The Padma Purana

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

This page describes reciting and listening to puranas is meritorious which is chapter 115 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 fifteenth 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.

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 115 - Reciting and Listening to Purāṇas Is Meritorious

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Śrī Rāma said:

1. O best brāhmaṇa, how did (the brāhmaṇa) knowing the Purāṇa explain it to the mean brāhmaṇa to whom heaps of sins had come?

Śambhu said:

2-7. Union takes place in teaching and learning. When they go together, O Rāma, in a year the sin of a sinner goes away. O you descendant of Kakutstha, when the knower (i.e. the reader) of a Purāṇa knows all the essential things, then even repeated heap of sins perishes, as the heap (i.e. column) of smoke perishes when a large fire perishes. A moth is capable of destroying a lamp, (but) not (capable of) destroying fire. As one who frees the mortals seized with the fear of ghosts etc., so a public reader of Purāṇas destroys the sin committed by others. One who knows a spell would send away (the ghost etc.), and not he who is afflicted. Similarly, a public reader of Purāṇas does not receive any sin. One who knows Purāṇas, destroys the sin committed by himself or by others, and even (the fruit of) a very wicked sin.

8-11. One who has discrimination looks equally upon (Śiva) the lord of Pārvatī and upon Viṣṇu. He knows the acts of the world and those that are told in the Vedas; he mutters the Rudra(-hymn); he is very desireless. He is contented; he is calm; he is diligent in work; he is mature; he practises abstract meditation; and is controlled, as your reader of Purāṇas—the revered sage Vasiṣṭha—is, who has remained by your command in Ayodhyā and has protected the entire earth. The demon rushed to you. At the advice of Śukra the demon came to (attack) you. (He thought:) ‘I shall kill him when he is asleep. Otherwise there is no chance.’

12-16. Then the brāhmaṇa Vasiṣṭha, to whom your well-being was dear, knowing this (thought:). ‘There is no doubt that the demon will kill Rāma who is asleep and unaware. The demon has obtained a boon from Brahmā. I have to keep him off’. Thinking like this, the brāhmaṇa sage took the army and went out. The sage was unable to kill the demon who was immune to death. Then the great sage himself became a demon and said (these) words: “Why have you come to this forest resorted to by sages?” He said: “The king (i.e. Rāma) kills the demons. I have come to kill him.” The sage said: “What have you to do with him, alive or dead? Having eaten my flesh, and having fought with me, go (back).”

The demon said:

17-20a. How can you, a demon, be fit for my food?

Then Vasiṣṭha too, becoming a human being, stood in the sky (i.e. air). He spat on his head and struck him with his fist. He struck the demon. The sage made him flee. The two running (after each other) went to the ocean. At that time, the demon was seized by a crocodile living there. The sage was in Ayodhyā as before.

Śambhu said:

20b-22. Therefore, he who knows a Purāṇa, should do what is agreeable to him. I shall tell you the auspicious manner of listening (to a Purāṇa). On a holy day in the bright half (of a month), when the day and constellation are in union, when there is the (proper) Karaṇa, an auspicious moment, when there is the strength of the planets and stars, when old Jupiter remains with a young, wise Planet (a Purāṇa should be heard).

23-25a. (It should not be heard) in a dark fortnight, on an eclipse-day, or in the vicinity of an atheist. A man should listen to a Purāṇa having the characteristics as stated before. (He should listen to it) in a pure house, or on a pure altar, or in a place of learning, on the bank of a river, in a temple, in an assembly hall, in a beautiful monastery on the road, or in auspicious halls, O Rāma.

25b-30a. Having himself saluted the best brāhmaṇas, and especially him who knows the Purāṇa, a man should fashion a seat above (all other seats) and superior to all (other seats). He should gently say (to the reader of the Purāṇa): “Come to (this) religious seat.” He should declare what is to be done on the day of the commencement of (the recital of) the Purāṇa. Having given the expounder of the Purāṇa auspicious, fine, new garments and ornaments for his hands, neck etc., so also a proper seat, he should honour him with garments etc. After having worshipped Viṣṇu having the complexion like that of the moon and having four hands, and having put on a white garment, with sandal, flowers and sacred grains, and having offered him a tāmbūla, he should, for the removal of all difficulties, reflect upon him, of a pleasing face.

30b-34. Having honoured the members of the assembly, he should then pray to Gaṇeśa. He should worship him with the hymn: Oṃ namaḥ etc. (Then should follow) the eulogy of Sarasvatī. The commencement (of the recital) of the Purāṇa should be done in the morning. O Rāma, on the day of commencement three, five or ten auspicious verses (should be read). Double this number (should be read) on the second day. O Rāma, (the reading of) more verses than on the second day is prescribed for the third day. The narration and the hearing should go on without a break on all days. When (proper) arrangement is made, he should give the preceptor, the reader of the Purāṇa, tāmbūla etc. and should also listen to it on the next day.

