The Padma Purana

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

This page describes gifts and worthy recipients of gifts which is chapter 39 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 thirty-ninth chapter of the Bhumi-khanda (section on the earth) 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 39 - On Gifts and Worthy Recipients of Gifts

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The sages said:

1. O you best among the truthful ones, tell us in detail, how Vena casting off his sin went to heaven.

Sūta said:

2-6a. O best brāhmaṇa, by the contact of the merit of the sages, by their concurrence, the sin went out of his body as a result of the churning of his body. Then that Vena of a righteous mind obtained eternal knowledge. O brāhmaṇas, free from desire and anger, he practised penance for a full hundred years in the hermitage of the sage Tṛṇabindu, which destroyed sins, and (which was situated) on the right bank of Reva. O glorious ones, god (Viṣṇu), the holder of the conch, disc and mace, was pleased with the sinless king due to his severe penance. Being pleased with him, he said to him: “I am pleased. Choose an excellent boon.”

Vena said:

6b-7. O god, if you are pleased with me, give me an excellent boon: I desire to go, by your power, with this body, and along with my father and mother, to your abode, to the highest abode of Viṣṇu, O god of gods.

Śrī Vāsudeva said:

8. O king, where has that great infatuation, by which you were deluded, gone? You were caused to fall on the path ofdark-ness by greed united with infatuation.

Vena said:

9-10a. O lord, I was deluded by the sin which I had formerly committed. Therefore (please) emancipate me from this very fierce sin. Tell me through your grace what (i.e. which hymn) I should mutter or recite.

The lord said:

10b-15. Well, O blessed king, your sin has perished. By means of your penance you have become pure. So I shall tell you (what) merit (is). O dear, formerly Brahmā had asked me as (i.e. what) you have asked. I (shall) tell you all that I had told him. When once, Brahmā staying in the lotus sprung from (my) navel was engrossed in meditation, Viṣṇu {i.e. I) appeared before him for granting him a boon, O you of a good vow. Desiring a good state (i.e. salvation), he asked him about a hymn, of a great religious merit, destroying sin, and called Vāsudeva. O glorious one, he (i.e. I) taught him the hymn, best among all hymns, called Vāsudeva very much pleasing to Viṣṇu, and giving all happiness to men who always recited and muttered it.

Viṣṇu said:

16-19. This entire world is pervaded by me of an unmanifest form. Therefore sages devoted to Viṣṇu call me Viṣṇu (i.e. one who pervades). I should be respectfully known to be that Vāsudeva, in whom the beings live, and who lives in the beings. Since, at the end (of the world) the lord leads the beings to the unmanifest one, therefore, he (i.e. I) should be known, by those who seek his (i.e. my) refuge, by the name Saṅkarṣaṇa. With the desire ‘Let me be many’, I take up any form I intend (to take up). Therefore, I should be known as Pradyumna by those who desire (to have) sons.

20-25. In this world I am not restrained by anyone except the lords of all, viz. Hara and Keśava, by means of the prowess of deep and abstract meditation; therefore I have (the epithet) Aniruddha. To the world, I, possessing spiritual and material knowledge, am known as Viśva. Being awake and full of reflection, I am possessed of self-consciousness. Full of the movements of the world and possessed of sense-organs and form I am (called) Taijasa (i.e. bright); I am in the state of sleep when I am without understanding and action. When I am the presiding deity I move (everywhere) occupying all. I am supposed to be unconcerned with the world when I am in the state of deep sleep. As Turīya (i.e. in the fourth state) I am without any modification and void of properties. With my form reflected everywhere I am unattached and (am just) like a witness. I am the individual soul still sticking to the worldly defilements; I am consciousness and joy; I am full of consciousness; and have the form of consciousness. I am eternal, immutable; I am of the form of Brahman; know me to be Brahman only.

The lord said :

26. Speaking so to Brahmā about his own form formerly, Viṣṇu vanished. He too knowing his universality, in a moment became self-possessed.

27. O king, you too are pure due to the birth of Pṛthu only. Still, O you of a good vow, propitiate the lord with this hymn.

28a. Viṣṇu, being pleased, said to him: “O you, who give respect to others, choose a boon.”

