The Padma Purana

by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291

This page describes conversation of the seven sages which is chapter 19 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 nineteenth 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.

Chapter 19 - Conversation of the Seven Sages

Bhīṣma said:

1-6. I have heard the excellent (account of) the greatness of Puṣkara and Nandā. I have heard all that, viz. that a crore of sages came there and all became handsome on seeing the (reflections of their) faces in (the water of) Puṣkara. Tell me how they divided the portions of land. How did the magnanimous ones divide the sacred place? How did they fashion the other holy hermitages also? Viṣṇu first stepped on the sacrificial mountain. Then serpents of great (i.e. severe) poison fashioned a holy place there. Who first fashioned the well for the offering of balls of rice to the manes? How did Gaṅgā-Sarasvatī, going underground, flow towards the north? (Please) tell me how the brāhmaṇas well-versed in the Vedas should undertake the pilgrimage of the triad of Puṣkara and what fruit accrues from it.

Pulastya spoke:

7-10. You have got ready with a great burden (i.e. volley) of questions. So please listen with a concentrated mind to the great fruit of (a visit to) a sacred place. He whose hands and feet and mind are well-controlled, and who has knowledge, penance and fame (to his credit) gets the fruit of (a visit to) a holy place. He who keeps himself away from accepting a donation, is content with whatever he gets and is free from egotism gets the fruit of (a visit to) a holy place. O lord of kings, he who is free from anger, is of a truthful disposition and of a firm vow, who looks upon other beings as himself obtains the fruit of (a visit to) a holy place.

11-12. This is a great secret of the sages, O best of Bharatas. Formerly at (the time of) Brahmā’s sacrifice a crore of sages with severe penance came there and seeing (the reflections of their own) faces lived at Jyeṣṭha Puṣkara.

13-14. Having become extremely handsome the best sages overcome with great joy and desirous of seeing (the deities), having measured with the sacred thread that land in the four directions and thus having divided it into the various sacred places, lived there with great devotion.

15. The grandsire being pleased with them lived near them having made their division of (i.e. having divided) the crore and seeing the (land measured by) the wise ones (said to them):

16-18. “From today your merit will enhance. A man, who having come here, first bathes his body in the water (here) for (obtaining) handsomeness, will have undoubtedly turned this place into a holy place (with its effect spreading over) a circle (i.e. radius) of the length (i.e. measure) of a Yojana (a measure of eight or nine miles). Its breadth is half a Yojana and length is a Yojana and a half: this is the measure of the holy place that is introduced by the crore of sages.”

19. By merely going to Puṣkara a man obtains the fruit of Rājasūya and Aśvamedha sacrifices, O lord of kings.

20-26a. The very holy Sarasvatī has entered Jyeṣṭha Puṣkara. On the fourteenth day in the first half of Caitra, O lord of kings, gods like Brahmā, sages, divine beings with special faculties and divine singers go there. A man, who, engrossed in worshipping gods and manes, bathes there, obtains the (fruit of) having offered a cow. Those sages have thus made the (various) divisions of the holy place. Having satiated the gods and manes a man is honoured in Viṣṇu’s world. Having bathed there a man becomes spotless like the moon; he obtains Brahmā’s world and gets the highest position. The holy place named Puṣkara in the world of men is well-known in the three worlds as the destroyer of great sins. The thousands of crores of holy places reside in Puṣkara for (all) the three times (of the day), O you scion of the (Kuru) family.

26b-29a. O lord, Ādityas, Vasus, Rudras, Sādhyas with the hosts of Maruts, Gandharvas and celestial nymphs are always present there; where (i.e. at this holy place) gods, demons, brahmanic sages having practised penance got united with the divine and were endowed with great religious merit. All the sins of a person even desiring (to visit) Puṣkara are purified (and) he enjoys at the top of heaven.

29b-31 a. Brahmā, liked by gods and demons and being very much delighted, always lived at the holy place. O great king, gods along with sages obtained great well-being and were endowed with great religious merit.

31b-33. The wise say that one, who, engaged in worshipping manes and gods, bathes there (gets) religious merit (which is) ten times more than (the one obtained by) a horse-sacrifice. If a person living in Puṣkara-forest feeds even one brāhmaṇa, by that food a crore (of) brāhmaṇas are worshipped and well-pleased. By that act he becomes happy here (i.e. in this world) and after death (i.e. in heaven).

34-41a. A person, who himself lives on vegetables or roots or any other (eatable), should, being free from jealousy, and with faith, offer the same to a brāhmaṇa. O best king, by (offering vegetables etc. to a brāhmaṇa) a man—whether he is a brāhmaṇa, or a kṣatriya or a vaiśya or a śūdra—gets the fruit of a horse sacrifice. The lake by name Puṣkara, belonging to the grandsire, gives religious merit to anchorites, siddhas and sages; from which (holy place) most auspicious Sarasvatī went to the great ocean; where (again) the first god, the great ascetic, killer of Madhu (i.e. Viṣṇu) lives who is known as Ādivarāha (the first boar) and was worshipped by gods. Even those magnanimous ones who belong to the low castes go to the holy place of the grandsire (i.e. Puṣkara), and who bathe in it do not get an ignominious birth. We have heard that he who goes to Puṣkara especially on the full-moon day of Kārtika gets there an inexhaustible fruit. He who with his hands joined in reverance recollects the holy place (called) Puṣkara in the morning and evening, has (i.e. may be said to have) bathed in all holy places.

41b-46a. Whatever may be the sin of a man or a woman all that perishes merely by having a bath in Puṣkara. As the grandsire (i.e. Brahmā) is said to be best among gods, in the same way Puṣkara-tīrtha is said to be the first among the holy places. He, who, being restrained and pure, considering this, lives for ten years at Puṣkara, gets the (merit of) all sacrifices and goes to the world ofBrahmā. One who maintains the sacred fire for a hundred years or one who lives at Puṣkara on (just) one full-moon day of Kārtika—(the religious merit of bath) is the same. Performing a sacrifice at Puṣkara is difficult. Practice of penance at Puṣkara is difficult. To give a gift at Puṣkara is difficult. So also residence at Puṣkara is difficult.

