The Padma Purana

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

This page describes devasharman’s life in the previous birth which is chapter 89 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 eighty-ninth chapter of the Patala-Khanda (Section On The Nether World) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.

Chapter 89 - Devaśarman’s Life in the Previous Birth

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1-3. Thus addressed (by his wife) the best brāhmaṇa, Devaśarman, again spoke to his wife, having (his) welfare in mind, and talking wisely: “O good one, you have told the truth which destroys (i.e. removes) all doubts, for it has been said that good men, the truly wise ones, desire (the continuity of) their family. O dear one, I am not so much anxious about (getting) wealth as about (having) a son. With whatever means I shall produce (i.e. have) a son.”

Sumanā said:

4-11. A man wins the worlds through a son. A son emancipates (his) family. O glorious one, due to a good son, the father and mother survive. O dear one, it is better to have one son (only). What is the use of (having) many worthless sons? One son emancipates the family; the others (i.e. many sons) cause torment. Formerly only I have said that (these) others (simply) enjoy relation. Due to religious merit a good son is had; due to religious merit (birth in a noble) family is obtained. A good womb (i.e. being conceived by a noble woman) is obtained through religious merit, and a bad death is had as a result of sins. A heap of pleasures (is had due to religious merit), O dear one. I am telling the truth only. A man lives by celibacy, truth, penance, necessary means of living, gifts, restraints, forgiveness, purity, O dear one; so also by harmlessness, might and non-stealing also. By means of these ten constituents he produces Dharma only. By means of these constituents Dharma becomes complete as the foetus (becomes complete) by means of limbs in the womb. A righteous person produces Dharma with three kinds of acts (viz. of body, of mind and of speech). Dharma being pleased with him, gives him meritorious pleasures. The wise one obtains whatever he thinks of.

Devaśarman said:

12-14. O respectable lady, you have told me the entire excellent knowledge called Dharma. O glorious one, O you of a good vow, if you know, tell me how I would obtain a son devoted to Viṣṇu and possessing virtues. O sinless one, you have obtained (i.e. learnt) the whole way of Dharma from your father. O dear one, I know that due to the favour of Cyavana, with whom Viṣṇu was formerly pleased, you are one who expounds the Vedas.

Sumanā said:

15-20. O you who know religious merit, go to Vasiṣṭha. Request that great sage. From him you will obtain the son knowing religious merit, to whom religious merit is dear.

When these words were uttered by her, the best brāhmaṇa Devaśarman (said:) “O auspicious one, I shall follow your advice. There is no doubt about it.” Saying so, that best brāhmaṇa Devaśarman went to Vasiṣṭha who knew everything, who was bright, who was the best among those who practised penance, who, the best brāhmaṇa, remained on a seat on the bank of Gaṅgā, who was surrounded by flames of lustre, who was, as it were, another sun, who, the glorious one, was shining, who was the lion among brāhmaṇas and the best brāhmaṇa. He repeatedly and devoutly saluted, (prostrating himself) like a staff, that sage. That very lustrous son of Brahmā (i.e. Vasiṣṭha) said to the sinless one: “O you very intelligent one, be comfortably seated on the auspicious seat.”

Nārada said:

21-23. The best among the meditating saints who was seated, said to (Devaśarman) the treasure of penance: “O dear man, O glorious one, in your house, your wife and servants are well, so also everything is well with fires, with which sacred rites. are performed. You are healthy in all limbs; and you always practise righteous things.” Saying so, the very wise (Vasiṣṭha) again said to the brāhmaṇa: “O best brāhmaṇa, what cherished desire of yours (should) I fulfil?”

Nārada said:

24-28. Having spoken these good words to the brāhmaṇa, he ceased speaking. Then that glorious brāhmaṇa said to Vasiṣṭha, the best among sages, the magnanimous one, and the best among those who practised penance: “O revered best brāhmaṇa, (please) listen to my words; you may interrupt (me). Due to which condition (I am suffering from) poverty? How (is it that I am) not having the happiness of (having) a son? O dear one, this is my doubt. Tell me due to which sin (I am poor and sonless). Perplexed by great delusion I was advised by my dear wife, O brāhmaṇa. O dear one, sent by her, I have come to you. Tell me all that which will remove all doubt. (Please) be my emancipator from the bondage of the worldly existence.”

Vasiṣṭha said:

29-30. For a man there are five kinds of connections: Sons, friends, so also a brother and other kinsmen and relatives. These respective ones have been already explained to you by Sumanā. O best brāhmaṇa, those (sons) that are related (to the father) through debt, are bad sons.

