The Padma Purana

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

This page describes acts of charity prescribed for a householder which is chapter 57 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 fifty-seventh 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 57 - Acts of Charity Prescribed for a Householder

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Vyāsa said:

1. I shall now explain to you the excellent merit of giving gifts, which was formerly told by Brahmā to the sages—the teachers of the Vedas.

2-30. The giving of proper objects with faith to a worthy recipient is designated as ‘dāna’ and gives the fruit of enjoyment and liberation. I take that to be ‘datta’ which is given with great faith to deserving persons. The rest he preserves for someone else. Dāna (giving gifts) is said to be of three kinds: obligatory, occasional, and optional. The fourth called vimala (i.e. pure) is said to be the best of all gifts. That gift which is everyday given to a brāhmaṇa who does not oblige and without desiring its fruit is said to be obligatory. That gift which is given into the hands of the learned for the appeasement of sin is said to be the excellent gift called ‘occasional’. The sages who have thought about religious merit have called that gift which is given (for getting) a child, success, glory, happiness, as ‘optional’. That gift which is given to those who know Vedas, to please the lord, and with a mind full of piety is pure and auspicious. Having secured a worthy recipient, he should, according to his capacity, resort to the merit due to gift. That worthy recipient whom he waits upon, protects him all round. That which is surplus in the food or garments of the family, should be given. If given otherwise, it does not give the fruit of the gift. He should devoutly give (gifts) to a learned brāhmaṇa, one born in a noble family, one who is modest, one who is practising a vow, and one who is poor. He who devoutly gives land to a brāhmaṇa who has maintained the sacred fire, goes to the highest place, going where he does not grieve. He who gives land with sugarcanes (i.e. land where sugarcanes are growing), so also land with wheat (growing in it), to (a brāhmaṇa) learned in the Vedas, is not reborn. He who gives (a piece of) land, even of the measure of a cow’s hide, to a poor brāhmaṇa, is freed from all sins. Here (i.e. in this world) there is no greater gift than the gift of land. Giving food is equal to that, and gift of knowledge (i.e. teaching) is superior to that. He who duly gives knowledge to a calm, pure, religious brāhmaṇa is honoured in Brahmā’s heaven. A man should everyday give with devotion gold to a brahmacārī ‘religious student’. Being freed from all sins, he would obtain the position of Brahman. By giving food to a householder a man obtains (its) fruit. Food alone should be given to him. By giving it the giver obtains the highest position. Observing a fast with his mind controlled, and being calm and pure, he should honour seven or five brāhmaṇas with black sesamum and especially with honey on the full moon day of Vaiśākha (saying), ‘May Dharmarāja be pleased’; from the time he has this in mind, all the sin committed during his life time perishes in a moment. He who, having put sesamum seeds or gold, or honey or ghee on a hide of a black antelope, gives them to a brāhmaṇa, overcomes all sin. He who gives food with ghee, a jar with water to brāhmaṇas, especially on the full moon day of Vaiśākha, after having assigned it to Dharmarāja is freed from fear. He who pleases seven or five brāhmaṇas with water pots with gold and sesamum seeds, removes (the sin of) killing a brāhmaṇa. Being calm and fasting, wearing a white garment, a twice-born who gives on the twelfth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Māgha after offering sesamum seeds into fire, sesamum seeds only, to brāhmaṇas, overcomes all the sin that he has committed from his birth. When the new moon day arrives, he should give whatever little (he can) to a poor brāhmaṇa, dedicating it to Viṣṇu, the lord of gods, saying, ‘May the ancient god Hṛṣīkeśa Viṣṇu be pleased.’ That moment only his sin committed during the past seven births, perishes. He who would, on the fourteenth day of the dark half, propitiate the trident-holder god (i.e. Śiva) through a brāhmaṇa, would not be re-born. Especially on the eighth day of the dark half, he having bathed and honoured a religious brāhmaṇa should, after washing his feet etc. duly give him his own wealth saying, ‘May Śiva be pleased with me.’

31-43. Being freed from all sins, he obtain s the highest position. Devoted twice-borns should worship Viṣṇu on the fourteenth day, or especially on the eighth day of the dark half, so also on the new moon day. He who observes a fast on the eleventh day, and would worship Viṣṇu through a brāhmaṇa, would go to the highest position. This day, the twelfth of the bright half, is called Vaiṣṇavī (i.e. sacred to Viṣṇu). On that day (a man) should carefully propitiate Viṣṇu. Whatever is given to a pure brāhmaṇa by dedicating it to lord Viṣṇu only, is said to have inexhaustible fruit. One who desires to propitiate a particular deity should honour brāhmaṇas. By that he would please that deity. Deities always dwell in the bodies of brāhmaṇas. Sometimes, when brāhmaṇas are not available, the deities are worshipped in their images etc. Desiring a fruit from them he should carefully worship the deities in images or especially in (i.e. represented by) brāhmaṇas everyday. He who desires power, should always worship Indra. He who longs for divine glory and knowledge, should worship Brahmā. He who desires good health (should worship) the Sun; he who longs for wealth, should worship Fire. He who desires success in undertakings, should worship Vināyaka. He who desires pleasures, should worship the Moon; he who longs for strength should worship the Wind. He who desires freedom from the worldly existence should carefully worship Viṣṇu. He who desires deep, abstract meditation, liberation and also divine knowledge, should carefully worship Śiva, the lord of gods. Those who desire great satisfaction worship Śiva and Viṣṇu. Giving water gives greater satisfaction than that.