46b-49a. A brāhmaṇa, well-versed in the Vedas visiting Puṣkara and bathing there attains salvation and by offering a Śrāddha becomes the saviour of his manes. (If) a brāhmaṇa in name only goes to Puṣkara and offers Sandhyā[1], (it may be said that) he has offered Sandhyā for twelve years. There is no doubt in this (for) Brahmā himself has formerly said so. The defect mentioned by Sāvitrī is not produced in his family.

49b-53. A wife who offers, with a copper water-pot, water to her husband who offers Sandhyā, being released (from the cycle of birth and death) goes to heaven. Reaching the world of Brahmā she stays there for (an entire) day of Brahmā. One, who all alone goes (to Puṣkara), performs Sandhyā in due order with the water of Puṣkara put in a pitcher, has also performed Sandhyā for twelve years. There is no doubt about this. While he is making oblations to his manes his wife should be by his side. O best of kings, by him resorting to the southern direction the manes are satisfied for twelve years.

54-56a. With (the muttering of) Gāyatrī prayer, with (i.e. by offering) a ball of rice the manes are satisfied for a thousand yugas; and with (i.e. by offering) a śrāddha they get eternity. For this (i.e. śrāddha etc.) a man marries. Those (who say): going to the sacred place we shall offer the balls of rice with faith, obtain sons, wealth, grains and uninterrupted lineage. There is no doubt about this. This is what the grandsire said.

56b-60a. One would get (i.e. one gets) the fruit of the Agniṣṭoma sacrifice by satisfying manes and gods. O king, I shall also describe to you the hermitages; listen with a concentrated mind. Agastya has put up here a hermitage liked by the gods, of the seven sages, the brahmanic sages; so also the great hermitage of Manus. The beautiful city of the Nāgas is (situated) on the mountain-slope. O great king, I shall tell you in brief (about) the prowess of Agastya of immeasurable vitality; listen quite attentively.

60b-62. O Bhīṣma, formerly in the Kṛta-yuga there were very fearful demons, known as the Kāleya hosts, who were maddened with fighting. Resorting to Vṛtra they were eager to defeat gods. Then gods, being dejected, waited upon Brahmā. The highest lord, seeing all of them (waiting upon him) with the palms of their hands joined, said (to them):

63-65. “O gods, I have understood what you desire to be done. I shall tell you a stratagem (adopting) which you will kill Vṛtra. There is a generous-minded great and well known sage by name Dadhīci. All of you going together to him ask for a boon. He, of a righteous mind will grant it very gladly. All of you desiring victory should thus speak to him:

66-68. ‘Desiring the good of the three worlds (please) give (us) your bones.’ Casting his body he will give (you) his bones. With his bones fashion a very terrible great destructive weapon like the thunderbolt. That great divine missile, capable of killing the enemy is called Aśani. With that thunderbolt Indra will kill Vṛtra. All this I have explained to you; do all that (as explained).”

69-76. Then the gods, being thus addressed (by Brahmā), sought his leave and led by Indra went to Dadhīci’s hermitage. It was on the other bank of Sarasvatī; it was covered with various trees and creepers, resounding with the hummings of the bees like the sounds of the Sāma-singers; resounding with the notes of the cakora-birds[2] mixed with the notes of the male cuckoos; it was resounding with the cries of buffalos, boars, sṛmara and camara[3] deer, free from the fear of tigers and roaming at various places (in it); so also with trumpetings of female and male elephants in rut and resounding with the cries (of) the sporting lions and great tigers roaring loudly; so also it was resounding with the cries of peacocks secretly dwelling in various dens and caves. (Gods) came to Dadhīci’s hermitage well-known like heaven. There they saw that Dadhīci having lustre like that of the sun shining with his body like the four-armed (Viṣṇu) with Lakṣmī. Having saluted and paid homage to his feet, all gods asked him for a boon as they were told by Brahmā.

77. Then that very well-known Dadhīci spoke thus to the best gods: “O gods, I shall do whatever is beneficial to you; I shall even cast my body.”

78-81. Speaking thus to them, he, the greatest among the bipeds (i.e. human beings), abandoned his life. Those gods, along with Indra, took his bones to use them as required; and the gods, with their appearances pleasing in view of the victory, finding (i.e. going to) Tvaṣṭṛ told him (their) desire. Tvaṣṭṛ too, hearing their words, pleased in appearance and self-restrained, carefully fashioned the very powerful thunderbolt; and being delighted (on) having fashioned that missile said to (Indra): “O god, today reduce to ashes, with this excellent missile, that fearful enemy of gods (i.e. Vṛtra). Then with your enemies killed, you, remaining in the heaven along with the group of your attendants (the gods) happily rule over the three worlds.” Thus addresed by Tvaṣṭṛ Indra, who was delighted and self-restrained, took that thunderbolt.

82-83. Then he, provided with the thunderbolt, and adored by gods, found out Vṛtra who had remained by covering the heaven and the earth, who was all around protected by Kālakeyas[4] of big bodies and with their weapons ready and (looking) like mountains with their peaks.

84. Then O best of Bharatas, a great war, causing fear to the world, of the gods with the demons took place for a while.

85-86. A clanging noise of the swords repulsed by the raised arms of the heroes, was produced (there;) O king, with the bodies pierced, and the heads falling from the sky, the earth appeared to be covered by tāla-trees.

87. The Kāleyas, putting on golden armours, having (iron) beams as their weapons, and, looking like trees burnt by wild fire attacked the gods.

88. (The gods) could not put up with the force of them (i.e. of the Kāleyas) who were together forcibly rushing (to the gods); being defeated they (i.e. the gods) fled through fear.

89. Seeing them frightened and fleeing, and seeing Vṛtra strengthened, the thousand-eyed Indra became very much dejected.

90. Seeing that Indra (thus) overcome with dejection eternal Viṣṇu put his own lustre into Indra and increased his power.

