The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes The Daily Routine of Duties in Karttika which is chapter 5 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 fifth chapter of the Karttikamasa-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 5 - The Daily Routine of Duties in Kārttika

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1. When should the bath be taken? How should one stay throughout the day? O Pitāmaha, recount the Āhnika3 (daily round of religious duties) in particular (during Kārttika).

Brahmā said:

2. A person observing Vratas should always get up when a quarter of the night is still left. He should eulogize Viṣṇu with hymns (known as Prātaḥsmaraṇa) and then think about the daily round of duties.

3-10. The man should answer calls of nature[1] in the south-west corner of the village in accordance with the injunctions. He should place the sacred thread round right ear. (In the day time) he should sit facing the North and at night he should sit facing the South while passing urine or faeces. The earth should be covered with grasses before passing urine or discharging faeces. The head should be covered with a cloth. The mouth should be covered with cloth. He should sit there alone with a water pot by his side. After the evacuation of the bowels, he should go near the pot and perform cleansing rite with clay till the foul smell and the stickiness is removed. One part of clay shall be applied to the penis, then three parts to the left hand, then two parts of clay to each of the two hands. This rule is applicable to the cleansing rite after urination.

Listen to the cleansing rite after discharging faecal matter. Five or seven parts of clay to the anus, ten parts to the left hand, then seven parts to each of the hands, three parts of clay to the feet. This is the cleansing rite in the case of a householder.

In the case of a Brahmacārī (religious student), it should be doubled, in the case of a Vānaprastha (forest-dweller) it should be trebled and in the case of ascetics (Yatis) it shall be quadrupled.

This rule is applicable for the day time. During the nights half the number should be followed. In the case of a wayfarer it may be halved. In the case of women and Śūdras it should be further halved.

All the holy rites of one without the cleansing rite are futile.

11-15. Then the devotee should scrupulously perform the cleansing rite of the teeth and the tongue.[2] “O tree, grant me longevity, strength, fame, refulgence, progeny, animals and wealth, Vedic knowledge, intelligence, insight etc.” (After repeating the above) he should cut off a twig, twleve Aṅgulas long, to be used as a toothbrush.

The twig should not be cut off from a tree exuding milky fluid. (Nor) the twig of a cotton tree or a thorny tree or a burnt tree (should be used). The toothbrush twig must have a good smell. It must be soft too. Toothbrush should not be used during the sixth or ninth lunar day and on the following days: days of fast, Śrāddha or eclipse, Sundays, the first lunar day and new-moon day. When toothbrush is forbidden the devotee shall gargle twelve times.

16-18. After cleaning the teeth duly, he should wash the face with water.[3] He should then apply the sacred mark on the forehead vertically after performing the Ācamana rite. He should then light beacon lamps on poles in a temple, on the banks of a river and the highway in particular. There must be a lamp near the Tulasī plant also. Taking the materials of worship, he should go to a temple of his favourite deity. Then the intelligent devotee should perform the worship and then sing and dance.

19. After reciting the names (before the deity) of Viṣṇu, he should perform the Nīrājana rite (waving lamps before the deity) for Hari. When there is yet a period of Nāḍidvaya (48 minutes) left for dawning, the devotee should go to a water-reservoir (bathing place).

20. There, in accordance with the injunctions laid down, the person who has undertaken the Kārttikavrata should take his holy bath. After squeezing the water out of his clothes, he should apply the sacred mark (of Ūrdhvapuṇḍra) on the forehead.

21. Thereafter, he should perform Sandhyā prayers in accordance with the Sūtra followed by him. After that, till sunrise, he should perform Japa of the Goddess Gāyatrī.

22. What has been mentioned before is the duty for the remaining period of the night. Now the duty for the day time is being described. When those rites are performed, all the Kārttika Vratas shall be fruitful.

23. Then towards the end of the morning Sandhyā prayer he should recite the Thousand Names of Viṣṇu and other texts. He should then go to the temple and begin the worship once again.

24. In the activities such as dance, singing songs etc. (before the deity), he should spend one Prahara (three hours). Then for half a Yāma, he shall listen to the Purāṇas devotedly.

25-26. After honouring the reader of the Purāṇas, worshipping the Tulasī plant and saying midday religious prayers, the devotee should take his food shunning leguminous grains.

Offerings to deities should be made. Vaiśvadeva rite should be performed and the guests duly fed. One who takes his food after all these rites consumes (as if) nectar.

27. Brāhmaṇas should be fed in accordance with one’s capacity everyday or on important Parvan days. Haviṣya (rice cooked with ghee) should be eaten. Āmiṣa (meat and other forbidden foodstuffs) should be avoided.

28. In order to purify the mouth, he shall chew Tulasī leaves along with Tīrtha water. The remaining part of the day should be spent in doing worldly business (work for self-sustenance and livelihood).

29. In the evening he should again go to a temple of Viṣṇu. After saying Sandhyā prayers he should light lamps in accordance with his capacity.

30. After bowing down to Viṣṇu and performing the splendid Nīrājana rite for Hari, he should recite hymns etc. and keep awake for the first yāma (three hours).

31. When the first yāma is over, the wise devotee should go to sleep. He should maintain celibacy by approaching his wife only on stipulated nights.

32. If the wife desires, he should satisfy her sexual urge. Thereby he does not become a sinner. Doing thus everyday, he should spend the whole month in accordance with the injunction.

33-34. He who observes the great Vrata thus in the month of Kārttika, shall get rid of all sins. He goes to the world of Viṣṇu. There is no other Vrata except Kārttikavrata, that dispels diseases, destroys sins, gives good intellect and nature, is conducive to the acquisition of sons, wealth etc., that is the cause of salvation and that which Viṣṇu likes well. There is no other such Vrata on the earth.

Footnotes and references:


The daily routine of a Hindu is regulated fairly strictly. Works like Āhnika-Prakāśa, Āhnika-Tattva elaborate the details. Also vide HD II, i, 643 ff.


VV 3-10 contain instruction regarding morning duties (evacuation of vowels etc.).


VV 11-15. Rules regarding cleansing of teeth.


VV 16-28 describe the duties up to the time of taking meals. They include the ritual of bath, Sandhyā prayer, singing and dancing before God, performance of Vaiśvadeva and feeding a Brahmin guest (atithi).

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