The Padma Purana

by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 1,261,945 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291

This page describes the greatness of pitris which is chapter 10 of the English translation of the Padma Purana, one of the largest Mahapuranas, detailling ancient Indian society, traditions, geography, as well as religious pilgrimages (yatra) to sacred places (tirthas). This is the tenth chapter of the Srishti-khanda (section on creation) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

Disclaimer: These are translations of Sanskrit texts and are not necessarily approved by everyone associated with the traditions connected to these texts. Consult the source and original scripture in case of doubt.

Chapter 10 - The Greatness of Pitṛs

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Pulastya said:

1. I shall now explain the Ekoddiṣṭa (a śrāddha performed for one definite deceased individual, not including other ancestors) described by Brahmā formerly as to how the sons should perform it till the purification from personal defilement caused by the death of the father.

2. For a brāhmaṇa the defilement caused by the death is said to be for ten days; for a kṣatriya it is for twelve days, for a Vaiśya it is for a fortnight and for a Śudra it is for one month on the death of a Sapiṇḍa.

3. In the case of a child dying before the tonsure-ceremony is performed, the defilement (i.e. mourning period) is for a night only. Afterwards it is said to be three nights.

4. It should always be like this also at the time of birth in all castes. After the collection of bones (i.e. the ashes after burning a corpse) touching (one another’s) body is laid down.

5. One should give piṇḍas to the dead person for twelve days, that is said to be his provender since it gives him great joy.

6. Since the dead person is taken to the city of the dead at the end of twelve days, he sees (is able to see) his son and wife in the house for twelve days.

7. Therefore, for ten nights (and days) water removing the fatigue of journey should be offered in the sky for the cessation of all tormentation.

8. Then on the eleventh day a man should feed eleven brāhmaṇas; so also at the end of the defilement due to the birth of a child in the family.

9. In the same way, on the next day he should perform the Ekoddiṣṭa. Invocation or preparation of fire is not done there according to the procedure and may be without worship offered to gods.

10. (For it) only one Kuśa-ring, one object and one piṇḍa are laid down. First he should say ‘(Please) be near’, and then should offer water with sesamum.

11. He should say, ‘May it be well with (us)’ and should take interest in scattering (the food) and offering it.

12-14. With this procedure he should do all this month after month. On the second day after the defilement due to birth is over, he should present an unusual bed, so also a golden image along with fruits and cloth. Having worshipped a brāhmaṇa couple adorned with various ornaments and seating them on the bed he should make a respectful offering of honey mixed with curds and milk to the couple from a silver pot.

15. Taking a bone of the forehead, pounding it and mixing it, and with devotion to the manes, he should make the couple drink it.

16. This alone is the procedure as observed by the best brāhmaṇas living in the mountains. Due to it (i.e. the couple’s sitting upon it) the bed is defiled and so should not be accepted by best brāhmaṇas.

17. If it is accepted it again requires sanctification—(such) a bed is condemned everywhere in the Veda and the Purāṇa.

18-20. Those who accept it all go to hell. Those who unknowingly touch (such) a bed woven with excellent texture and used by a couple go to hell. One should enjoy by means of a new Śrāddha, and after having enjoyed should practise the Cāndrāyaṇa vow. Sons should always perform it out of their devotion for the dead ancestors. One should present a bull (to a brāhmaṇa) or an auspicious tawny cow should be presented.

21-23. O prince, till one year is over, he should give a jar of water along with eatables. Then when the year is complete there should be Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa preceded by water with sesamum. After the Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa, since the dead person becomes the enjoyer of the Śrāddhas offered on the parvan, a householder should have Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa in rites preceded by the Vṛddhi (Śrāddha). One should perform the Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa Śrāddha after the rite in honour of gods.

24. In it (i.e., this Śrāddha) he should invite the dead ancestors and should indicate the dead person separately. He should keep (ready) four pots with sandal, water and sesamum for respectful offering.

25-26. He should sprinkle the pot for the dead person kept among the pots meant for the manes. Similarly, being solely devoted to the manes and having prepared four piṇḍas for the dead, with the two incantations ‘Ye samānā' he should divide the piṇḍas into three parts. And with this procedure he should offer them preceded by the respectful offering (of water etc.).

27. Then the fourth one that attained the status of manes obtains immortality among the Agniṣvāttas etc.

28. After the Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa, a separate offering is not to be made to him. The piṇḍa should be offered to him who has (now) settled among the dead ancestors.

