The Agni Purana

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

This page describes Sixteen great Gifts (mahadana) which is chapter 210 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 210 - Sixteen great Gifts (mahādāna)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Fire-god said:

1-4. I shall describe all the gifts. The great gifts [i.e., mahādāna] (are) sixteen. (The gift known as) the tulāpuruṣa[1] is the first. (The others are) gift of hiraṇyagarbha, brahmāṇḍa kalpavṛkṣa (celestial tree). The fifth one (is the gift of) thousand cows. (The gift of) golden kāmadhenu (the celestial cow) (is the sixth one). The seventh one (is the gift of) golden horse. (The other gifts are) the golden horse and chariot and the golden elephant and horse. Then (the remaining gifts are) five ploughs and (the gift of) earth, viśvacakra, kalpalatā, the excellent seven oceans, ratnadhenu and mahābhūtaghaṭa. (The gift) should be given on an auspicious day.

5. Gift should be given to a brahmin after having worshipped gods in a circle in a shed. Listen to me. I shall describe ten gifts (known as) merudāna (heaps of different things).

6. The best gift is that of a thousand droṇas (a measure) of grains. The rest are successively half (the quantity) of the preceding ones. An excellent gift of a mountain of salt should be given (consisting of) sixteen droṇas.

7. An excellent (gift) of a mountain of molasses would be often bhāras (a measure}. The rest (would be) successively half of the preceding ones. An excellent hill of gold would be of thousand palas (a measure of weight) and the rest as that (described above).

8. A hill of sesamum would be of ten droṇas (the rest being) duly five and three droṇas. The hill of cotton would be twenty, ten and five bhāras (respectively).

9. An excellent hill of ghee would be twenty pots of ghee. An excellent hill of silver (would be) ten thousand palas.

10-12. (An excellent) hill of sugar (would be) eight bhāras and the medium (would be) half that (and the inferior still half that. I shall describe the ten cows by giving which one would get enjoyment and emancipation. The first one would be the cow of molasses and the next one would be the. cow of ghee. The third one is the cow of sesamum and the fourth one cow of water. (The others are) cow of milk, cow of honey, cow of sugar, cow of curd and the cow of juices. The tenth one is the cow in its natural form. This is said to be the rule (governing the ten cows).

13-18. In the case of liquid materials given as the cow, they should be in the form of the pots. But they should be a heap in the case of other (materials). One should place a deer skin of four cubits (length) on the ground besmeared with cow dung with the neck (part) on the east. Darbha should be spread everywhere. Similarly (a seat) should be made for the calf with the tender skin of eṇaka (a kind of black antelope). The cow together with the calf should be arranged such as it faces the east and the feet point to the north. An excellent gift of cow of molasses would always be of four bhāras (out of which) the calf should be of one bhāra. The middle type is known to be of two Bhāras (for the cow) and half a bhāra for the calf. The last type should be one bhāra (for the cow) and a quarter (bhāra) for the calf. Otherwise (the gift may be made) according to the molasses and wealth one may have. One māṣa (a measure) is five kṛṣṇalakas (seed of the guñja plant). One suvarṇa is equal to sixteen māṣas. One pala is equal to four suvarṇas. One tulā is known to be one hundred palas. A bhāra would be twenty tulās. One droṇa (is equal to) four āḍhaka.

19-22. The cow and the calf both made of the molasses should be covered by a thin white cloth. The ears (should be made of) pearl oyster, the feet of sugarcane and the eyes of pure pearls. The veins (should be made of) white thread, the woollen blankets (for spreading) of white wool, the backside with copper vases, the hairs with white chowrie, the two eye-brows with coral, the breast with butter, the tail with silken cloth, the milk pails made of bronze and the pupils with sapphire. The ornaments on the horns should be made of gold and the hoofs of silver. The teeth should be of different kinds of fruits and the nose of sandal.

23-29. O Brahmin! After having made ready the cow, it should be worshipped with these sacred syllables. “That goddess who is the fortune of all beings and who remains in the celestials may in the form of the cow give me peace. The (goddess) Rudrāṇī is always dear to lord Śaṅkara and remains in the body, may that goddess in the form of the cow dispel my sin. That one who is on the chest of (lord) Viṣṇu and who is the Svāhā for the fire, who is the energy of the moon, sun and star, that is of the form of the cow O Goddess of Fortune! May that cow which is the fortune of the four-faced one (Brahmā), the god of wealth and the guardian deity of the world, be the conferer on me. You are the svadhā (oblation of food) for all the manes and the svāhā for the partakers of sacrifices. Hence you are the cow that removes all sins. Hence you get me peace”. The cow that has been sanctified thus should be given to a brahmin. The same procedure (holds good) for the (offerings) of all kinds of cows (mentioned already). After having obtained the benefits of all sacrifices one (would become) pure and get enjoyment and emancipation.

30-34. One should give as a gift a cow having golden horns, silvery hoofs, of good conduct and having udders with bronze, with milk and decked with cloth together with the fees. One who gives such a cow would stay in heaven for as many years as the number of hairs (on its body). If it is a tawny (cow) it would again elevate seven generations (of the giver). One who gives a cow having golden horns, silvery hoofs and bronze attached udders together with fees befitting one’s capacity would get enjoyment and emancipation after giving. By giving a cow with a calf, i.e., a cow that is delivering a calf, one would reach heaven and stay there for so many years as the number of hairs (on the body of the cow). It should be given as laid down before. A cow and a calf should be given as a gift by one that is about to die as (laid down) before. (He should say) “There is the dark Vaitaraṇī river at the dreadful entrance to (the place of) the God of Death. I am giving this black cow in order to cross that Vaitaraṇī.”

Footnotes and references:


Gold, jewel or other valuable things equal to a man’s weight given to a Brāhmaṇa as a gift.

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