91. The hosts of gods and all the pure brahmanic sages, seeing Indra (thus) strengthened by Viṣṇu, mustered strength.

92. Indra, who was (thus) strengthened by Viṣṇu along with gods and illustrious sages, became powerful.

93. Coming to know that the lord ofgods (i.e. Indra) had become powerful Vṛtra cried very loudly. Due to his shouting, everything—earth, quarters, the sky, heaven, mountains—shook (up).

94. Then that great Indra, who was very much agitated, sank with fear on hearing that fearful, great shouting and quickly discharged his thunderbolt on his head.

95. He, who had put on golden flowers, struck by Indra’s thunderbolt, fell down with a great sound in front (of Indra), like a very great mountain along with Mandara, released from Viṣṇu’s hand.

96. When that greatest demon was killed, Indra, struck by fear, ran to enter a lake. He thought that the thunderbolt had slipped from his hand due to Vṛtra’s fear, and did not notice Vṛtra (who was) killed by him.

97. All the gods along with the sages were happy and delighted and praised him (i.e. Indra); and the gods, agitated due to Vṛtra’s murder, together quickly killed the remaining demons.

98-100. Being killed at that time by the gods, the great demons, with speed like that of the wind, and struck by fear, entered the vast ocean full of large fish and gems, and together held consultations. There some of them of a firm mind conceiving various remedies, and distressed with fear and tormented by the groups of gods, decided to destroy the three worlds. Due to their (imminent) contact with destructive death, they who were thinking there, had a terrible idea.

101-102. (They said:) “Those who are endowed with learning and penance should be destroyed (i.e. killed) first; and as all the worlds are sustained by penance, make hurry to destroy penance. Quickly murder those on the earth who are ascetics, well-versed in piety and wise; (for) when they are destroyed the world will be destroyed.”

103-106. Thus all of them with their understanding and disposition lost, became very much delighted at (the idea of) the destruction of the world. They resorted to the inaccessible treasure of gems (i.e. the ocean) of great waves and the abode of Varuṇa. (Thus) having obtained (as their resort) the ocean, the treasure of water and (the abode of) Varuṇa, the Kāleyas became busy in the destruction of the three worlds. They who were very angry, devoured, at night, the sages that lived in the hermitages and auspicious abodes. They ate up one hundred and eighty-eight brāhmaṇas in Vasiṣṭha’s hermitage and also others practising penance in the forest.

107-110. Having gone to Cyavana’s holy hermitage inhabited by brāhmaṇas, they ate up a hundred sages subsisting on fruits and roots. Doing such (things) at night, they entered the ocean in the day. Having gone to Bharadvāja’s hermitage, they killed twenty restrained celibates subsisting on air and water. In this manner the powerful demons, due to the might of their arms, rushed at night to devour the sages.

111-122. During a long period they killed many hosts of sages; and, O lord of men, men did not recognise them. The world distressed with the fear of the Kāleyas was without any sacred study, exclamation of Vaṣaṭ or sacrifices, festivals and (other sacred) rites and (therefore) without any exertion. O lord of men, men being thus destroyed, being frightened, and intent upon their own protection, ran into the ten directions. Some entered the caves, while others were scattered (i.e. ran here and there); some others, distressed with fear, gave up their life through fear. Certain very proud, brave, great archers strove hard to find out the demons; but they could not pursue them who had entered the ocean. They did not get much peace, and returned home. When there was (thus) slaughter in the world and when sacrifices, festivals and sacred rites were no more (observed), O lord of men, the gods, very much dejected, came back through fear to the unconquered Viṣṇu after having gathered together; and led by Viṣṇu, they held consultations. Then the gods who had gathered (there) said to Viṣṇu: “O lord of the world, you are our creator, protector and commander; you have created all this world—that which moves and that which does not move. O you lotus-eyed one, formerly, assuming the boar’s form you took up (i.e. out) the earth that had disappeared (i.e. sunk into the ocean) for (the good of) the world. O you best of men, taking up the body (i.e. form) of Narasiṃha, you formerly killed the very mighty and foremost demon Hiraṇyakaśipu. Assuming the form of Vāmana, you threw out from the three worlds, the great demon Bali, who could not be killed by any being.

123-130. The gods killed the cruel demon Jambha[5] who was a great archer and caused disturbance in sacrifices. Such deeds, which are innumerable (were done by you). O killer of Madhu, you are the recourse of us who are very much frightened; therefore, O god, lord of gods, we are requesting you to (save) the world. Protect the worlds and Indra too, from great fear. The beings of the four kinds act by your favour. Men are happy and the residents of heaven are happy because of the oblations offered to gods and manes. Thus people, depending upon one another and unexcited due to your favour and protected by you alone, act; and this very great fear has now come to the worlds; we do not know by whom the brāhmaṇas are killed at night; when the brāhmal)as are weakened, the world will perish. O you of mighty arms, O lord of the universe, due to your favour let not all the worlds, protected by you alone, perish.”

Viṣṇu said:

131-134. O gods, I know the entire cause of the destruction of the beings; and I shall tell (it) to you; being free from distress listen (to me). The very terrible groups (of demons) called Kālakeya, seeing Vṛtra killed by the intelligent Indra, (trying) to protect their life, entered the ocean. They entered the fearful ocean full of alligators, (and) at night killed the sages for the destruction of the world. As they are hidden (i.e. as they hide themselves) within the ocean, they cannot be destroyed. You should (therefore) think of destroying the ocean.

135. Hearing these words uttered by Viṣṇu and having met Brahmā, the gods went to Agastya’s hermitage.

136. There they saw the magnanimous Agastya, of a blazing lustre and waited upon by the sages as the grandsire by gods.

137. Having gone to the noble, excellent, careful Agastya, the heap of penance due to his having done the deeds assigned to him, the gods said:

138. “Formerly you were the refuge of the worlds tormented by Nahuṣa. For the (good of the) people you deprived him, the thorn (i.e. troublesome) to the worlds, of the throne.

139. Due to his being angry with the Sun, the best mountain viz. Vindhya grew (in height); but not transgressing your words (i.e. obeying your order) he does not grow now.

