The Padma Purana

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

This page describes vikundala’s dialogue with the devaduta which is chapter 31 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-first chapter of the Svarga-khanda (section on the heavens) 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 31 - Vikuṇḍala’s Dialogue with the Devadūta

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1. Then he (i.e., Vikuṇḍala) pleased in his mind, entertaining a doubt in his heart, and very much amazed and thinking in his mind (i.e., to himself), asked the messenger on the way (to heaven): “For what reason am I having (this) fruit?”

Vikuṇḍala said:

2. O best messenger, I am asking you (to clarify) an important doubt. We two were born in the same family. Also we have done similar deeds.

3-4. We equally met with a miserable death, and also saw Yama in the same way. How is it that my elder brother who did the same deeds as I, was thrown in hell? And how did I obtain heaven? (Please) remove (this) doubt of mine. O divine messenger, I see no reason why I should be in heaven.

The divine messenger said:

5-9. Mother, father, son, wife, sister, brother are relative to one’s birth and for the enjoyment (of the fruit) of his deeds. They are like a gathering of birds on the same tree. A man always attains the fruit of that act which he wilfully did. I am telling you the truth through affection (for you). Men get the good or bad (fruit of) the acts they have done at different times, O vaiśya. One performs acts and he (alone) obtains its fruit. O vaiśya, someone does not enjoy or suffer for the acts of someone else. Your brother fell into the hell due to his very fierce sins. O pious one, because of your piety you will obtain heaven eternally.

Vikuṇḍala said:

10-11. O messenger, from my childhood, my mind was interested in sinful deeds and not in pious deeds. I have committed wicked deeds in this existence. O divine messenger, I do not know my (i.e., if I have done) good deed. If you know the pious acts that I have done, then be kind and tell them to me.

The divine messenger said:

12-20a. O vaiśya, listen to the religious merit that you have earned. I know it all. You do not know it quite positively. There was a brāhmaṇa (named) Sumitra who was Harimitra’s son and who had mastered the Vedas. His auspicious hermitage was on the right bank of Yamunā. O best of vaiśyas, in the forest you formed friendship with him; and due to his contact, you bathed for two Māgha months in the auspicious water of Yamunā which removes all sins. O lord of vaiśyas, by bathing for one month at that holy place named Pāpapraṇāśana which is well-known in the world, you were freed from all your sins. Due to the merit (collected by bathing) during the second month of Māgha you obtained heaven, O sinless one. Due to the efficacy of that religious merit always rejoice in the heaven. In the hells your brother (will suffer from) great tortures. He would be cut off with blades of swords; he would be rent with hammers; he would be pounded on slabs, and roasted in burning charcoals.

Hearing the words of the messenger and being afflicted by his brother’s distress, he with his whole body covered with bristling hair and being miserable and endowed with modesty said sweet and clever words to the divine messenger:

20b-22. “O good one, friendship with the good even (over the distance) of seven steps gives good fruit. Realising (our) friendship, please oblige me. I, therefore, desire to hear (everything from you). I look upon you as omniscient. Be pleased and tell me by (doing) which deed men do not see Yama’s world, and by (doing) which they go to hell.”

The divine messenger said:

23-24. O vaiśya, you have asked well. Now your sins have perished. In pure hearts of men a thought for (obtaining) bliss, for final emancipation is produced. Though, due to my being in the service of someone else I have no time (to explain these things), yet through my affection for you I shall explain them according to my intellectual capacity.

25-29. Those (who) never harm others by (physical) deeds, by thought and speech, in whatever condition they may be, do not go to Yama’s abode. Men who harm (other) creatures do not go to heaven even by (i.e., in spite of) their (reciting) Vedas, (giving) gifts, (practising) austerities or (performing) sacrifices. Harmlessness is (a) great (form of) piety. Harmlessness alone is a great penance. Harmlessness is a great gift. This is what the sages always say. Those men who are kind look upon mosquitoes, creeping animals, gad-flies, lice and men as on themselves. These men do not (get roasted) in heated charcoals, are not (fixed) on iron-stakes, are not stupefied, are not (thrown into) the river of corpses, do not meet with misery (imposed) by Yama.

