The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes The Story of Brahmana Aitareya which is chapter 42 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the forty-second chapter of the Kaumarika-khanda of the Maheshvara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 42 - The Story of Brāhmaṇa Aitareya

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1. Some time after having established the holy spot, I thought in mind once again, with a desire to bless Brāhmaṇas:

2. “This holy spot does not shine without Vāsudeva, in the same manner as the universe does not without the sun, (for) Vāsudeva indeed is an ornament of all ornaments.

3. If Hari is not the leading deity in a holy spot, in a house, in the mind or in a scriptural treatise, all those things are improper and vile. Even a holy spot of swans turns out to be that of crows.

4. Therefore, with a desire to bless the whole universe I shall propitiate the Lord, the bestower of boons, the most excellent person and bring him to this holy spot with (at least) one digit.”

5. After thinking thus, O descendant of Kuru, I stationed myself here and propitiated the great Yogin by means of Jñāna Yoga (‘Path of Knowledge’) for a hundred years.

6. I used to repeat the eight-syllabled Mantra, viz. Oṃ namo nārāyaṇāya after restraining all the sense organs. Becoming identical with Vāsudeva, I became engaged in being merciful towards all living beings.

7. Being propitiated thus by me, Hari became visible to me, seated on Garuḍa and surrounded by crores of Gaṇas (attendants).

8. With palms joined in reverence, I welcomed him. I offered Arghya to Hari in accordance with the injunctions. I bowed down to him and having joined the palms together implored him:

9. “O Lord Nārāyaṇa (Viṣṇu), formerly your unborn, eternal form consisting of Nara and Nārāyaṇa has been seen by me in the Śveta Dvīpa continent.

10. O Janārdana, establish (at least) one of the Kalās (digits) of that form here. If you are pleased with me, let this be performed by you.”

11-18. On being requested thus by me, the Garuḍa-emblemed Lord said: “O son of Brahma, let it be so in the manner you have desired within your heart. Whatever you have desired will always take place here.”

After saying this, Lord Viṣṇu placed his Kalā here and went away. With a desire to bless the world, Viṣṇu was installed (here) by me.

As Lord Hari himself, the resident of the continent Śvetadvīpa, is staying here, the oldest Lord of the world Vāsudeva himself is remembered as Viśva.

When the splendid Ekādaśī (eleventh) day comes in the bright half of the month of Kārttika,[1] a devotee should take his holy dip in the springs, fountains etc. and worship Acyuta devoutly by means of the Pañcopacāra worship (i.e. offering five articles of worship, viz. gandha—sandal-wood or other fragrant paste, flowers, incense-burning, waving of light—dīpa, naivedya—offering of food to the deity).

He should observe fast and then keep a vigil the whole of the night, singing and playing on musical instruments in front of Hari. Or he should have discourse on Viṣṇu and his legend avoiding all the while hypocrisy and anger.

He should offer charitable gifts according to his ability. With delighted mind he should observe holy rites and restrictions. He shall be released from all the sins committed in many births, even if he is slayer of a Brāhmaṇa. There is no doubt about it. He shall go to Vaikuṇṭha by means of the aerial chariot of Garuḍa.

19-25. The man shall redeem one hundred and one generations of his family, O son of Pṛthā.

If a man performs the rite of Jāgara (i.e. keeping religious vigil at night) with the following twenty-five features on the Ekādaśī day, he is never reborn on the earth: It must be with full faith, great joy, enthusiasm and desire. It should be free from egotism. It must be accompanied by holy baths, offering of incense and application of unguents. Flowers should be offered and Naivedya (i.e. food offerings) should be dedicated. Arghyas are to be offered. At the end of every Yāma (i.e. watch of three hours), lights should be waved ceremoniously. Chowries should (be shaken at the sides of the Lord) with great delight. Bherī drums should be sounded. There should be provision for hearing the Purāṇas. Devotional dances should be held without sleep or dozing. O descendant of Bharata, there should not be any desire to taste something in order to quench hunger and thirst. The sweet fragrance of the Lord’s feet should be smelt. Songs that Viṣṇu is fond of, should be sung and worship should be performed. Pilgrimage to the holy places of Viṣṇu should be undertaken. The anus should be restricted (i.e. no evacuation of the bowels in the course of the holy rites). All the sense organs should be restrained and the vow of celibacy should be scrupulously observed. Hymns and prayers should be recited. Water to wash the feet must be offered. It must be accompanied by truthful Yogic practice and truthfulness as well as meritorious discussions-

26. In this excellent Tīrtha, there was formerly a Brāhmaṇa named Aitareya.[2] He was very prosperous and by the favour of Vāsudeva he had attained Siddhi.

Arjuna enquired:

27. Whose son was Aitareya, O sage? Where was his residence? How did that intelligent man attain Siddhi by the grace of Vāsudeva?

Nārada replied:

28-30. In this very (holy) place established by me, in the family of Hārīta, there was a prominent Brāhmaṇa named Māṇḍūki who was a master of the Vedas and the ancillaries to Vedas. He had a wife named Itarā who was endowed with all the qualities of a chaste woman. A son was born to her and he is known as Aitareya.