35-39. The scripture says that every day Purāṇa should be listened to. If a man listens to the Purāṇa as a vow, he undoubtedly goes to that place wherefrom the Purāṇa (has come). There is no doubt that the sin committed on the day would perish, if he who desires to listen to (the recital of) the Purāṇa, has heard even one verse. He who would listen to the Purāṇa like this, would be free from the bond of the sin of a brāhmaṇa’s murder; so also from (sins due to) drinking liquor, snatching gold, and the sin due to (enjoying) his teacher’s wife. So also all the other sins which are committed and were formerly committed by men (perish). So also sins committed by the listener and the speaker in this world (perish).

40-49a. In Kaliyuga all brāhmaṇas do not know all things. Therefore, even if the narration is faulty, it gives fruit like the act of charity. Vyāsa, and none else, understood the import of the Purāṇas. I know it especially more than even Vyāsa or even Brahmā. In Kaliyuga, self-study, penance, hymns or oblation do not become so fruitful as listening to Purāṇa (is fruitful). There is no doubt that by listening to each Purāṇa even great sin perishes, as by living on Śrīśaila. Therefore, the knower of Purāṇa is the preceptor. He is venerable to the listeners and destroys (their) sins. There is no preceptor superior to him who would give the highest position. Those preceptors who are regarded as knowers of the hymns and Vedas, are not capable of giving all knowledge. Therefore, they are not teachers. O Rāma, generally goblins who are the ghosts of brāhmaṇas know the Vedic hymns, and not ones who know the Purāṇas. All who are averse to Purāṇas do not see (i.e. know) everything. Therefore, one who knows Purāṇas is a master who destroys sins. His worship is the worship of all. Troubling him is offending all. As among all gifts, gift of knowledge is praised, in the same way the public reader of Purāṇas is blessed; and giving a gift to him gives great fruit.

Rāma said:

49b-50a. What should be given to the public reader of Purāṇas? How much (should be given)? In what way (should it be given)? What kind of Purāṇa should be avoided? What kind of the reader of Purāṇas should be avoided?

Śambhu said:

50b-54a. O Rāma, a man should cause to give (i.e. should give) (the eatables having) the six flavours, food, drinks, oily substances, a house with furniture. All these are sufficient. (If) more (are given) greater fruit (is had). He should also give much wealth, a soft, decorated garment, ornaments of proper value. (These) he should give according to his capacity. Every day he should give sandal, flowers, or only sandal, or merely a flower, and seasonal fruits also. Similarly he should give him a tāmbūla, and salute him devoutly.

54b-58. At the close (of the reading session) of the Purāṇa, he should give gifts etc. O king, more (things) like land, gold etc. should also be given. Nobody remaining silent (i.e. not giving anything) should listen (to the Purāṇa). The worship (should be) done by the members of the assembly or by one only. At a temple worship should be done by all according to their capacity. O Rāma, a man should honour the knower of Purāṇas at a sacred place. O king, I have already told you the characteristics of a listener. I shall now tell you about the characteristics of a public reader of Purāṇas.

59-60. (A public reader of Purāṇas having the characteristics mentioned below should be avoided:) A man without a family (i.e. one not born in a noble family), a man having a great (i.e. an incurable) disease, a great sinner, a man who is condemned, a man without pure conduct, a man without (i.e. not versed in) Vedas and codes of laws. Also, a man having (i.e. a devotee of) another god, a man having a stinking speech, a defective man or a man having an additional limb, a man who has married a woman having a husband, a thief, one who harms beings and one who is condemned.

61-64. O best king, now I shall tell you about the Purāṇa that should be avoided. (The reader) should recite that Purāṇa which is narrated by the ancient wise ones, or one which is narrated by the great sages, or which the sages like Vyāsa have narrated. He should read the text of the Purāṇa, and should explain it after (properly) thinking over it in any language (like) a regional language, O Rāma. A man would not get the (desired) fruit by listening to a text in the regional language. Whatever the explanation, it is good for the Purāṇa. Therefore, O lord, ask for the Purāṇa which I shall (i.e. should) expound.

Śambhu said:

65-68a. Thus spoke the public reader of the Purāṇa. Gautama also listened to it. He himself gave three garments to the noble brāhmaṇa. It is learnt by us that he first listened to the Kaurma Purāṇa. He gave the (reader) more gold and bright garments. Then he listened to Laiṅga (Purāṇa), then to Vaiṣṇava and Vāmana also. So also to Pādma, Gāruḍa, and Saura, and Brāhma as well. Thus that Gautama listened to eight Purāṇas.