30-34. Those who kill beings moving in water or on the ground here (i.e., on the earth) for their livelihood, get bound by Yama’s cord and come to a miserable state. There they eat dog’s flesh, drink pus and blood, and bitten by insects with their mouths (turned) down sink in the mud of marrow. Eating one another they live there for many kalpas. Having gone to (i.e., been born in) the species of insects, they for a long time become immobile. Then the cruel ones go to (i.e., are born in) hundreds of species of birds. Then they are born blind, or squint-eyed, deformed or lame. They are born poor, or bereft of a limb and such men kill (other) creatures.

35-41. Therefore, O vaiśya, a pious man longing for happiness in both the worlds—this one and the other one—should not do it (i.e., harm others) by means of physical (deeds) or thoughts or by words. Those who harm creatures do not obtain happiness in both the worlds. Those who do not harm creatures are afraid of nothing. As rivers flowing in a crooked way or straight enter the ocean, similarly all pious acts thoroughly enter harmlessness. O best of vaiśyas, he who has granted fearlessness to beings, has bathed at all holy places and is prepared for a sacrifice. O vaiśya, those who in this world follow the injunctions of the sacred texts, mixing up what is pious and what is impious, do not go to Yama’s abode. A celibate, a householder, a hermit and an ascetic engaged in their own duties—all they live in heaven. All men of all castes and stages of life, with their senses controlled and behaving as (already) told, go eternally to heaven.

42-52a. Those who are engaged in performing sacrifices, digging wells and performing other acts of charity, those who are engaged in (performing) the five sacrifices, and those who are always full of compassion, never see Yama’s abode. Those brāhmaṇas who have turned away from objects of sense, who are competent and are teachers of the Vedas, who are always engaged in worshipping fire, go to heaven. The Sun is the path (destination) of those whose faces are not sad, who are brave (though) surrounded by enemies, who die in battles. O vaiśya, thosewho cast their life while protecting a helpless woman, a brāhmaṇa who has sought their refuge, do not fall from heaven. O vaiśya, those who always protect the lame, the blind, the young, the old, the sick, the helpless and the poor, always rejoice in heaven. Those who, on seeing a cow plunged in mud or a brāhmaṇa sinking in disease, emancipate them, get the world of those who perform the horse sacrifice. Those (men) who give a morsel (of grass) to a cow, who always nurse cows, who do not mount upon a cow’s back, live in heaven. Those men who have just made (i.e., dug) a ditch where (from) a cow (having drunk water) is free from thirst, go (straight) to heaven without even seeing Yama’s world. Those brāhmaṇas who are always engaged in worshipping fire, deities, preceptors and brāhmaṇas, go to heaven. There is no end to piety (when) wells, tanks, lakes etc. (are constructed and) where animals living on land or in water drink (water) as they like. And even the wise describe him as one who is always intent upon giving gifts.

52b-59a. O best among vaiśyas, as the creatures drink profuse water, he (gets) eternal heaven (i.e., secures an eternal place in heaven) due to his belief in piety. Water is the (very) life of beings, and vitality depends upon water. Even those men who are sinners, are purified by taking a bath everyday. O vaiśya, a bath in the morning would remove external and internal impurity. A man, with his sins removed by bathing in the morning, would not go to hell. That man who eats without bathing is always an eater of filth. The manes and deities turn away from the man who does not bathe. A man without a bath is a sinner; a man without a bath is impure. A man who does not bathe suffers in hell and is born among male insects etc. Those again who bathe in a stream on a parvan day, never go to hell, nor are they born in mean species. Bad dreams and vicious thoughts always become fruitless in the case of men who purify themselves by taking a bath in the morning, O best among the vaiśyas.

59b-62. Men, by offering sesamum seeds or vessels full of sesamum seeds or sesamum seeds (of the measure) of a prastha, never go to the land of the lord of the dead (i.e., Yama). O Vikuṇḍala, having given land, gold, a cow and the sixteen (types of) gifts and having (as a result of these gifts) gone (to heaven), men do not return from heaven. A wise man, having bathed on auspicious days and on Vyatīpāta and Saṃkrama (days), and having given something (on these) days never sinks in disaster. Donors never tread on the fearful hellish path. In this world they are not born in a poor family.

