The Padma Purana

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

This page describes the vow of rishipancami which is chapter 77 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 seventy-seventh 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.

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 77 - The Vow of Ṛṣipañcamī

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Mahādeva said:

1-11. I asked the lord of the world about the vow best among the vows, leading to the prosperity of sons and grandsons, and giving pleasure and good fortune. Now, O beautiful lady, I shall tell it to you. Listen. This account of the excellent vow of the sages is divine. A woman in her menses, a great sinner, is necessarily freed from great sins after observing this vow. O goddess, it becomes inexhaustible to the dead ancestors, and is the means of righteousness, worldly welfare and satisfaction of sexual desires.

Śrī Viṣṇu said:

Formerly there was a brāhmaṇa named Devaśarman, of great arms, master of the Vedas, and always devoted to study. He maintained the sacred fire; he was always engaged in the six[1] duties (of a brāhmaṇa). He was well honoured by all castes; and had sons, animals and kinsmen. The wife of that chief brāhmaṇa was in her menses when the month of Bhādrapada came, and it was the fifth of the bright half. He, with his mind controlled and senses restrained, performed śrāddha of his father. At night he would invite (i.e. he invited) brāhmaṇas, giving happiness and good fortune. When it was the bright morning, he would make (ready) other vessels. He made his wife cook food in all the vessels. It had eighteen flavours, and gave delight to the manes. Then he separately gave invitations to brāhmaṇas. All the brāhmaṇas, the reciters of the Vedas came at mid-day. The best brāhmaṇa gave them respectful offering and water for washing their feet etc. Polluted by the menstrual flow he duly washed (their feet etc.) at that time. All they went into the house, and (sat) upon the seats indicated to them.

12-20. He specially offered them food with sweets. He performed the śrāddha duly and after offering the piṇḍas. He, engrossed in meditating upon his dead ancestors, gave everything to the brāhmaṇas like tāmbūla, gifts and various garments. (Then) he dismissed all the brāhmaṇas, intent on (giving) blessing. Then to his hungry relatives and kinsmen, he duly gave food at the time of the meal. When he had sat at the door of his hut at night, the brāhmaṇa’s wife brought water and washed his feet; then the bitch and the bull talked to each other. (The bitch said:) “O dear one, listen to my words—as to how the daughter-in-law acted towards me. I shall tell (just) like that. I shall not tell otherwise (i.e. in a different way). Some time by chance I went into (our) son’s house to protect the milk that was there. It was not seen by the daughter-in-law. The milk was drunk by a serpent; and it was seen by me. Then I drank it all. The daughter-in-law saw it. Due to that fault (of me) of touching the milk, my waist was broken for good. O lord, due to that grief, I have been miserable, My waist is broken. I do not relish food.”

The bull said:

21-30. O bitch, listen. I shall tell you the cause of my misery. When this day came, my son gave food to brāhmaṇas, but did not care for me. He did not at all, at any time, give me water and grass. I, a sinner, conceived to be so, have been tied without food. O bitch, this has undoubtedly happened due to my former sin.

O goddess, at that time the words were heard by the wise son. “This is actually my father who has been an animal in my house. And undoubtedly this is actually my mother. Due to (ill) luck she became a bitch. What should I definitely do?” Thinking like this, the brāhmaṇa did not get sleep. At night he became very thoughtful and remembered the highest lord. “I have sincerely practised many righteous acts. How shall I have auspicious (things)?” Thinking like this, he again slept at night. When it was the bright morning, he went to the sages. Among them Vasiṣṭha offered him a good welcome. (Vasiṣṭha said to him:) “O best brāhmaṇa, tell the reason of your arrival.” The brāhmaṇa who was thus asked, then saluted (Vasiṣṭha). “Today my existence is fruitful. My acts are fruitful today; my dead ancestors are pleased on (my) having had your sight which is difficult to be had.