29. Since then on Saṃkrānti or on the days of solar and lunar eclipse, he should perform the Tripiṇḍa Śrāddha with the Ekoddiṣṭa.

30. On the day of the death anniversy [anniversary?] of a person one who moves without the Ekoddiṣṭa harms the gods and manes and also his brothers.

31. If a man performs a pārvaṇa (a general ceremony of offering oblations to all the manes) on the day of the death of a person, he has a downward fall, from which the dead person may get release if he gets contact with the course to heaven.

32. Then the knower of the procedure and giver of the Śrāddha should perform the Āma-śrāddha. With that he should make the offering and offer the piṇḍas into fire.

33. When with three piṇḍas he performs sapiṇḍīkaraṇa, then after one month or three months, the person to whom the Śrāddha is offered becomes free from bondage.

34. Even a free soul gets a share in the offerings by sprinkling with a Kuśa blade. The dead ancestors beginning from the fourth are lepa-bhāja, and the first three share the piṇḍas.

35. The offerer of the piṇḍa is the seventh among them and the seven are called sapiṇḍas.

Bhīṣma said:

36. In this world how should people make offerings to gods and deceased persons? Who generally accept these in the world of manes? With which (signs) arc they enumerated? If on the earth a brāhmaṇa is fed or if offering is made into fire how is it that the dead with good and bad minds enjoy that food?

Pulastya said:

37. The fathers are of the form of Vasu; and the grandfathers are Rudra. Similarly, the great-grandfathers are Āditya. So says Vedic text.

38. The (mention of) the name and family of the manes takes to them the offerings meant for divinities and manes.

39. One should devoutly understand the truth about the Śrāddha offered with incantations. The Agniṣvāttas and others are kept as their chiefs.

40. The names and families also of those to be born are controlled by them. This worship when accomplished pleases beings.

41. If the father or the mother or an elderly person is in the heaven due to good deeds, their food (i.e. food offered) becoming nectar goes to them even in their godhead.

42. It takes the form of a repast if they have became (i.e. are born as) demons, and turns into grass if they have become (i.e. are born as) beasts.

43. The food offered at a Śrāddha stands by them by becoming air (even) if they have become (i.e. born as) serpents. It turns into a drink if they have become (i.e. born as) Yakṣas and becomes flesh if they have turned into fiends; similarly it becomes a drink if they are demons and becomes blood like water if they have become ghosts.

44-45. If they are born as human beings it turns into food and drink; it is (thus enjoyed) in many ways by the enjoyers. The flower of Śrāddha is said to be sexual power in a lady and the husband’s ability to feed others. It is the power accompanied by prosperity; it is to give handsomeness, and health; and the fruit is union with Brahman.

46. O King, when the hosts of the manes are pleased they grant (long) life, sons, wealth, knowledge, heaven, final release and pleasures and kingdom also.

47. It is heard that Kauśika’s sons after having five existences reached the highest place, viz. that of Brahman.

Bhīṣma said:

48. How did the sons of Kauśika obtain the best union (with Brahman) after having five existences? How does the destruction of (the bondage due to one’s) deeds come about?

Pulastya said:

49. In Kurukṣetra there was a great high-souled sage Kauśika by name. Listen to the names and deeds of his sons from me (i.e. as I tell you):

50. Svasṛpa, Krodhana, Hiṃsra, Piśuna, Kavi, Vāgduṣṭa, and Pitṛvartin. They were then the disciples of Garga

51. When their father died, they had to face a great famine; there was also drought causing great fear to all the world.

52. Those (Kauśika-sons), whose wealth was their penance, protected in the forest, (Garga’s) milch-cow by his order. ‘We are very much oppressed by hunger, (so) we shall eat up this tawny cow’.

53. When they were conceiving this sinful idea, the youngest brother said: “If she must be killed, then utilize her for a Śrāddha. When she will be utilized for a Śrāddha, our sin will certainly perish”.

54. When Pitṛvartin was permitted by his brothers with the words ‘Do so’ he, being concentrated, performed the Śrāddha by utilising her.

55. He employed, in (due) order two brothers (to receive offerings made to) gods, three (to receive offerings made to) manes, employed one as the guest and himself became the performer of the Śrāddha.

56. Being devoted to his dead ancestors, he performed the Śrāddha with (the recital of) the sacred texts.

57. Then they free from fear, went (to their teacher) and told him: “(Your) cow was killed by a tiger; (please) take back this calf”.

