by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Rama’s Copper-plate Grant to Brahmanas 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 Dharmaranya-khanda of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
3-5. When Bakulārka was installed well in the excellent divine Dharmāraṇya, when Lord Nārāyaṇa, the overlord of the desolate land, remained among prominent Brāhmaṇas, when the omniscient Lord Gaṇanāyaka was installed as the lord of protection, where the Yoginī is the deity of redemption for those who are immersed in the ocean of worldly existence, there the letter of authority in the name of Rāghava was written in accordance with the scriptures on a copper plate.
6-11. It is extremely surprising. It had been there for many long eons. All metals get destroyed. Even gold perishes. But, O son, this is directly perceived that the edict authorizing the Brāhmaṇas remains intact. There is no destruction of copper.
There is a cogent reason thereof. Whatever is said in the Vedas is said to be Viṣṇu himself. O descendant of Bharata, Viṣṇu resorting to various forms is praised in the Purāṇas, Vedas and scriptural texts. Viṣṇu alone is being meditated upon thus by people adhering to different creeds in different countries and religious orders of various sorts.
That eternal Puruṣa, the most excellent of all persons, has directly incarnated for the purpose of destroying the enemies of gods and for the protection of religious values. Hence, this letter of authority granted by him is indestructible, O son.
12-15. It was due to his majestic power that the rocks remained floating in the middle of watery expanse; Laṅkā was besieged by the monkeys and the Rākṣasas were killed easily. Rāma brought back the son of a sage from the world of Yama. It was by him that Dundubhi and Kabandha were killed. Tāḍakā was killed and a row of seven palm trees was pierced. Khara, Dūṣaṇa, the great demon Triśiras and fourteen thousand other demons were killed in battle instantly. And this letter of authority was issued by him. How can it not be everlasting?
16-20. He himself described his family there and got the name of the place and time written duly. The son of Daśaratha, Rāma, in his forty-fourth year stamped it with his own signet ring and gave it unto the Traividyas.
At that time it is reported that a miracle happened. The water that flowed through the holy spot shone like gold or silver, O descendant of Bharata. This holy water yielded satisfaction unto the Devas, sages and Manes. This occurred in the presence of Sūrya, the progenitor of his own family.
On seeing that great miracle, Rāma worshipped Viṣṇu and got the charitable deed of authority written by experts in writing.
21-25. On seeing this, all the Brāhmaṇas will cease to experience the fear of the worldly existence. Hence it is the protector of all.
In order to warn those sinners of bad conduct and those who are engaged in inquiring and being perfidious to friends, he made this announcement formerly. O Nārada, these words, it is reported, were inscribed by expert scribes of Rāma in the copper plate:
“Pitṛs and Pitāmahas slap their arms and say, ‘a person bequeathing land has been born in our family, who will cause our redemption.’ This earth has been enjoyed by many kings in many ways. The benefit derived by them is only as long as they rule it.
26. A bequeather of plots of lands remains in heaven for sixty thousand years. Those who unlawfully seize it or abet that crime, shall go to or remain in hell for the same period.
27. On being tormented by tongs and pincers, beaten with pestles and fettered with nooses, he cries out very loudly.
28. Struck on the head by sticks, compelled to embrace fire and cut down to pieces with knives, he cries out with loud report.
29. Those who usurp the means of livelihood of Brāhmaṇas, are tortured thus by great wicked hosts of terrible servants of Yama.
30. Thereafter everyone of them takes birth as a brute, Rākṣasa or a dog, a python, a jackal or a vampire instilling fear in the minds of all living beings.
31. (Verse slightly defective) How does a person who illegally takes away even an inch of land, not commit a sin? (He is a perpetrator of sin.) How does a person who bequeathes even an inch of land, not perform a meritorious deed?
32. The donor of plots of lands attains the fruit of thousands of horse-sacrifices, a hundred Rājasūya sacrifices and the gifting of a hundred virgins.
33. The length of life, renown, happiness, intellect, piety, grain stock, wealth, victory and progeny increase day by day, of a donor of plots of lands and he enjoys.
