by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes In Praise of the Chariot-Procession which is chapter 34 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 thirty-fourth chapter of the Purushottama-kshetra-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
1-4. The Lord is seated to the south of the lake that formed part of the horse-sacrifices as well as to that of Nṛsiṃha. It appears as if the Lord incarnates once again. He shines in his divine form. He is too dazzling to be gazed at by Suras and Asuras. At that time the Lord of the universe should be worshipped by means of various offerings and pleased with songs and dances. One should propitiate the Lord by offering different kinds of flowers, sweet scents and unguents, fumigation of black Agallochum and lamps with scented oil. Thus the devotee should please the Lord of the worlds by means of many offerings and services.
7-11. Devotees should take their holy bath in accordance with the injunctions in that Tīrtha which sanctifies all the groups of Tīrthas. He who (then) sees me along with Rāma and Subhadrā for seven days while I am housed in the Guṇḍicā pavilion, shall attain Sāyujya (absorption) with me.”
Therefore the devotee, whether a man or a woman, should take the holy bath in the auspicious and extremely meritorious Tīrtha which is destructive of all the sins. It, (the Tīrtha) is the sole bestower of the benefits of all the Tīrthas and causes delight unto Viṣṇu.
After the bath he should offer libations to Pitṭs and Devas carefully in accordance with the injunctions. Then he should worship and bow down to Narasiṃha installed on the shore. After completing the rites of purification and Ācamana he should go to the Great Altar, worship as before or bow down with great devotion. The devotee who does this for seven days is not an ordinary man or woman (but becomes superhuman).
13. Whatever holy rite is performed in the presence of the Lord of the universe on a modest or large scale, shall become (multiplied) crores and crores of times more.
18-19. All the Manes, all the grandfathers whether stationed in heaven or in hell or re-born as animals or human beings, about one hundred famous members (of the family) desire that their scions should perform this. That procedure I shall recount to you. Listen to that excellent one, O sages.
20-26. Maghā is the constellation (specially favourite) of the Pitṛs. It is highly pleasant and delightful (to them). If the Śrāddha is offered by the sons joyously in this constellation, it delights (Pitṛs). The fifth lunar day is also excellent. (If available) in Śrāddha, it is conducive to prosperity. If both of these coincide, the day is extremely meritorious. If the Śrāddha rite is performed on that day by the sons, the Pitṛs will be uplifted.
If at the Tīrtha inclusive of (i.e. comprising) all Tīrthas the Śrāddha is devoutly performed in the presence of the Enemy of Mura, in the most sacred area between Nīlakaṇṭha and Nṛsiṃha and on the extremely rare Yoga (specific astrological time), he redeems a hundred men (ancestors) of his family and is honoured in the world of Brahmā.
The period of Kutapa (early afternoon), when the sun is gentle, is extremely praiseworthy. One should offer a gold piece keeping the Manes in view. If he cannot afford it, he should remain pure and duly perform the rites of libation with gingelly seeds. Thereby he gives excellent satisfaction to Pitṛs.
Or he should feed Brāhmaṇas or give them the cost of the foodstuffs. Or he should feed one meritorious person and give him a thousand (cost of the foodstuffs of a thousand Brāhmaṇas?).
27. At this particular Yoga no discrimination regarding merit (eligibility) and non-merit (ineligibility of the Brāhmaṇa to be invited to Śrāddha) be made. O Brāhmaṇas, on that extremely rare Yoga, all Brāhmaṇas are on a par with sages.
28-30. The fifth day in the bright half of the month of Āṣāḍha, the constellation Maghā and the contact (installation) of the Lord of the universe with the Great Altar—when all these three come together and at the excellent lake of Indradyumna—this Yoga is known as Catuṣpāda (four-footed). It bestows everlasting benefit unto the Pitṛs.
By performing a Śrāddha then no one gets despondent in regard to the holy rites of Pitṛs.
Listen to another thing, O Brāhmaṇas. I tell it to you on this occasion.
31-32. On the new-moon day in the month of Nabhasya (or Bhādrapada i.e. August-September) or on the four Yugādi (i.e. anniversary of the beginning of the Yugas) days, the devotee should perform Śrāddha of the Pitṛs at the lake formed as part of the horse-sacrifice (i.e. Indradyumna Lake). It will then have the same benefit as that of a thousand Gayā Śrāddhas faithfully performed. In this matter there need be no doubt at all.
33-36. A charitable gift offered and Homa and Japa performed during the seven days when Kṛṣṇa stays here in the Pavilion is destructive of all sins. The subsequent day is superior to the previous one.
The third ḍay in the bright half of Āṣāḍha is the most excellent day. On that day the devotee should take the holy bath early in the morning, on the bank of Indradyumna Lake, in the excellent holy spot of Nṛsiṃha. After the due performance of the rite of Saṃkalpa, the man should take up this Vrata called Vanajāgaraṇa. It increases the pleasure of the Lord. It suppresses all the sins and yields the benefit of all Vratas.
37-39. On all these seven days, the devotee should take three baths per day. He should light lamps fed with cow’s ghee or sesamum oil. He should observe the vow of silence. He should place these lamps in front of Hari and keep them lighted day and night. During the day time he should observe silence and during the nights he should keep a vigil. He should repeat the Mantra of the Lord at intervals between the daily routine of duties while observing this Vrata.
40. He should observe fast also during the seven days. After the seven days have passed, on the eighth day he should get up early in the morning and perform the installation.
41. After taking the holy bath in the same excellent Tīrtha, he should return home. In the previous mystic diagram of Sarvatobhadra he should place the pot.
42-44. He should invoke Hṛṣīkeśa there and worship by means of the offerings. To the west of it, on the ground duly consecrated, he should kindle the sacred fire in accordance with the injunctions mentioned in the Gṛhyasūtras.
He, surrounded by Brāhmaṇas, should perform the rites of fire-worship. He should offer sacrificial twigs, ghee and the Caru into the fire a thousand times by way of Homa or each of them a hundred times. It is laid down that the Homa should be performed with the Vaiṣṇava Gāyatrī.
45. After feeding (the Ācārya), he should offer monetary gifts and give a cow, garments and gold (to him). At the end he should feed the Brāhmaṇas for the satisfaction of the Witness of the universe.
46. By performing this important Vrata in accordance with these injunctions, O Brāhmaṇas, he obtains all the four aims of life. Whatever one desires shall be obtained.
47. If a woman possessing sincere faith performs this rite of the great festival of the Altar, she will also obtain the benefit thereof.
48. The merit acquired by a person observing the vow is the same as that of the person who participates in the festival of the chariot-procession.
O excellent Brāhmaṇas, everything has been said to you. Be happy.
Footnotes and references:
The same as Indradyumna Lake.
The donor is to be weighed in a balance with gold or other valuable articles in the other pan and the articles equal in weight with the donor are to be given to Brahmins. This is called Tulāpuruṣa.
This is the eighth Muhūrta of the day (MtP 22.84). Kutapa and the following four Muhūrtas form the proper period for Śrāddha.
The text reads nabhasyadarśe i.e. the new-moon day of Nabhasya (Bhādrapada). The new-moon day of Bhādrapada is specially meant for offering Śrāddha to Pitṛs and is hence called ‘Sarvapitrī amāvāsyā’.