140-141. As the world is covered with darkness, and the beings are afflicted with (the fear of) death, we, having come to you, the protector, are very happy. You are always the refuge of us who are very much afraid. Therefore, because you are the giver of boons, we shall today seek a boon from you.”

Bhīṣma said:

142. O great sage, I wish to hear in detail why all of a sudden Vindhya was filled with anger and why he grew (in height).

Pulastya said:

143. At the time of rising and setting, the Sun went round the great golden mountain Meru, the lord of mountains.

144-146. Seeing the Sun like that (i.e. going round Meru) the Vindhya mountain said to him: “As you go to the mountain Meru everyday and go round him, you should do the same to (i.e. go round) me (also).” Thus addressed, the Sun replied to the lord of mountains: “I am not going round the (Meru) mountain by my desire. This path is ordained for me by Him who created this world.”

147. O you who torment the enemies, the (Vindhya) mountain who was thus told (by the Sun), being angry and desiring to block the path of the Sun and the Moon suddenly grew (in height).

148. Then all gods gathering together with Indra (and) coming to the lord of mountains warded (i.e. tried to ward) off the growing (mountain), but he did not do what they told him.

149. All those gods together went to the respectable sage Agastya residing in his hermitage and best among those possessing penance and piety, and having glowing power.

The gods said:

150-151. O best sage, this lord of mountains, Vindhya, being under the influence of anger, blocks the path of the Sun, the Moon and the Constellations. None else (except you) is able to ward him off.

Having heard these words of the gods, he went to the mountain.

152-154a. Having gone to Vindhya, he said to him who stood by him with respect: “O best of mountains, I desire that a passage be given (to me) by you; for some work I am going to the southern direction; (please) wait till I come back. O lord of mountains, after I return you may grow as you like.”

Pulastya said:

154b-157. (Even till) today, Agastya has not returned from the southern region. You asked me and I have told you why Vindhya does not grow due to the prowess of Agastya. Now, O king, listen to me. I will tell you how all the gods, after going to the door of (the hermitage of) Agastya, killed the Kāleyas. Having heard the words of gods, Agastya said to them: “For what purpose have you come (to me)? What boon do you desire from me?.”

158-159. Thus addressed by him at that time, the gods said to the sage: “We desire (to have) a wonderful boon (from you). O divine sage, O high-souled one, drink (up) the ocean. O great sage, we thus desire the great ocean to be fully drunk by you. Then we shall kill the army of god’s enemies, called Kāle-yas, along with their descendants.”

160. Hearing the words of the gods, the sage said: “All right. I shall fulfil your desire which would cause happiness to the worlds.”

161. O you of good vow, saying this he then went, along with the sages mature in penance, and gods, to the ocean, the abode of water.

162-165. Men, serpents, Gandharvas, Yakṣas and Kimpuruṣas (beings with human heads and forms of horses) desiring to see that wonder went after the noble sage. Then with them he saw the ocean roaring fearfully, as it were dancing with waves and leaping with the wind, as it were laughing with the heaps of foam and tumbling into the crevices, crowded with crocodiles (or sharks) and full of hosts of birds. Gods with Agastya, great serpents, Gandharvas, and noble sages reached the great ocean.

166-171. Having reached there the revered and best of the sages, Agastya desiring to drink (up) the ocean said to the gods and sages that had assembled there: “For the good of the worlds I will drink up the ocean. Do quickly what you want to do.” Saying this much (i.e. these words), that angry Agastya drank up the ocean when all the world was watching. Gods with Indra, seeing the ocean (thus) being drunk up (by Agastya) were very much amazed and adored him with eulogies. (They said to him:) “O you creator of the worlds, you are the protector and creator of us and (also) of the worlds. This flat world will be elevated by your favour.” The great one being (thus) adored by the gods when the chief Gandharvas were shouting (joyfully), and being showered upon with flowers, made the great ocean void of water.

172-177. All the gods became very much delighted on seeing the ocean emptied (by Agastya); and holding divine and excellent weapons the gods, of great energy, killed those demons. They (i.e. demons) being thus killed by the noble, violent and roaring gods, were unable to bear the force of the high-souled gods. O you born in the family of Bharata, the demons who were making fearful sounds, being killed by the gods fought very fiercely for a while. They who were striving hard with their might were formerly burnt by the sages, whose souls were purified and were killed by gods. They (i.e. the demons) who had put on golden ornaments[6] on their chests and wore earrings and bracelets[7], when killed shone very much like blossomed Kiṃśuka trees. Some of the best followers of demon Kāleya, that remained (i.e. escaped being killed), tore asunder goddess earth and entered the lower region.

178. Having seen the demons killed, the gods praised the best sage with various words and said these words to him:

179-180. “O illustrious one, the worlds have obtained great happiness by your favour. The Kāleyas of a fearful valour have been killed by your lustre. O great brāhmaṇa, fill up (with water) the ocean, the promoter of the welfare of the world. Pour out again the water that you had drunk.”

181-182. Thus addressed, the revered sage, best among the sages, said: “That water has been digested by me; you who strove (to empty the ocean should now) think of some other way for filling the ocean (with water).”

183-188a. Hearing these words of the great holy sage (all the) gods together became amazed and dejected. Requesting one another and saluting the best sage, all the beings and the brāhmaṇas went as they had come, O great king. Gods along with Viṣṇu, consulting one another about the filling up of the ocean, followed (i.e. went to) the grandsire (i.e. Brahmā), and with the palms of their hands joined, all of them told him about the filling up of the ocean. Brahmā, the grandsire of the worlds said to them, who had gathered (there): “O gods, all of you (may) go as you like and as you wish; after a long period the ocean will go back to its original condition. The great king Bhagīratha, making his relations the cause (i.e. for the sake of his relations) will again fill up the ocean with the stream of the Ganges.”

188b. Thus (i.e. having told them like this) Brahmā dismissed the gods and the best sages.

189-190. The lord who was pleased said to Agastya, the best sage: “You have performed this operation—the destruction of the demons—for gods; since you saved the gods, I am pleased with you, O sage. Ask for a boon that you desire to have; I shall grant it.”