31. Ever since his childhood he muttered the twelve-syllabled Mantra (Oṃ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya) which he had learned and practised in the previous birth.

32. He never heard anything else. He never spoke or thought in his mind about anything else. That son of the Brāhmaṇa had such a power in boyhood then.

33-35- Thereupon, he thought that he was dumb. The father tried various ways to enlighten him. When he was not inclined to speak, his father mentally decided, O descendant of Bharata, that he was an imbecile. The father married another woman and had sons by her. That wife was Piṅgā by name and four sons were born to her. They were clever in performing holy rites. They became expounders of the Vedas and the Vedāṅgas (i.e. ancillaries to Vedas).

36-41. They were adored everywhere by Brāhmaṇas in the course of Yajñaṣ and Śānti Homas. But Aitareya continued to repeat the great Mantra in the temple of Hari three times everyday. He did not exert himself in anything else. Thereupon, on seeing the sons of her co-wife, the heart of his mother was rent to pieces. She spoke these words to her son: “It is only for causing distress unto me that you are born. Fie upon my birth and life! If the wife is insulted by the husband and if the son does not possess good qualities, it would have been better that the woman was not born at all. This is very clear. This Piṅgā is a meritorious woman because her sons have great good qualities. They are conversant with the principles of Vedas and Vedāṅgas. On account of their good qualities, they are honoured everywhere. Therefore, O son, unfortunate that I am, I shall drown myself in the place where Mahī meets the ocean. Death is far better. Of what avail is life to me! You too, O son, are a great observer of silence and a long standing devotee of Hari. Be happy.”

Nārada said:

42-46. On hearing these words of his mother, Aitareya meditated for a short while. Conversant with virtue, he laughingly told his mother, after bowing down to her:

“O mother, you have been overwhelmed by what is unreal and false. Though you are endowed with knowledge, you are (caught) within ignorance. O splendid lady, you bewail what need not be grieved, but you do not lament on what should be mourned. Why are you infatuated in this unreal world for this physical body?

Indeed, this is foolishness. It is not proper for the mother of (a person) like me. What is essential in the worldly existence is different. Deluded persons see a different (i.e. non-essential) thing as essential, just as one sees a glow-worm as stationary like a lamp at night. If you think that it is essential, listen to its worthlessness.

47-50. Human birth is of such a nature that it gives pain ever since conception, O splendid lady. The householder named Jīva (Individual Soul) lives in a house, the skeletal framework of which constitutes its supporting beam. It is fastened and fitted with the sinews. It is smeared and plastered with blood, flesh and fat. It is a receptacle for faeces and urine. It is covered with hair as though with grass. It is spread over by a skin of good colour. The mouth is its only big entrance. It is embellished with six windows. The two lips are the panels of the doors. The teeth do the work of bolts. Perspiration flows out through the vessels of the body. It is stationed in the fire of the jaws of Death.

51-52. Prakṛti constituted by three qualities (guṇas) is his wife. His children are Bodha (awareness), egotism, love, anger, greed etc. Alas, in this manner the deluded fellow functions! What are his delusions? Know them correctly.

53. Just as streams and currents flow continuously from a mountain, so also phlegm, urine and other secretions flow out of this body. It is for this body that the person feels a fascination.

54. There is not a single clean spot in the body which is the storehouse of all kinds of dirt. It appears as though it is a leather bag of faeces and urine.

55. After touching the excretory organs and vessels of the outlet, the hand is cleansed with clay and water. Still why does not man become disgusted with this pot of dirt?

56. Even after it is scrupulously and with great effort purified with scented water and other things the physical body does not cast off its intrinsic (odorous) nature like the tail of a dog (which does not become straight even if it) is twisted and turned.

57. If a man is not disgusted with the dirt and the bad odour of his own body, what else can cause his detachment?

58. Śauca (cleansing the bodily parts) is proclaimed as a means of dispelling the bad odour and sliminess in the body. After these two have been removed, he becomes pure if the innate disposition is pure.

59. A man who is defiled in his innate disposition does not become pure even if he performs the rite of Śauca till his death, with all the waters of Gaṅgā and with huge boulders or clay resembling mountains.

60-61. A wicked and vicious-souled man does not become pure by means of holy baths in the Tīrthas or by means of austerities. Does a perspiring man get purity on being washed in the Tīrtha?

Even if a man, defiled in his mental disposition, enters fire, he does not attain heaven or salvation. The only thing he gets is the burning of his body.

62-63. Purity of the mental disposition is the greatest Śauca (i.e. means of cleanliness). By this are to be judged all the holy rites as well as ordinary activities. The wife is embraced with a different emotional feeling and the daughter with another emotion. The son views the breasts (of his mother) differently and the husband differently. Hence one should purify the mind. Of what avail are other external means?

64-70a. One who is extremely pure in his mind, attains heavenly pleasures and salvation. The means of purification of the had odour and sliminess due to the faeces and urine of Avidyā (ignorance) and Rāga (passionate attachment) is the pure water of knowledge and the clay of excellent detachment.

Thus they know that this body is impure by nature. It is as much devoid of essence as the hollow bamboo. It has (no) pith like the plantain tree.

