The Bhagavata Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 780,972 words | ISBN-10: 8120838203 | ISBN-13: 9788120838208

This page describes The Duties of a householder which is chapter 14 of the English translation of the Bhagavata Purana, one of the eighteen major puranas containing roughly 18,000 metrical verses. Topics include ancient Indian history, religion, philosophy, geography, mythology, etc. The text has been interpreted by various schools of philosophy. This is the fourteenth chapter of the Seventh Skandha of the Bhagavatapurana.

Chapter 14 - The Duties of a householder

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Yudhiṣṭhira said:

1. Oh celestial sage, please explain to me that course of conduct by which a householder like me whose mind is clouded with attachment to house and property, will attain to the above state of emancipation (mokṣa) without difficulty.

Nārada said:

1(A). (VRs’ text adds): Even though you know it, you have asked this question for the good of the world, Oh king. I shall explain to you how the duties of a householder lead one to the state of actionlessness (or attainment of Jñāna-yoga.

2. Staying in the household and performing duties (such as sandhyā, worship and five mahā-yajñas) laid down for a householder as direct offering to Lord Vāsudeva (without expecting any return for it), one should wait upon great sages in order to learn truth.

3. Devoutly listening to the nectar-like sweet stories of the incarnations of Viṣṇu during the leisure time after performance of duties he should constantly be associated with (lit. surrounded by) persons who are tranquil by nature.

4. Through companionship with saintly people, he should gradually release himself from attachment to himself, his wife, his sons etc. which are in the process of being separated from him, and should rise above them like a person awakened from a dream (does in the case of objects seen in the dream).

5. A wise man should be disinterested in and dispassionate to his body and house, but should attend to it, to the extent to which it is indispensable. Simulating attachment to them, a man should transcend his status as an ordinary human being and be a recluse. Or (carry out his duties inlife).

6. Being free from attachment to himself and his property, he should acquiesce in what his kinsmen, parents, sons, brothers and other well-wishers propose and desire.

7. A wise man should carry out his duties while enjoying what he gets from the heaven (e.g. crops due to rain fall), from mines (e.g. gold, precious stones etc.) and what he gets accidentally by wind fall, as all wealth is created by god Viṣṇu (and is obtained through his grace).

8. Embodied beings can lay claim to that much wealth as is just necessary for filling his belly. He who lays claims on the surplus is a thief and deserves punishment.

9. One should look upon beasts, camels, donkeys, monkeys, rats, serpents, birds and flies like one’s own sons (and hence these should not be driven out of the house or fields if they enter and begin to eat), for there is very little difference between them and his sons.

10. Even though a man be a householder, he should not put in extraordinary trouble for getting the three puruṣārthas. He should enjoy what is afforded to him by providence according to its place and time.

11. He should duly share his objects of enjoyment with all down to dogs, sinners and people belonging to the lowest strata of the society (lit. who dwell at the end of a village). He should allow his wife whom he ardently claims as his own, to receive guests (unmindful of his inconvenience. Bhāvāratha Dīpikā warns that this should not be misconstrued).

12. He who can forego his claim on his wife for whose sake he should lay down his life or would kill his father or preceptor (if he suspects them about their contacts with her) has conquered (secured the grace of) the unconquerable Lord Viṣṇu.

13. How despicable is the body that is convertible into worms (if buried), excretion (if eaten up by carnivorous animals) or ashes (if cremated)! Equally despicable is (the body of) a wife which contributes to its erotic pleasures! How great is the Soul which pervades the whole of the sky!

14. A wise person should maintain his livelihood by food, after offering oblations to the deities in five mahā-yajñas and should relinquish the notion of his claim of what remains as surplus. Thus he would attain to the position of paramahaṃsas.

15. A man should worship the antaryāmin (the Inner Controller) daily by sharing what he has obtained in his own vocation, with gods, sages, human beings, other living beings, pitṛs and his own self.

16. If he possesses all the required materials as well as the requisite qualifications for performing sacrifices, he should worship the Lord according to the procedure laid down in the Śrauta and Kalpa Sūtras.

17. But verily, this Venerable Lord, the Enjoyer of Sacrifice is not propitiated to that extent by oblation offered through the (sacrificial) fire as through (morsels of food offered to Him) through the mouths of Brāhmaṇas, Oh King.

18. One should, therefore, worship this Inner Controller (God) through the Brāhmaṇas, gods presiding over five Mahā-yajñas as also through mortals like human beings and other creatures, by offering them objects of enjoyment, according to their respective order, after (feeding) the Brāhmaṇas.

19. If sufficiently rich, a twice-born person (Brāhmaṇa, Kṣattriya and Vaiśya) should perform according to his means, the Śrāddha, i.e. Mahālaya in honour of his (departed) parents as well as their kinsmen and others, in the dark half of Bhādrapada.

