The Padma Purana

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

This page describes in praise of making gift of food which is chapter 94 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 ninety-fourth 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 94 - In Praise of Making Gift of Food

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Kuñjala said:

1. O son, listen, I shall tell you the reason why the two became the eaters of their own flesh.

2-12a. There is no doubt that everywhere (i.e. for everything) auspicious or inauspicious act is the cause. O son, a man enjoys happiness due to a meritorious deed; and due to a sinful deed he suffers. A man should undertake a deed after having pondered over the subtle path by means of the eye of the knowledge of scriptures, and also after having repeatedly well thought over the coarse path of conduct with an accurate mind (i.e. thought), as, O son, an artist, fashioning images, produces elegance (in them) by means of the lustre of the fire and flames all round. A metal, heated by fire would slowly turn into a liquid. O child, undoubtedly the kind of form produced is similar to the kind of food, perfect with taste, that is poured down. A deed is enjoyed in the same way as it is done. It is the deed that is the principal thing and that alone proceeds in the form of rain. O child there is no doubt that the farmer enjoys (i.e. reaps) the fruit as he sows the seed in the fields. (A man) enjoys in the same way as he performs a deed. Deed is the cause of his destruction. All of us are controlled by (the fruits of) our deeds. We are the heirs of our deeds and the kinsmen related to our deeds in the world. It is the deeds that prompt a man to pleasure or pain. As gold or silver is poured down (in a liquid form) as the form is (desired), in the same way a being is conceived in accordance with his former deeds.

12b-20. Of the fetus in the womb these five are seen: (span of) life, acts, wealth, learning and death. As the doer does (i.e. fashions different images from) a lump of clay, similarly acts that are performed grasp the doer. A being reached the state of a god or a human being or a beast or a bird or a lower animal or an immobile thing due to his acts only. He always enjoys in accordance with what is done by himself. He, having acquired the bed (in the form) of the womb enjoys pleasure or pain ordained by himself (and due to acts) in the former body (i.e. existence). Even by means of his intelligence or power the best of men is not able to change (the fruits of) the deeds (performed) in the former existence. (Beings) experience pains and pleasures (as a result) of their own deeds. He (i.e. a man) is compelled by self-prompted causes or reasons. As a calf finds his mother from among thousands of cows, in the same way (the fruits of) the deeds—good or bad—which do not perish otherwise than by being experienced follow the doer. Who can change the former deed that is binding?

21-25a. The (fruit of one’s) act runs after one who is running very fast, since the deed done formerly (inheres in the soul of the doer). It stands by one who stands, and follows one who goes (i.e. walks). The deed of one who performs (various acts), makes him act like a shadow. The being and his acts are like the shadow and the sun which are always mutually well-connected. The objects of senses are diseases; old age etc. are diseases. They later trouble a man who is (already) oppressed by (his) former deeds. He who is to experience pain or pleasure (at a particular place) is always bound there as with a rope, and is forcibly carried (there) by destiny.

25b-30. They say that destiny gives pleasure or pain to beings. Fate is thought of in one way while a person is sleeping or awake (i.e. by a person who is sleeping or awake), and it presents itself in a different way, binds and desires to kill him. It well protects him from weapons, poison and calamities who deserves to be protected. As on the earth seeds, trees, clumps of trees and grass stand and multiply, in the same way the deeds (act) on the soul. As a lamp goes out when the oil (in it) is consumed, so the body of a being perishes with the destruction of the deeds. In the same way philosophers have said that death takes place after the destruction of the deeds. The various diseases of beings are said to be their causes. Therefore, deed is the principal (thing in the case) of beings.

31-34a. One enjoys (the fruit) of the deed which one does (i.e. has done) before. O child, I have told you the meaning of what you had seen and about which you asked me now. Now the two whose terrible deed you saw in the Ānanda forest, are enjoying each other. O child, I shall narrate their movements. Listen to me who am talking. O child, of the creations etc. this is the land of deeds (i.e. where deeds are performed) and other lands are meant for enjoyment. O very intelligent one, having gone into them one enjoys (the fruits of one’s deeds).

Sūta said:

34b-37. In the Caula country (lived) a very wise king named Subāhu. He was handsome, virtuous (and) wise. There was none (else) like him. The king was Viṣṇu’s devotee, he was highly intelligent and very dear to Viṣṇu’s devotees. Meditating on Madhusūdana (i.e. Viṣṇu) with three kinds of deeds (i.e. of body, mind and speech) he performed all sacrifice like the horse-sacrifice. His family priest was a brāhmaṇa by name Jaimini. He, having called that Subāhu, said these words to him:

38-41a. “O king, give gifts by which happiness is enjoyed. A man after death goes beyond difficult worlds and crosses (difficulties). By means of gifts one gets happiness and eternal glory. In the world matchless fame is produced by (making) gifts. The doer (of pious deeds) would live in heaven as long as his fame lasts. Therefore, (giving) a gift is said to be difficult to do; it is not at all possible (to make) gifts. Therefore with all efforts men should always give (gifts).”

Subāhu said:

41b-42a. O best brāhmaṇa, tell me which of the two, (giving) gifts or penance, is very difficult to do and which (of the two) gives great fruit after death.

Jaimini said:

42b-46. There is nothing (else) more difficult to do than giving gifts. O king, it is actually seen by people. In the world, leaving (i.e. at the cost of) dear life people prompted by greed enter a sea or a forest for the sake of wealth. Others take to service (of others) which is (nothing but) a dog’s life. Similarly some first (take to) farming which is full of harm and which is troublesome. O best among men, to give up that wealth, superior even to one’s life, and earned with difficulty, is very difficult, especially that wealth, O great king, which is justly earned.

47-49a. There is no end to (the wealth) given with faith to a deserving recipient. Faith is the daughter of Dharma, a purifying goddess and an emancipator of all. She is Sāvitrī, the mother, and a boat to cross the ocean of the mundane existence. Religious merit is accomplished by means of faith and not with heaps of wealth. Indigent sages, having faith, have gone to heaven.

49b-61. O best king, there are many (kinds) of gifts. There is nothing superior to giving food which gives liberation to beings. Therefore, food, along with water, should be given, accompanied by sweet and pleasing words. There is nothing superior to giving food to a proper person with faith and proper rite for emancipation, well-being and happiness and wealth in this and the next world. A man enjoys the fruit of giving only food with a pure heart. He should give a morsel after a morsel, or a handful or of the measure of a prastha. There is no doubt that the great fruit of that gift becomes inexhaustible. If a man, due to having nothing with him, cannot afford (to give) even a prastha or a handful, he should feed, with faith and devotion, a brāhmaṇa, after approaching him on a parvan-day. O lord of subjects, (by giving) the principal gift of food alone a man, in the next birth, well obtains food and enjoys food. Whatever is devoutly given by men in the former birth, is always enjoyed (by them) after well getting another existence. Those men (who) always give the gift of food to brāhmaṇas, enjoy sweet food and drink; they are (called) givers of food. The sages, who have mastered the Vedas call food as being life (itself), since it is undoubtedly sprung from nectar. He who has given food has given life. O great king, give the gift of food with (great) effort.

Having heard this (i.e. these words) of Jaimini, the king again asked that brāhmaṇa Jaimini, proficient in knowledge:

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