If an intelligent person thus knows that the body is defective and becomes' unattached and severed (from it), he goes out (i.e. is liberated). The person who clings to it fast, remains in the world.

Thus on account of various Karmans and defects not known, the life and birth of human beings is full of strain and pain. It is proclaimed as full of misery.

Just as (a wayfarer) surrounded by huge mountains stands still and helpless, so also the embodied soul enveloped by the outer membrane of the embryo stays in miserable condition.

Just as a man fallen into the sea remains agitated and excited, so also the human being drenched in the secretions of the womb, remains agitated.

70b-73. Just as something placed within an iron cauldron is cooked by fire, so also (the foetus) placed within the pot of womb is cooked by the gastric fire.

Misery is felt when one is continuously pricked by (red-hot) pins of fire. In womb one experiences eight times that misery and pain. Thus the misery of living beings within womb has been described. The misery of all the beings both mobile and immobile is in accordance with their respective wombs. A living being stationed there recollects all the (previous) births.

74-76. ‘I had been dead and was born again. I was born and (later) I died. Thousands of different sources of origin have been seen by me. Now, as soon as I am born, I will get consecrated. I shall perform great holy rites for the sake of prosperity, so that I will not be in a womb again. I shall learn and acquire the wisdom and knowledge of Hari that causes worldly existence to stop.’

Thus (the soul in the womb) remains there pondering over the means of salvation.[3]

77. As the child is being born, it experiences misery crores of times more than that within the womb. The recollection (of previous births) that it had during its stay in the womb, perishes as soon as it is born.

78. When it is touched by thè wind outside, it becomes deluded. The power of recollection (of previous births) is immediately lost, when it becomes deluded again.

79. After the loss of the power of recollection, the creature becomes enamoured of that (new) life immediately on account of the previous Karman.

80. Passionately attached (to worldly affairs) and deluded, people begin to be engaged in evil actions that should not be pursued. There they do dot know themselves nor others nor even deities.

81. He (the deluded man) never pays heed to what is conducive to his own welfare. He does not see even when he has eyes. Even when he goes along the level path along with (people) of equal status, he appears to stumble at every step.

82. Though he has intellect yet he does not understand even when he is urged and enlightened by learned men. So he undergoes strain and pain, becoming a slave unto passion and delusion.

83. In view of the fact that there is no recollection (of the experience within) the womb, scriptural texts have been expounded by great sages for recounting the misery thereof. They are conducive to the attainment of heavenly pleasures and salvation.

84. It is greatly surprising that even though there is the scriptural knowledge conducive to the attainment of all objects and performance of holy rites, there are persons who never aspire for the welfare of themselves.

85. There is great misery during infancy because of the lack of development of the sense organs. Even if he wishes, he is unable to speak or do anything.

86. There is great misery at the cutting of the teeth as well as on account of some congenital sickness. There is affliction due to various kinds of infantile diseases and the evil spirits harassing children.

87. Overwhelmed by thirst and hunger, the infant remains in some place yelling and screaming. Out of delusion, the child may take in even faeces and urine.

88. In later childhood, there shall be misery on account of the piercing of the ears, blows and beating by the parents, the ordeal of learning the alphabet and chastisement by teachers.

89. In youth the sense organs become (as if) maddened and get uncontrollable. Lust and passion inflict urgent pressure and torment on him. (Due to these) when can there be (real) happiness to one constantly overwhelmed by passionate attachment (during youth)?

90. One who is attached to worldly pleasures out of delusion, experiences very great misery due to malice and jealousy. Passion is instrumental in producing all defects in a person, as attachment is in the case of an angry person.

91. He does not get (sufficient) sleep at night because he is tortured by the fire of lust. Whence does he get happiness even during the day-time, since he is anxious and worried about earning money.

92. The pleasure due to sexual intercourse with women who are enjoyed by him but who (i.e. women) are the receptacles of all defects, is declared as one similar to the discharge of faeces and urine.

93. Honour and respect is overshadowed by dishonour and disrespect. Association with the near and dear is affected by separation and youth is swallowed by old age. Where is happiness without affliction and harassment?[4]

94. With his body wrinkled and hair turned grey and physique impaired and enfeebled, he becomes incapable of all activities and is (thus) worn out and infirm due to old age.

95. Youth and personal beauty of men and women, which formerly were mutually attractive, become, when overwhelmed by old age, not pleasing to either of them.

96. Due to his inability and infirmity, man overwhelmed by old age is assailed and insulted by his wife, sons and other kinsmen as well as servants of evil conduct.

97. Since an old and disabled man is incapable of achieving virtue, wealth, love and salvation, a person must perform holy rites (even while he is young).

98. A disturbance of the equilibrium of (the humours) of the body, e.g. wind, bile and phlegm etc. is called sickness. This physical body is proclaimed as a conglomeration of wind etc.

99-100. Hence this physical body of our own should be known as one full of sickness and ailments. Many miseries are caused by the different kinds of ailments in the body. If that is not to be known by oneself, what else shall I say? Hundred and one deaths lurk behind this physical body.

101. Among them, one is associated with the god of Death. The remaining ones are known as adventitious. The diseases that are said to be adventitious or casual, get healed by means of medicine.