191-192. Agastya, thus addressed by Brahmā, saluted Brahmā (and said to him): “O god, I did this mission of the gods by remaining here. Let this hermitage be the best of all; and there is no doubt that when you say it will be so (i.e. best of all), it will be like that.”

Brahmā said:

193-195. “Having had a pilgrimage to Puṣkara those men, who, having come here bathe in the pools here and satisfy (by making offerings) manes and gods and offer worship to gods which causes everything to be inexhaustible, and taking (in their hands) high and low materials of worship offer baked cakes[8] and small round cakes[9] to brāhmaṇas, will reside in heaven; the manes are satisfied with the śrāddha (offered here) till the submersion of the beings (i.e. final deluge).

196-200. He, who, having climbed up the sacrificial mountain, sees the outflow of the Ganges, pleases a sage with bulbs, roots and fruits, reaches the place of seven sages and enjoys happiness (there) for eternal years. The divine river flowing to the north has come up to Puṣkara. There is no doubt that he who bathes here and is engaged in worshipping manes and gods, gets the fruit of a horse-sacrifice. O best of sages, he who feeds (but) one brāhmaṇa (here) has (indeed) fed a crore of brāhmaṇas; the food-and-drink offered here is inexhaustible. Whatever he desires, all that he obtains. A man who has just bathed here does not have an ignominious birth.

201-202. The place that I have given (you), O best of sages, will be the best among places, and the best sacred place of all sacred places. There is no doubt about it. All that sin of a man or a woman perishes merely by his (or her) having bathed here.

203-204. Having thus spoken, and having taken his leave of the best sage Agastya and of other sages, revered Brahmā, the grandsire of the worlds went (to his abode); and, O hero, Agastya too lived in his own hermitage. I have thus narrated to you the origin of the hermitage of Agastya.

205-211. O you born in the Kuru-family, I shall also describe to you the hermitages of the seven sages: These sages, viz. Atri and Vasiṣṭha, and Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Aṅgiras, Gautama, also Sumati and Sumukha, Viśvāmitra, Sthūlaśiras, Saṃvarta and Pratardana, Raibhya, Bṛhaspati and Cyavana, Kaśyapa, Bhṛgu, Durvāsas, Jamadagni, Mārkaṇḍeya and Gālava, Uśanas and Bharadvāja, and the sage Yavakrīta, (also) Sthūlākṣa, Sakalākṣa, Kaṇva, Medhātithi and Kṛta, Nārada and Parvata, Svagandhi and brāhmaṇa Cyavana, Tṛṇāmbu, Śabala, Dhaumya, Śatānanda and Kṛtavarṇa, Jamadagni, also Rāma and Aṣṭaka and others, also Kṛṣṇadvaipāyana along with his sons and disciples, came to Puṣkara and in the hermitage of the seven sages, got engrossed in restraints and these ascetics were full of compassion.

212-216. (All these virtues, viz.) kindness, victory, courage, penance, truth, uprightness, pity, charity, muttering were established in all of them. The (fruit of the) deed which is done here is enjoyed in the next world. Knowing this to be so, the sages are intent upon the highest goal. Atheists, thieves, those who have not restrained their senses, (also) the cruel and wicked, the ungrateful and the haughty men do not come here. Those who are truthful and lustrous, brave, kind and given to forgiveness, (also) those who perform and are disposed to sacrifices, who are desireless and innocent, who do not have the sense of mineness and egotism go there to Puṣkara.

217-224. The noble ones there do not have (i.e. do not contract) a disease or old age or death. Fools, also sensual persons, and those who are perturbed by love of sensual enjoyments, greed, passion, treachery, anger and delusion do not enter (i.e. go) there. Those who look upon honour and dishonour as equal, who are indifferent to pairs of opposite feelings (of pleasure and pain), and who have controlled their senses and who are intent on meditation and concentration of mind go to Puṣkara. The brāhmaṇas who, as already told, live in the hermitages to protect themselves from Yama, get (i.e. go to) glorious worlds; (also) those who do not harm beings by act, thought or speech, who are more (i.e. very) kind, good and always speak agreeably, who always maintain the sacred fire, who always honour guests, who always study the Vedas, and are always engaged in bathing, and who, being free from desire, always look upon other’s wife as their own mother or sister or daughter (go to the glorious worlds). (Similarly) those who do not get angry when insulted, do not harm when harmed, look upon pleasure and pain as equal, (who) are noble and have their senses controlled, all of them perceive (everything) and all of them, thinking about the eternal world of Brahmā with profound meditation, formerly moved on this earth.

225-227. Some time there was the entire world, oppressed by hunger, was full of miseries. Then when thus there was no food in the world, they (i.e. the sages) desirous of obtaining (i.e. sustaining) themselves, and being very miserable got (the) dead (body of) a boy and cooked it. A king walked about there. Seeing the distressed sages and being struck by dejection he said these words (to them) at that time:

The king said:

228-229. Receiving gifts is observed to be a praiseworthy mode of leading life for the brāhmaṇas. Therefore, O sages, accept from me gifts like excellent villages, rice, barley, drinks, jewels, gold, cattle and milch-cows. (Take) all that, (but), O brāhmaṇas, do not cook flesh.

The sages spoke:

230-236. O king, accepting gifts is terrible, it is tasting wine; it is like poison. Why do you allure us who know this? An oilman is equal to ten slaughter-houses; a vendor of spirituous liquors is equal to ten oilmen; a prostitute is equal to ten vendors of spirituous liquors; (and) a king is equal to ten prostitutes. So a king is comparable to a vintner who carries (i.e. is equal to) ten thousand slaughter-houses. Acceptance of gifts from him is fearful. A brāhmaṇa, who, deluded by greed, accepts (gifts) from a king, is cooked in the terrible hells like Tāmisra.[10] Therefore O king, go (your way); may you prosper with your gifts. Give this (host of gifts) to others.