44-55a. He who gives oil, gets desired progeny; the giver of a lamp gets excellent eye. The giver of land gets everything. One who gives gold gets long life. He who gives a house, obtains excellent houses; he who gives silver, gets excellent beauty. He, who gives a garment, lives in the same world as the Moon. The giver of a horse gets an excellent vehicle. The giver of food gets the wealth desired by him; the giver of a cow obtains the world of Brahmā. The giver of a vehicle or a bed obtains a wife. He who grants fearlessness, obtains affluence. The giver of grains gets eternal happiness; he who gives (i.e. teaches) sacred text, reaches eternal Brahman. A man should give according to his capacity grains also to brāhmaṇas endowed with Vedic knowledge. After death he gets (i.e. goes to) heaven. By giving food to cows he is freed from all sins. By giving fuel a man has his fire kindled. He should always give fruits, roots, drinks and vegetables to brāhmaṇas. He should always be joyful. He who gives medicine, oil, food to a sick person for curing the disease, becomes free from diseases and happy and lives long. A man who gives an umbrella and sandals crosses the path that is sharp like a razor’s edge leading to the hell Asipatravana and severe heat. He should give that, desiring that only eternally, to a virtuous person, which is most desired in the world and which is expected in the house. That which is given during the transition of one solstice to another, of the equinoctial point, at the time of the lunar or solar eclipses, or on a Saṃkrānti day etc., becomes inexhaustible. By giving (gifts) at sacred places like Prayāga, or at auspicious abodes, or at (the bank of) rivers and streams, he obtains inexhaustible (fruit).

55b-67. For beings there is no greater religious merit here than giving in charity. Therefore the twice-born should give (gifts) to a learned brāhmaṇa. In the same way he who desires his well-being, he who desires liberation, should give (gifts) to brāhmaṇas for (going to) heaven or for the destruction of his sins. He who, of an irreligious nature, would stop through folly, (gifts) being presented to brāhmaṇas, fire or gods, would go to the womb of an animal. A king should drive him, after forfeiting all his wealth, out of his country, who, having earned wealth, would not honour brāhmaṇas and gods. That brāhmaṇa who, at the time of famine, does not give food etc. to twice-born ones who are dying, stands condemned. (Brāhmaṇas) should not accept (gifts) from him and should not stay with him. The king should find out (facts about) him and drive him out of his country. He who later gives his wealth, the means of religious merit, to good people, is a greater sinner than those (mentioned) earlier, and such a man is roasted in hell. O best brāhmaṇas, a man should give gifts to those brāhmaṇas who study the Vadas [Vedas?], are learned, have their senses controlled, are endowed with truthfulness and restraint. A man should feed a learned, religious brāhmaṇa, even though he has eaten (his meal), but not a fool, who does not behave properly (though he) has starved for ten days. He who, ignoring a learned brāhmaṇa who has approached him, gives (gifts to someone else), becomes sinful due to that act and burns his family to the seventh (descendant). If there is a brāhmaṇa who is superior in respect of good character or learning, he should exert to give him by bypassing (the brāhmaṇa that is) nearby. He who would accept what is honoured and would give just what is honoured—both these go to heaven; but (if the) reverse (is done) they go to hell.

68-78. A man knowing Dharma, should not give even water to an atheist, a sceptic, so also to all heretics and to one who does not know the Vedas. If a man who is not learned, would accept silver, gold, a cow, a horse, land, sesamum seeds, he is reduced to ashes like wood. An excellent brāhmaṇa should desire to get wealth from praiseworthy brāhmaṇas, even from kṣatriyas and vaiśyas, but never from śūdras. Seeking (i.e. he should seek) the contraction of his livelihood, (but) he should not long for enhancing his wealth. Attached to greed for wealth, he is deprived of his brāhmaṇahood. He would not obtain that position by studying all the Vedas and by fully accomplishing sacrifices, which he would obtain through contentment. He should not have a liking for accepting (gifts); he should not collect (a gift) from a śūdra. A brāhmaṇa who takes more (than necessary for) his maintenance, goes the downward path. He who is not contented, does not become fit for heaven. He afflicts people; he is like a thief. Desiring to emancipate his preceptor and servants he should gratify deities and guests, and should accept gifts from all (sources), but should never gratify himself. A householder who has thus controlled himself, and honours deities and guests, and who lives with a controlled mind, goes to that highest position. Entrusting his wife to his sons and going to the forest, the wise one, being neutral and composed should always move all alone. O best brāhmaṇas, I have told you this way of life of the householders. Knowing it one should follow it and make the twice-born ones follow it. In this way he should, following the householder’s way, continuously worship the only, eternal lord. Going beyond all births as creatures, he goes to the original cause and does not get another birth.

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