31-41. I performed the śrāddha as told (in the sacred texts). I well fed the brāhmaṇas. I gave food to all members of my family. After the meals, the bitch came there and spoke (to the bull, as) we have a bull in our house. O brāhmaṇa, hear from me the words which she spoke to him. “The milk-pot in the house was polluted by a serpent. I saw it, and was undoubtedly very anxious: ‘When with this milk itself, food would be cooked, then due to that food, all brāhmaṇas will die’. O lord, having thought like this, I drank (all) the milk. The daughter-in-law saw it and beat me. Due to that I becoming lame am moving. Being very grieved what do I do?” Knowing her grief, the bull said to the bitch: ‘O bitch, listen. I shall tell (you) the cause of my misery. O bitch, I am actually his father in the former existence. Today he fed brāhmaṇas, and gave them much food. But he did not place grass or water before me. Due to that grief at that time, I have become miserable.’ On hearing this account, I did not get sleep during the night. O best sage, my anxiety started just then only. I am given to Vedic studies. I am proficient in Vedic rites. The two are very miserable. So thinking ‘What shall I do?’ I have come to you. Remove my grief.”

The sage said:

42-47. O Ugrajanman, listen to what you did in the former existence. This one was the best brāhmaṇa in the auspicious city of Kuṇḍanagara. In the month of Bhādrapada, the vow of Pañcamī that fell then, was neglected by him due to the śrāddha of his father etc. On that śrāddha day, O innocent one, his wife had menstruation. She did all like giving food to the brāhmaṇas. The most sinful and wicked one did not know it and performed (the śrāddha). On the first day she is a cāṇḍāla woman; on the second the killer of a brāhmaṇa. On the third she is said to be a washerwoman, and is purified on the fourth day. Due to that sin his wife became a bitch; and O you of good vow, this one was born as a bull due to that act.

Ugrajanman said:

O you of a good vow, tell me especially that vow, gift, sacrifice or (visit to a) holy place, due to which my parents would have salvation.

The sage said:

48-62. In the bright half of Bhādrapada, there is Ṛṣipañcamī. By doing (the vow of) it the sin of the menstrual flow, perishes. It gives sons and grandsons and gives salvation to the dead ancestors. In a river (i.e. on the bank of river), or a well, a tank, or in a brāhmaṇa’s house, a circle with cow-dung should be fashioned. He should put a pitcher there. On it he should put a vessel which is full of grains used by the sages. So also (he should put) a sacred thread, a fruit with gold. He should also install seven (images) of sages, causing happiness and good fortune. Those who have kept the vow, should invoke all of them and worship them. He (who observes the vow) should, eating once a day, offer eatables made from the corn used by the sages, and should eat that food (after) worshipping the sages. He should properly, very devoutly and with hymns, worship them. Then with ghee and gifts he should offer the libation. He should duly give (these) to a brāhmaṇa, (saying), ‘May this please the sages’. Having listened to the account properly, having gone round (the images), he should separately offer incense, ghee, eatables of five kinds, and a respectful offering. “May the sages always abide by me. May they complete my vow. May they accept the worship offered by me. Repeated salutations to sages. May Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, so also Prācetasa, Vasiṣṭha, Marica, Ātreya accept my worship. Salutation to you.” With incenses and charming lamps he should thus offer the worship. By the power of this being done the dead ancestors are at once released. O child, due to the ripening of the former acts and the power of the blemish of menstruation this was done. There is no doubt that he will get release.

For the salvation of his dead ancestors he observed the vow. They, intent upon giving him blessings, went along the path of salvation. Those best men who observe the vow of Ṛṣipañcamī, as told to the brāhmaṇa, should be known as meritorious. Those best men who observe this excellent vow of the sages, enjoy many pleasures in this world, and go to Viṣṇu’s position.

Footnotes and references:


Ṣaṭkarma—The six duties of a brāhmaṇa are: studying, teaching, sacrificing, acting as a priest at a sacrifice, giving gifts, and accepting gifts.

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