102-106a. Death in league with Kāla is not quelled by means of Japas, Homas and charitable gifts. It is said that the following are the gateways of death unto the physical body: different kinds of ailments, living beings beginning with serpents, poisons and black magic. If the embodied being is overtaken by Kāla and if he is afflicted with serpent-bites, ailments etc., even Dhanvantari (the divine physician) cannot bring him back īo normal health.

Neither medicine, nor penance, neither Mantras, nor friends and kinsmen are capable of saving a man afflicted with Kāla (Death).

Death in league with Kāla cannot be stopped by means of elixirs of life, austerities, Japas, noble-souled persons, by mastery in Yoga and even by intelligent men collectively.

106b-111a. There is no agony like death. There is nothing as fearful as death. There is no terror like death unto all living beings.

Death cuts off and severs (association with) good wives, sons and friends, kingdoms, riches and pleasures all bound together by means of the bond of friendship and love.

Don’t you see, mother, that among a thousand persons there may or may not be five centenarians?

Octogenarians die and some men (mere) septuagenarians too die. Sixty is (supposed to be) a long life but even that is not certain.[5]

By the time the embodied soul reaches the fullest extent of the span of life, thanks to his previous Karmans, night in the form of death swallows half of it.

111b-116. Twenty years pass away without the pursuits of virtue, wealth and love in the period of infancy and in old age due to ignorance and slothfulness as well as senile incapacity.

Half of the remaining period is taken away from the persons by adventitious frights and risks and many kinds of ailments and griefs. Life is what is left (after all these).

At the end of life, one meets with the excessively terrible death. The man who dies is born again, thanks to his Karmans. He is born in crores and crores of species of life.

By death, we mean the separation of the persons from the different types of physical bodies they have taken. That is due to their previous Karmans. The destruction is not in toto.

There is nothing to compare with the misery of the death of a creature. It enters the great darkness even as the vital parts are being pricked and cut.

Excessively miserable, he laments and screams thus: ‘O father, O mother, O beloved.’

117-122a. People are swallowed by Death like a frog by a serpent. A person in death-bed is surrounded by his beloved ones and is abandoned by (distant) kinsmen. He heaves deep hot sighs with parched mouth. He rolls on to the four sides of the cot frequently. Having lost his sense, he forcibly (throws i.e.) raps and kicks with his hands and feet. While lying on the cot, he wishes to be taken down to the ground. From the ground he wants to come back to the cot and again to the ground. (Sometimes) he is naked and shameless. He smears himself with urine and faeces.

With the throat, lips and palate (parched and dried up), he begs for water. He thinks about his assets, ‘To whom will these go, when I am dead?’

On being dragged by the noose of Kāla (god of Death), he digs (clutches) the five low depressions in his body. Even as all (the others) watch, he dies producing a Ghurghura (grumbling and gurgling sound) in his throat.

122b-125. Like a caterpillar, the Jīva enters a new body and abandons the old one slowly. It grasps the new one partially and then leaves the old one.

To a person of discrimination requesting and entreating (others) gives more distress than death itself. The misery at death is momentary but that caused by solicitation is infinite. This is understood by me now, since the dead man (is my) preceptor. One should not entreat others. Greed is the cause of disrespect and contempt. There is misery at the outset and in the middle. There is terrible agony at the end.

126. This succession of sorrows and misery is natural in the case of all living beings.

Hunger is proclaimed as the greatest ailment among all sicknesses and disorders.

127-131. By means of food as tonic, it is subdued for a short time. The agony of the ailment of hunger is very acute. It destroys all strength. Overcome by it, a man dies as in the case of other ailments.

What happiness does a king have? His is only a conceit such as ‘(such and such a thing) is in my house.’ All his ornaments are mere burden. ‘All the unguents are mine.’ All the songs are mere prattling. All dances are the activities of the intoxicated ones. If we think deeply (we shall say) where is happiness in the enjoyment of a realm to the kings whose minds are worried and anxious on account of their desire for mutual conquest.

Great kings beginning with Nahuṣa have fallen down even after attaining heaven, their downfall being due to their pride and arrogance born of their prosperity and glory. Who derives happiness from prosperity?

132-134. Devas stay above (each other) excelling one another (in merit). The benefit of merit is enjoyed in heaven by men after cutting off the root, because they cannot perform any other holy rite there (in heaven). This is the terrible defect in this matter. (Just as) a tree naturally falls down on the ground when its roots are cut, so heaven-dwellers cause the people to go down when their merits are exhausted.

Thus if we think (deeply) on the matter, even in heaven Devas do not have (genuine) pleasure.

135-138. The misery of hell-dwellers is well-known. Why should it be described?

There are agonies to the immobile beings as well. They are burned by forest fires. They become withered due to frost. They experience the terrible ordeal of being cut by axes. Barks are peeled off for the purpose of making garments. Leaves, branches and fruits fall down due to fierce gusts of wind. They are continuously crushed and thrashed by elephants and other forest animals.

Thirst and hunger of serpents as well as their fury and misery are terrible.

In the world the wicked are struck or bound with noose. Thus, O mother, there is misery every now and then in the case of reptiles.

139. Germs, worms etc. are born and destroyed suddenly. Similarly animals and birds experience great distress and misery due to rain, chillness and scroching rays of the sun.