Saying so, they went to a forest. Then the king’s ministers went there at the bidding of the king and scattered on the ground udumbara fruits containing gold. Then (while) collecting food they picked up the udumbara fruits also. Seeing them to be heavy, Atri said, “These are not to be taken.”

Atri said:

237-240. We are not fools, we are not dullards. Being wise and learned we know that these (fruits) are golden. It gives great pleasure here (i.e. in this world); but it impedes the rise (of the person) after death; therefore he who desires happiness and eternity should not take it. He who receives a golden coin multiplied by hundred or endowed with a thousand (i.e. he who receives a hundred or thousand golden coins) from another (person), goes to the most sinful condition. Whatever rice, barley, gold, beasts or ladies are there on the earth—realising that (all) this is not eough for one, one should be tranquil.

Vasiṣṭha said:

241-244. Between the accumulation of penance that one has and the accumulation of wealth that another has, the former is superior to the latter. Calamities of a person who discards all accumulations, vanish. No hoarder is ever free from calamities. According as a brāhmaṇa does not accept a bad gift, his brahmanic lustre increases as a result of contentment. If poverty and kingdom are weighed (i.e. compared) with each other, then poverty is superior to kingdom for one of a good mind.

Kaśyapa said:

245-249. This accumulation of wealth is a great calamity for a brāhmaṇa. A brāhmaṇa deluded by material prosperity is deprived of final beatitude. Material wealth leads to delusion, and delusion leads to hell. Therefore, one who desires bliss should abandon from a distance (i.e. keep away) material wealth called misery. The desirelessness of him, who desires material things (only) for religious merit, is superior; for it is better not to touch mud than to wash it (after being smeared with it). That religious merit which is obtained through material wealth is said to be perishable. That sacrifice which is done for others is inexhaustible and is a cause of salvation.

Bharadvāja said:

250-253. The hair of one who grows old, wears out. The teeth of one who grows old, perish. (But) the desire for wealth and for life, even of him who grows old, does not wither away. The eyes and ears wear out, (but) desire alone is undisturbed. As a tailor brings together (i.e. stitches) two pieces of cloth with a needle, similarly the thread of the mundane existence is brought near (a person) by the needle of desire. Like the growing horn of the ruru deer when his body grows, desire is unlimited, difficult to satiate, the cause of hundreds of miseries and full of unrighteous things; therefore one should avoid it completely.

Gautama spoke:

254-257. Who, content even with fruits, is not able to excel? A man plunges into miseries because of the fickleness of the greedy senses. For him, whose mind is contented, wealth exists everywhere; for him, with his feet covered with hide, the earth is at it were, covered with hide. How can that happiness, which, those who are gratified with the nectar of contentment get, be obtained by those who are greedy of wealth and who run here and there (for wealth)? Want of contentment is a great misery, and contentment is great happiness. Therefore, a man desiring happiness should always be contented.

Viśvāmitra said:

258-261. If one desire of a person entertaining it is satisfied, another desire pierces him like an arrow. Desire never ceases by enjoying the desired things; like fire with oblations put into it, it again grows. A man who longs for desires (being satisfied) does not get happiness like a cātaka bird going to the shadow of a tree which has a hawk’s nest on it. A king who enjoys this earth begirt by four oceans is not (so) happy (as) he who looks upon stone and gold as equal.

Jamadagni said:

262-265. He who does not accept a gift even though he is fit to receive it goes to those eternal worlds to which the charitable people go. A brāhmaṇa who desires wealth from a king should be deplored by great sages. The fool does not realise the fear of tortures in hell. Even though one is worthy of receiving a gift one should not be attached to it. By (accepting) a gift the brahmanic lustre of the brāhmaṇas comes to an end. Those, who are worthy of receiving gifts, but desist from doing so (i.e.) those who do not receive gifts, go to the same worlds as the givers.

Arundhatī spoke:

266-267. As the lotus-fibre remaining in a lotus would always pervade it, similarly desire, having no beginning and no end, and which is difcult to be abandoned by the wicked and which does not grow old even though the person (who entertains it) grows old, is always associated with the body. Gladly give up this desire which is a fatal disease.

Cāṇḍāla said:

268. As these kings dread (i.e. entertain) the fear from Rudra etc. (or) as a weak person is afraid of a powerful one, I afraid of (greed).

Paśusakha said:

269a. A learned man desiring his well-being should do that which the wise always intent upon piety do.

269b-273. Speaking thus, all the sages firm in their vows abandoned those fruits containing gold and went elsewhere. Then as they were wandering they went to Madhyama Puṣkara. There they saw a wandering mendicant, Śunaḥsakha (by name) who had all of a sudden come there. Accompanying him to some other forest they saw a great lake—a reservoir—covered with lotuses. Thinking about an auspicious way they encamped on the bank of Sarasvatī. Then that ascetic Śunaḥsakha (lit. one with a dog) said to all the hungry sages: “Tell me, all of you, what kind of pain hunger is.”

274a. All the sages together said to that Śunaḥsakha (the mendicant with a dog):

The sages said:

274b-277. Even that pain (that one has) when one is wounded by a (missile called) Śakti, a sword, a mace, and a disc, a javeline or an arrow, is vanquished by the pain caused by hunger. That pain also caused by diseases like asthma, leprosy, consumption, knee-ache, fever, epilepsy, gout is not greater (i.e. acuter) than the pain caused by hunger. Men who have put on golden armlets, anklets, crowns or bright ear-rings do not shine when they remain in hunger (i.e. when they are hungry). As the sun’s ray draws the water fallen on the ground, similarly the arteries in the body are dried up by the digestive fire of the stomach.

278-281. A person oppressed by hunger does not hear, does not smell, does not see with his eyes, is scorched, gets emaciated, is perplexed and parched up. Overpowered by hunger he does not recognise the directions like the east, the south, the west and the north; and also the lower and the higher. Due to hunger dumbness, deafness, dullness, lameness, horror aggravate excessively. A person oppressed with hunger abandons his father, mother, sons, wife and daughter, and also his brother and kinsman.