68b-73. Then he listened to Rāmāyaṇa, and also to Kaurma again. He always muttered the hymn Śiva Nārāyaṇa. He died, and went to Brahmā’s place. Brahmā honoured that brāhmaṇa who then went to Viṣṇu’s heaven. Being honoured by Viṣṇu, he then went to Śiva’s abode. That best sage Gautama was honoured by all. I have also narrated the rules for listening to Bhārata. Formerly Vyāsa composed that auspicious book in three years. By listening to it (a man gets religious merit). He who expounds Bhārata should not salute any brāhmaṇa except an excellent meditating sage. He who expounds Bhārata should be honoured by all.

74-77. That brāhmaṇa who every day expounds or would read Mahābhārata, is superior to all, and would emancipate all men. He who expounds one parvan or all parvans or some par-vans, becomes free from all sins, and is distinguished in the offering to gods and deceased ancestors. A man should salute that brāhmaṇa only; he should honour that worthy brāhmaṇa only; he should always feed him only; he should offer everything to him. The manner of honouring him at the time of exposition (is:). He should be honoured with garments etc. and a man should honour him according to the rules.

78-81. At the conclusion (of the recital) of Ādiparvan, (a man) should give (the reader) three garments, so also gold according to his capacity. At (the conclusion of the recital of) Sabḥāparvan, a pair of garments (should be given). At the conclusion of the recital of Ānuśāsika, Āraṇya and Svargāroha, the same (kind of) honour should be done (to the reader) as is done at the time (of the conclusion of the recital) of the Ādiparvan, O best among men. At (the conclusion of the recital of the) Karṇa, Aśvamedha, Virāṭa, Śalya and Droṇa parvans, three fine, pure garments should be given, or a couple of niṣkas. At (the time of the conclusion of the recital of) other small parvans, he should bring (and give to the reader) two niṣkas. At (the time of the conclusion of the recital of) Harivaṃśa, he should give the reader three garments with a niṣka.

82-84a. He should give (the reader a piece of) land at the time of the conclusion (of the recital) of the entire Bhārata. A man should worship the reader at the conclusion of the recital of every kāṇḍa, when Rāmāyaṇa is listened to. He should cause to give (i.e. should give) enough land or even gold. The words of the speaker, i.e. the preceptor destroy all sins. O best king, (they lead to) material welfare, religious merit, fulfilment of desires and salvation.

84b-88. All wise men become successful due to their listening to the exposition (of a Purāṇa-text). By (just) one listening (i.e. by listening just once to a Purāṇa) all sins like the murder of a brāhmaṇa perish. Have the men not heard about it on the earth? A man should every day honour the expounder (of the Purāṇa) with (the gifts of) a vehicle, wealth, gold etc. so that the heap of his sins perishes. Even other Purāṇas recited by sages destroy the sins of the listeners, especially of the speaker. The mind of him who would expound all the thirty-six Purāṇas, or listens to them, is never divided.

89-93a. The first Purāṇa is Brāhma; the second is said to be Pādma; the third one is Vaiṣṇava (i.e. Viṣṇu Purāṇa); the fourth one is said to be Śaiva; the fifth is said to be Bhāgavata. Bhaviṣya is said to be the sixth; Nāradīya is declared to be the seventh; Mārkaṇḍeya is said to be the eighth; the ninth is Āgneya (i.e. Agni Purāṇa); Brahmavaivarta is said to be the tenth; then (there are) Laiṅga (i.e. Liṅga Purāṇa), Vāmana, Skānda (i.e. Skanda Purāṇa), Mātsya (i.e. Matsya Purāṇa), Kaurma (i.e. Kūrma Purāṇa); Vārāha (i.e. Varāha Purāṇa) is also said (to be one of the Purāṇas); Gāruḍa (i.e. Garuḍa Purāṇa) is also said (to be a Purāṇa); so also Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa. Thus the wise know the Purāṇas to be eighteen.

93b-97. Similarly I shall tell about the Upapurāṇas hereafter. The first one is Sanatakumāra; after that (comes) Nārasiṃha; the third one is said to be Māṇḍa; then there is Daurvāsasa (i.e. Durvāsas); then Nāradīya; the next is Kāpila; then is Mānava; then is said to be Auśanasa; then comes Brahmāṇḍa; then there is Vāruṇa; there is one called Kālikā; so also there are Māheśa and Sāmba, Saura and Pārāśara, Mārīca, and the one called Bhārgava; so also Kaumāra. (These) are said to be eighteen Upa(purāṇas). Manu would be (i.e. is) the expounder of the eighteen Purāṇas.

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