by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 1,763,776 words
This page describes Acquisition of the Charter by Brahmanas which is chapter 38 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-eighth chapter of the Dharmaranya-khanda of the Brahma-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
1-4. When it dawned clearly, the Brahmavādins (‘chanters of the Vedas’) performed their early morning rites, wore splendid clothes, bedecked their mighty arms with bracelets set with jewels, adorned (their fingers) with rings and held fruits individually (in their hands).
With ear-rings glittering in their ears, they proceeded gladly. They went and stood at the palace doors. On seeing them the mighty prince smiled a little and said: “O ye ministers, may this be heard. It appears that these excellent Brāhmaṇas have returned after seeing Rāma and Hanumān.”
5. After speaking these words the king remained silent. All the Brāhmaṇas sat dawn with two or three seated in every row in due order.
6. They enquired after the king’s welfare and that of (his army consisting of) elephants, chariots and infantry. Thereupon, the noble-minded king spoke to the Brāhmaṇas:
7-10a. “With the favour of Arihanta, I am well in every respect. That is the (real) tongue which glorifies Jina: Those are the (worthy) hands that worship Jina; that is the (real) eye which is fixed at Jina; that is the (real) mind which is engrossed in Jina. Mercy should be shown everywhere; the individual soul should be always venerated. One should go to the Yogaśālā and offer obeisance to the preceptor. The great Mantra ‘na cakāra’ (navakāra?) should be recited day and night. ‘Pañcūṣaṇa’ (Paryūṣaṇa?) should be performed and gifts should always be made to Śamaṇas.”
10b-13. On hearing these words the Brāhmaṇas gnashed their teeth. Heaving a great sigh, they spoke to the king: “It has been told by Rāma and the intelligent Hanumān: ‘It is known all over the world that you are most righteous person. Give (back) the (means of) livelihood to the Brāhmaṇas. It will be known that it is given by you, never by me’. Keep to the words of Rāma and be happy by doing it.”
The king said:
14-15. May all of you go where Rāma and Hanūmān are staying. Rāma will give everything. What for did you come here, O Brāhmaṇas? I will never give. I will never give even a Varāṭikā (a cowrie); no village and no means of livelihood. Go wherever it pleases you.
16-21. On hearing the terrible words, the Brāhmaṇas were excited with anger. They said, “Well, suffer from the anger of Rāma and Hanumān now.” After saying this, they threw down the packet of hair from the left armpit given by Hanumān in the abode of the king. The excellent Brāhmaṇas then retired.
When the group of the Brāhmaṇas departed, the whole place was ablaze with columns of flames. Everything became full of flames of fire. All the royal paraphernalia got enveloped in fire: the umbrellas, the chowries, the treasury-rooms, the arsenals etc. The queens, the princes, the elephants and many horses, the vehicles and conveyances of all sorts—-all were completely burning. Palanquins of various sorts and thousands of chariots were burnt. Seeing everything blazing thus, the king became excessively grieved.
23. When Rāma becomes angry, his anger destroys crores of the crooked. All perish at his anger. What to say of the (insignificant) Kumārapālaka?
24-25. Seeing everything burnt down, the naked Jaina mendicants, trembling again and again, took in their hands their pots, auspicious sticks, red blankets and without shoes or sandals fled away to ten directions.
26. They made loud and confused noise, “All of us are undoubtedly set on fire by the chief Brāhmaṇas. Run away, run away.”
27-28. Some of them had their pots broken, some their sticks. Those naked ones fled away, some calling ‘Vītarāga’ and some ‘Arhanta’ while running.
Then the Wind blew, as if to kindle the fire all the more.
29-30. He had been sent by Hanumān with a desire to save the interest of the Brāhmaṇas.
The king ran on foot here and there alone and lamenting enquired, “Where are the Brāhmaṇas?” On hearing from the people, the king went to that place where the Brāhmaṇas (were resting).
31. O king, after going there suddenly, he caught hold immediately of the feet of the Brāhmaṇas. The king fell down unconscious.
32. Repeating the name of the son of Daśaratha, “Rāma, Rāma”, the king with deep humility spoke these words to the Brāhmaṇas:
33. “I am the servant of the servant of that Rāma and of Brāhmaṇas. I had become blind through the darkness of ignorance.
34. The magic ointment, the great medicine, viz. Rāma’s name, has been obtained by me. Those men who serve and adore other gods than Rāma are being burnt by the fire, O lord, like me whose mind is deluded.
37-41. Lamenting in this manner, the king spoke with palms joined in reverence: “O Brāhmaṇas, may the fire be extinguished. I shall restore to you the charter. Now I am your slave, O Brāhmaṇas. My words shall not be otherwise. (If they be so) let me incur the sin of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter, of defiling other men’s wives, the sin of drinking liquor, of stealing gold and of the assassination of the preceptor. Whatever you desire, I shall grant it. Devotion to Brāhmaṇas as well as to Rāma should (will) always be engaged in by me. I shall never do anything other than these, O Brāhmaṇas.”
42-44. On that occasion, O king, the Brāhmaṇas became merciful. In order to quell the curse, they threw the other packet. When the hairs were thrown, the army regained life. The quarters became clear and pure. The trumpeting sounds produced in all the quarters quietened down. The subjects became hale and hearty with mind full of great delight. Everything, the sons and grandsons, stood as before.
45. As before, the common people became obedient to Brāhmaṇas. Excepting the Viṣṇu cult, they did not know (i.e. recognize) any other religious belief.
46-48. A new letter of authority legally binding as before was issued. Heretics were banished, duly making the scripture hold good. Those outside the pale of the Vedas including the good, the middling and the lowly disappeared. The class of merchants called Aḍhavījas was formed among those former thirty-six thousand Gobhujas. All of them were directed to attend to the Brāhmaṇas.
49. They were very efficient and of good conduct. They adored the gods and the Brāhmaṇas. Renouncing the path of heretics, they became devout followers of Viṣṇu.
50-51. Coming to the banks of Gaṅgā, the king handed over the letter of authority to them with sincere devotion. He handed it over to the Traividyas.
When the Brāhmaṇas who had deviated from the duty which they owed to the place (Dharmāraṇya and the shrine) approached, (to claim the rights in the charter) the king was requested by those Brāhmaṇas who had created the trouble:
52. “O king, remove those Brāhmaṇas who broke their words.” There were disputes in regard to the livelihood bequeathed.
53. In order to show justice, the assembly members were constituted. When the signatures were checked, they were found to be different.
54. On hearing this, the king made arrangements for Tulādāna (gift of gold equal to the weight of the body of the recipient). As the gifts were being offered, the Cāturvidyas spoke:
55-58. “How can we accept monetary gifts, as the caste has been lost by us.”
All those Moheraka Brāhmaṇas, the masters of the Vedas and the Vedāṅgas who were fifteen thousand in number were warded off from their place. Thereupon, O king, the Vāḍavas (Brāhmaṇas) were called by the king who was a follower of Rāma. He formed a difference in the caste. Trayīvidya Brāhmaṇas who went to the lord, at Setubandha, shall be given the means of livelihood. Those who did not go became Cāturvidyas (in designation).
59. There will not be any relationship with the Vaṇiks nor marriage alliances with them. As the caste has been differentiated, there was no relationship in the means of livelihood at the village.
60. Those Śūdras who were devoted to the Brāhmaṇas and who were not misled by the heretics, those who recanted the Jaina cult, are excellent Gobhūjas.
61. Those who persisted in heresy, those who caused the disappearance of the letter of authority of Rāma—all of them, Brāhmaṇas as well as Śūdras, were beset with restrictions.
62. Those who were true to their promise though living there, became happy. The Cāturvidyas were colonized by the king outside the village.
63-64. (The king said:) “I must certainly do only such things as will not enrage Rāma. Those who were averse to Ṛāma and who have reportedly come face to face (i.e. accepted devotion to Rāma) should be known as Cāturvidyas.” They were thrown out of the jurisdiction of the assignment of means of livelihood. Then King Kumārapālaka became satisfied as having fulfilled his task.
65-74. With great humility, he spoke in the presence of the Brāhmaṇas: “It was not I who deprived you of your livelihood in the village. This has been brought about by fate.
To whom the fault, of (unwittingly) committing an offence can be attributed? Fire is produced in the jungle sheerly due to fate, by falling together of pieces of wood (in friction).
Condition has been set by you for the sake of a token or sign of recognition (of Rāma’s charter) having carried out the order of Ṛāma through the Son of the Wind-god (?).
Ye Brāhmaṇas returned. To whom is that fault to be imputed? Ultimately even one who is a great sinner quickly attains the region of Viṣṇu by remembering Hari. How can there be doubt? When the great merit of a man comes up (to fruition) his intellect becomes inclined towards supreme good.
At the time of the rising of (the consequence of a sin) it shall be just the reverse.
Suspicious disbelief in the immanent soul of living beings is not beneficial. It is that soul that alone protects the three worlds through piety.
It is widely known that Rāma’s name is on a par with the thousand names (of Viṣṇu). If one doubts about him, how can there be Siddhi? Hari gave the token of recognition.
The sin committed due to heresy has been wiped off by my bowing down to you. All ye Sirs, be pleased. Refrain from being angry with me.”
The Brāhmaṇas said:
75. O king, your piety is impaired by the things happening by chance. Indeed what is inevitable has to be faced even by great men.
76. The nakedness of Nīlakaṇṭha and the compulsion on Hari to lie on the Great Serpent is brought about by fate which is the creator of happiness and misery.
77. Let the Traividyas of truthful resolve possess the letter of authority of Rāma. As for us, please grant the place where we live.
78-81. On hearing their words, the king became inclined to cause happiness to the Brāhmaṇas. Hence a place was given to them (which became) known as Sukhavāsa.
The king rejoiced immensely by offering with great faith gold, garments, flowers, wish-yielding cows, golden ornaments and different kinds of objects.
Those who had been established by the three gods (Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva) should be known as Trayīvidyas. Those excellent Brāhmaṇas who were settled at Sukhavāsa by the fourth one i.e. the king, became Cāturvidyas in Kali Age.
82-83. All those Cāturvidyas were established in Dharmāraṇya. They bestowed the Vedic blessings on the noble-souled king. Riding chariots and horses, the contented Brāhmaṇas reached the great Moheraka with great delight.
84. It was on the thirteenth day in the bright half of Pauṣa (Dec.-Jan.) that the Brāhmaṇas received the letter of authority. They performed the offerings of oblations with the family deity in view.
85. Every year the offering of oblation should be made in accordance with the injunctions. The holy, auspicious ablution should be performed by a noble-minded person.
86. Song, dance and instrumental music should be had without fail on that day in that month so that there may not be any cessation of the means of livelihood.
87. If Vṛddhi (the impurity due to childbirth in the family) happens untimely, first this oblation etc. is given and afterwards Vṛddhi pollution is to be observed.
88-92. The Traividyas born of the family of Moḍha, who were more like broken wayside watersheds, and the Caturvedins (as well) perform Gotra Pūjana. That should be performed in the middle of the rainy season as well as when Lord Janārdana goes to sleep.
Those Brāhmaṇas who were banished by King Āma from his kingdom, the fifteen thousand ones, went to Sukhavāsaka.
93-94. Formerly Rāma himself gave fifty-five villages. The Vaṇiks there gave them means of livelihood. Those persons who bestowed means of livelihood on the Brāhmaṇas, were the Aḍālajas, Māṇḍalīyas and the pure Gobhūjas. They were devoted to the service of Brāhmaṇas.
Footnotes and references:
‘na cakāra’ is a scribal error for ‘navakāra’. The scribe’s ignorance about the term navakāra signifying a salute to pañca-parameṣṭhins, is probably responsible for this confusion.