The Padma Purana

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

This page describes how to prepare sacred ash which is chapter 108 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 one hundred eighth 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 108 - How to Prepare Sacred Ash

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Rāma said:

1. O illustrious one, tell about the origin of the sacred ash, the greatness of the sacred ash, and the religious merit (earned) through the application of the sacred ash.

Śambhu said:

2-8a. O Rāma, I shall tell you about the origin of the sacred ash. (I shall tell you about its effect) by (just) remembering or telling about it. O king, listen to it. He who is that eternal god Sadāśiva, who is saluted by Brahmā, who has three eyes, who is the prop of virtues, who is beyond qualities, who is unchangeable and immutable, had once a desire to create on seeing the three qualities in himself—this triad of qualities should be known as the three Vedas. O dear one, having divided himself and the region there, he created on his right side the son, viz. Brahmā and Hari from his left side. At the back side he created Maheśāna (i.e. Śiva); thus the mighty one created three sons. As soon as they were born they became the three gods—Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. They distinctly spoke these words: “Who are you? Who are we?” To those sons Śiva said: “You are the sons, (and) I am your father. O sons, resort to these three qualities which are the cause of (all) acts.”

The sons said:

8b-16. O lord, who should resort to which quality and how long? How can there be the cessation from the qualities? Tell this to us.

Śiva said:

As long as you have (i.e. retain your) knowledge or as long as you live, each one of these qualities should be retained by you. Brahma should retain the quality of Sattva (i.e. goodness), Viṣṇu should retain Rajas (i.e. activity) and Maheśvara (should keep) Tamas (i.e. ignorance or darkness).

As soon as the lord of gods had said this, Brahmā took up Sattva. He could not move it; then how could he be capable of holding it? Abandoning that quality, he took up the quality of Rajas. He was not able to move it; (so) he took up the Tamas quality. He was not able to move it. He fell down and wept; and Viṣṇu held the Rajas quality with his left hand. (Then) Maheśa held the Tamas quality with his two fingers; one, i.e. Viṣṇu, with his two fingers, took up the Sattva (quality). He sustained Brahmā at the footstool, and danced. The giver of the boons, having seen Śiva who was dancing, who had a graceful form, whose form was (fair) like the cow’s milk, who was young and had three eyes, who held everything, who caused joy, said to his sons:

Śivā said:

17-18. O son, I am pleased (with you). Ask for a boon as desired (by you).

Then the son said to the father: “Give this boon to me: O auspicious one, let the worship intended for me be yours. You should always remain in me; you, the immutable one, are me only.”

Śiva said:

19-20. O magnanimous one, this will happen; there is no doubt. These two reddish and fair, Brahmā and Viṣṇu are my two sons. They are the fine soft hair of the armpits, they have my form and are innocent.

Then he said to Brahmā: “You resort to (i.e. take) this one quality.”

Brahmā said:

21-22a. O lord, I am not able to hold the quality indicated by you. O god, I shall sustain the Rajas (quality); let Hari resort to the Sattva (quality). This god will hold the remaining quality.

Śambhu said:

22b-24. After having taken the qualities, those gods were not able always to hold them. For being able to sustain (them) they again said to Śiva (i.e. the lord): “We are not able to hold these qualities for all the time. O lord if you are the giver of boons, (then) give us the capacity (to hold them).” Then hearing their words, Śiva said (these) words.

Śiva said:

25-28. Of all (powers), the power of knowledge (alone) is called power. Vidyā (i.e. knowledge) resorts to the three qualities. Ignorance also resorts to them. Please hold the essence of the three qualities after burning them. You should hold that what would be (remaining) there.

Then his son said (these) words: “There cannot be burning without fire.” Śiva said: “Fire certainly exists in the eye of Śaṅkara. These three qualities are the cow; and knowledge would be (i e. is) the auspicious cowdung. Upaniṣad is said to be the urine (of the cow). Then one should prepare the sacred ash from them.

29-30a. One should consecrate the cow; the dung ofher whose calves are dead, with the hymn Āgāvaḥ. (Uttering the hymn) one should make the cow eat the grass and drink the water with the hymn Gāvo gāvo gāvaḥ.

30b-34a. Or the one who observes the vow, should observe a fast on the fourteenth day of the bright and the dark fortnights. Then the next day one should get up in the morning and being pure and composed and having bathed, having put on garments that are washed, should go to the cow for the dung. Having carefully got her up, one should get the urine from the cow. One should hold it in a pitcher made of gold, silver, copper or clay; or (one should hold it) in a blue lotus, or a vessel made of palāśa (-leaves) or in a horn. One should have the cow-urine and a little cow-dung also. One should take in an excellent pot as told before, without letting it fall on the ground.

34b-35a. The wise one should purify the cow-dung with the hymn Śrīḥ me bhajatu (‘May prosperity resort to me’). With the hymn Alakṣmīrmayi (‘Prosperity should not come to me’). one should purify the cowdung.

35b. With the hymn Saṃ tvā siñcāmi (‘I sprinkle you’), he should put the cow-urine into the cow-dung.

36-38a. With the hymn Pañcānāṃ tvā one should prepare fourteen piṇḍas. Having dried them with the rays of the sun, one should put the balls of the cow-dung in the vessel already referred to. According to the rule in his own Gṛhya (Sūtra), he should install them and kindle fire. Then one should put balls (saying) ‘to Arṇadeva’.

38b-39a. The wise one should perform the two rites called Āghāra (i.e. sprinkling clarified butter upon fire) and Ājyabhāga (offering two portions of clarified butter to Agni and Soma). Then he should make offerings to the lord of destruction. Then thirteen offerings like Jaya etc. should be made.

