The Agni Purana

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

This page describes The rites preceding the march of a king (rana-diksha) which is chapter 236 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 236 - The rites preceding the march of a king (raṇa-dīkṣā)

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Puṣkara said:

1-5. I shall describe rites to be performed before commencing a march. When a march of a king has to begin after seven days, (lords) Hari (Viṣṇu) and Śambhu (Śiva) should be worshipped as well as lord Vināyaka (the elephant-faced god, lord of impediments) with sweet balls and other things (on the first day). After having worshipped the guardian (deities) of (different) directions, (the priest) should lie down (on a bed). He should then worship gods either (remaining) on the bed or in front of them. He should then think of Manu. “Obeisance O Śambhu (conferer of good)! to the three-eyed, dreadful and conferer of boons. Obeisance to the dwarf (manifestation of lord Viṣṇu), the formless lord of dreams. O Master! Lord of the lords! Bearer of the trident! One riding the bull! O Eternal one! Let me know in my dream while I sleep, the good or evil (to befall me). (The impressions) in the waking state (maybe driven) far away.” The priest should thus utter these sacred syllables (on the second day).

6. He should worship the guardian (deities) of the quarters, Rudras and the lords of directions on the third day, the planets on the fourth day and the two Aśvins (divine physicians) on the fifth day.

7-14. Then (the gods on the way (of expedition) and the sacred rivers (presided over) by those gods should be worshipped. Offerings (should be made) to gods dwelling in heavens, atmosphere and earth. The group of goblins and (gods) Vāsudeva and others should be worshipped in the night. (Worship should be) made to (goddesses) Bhadrakālī and Śrī. One should pray to all gods. “May gods Vāsudeva, Saṅkarṣaṇa, Pradyumna and Aniruddha,[1] Nārāyaṇa (Viṣṇu), Abjaja (born in the lotus, Brahmā), Viṣṇu, Nārasiṃha (man-lion form of lord Viṣṇu), the boar (manifestation of lord Viṣṇu), O Rāma! Śiva, Īśa[2] (Īśāna), Tatpuruṣa, Aghora, Satyaja[3], the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Rāhu, (the ascending node of Moon), Ketu (descending node of Moon), Gaṇapati (lord of goblins), Senānī (son of Śiva and Pārvatī) (leader of the celestials against the demon Tāraka), (goddesses) Caṇḍikā, Umā (consort of Śiva), Lakṣmī (consort of Viṣṇu), Sarasvatī (goddess of speech), Durgā a form of Pārvatī), Brahmāṇī (consort of Brahmā), the Rudras (forms of Śiva, eleven in number), (the celestials) Indra and others such as the Fire-god, serpents, Tārkṣya (Eagle, vehicle of lord Viṣṇu) and other celestials dwelling in heavens, atmosphere and earth be for my victory. Let them crush the enemies in the battle after having accepted offerings (made by me). O Gods! I have sought your refuge together with sons, mother and servants. Obeisance to you! After going to the rear of the enemies destroy them. I will offer more than that I have given after returning from the battle”.

15-21. On the sixth day, the king should bathe for victory just as the bath at the coronation. Lord Trivikrama (manifestation of lord Viṣṇu as a dwarf and taking three strides humiliating king Bali) should be worshipped on the seventh (day), the day of expedition. The weapons and vehicles should be worshipped with the sacred syllables prescribed for nirājana (rite of purification). The following sacred syllable should be uttered (in the ear of the king) with the sounds of auspiciousness and victory. “May the celestials dwelling in heaven, atmosphere and earth be bestowers of longevity on you. May the success of gods be attained by you. Let your (expedition) be the expedition of gods. May all gods protect you”. After having heard this, the king should proceed. After having taken the bow together with the arrow with (the recitation of the sacred syllable) dhanurnāga[4], (the king) should place his foot in the direction of his enemy after having repeated (the sacred syllable) tad viṣṇoḥ[5]. (After having set) his right foot, he should place thirty steps in different directions such as the east in due order. He should duly climb the elephant, chariot, horse and the animal carrying the burden. After having climbed he should move on along with the sounds of musical instruments without looking back. After having gone (a distance of) a krośa (two or two and a half miles) he should halt and worship gods and brahmins. He should move to the foreign country protecting his own army.

22-23. After having reached the alien country (enemy’s domain) the king should protect the guardian (deity) of the country. He should worship deities and should not destroy their properties. He should not humiliate the natives of that country. After having returned to his metropolis again after having gained victory, the king should worship gods and make gifts.

24-27. If there is a battle on the second day, the elephant, horse etc. should be bathed and lord Nrsiṃha (man-lion manifestation of lord Viṣṇu) should be worshipped. The royal insignia such as the umbrella etc., weapons and the goblins (should be worshipped) in the night. After having worshipped lord Nṛsiṃha and all vehicles in the morning, (the king) should see the sacrificial fire kindled by the priest. After having made oblations into the fire, the king should worship brahmins. After having taken the bow and arrow he should mount the elephant and move. He should walk in the country of the enemy without being noticed (by anybody) (and find) the nature (of the enemy). He should cause a small army of men spread extensively.

