by N.A. Deshpande | 1951 | 1,261,945 words | ISBN-10: 8120838297 | ISBN-13: 9788120838291
This page describes the vow of shravana dvadashi which is chapter 69 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 sixty-ninth chapter of the Uttara-Khanda (Concluding Section) of the Padma Purana, which contains six books total consisting of at least 50,000 Sanskrit metrical verses.
1. O best god, the able ones always have fasts. O sinless one, tell me about one Dvādaśī (only) which is auspicious.
2-10. The Dvādaśī in the bright half of Bhādrapada, along with the Śravaṇa (lunar mansion) gives everything, is auspicious, and (if) a fast (is observed on that day), it gives great fruit. Having bathed at the confluence of river(s) and fasted on Dvādaśī, a man obtains the fruit of Dvādaśī(-vow) without any effort. That Dvādaśī which is connected with (the rise of) Mercury and Śravaṇa (lunar mansion) is very great. Everything that is done on that (day) becomes inexhaustible. O Nārada, a man having bathed at the confluence of rivers when Dvādaśī is conjoined with Śravaṇa, would obtain the fruit of the gift of a cow. A wise man having placed a pitcher full of water, should put upon it a vessel, having installed (the image of) Viṣṇu in it. Then before it the wise one should offer eatables cooked in ghee. He should also devoutly give, according to his capacity, nine pitchers full of water. Having thus worshipped Viṣṇu, he should keep awake there. (Then) having got up in the spotless morning, and having worshipped Viṣṇu with flowers, incense, offerings of eatables, fruits and very beautiful garments, he should offer him a handful of flowers and recite this hymn: ‘Repeated salutations to you, O Viṣṇu, conjoined with Mercury and Śravaṇa. Destroying the stream of our sins, give us all pleasures.’
11-19. He should duly give pure food to a brāhmaṇa who has mastered the Vedas and the Vedāṅgas, and especially to him who knows the Purāṇas. With his mind concentrated, the best man should accomplish all this in this manner on the bank of a river. In this case also they narrate an old account which took place in this great forest. O brāhmaṇa, listen to it. Hearing it a man is freed from great grief. There was a country named Daśāraka, and to its west, O wise one, there was the Maru country, fierce due to all (kinds of) beings. The land there had the sand very much heated. There were also great serpents. (The land there) was full of trees with scanty shadow, and crowded with dead animals. (It was crowded with trees) like śamī, khadira, palāśa, karīra, and pīlu. There were fearful groups of trees full of strong thorns. It was full of men whose vitality was exhausted (i.e. who were very weak). Such region was at places seen there. Yet all beings bounded by karma lived (there). O wise one, there was neither water nor were there clouds, the receptacles of water. O brāhmaṇa, (there) best birds were seen dead, along with their thirsty young ones remaining between their wings.
20-34. Into that country—Marujāṅgala—like that, a merchant missing his caravan through (ill,) luck, entered. With his mind confused and oppressed with hunger, thirst and exhaustion, he did not know as to where a village was, where water was, or where he (himself) stood. Then he saw evil spirits with their senses overcome with hunger and thirst. They were large, wicked, fierce; were fleshless (i.e. very weak) and they were fearful to look at. He saw one (of them) looking ugly and mounted upon the shoulders of an evil spirit and surrounded by many evil spirits. It was not moving, was very fierce, and was accompanied by the sounds of evil spirits. The evil spirit also, having seen the man who had come to that fierce forest, got down from the evil spirit’s shoulder and approached him. Having saluted the best merchant, it said these words: “How did you enter this very fearful region?” To it the intelligent merchant said: “I who missed my caravan, (un-)fortunately entered this forest due to my former deeds. Thirst oppresses me, so also hunger oppresses me very much. My end has come. My words are faltering. I now do not see any remedy by means of which I would live.” When this was said by him, the evil spirit said these words to the merchant: “Wait for a while after resorting to a blossomed śamī. Then being offered a hospitable reception by me you will go at will.” Thus addressed, the merchant, oppressed by thirst, did like that. When it was the mid-day the evil spirit came to that region of the blossomed tree and brought down a beautiful pitcher of water, full of cold water, along with curd and rice and he himself offered it to the guest. Then merely by eating it, he was very much satisfied. And in a moment he became free from thirst and torment. Then the evil spirits came there. He gave a portion from the curd and rice (to all) one by one. The evil spirits were highly satisfied with the curd and rice along with water.