Vena said:

28b-29a. O Viṣṇu, give me the best refuge; (please) protect me from the sin. I have sought your refuge. Tell (i.e. show) me the cause (i.e. way to) the best state (i.e. beatitude).

Viṣṇu said:

29b-39. O you blessed one, formerly only the noble Aṅga had propitiated me, (and) I had granted him a boon. O you illustrious one, O you best brāhmaṇa, O you prince, you will go to the best heaven of Viṣṇu by means of your own deeds. O noble one, just ask for a boon for yourself. O illustrious Vena, listen to the account that took place formerly. Formerly the glorious Suśaṅkha, getting angry, gave a curse to your mother, Sunithā, in her childhood, O king. Then I, who had known (Aṅga’s) mind, and who desired to emancipate you, gave a boon to Aṅga: ‘You will have a good son.’ O you who love virtues, having thus spoken to your father I will, having sprung up from your body, protect the world. I remain on the earth as Indra shines inheaven. The sacred text: ‘Oneself is born as (one’s) son’, is true. So, O dear, you will get the highest position as a result of my boon. For getting the (best) position (i.e. salvation), O king, O hero, give a gift; I (am the one), who in the form of the sinful naked one, spoke to you, to cause you deviate from righteousness; otherwise the words of Suśaṅkha would have become untrue. I myself am injunction and prohibition both. I am the one who gives the fruit (to one) according to one’s deeds, who is beyond comprehension and who insists on virtues.

40-46a. (Giving) a gift is the highest, the best. It is the cause of everything. Therefore you give gifts. Merit proceeds from (giving) gifts. Sin perishes due to (the giving of) gifts; therefore, do give gifts. O best king, perform sacrifices like the horse-sacrifice. Give gifts of land etc. to brāhmaṇas. Due to (giving) good gifts enjoyment is obtained, glory is obtained; fame takes place (i.e. is obtained) due to good gifts and happiness is secured through good gifts. A man obtains (i.e. goes to) heaven by means of (giving) gifts, and there enjoys the fruit (ofhis gifts). When the time of the maturity of a good gift that is given through faith arrives, O best one, the man (i.e. the giver of gifts) would go to a sacred place—this is also the fruit of (his) religious merit. To him, who, keeping faith in me, gives a great gift to a worthy brāhmaṇa, I give everything and whatever he desires with (i.e. in) his mind.

Vena said:

46b-48a. Tell me about the (proper) time of (i.e. for giving) a gift. What are the characteristics of the (proper) time (for giving a gift)? Being gracious to me, O lord of the world, if you have compassion for me, tell me in detail the nature of a sacred place, and also the good (i.e. proper) characteristics of a worthy recipient, and the procedure of (giving) a gift.

Śrīkṛṣṇa said:

48b-57. O king, O great lord, I shall tell you the time for regular and occasional charity and also for the optional one, and for making daily and occasional gifts which would lead to the fourth (goal of life, i.e. salvation). At the time of sunrise, sin perishes everywhere. Very fierce darkness destroys men. This sun, my portion, is thought to be the treasure of lustre by day. Sins, burnt by the lustre of only, are reduced to ashes. O king, what can be said about that which increases the religious merit of him who even gives water to my rising portion (i.e. the rising sun)? When an auspicious time comes, if a person, after having bathed and worshipped his parents and gods gives, according to his capacity and with his mind purified by faith, gifts of food, water, fruits, flowers, garments, tāmbūla, ornaments, gold, and gems etc., he has unending merit. O king, he, who would also offer water dedicated to me at midday and afternoon, has unending merit. Like this he regularly gives food, drink, sweets, ointment, sandal, flowers, camphor etc. along with garments and ornaments, (which) gives enjoyments and happiness. This is said to be the usual time (i.e. time for regular charity), auspicious for those who desire to give gifts or offer worship.