28-35. A small army as the mouth of a needle can stand against many. The arrangement of the army is of the form of animals and things such as the garuḍa (the king of birds), crocodile, circle, vulture, semi-circle, vajravyūha (a strong impenetrable array), cart (shaped), the sarvato-bhadra circular (array) and sūcīvyūha (as a needle). An army in one of the above arrays should be arranged in five parts—the two composing its two principal wings, the two forming its sides to protect the wings and the fifth one would be the main body. A battle should be fought with one or two of the above parts. The remaining three parts should be stationed only for their protection. A king should never be in arrays. If the main force is destroyed, (the whole army) will be routed. A king should not himself fight. A king should remain at a krośa (about two or two and a quarter miles), behind the army. It is said that a broken army could be resustained by that. One’s stay is not laid down if the main army has suffered a defeat. The soldiers in the array should not be set up too close or too wide apart, so that there may not be any clash of their weapons mutually.

36-43. One who wants to break the hostile army should do so only with collective strength. So also the enemy should protect it from being broken with the collective strength. That division of a hostile army among many divisions, should be first attacked and broken through (by the commander) as he desires. O Brahmin! There should be four soldiers to guard each foot of an elephant. There should be four cavalry and an equal number of armoured soldiers for guarding a chariot. (There should be) an equal number of bow-men as the armoured soldiers in front of the armoured soldiers in the battle. Behind bow-men, the cavalry and the chariot-fighters and then the soldiers mounted on elephants should be set up by a king. He should look after the duties of the infantry, elephants and horses with effort. Bold men should be placed in front. Only a division of the army should be shown. Cowards should not be placed in front because that would break the work of driving away the enemy. The bold men remaining in the front would enthuse cowards in the battle. Men of tall stature with acquiline noses, not having squint eyes, with well-blended eyebrows, irascible, fond of quarrels, contented, happy and lustful are known to be bold.

44-48. Carrying the wounded and the dead from the battlefield, offering water to the elephants in each war, bringing weapons (to the soldiers) are said to be the work of the soldiers. Protecting their own army from the enemies desiring to break, breaking the collected force (of the enemies) are the works of armoured men. Making (the enemies) turn away from battle is the task of bow-men. It is said that the chariot of a wounded person should be led away to a distant place. It is stated that the work of the chariot-warriors is to frighten the enemy army. The duties of men mounted on elephants are to break through the collected force of the enemy, to gather soldiers got split in the army of the self and the destruction of walls, arches, battlements and trees.

49. The ground for the infantry to fight is known to be uneven and that for the cavalry and chariot as even. The battlefields for the elephants are pointed out as wet.

50-55. After having arranged the arrays thus and having the Sun behind and the Venus, Saturn, guardian deities of the quarters and the gentle breeze being favourable, all the warriors should be encouraged by repeating their names and the (achievement of their) clans (and pointing out) gain of prosperity on success and gain of heaven for the dead. After conquest over the enemies one gets pleasures. There would be supreme position for the dead. There is no way of requital for the food taken from the master equal to (sacrificing in) the battle. They would be washed of their sins as blood flows from the bold warriors. The endurance of pain due to wounds is the excellent penance. Thousands of celestial women attend on a man killed in the battle. One’s master gets (the result of) the deeds (done) by those who run away after being defeated (in battle). It is said that such people get the fruits of killing a brahmin at each one of their step. The gods would be lost for one who deserts his companions in the battle-field.

56-60. It is said that the brave who do not retreat in battle would get the benefit (of performing the sacrifice) of aśvamedha. If the king is righteous he would be victorious. He should fight with men of equal valour. Men mounted on elephants should be fought by men mounted on elephants. Retreating men, spectators, those not having weapons and those that have fallen should not be killed. One should do treacherous warfare when one is fatigued, sleeping, is crossing half the river or forest and on bad days. Raising up arms one should cry that the enemies have been defeated. “We have got the ally with abundant strength. The king (of the enemy forces) and the commander have been slain or the (hostile) king had retreated.” One may kill easily the retreating warriors.

61. O One well-versed in righteousness! incense that stupefies the enemies should be burnt. The banners and other paraphernalia and the musical instruments making frightening sounds should be made use of.

62-65. After having gained victory in the battle, one should worship gods and brahmins. In a battle won by the minister, the gems (acquired by the minister) should be made over to the king. The wives of a defeated king would not belong to anyone else (but to that defeated king). The wives of the defeated king should be protected (by the conquering king). A king should honour a hostile king defeated in the battle and treat him as his own son. He should not fight with him again. He should honour the customs and manners (of that country). Then after having entered his native country, he should enter the palace when a fixed star is ruling. He should worship the deities etc. and protect the families of warriors. He should divide the booty got from the battle among his servants. The procedure for commencing a military expedition has thus been described to you. It gives sure success for the king.

Footnotes and references:


This and the preceding three are the four forms of lord Viṣṇu.


This and the next four are the five forms of Śiva.


Obviously a mistake for Sadyaja denoting Sadyojāta.


Could not be identified.


ṚV. 1.22.20.

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