The Padma Purana
by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 1,261,945 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291
This page describes parents as sacred places of pilgrimage which is chapter 62 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 sixty-second 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.
Chapter 62 - Parents As Sacred Places of Pilgrimage
[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]
1-5. (Pippala) having gone to Kuṇḍala’s hermitage, full of truthful practices, saw (there) noble Sukarman, greatly devoted to his father and mother, serving (them), possessing great prowess born of truth, of great form and lustre, having great knowledge, engaged in serving his parents and seated at their feet, tranquil, endowed with great devotion and the great treasure of all knowledge. That high-souled Sukarman, the son of Kuṇḍala, seeing the very intelligent Pippala who had come to the door, quickly got up from his seat and honoured him, (and said to him): “O you glorious, very intelligent Vidyādhara, (please) come.”
6-10. The very intelligent (Sukarman) gave him water for washing his feet and a respectful offering, (and said to him): “O you highly intelligent one, are you free from difficulties? Are you all right?” He also asked Pippala that had come (to him) about his well-being. (He said to Pippala:) “I shall explain to you all about your arrival (here) today. You practised penance for three thousand years. O glorious one, you thus practised penance, and obtained a boon from the gods. You secured the power of subjugation, and also (the power of) moving according to your desire. Due to that you have become arrogant, and are unnecessarily proud. Seeing all your movements, the noble crane told you my name and about my excellent knowledge.”
11. Who is that lord, that god, the crane who directed me (to come to you) and told me about all knowledge on the bank of a lake?
12-13a. Know that crane who talked to you on the bank of the lake to be the highest god Brahma, of great knowledge. Speak (out) what else you want to ask. I shall explain it to you.
13b. O prince, that religious-minded Sukarman thus spoke (to Pippala).
14. On the earth we have heard that the entire world is under your control. O brāhmaṇa, carefully show me the spectacle.
15-18a. “Today see the spectacle—the cause of controlling the uncontrolable.” (Thus) spoke the religious-minded Sukarman to Pippala. Then for convincing (Pippala), Sukarman called to mind the gods. The Guardians of the Quarters like Indra, and also gods led by Agni and many Vidyādharas that were invited came (there). Then the gods led by Agni said to Sukarman: “O brāhmaṇa, tell us the reason for which you remembered us.”
18b-20a. Here has come this Vidyādhara (named) Pippala. He asks me the reason of my controlling the uncontrolable. I have invited you for convincing this high-souled one. (Please) go to your respective abodes.
20b-24. Thus he spoke to the gods. Then the gods said to that very intelligent Sukarman: “Your seeing us will not be fruitless. Well-being to you. Ask for a boon which you like. We shall grant it. There is no doubt about it.” Thus the best gods spoke to him. The best brāhmaṇa having devoutly saluted those gods requested them: “O best gods, grant me always a sincere and firm devotion to my mother and father. This is the best boon (I desire to have). May my father go to Viṣṇu’s heaven; similarly, O lords of gods, may my mother (also) go to Viṣṇu’s heaven. This is the best boon (I desire to have). I do not solicit any other boon.”
The gods spoke:
25. O best brāhmaṇa, you are devoted to your father. O Sukarman, listen, due to your devotion we are always pleased with you.
26-28. O prince, having said like this, the gods went to heaven. Then he (i.e. Sukarman) presented before him (i.e. Pippala) all his grandeur. Pippala also saw that great wonder. The religious-minded (Sukarman) also said to Pippala, the son of Kuṇḍala. (Then Pippala said:) “This is a recent (or interior) form; what kind of form is the ancient (or superior) one? O best among the speakers, tell me about the prowess of both.”
29-37. I shall tell you the mark of the ancient form, due to which the worlds, the mobile and the immobile (and gods) led by Indra are delighted. This lord of the world himself, who pervades the entire earth, is the master (of everything). No meditating saint has seen his form. The scriptures, as it were afraid to speak, speak (about him) like this: “He is without hands, feet and nose. He is without ears and mouth.” (Yet) he sees all the acts performed by the residents of the three worlds. (Even though he is) without ears he hears their talk. (Thus) he gives good (i.e. proper) evidence (of his omnipresence). Even without any movement, he would go; he is seen everywhere. Even being handless, he can seize (things); (though) footless, he runs. O brāhmaṇa, he, pervading everything though footless, is seen everywhere. He, whom the best gods and sages knowing the truth, do no see, sees them all, stationed in truthful and untruthful positions; whom, the (all-) pervader, pure, the divine being granting divine faculties, the leader of all, Vyāsa, the great meditating saint, knowing piety and material prosperity and of a lustrous form, knows. Vyāsa himself knows him to be the sky, of one colour and endless. (Vyāsa alone knows) this spotless form determined by what is told in the scriptures.
