The Skanda Purana
by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Rites to Be Observed in Karttika which is chapter 2 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 second chapter of the Karttikamasa-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Chapter 2 - Rites to Be Observed in Kārttika
[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]
1-2. Henceforth, O Nārada, I shall recount the holy rites (to be observed) in the month of Kārttika.
On seeing that the month of Kārttika has come, if one refrains from taking food from other people, one attains salvation. There is no doubt about it.
Of all virtuous activities, worship of the preceptor is considered to be the greatest. O excellent sage, one obtains everything through service to the preceptor.
3. If the preceptor is pleased, all the Devas including Indra will be pleased. If the preceptor is displeased, all the Devas including Indra will be displeased.
4-8. In the month of Kārttika one may perform many holy rites, but if one does not serve the preceptor, one gets into hells only. Whatever is ordered by the preceptor, the disciple should carry it out. O Brāhmaṇa, one who is commanded by the preceptor, should not transgress his directions. If one meets with misery etc., one should seek refuge in the preceptor. A learned man should treat the preceptor as his mother and father. What is not obtained from the preceptor is not obtained elsewhere too. There is no doubt in this that with the favour of the preceptor one obtains everything. Medhāvī, Kapila and Sumati of great penance attained immortality by serving well their preceptor Gautama.
9. Hence, the devotee, loyal to Viṣṇu, should serve the preceptor with all (possible) efforts in the month of Kārttika. Thereby he shall attain salvation.
10. An excellent Brāhmaṇa who imparts (knowledge of) Vaiṣṇavite holy rites unto men, shall obtain the merit that is obtained in making a gift of the earth inclusive of the oceans.
11. O (sage) of good holy rites, devotees will make (to him) gifts of cows made of gingelly seeds, gold, silver, plot of land, garments and cows with great sincerity and faith.
12 16. Of all charitable gifts the gift of virgins (in marriage) is the best. Gift of a thousand cows is on a par with gift of a hundred bulls. Gift of ten bulls is on a par with gift of a vehicle. Gift of ten vehicles is on a par with gift of a horse. Gift of an elephant is superior to that of thousands of horses; Gift of gold is on a par with that of thousands of elephants. Gift of learning is on a par with thousands of gifts of gold. Gift of land is crores of times superior to that of learning. Gift of cows is superior to thousands of those of lands. Gift of cooked food is superior to thousands of gifts of cows. The universe subsists on cooked food (for its maintenance)—it has been said. Hence it should be given in the month of Kārttika.
17. By avoiding other men’s cooked food one shall get the merit of (observing) the Cāndrāyaṇa vow. One obtains the merit of Atikṛcchra observed everyday.
18. In the month of Kārttika one shall particularly avoid meat and distillation of liquors. Even if one eats meat once, one attains birth in Rākṣasa species.
19. If one observes restraint even in the intake of non-prohibited foodstuffs in the month of Kārttika, identity with the form of Viṣṇu is certainly obtained. It is a status that leads to salvation.
20. If one sleeps on bare ground, one obtains that merit, O dear one, which is obtained on making a gift of land to Brāhmaṇas during eclipses of the Sun and the Moon.
21 -22. Feeding of Brāhmaṇa couples, worshipping them, offering
them unguents, blankets, gems as well as clothes of various kinds—this must be done in the month of Kārttika. Cotton should be given away along with covering cloths. O (sage) of good holy rites, do offer footwear and umbrella in the month of Kārttika.
23-27a. One who lies down on bare ground in the month of Kārttika, shall dispel all the sins incurred in the course of a Yuga. He who keeps awake (with prayers) at dawn in the month of Kārttika in front of Dāmodara, O celestial sage, shall obtain the merit of (gifting) a thousand cows.
If one does not have (regular) bath in a river (everyday), does not listen to the stories of Viṣṇu, and does not see Vaiṣṇavas in the month of Kārttika, his merit acquired in the course of ten years shall be destroyed.
O tiger among sages, if an intelligent man remembers and gets into touch with Puṣkara mentally, verbally and physically in Kārttika, the merit thereof shall multiply lakhs and crores of times.
Prayāga in the month of Māgha, Puṣkara in the month of Kārttika and Avantī in the month of Vaiśākha shall dispel sins acquired (and accumulated) in the course of a Yuga.
27b-32. Those men are blessed in the world who, particularly in Kali age, perform the worship of Hari regularly for the sake of his propitiation. There is no doubt about this that their Pitṛs are redeemed from hell.
If for the sake of the Pitṛs Viṣṇu is bathed in milk etc., they will attain heaven and stay there for a crore of Kalpas along with Devas.
If Kṛṣṇa, the lotus-eyed one, is not worshipped in Kārttika, O eminent Brāhmaṇa, Kamalā (Goddess of wealth) shall not be present in their houses in the course of a crore of births.
Alas! They are robbed, they are ruined, they have fallen into the cave of Kali—they by whom Hari is not devoutly worshipped with blue and white lotuses.
He who worships the Lord of Devas, the Lord of Goddess Lakṣmī, with a single lotus, destroys the sins of ten thousand years. Śveta attained salvation by means of his worship with lotuses.
33-36. If the Lord of Devas is bowed down to and worshipped with a single lotus, he forgives thousand of guilts and seven hundred offences.
If anyone worships Hari with a hundred thousand leaves of the holy basil plant in Kārttika, O excellent sage, he will get a pearl for every leaf as the fruit thereof.
He who carries a Tulasī leaf taken out from an idol of Kṛṣṇa in his mouth, body or head, he who wipes his body with the Nirmālyas of Kṛṣṇa, shall be freed from all ailments and shall be rid of all sins.