63-68. A man who is truthful, who always observes a vow of silence, who speaks agreeably, who is not given to anger, who is of a good conduct, who does not talk much, who is free from jealousy, who is always full of generosity, who is always full of pity for beings, who always preserves (i.e., keeps to himself) the weak points of others, who talks (only) about the virtues of others, who even mentally does not snatch the wealth, even of the measure of a blade of grass, of others—all these, O best of vaiśyas, do not experience the agony of hell. A man who blames others and who is heretical, is worse than even sinners. He is cooked in the hell till the destruction of the beings (i.e., till the deluge). A man who speaks harsh words, should be looked upon as having come from hell. There is no doubt, O best among the vaiśyas, that such a man meets with misery. An ungrateful man does not have expiation by (visiting) holy places or (practising) austerities. The man suffers from a terrible agony in hell for a long time.

69-71. That man who having controlled his senses and diet bathes at the holy places which are there on the earth, does not go to Yama’s abode. A man should not commit a sin at a holy place and should not earn his livelihood at a holy place. Acceptance of gifts at a holy place should be renounced (i.e., gifts should not be accepted at a holy place). So also giving up one’s religion for the sake of material gain should be avoided at a holy place. A sin committed at a holy place, also gifts received at a holy place do not give enjoyment. All this does not give enjoyment at a holy place. Why should one go to hell (by doing these things at a holy place)?

72-77. A man who has once (only) bathed in Gaṅgā, and is purified by the water of Gaṅgā, does not go to hell, even though he has committed a heap of sins. We have heard that vows, gifts, penance, sacrifices and other pious acts are not equal to the bath with the drops of the water of Gaṅgā. O vaiśya, that mean man who says that Gaṅgā is like other holy places, goes to a great, terrible hell. The element of the water (of Gaṅgā) oozes piety; it has dropped from the feet of Viṣṇu. That water of Gaṅgā which is held by Śiva on his head, is Brahman itself which is qualityless and which is beyond Prakṛti. There is no doubt about this. What would equal it within the range of the universe? A man who would say ‘Gaṅgā, Gaṅgā’ even at a distance of hundreds of yojanas, does not go to hell. What can be equal to her? The act giving (i.e., taking one to) hell cannot be instantly burnt by any other (means than the water of Gaṅgā).

78. O vaiśya, that man who though fit to accept gift does not accept it, shines in the form of a star in the sky.

79ab. Those who take out a cow from mud, who take care of the sick, and who die in a cattleshed, (become) stars in the sky.

79c-83. Those who are wholly devoted to prāṇāyāma (i.e., restraining their breath) during the mental recitation of the names of a deity, get their sins destroyed, even though they are sinners, by them (i.e., prāṇāyāmas) only, and do not see Yama’s world. O vaiśya, the sixteen prāṇāyāmas evidently purify even the killer of a brāhmaṇa when practised day after day. Prāṇāyāma is equal to austerities that are practised or vows and restraints that are observed or to a thousand cows given as a gift. Prāṇāyāma is equal to (the fruit of) a drop of water taken on the tip of a Kuśa, which a man would drink month after month for a full hundred years. A man reduces to ashes within a moment all the sin which is great or small by means of prāṇāyāma.

84-86. O best of men, those excellent men who look upon another’s wife as their mother, never go to (i.e., experience) agony of (i.e., given by) Yama. O vaiśya, he who does not enjoy another’s wife even mentally, is with the two worlds (i.e., enjoys both of them). He has supported the earth. Therefore, those who are endowed with piety, should give up enjoying another’s wife. (Enjoying) another’s wife leads to twenty-one hells.[1]

87. O best of the vaiśyas, those in whose minds desire for (enjoying) other’s wives does not arise go to the world of gods, and not to Yama.

88. He who is not conquered by anger, (even though) causes of anger are present, must be looked upon as one who has conquered heaven and as a wrathless man on the earth.

89-90. A son who adores his mother and father like deities (even) before they have reached old age does not go to Yama. O best of vaiśyas, men who adore their preceptor with greater devotion than their father, become guests (i.e., are honoured as guests) in Brahmā’s world.

91-92. And here women are blessed who guard their character. By spoiling their character women go to the very terrible world of Yama. By avoiding the company of the wicked women should always preserve their character; for, O vaiśya, there is no doubt that by means of (the preservation of) their character women get (i.e., reach) the best heaven.