282-284. A person oppressed with hunger, does not worship properly the manes, god or preceptor, and also sages that have followed (i.e. approached) him. Thus left by himself, (he suffers from) these troubles which happen to (cause pain to) men. So a person, endowed with faith, should thus offer food. Then being one with Brahman, he rejoices with Brahman.

285-286. The manes of that man, who everyday offers well-cooked food to a brāhmaṇa, who declares offering of food especially at the time of śrāddha, who at a śrāddha where the spirits have undergone destruction, ever narrates (texts), are pleased till death.

287-288. There is no doubt about this. One who offers food in the vicinity of gods and brāhmaṇas gets salvation. He who hears (texts about charity etc.) is free from sin whether he is enlightened, or intoxicated or has arrived accidentally, or is void of devotion.

289-292. Brāhmaṇas endowed with charity are happy and share piety. Those who know the truth have laid down restraint, control and curbing of the passions. It is especially an eternal duty for brāhmaṇas; curbing the passions increases lustre; curbing the passions is pure and excellent. A man becomes free from sin and lustrous by means of curbing his passions. Whatever restraints and religious duties of good families are prescribed, or even whatever fruit of sacrifices that is said to be obtained, curbing the passions excels (all) of them. From curbing of passions only proceed penance, sacrifice and charity.

293-295. What (can) an unrestrained person (get) in a forest or what (can) a restrained person (get) in a hermitage? Wherever a restrained person stays, that is a forest, that is a great hermitage. What is the use of the hermitages to him endowed with a virtuous mode of life and with sense-control? Mistakes occur in the case of (i.e. are committed by) impassioned persons even in a forest, (while) penance of the nature of the control of five senses is possible (even) at home. For him who indulges in a praiseworthy deed, his house (itself) is a penance-grove.

296-299. Those who earn their livelihood by (doing) good deeds and righteously, who are always pleased and rejoice in their (own) house, who have conquered their senses, to whom guests are dear and who abide by restrictions, follow piety in their house (itself). Salvation is not had by him who is engrossed in (the study of) grammar, who is interested in fame, who is intent upon (getting) food and clothes, and who is delighted in knowing the behaviour of (other) people. Salvation is certainly possible for him who is given to loneliness, who is of a firm vow, who withdraws affection for all the senses, whose mind is directed to the supreme spirit and meditation on it and for him who is always harmless. A person whose passions are curbed, sleeps and wakes up happily. He, whose mind is awakened, behaves equally with all beings.

300-303. A person does not move as happily in a chariot, or on (the back of) a horse or an elephant, as he moves, with his mind disciplined, on the passage into the next world. (As) one should not touch a lion, nor very much anger a serpent. nor should always make one’s enemy wrathful, so also one should not make one’s mind void of control. Yama is not called Yama. It is one’s self that is called Yama (restraint). That yama by which one’s self is controlled, is called Yama (restraint), but a man is dejected without any reason. What can Yama do to him who has controlled himself?

304-306. There is always fear from the carnivorous and (other) animals. To control them the Self-born one (i.e. the creator) has created the rod or sceptre (as the symbol of authority and punishment). The sceptre protects the beings; the sceptre guards the subjects; the sceptre, difficult to conquer, keeps off the most sinful ones. The dark, young, red-eyed sceptre, in which customary observances have been established, governs men.

307-311. (Now) in all the stages (of human life) restraint is the best vow. I shall tell all the characteristics[11] by which a person is said to be one whose passions are curbed. (They are:) want of lightness of spirit, want of harshness, contentment, good manners, absence of jealousy, revering the elders, kindness and absence of wickedness towards beings. Curbing passions is said (to consist) of these six (characteristics) by the sages of tranquil minds. Piety and salvation are dependent upon kindness; so also is heaven, O king. He is said to be tranquil who is not angry when insulted, or is not delighted when honoured, and who looks upon pleasure and pain as equal and who is wise. A tranquil person sleeps happily and awakens happily; so he remains superior. He who despises, perishes.

312-313. Even though insulted by (another person) he should never think ill about him; looking to the duties of his own class, he should not find fault with those of others. He should know himself and should not insult another person by (finding) his faults.

314-316. As a garment covers a defective body, similarly curbing the passions covers one who is deficient in sacred formulae, acts or also in birth. Those who do not know (what) curbing the passions (is), have studied in vain. Restraint is the root of sacred learning; it is an eternal law; he who holds his restraint as equal to gold, is called firm by (i.e. on account of) that (attitude); and not one who is deluded by wealth. Of all the vows restraint is the highest one.

317-318. Even if a brāhmaṇa, knowing the real nature of the Vedas, studies the six limbs (of the Vedas) but is destitute of restraint, he is not honoured here (i.e. in this world). Even though Vedas are studied along with their six limbs, they do not purify a person who is void of restraint. (The study of) Sāṃkhya or Yoga or birth in a (noble) family, or a bath in a holy place is useless (without restraint).

319-320. A brāhmaṇa well-versed in the meditation on the supreme spirit would be gratified with an insult as with nectar, and would always despise honour as poison. Penance increases (in strength) by means of insult and decreases by means of honour. A brāhmaṇa who is adored and worshipped goes (away) like a cow (after being) milked.

321 -324. As the cow again swells with grass and water, similarly the brāhmaṇa again grows (in strength) by means of repeating prayers and sacrifices. There is no other friend like censure which, receiving sin, gives its own merit. A person should not revile the revilers, should abstain from anger; then (i.e. by doing this), controlling his self he sprinkles it with nectar. A skull (as a begging bowl), roots of trees (as a residence), rugged garments, solitude, indifference, and celibacy lead (one) to the highest position.

325-328. What will he do in a forest (i.e. what is the use of living in a forest) after having conquered desire and anger (i.e. if he has controlled his desire and anger)? Scriptures are (i.e. scriptural knowledge is) retained by study and a family is sustained by good character; sacred prayers are retained by their use, and anger is retained (i.e. checked) by goodness. Who is like him on the earth, who controls his anger that is produced (in his mind), and who, the brave one, mutters prayers without anger? I regard him as the best man who remains after (i.e. by) curbing his anger that is produced, and not that man who sinks into anger. I have told you in detail this rule of piety, which has come down from the grandsire, which is sacred, which is the collection (i.e. essence) of the Vedas and which is eternal.

