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 house where Vishnu is not worshipped is like a cremation ground and a person who does not pray to Vishnu is like a dead body. Humans who do not worship Vishnu and do not revere the Vedas, brahmanas and cows are like rakshasa (demons). But devotion to Vishnu does not come automatically. It itself is earned through the punya of many lives. Even a little bit of devotion to Vishnu destroys the accumulated sins of many lives. This is irrespective of whether this devotion is conscious or not. Inadvertent prayers to Vishnu also confer on one the right to live in heaven.

In satya yuga there lived a hunter named Kanika. He was a robber and stole other people’s property. He oppressed others and killed hundreds of cows and brahmanas. He even stole objects from temples. So myriad were his sins that it would take millions of years to catalogue them all.

One day, the hunter went to the city of Soubira. There was a temple to Vishnu there and a number of golden pots adorned the top of the temple. Kanika was delighted to see these golden pots. He thought that he would be able to steal a lot of gold. Accordingly, he entered the premises of the temple at night.

A sage named Utanaka was sleeping in the courtyard of the temple. Kanika decided that the sage was an obstacle to his stealing the golden pots. He therefore placed his feet on the sage’s chest and prepared to behead him with a sword.

Utanka woke up. “Why are you trying to kill me?” he asked. “I have done you no harm. People only kill those who have done them some harm. It is a sin to punish those who have not committed any transgression. One might commit sins to feed one’s near and dear relatives. But the sins do not accrue to the accounts of the relatives; they are one’s own. Relatives are meaningless; they do not last beyond the earthly life. It is only the papa and the punya that are carried over beyond death.”

These words struck terror in Kanika’s heart. He begged forgiveness from the sage and became penitent.

“It is my great good fortune that I have met you,” he told the sage. “I am a sinner. What can I do to free myself? Where shall I seek refuge? To whom shall I pray? I must have committed many sins in my ealier life to have been born as a hunter in this life. But woe and alas, I have committed sins in this life as well. What is to become of me? For how many lives more must I suffer?”

So great was Kanika’s shame and mortification that he died on the spot. Taking pity on the poor hunter, the sage sprinkled some holy water on the dead body. The water was holy because it had been used to wash the feet of one of Vishnu’s images.

Wonder of wonders – as soon as the sanctified water was sprinkled on the dead body, all of Kanika’s sins were forgiven. A vimana descended to take him up to heaven.

Utanka ws thunderstuck to see this wonderful happening. He started to pray to Vishnu. And Vishnu appeared before the sage and granted him the boon that he would be rendered free of all wordly bonds.

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