The Ganesha Purana (abridged)

Gaṇeśa Purāṇa

by Gregory Baily | 11,149 words

The Ganesha Purana is a Hindu religious text dedicated to the Hindu deity Ganesha (Gaṇeśa). It is an upapurāṇa that includes many stories and ritualistic elements relating to Ganesha. Ganesha Purana – Translated by Prof. Gregory Baily and Edited by C. Devadas...

Chapter 3 - The Description Of Conduct

Suta Gosvami said, Rising up and taking his son by the hand, the king took Hemakanta to a room upstairs in the palace where they always took council. In that room stood a golden Nrsingasana bedecked with many precious stones and inlaid with pearls and coral and shined like the palace of Indra. Father and son sat together on that throne and although there were only two of them, they appeared to be many, reflected in every gem. Concerned for his son and his family’s honor, the king spoke first about personal conduct and then the art of politics.


Somakanta said, One should rise three hours before dawn. Sitting in a clean place one should meditate on his guru. Then one should meditate upon Mother Earth and ask her to patiently accept the touch of thy feet upon her. Then having meditated upon one’s personal loving God, one should first offer prostrations and recite the following prayers.

“At sunrise I offer my humble supplication to Lord Gananatha, who is the cause of this manifestation, who awards boons to the demigods such as Brahma and others, who abounds in the Agamas, who awards the results of the activities of dharma, artha, and kama, who is the cause of liberation for the human race, who is beyond words, who is the beginning, and who has unlimited appearances.”

“At sunrise I offer my humble supplication to Lord Shiva, the husband of goddess Parvati, who carries the moon on his head, who is dresses in a tiger-skin, who is pitiless toward mind-born lust, who awards boons to Visnu and Indra, who is loved by the demigods and perfected beings, who carries the damaru drum and trident, who wears a garland of snakes, and who is Puru’s enemy.”

“At sunrise I offer my humble supplication to Lord Visnu, the husband of goddess Laksmi, who possesses great strength, who manifests unlimited incarnations for the protection of the divine souls, who dwells in the ocean of milk, who is the controller of the demigods, who is the Supreme Lord – dispeller of darkness, who defeats all of his enemies and is also the cause of their liberation.”

“At sunrise I offer my humble supplication to the Sun, Lord of Light, who removes sins, who removes darkness, who is praised by divine beings, who is the three Vedas, who by means of illusion expelled the enemies of the demigods, and who is the cause of spiritual knowledge.”

“At sunrise I offer my humble supplication to Goddess Parvati, daughter of the Himalayas, who creates prosperity, who saves those who are drowning in the ocean of material existence, who possesses three eyes, who is the cause of the creation of matter, who by means of illusion expelled the enemies of the demigods, who is illusion personified, who is praised by the great sages and demigods and who is known as Suresi.”

After one has meditated on other demigods and sages in the same way and worshipped them in one’s mind, he should pray to them for forbearance. Then taking a water-pot, one should walk in a southwesterly direction from the village. One should also take along clay (white for a Brahmin, red for a Ksatriya, and black for a Vaisya or Sudra). One should never take clay from a riverbank nor an anthill or from the house of a brahmin. After one has covered the ground with grass he should pass stool and urine whilst facing the north or south. Whether it is day or night, having first cleaned one’s behind with grass or soft wood, one should wash there five times with clay and water. Then immediately after, one should wash the left hand ten times and both hands seven times. The genitals should be washed once and left hand three more times. After one has passed only urine, both hands and feet should be washed twice. For a householder it is prescribed that this should be done at least one time, but for one who is practicing austerities – twice, and for a sanyasin – four times. For purification, (both day and night) a woman or a sudra should do at least one-eighth of the latter.

After sipping some water and taking a piece of wood from the milk or thorn tree, one should clean his teeth and tongue. And thus praying, “O Lord Krsna, please give me strength, power, glory, energy, cows, intelligence, wisdom and knowledge of Brahman.” Then having taken one’s bath in cool water, one should perform the samdya worship with prayers and benedictions for his immediate family. Then one should offer libations to the ancestors and demigods, and practice the recitation of the Vedas. Finally one should perform worship to one’s personal loving God. One should then offer food to the demigods, deities and guests under the guidance of the Brahmins. One should also listen to the recitation of the Puranas, give gifts in charity and avoid criticizing others. With loving words, energy and wealth, one should be very generous to others and never hurt anyone’s feelings or engage in self-praise. One should always be faithful and respectful towards one’s guru nor be offensive toward the Vedas. Nor should one engage in heresy or associate with irreligious people nor eat unclean foods like meat, fish or eggs or have sexual relations with a married woman. Nor should one avoid one’s wife, but approach her at the right time for sexual relations. One should always respect and act dutifully towards one’s mother and father, guru and the cows. One should give food and clothes to the weak, blind and poor. And most importantly, always be truthful in speech and honest in all of one’s dealings.

Those who are virtuous enjoy the king’s favor but those who are not are to be punished according to the Dharma Sastras but only after consulting with those learned in politics and the law. One should never have confidence in those who do not inspire the same. But do not have excessive confidence in those who are overly confident, if one wants to survive. And especially do not be confident in those who are overly confident and who are violent also.

By ruling the kingdom through the principles of the Dharma Satras, one should create prosperity for all. Give in charity according to one’s capacity, otherwise you will become weak minded. When there is confusion, always choose the right path. The king alone shall mete out punishment. He should always be represented honestly through ambassadors and be of handsome appearance.

Only through fear of punishment do ordinary people adhere to their own duties. Otherwise how would they discern the difference between right or wrong. In praise and blame one should remain equipoised. If in the past one has injured another or has lost his riches, yet now comes for refuge, he should always be afforded that. The advice of spies should be utilized for the protection of the kingdom. Having subdued the six enemies of the soul such as sensuous desires, he should strive to conquer the rest. An excellent king sees to the livelihood of everyone and not the deprivation of his subjects, the demigods, the parks or places of worship. To attain renown he should give gifts and charity during the recommended phases of the moon. He should not issue commands to his friends or divulge secrets amongst women. He should help cows stuck in the mud and release a Brahmin from debt. He should never tell a lie or abandon the truth. He must captivate the hearts of his ministers, subjects and dependents. And he should always pay homage to God and the Brahmins.

When he had taught his son, Hemakanta, everything about political conduct, as it is presented in the Vedas, in respect to its standard usage, which brings about peace, is very pleasing and directs the sciences, noticing that the hour was auspicious, the king summoned his ministers. They immediately gathered together many Brahmins from their homes who were expert in Vedic knowledge and skilled in sacrificial rites. Then the king invited other kings and queens, his own friends, the city chiefs and the citizens to witness the consecration of his own son, Hemakanta, the subduer of enemies. After the king worshipped Ganesha and Shiva, according to the rite, asked for his mother’s blessings and then performed the obligatory funerary ceremony. He then refreshed the Brahmins with fruit juice and completed his son’s consecration to the accompaniment of Vedic hymns. Somakanta then made the following statement to his three principal advisors.

The king said, Here is my son, ministers. Be prudent. My son is in your hands alone. Since those who are skilled in politics carry out my orders, so they too, including the chiefs of the cities, should obey his order.

Thus ends the third chapter of the Ganesha Purana Upasanakhanda called “The Description of Conduct”

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