140. The deer are always afflicted with and afraid of the great pain of hunger and thirst. Listen to the miseries of herds of animals and of elephants,

141-146a. Hunger, thirst, chillness etc. torment them. They are killed, bound and beaten. Their nostrils are pierced. They are tortured with hooks, whips and goads, they are beaten with bamboos, lances, wooden hammers and goads. They are fettered in chains. They have the misery of lifting and carrying loads. They are tormented when they are tamed and trained for warfare. They are separated from their herds. They are taken to the forests and similar (miseries etc. befall them).

The world of mobile and immobile beings is pervaded by (i.e. full of) many kinds of miseries such as famine, bad luck, foolishness, poverty, the state of superiority and inferiority, death, political crises, revolutions etc. There is misery in mutual subjugation as well as in vying with one another for excellence. There is transitoriness of grandeur or regal power and the (sure) downfall of the exalted. Such miseries pervade (i.e. affect) all the mobile and immobile beings beginning with the (denizens of) hell and ending with human beings. Hence a learned man should abandon everything.

146b-149a. A man may place a load from one shoulder to another and consider that as rest. Every misery in the world is like this. One misery is (apparently) subdued by another.

Thus, on knowing that the entire universe is distressed, people are trying to excel one another, one shall attain the great Nirveda (i.e. complete indifference to worldly affairs). Absence of attachment is attained through this indifference. There is a possibility of the dawning of knowledge through absence of attachment. Through knowledge one shall realize the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu and attain salvation.

149b-153. O mother, I shall not find pleasure anywhere in this world which is like this, like the pure royal swan which points out unclean spots of the crow.

Listen, O mother, to the place where I shall remain calm and undisturbed.

The abode (fort) of Avidyā is extremely terrible. The different acts are large trees- Fanciful conceptions are biting flies and sharks. Grief is frost and delight is sunshine. It is full of the darkness of delusion. Greediness is like pythons and reptiles. Worldly pleasure is like the wrong path. It liberates lust and anger (i.e. gives them a free scope).

I have crossed that fort and entered a great forest. After entering it, those who know it do not bewail; nor are they defiled.

154-158. One is not afraid of anyone there nor anyone is afraid of him.

In that forest there are seven great trees, seven rivers, seven fruits, seven hermitages, seven Samādhis (meditations) and seven Dīkṣās (initiations). This is the form of the forest.[6]

The fruits and flowers are of different colours. Some of them are divine and have five colours. Some have four colours, some three, some two and some only one colour.

The trees putting forth these flowers pervade that forest. Seven chaste ladies stay there above the sun with their faces turned below. They take up the juices from the subjects above. Some may know all of them really.

159-162. There are seven mountains by which the three worlds are held and supported. There are seven rivers always flowing with the water of Brahman.

The following should be known as the mountains: Tejas (splendour), Abhayadānatva (offering freedom from fear as charitable gifts), Adroha (not harming anyone), Kauśala (cleverness), Acāpalya (non-fickle-mindedness), Akrodha (absence of anger) and the seventh one Priyavāda (speaking pleasant words).

These mountains are stationed in that forest of Vidyā.

The Hradas (whirlpools) are as follows: Firm resolve, refulgence, equality, self-control, absence of the sense of possession, penance and contentment is the seventh one.

Devotion arising from realizing the good qualities of the Lord shall be the first river.

163-166. Worship with flowers etc. is the second, the third one is circumambulation; the fourth is verbal in form comprising the eulogy (of the Lord); the fifth is dedication (of one’s self) unto God; one-ness with Brahman is said to be the sixth and the seventh one is Siddhi (achievement). These seven rivers have been mentioned here by Brahmā the Parameṣṭhin.

Brahmā, Dharma, Yama, Agni, Indra, Varuṇa and Kubera: these seven worship the seven ones, viz. Dḥruva and others. The confluence of these rivers is in a place near Vaikuṇṭha.

167. The quiescent, those who control their sense-organs, those who are contented within the soul go from there to the Supreme One, greater than the great.

Some are trees, some are female ones and some others are the knowers of truth.

168. Some call them rivers—all the seven arc the most excellent ones, conversant with perfect knowledge.

Desirous of performing the holy rites flawlessly, I am practising the vow of celibacy (Brahmacarya).[7]

169-170. There the sacrificial twig is Brahman itself. Brahman itself is the holy fire and Brahman is the bed of Kuśa grass; waters are Brahman; the preceptor is Brahman. This is the Brahmacarya of mine (i.e. the practice of the vow of celibacy). Learned men know this as the subtle form of the vow of celibacy. Listen to my preceptor, O mother, the person who imparted instruction unto me.

171. (Defective Text) There is only one to admonish and guide. There is no second one to chastise. Staying within the heart itself, he governs the man. Urged by him like water, by the Praṇava(?) I behave and act in the manner I am directed to do.

172. There is only one Guru (preceptor). There is no second one like him. He is stationed in the heart. I repeat what he says.

It was because they disrespected him, i.e. Mukunda, the preceptor, that all the Dānavas were defeated and degraded.