58-71 a. Now I shall tell you about the excellent occasional (charity). There is no doubt that one should give gifts at all the three times. He, who desires his own well-being should not pass a day void (of gifts). O king due to the power of the time at which something is given, a man (becomes) very intelligent, full of great power, rich, virtuous, learned, wise and far-seeing. I keep the excellent man away from food for a fortnight, a month, or a day—that is, as long as he has not given food. One who has not given an excellent gift has eaten his own excrement. Being displeased (with such persons) I generate in their bodies a disease, which keeps off all enjoyments, which gives them great trouble, which is accompanied by weak digestion, and which causes fever and suffering. He who has not made a gift (of food) to Brahmins and deities, three times, and has himself eaten sweets, has committed a great sin. O great king, he should thus purify his body by a severe expiation, and also by fasts withering up the body. As a cobbler cleanses the hide in the bowl with exudations from trees and expands it, in the same way I certainly purify a sinner, by proper use of herbs, and also by means of astringent and bitter medicines; (thus I do) in the form of a physician, with hot water and heating, and in no other way; there is no doubt about it. Other people enjoy his excellent, auspicious enjoyments as desired(?) What can(even)a powerful man do if he has not given an excellent gift? I torment him through the form of a great sin. O king of kings, if the sinners, through selfishness, have not given the regular gifts with a mind purified with faith, then with terrible means I consume them.

Vāsudeva said:

71b-75. O best of men, I shall explain to you the occasional time (i.e. times for making occasional gifts) and the merit (obtained by giving such gifts); listen attentively and with a good mind. O king, when it is the new moon day or the full moon day or the Saṃkrānti day, or Vyatīpāta or when it is Vaidhṛti Ekādaśī, or when it is the full moon day in Māgha or Āṣāḍha, or Vaisākha or Kārtika, or when the new moon day falls on Monday, or on the anniversary days of the Manu-age etc., when it is the day on which the elephant’s shadow (falls towards the east), or it is a day called pitṛkṣaya—all these are explained (by me) to you, O best king.

76-83. I shall tell you the fruit of the gifts that are given on these (occasions). O best king, listen. To the man, who devoutly gives (a gift) intended for me to a brāhmaṇa, I give, without hesitation, a house, happiness, heaven and salvation and many (other things). There is no doubt about this, O great king. I shall (now) explain to you the optional time (i.e. time for optional charity) for giving a gift which is fruitful. The best sages have told about the auspicious time for all vows in honour of gods etc., and also for giving gifts. O king, I shall also tell you about the time leading to prosperity. Of all the sacrificial rites the nuptial one is the best; O king, so also the time when the rite of the birth of a son, his tonsure-ceremony or thread-ceremony is performed; so also the time of the installation of the palace-flag or of deities; so also that (of the fixing ceremony) of the site of wells, pools, lakes, houses, is called (the time) leading to prosperity, when the mothers are worshipped. At this time (a man) should give gifts which bring about all (kinds of) success. O best king, I havejust told you the time leading to prosperity.

84-104. (Now) I shall tell you something else which removes affliction due to sin. When the time of death has come, a man, knowing (that this) death is (imminent), should give a gift, causing comfort on (his) way to Yama, O best man. O great king, I have told you the times called regular and occasional ones, and also those that lead to prosperity. I have (also) told you the time of death. I have told (you about) these times which give fruits of one’s deeds. O king, (now) I shall tell you the characteristics of a sacred place. Among excellent holy places this Gaṅgā shines. (Others that are) mentioned are the holy (rivers) Sarasvatī, Revā, Yamunā, Tāpī; and river Carmaṇvatī, (and also the rivers) Sarayū, Ghargharā, and Venā destroying all sins, Kāverī, Kapilā and the big (river) Viśvatāriṇī, (and also) Godāvarī and Tuṅgabhadrā, O king. (The river) Bhīmarathyā is declared always to cause fear to the sinners. Other excellent rivers are Devikā, Kṛṣṇagaṅgā etc. (For offering gifts) on auspicious occasions there are many holy places of (i.e. on the banks of) these (rivers). Rivers, whether (they flow) through a village or a forest, are purifying everywhere. At these places acts like bath, charity etc. should be performed. O best ones, when the name of a holy place (on the banks) of those (rivers) is not known, the utterance of the (my) name should be done by saying: ‘This is Viṣṇu’s holy place’, O king. O prince, a devotee should utter (the name of) me at the sacred places and (while presenting gifts) to gods. He gets the fruit of his merit due to (the utterance of) my name. O best king, at the time of bathing at unknown excellent holy places, and (offering presents) to unknown deities, one should just utter my name. O best king, the Creator has made these rivers the mothers of the all-meritorious sacred places, and they are (to be found) everywhere on the globe. O king, a man should not take bath etc. here and there (i.e. anywhere). Due to the grace of the excellent holy places, one gets an inexhaustible fruit. The seven oceans only are of the nature of sacred places and are very meritorious. O king, the lakes like Mānasa etc. are declared to be like them only. Streams and ponds are also said to be of the nature of sacred places. There is no doubt about it. (There are) O great king, (certain) very small rivers. A sacred place is said to exist in them (i.e. on their banks), so also in all ditches excepting (temporary) wells. On the surface of the earth, mountains like Meru are also of the nature of holy places. A sacrificial place, a sacrifice well-put (i.e. performed) in a fire-chamber, and also the place where a śrāddha is offered, is pure like that. Similarly a temple, a sacrificial chamber, a chamber where Vedas are studied (is pure). In the houses a cow-pen, possessing merit, is (said to be) the best. A sacred place exists there, where the performer of a Soma-sacrifice would be (present) and also a grove where the meritorious Aśvattha stands (is a sacred place). A sacred place exists there where there would be a palāśa or an udumbara tree or a bunyan tree; and also at a place where other sylvan marks (are present).