93. Misery is enjoined for him who performs a śūdra’s domestic sacrifice and does what is prohibited; and he obtains a position in hell.

94-97. Those, who ponder over sacred texts, who are engrossed in Vedic studies, who narrate and recite Purāṇas, who expound the smṛtis (i.e., codes of law), who propound the laws of good conduct, who are adept in the Vedāntas (i.e., the Upaniṣads), have sustained this world. With their sins destroyed by the virtue of that particular study, all of them go to Brahmā’s world where there is no delusion. Even Vedas adore him who gives knowledge arising out of the sacred Vedic texts to an ignorant person, and (who therefore) cuts off the bond of mundane existence.

98-119. O best vaiśya, listen to this wonderful secret which is approved by Dharmarāja and which gives nectar to all the worlds. The devotees of Viṣṇu do not see Yama or Yama’s world or beings of a horrible appearance. I have told the truth, (and) the truth (only). The brother of Yamunā (i.e., Yama) has always and repeatedly told us: “You have to spare the devotees of Viṣṇu; they should not come within my power. Those beings who (even) once (or) occasionally remember Viṣṇu with all the heaps of their sins destroyed, go to the highest position of Viṣṇu. You should also always spare a man who adores Viṣṇu, even though he is of a bad conduct or a sinner who is devoted to good practices. You should also spare the man at whose house a devotee of Viṣṇu eats or those (men) who are in the company of a devotee of Viṣṇu, (since) their sins are destroyed due to his company.” O vaiśya, the god holding the (chastising) rod, always instructs us like this. Therefore, the devotees of Viṣṇu never go to the capital city of Yama. O best among the vaiśyas, for crossing the ocean of hell there is no other means than devotion to Viṣṇu for the most sinful persons. O vaiśya, a man should not investigate an outcast who is a devotee of Viṣṇu. A devotee of Viṣṇu, even if he is an outcast, purifies the three worlds. Thus, for fully removing the dirt of sins men should repeat the virtues, acts and names of the lord, since, even the sinner Ajāmila crying ‘O son Nārāyaṇa’ while dying, obtained salvation. When men gladly worship Viṣṇu, all those (ancestors of them) who have sunk in hell for a long time and the two families (i.e., of the father and of the mother) go to heaven. O vaiśya, those who are servants of a Viṣṇu’s devotee and who eat food from a Viṣṇu’s devotee, go without being perplexed to the position of (the followers of Viṣṇu), the enjoyers of sacrifices. A man should with effort desire food from a Viṣṇu’s devotee for purification from all sins. In its absence he should drink water. (Even) if a man muttering the hymn (‘Govinda...’) dies anywhere, he does not see Yama, nor do we see him. He should fully recite the hymn consisting of twelve syllables with the mudrās (i.e., particular positions of the fingers) with meditation, with (the name of) the sage, metre and deity, with (i.e., after) initiation and in the proper manner. On seeing the best men who mutter the best hymn consisting of eight syllables, a killer of a brāhmaṇa would be purified and himself shines like Viṣṇu. Those men, being the possessors of conches and discs (i.e., resembling Viṣṇu), entering Brahma, live in the form of Viṣṇu in the heaven of Viṣṇu. Men having properly worshipped Viṣṇu (residing) in the heart, in the sun, in water or on the altar of the idol, reach Viṣṇu’s position. Or, those who desire salvation, should always worship Viṣṇu in a śālagrāma (stone), a gem, or a disc made of steel particles; for, O vaiśya, it is the abode ofViṣṇu, which destroys all sins, which gives all religious merit and which gives salvation to all. He who would worship Viṣṇu on a disc made of the śālagrāma stone, has everyday performed a thousand Rājasūya sacrifices. The Vedāntas (i.e., the Upaniṣads) always look upon Viṣṇu, as Brahman, the Supreme Spirit. By worshipping the śālagrāma stone men would obtain his favour.

