwise, one should shave his head. If a person who practises a vow is unable to continue, his wife or son may be made to continue it.

42. A worship that has been begun should not be discontinued when (a pollution is caused) by the birth (of a child) or by the death (of some relative). A person observing a vow falling into a swoon should be brought back to his senses by the preceptor by (giving him) milk and other drinks.

43. Water, roots, fruits, milk, clarified butter, the desire of a brahmin, the words of the preceptor and herb are the eight (things) which do not vitiate a vow.

44-58. (One should resolve as follows): “O Lord of vows! I doing this vow for the furtherance of fame, progeny, learning, prosperity, and health and for purity, enjoyment and emancipation. I have taken this excellent vow in your presence. O Lord of the Universe! Let it come to fruition without impediment by your grace. After taking this excellent vow if I happen to die when it is not completed, let all that be complete when you, the lord of beings, are pleased. I invoke the embodied image of the vow, the prosperity of the world for all accomplishments. My obeisance to you. O Lord Keśava (one having beautiful hair)! Be manifest. I bathe you with the five nectars, the five things got from a cow and good water mentally arranged with devotion. You become the remover of my sin. O Lord of libation! (Here is) the auspicious libation mixed with fragrance, flower and water. Accept waters for washing (the feet), for sipping. Make me always fit to offer libation. O Lord of dress! Accept the meritorious dress and O Good lord of vows! Make me always covered by good dress, ornaments etc. O Embodiment of fragrance! Accept the spotless fragrant perfume. You make me have good fragrance and (make me) free from smell of sin. Accept the flower and make me always abundant with flowers. The spotless fragrance of the flower is for the furtherance of longevity and health. Accept the incense (stick) made of ten (fragrant) ingredients, the guggulu and ghee. O good lord of incense! You make me fragrant with perfumes. O Embodied form of the lamp! You accept the lamp having upward flames and which makes everything shine. (You) make (me) endowed with lustre and elevated movement always. O Good Lord of food! Accept the offerings such as food etc. (You) make (me) abundant with food and as a giver of food and all (things). O lord! whatever my omission in the sacred syllable, in the act and devotion, and the worship offered to you may all that be complete for me. O lord of vows! Give me virtue. Give me wealth, prosperity, continuous flow of qualities and fame. Give me learning. Give me longevity, heaven and emancipation. O Lord of vows! Accepting this worship you may go now only to come again, to confer boons, O Lord!

59-62. In all the vows the embodied golden images of vows should be worshipped by the person practising a vow after bathing (according) to his means. He should sleep on the floor. (He should do) repetition (of sacred syllables), (offer) oblation and (make) gifts at the end of a vow in general. Twenty-four or twelve or five or three or one brahmin should be worshipped. The preceptors should be fed. The fee (such as) cows, gold etc., sandals, shoe, water vessel, food vessel, earth, umbrella, seat, bed, pair of dress and pots should be paid according to (one’s) means to every one. The rules and regulations have thus been described.

Footnotes and references:


The mantra addressed to the deity in the orb of the Sun.


ṚVKh. 5.87.9a.


ṚV. 1.91.16a.


ṚV. 4.39.6a.






ṚV. 10.9.1a.


ṚV. 10.190.

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