Water from conchshell, devotion to Hari, Nirmālya, water from the feet, sandal paste and the residue of incense—all these are removers of the sin of the slaughter of a Brāhmaṇa.
37-41. In the month of Kārttika, O eminent Brāhmaṇa, the devotee should regularly take bath in the early morning. He should serve charitable gifts of cooked rice to Brāhmaṇas in accordance with his capacity.
Gift of cooked rice is superior to all other charitable gifts. The world is produced by means of cooked food. It develops through cooked food. Indeed, they know that cooked food has become vital to all living beings. A person who gifts food shall be the donor of everything in the world; he shall be (benefited as) the performer of all Yajñas. Of what avail to him is a bath in Tīrthas; of what use is the divine procession etc. to him? O Brāhmaṇa, everything is achieved through gift of food. There is no doubt about it. Formerly a Brāhmaṇa Satyaketu attained the benefit of all meritorious deeds and acquired the rare benefit of salvation.
42. One who strictly adheres to Kārttika Vrata should make the excellent gift of cows. His Vrata becomes fulfilled thereby. There is no doubt about it.
43-45. There is no greater gift in the world than the gift of cows, which lakes one across the ocean of worldly existence, O Nārada, as in the case of the Brāhmaṇa Suśarman.
In the month of Kārttika, O eminent Brāhmaṇa, one may make many kinds of gifts. But if he does not remember Hari, those gifts do not sanctify him.
The efficacy of repetition of the holy names (of Viṣṇu) cannot be (adequately) described by me. Formerly the residents of hell were released by Puṣkara.
46. (The Mantra of sacred names is) “O Govinda, O Govinda, O Hari, O Murāri, O Govinda, O Govinda, O Mukunda, O Kṛṣṇa, O Govinda, O Govinda with the discus in your hand, O Govinda, O Dāmodara, O Mādhava.”
47. In the month of Kārttika, one should read half a verse or at least one quarter of a verse from Bhāgavata everyday in the month of Kārttika with faith and devotion.
48. Futile indeed is the birth of those men by whom Bhāgavata Purāṇa has not been listened to, nor the primordial Puruṣa has been propitiated, nor have the Brāhmaṇas been fed.
49. O great Brāhmaṇa, if a Brāhmaṇa reads the Gītā in the month of Kārttika, I am not capable to recount his merit.
50. A scripture on a par with the Gītā there has never been before nor will there ever be. It is the perpetual destroyer of all sins. The Gītā alone is the bestower of salvation.
51. By reading even a single chapter (of the Gītā), all sinners will be liberated like Brāhmaṇa Jaḍa.
52. O sage, if a person makes the gift of a Śālagrāma stone (in the month of Kārttika), the amount of his merit cannot be assessed even by Viṣṇu.
53. Listen to the merit of that person, O Brāhmaṇa, who makes the gift of a Śālagrāma to a Brāhmaṇa well-versed in the Vedas, after duly worshipping it, O great sage.
54. One shall, by making the gift of a Śālagrāma stone, attain that merit which is obtained by gifting away land extending as far as the seven oceans.
55. A certain Brāhmaṇa lady became widow on the fifth day after her marriage. By making the gift of a Śālagrāma stone in the month of Kārttika she revived her husband.
56. Hence in the month of Kārttika the gift of a Śālagrāma stone should be made after duly taking holy bath etc. There is no doubt about it.
Footnotes and references:
The story how these students went to heaven along with their physical bodies is given in KM (Kārttika-Māhātmya) in Sāroddhāra (Comm.).
VV 11-16 enumerate various Dānas; vv 37-41 gift of food; vv 42-45 gift of cows.
VV 27b-36 recommend worship of Viṣṇu, esp. with lotus-flowers and Tulasī.
The story of King Śveta of Kāśmīra achieving salvation at Puṣkara by Viṣṇu-worship is given in Brahmapurāṇa. (Comm.)
To illustrate the importance of the gift of food Sāroddhāra gives the story of Satyaketu who did not find time to go to Gaṅgā due to his Vrata of food-gift. Satyajit, a pious pilgrim, refused to accept food from Satyaketu as he did not perform ablution in Gaṅgā. But when he went to Gaṅgā, the river disappeared. When prayed she ordered him to take food from Satyaketu first and then come for bath.
Suśarman, a pious Brahmin, heard Indra ordering his subordinates to bring even sinners to heaven if they have gifted a cow. Suśarmā went to his house and from the sky he urged his sons to gift cows. They obeyed and went to heaven. (Comm.)
VV 45-46 extol the importance of God’s name. Sāroddhāra tells that once, by mistake, Yama’s attendants took a pious Brahmin by name Puṣkara. Yama apologized and requested him to return. Puṣkara expressed the desire to see the hells. Seeing the tortures in hells he pitied and asked the sufferers in hell to take God’s name which they did and went to heaven. (Comm.)
Sāroddhāra illustrates the importance of the recitation of the Bhagavadgītā by telling how Jaḍa, a Brāhmaṇa of sinful acts, was murdered. His sons not knowing anything from him, presumed that he was dead and were going to Vārāṇasī for the obsequies. On the way, at the root of the tree where Jaḍa was murdered they read the 3rd Chapter of BG. The sinner was absolved of sins and went to heaven. While going he told his sons to redeem others by reading BG. (Comm.)
VV 53-56 emphasize the importance of the gift of a Śālagrāma. Sāroddhāra states how a girl from a Yājaka family got widowed on the fifth day after her marriage. Her father made her give a Śālagrāma to a Brahmin whereby her husband returned to life. The woman lived happily ever after gifting away a Śālagrāma. (Comm.)