120-123. As the fire residing in a large wood shines at the place of sacrifice, in the same way the all-pervading Viṣṇu shines in the śālagrāma. O vaiśya, worshippers of śālagrāma, even though they are of a sinful conduct or are not entitled to (religious) rites, do not certainly go to Yama’s abode. Viṣṇu does not as much rejoice with Lakṣmī or in his own city, as he always rejoices in the disc on the śālagrāma stone. He, who has worshipped Viṣṇu on the disc made of the śālagrāma stone, has performed agnihotra or given the earth with the ocean (as a gift).

124-146a. I shall tell you of the religious merit of him who has duly worshipped the twelve stones produced from śālagrāma rock. That (merit) which would be (obtained) by worshipping with golden lotuses twelve crores of Phalluses twelve times would be (obtained) in a day only (by worshipping a śālagrāma). He who would devoutly worship a hundred śālagrāma stones, would, after living with Viṣṇu, be born as a sovereign emperor here (i.e., on the earth). A mean man pervaded by passions, anger or greed also goes to Viṣṇu’s heaven by worshipping a śālagrāma stone. The man who with joy would worship Viṣṇu in a śālagrāma stone, does not fall from heaven till deluge. O vaiśya, men obtain salvation (merely) by worshipping a śālagrāma stone without (visiting) holy places, without (giving) gifts, and without (performing) sacrifices or without (having any) thought (about it). O vaiśya, the worshipper of a śālagrāma stone, even though he is a sinner, does not go to hell, is (not conceived) in a womb, is not born in a species of birds, or insects, and also he who, conversant with the rite of initiation, its procedure and hymn, would offer an oblation to the disc (does not go to hell). All rivers—Gaṅgā, Godāvarī and Revā which give salvation, abide in the water of śālagrāma. A man who being highly devoted worships in Kaliyuga a śālagrāma by means of various offerings of eatables, flowers, incense, lights, smearings, songs, musical instruments, hymns, rejoices in the company of Viṣṇu for a thousand crores of kalpas. That fruit which is seen (to be obtained) by worshipping and extolling crores of phalluses, is had (by the worship) of a śālagrāma (just) for a day. Men devoid of reasoning on worshipping a phallus made of śālagrāma stone (even) once, go to (i.e., obtain) salvation. Gods, deities, yakṣas and the fourteen worlds live there where Viṣṇu in the form of the śālagrāma stone lives. The manes of the man who has faith in the śālagrāma stone remain pleased in heaven for a hundred kalpas. What is the use of drinking thousand (times) the five products of cow for the men who everyday drink the water from a śālagrāma stone? So also what is the use of visiting thousands of crores of holy places, if a man would drink the auspicious water from the śālagrāma stone? Where there is a śālagrāma stone, there (within a distance of) three yojanas all gifts (given) and sacrifices (performed) would be a crorefold effective. A man devoted to Viṣṇu, who would drink water equal to (i.e., of the measure of) a dropfrom the śālagrāma stone, would never again drink mother’s milk (i.e., would not be born). Even an insect which dies within the distance of a krośa in the vinicity [vicinity?] of a śālagrāma goes to the excellent world ofViṣṇu. He who gives the excellent gift, viz. a disc of the śālagrāma stone, has given the globe along with mountains, groves and forests. A man who would beget money (by trading in) the śālagrāma stone, a seller (of the stone) and one who approves of (such sale), and he who takes delight in testing (the stone)—all these go to hell (and live there) till deluge. Therefore, O vaiśya, a man should avoid the purchase or sale of the disc.

146b-151a. O vaiśya, what is the use of prolixity? A man who is afraid of sins, should always do the mental recitation of the name of Vāsudeva, i.e., Viṣṇu, which removes all sins. A man obtains that fruit by saluting Garuḍa-bannered (Viṣṇu), which he, with his senses controlled, obtains by practising severe penance in a forest. A man, even after having committed, (due to) being full of delusion, many sins, goes to Viṣṇu who removes all sins, (and) not to hell. By reciting the names of Viṣṇu a man obtains (the fruit of having visited) all those holy places and sacred abodes. Those devoted ones who resort to god Viṣṇu, the holder of the Śārṅga (bow), do not reside in the same world as Yama, and would not have a hell as their abode.

15lb-152a. O vaiśya, one who is a devotee of Viṣṇu and who censures Śiva would not obtain (i.e., go to) Viṣṇu’s heaven; he goes to a great hell.

