The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Fasts and Austerities of the Month which is chapter 30 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 thirtieth chapter of the Karttikamasa-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 30 - Fasts and Austerities of the Month

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1. Wonderful indeed is the efficacy of the Kārttika Vrata described by you. If one has no capacity to perform it, what shall one do about it?

Brahmā said:

2-3. If one has no capacity, the benefit is attained by certain (other) means. He can give some money to a Brāhmaṇa and get the excellent benefit. He can secure the same (fruit) from a disciple, servants or women. Or he can make some relative (or trustworthy person) perform the Vrata on his behalf. From him also he can take the benefit. Thus that man can be its beneficiary.

Nārada said:

4. Are merits obtained by anyone anywhere though not given? I wish to hear about this as I am very eager.

Brahmā said:

5. Though not given, merits as well as sins are obtained. To know by what means it happens, listen with concentration, O Brāhmaṇa.

6-8. Whether a good deed or an evil one, if one does it in Kṛta Yuga, the whole kingdom reaps the fruit thereof. If one does it in Tretā Yuga, the whole city gets it. If one does it in Dvāpara Yuga, the consequence extends to the whole family. And if one does it in Kali Yuga, only the doer is affected or benefited by it. If an action is performed unwittingly during childhood, the result thereof is experienced in dream; if it is committed unwittingly during youth, the result thereof is had as in childhood(?); if any action is performed knowingly, the result thereof lasts till the end of that life.

9-10. If a man is in close contact with a sinner for six months, he himelf becomes a sinner. If a man is in close contact with sinners or righteous men for ten months and if he takes food with them in the same row, the share of sin and merit is a twentieth part. If two men sit on the same seat, they get a thousandth of each other’s (sin or merit).

11-12. If a man eats another man’s cooked food, he gets a share in the latter’s sin. Should a person come into contact with a sinner while performing Japa etc., a sixteenth (part) of his merit perishes. By eulogizing another man, by going in his vehicle, by taking food along with him from the same pot, by lying with him on the same bed, or by covering oneself with his shawl, one incurs a sixth of his sins or merits.

13. The husband takes away everything (i.e. sin as well as merit) from his wife and the father from his bosom-born son takes away half of his sins and merits and a fourth from his disciple.

14. A woman obedient and faithful to her husband takes away half his merit. A man takes away a tenth of the sin of another man, if he takes the food cooked by him.

15. If a man gives food to another man for a whole year, that man gets half the sin of the former (defective text) and the man who partakes of the food for one year, gets half the merits by eating food for one year (?) (Rather the former i.e. partaker of food should get half the sin of the latter.)

16. The sponsor of a sacrifice gets a sixth of the sin or merit of his priest and the priest gets a tenth of the former’s sin or merit.

17. (Whatever may be the deed) the person actively engaged in it, the person who permitted or sanctioned it and the person who supplied the instruments thereof acquire a sixth of the result whether sin or merit and the onlooker a tenth of it.

18. If a person engages another person in a job, that person being other than a person hired by him or his disciple, and does not give him food, the person engaged so will take away a sixth of the merit of the employer.

19. By means of social dealings or by regular loving talks with another, one gets a tenth of the sins and merits of the other. There is no doubt about it.

20. Due to the merit of close association a base Brāhmaṇa Ekadanta saw different types of hells and ultimately attained heaven.

Nārada said:

21. The Kārttika Vrata of this type involves only a little effort, but its benefit is enormous. Still some people do not perform it. Why is it so, O Pitāmaha?

Brahmā said:

22. It is to make his own creation flourish that the creator created Dharma and Adharma. Those who practise Dharma (Virtue) alone attain excellent goal.

23. Those men who resort to Adharma (evil) go deep down (to hell). Heaven is the fruit of meritorious deeds and the opposite thereof is hell.

24. Two persons were engaged by the creator to guard these two, viz. Indra and Yama. They attend to merits and sins (of the doers) respectively.

25. The sins of defiling the bed of the preceptor etc. are reputed on the earth as the sons of Kāma (Lust). Patricide etc. are the sons of Krodha (Anger). Listen to the sons of Lobha (Greed).

26-29. They are Brahmasvaharaṇa (Misappropriation of a Brahmin’s wealth) etc. These are what lead to Narakas (Hells) at the instance of Yama. Men who are permeated by them do not perform Vratas and other holy rites. Those who are rid of them, do indeed perform.

Faith and intellect (of sinners) are always destructive on the earth. A man influenced by these two does not listen to (the stories) of Śrī Viṣṇu. He is a person of extremely wicked intellect. Thereby he falls into blinding darkness. I shall relate to you what was recounted to Satyabhāmā by Kṛṣṇa.

30. A man indirectly obtains a fourth of the merits and sins of another by teaching him, by performing Yajñas on his behalf or by taking food with him.

31. A man shall invariably incur a sixth of the merits and sins of another by sitting with him on the same seat, by travelling with him in the same vehicle and by getting into contact with his breath.

32. A man shall always get a tenth of the merits and sins by touching, talking to or eulogizing another person.

33. A man shall incur a hundredth of the sins and merits of another by seeing, hearing about and pondering over him.

34. If a person rebukes another, slanders him or rudely behaves towards him, he takes his sin and gives him his own merits.

35-36. A man rendering service to one who performs meritorious deeds, gets the benefit of his merit in accordance with his service.

A man engages someone other than his wife, hired servant or disciple in a job but no wages are given to him befitting the job. Then the man who has been engaged thus, gets the benefit of his (employer’s) merit.