173. There is only one kinsman. There is no second one. He is stationed in the heart and I repeat what he says. All the kinsmen and relatives have been taught and instructed by him. They, the Seven Sages shine in the firmament.

174-177. The vow of celibacy must be resorted to. Listen what the life of a householder is like. My wife is in the form of Prakṛti. I am never thinking about her at any time in my mind. But, O mother, she always thinks about me in everything on my behalf. The following seven fires blaze and shine on my behalf: nose, tongue, eye, skin, ear the fifth one, the mind and the intellect.

These seven are my sacrificial twigs: smell, taste, colour, sound, touch the fifth one, Mantavya (the object of thought) and Boddhavya (the object of understanding).

The performance of Homa is through meditation of Nārāyaṇa. Nārāyaṇa himself partakes of it.

178-181. I am worshipping that Lord by a Yajña like this. If one does not wilfully desire, all one’s desires will be realized. All defects come unto one who attaches oneself to worldly affairs(?)

Just as the leaves of lotus are not clung (i.e. do not get wet) with drops of water, similarly I am not besmeared (i.e. affected) with emotional outbursts.

I am eternal. Hence there is nothing non-eternal in me.

Since I scrutinize the natural reaction of many a practice(?), the class of worldly enjoyment does not cling to my activities like the cluster of rays of the sun in the firmament.

O mother, do not be grieved, I shall take you to that region which one cannot attain by the performance of hundreds of secrifices.”

182-186. On hearing these words of her son, Itarā became surprised. She thought thus, ‘If my son is a scholar like this, he will certainly become famous in the world. Thereby my reputation also will enhance greatly.’

While she was thinking thus at night, Lord Hari was delighted and surprised at his words. Holding the conch, the discus and the iron club, he himself came out from the idol and appeared before him. The Lord had the lustre of crores of suns. He illuminated the universe with his refulgence.

With his hair standing on end by the thrill of ecstatic delight and with his voice choked up with tears of joy, the intelligent son of Itarā prostrated himself on the ground and (getting up) kept the palms of his hands joined in reverence on his head and eulogized the Lord as follows:

187. “Obeisance to you, to Lord Vāsudeva. We meditate on you. Obeisance to Pradyumna, Aniruddha and Saṅkarṣaṇa (i.e. the four Vyūhas in Pāñcarātra system).

188. Obeisance to the Lord solely constituted of perfect knowledge, whose form consists of the supreme bliss, who is quiescent and whose vision is free from dualism.

189. With the experience alone of the bliss of the soul (you have) well-eschewed (the six) Ūmis (viz. sorrow, delusion, hunger, thirst, old age and death). Obeisance to you. Hail to the great Hṛṣīkeśa. Salute to you of infinite power and potentiality.

190. May he who alone is attainable (comprehensible) to the mind when words cease to be (i.e. beyond the ken of words), who is essentially consciousness beyond name and form, and who is beyond Sat (existence) and Asat (non-existence) (for ever) protect us.

191. Obeisance to you, the Brahman from which this (visible) world is born, wherein it abides and in which it (finally) gets merged like the various products of clay in clay.

192. I bow down to (that power) which permeates within and without like the firmament and which the mind, the intellect, the sense organs and the vital airs (can) neither touch nor comprehend.

193. The physical body, the sense organs, the vital airs, the mind and the intellect are capable of performing their respective functions only when in contact with the Lord’s (Supreme Soul’s) parts and not on other occasions, in the. same manner as red-hot particles of heated iron appear as fire (and not in their proper form).

194. I bow down to that great Lord, the chastizer and governor, in the earlier, middle and later Yugas. I bow down by four (parts), three (parts), two (parts) and in one way.

195. We worship you who are that great and pure Truth whom all those desirous of salvation worship and who have the nature of the ten (different forms). They bow down after abandoning (all other) goals.

196. Oṃ, obeisance to you the Lord, the great Supreme Puruṣa of exalted power and magnificence, the Lord of Vibhūtis (super-human powers), whose pair of lotus-like feet are fondled by the lotus-like pairs of hands of all the groups of leading Sātvatas. Obeisance to you, O great Parameṣṭhin.

197. Agni is your mouth, earth pair of feet, sky the head, the sun and the moon the eyes, the entire set of worlds the belly and the four quarters the arms. O Lord, obeisance to you.

198. Even if we collect together all the births of all times with great pain, O Lord, they are not as many as the living beings drunk by me here in the great ocean of worldly existence of extremely terrible form(?)

199. O Lord, there is not that much wealth (quantity) of stones on (great mountains like) Himālaya, Mahendra, Kailāsa, Meru and others as I have obtained (in the numbers) by assuming (i.e. being born into) innumerable bodies (i.e. births).

200. There are no regions on the earth, O Lord, where I have not been born and I have not died; where, after being born, I have not been eaten by creatures and groups of spirits.

201. Even in hundred thousands of years according to divine reckoning, the clouds do not shower as much water, O Lord, as the tear-drops of mine that have fallen in the course of (different) births, on being assailed and tormented by grief.

202. I think that the calculation of the number of my parents does not approach the number of atoms on the earth (i.e. it supersedes them). I am unable, Lord of Devas, to calculate the number of my friends, foes, dependents and kinsmen.