152b-164. It is heard from Lomaśa that if a man by chance observes fast on the eleventh day of a month, he does not undergo agony (caused) by Yama. There is nothing else that is as purifying as this in the three worlds. Both the days (i.e., the two ekādaśī days) of Viṣṇu destroy sins. O best among vaiśyas, as long as a creature does not observe a fast on the day sacred to Viṣṇu, sins live in his body. Thousands of horse sacrifices and hundreds of Rājasūya (sacrifices) are not equal (even) to a sixteenth part of (the merit due to) a fast on the eleventh day. All that sin which men have committed with the eleven organs (of cognition and action), O vaiśya, perishes by (observing) the fast on the eleventh day. There is no other (vow bringing) merit like the (fast on) the ekādaśī (day). Even those who have observed (the ekādaśī-fast) under some pretext, do not go under the sway of the son of the Sun (i.e., Yama). It grants heaven and salvation; it gives good health. It gives a good wife; it gives sons that live (i.e., that do not die before the parents). O vaiśya, Gaṅgā, Gayā, Kāśī, Puṣkara or even any place sacred to Viṣṇu cannot be equated to the day of Viṣṇu (i.e., ekādaśī). Yamunā and Candrabhāgā are not equal to Viṣṇu’s day (i.e., ekādaśī) by which the position of Viṣṇu is obtained without any effort. O vaiśya, by keeping awake during the night and observing a fast on Viṣṇu’s day a man certainly emancipates ten ancestors of the father’s family, ten of the mother’s family and ten of the wife’s (family). Those, who have given up attachment to the pairs (of opposites), who have made him (i.e., Viṣṇu) having the enemy of serpents (i.e., Garuḍa) as his banner as their abode, who wear garlands, who have put on yellow garments, go to Viṣṇu’s abode. A sinner who observes a fast in his childhood, youth or old age on the ekādaśī day, does not meet with a great misery, O best among vaiśyas.

I65-167a. Men go to heaven by having observed a fast for three nights or having bathed at holy places or by having donated gold, sesamum seeds and cows. O vaiśya, those who do not bathe at the sacred places or who have not given (a gift of) gold or who have not practised penance are unhappy everywhere. I have told you in brief what piety is. I have defined hell (also).

167b-170. (A man should have) no malice towards any being by words, thoughts or physical acts. (He should) control (his) senses; (he should give) gifts; (he should) worship Viṣṇu; and should always properly follow the duties pertaining to the caste and stage of life. O vaiśya, a man who desires (to go to) heaven should never tell (anyone) about his penance and gifts. He should thus give according to his capacity and with a desire for his own well-being sandals, garments, food, leaves, roots, fruits and water. O vaiśya, even a poor man should make his day productive.

171-174. In this world and in the next one what is not given does not come (to help a man). The donors do not meet with the agonies (inflicted) by Yama. They have a long life and repeatedly become wealthy. What is the use of talking much in this matter? People meet with misery by wicked deeds. Men (engaged) in pious works everywhere and at all times go up to heaven. Therefore, (right) from childhood one should collect religious merit. Thus I have told you everything. What else do you desire to hear?

Vikuṇḍala said:

175-179 O gentle sir, having heard your words my mind is pleased. The water of Gaṅgā instantly removes sins. (So also) the words of the good remove sins instantly. To oblige (others), to talk agreeably is the natural virtue of the good. Who makes the moon, the orb of (i.e., containing) nectar, cold? O you divine messenger, then tell me through pity towards me who am asking you, how can my brother have instant acquital from hell?

Hearing these words of (i.e., uttered by) him, the divine messenger, observing meditation for a moment, and being tied by the bond of friendship (with Vikuṇḍala) said: “O vaiśya, if you desire heaven for your brother, then give him all the religious merit that you have collected in your eighth existence.”

Vikuṇḍala said:

180. What is that religious merit? How was it produced? Which was my former existence? O messenger, tell all that to me so that I shall quickly give (my religious merit to my brother.)