38-49. Mārkaṇḍeya also knows that station. I shall explain to you the recent (form). Listen with a concentrated mind. When the soul of the beings withdraws (everything into himself), he goes all alone; resorting to a bed in the water (i.e. in the ocean) he remains on the seat of the hood of Śeṣa. Resorting to him Janārdana sleeps for a long time. The great meditating sage Mārkaṇḍeya, tormented by the darkness in the water, and desiring a place (for him), dejected due to wandering, saw, while wandering, (Viṣṇu) who was lying on the bed of Śeṣa, who resembled a crore of suns, who was adorned with divine ornaments, who wore divine flowers and garments, who is the lord of all the pervading objects, who was enjoying his sleep at the end of a yuga, who held the conch, the disc and the mace. O best brāhmaṇa, (he also saw) a noble lady, resembling a heap of black collyrium, with her face terrible on account of large teeth, and of a fearful form. The best sage was addressed by her: “O great sage, do not get frightened.” There was a very large lotus-leaf, extending over five yojanas. The great goddess put Mārkaṇḍeya on that leaf. (She said to him:) “Even though Keśava is asleep, you have no (cause for) fear here.” The best of the meditating saints said to her: “O you beautiful lady, who are you? When this one is completely won over, you alone have grown.” O brāhmaṇa, when thus asked by the sage, the goddess respectfully said: “I am the Vaiṣṇavi (i.e. belonging to Viṣṇu) power of this Keśava who is sleeping on the bed of the serpent. I am here called Kālarātri. O best brāhmaṇa, know me to be thus endowed with all (kinds of) illusion. In the Purāṇas I am described as the great illusion for (i.e. causing) infatuation of the world.” O Pippala, speaking thus, that goddess vanished.
50-57a. When the goddess had gone, from his (i.e. Viṣṇu’s) navel sprang up a lotus, shining like gold, while Mārkaṇḍeya was looking (at him). From him were born all the worlds, the immobile and the mobile, all the regents of the quarters like Indra, and gods led by Agni. O king, I have presented to you his recent (or inferior) form. This one of the recent (or inferior) form is without any support in his ancient (or superior form). When he would present his body then (only) all the recent (or inferior deities) like Brahmā and all worlds have bodies, O Pippala. All the regions that are there in the three worlds are recent. This soul of the beings is ancient. The meditating saints well see him, who is of the form of final beatitude, of the nature of Brahman—the highest place—,who is the universal soul, is pure and endowed with divine powers. O Vidyādhara, I have explained to you the entire nature of the ancient one. Tell me what more I (should) explain.
57b-60a. O you of a good vow, how has this great knowledge risen in you? You know the recent (or inferior) as well as the ancient (or superior) station. The great knowledge of the three worlds abides in you. I (however) do not see (in you) great devotion to penance. Tell me the power of performing a sacrifice, of acting as a priest at a sacrifice, of (the visit to) a holy place, if you have done these. Due to what have you thus (obtained) all knowledge?
60b-78a. I do not at all know (what) penance (is). I have not emaciated my body. I do not know performing a sacrifice, or acting as a priest at a sacrifice or going to holy places. I have not practised meditation, not attained the meritorious period as a result of good acts. One (thing) only I know clearly and well, (and that is) the worship of (my) father and (my) mother. With both my hands I myself everyday do the meritorious washing of the feet of my mother and father. Engaged in contemplation at three times everyday I massage their bodies, and bathe and feed them. With devotion I obtain the water with which the feet of those two only i.e. my mother and father are washed, and with great devotion I worship them. During that time a measureless gain comes to me. With my heart having pure thoughts I worship them thrice (a day). O Pippala, I am one who moves freely and comfortably. What is the use to me of any other penance or of emaciating my body? Now what good would acrue to me by good (i.e. meritorious) pilgrimages or by other (acts of) virtue? O brāhmaṇa, I have seen that to be the fruit of serving one’s father, which is obtained by performing all sacrifices. Similarly serving the mother gives a good position (i.e. bliss) to the sons. It is the all-in-all and the essence of all acts in the three worlds. By serving his mother the son gets (i.e. goes to) a (good) world. Similarly great religious merit is produced due to the service to the father. There is no doubt that there (only lie) the Ganges, the holy place like Gayā, or like Puṣkara, where the father would live (i.e. lives) with the mother. By serving the father the son gets the merit of visiting these sacred places and other various holy and auspicious places. O brāhmaṇa, a good son obtains the fruit of charity and penance by serving his father (and mother). Any other customary observance leads to affliction. A son obtains excellent religious merit by serving his father (and mother), which is the all-in-all of his deeds in this and in the next world. Now listen to the auspicious merit when as a son he serves his elders—the mother and the father—when they are alive. Gods are pleased with him, and also the sages who love religious merit. Due to service of the father (and mother done) here (i.e. in this world) the three worlds are pleased. He, who everyday would wash (i.e. who washes) the feet of his mother and father, has everyday a bath in the Ganges.
78b-82. I shall (now) tell you about the religious merit of him who always devoutly feeds his father and mother with sweet food and drinks. The son gets that fruit which is got by performing the horse-sacrifice. He, who devoutly worships his elders (i.e. parents) with (i.e. by giving them) tāmbūla, coverings, drinks, eatables and pure food, would become omniscient, and would obtain glory and fame. A son, on seeing his mother or father, should talk to them with joy. They are the treasures, that, being pleased, live in his house. They are the cows, that love the son and always give him happiness.
Footnotes and references:
Nidhayaḥ—Nidhis are the treasures of Kubera. They are nine: Mahāpadma, Padma, Śaṅkha, Makara, Kacchapa, Mukunda, Kunda, Nīla and Kharva.