203. My mind is an enemy that cannot be controlled. It has been dedicated to you, but, with the hell of Ms assistants beginning with Krodha (anger) Kāma (love, attachment) snatches it away again and again and keeps it under his control. O Lord, what shall I do?

204. I am afflicted and agonized much; you are compassionate and merciful, O Viṣṇu, to a person who has fallen in the deep crevasse of worldly existence.

Even a wretched person who has fallen in troubles but resorts to noble-souled persons, never suffers nor perishes.

205. The ultimate resort of an ailing person is the physicians; that of a man sinking down in the great ocean is a boat; that of a child is its parents; and O Hari, you alone are the resort of a person distressed with the extremely terrible worldly existence.

206. Be pleased, O Lord of all, who has permeated all, O cause of all, the essence of the highest truth.

By your acceptance, redeem me from the deep pit of worldly existence which is a cluster of great calamities and miseries.

207. Save this person (i.e. me) frequently tormented by hunger, thirst and the (disturbance of) three Dhātus (i.e. the three humours of the body viz. wind, bile and phlegm), by chillness, heat, wind and water individually and collectively, by the fire of lust and by fury extremely unbearable, even as I watch and observe, even while I am perishing, O Acyuta, O Urukrama (i.e. one whose steps are very big).

208. When the great Lord Vāsudeva, the creator of the universe is eulogized by me with devotion, let there be all welfare unto the entire universe. Let all its defects be destroyed.

209- When Vāsudeva, the creator of the universe is eulogized by me today, let all those groups of living beings who dwell on the earth, in heaven, in firmament and in the net her worlds (Rasātala), become endowed with Siddhi (spiritual achievement).

210. When the infinite Vāsudeva, the creator and sustainer of the universe, is eulogized by me let the ignorant persons become conversant with perfect knowledge; let those who are always fierce in their thoughts become endowed with quiescence.

211. Those who listen to me even as I eulogize, others who see me uttering this, Devas, Asuras and others, human beings and lower animals—let all these become the partakers of the Yoga (i.e. union with) of Acyuta.

212. Those who are dumb; those who (can) neither read nor see because of defects of the sense organs, animals etc., germs, ants and other insects—let them become partakers of the Yoga of Acyuta.

213. Let the miseries in the universe perish; let the group of defects be removed from the subjects.

Let every man have the same feeling towards the common people as he has towards himself, his brother or his son.

214. When Viṣṇu who is a physician unto everyone, who is clever in the annihilation of all defects, who is the cause of tranquility, satisfaction and emancipation, is stationed in the heart of all people, let all the bondages of worldly existence become untied and loosened.

215. When Vāsudeva, the creator of the universe, is remembered, let my sin be destroyed, whether it is mental, verbal or physical.

216. Just as a sin is removed when the name ‘Vāsudeva’ is uttered, when a devotee of Viṣṇu glorifies (him) or when Hari is remembered, so also let my sin perish by means of that truth.

217. This person (I) is foolish and deluded; he is of deficient intellect; he is capable of doing very little; even when it undergoes pain and torture, ray mind is not influenced by worldly pleasures. Thus, O Lord of all, be merciful towards me who have bowed down (to you). O Lord, even the Lotus-born Lord is not competent enough to eulogize you (adequately).

218- O Lord, be pleased. O Viṣṇu, take pity on me, helpless that I am. Indeed you are extremely merciful and compassionate. O Hari, it behoves you to uplift me who have sunk deep into the ocean of worldly existence and whose wretchedness is unlimited. You are Puruṣottama (i.e. the most excellent and Supreme Person).”

219. On being eulogized by Aitareya thus, Lord Vāsudeva of highly noble soul, spoke to him thus, with great delight:

220. “O dear one, O Aitareya, I am delighted by your devotion and by your eulogy. Choose your boon from me—whatever is desired by you even if it be difficult to get.”

Aitareya said:

221. O Lord, this boon alone is desired by me. O Hari, be ray helmsman as I am sinking down in the terrible (ocean of) worldly existence.

Śrī Bhagavān said:

222. You are already liberated from the worldly existence, since you have such a devotion as this. You have no bondage due to the Grahas and the Mahāgrahas, the two sets of thirteen.[8]

223. He who always eulogizes me (i.e. Vāsudeva), desired by persons in the well protected (esoteric) holy spots, by means of this eulogy, shall attain the destruction of sins.

224. Since sins become annihilated on account of this eulogy (prayer), it will become well-known as Aghanāśana (‘Destroyer of Sins’).

225. He who observes fast on the Ekādaśī day and recites this prayer in front of me, becomes a sanctified soul. He will attain my world.

226. Just as Guptakṣetra (the shrine of Viṣṇu near Mahī-Sāgara-Saṅgama which is an esoteric holy spot) is loved by me more than all the other holy spots, so also this prayer is liked by me more than all other prayers.

227. Those living beings on behalf of which this prayer is repeated by noble-souled persons, will attain peace, good fortune and intellect, due to my kindness.

228. O dear one, duly perform all the Vedic rites with great faith. If they are dedicated to me and if they are performed without craving for particular benefits, you will never involve yourself in any bondage.[9]

229. Get yourself a wife and perform Yajñas. Delight your mother. Undoubtedly you will attain me by means of intense meditation on me.