20-23. He should (also) perform their Śrāddha at the time of the summer and winter solstices (ayanas), and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes (viṣuva), during the division of time called Vyatipāta; on the day when a tithi i.e. the lunar day begins and ends between two sun-rises (technically known as dinakṣaya); during the lunar and solar eclipses; on the twelfth lunar day, and when the constellations known as Śravaṇa, Dhaniṣṭhā and Śatatārakā are on the ascendance; on the third day in the bright half of Vaiśākha (i.e. on Akṣaya tṛtiyā [Akṣayatṛtīyā?]); on the ninth lunar day in the bright half of Kārttika (known as Akṣaya-navamī); on the four Aṣṭakas (eighth lunar day in the dark halves) during the seasons called Hemanta and Śiśira (i.e. on the eighth day in the dark half of the months of Mārgaśīṛṣa, Pauṣa, Māgha and Phālguna); on the seventh day in the bright half of the month of Māgha; on the fullmoon day when the constellation Maghā is ascendant (which is in the month of Māgha) on days when the constellations associated with the names of other (lunar) months are ascendant on a full moon day, or even when the moon rises one digit less than the full on that day; on any twelfth lunar day when the constellations Anurādhā, Śravaṇa and the three constellations beginning with the word Uttarā (viz. Uttarāṣāḍhā, Uttarā Bhādrapadā and Uttarā Phālgunī) are ascendant; or when the eleventh lunar day (of any month) is associated with (any of) these three constellations; (and lastly) on any day when the constellation under which a person was born or the constellation called Śravaṇa is ascendant.

24. These are very auspicious times which are conducive to the attainment of prosperity to men on these days. On these days a person should, by every means, try to perform pious acts to the best of his abilities. Thus his merits become most effectual and contribute to his longevity.

25. On these days, performance of ablutions, muttering prayer or mantra (Japa), oblations to fire, observance of a sacred vow, worship of gods and Brāhmaṇas and gifts donated in the names of manes, gods, men and creatures bear everlasting fruit.

26. Oh King, Śrāddhas should be performed when it is the time of the purificatory rites observed in the behalf of himself, his wife or children; as well as at the time of the cremation of a dead body or on the death anniversary of a person; and at the time of any other function like marriage.

27. Now I shall narrate to you the (holy) places which enhance religious merits and other good. That is the most sacred place where a worthy and virtuous recipient is found.

28. For he (such worthy recipient) is the very image of the Almighty Lord in whom abides the whole creation—mobile and immobile. That is the hallowed spot where Brāhmaṇas characterised by penance, knowledge and kindness dwell.

29. All the places where the image of Hari or Śāligrāma is found (or wherever the worship of Lord Hari is being done) that place is the abode of blessings; and the regions through which rivers like the Gaṅgā and others celebrated in Purāṇas flow.

30. And lakes like Puṣkara and others are situated; and places inhabited by venerable sages and spots known as Kurukṣetra, Gayā, Prayāga (the confluence of the Gaṅgā and the Yamunā) the hermitage of Pulaha known as Śālagrāma Kṣetra.

31. Forest like Naimiṣa (modern Nimsar) Kanyātīrtha (Cape Comerin), the holy bridge built by Rāma at Rāmeśvara, Prabhāsa, and Dvārakā, Vārāṇasī, Mathurā, the lake Pampā and Bindusara where stood the hermitage of Kardama the father of Kapila.

32. The Hermitage of Nārāyaṇa (Badarikāśrama), the Alakanandā, Citrakūṭa where stood the hermitage of Rāma and Sītā and such other places; all principal mountain ranges such as Mahendra (Eastern Ghāṭs), Malaya (Western Ghāṭs) and others, Oh King.

33. Those are the sacred-most spots where the idols of Hari are installed. He who is desirous of blessings, should constantly sojourn at these places. Righteous duties per formed here yield fruits thousand times more than what accrues at other places.

34. The foremost judges of worthy recipients and wise people have decided that in this world Hari and Lord Hari alone is the only worthy recipient. Oh Lord of the earth, everything mobile and immobile is constituted of him.

35. Accordingly, Oh King, even though gods, sages, worthy persons, such as the sons of god Brahmā and others were present at your Rājasūya sacrifice, Lord Kṛṣṇa was conclusively selected as deserving the first place in the adoration at the sacrifice, owing to his worthiness.

36. The great tree in the form of the universe (Brahmāṇḍa) is crowded with multitudes of jīvas and is very extensive, but Acyuta, being the root of that tree, Hari’s worship brings gratification to all the jīvas and to one’s own soul.

37. The dwellings (bodies) in the form of those of men, sub-human beings, sages and gods have been created by him. He dwells in these bodies in the form of jīva and hence he is called Puruṣa (the Dweller of habitations or Inner Controller).

38. In these bodies, the Lord is present (i.e. manifests himself) in different degrees (of intelligence, wisdom etc.). Hence, even though every man is a worthy recipient, he is proportionately so according to the manifestation of the Soul (i.e. spiritual wisdom, penance etc.) in him.

39. Oh King, wise sages took into account the mutual hatred, disregard among men in the Tretā and other ages, and have therefore instituted Hari’s idols for worship, and other religious duties.

40. Some persons with perfect devotion in the worship of Hari propitiate him thereby, but to some the worship of Hari, even though performed, is not fruitful as they hate the Lord in the form of his creation.

41. Oh Lord of Kings, even amongst men Brāhmaṇa is regarded as the really worthy recipient as he bears in him the body of Hari, viz. the Vedas, along with the virtues of penance, learning and contentment.

42. Oh King, the Brāhmaṇas who purify the three worlds by the dust of their feet form really the Supreme Deity of Lord Kṛṣṇa who is the Soul of the universe.

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