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, ...


Many years ago, there used to be a king named Yajnadhvaja. He was born in the lunar dynasty.

The king was devoted to Vishnu. He got all of Vishnu’s temples cleaned regularly. He made sure that lamps were lit in the temples at night.

Yajnadhvaja also had a temple to Vishu built on the banks of the river Reva. There too, he made arrangements for the temple to be swept regularly. And he also made sure that lamps wre lit in the temple at night.

The king had a priest named Vitahotra.

Vitahotra once asked the king. “Please tell me what is so special about cleaning temples and lighting lamps in them at night. There are many other tasks that are regarded as being sacred to Vishu. Why do you devotee special attention to these two tasks?”

“Let me tell you my story,” replied Yajnadhvaja.

The king remembered the story because he was a jatismara.

Many years ago, in satya yuga, there was a brahmana named Raivata. The brahmana had studied the shastras well. Nevertheless, he acted as priest for people whom no brahmana should serve as priest. Raivata was also cruel and he traded in goods that no brahmana should touch. Because of these evil ways, the brahmana’s friends and relatives deserted him. Raivata had no opiton but to wander around from country to country. In a poor and diseased state, he finally died on the banks of the river Narmada.

Raivata’s wife was named Bandhumati. She too was evil and gave birth to a son named Dandaketu. This turned out to be a sinner. He oppressed brahmanas, stole other people’s property, drank wine and killed many living beings.

One night, Dandaketu happened to turn up at a temple of Vishu. He decided to spend the night there. To clean a place for him to sleep at night, Dandaketu swept part of the temple with his clothing. Although he did not realize it then, this act of piety pardoned many of his sins and gave hima lot of punya. The sinner then lit a lamp so that he could see better. And this additional act of piety pardoned all his ealier sins.

Meanwhile, the city-guards arrived at the temple. They took Dandaketu to be a thief and killed him. But since Dandaketu had now acquired such a lot of punya, a vimana descended and took him straight up to heaven. After spending some time there, he was born again as the king Yajnadhvaja.

Yajnadhvaja told Vitahotra, “Now yu realize the increditble amount of punya that I accumulated by sweepinga temple and lighting a lamp, there inadvertently. Can you imagine what the punya would be like if I did these things consciously? Thankfully, I am a jatismara and I remember the events tha ttranspired in my earlier life. No wonder then that I devote so much of attention to the cleaning of temples and to the lighting of lamps there. I am sure that your question is now answered.

Vitahotra marvelled at the story and became even more devoted to Vishnu.

If one wants to overcome the miseries of life, one has to pray to Vishnu. There is no other way. Great punya is also acquired by serving those who are devoted to Vishnu. If a person serves Vishnu’s devotees, twenty-one of his ancestral generations ascend to heaven. All the gods and Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, are ever-present in a house where Vishnu is worshipped. A house where the basil tree, sacred to Vishnu, is planted, is eternally blessed. Also blessed is a house where there is a shalagrama, Vishnu’s image.

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