The Narada Purana (abridged)

2010 | 18,115 words

The Narada Purana (Nārada Purāṇa) is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, a genre of Hindu religious texts. It deals with the places of pilgrimages and features a dialogue between the sage Narada, and Sanatkumara. During the course of the dialogue between the two, Narada explains to Sanatkumara the major places of piligrimages, their location, ...

A vrata is a religious rite performed on a special occasion. The Narada Purana next describes several such important vratas.

One such rite is known as ekadasi vrata, so called because it is performed ekadashi tithi (the eleventh day of the lunar fortnight). The rite is observed in the month of Agrahayana, during shuklapaksha. One has to stay up during the night and bathe a shalagrama image in the morning with milk. Sesamum seeds are to be offered to a fire and offerings of good are made to Vishnu and Lakshmi. Brahmanas have to be invited and fed and they are also given alms.

Similar rites are recommended on dvadashi tithi (the twelfth day of the lunar fortnight), during shuklapaksha and in the months of Pousha and Falguna. In fact, such rites can be oberved in all the months, on ekadashi tithi and dvadashi tithi. The observance of these vratas brings punya that is far in excess of any punya that can be obtained from the performance of famous yajnas.

There is another vrata which brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas, shudras and even women can observe. This is known a pournamasi vrata as it is performed on the day of the full moon (purnima). It can be observed in any month. Observance means praying to Vishnu and Lakshmi with a pure heart. Mantras should be chanted and the Puranas should be recited. Rice, sesamum seeds and clarified butter have to be offered to the fire. After these are over brahmanas have to be invited and fed. It is best if the rite is observed in all the months and the vrata comes to a close in the month of Kartika. That is an auspicious occasion for building a temple dedicated to Vishnu. Narayana is another name for Vishnu. Since one prays to Vishnu and Laksmi, this vrata is also known as lakshminarayana vrata.

A vrata named dhvajarohana is recommended for everyone, irrespective of whether he is man or woman and irrespective of what class he belongs to. A dhvaja is a flag and a flag is erected atop Vishnu’s temple in the course of this vrata. This begun on ekadashi tithi, during shuklapaksha and in the month of Kartika. Vishnu has to be worshipped first and four brahmanas have to be invited to act as priests. The sun, the moon and Garuda also have to be worshipped. Amongst the prescribed offerings are turmeric, long-rained rice and fragrant flowers. Besides this, one hundred and eight bowls of rice pudding and clarifed butter have to be offered to the fire. The flag can be erected either on the top of the temple or on the main gate. As long as the flag waves in the wind, the sins of the person who has erected the flag are forgiven.

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