329-333a. Worlds of those who perform sacrifices are different; so also worlds of those who practise penance are different. Different are the worlds of those whose passions are curbed; and they are greatly honoured. Those who forgive have one fault (only) and no other; and it is that people look upon a person given to forgiveness as weak; (but) this should not be looked upon as a fault (for) forgiveness is the strength of the intelligent. He who knows tranquility greatly values performing sacrifices and digging wells and doing other acts of charity.[12] He who mutters prayers or offers oblations or worships with anger, all that (he does) leaks like water from a broken jar.

333b-342a. He who, getting up in the morning, recites this chapter on restraint, will, after having got into the boat of religious merit, overcome difficulties. A brāhmaṇa should always recite this chapter on restraint. He (then) goes to the world of Brahmā. From it he does not fall down. Listen to the all-in-all of righteousness; retain it after having heard it. Do not do to others what is unfavourable to yourself. He who looks upon other’s wife as his mother, and upon other’s wealth as a clod, and upon other beings as himself (alone) perceives (i.e. is wise). Cooking (food) for (offering it to) all gods, and living for others—this is the all-in-all of everything as gold is of (all) metals. Remembering (what is) beneficial to all beings one gets immortality, O king.

Thus having spoken about the essential nature of religious merit to Śunaḥsakha, all of them stayed there on the bank of the lake with him. They saw the extensive lake covered with (i.e. full of) lotuses blooming at sunrise and moonrise. Getting down into the lake. they put the bundles of fibres of lotuses on the bank of the lake, and performed the auspicious rite of offering water. Having come out of the water, and having met one another, and not seeing these lotus-fibres, they said these words:

The sages said:

342b-344a. Which sinful and cruel person, desiring to eat (the lotus-fibres) has taken away the lotus-fibres of us who are tormented with hunger?

Those best brāhmaṇas, suspecting one another, asked one another; and O king, they decided to swear.

Kaśyapa said:

344b-347a. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, lose everything everywhere, be deprived of his deposit, be a false witness. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres practise unjust acts through trickery; and have the fruit of those who serve a king. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, (drink and) eat liquor and flesh, always tell lies and always enjoy objects of senses. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, give his daughter (in marriage) after (receiving) her purchase-price.

Vasiṣṭha said:

347b-348. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, have sexual intercourse during a period unfavourable for conception, sleep during the day, and be the guest of one another. May such a brāhmaṇa and the husband of Śūdra female live in a village having one well only.

349-351a. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, get the same world as he (i.e. the Śūdra-female’s husband) gets. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, be cruel and proud of his prosperity, and be jealous and wicked. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, revile when he is reviled (by others) and beat when he is beaten by others; and may he sell liquors.

Gautama said:

351 b-353a. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, spoil the food after the guest has arrived, and always eat the food of a Śūdra; having given gifts, may he proclaim them, and may he be pleased with (i.e. enjoy) others’ wives. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres eat sweat-meat all alone.

Viśvāmitra said:

353b-357a. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, always indulge in sex and have sexual intercourse by day, and be a sinner always. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, censure others and enjoy other’s wife, and be interested in blaming others. May he, of a wicked mind who has stolen the lotus-fibres, slight his mother and father, and have a different (i.e. a mean) attitude towards his mother. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, always eat other’s food and sell the (knowledge contained in the) Vedas.

Jamadagni said:

357b-358a. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, be other’s servant in every existence, and be destitute of all religious rites.

Śunaḥsakha said:

358b-360a. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, study the Vedas justly and be a householder to whom guests are dear, and may tell the truth continuously. May he, who has stolen the lotus-fibres, offer (oblations) to fire according to the proper rites. May he always perform sacrifice(s), and go to the abode of Brahman.

The sages said:

360b-361a. This swearing that is done (now), is desirable for the brāhmaṇas; O Śunaḥsakha, you have stolen the lotus-fibres of all of us.

Śunaḥsakha said:

361b-363a. O brāhmaṇas, these lotus-fibres were concealed by me, who also desired to hear (about) religious merit (from you); know me to be Indra. O sages, due to your greedlessness you have won the inexhaustible worlds. Get in the aeroplane; we shall go to the abode of gods.

363b-367a. Then the great sages, who recognised Indra, and who were well-versed in speech, said these words:

“A man, who, having come here, enters the Madhyama Puṣkara, gets the necessary fruit after having fasted for three nights. There is also no doubt that he would get here the entire fruit of the twelve-year initiation which is laid down for those who live in forests. He does not meet with misfortune and enjoys with his own hosts (i.e. his own kinsmen); and having reached Brahmā’s place lives there for (such a long time as) Brahmā’s day.”

Pulastya said:

367b-369. The sages, being very much pleased, went to heaven with Indra. Since though thus subjected to various temptations, they did not indulge in greed, so they went to heaven. He who always listens to the auspicious account of the sages, becomes free from all sins and is honoured in heaven.

Footnotes and references:

1.

Sandhyā: The morning, noon and evening prayers of a brāhmaṇa.

2.

Jīvaṃjīvaka: The cakra bird.

3.

Sṛmara & Camara: Are kinds of deer.

4.

Kālakeyas/Kāleyas: Name of a kind of demons.

5.

Jambha: The name of a demon killed by Indra; here, however, he is said to have been killed by gods.

6.

Niṣka: A golden ornament for the neck.

7.

Aṅgada: Bracelet.

8.

Śaṣkula: A kind of baked cake.

9.

Apūpa: A small round cake of flour, meal, etc.

10.

Tāmisra: A division of hell. There are twenty-one different parts of the internal regions where different kinds of tortures are inflicted on sinners.

11.

Though the characteristics are said to be six, they are really eight, beginning with akārpaṇya and ending with apaiśunya.

12.

Iṣṭāpūrta: Performing sacrifices and digging wells and doing other acts of charity.

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