The dive messenger said:

181-189. O vaiśya, listen, I shall explain to you that merit with its cause. Formerly in the holy Madhuvana lived a sage named Śākuni. He was endowed with penance and learning, and was equal to Brahman in lustre. He begot nine sons like planets on (his wife) Revatī: Dhruva, Śīla, Budha, Tārā, and Jyotiṣmat, as the fifth. These maintained sacred fire and took delight in household duties. Nirmoha, Jitakāma, Dhyānakośa and Guṇādhika—these four sons of the brāhmaṇa were detached from the householder’s life. Being free from all desires they took to the fourth stage of life. They lived in the same village. They all were detached and had no possessions. They were devoid of hopes, did not exert themselves, and looked equally upon a clod, a stone and gold. They covered themselves with anything; they ate whatever (they got). They received (food etc. only) in the evening; and they were greatly intent on meditating on Viṣṇu, They had overcome sleep; they had controlled their diet; they endured wind and cold. Looking upon the entire mobile and immobile world as Viṣṇu’s form, they easily roamed over the earth. They remained quiet with (i.e., did not talk to) one another. The meditating saints did not perform any act for (personal) gain. They had achieved knowledge, had no doubt and were conversant with the modifications of thought (cidvikāra).

190-200a. Thus, these, oppressed by hunger and thirst came in the noon to the house of you, a brāhmaṇa, who were in your eighth existence staying with the members of your family like the son and the wife in Madhyadeśa. You saw them in the courtyard of your house when offerings were being made to all deities (before meals). With faltering words, with tears in your eyes, with joy and confusion, you greeted them all by prostrating before them respectfully, by saluting their feet by (keeping your) head (on their feet) and joining (the palms of) your hands in obeisance and with sweet and agreeable words: “Today my existence is fruitful, so also my life is fruitful. Today Viṣṇu is pleased with me. Today I have secured a protector, and am purified. Today I am blessed, my house is blessed, members of my family are blessed today, my parents are blessed today, my cows, my learning, my wealth are blessed today, since I have seen your feet removing the three (kinds of) miseries, for seeing you is as fortunate as seeing Viṣṇu himself”. Having thus adored them and having washed their feet (with water) you held that (water) on your head with great devotion, O best among the vaiśyas. O vaiśya,you held the water (used) for (washing their) feet on your head. Having worshipped them with sandal (-paste), flowers, sacred rice-grains, incense and lamps with devotion, you fed them with excellent food. The great ascetics were pleased and rested in your house at night meditating upon the highest Brahman which is regarded as the light of lights.

200b-206. O best vaiśya, I cannot describe (even) with a thousand mouths the religious merit which you secured by (your showing) hospitality to them. Among the beings creatures are superior; among creatures the intellectuals are superior. Among the intellectuals gods are superior. Among men brāhmaṇas are superior. Among brāhmaṇas the learned are superior; among the learned those of firm determination are superior. Among those superior are those who carry out their determinations into action. Among them superior are those who know Brahman. Therefore, they are to be very much adored, and so they are best in the three worlds. O best among the vaiśyas, their company destroys great sins. The knowers of Brahman taking rest in the house of a householder and pleased thereby destroy in a moment the sins collected from one’s birth. A sage staying (in a householder’s home) for a night completely burns the householder’s sins accumulated upto his death. Give that religious merit to your brother, by which he will be liberated.

207-209. Hearing these words of the messenger, he quickly gave his merit (to his brother). The brother too came out of hell with his mind pleased. Being honoured with a shower of flowers by gods they went to heaven. Well honoured by the two (brothers) the messenger went as he had come. The son of a vaiśya, having heard the messenger’s words which enlightened the entire world, which were like the words of the Veda, having emancipated his brother by giving him the merit of his deeds, went with him to the excellent world of the lord of gods.

210. O king, he who would recite or hear this account, would, being free from grief, obtain the fruit of (presenting) a thousand cows.

Footnotes and references:


Narakān Ekaviṃśati—The twenty-one hells according to the Manusmṛti (IV. 88-90) are as follows:

Tāmisra, Andhatāmisra, Mahāraurava, Raurava, Kālasūtra, Mahānaraka, Saṃjīvana, Mahāvīci, Tapana, Sampratāpana, Saṃhāta, Sakākola, Kuḍmala, Pratimūrtika, Lohaśaṅku, Ṛjīṣa, Panthāna, Śālmalī, Vaitaraṇī, Asipatravana, Lohadāraka.

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