35-42a. Having gratified the guest and all the evil spirits, he himself ate at will, whatever was left of (what they had) eaten. When he was eating the good food and water were exhausted. Then the merchant said these words to the chief of the evil spirits: “This strikes me as a great wonder in this forest. Wherefrom did you secure the excellent food and drink? So also, how did you satisfy with just little food so many of these who are flesh less (i.e. weak) and have their sides broken? How is it that you have made your abode in this very fierce forest? Remove this doubt of me. I have a great curiosity (to know it).” Thus addressed by the merchant, the evil spirit spoke these words: “O sinless one, in my former birth, like me who was devoted to trade, there was no other wicked man in the entire city. Due to greed for wealth, I never gave alms to any one then. Then there was a virtuous brāhmaṇa friend of mine.
42b-54. On the twelfth day of Bhādrapada, when the Śravaṇa (a Zodiacal sign) appeared, he some time went with me to the Tāpī river to bathe. Her confluence with Candrabhāgā was holy. Candrabhāgā is the Moon’s daughter, and Tāpī is the Sun’s daughter. With the brāhmaṇa I got into the lukewarm water of them. Men fasted on the occasion of the Śrāvaṇa-dvādaśī, and gave pitcher of water full of the good Candrabhāgā water to Brāhmaṇas. I also gave Viṣṇu’s image, with curd and rice, with lids, with an umbrella, a pair of sandals, and a garment to principal brāhmaṇas, O very intelligent one. Then for the preservation of my wealth, I, on her bank, and in (keeping with my) vow, gave, after fasting, a charming pitcher of water. Having done that, I came home, and after some time, I expired, and due to my heresy I was reduced to the state of an evil spirit in this terrible forest like the family of snakes. On the occasion of Śravaṇa-dvādaśī, I gave a pitcher of water. The same is received by me at mid-day every day. All other brāhmaṇas who were sinful, who had sexual union with other’s wives, and who had plotted against their masters, became evil spirits. Here, in this Maru region, the men were born as goblins and evil spirits; and they have become my friends here. The eternal highest soul, revered Viṣṇu is imperishable. That which is offered with reverence to him is said to be inexhaustible. Though they are repeatedly satisfied with inexhaustible food, they do not at all give up their state of evil spirits and weakness.
55-61. I, after having honoured with food a guest (like) you who have come (here), have become free from the state of an evil spirit, and will obtain the highest position (viz. salvation). But these, abandoned by me, will experience terrible suffering due to their acts in this very fearful forest. O noble one, with a desire to favour me, take down the names and their lineage which are (given by me). There is an auspicious box in your upper garment. Then reaching the Himālaya mountain, you will then obtain a treasure there. O very intelligent one, then go to Gayāśīrṣa, and perform a śrāddha.” Having thus instructed the merchant as he liked, he dismissed him. He (too) being eager went away. Having reached his house first, he (then) later went to the Himālaya mountain. Then taking the treasure seen there he came (to Gayāśīrṣa). Taking one-sixth portion of it he went to Gayāśīrṣa.
62-75. The very intelligent one went to Gayā, performed a śrāddha, (so also) a śrāddha offered to the evil spirits duly and as indicated. Taking (i.e. uttering) the names and (mentioning) the families, he offered a piṇḍa to everyone. He whose śrāddha the merchant would perform by day, showed him his body in his dream and said: “O noble one, O sinless one, by your favour I have abandoned the state of an evil spirit, and have reached the highest condition.” In this way the noble-minded one having duly performed (the śrāddhas) at Gayāśīrṣa, later went, repeatedly meditating upon Viṣṇu, to his own house. The very intelligent one, in the bright fortnight of Bhādrapada when it was the occasion of Śravaṇa-dvādaśī, with all necessary things went to the confluence of the rivers. Having bathed at the confluence of the rivers, he observed the Dvādaśī fast. Then he bathed there, gave (gifts to brāhmaṇas) and worshipped Viṣṇu. Then he with a concentrated mind gave presents to a brāhmaṇa according to the manner specified in the sacred texts. Then the intelligent merchant returned. When every year the month of Bhādrapada arrived, on the occasion of Śravaṇa-dvādaśī (he bathed) at the confluence of rivers. Thus dedicating everything to Viṣṇu, he performed all (the rites). After a long time he died. He obtained a great position which is difficult to be obtained by men. Even now he being waited upon by Viṣṇu’s servants, plays in Vaikuṇṭha. O brāhmaṇa, thus you observe the Dvādaśī-vow. It gives all good fortune in this world and the next. It produces good ideas, it is great, and removes all sins. He who, on the occasion of the Śravaṇa-dvādaśī observes such a vow, goes to Viṣṇu’s world due to the efficacy of this vow.