58. In this way the seven ascetics fearless due to their depending upon Vedic power in (doing) the cruel deed, had consumed the cow.

59. Then after having died in (due course of) time, they were born in Daśapura. Transformed into the state of manes, they remembered their (former) existence.

60-61. Then understanding the true character of asceticism and giving up life religiously not being seen by people, dying near a sacred place, they were born as deer on the Kālañjara mountain. Having secured, through knowledge, contemplation of the Supreme Spirit, they gave up those bodies also.

62. With indifference to world produced in their minds they died by falling (from the mountain). The seven ascetics were born as Cakravāka (birds) in the Mānasa lake.

63-64. By name and by deeds they were: Sumanas, Kusuma, Vasu, Cittadarśī, Sudarśī, Jñātā and Jñānapāraga. They loved the eldest brother and (all) the seven were holy due to control of mind. Out of them three of unsteady minds had swerved from the path of yoga.

65-69. Then one of the aquatic birds—brāhmaṇa Pitṛvartin, devoted to manes who performed the Śrāddha, seeing the bright, strong and brave king Aṇuha of the Pañcāla family accompanied by ladies, sporting with various enjoyments, having a large army and vehicles, desired the kingdom (i.e. to be the king). Seeing (Aṇuha’s) two ministers, the other two best brāhmaṇas desired to be his ministers. One of them became Aṇuha’s son (who came to be) known as Brahmadatta. The minister’s sons also came to be known as Puṇḍarīka and Subālaka. Brahmadatta was consecrated in the excellent city of Kāmpilya as the Pañcāla King.

70. He was devoted to his dead anecstors and performed Śrāddha, knew (the path of) Yoga (contemplation of the Supreme Spirit) and read the minds (of others).

71. His wife, the queen, was the daughter of Vāsudeva. She was well known as Sannati and was the same tawny cow (in the former existence).

72. Being engaged in deeds relating to manes she became the expounder of the Vedas. The king ruled over the kingdom with her.

73. Once he went to a garden with her, and (there) he saw a couple of insects (ants) engaged in love-quarrel.

74. The he-ant with his body tormented with sex love said in a faltering tone to the she-ant in front of him and with her face hung down:

75-76. “Nowhere in the world there is a loving female like

you, slender in the waist, of large hips, of expansive breasts, of an excellent gait, having a golden complexion, of a charming face and sweet smile; your face is sweet like jaggery and sugar.

77. You eat after I do and bathe after I bathe. You are distressed when I go on a journey and you are uneasy with fear when I am angry.

78. Why is that, O auspicious one, you always remain with your face hung down?” She with blazing anger said: “What are you speaking?

79. You ate the powder of the modakas without me. Being passionate you gave it to someone else”.

The he-ant said:

80-81. O you of excellent complexion, due to similarity with you I gave it to other ant; O you beautiful lady, please forgive (this) one fault of mine; O you of charming breasts, I shall not do so again; give up your anger. Verily I touch your feet (i.e. I salute you), please be pleased with me.

82. O you of beautiful hips, when you are angry, death would stand before me; O you of charming thighs, when you are pleased, all my desires are fulfilled.

83. O you of beautiful buttocks, drink (i.e. kiss) fully the face of me who am always passionate like the full moon and resembling nectar in taste.

84. Granting this, O you auspicious one, you should always show favour to me.

Hearing these words she then became pleased.

85. The she-ant offered herself to the fascinating one. Brahmadatta too, conversant with the sounds of all animals due to the efficacy of the deeds (in his) former (existence) knowing all that, smiled in amazement.

Bhīṣma said:

86. How did king Brahmadatta know the (meaning of the) sounds of all (animals)?

87. Where did the group of the four Cakravākas live? O omniscient one, tell me all that and (tell me) in which family that (group) of good vows was (born)?

Pulastya said:

88. O king, the Cakravākas were born in the same city as the sons of an old brāhmaṇa and all they—the wise brāhmaṇas—remembered their (former) birth.

89. They were the sons of a brāhmaṇa named Sudaridra,

90. Their names and deeds befitted them: Dhṛtimān, Tattvadarśī, Vidyāvarṇa and Tapodhika. The brāhmaṇas had a mind to practise penance.

91-93. The best brāhmaṇas said: “We shall attain great superhuman power”. Hearing these words of them, Sudaridra, a great ascetic, said with piteous words: “What is this, O sons?” He said to them “O sons, this is a failure in your duty; forsaking your old father, living in a forest, what merit, what scope will you have by doing this?”