39b-42. Then five hymns like Namo Hiraṇyabāhave (should be recited). Thus having made all offerings ending with the fourth with the accompaniment of hymns, he should offer (an oblation) to Rudra, Śarva with the hymn Yasya vai kaṅkati. A wise man should offer with these the three that are known. Having made the Vyāhṛtis (i.e. uttering the words like Bhūr, Bhuvas etc.), he should offer the right sacrifice (to Agni). Then having withheld the remaining fuel, he should add other water to the water in the full vessel with the Yajus formula Pūrnamāsāmta.

43-47a. He should sprinkle that water on his head with the hymn Brāhmaṇeṣu amṛtam. Then with the hymn Prācyām he should sprinkle the water in the directions. He shouldgive a present to a brāhmaṇa. He should bring a ball of boiled rice. With the hymn ‘For the protection of the rite of all gods, I shall bring this to you, O fire; cover this one of mine today’, he should cover the fire with that ball. The covering by it is said to be remaining in fire for three days. He should feed the brāhmaṇas, and being restrained in speech, should himself eat. If he desires more sacred ash, he should bring more cow-dung.

47b-50a. After three days or one day, on the third or fourth day, he, having bathed in the morning, having put on white garments, having worn a white sacred thread, having put on white flowers and unguents, with his teeth (brushed) white, (his body) besmeared with the sacred ash, with the utterance of the hymn Tad vā should, indeed, not give up the sacred ash. Having offered presents, he should observe the sixteen formalities like invocation.

50b-55. Then he should collect the fire. With (the utterance of) the hymn Agne, bhasma, he should take the sacred ash produced (from the cow-dung). Then, he should clean it with (the utterance of) the hymn Agnirasmi (‘I am fire’), then mix it with the water of Gaṅgā or the milk of a cow. Then having powdered camphor, Kāśmīra-saffron, uśīra, sandal with agaru (a kind of sandal) well, he should drop that powder into the sacred ash with sacred hymn (i.e. syllable) Om. Then the hymn (that is said i.e. prescribed) at the time of sprinkling the milk is: ‘O goddess, your sacred milk, giving intelligence, is nectar here (i.e. on the earth); due to your favour men are freed from all sins’. Then the learned one should invoke the small lumps of the sacred ash with the utterance of Om. With (the utterance of) the hymn, Aṇoraṇīyān the wise one (should do so).

Śambhu said:

56-61. Having thus procured the sacred ash and having taken it (in his hands), the knower of the hymns should clean it with Om and should get it hallowed with seven hymns. (He should apply it) to his head with (a hymn addressed) to Īśāna. (He should apply it) to his face with (the hymn) Tat Puruṣa. He should hallow the chest with the Aghora (hymn) and, the private parts with the Vāma (hymn), the feet with the Sadyojāta hymn, and the entire body with Om. Then he should dust the entire body from the soles of his feet to his head (with sacred ash). Then he should sip water, and should put on a white, washed garment. Having sipped water again, he should do his rites fully. Then having taken the sacred ash and cleaned it with (the utterance of) Om, he should, recollecting (Śiva) the three-eyed one, the support of the three qualities, the creator of the three (Vedas) and the mighty one, with the hymn Namaḥ Śivāya, put the mark consisting of three lines on his forehead.

62-64a. Saying (the hymn) Namaḥ Śivābhyām, he should also put the mark consisting of three lines on both his arms. Saying (the hymn) Aghorāya namaḥ he should put (a similar mark) on both his forearms. Then (uttering the hymn) Bhīmāya he (should put the mark consisting of three lines) on his back, and the backside of his head. (Saying) ‘salutation to Nīlakaṇṭha, the soul of all’ he should put it on his head. Then having washed both his hands, he should perform (the proper) rites.

Śiva said:

64b-65a. Having, in this way, prepared and applied the sacred ash, you will be able to sustain the (three) qualities, and then create the beings.

Śambhu said:

65b-70. The gods Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara, thus addressed by (Śiva) did like that according to the (proper) rule, and vied with each other, being unable to recognise one another, they saluted and said to Śiva: “Who should sustain which quality?” Then Śiva said to his sons: “Due to the (particles of) dust the power of doing rites and knowledge also perish. Brahma is seen to have a short life. He lives (longer) due to hymns. I was formerly decorated with the rows of ‘Brahmā’s eggs’. Having rested upon the Rajas quality, you are not recognising me.

71-78a. Viṣṇu has more power than Brahma, and has also longer life than Brahmā in sustaining the row of ‘Brahmā’s eggs’. The life of Viṣṇu is said to be of the measure of four inhalings of Maheśa and me. May that Viṣṇu support you due to his having more of the Sattva (quality) than Brahmā (has). He knows me the entire time, and would not forget me. His only worship is Sāttvikā, and neither Rājasī nor Tāmasī. Salutation to the Tranquil, Auspicious, of the Sattva quality; his possession of the Rajas quality is to be inferred. Salutation to Nīla, so the (Tamas) quality. Śambhu resorted to (it) like that. Formerly, he indeed possessed Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Therefore, worship of three kinds is laid down (in the case) of Śiva. Rajas, conjoined with Tamas is said to be awful. Śiva’s worship, even more awful than that is regarded as giving a good course (i.e. salvation); and Rajas conjoined with Tamas is capable of propagating the sacred precepts. The worship even more interrupted than that is said to give fruit. Tamas mixed with Sattva promotes a mixture. A mixed worship of Śiva, causing the good of the world, is fruitless. This way or that way (but) worship of the lord should be regularly done. (The worship) of Śaṅkara in whatever way is said to give a quick fruit to a man.”

Śambhu said:

78b-79. In brief this rule about the application of the sacred ash is told, O sinless one. It destroys all the sins of the speaker and the listeners.

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