37. While serving food to a number of persons sitting in a row, if the server passes over a person (without serving food) the man sitting there gets a sixth of the merit of the server.

38. If a person taking bath or saying Sandhyā prayers, touches or speaks to another person, he shall certainly give a sixth of the merit of his holy rite to him.

39. If a man requests another for monetary help for a righteous cause, the person who gives money shall get the fruit of that meritorious rite.

40. If a person steals another man’s wealth and performs a meritorious deed (therewith), the person who performs, becomes a sinner and the owner of the amount stolen gets the fruit.

41. If a man dies before repaying his debt to another, the creditor gets the merit of the debtor in accordance with the value of the sum involved.

42-43. The person who advised, the person who permitted, the person who provided the instruments (to do an act) and the person who applied physical labour (in doing it) shall get a sixth of the merits and sins.

A king takes away a sixth of the merits and sins of his subjects. A teacher (does the same) of the disciple, a husband of the wife and a father of the son.

44. A woman shall get half the merit of her husband, if she has behaved in a manner pleasing to him and has carried out what he has wished.

45. If a person performs charitable gifts and other meritorious deeds through another person, not being a hired servant or a son, that another person gets a sixth of the merit.

46. A person who offers a job of livelihood, gets a sixth of the merit of that person who benefits by his offer, if he does not make him serve himself or others.

47. Thus though not given directly, the merits and sins accumulated by others pass on to oneself. But this rule is not applicable in Kali Age. It is the person who actually does anything that gets the benefit or adverse result of the act.

48. In Kali Yuga knowledge is not steady. People perform good actions out of pride. Yogic exercise accompanied by hypocrisy in Kali Age does indeed perish.

49. Formerly a hypocrite named Taponiṣṭha[1] attained the greatest result through the pure influence of a chaste woman, by seeing the adoration of parents and by resorting to Kārttika Vrata.

Nārada said:

50. O Lord, I wish to hear about the most excellent of all Vratas, the procedure for performing the holy rite of a month-long fast and the suitable benefit thereof.[2]

Brahmā said:

51. Very good, O Nārada. O sinless one, I shall describe everything that you have asked about. O most excellent one among intelligent persons, listen even as I recount.

52-58. Just as Viṣṇu is the most excellent one among Suras, just as the Sun is the most excellent among those which blaze, like Meru among mountains, like Garuḍa among birds, so also the monthly fast is the most excellent oṇe among all Vratas.

The merit arising from all the (other) Vratas, the merit of visiting all the Tīrthas, the merit arising from all charitable gifts, that by means of Yajñas with plenty of monetary gifts—all these merits do not get anywhere near the merit from fasting for a month.

One should observe the monthly fast after getting the permission of preceptor. He should first perform the expiatory rites of Atikṛcchra, Pārāka and Cāndrāyaṇa and then take up the monthly fast after fully realizing the physical strength or otherwise.

A forest-dweller, an ascetic, or a widow, O sage, should take up monthly fast with the permission of preceptor or (any) Brāhmaṇa.

One should take up this Vrata after fasting on the eleventh day in the bright half of the month of Āśvina. It shall be continued for thirty days. With great devotion, one should worship Hari three times a day in a temple of Acyuta.

59. One should worship by offering Naivedyas, incenses, lamps etc. and flowers of various kinds. One should worship the Garuḍa-emblemed Lord mentally, verbally and physically.

60. A man who is devoted to his virtuous duties, a married woman with perfect control over her sense-organs and a widow of excellent chastity should worship Vāsudeva.

61. (Defective Text) All the materials of worship should be surveyed properly. Sweet scents and flavours are forbidden. Other men’s morsel (i.e. food) should be avoided and morsels of foods must be distributed(?)

62. The person observing the Vrata should abstain from anointing the body or the head with oil, (eating) betel leaves and application of unguents. Whatever is forbidden should be avoided.

63. The person observing the Vrata should not touch anyone engaged in forbidden activities, nor should he talk to him. A householder (too) shall observe the Vrata staying in a temple.

64-67. After observing the fast in accordance with the injunctions for thirty days, neither more nor less, the devotee should worship the Garuḍa-emblemed Lord on the twelfth day (i.e. Dvādaśī of the next month). After feeding excellent Brāhmaṇas and propitiating them by making gifts of clothes, he should give monetary gifts to them. He should prostrate before them and request them to forgive him (if at all there has been any omission). After that he should bid farewell to them with due veneration. At the end of the monthly fast he should observe fast on the eleventh day and then perform Vaiṣṇavayajña by inviting thirteen Brāhmaṇas.

68-69. Thereafter he should feed the Brāhmaṇas with due prostrations. He should give them betel leaves, pairs of clothes, food, coverings of the body, silken shawls, (sacred) threads, and bed with all necessary adjuncts. After giving these to the excellent Brāhmaṇas he should pay respect to them and bid farewell to them.

70-71. The procedure for the monthly fast has been duly recounted. Henceforth I shall describe the procedure for the rites to be performed in Tīthis beginning with Navamī (the ninth day). Listen to it, O Nārada, (as) it was described to the sages by Vālakhilyas.

Footnotes and references:


This proud sage once killed a sparrow by his angry glance. Inebriated with spiritual power, he cast his glaring glance at a lady who was a bit late to give him alms due to her duties with her husband. When he gruffly refused to accept alms, she plainly told him that she is not a sparrow which he killed on the way. Surprised at her spiritual powers, he asked her the secret of her spiritual power. She told him it was sincere attendance to her duties and for further discussion she sent him to a butcher at Vārāṇasī.


VV 50-58 describe the procedure of observing fast in the month of Kārttika.

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