94-98. They said: “O father, we have arranged for your subsistance; listen to our words. The King (here) maintains an old vow. He will give much wealth, a thousand villages to you who (should) tell him in the morning, ‘Those who were brāhmaṇas in Kurukṣetra, who were hunters in Daśapura, they became deer on the Kālañjara (mountain) and Crkravākas [Cakravākas?] in the Mānasa (lake)’. Speaking thus to the father they went to the forest for (practising) penance. O King, that old (brāhmaṇa) too, went to secure his object. Formerly, Vaibhrāja, named Aṇuha, the lord of Pañcāla, desiring a son, engaged in severe penance, propitiated eternal Brahmā, the lord of lords.

99. Then after a long time Brahmā was pleased with him (and said to him); “Well-being to you; choose a boon—the desire of your heart”.

Aṇuha said:

100-102. O lord of gods, give me a son of great strength and valour, master of all lores, religious, and best among the devotees. Give me a son, a devotee and one who would know (the meaning of) the sounds of all beings.

The lord, the universal soul, said to him: “Let it be so,” and disappeared there only when all the beings were seeing (i.e. in the presence of all beings). Then he had that brave son, Brahmadatta.

103. (He was) compassionate to all beings, and was more powerful than all of them; he knew (the meaning of) the sounds of all beings and was the lord of lords of all beings.

104. Due to his inherent power, he, naturally disposed to concentration of mind, came to the he-ant to that place where the couple of the sporting ants had remained.

105. Then that Sannati, seeing him smiling and very much amazed, suspecting something, asked the king:

Sannati said:

106. O King, why this untimely smile? I do not know the reason for which you have smiled untimely.

107-108. The prince told her the words of the ant. “O you of excellent face, this sympathetic smile has sprung up from great interest; O you of bright smile, there is no other reason for my smile”. The queen did not agree with him, She said: “You are telling a lie.

109. You laughed at me only. Now I won’t live with you. How can a mortal, who is not a god, understand the talk of ants?

110. Therefore, today you laughed at me only. What else (can be said)?”

111. The king, unable to answer, desiring to know (seek) Hara’s advice observed, remaining pure, his (Hara’s) vow for seven nights. Brahmā while wandering in the city in the morning, said to him at the end of his (King’s) dream:

112-113. “Your beloved will learn every word from the best of brāhmaṇas.” Saying so, Brahmā disappeared. In the morning the king moving out of the city with his minisrers and wife saw the old brāhmaṇa, saying (something) and coming before (i.e. towards) him.

114. The brāhmaṇa said: “Those sages who were the chief brāhmaṇas in Kurujāṅgala, fishermen in Daśapura, and deer in Kālañjara mountain and the seven Cakravākas in the Mānasa lake, they are living here”.

115. Hearing these words of him, he fell down with grief and recollected his (past) birth; the minister's two sons also (remembered their past birth).

116. That boy Bābhravya who knew all sciences, came to be known as Pañcāla in the worlds and was the expounder of the science of love.

117. Pious Puṇḍarīka too, the founder of the science of Veda, recollected his former birth and through grief fell before them in the same way.

118. ‘Oh! Due to passion, we had, due to the bondage of our actions, fallen from our (proper) deeds’.

119. The three, well-versed in Yoga, having thus lamented again and again, repeatedly praised with wonder the greatness of Śrāddha.

120. The king, then having given (the old brāhmaṇa) wealth with many villages and having dismissed him, full of joy, due to (having received) wealth, consecrated on the throne his son, Viṣvaksena by name and endowed with kingly qualities.

121-123a. Then all the best ascetics, Brahmadatta and others, devoted to their parents and free from hatred, went to the water of the Mānasa lake. Sannati too, was glad saying “O King, I pointed out to you all this and the fruit of abstract meditation—that is seen”.

123b. Then (in the sequel) praising her the king said:

124. “It is so; through your favour I have obtained all this fruit.”

125. Then all these residents of forest, contemplating on the Supreme Spirit, obtained, by the strength of their penance, the highest place through the aperture in the crown of the head.

126. Thus the ancestors, when pleased, give men (long) life, wealth, knowledge, heaven, final release and pleasure, and also son and kingdom.

127. O king, one who reads out to brāhmaṇas or listens to or reads this Pitṛ-māhātmya (greatness of the ancestors) of Brahmadatta, is honoured in heaven for a full hundred crores of Kalpas (Kalpa=432 million years of mortals).

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