105-107a. These are said to be sacred places, and also father and mother; (the place) where a Purāṇa is being recited, or the one where (one’s) preceptor resides (is also sacred). There is no doubt that that place where a good wife lives is a sacred place. The Place where a good son stays is a holy place—there is no doubt about it. These are said to be sacred places; and also a king’s abode (is a sacred place).

Vena said:

107b-108a. O best god, O Mādhava, being gracious through compassion tell me the characteristics of a worthy person to whom a gift should be given.

Vāsudeva said:

108b-127. O very intelligent king, listen to the good (i.e. important) marks of a worthy recipient, to whom a gift should be given by the glorious ones purified by faith. A brāhmaṇa endowed with (i.e. born in) a good family, devoted to the study of the Vedas, tranquil, restrained, one having practised penance, especially pure, intelligent, wise, engrossed in the worship of deities, truthful, of a great religious merit, Viṣṇu’s devotee, and learned, knowing religion, free from greediness, and avoided by heretics, is said to be a worthy recipient. O best man, O great king, other worthy recipients are these: sister’s son—the best man, endowed with qualities like these; daughter’s son; son-in-law having similar dispositions; also, O best man, a preceptor who is initiated. These are worthy recipients, fit for presenting gifts. One should avoid a brāhmaṇa who possessed conduct as laid down in the Vedas (yet) is not content. Also one should avoid a one-eyed or very dark-blue (brāhmaṇa), (a brāhmaṇa) who has black teeth, or has dark-blue or yellow teeth. O king, one should avoid a brāhmaṇa who has slaughtered a cow, who has very black teeth, who is a barbarian or is licentious or is short of a limb or has an extra one; also a lepor or one having bad nails, or bad skin; also a bald-headed brāhmaṇa, O great king. One should not give a gift to a brāhmaṇa, even if he is like Brahmā, if his wife is engaged in imporper (acts). O you highly intelligent one, a gift should not be given to a brāhmaṇa who is conquered by (i.e. under the thumb of) his wife, and also to him who is a traitor to his own school of the Vedas (Śākhā). O king, a gift should not be given to a diseased brāhmaṇa, or who eats the dead (i.e. meat eater). A gift should not be given to (a brāhmaṇa who is) a thief even though he is like Atri. A gift should not be given to a brāhmaṇa who is not content. One should also avoid a brāhmaṇa (doing rites) relating to a dead body. A gift should not be given to (a brāhmaṇa who is) very obstinate, and especially to a brāhmaṇa who is dishonest. O lord of kings, a brāhmaṇa, following Vedic practices, but void of good conduct, would not be proper at (the offering of) a śrāddha, or (giving) a gift. Now I shall tell you about the gift which is fruitful and meritorious. Faith is produced by association with a holy place and worthy recipients and (practising charity at an auspicious) time. There is no religious merit like faith, there is no happiness like faith for beings in the worldly existence, O king. A man should remember me with faith, O best king; a king should give even a small gift into the hand of a worthy recipient. He obtains an unlimited fruit of such a gift (given) according to the proper procedure; he would be happy by my grace.

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