34. Those wicked men who unlawfully usurp even an inch of land and those who take away inherited property (of others) are reborn as black serpents in barren, waterless forests. They live in dry hollows of trees.
35. A man who illegally seizes plots of land can become free from the sin by digging a thousand lakes, performing a hundred horse-sacrifices or by gifting ten million cows.
36. Which sensible good person will take back what has been liberally donated to Brāhmaṇas, the monetary gifts conducive to righteousness, wealth and fame?
37. In this world of living beings, with all worldly happiness and as insignificant as a blade of grass, and fickle like the graceful movement of the leaves of an Aśvattha tree, if anyone of over-greedy nature takes away the letter of authority granted to the Brāhmaṇas, it amounts to being over-eager to fall into the dense whirlpool of hell.
38. Those kings who acquire this earth and those who depart after enjoying it, have not been followed by the earth. The earth will not accompany anyone. Whatever there is in the world is transitory. Fame alone is permanent. The good reputation of those by whom the earth is helped should not be ignored.
39-42. The earth granted to the Brāhmaṇas is the sole sister of all kings. No tax is to be levied thereupon. It should not be enjoyed as their own possession.
After giving away the plots of lands, Rāmacandra requests all the eminent kings again and again. ‘This bridge of righteousness is for all. In your own respective period of rule, this has to be observed by you all the kings. If any king is born in this family anywhere on the earth, I am beholden to him if what is given by me is preserved.’”
After getting the deed of authority inscribed, the intelligent Rāma worshipped excellent Brāhmaṇas well-versed in the four Vedas and handed it over to them in the presence of Vasiṣṭha.
43-45. At the bidding of Rāma, the Brāhmaṇas accepted the auspicious copper-plate of the deed embossed with golden letters for the purpose of worship. The deed was conducive to and an ornament of Dharma (righteousness). They preserved it out of devotion and with the object of getting desired objects.
Those Brāhmaṇas everyday worshipped that auspicious copperplate with (application of) sandal-paste, fragrant heavenly flowers and with gold flowers or silver flowers.
46-47. They kept a seven-wicked lamp in front of it filled with pure ghee. They offered Arghya, O king. The excellent Brāhmaṇas offered foodstuffs everyday with devotion repeating the Mantra ‘Rāma Rāmeti Rāmeti’.
48. One should utter this Rāma Mantra (before) taking food, (before) going to bed, at the time of drinking, when starting on a journey (and even) while resting. The Rāma Mantra should be recited in prosperity as well as in misery.
49. He will never have misery or misfortune nor fear from mental anguish and bodily ailments. Day by day his life expectation, prosperity and power get increased.
50. By repeating the name of Rāma one gets released from even horrible sins. The devotee does not go to hell. He attains the eternal goal (of absolution).
51-52. After doing thus, Rāma considered himself as one who had fulfilled his duty. After circumambulating and bowing to the many Brāhmaṇas and offering varieties of gifts including cows, horses, buffaloes and chariots, he spoke these words to them as well as to his own people:
53-58. “All of you stay here itself as long as the moon and the sun shine, as long as Meru stands on the earth and the seven seas exist. Undoubtedly all of you should stay here itself. O Brāhmaṇas, if kings or merchants deluded by the Māyā of their haughtiness do not carry out my behest or those people do not honour it, then, O Brāhmaṇas, let the Son of the Wind-god be remembered. The instant he is remembered Hanumān will come and reduce them to ash at my behest. It is undoubtedly the truth.
If any king abides by this splendid deed of authority, the Son of the Wind-god will always grant him happiness and prosperity. He will grant him sons and grandsons and chaste wife, glory and victory.”
59-60. After saying thus and having instructed Hanumān too, Lord Rāma returned along with his army and retinue.
His auspicious arrival was announced by the sounds of musical instruments. He had his white umbrella raised aloft and was fanned by the people with chowries. After entering the city of Ayodhyā, he governed the kingdom for a long time.
Footnotes and references:
This shows that it was issued two years after his coronation, when he came there with Sītā and the retinue. Sītā was not then abandoned.
The pun on Kara ‘a hand’. ‘She (being a sister) should not be grasped by hand.’