31-36a. I shall explain to you the auspicious characteristic(s) of a son. He is attached to religious merit; his mind is always engaged in the practice of truth: he is pure; he is endowed with knowledge; he practised penance; he is the best among the eloquent; he is well-adorned with all rites; he is intent upon Vedic studies; he well knows all sacred texts; he honours gods and brāhmaṇas; he performs all (kinds of) sacrifices; he is a giver and a donor; is sweet-speaking; he is always engaged in the meditation upon Viṣṇu; he is calm; controlled; he is always friendly; he is always devoted to his father and mother; he is learned; he maintains his family. A good son having these qualities gives happiness (to his parents). Others having relation (with a man) cause grief and torment.

36b-38. O sinless one, what have you to do with a neutral son (giving) no fruit? All of them come in the form of sons to the worldly existence, and all of them go after giving terrible grief, O best brāhmaṇa. I shall explain all the wonderful deeds you did and preserved in the former existence.

39-53a. Listen, O you very wise one, you were in your former existence a śūdra, and none else; you were a cultivator of land, you did not have knowledge; you were extremely greedy. You had one wife; you always hated (others); you had many sons; you never gave (gifts); you never knew righteousness and perfect truth. You never gave gifts; you never studied sacred texts; you never visited a holy place; you never undertook a pilgrimage, O you very intelligent one. O brāhmaṇa, you thus repeatedly practised cultivation (of land), and O you best brāhmaṇa, you also formerly reared beasts, so also again and again you reared she-buffaloes and mares. O best brāhmaṇa, you yourself did such deeds formerly (i.e. in your former existence). Similarly, you greedily amassed much wealth. But you never spent it in a righteous way, even after seeing a worthy but feeble recipient; having cultivated land you did not give wealth (to others). O brāhmaṇa, having sold all cow-dung and your cattle, you amassed large wealth. You always sold butter-milk, so also ghee and milk and curd. Infatuated by the illusion caused by Viṣṇu, O brāhmaṇa, you thought of bad times and made this money (through making things) very costly. Indeed, you, the pitiless one never gave gifts at that time. O brāhmaṇa, you never worshipped the deities. On the parvan days (in a month) you never gave wealth to brāhmaṇas. On the arrival of the time for offering a śrāddha, you never performed one devoutly. When the forenoon of the day came, your virtuous wife said to you: “O very intelligent one, it is the time to offer śrāddha to (my) father-in-law, so also the mother-in-law.” Hearing these words of them (i.e. your wife and others), you left the house and ran (away). You never realised the path of righteousness, nor did you ever listen to it. Greed was your mother, father, brother. Greed was your relatives and kinsmen. Giving up righteousness, you always preserved greed only.

53b-65a. Therefore, you became unhappy, and were very much tormented by poverty. Day by day great avarice was produced in your mind. Whenever wealth always increased in your house, you were burnt by avarice of the nature of fire. (When) at night you slept, you thought more of greed. When you reached (i.e. when it was) the day, you were always filled with great delusions. (You thought:) When (would this money) be a thousand, a lakh, a crore, a hundred millions, a thousand millions, a million millions in my house? Thus, a thousand, a lakh, a crore, a hundred millions, a thousand millions, a million millions (worth of wealth) was (amassed); but (your) avarice never left (you). Thus, disregarding the time, it always increased. You never gave (gifts); you never offered oblations into fire; you never enjoyed (your wealth), O brāhmaṇa. Definitely you put (i.e. buried) it into the ground. (Your) sons did not know (it). O brāhmaṇa, you always adopted other means for the acquisition of wealth. Being intelligent you always asked people. Deluded by avarice, and asking other(s) about a spade, collyrium, having discussions, and asking (others) about alchemy, you wandered alone. You always thought about formulae that would give you success. You consulted the desire-yielding gem and (others) about entering into various castes. You were burnt by the fire of avarice, you did not move happily. You were blazing with the fire of avarice, you waited, and had lost your intelligence. O best brāhmaṇa, you who were (reduced to a condition) like this, were under the influence of destiny. When your wife and sons asked about that wealth, you never told them, nor did you give it to them, and having died you went to Yama.

65b-69. I have thus told you your whole former account. Due to these deeds, you are not having wealth, you are poor, O brāhmaṇa. Viṣṇu is pleased with him, in whose worldly existence his sons are always devoted, are of good character, endowed with knowledge, always engaged in truthfulness and righteousness. He with whom Viṣṇu is pleased, enjoys wealth, grains, a wife, sons, grandsons endlessly. Without Viṣṇu’s favour a (good) wife and (good) sons are not (obtained), O brāhmaṇa, to have a good birth in a family (i.e. to be born in a good family) is (indeed) the highest position of Viṣṇu.

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