230-232a. The intellect, the mind, the elements, (the five; organs of sense and (the five) organs of action—these are the thirteen Grahas. Through these there shall be the thirteen Mahāgrahas, viz. the objects of understanding, those of thought, egotism, sound, touch, colour, taste, smell, speech, taking up, moving about, evacuation and enjoyment.

232b-235a. O son, take up pure Mahāgrahas by means of your own pure Grahas and through the path of meditation on me. Thus you will attain salvation. Thus, O heroic one, through Karmans alone you will attain Naiṣkarmya (i.e. state in which no action creates binding).

A clever man gets gold from copper mixed with mercury. In the same manner you will get liberation.

Salvation is not difficult to be obtained here by a person who abides by the discipline of castes and stages of life and keeps good conduct, who has dedicated (the fruit of) holy rites to me and who is endowed with meditation on me.

235b-237. Therefore, O dear boy, remain thus engaged in holy rites. You will redeem seven members (i.e. generations) of your family and will get merged in me. Even the Vedas which you have not learned so far, will manifest themselves in you. Then you go to the Yajña of Harimedhas[10] in the Koṭitīrtha. There the ambition of your mother will be realized thoroughly.

238. After saying thus, Lord Viṣṇu entered the idol (while) being watched winklessly by the mother and the son:

239. Thereafter, the surprised Aitareya bowed down to the idol of Vāsudeva and joyously spoke these words to his mother:

240. “Formerly I was a Śūdra.[11] I was afraid of the defects of worldly existence. Hence I sought refuge in a Brāhmaṇa who had attained perfection in holy activities.

241. That kind-hearted one conveyed to me the Mantra of twelve syllables (Oṃ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya) saying ‘Repeat this always’. I repeatedly performed the rite of Japa.

242. It is the result of the power of that Japa that I was born of your womb. So also the power of recollecting previous birth, the devotion of Viṣṇu and permanent stay here.

243. Now I am going to the sacrifice of Harimedhas. I bow down to your form for the propitiation of Viṣṇu and (thereby) propitiate you.”

244-248. Thereafter, he approached him (Harimedhas) as he was performing Yajña surrounded by crores of Brāhmaṇas in Koṭitīrtha in the city named Mahīnagara.

He requested his mother to go home. The Brāhmaṇa then uttered this Verse in the Yajña:

“Obeisance to that Lord Viṣṇu of unimpeded intellect, deluded by whose Māyā, we are wandering through the ocean of Karmas (actions).”

Those Brāhmaṇas, the chief of whom was Harimedhas, heard this verse of profound meaning. They worshipped him by offering him seat etc. Thereafter, by means of his cleverness in (expounding) the meaning of the Vedic Texts those Brāhmaṇas were delighted by him. They gave him monetary gifts. Harimedhas gave his daughter also. He came back to his house taking the wealth and the girl.

249-252. He saluted his mother. He duly begot sons of great purity. Aitareya performed Yajñas. He was devoted to the holy rite of Dvādaśī.

Afterwards, by means of the meditation on Vāsuḍeva, he attained salvation. It is this holy Lord Vāsudeva that dwells here, O descendant of Bharata.

They know that if anyone worships, adores and eulogizes him, he will have everything of everlasting benefit.

A man obtains, thanks to the grace of Vāsudeva, a benefit similar to what has been previously described to you by me while expounding Śivadharmas.[12]

Footnotes and references:


The procedure of observing the Ekādaśī Vrata. The details of Hari Jāgara are given in vv 19-25.


He is different from Aitareya, the Vedic sage, to whom Aitareya Brāhmaṇa and Āraṇyaka are attributed. His discourse is intended to create Vairāgya about the body and Saṃsāra—sarvaṃ duḥkham, sarvaṃ kṣaṇikam (‘everything is full of misery and is momentary’). This teaching of the Buddha seems to have influenced the then Brāhmaṇism.


Our text describes the impure nature of the body with a view to create non-attachment to it, and emphasizes the importance of mental purity which leads to Heaven and Mokṣa.


An echo of Buddha’s teaching. Probably all ascetic sects of ancient India thought alike. Vide Haripad Chakraborti’s Asceticism in Ancient India (Punthi Pustaka, Calcutta 1973).


V 110 shows that sixty years was the average span of life at the time of KK.


The author is fond of the number seven. The symbolism of the forest called ‘Vidyā’ is explained in the following verses.


Special nature of Aitareya’s Brahmacarya is explained in vv 169-170.


For the lists of Grahas and Mahāgrahas see vv 230-232 below.


This is the doctrine of Niskāma Karman advocated in BG III. 19, 30, 31; VI. 4; XVIII. 23.


An ancient royal sage. His sacrificial performance was so ideal that Janamejaya’s sacrifice was compared to it (Mbb, Ādi 55.3).


The story of the previous birth of Aitareya is introduced to emphasize the importance of the Japa of twelve-syllabled Mantra of Viṣṇu.


This Purāṇa takes every opportunity to equate (and to identify) Śiva and Viṣṇu.

Help me keep this site Ad-Free

For over a decade, this site has never bothered you with ads. I want to keep it that way. But I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: