The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,142,515 words

This page describes The Characteristics of Women (continued) 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 Purvardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 38 - The Characteristics of Women (continued)

Skanda said:

1. Marriages are of eight types, viz. (1) Brāhma, (2) Daiva, (3) Ārṣa, (4) Prājāpatya, (5) Āsura, (6) Gāndharva, (7) Rākṣasa and (8) Paiśāca which is said to be the eighth.

2. A groom is invited and a bride well-adorned is given over to him. This is called Brāhma. The son born of them sanctifies twenty-one generations.

3. A bride is given to a Ṛtvik presiding over a Yajña. It is called Daiva. The son born to them redeems fourteen generations. The bride is given over after taking two cows from the bridegroom. This is Ārṣa. The son born to them redeems six generations.

4. The bride is given to the seeker after saying “Both of you together carry on the performance of pious acts.” This is Prājāpatya form of marriage. The son born of them sanctifies six generations.

5. These four types of marriage are sacred in the case of Brāhmaṇas. In Āsura marriage a bride is bought through money. The Gāndharva type is based on mutual love.

6. Marriage involving forcible kidnapping of the bride is called Rākṣasa. This is censured by good people. Abduction of a girl through fraud is called Paiśāca. This eighth type of marriage is also censured.

7. Generally speaking, the marriages of the types of Gāndharva, Āsura and Rākṣasa are in vogue among Kṣatriyas and Vaiśyas. The eighth one is the most heinous one. It is adopted by sinful persons.

8. At the time of marriage, a bride of the same caste as that of bridegroom should hold the hand (of the groom). An arrow held by the groom is caught by a Kṣatriya girl, if the groom is not of the same caste. A goad is similarly caught by a Vaiśya girl and the tip of the cloth is caught by a Śūdra girl.

9. This injunction regarding couples of different castes occurs in the Smṛtis and is followed during marriages. All the couples of the same caste hold the hands. This is the rule.

10. Righteous and pious children living upto a hundred years are born of righteous marriages. Unfortunate, poor and short-lived children are born of unrighteous wedlock.

11. This is a greatest pious act on the part of householders that they should indulge in sexual intercourse on specific days after menstruation, or in view of the boon received by women, he should approach her whenever desire overpowers (her).

12. Intercourse during day time very much curtails the extent of the life of men. A day of Śrāddha and all the Parvan days (i.e., new-moon, full-moon, Saṅkrānti etc.) should be avoided by a sensible man.

13. One who indulges in co-habitation during those days due to delusion falls from the highest piety.

14. A person who approaches his wife only on the specific days after menstruation and who is attached only to his wife, should be known as a perpetual Brahmacārī (celibate) and a good householder.

15. There are sixteen nights in the menstrual period. Four of them are prohibited ones. Of the rest the even ones cause the conception of sons and the odd ones that of daughters.

16. Avoiding a lunar eclipse day, Maghā star and the star of which Pūṣan is the deity, a householder should remain pure in mind and enjoy his wife on the days of the stars with masculine names (Śravaṇa, Hasta, Punarvasu, Mūla, Puṣya and Mṛgaśīrṣa). The woman shall give birth to a pure son who will get all the aims of the man fulfilled.

17. Offer of a pair of cows in the Ārṣa type of marriage is not something praiseworthy. Even the least amount of money offered to the parents of the bride causes the sin of selling the bride.

18. One who sells his children (i.e., raises money by that act) will go to the hell Viṭkṛmibhojana. (Persons in this hell feed on faeces and worms) for the period of a. Kalpa. Hence the father should not make use of even the minutest of the money of his daughter.

19. Those kinsmen who make use of the wealth of the bode out of delusion, do fall into the hell. So also do their ancestors.

20. The delighted Mahālakṣmī shall stay along with Dānavāri (the foe of demons i.e., Lord Viṣṇu) in the place where woman becomes delighted and satisfied with her husband and where husband is satisfied with wife.

21. The following are the causes of downfall in the family (of a Brāhmaṇa): practice of trade, service to the king, not teaching the Vedas, omissions in the sacred rites and wrong marriage.

22. A householder should perform everyday the Gṛhya Karmas, the Pañcayajña rites and the daily cooking work in the Vaivāhika (pertaining to the marriage rite) fire.

23. Everyday the householder has to perform five Sūnākarmas (acts involving violence). The Sūnās or things involving violence are: (1) Kaṇḍanī (pounding with wooden mortar and pestle), (2) Peṣaṇī (use of the grinding stone), (3) Cullī (oven), (4) Udakuṃbha (water pot), and (5) Mārjanī (act of sweeping with a broom).

24. The five Yajñas prescribed are the means of eradication of the five Sūnās. They are conducive to increase in the welfare of the householder.

25. The five Yajñas are: (1) Brahmayajña or teaching of the Vedas, (2) Pitṛyajña i.e., the offering of oblation to the Pitṛs, (3) Daivayajña i.e., Homa, (4) Bhūtayajña or oblation to the spirits and living beings, and (5) Nṛyajña or worship of guests.

26. A householder with a desire to propitiate the Pitṛs should perform Śrāddha everyday with cooked food, water, milk, bulbous roots or fruits.

27. After honouring duly a deserving mendicant by giving him alms in accordance with the injunctions, one gets the benefit resulting from the gift of cows.

28. Offering cast into fire kindled with penance, learning and sacrificial twigs, redeems one from clusters of obstacles and the ocean of sins very difficult to cross.

29. If a guest not duly honoured goes away disappointed, the householder instantly comes out of, i.e. loses, all his merits accumulated ever since his birth.

30. To the satisfaction of a guest, these should be offered: consoling words, ground for resting down, grass and water.

31. A householder regularly eating another man’s cooked food shall become a pet animal of that man after death, because the man who makes gift of cooked food takes away the Śreyas (everything that is good) of one who nourishes himself on another man’s food.

32. A guest who visits in the evening, at the time of sunset, should be assiduously honoured. If he goes away elsewhere on not being duly honoured, he transfers to him (the householder) much of his sins and demerits.

33. One who partakes of the food remaining after the guest has been fed, enjoys longevity and wealth. A householder who eats discarding a guest, becomes a sinner.

34. One who arrives at the conclusion of the Vaiśvadeva rite or at sunset, is said to be (the true) guest and not one who comes before time or one who has been seen before.

35. When a Brāhmaṇa householder holds the vessel of oblation, if another guest arrives, that oblation need not be given. He should offer cooked rice in accordance with his capacity.

36. Small boys, married women staying in their household, pregnant women, and persons acutely sick are to be fed even before guests. There is nothing to hesitate in this matter.

37. A householder consumes Amṛta (nectar) if he takes food after feeding Pitṛs, Devas and human beings. One who cooks merely for oneself incurs sins. He fills his own belly.

38. A householder himself should perform the midday Vaiśvadeva. His wife should offer the evening oblation with ready-cooked food without uttering the Mantras.

39. In a householder’s life, this is called Sāyantana Vaiśvadeva. In this manner Vaiśvadeva should be performed both in the morning and in the evening assiduously.

40. All those Brāhmaṇas should be known as Śūdras, even if they have learned the Vedas, if they are devoid of Vaiśvadeva and do not practise hospitality.

41. Those base Brāhmaṇas who take food without performing Vaiśvadeva rite, will become deprived of food in this world. Then they are reborn as crows.

42. A householder should always perform his duty as laid down in the Vedas. If he assiduously performs them as his capacity allows, he shall attain the greatest goal of the good.

43. In oil, sin resides during the sixth and eighth lunar days (i.e., no oil should be used on these days). In flesh (meat) it resides always. In the vulva and the razor, it resides on the fourteenth and fifteenth days (i.e., on these days one should not shave oneself or indulge in sexual intercourse).

44. One should not see the Sun as he rises or as he sets, when he blazes in the middle of the sky, when he is eclipsed or when he is reflected in water.

45. One should not look at one’s own reflection (in the mirror etc.) frequently; one shall not run quickly when it rains; one should not transgress the rope with which a calf is tethered; one should not enter water in nude state.

46-47. While passing by these, one should go clockwise: a temple, a Brāhmaṇa, a cow, honey, ghee, Gopīcandana etc., the eldest in the community, an old man, learned men, a sage, a holy fig tree, a tree that is usually worshipped, the preceptor, a pot full of water, cooked food, curd and white mustard.

48. One should not indulge in love-play with a woman in her monthly course; one should not take food in the company of one’s own wife; one should not take food wearing a single cloth nor should one be seated in an excessively elevated seat etc. while taking food.

49. An excellent Brāhmaṇa desirous of brilliance should not watch a woman (wife) taking food. One should not eat cooked food (from new harvest) without propitiating Pitṛs or Devas.

50-54. One who is desirous of long life should not eat sweets and meat. One should not pass urine near a cowpen, or on an anthill or on ash, nor in pits where there are living beings. One should not pass urine walking or standing.

One shall neither pass urine nor evacuate the bowels facing cows, Brāhmaṇas, the sun, wind, fire, the moon, stars, water or elderly persons.

One should be silent when passing urine or evacuating the bowels. The head should be covered with a cloth. The ground should be covered with clods of earth, twigs, leaves, grass etc.

During night in a shady place or dark corner, during day when there is panic or danger to life, one should face and sit as is convenient to one and evacuate the bowels.

One should not blow against a fire. One should not stare at a naked women.

55. One should not warm the feet over fire nor cast impure things into it. One should not injure living beings. One should not take food during dawn or dusk.

56. One should not sleep during dusk nor should keep the head towards the west or north. One desirous of living for a long time should not spit, pass urine or evacuate the bowels, into waters.

57. One should not make a mention of suckling cow; one should not point out the rainbow; one should not sleep anywhere alone; one should not waken (an elderly person) lying down.

58. One should not travel along the road alone; one should not drink water with joined palms. One should not eat oil cake etc. after the essence has been taken out during day time; one should not eat curd during night.

59. One should not be in conversation with a woman in her monthly course; one should not eat till complete satisfaction (i.e., bellyful) during nights; one should not be too fond of music and musical instruments; one should not get the feet washed in a bell-metal vessel.

60. If a man devoid of wisdom partakes of a Śrāddha, he does not gain the benefit; the partaker shall become a sinner.

61. One should not wear the cloth worn by others or their shoes; one should not sit in a place destroyed by fire.

62. One desirous of living for a long time should avoid riding on cows (bulls), the smoke from (a buring) dead body, crossing a river by swimming, the morning sunshine and sleeping during day time.

63. After taking bath, one should not scrub the body with the hand or the cloth worn at the time of taking bath; one should not unloose the tuft (of hair) on the path; one should not shake the hand or the hands; one should not drag a seat by means of the foot.

64. One should never pare or uproot hair or nail with one’s teeth. One should avoid cutting of the nails, or grass with one’s nails.

65. One should assiduously avoid that activity which is not conducive to auspiciousness whether to one’s own house or another’s. One should not enter otherwise than through the regular door.

66. One should not play with dice; one should not sit together with sick persons or with violaters of piety; one should not lie down anywhere naked; no householder should take food on the palm of the hand.

67. If one takes food after washing the hands and feet and rinsing the mouth, one shall live for a long time; one should not go to sleep with wet feet; one shall not go anywhere in an Ucchiṣṭa state (i.e., without washing, after taking food).

68. No Brāhmaṇa should take food, drink any beverage or perform Japa while lying on bed; one should not perform Ācamana rite with shoes on, nor should one drink water flowing in currents.

69. No one desirous of welfare should eat in evening edibles made of gingelly seeds. One should not look at faeces or urine; no one should touch the head in an Ucchiṣṭa state.

70. One should not step on husks, burning coal, ash, hair or potsherd. Association with fallen people is conducive only to downfall.

71. A Brāhmaṇa should not at all recite a Vedic Mantra to a Śūdra. (If it is recited) the Brāhmaṇa loses his Brāhmaṇahood and the Śūdra loses his piety.

72. If a Śūdra begins imparting instruction in righteousness, it acts contrary to his own welfare. Serving the twice-born is considered as the greatest duty of Śūdras.

73. Scratching the head with both the hands is not considered auspicious; so also is the beating (the breast while) lamenting as well as plucking the hairs.

74. Accepting monetary gifts from a greedy king not following the injunctions of the sacred scriptures, a Brāhmaṇa falls into hell along with the members of his family up to twenty-one generations.

75. Anadhyāya (prohibition of Vedic study) has been proclaimed when there is untimely thunder, when there is a dust storm, during rainy season, when there is a loud report of violent gust of wind, and during nights.

76. When there occurs fall of meteors, earthquake, preternatural red glow in the horizons, at dead of night, during dusk and dawn, in the vicinity of a Śūdra or an irreligious person, impurity due to birth and death to a king and during eclipse (there shall be no Vedic study).

77-79. During the new moon, the Aṣṭakas (7th, 8th, and 9th, lunar days), Caturdaśī (14th lunar day), after having partaken of Śrāddha, during the first lunar day, during the full-moon, when an elephant or camel crosses the path, when asses, camels or jackals cry, when they make noise together, Upākarama day, Utsarga day, while taking a voyage in a boat or raft in water, after learning the Āraṇyaka and on hearing the sound of an arrow or Sāman hymn (and piteous cry—Comm.)—in the course of these Anadhyāya days a Brāhmaṇa should never study the Vedas.

80. A Brāhmaṇa should not study the Vedas when there are disturbances created by frogs, mice, dogs, serpents and ichneumons. A householder shall remain celibate (i.e., avoid sex) on eighth, fourteenth and fifteenth lunar days.

81. Approaching another man’s wife affects longevity. Hence it should be abstained at all costs. So also doing service to enemies.

82. One should not under-estimate oneself when the early fortunes leave one, because neither prosperity nor learning can be difficult of acquiring to those who always endeavour.

83. O Pot-born Sage, one should speak the truth; one should speak pleasing words but should not speak the truth if it is unpleasant. One should never speak agreeable untruths. This is the Dharma.

84. One should always speak auspicious things; one should always think about auspicious things; here in this world, one should always associate with auspicious ones and not with inauspicious ones.

85. An intelligent man should never offend those deficient in physical charm, wealth and nobility of birth. A man physically defiled, should not stare at the moon, the sun or luminaries.

86. One should control and avoid impetuosity of words, harshness of the tongue and agitation of the mind. One should keep off from a long distance the wealth acquired through bribery, gaming, carrying messages or extortion.

87. One should never touch a cow, a Brāhmaṇa and fire with hands unwashed after eating, unless one is ill. One should never touch one’s sense-organs without any adequate reason.

88. One becomes impure by touching the hairs of the private parts, waste water with which feet are washed, urine, (the remnant of) food and water eaten or drunk by another person.

89. One should cast away to a long distance spittings and phlegm.

By muttering (reciting) the Vedas day and night and by repeating Vedic passages day and night and by resorting to rules of cleanliness and good habit and through an intellect that is never harmful to others, a Brāhmaṇa shall be able to remember the previous birth.

90. One should promptly make obeisance to old men and give up one’s own seat for their sake. He should keep the neck (Comm.) bent down. He should thus follow them.

91. One should never speak disparagingly of Śrutis, Brāhmaṇas, Devas, kings, saints, ascetics, and chaste women.

92. One should not eulogize human beings. One should not under-value oneself; one should not discard what is given unsolicited (or one should not drive away a person who is ready to exert himself) nor should one utter words divulging the secrets of others.

93. A person may prosper in the beginning through impiety and may even conquer enemies. But after gaining welfare all-round, he will perish along with his family.

94. One should take bath in a pond etc. dug by others after taking out (at least) five lumps of clay therefrom, if he does not do so, he shall have to incur a fourth of the sins of the person who has dug it up.

95. After obtaining a deserving person if any amount of wealth is given away with great faith, with due care for the place, time and the injunctions, that (good act) will be conducive to infinite benefit.

96. A person who gifts away plots of land shall become an emperor; persons who gift away cooked food will be happy everywhere; a donor of water will be always satisfied; and one who gifts away silver shall become handsome.

97. One who gifts away lamps shall become clear-visioned; one who presents cows (as dāna) attains the world of Aryaman; a person who makes gift of gold shall be long-lived; and one who makes a gift of gingelly seeds shall have good progeny.

98. One who offers houses as a gift becomes the owner of a very lofty mansion; one who makes a gift of garments attains the lunar world; one who makes a gift of horses gets divine vehicles; and one who gives away, as dāna, bulls becomes prosperous.

99. A person who offers a palanquin (as a gift) gets a good wife; a person who makes a gift of excellent bedsteads becomes prosperous always with plenty of grain; and a person offering freedom from fear becomes a lord.

100. A person who makes a gift of Brahma (i.e., Veda) is one who performs a sacrifice, the goal of which is Brahmā’s world; a person who makes the gift of Brahma is considered one who donates everything. A person who finds out some means of handing over (imparting) Brahma is also one like him.

101. He who receives gifts with faith and he who gives away with faith, both of them will get heaven. (But) if bereft of faith, one falls very low.

102. Yajña perishes due to falsehood; the power of penance perishes due to arrogance. Munificence in gifts perishes due to self-glorification about the same; span of life becomes reduced by slandering a Brāhmaṇa.

103. All these things offered to one without being requested should be accepted even from a base person: scents, flowers, Kuśa grass, bed, greens, meat, milk, curd, jewels, fish, house, and grain.

104. Honey, water, fruit, root, fuel, freedom from fear, monetary gifts—all these things offered unsolicited should be accepted even from a lowly one.

105. Servants, barbers, cowherds, family friends, Ardhasīrins (ploughmen receiving half the crops for their labour)—all these belonging to the caste of Śūdras can be fed with cooked food. So also one who dedicates himself (a devotee).

106. A householder should get himself freed from indebtedness to the Devas, sages and Pitṛs in this manner. Thereafter, he should entrust his sons with everything connected with the house and himself be indifferent to them.

107. Or he should pursue knowledge in the house itself; or resort to Kāśī. Salvation is through perfect knowledge or in the shrine of Viśveśa.

108. Whence can a person gain perfect knowledge in a single life? In Vārāṇasī liberation is assured only through the renunciation of the body there.

109. The body is sure to go away quickly today, or tomorrow or the day after or after more than a hundred years. If that happens in Kāśī, the man becomes immortal.

110. Vārāṇasī can be obtained always by one who strictly follows rules of good conduct. Hence a learned man should never transgress injunctions regarding good conduct.

111.On hearing this, Agastya said to the Six-faced Lord again: “Tell about Kāśī further, which one gets through good conduct.

112. O Skanda, what are those Liṅgas which bestow perfect knowledge at Kāśī. Describe this to me as I ask.

113. Without Kāśī I have no pleasure. With Kāśī I have no other things of interest. O Six-faced Lord, I am a puppet painted in picture without Kāśī.

114. I do not sleep. I am not keeping awake. I do not eat. I do not drink water. I drink the two-lettered nectar alone, named Kāśī.”

115. On hearing these words uttered by Agastya, Skanda began to narrate the greatness of Kāśī (Avimukta).

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