by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes Duties of a Householder which is chapter 40 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 fortieth chapter of the Purvardha of the Kashi-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
1. The greatness of Avimukteśa has been described by me to you. What are you desirous of hearing further? I shall narrate it now.
2. On repeatedly listening to the greatness of Avimukteśa my ears have become excellent. Yet I do not fe el satiated.
4. Listen, O Pot-born One of great intelligence, I shall tell you how the attainment of Avimukta, the bestower of eternal bliss is possible.
5. A desired object is obtained through the power of meritorious acts. That meritoriousness shall be obtained by resorting to the Vedic path, O Brāhmaṇa.
7. In one doing what is prohibited and not doing what is prescribed, Kali and Kāla see a loophole and strike down that Brāhmaṇa.
8. Hence I shall tell you what things are prohibited. By avoiding them from afar, a man can prevent his fall in hell.
9. Onion, shit-thriving pigs, Śelu, garlic, carrot, Gopīyūṣa (milk of a cow before the lapse of ten days from calving), Taṇḍulīya (a grain growing in faecal rubbish) and mushrooms—all these are to be avoided.
10. One shall avoid Vraścanas (greens etc. growing even after being cut), exudations from trees, puddings, pies, fried Śaṣkuli and meat never consecrated to deities or Manes and the milk of a cow without a calf.
11. The milk of Ekaśapha (animals having no cloven hoofs), camel and sheep is to be avoided. One should not eat curds during the night nor butter during the day.
13. One should not eat Jālapāda-swans, Khañjariṭas and those birds which sink down into the water and eat fishes. One who eats fish is no better than a flesh-eater. So one should avoid fishes in every respect.
17. One who eats meat when threatened with danger to life, during Yajña, in Śrāddha, as a medicine, for pleasing a Brāhmaṇa without being over-tempted, cannot be blamed.
18. One who desires hunting as a means of sustenance does not incur such a sin after death, as one who eats flesh after being over-tempted.
21. He who kills animals for self-nourishment: is weak in knowledge and of evil conduct. He will never have happiness here or hereafter.
22. Hiṃsakas (perpetrators of violence) are of eight kinds: (1) one who eats flesh, (2) one who permits it, (3) one who prepares it, (4) the buyer, (5) the seller, (6) the actual killer, (7) one who make a present of it, and (8) one who persuades others to kill.
23. A person may perform yearly horse-sacrifices for a hundred years. Another person may abstain from eating meat. Of these two, the latter is superior.
24. Another man should be seen in the same way as oneself by one who wishes for happiness. Happiness and misery are equally present in oneself and in others.
25. If happiness or the other one (to the contrary), is caused unto others, it will recoil on oneself afterwards.
26. Without pains or exertions money cannot be earned. How can one carry out holy rites without money? How can one have piety without holy rites? How can one get happiness without piety?
27. Happiness is desirable by all. That originates from Dharma. Hence Dharma should be performed assiduously by persons of all the four castes.
28. All rites for benefits in the other world should be performed by means of wealth acquired by legitimate means. Religious gifts must be duly made with devotion and faith to deserving persons at the proper time.
29. If one makes a gift to an undeserving person and does not follow the relevant injunction in this regard, then not only that (merit accruing from the) gift vanishes but also does his remaining Puṇya (merit).
30. What is given to relieve distress, to sustain the family and to repay debts, becomes Akṣaya (having everlasting benefit) both here and hereafter.
31. If one consecrates an orphan through Mauñjī, Pāṇigraha etc. (investing with sacred thread, celebrating the marriage etc.) by spending one’s own money, his Puṇya is infinite indeed.
33. He who gets the marriage of a helpless Brāhmaṇa celebrated and has accomplished his purpose, enjoys happiness here and he shall attain everlasting heavenly bliss.
34. If a virgin girl has her first menstruation in her father’s house without her marriage being solemnised, her father should be known as a Bhrūṇahā (‘destroyer of a foetus’) and that girl a Vṛṣalī (Śūdra girl).
35. He who, out of delusion, marries her will be the husband of a Śūdra girl. He is an Apāṅkteya (not fit to sit in the same row as the others at the time of meals). The very conversation with him should be abandoned forever.
36. After knowing the fault of both, i.e., that of the girl and the groom, the father should perform their marriage (once again) afterwards. Otherwise the father is blameworthy.
37. Women are always pure. They do not get defiled by anything whatsoever. The monthly menstrual flow drives away their sins.
40. Agni enjoys a virgin at the time of the menstruation, the Moon when the (pubic) hair begin to grow and Gandharvas when the breasts begin to develop. Hence a girl is to be given in marriage before this.
41. A girl with hairs visible (before marriage is consecrated) kills her children; she with the breasts in developed form destroys the family; she who has menstruated destroys the father. Hence one should avoid all (such girls).
42. Hence one who is desirous of the benefit of gift of a virgin should give her in marriage before Agni and others enjoy her. If not, the giver does not enjoy any benefit; one who receives her in marriage falls down (incurs sin).
43. One who gives away a girl not enjoyed by Soma and others, attains the benefit of the religious gift. Giving her who has been enjoyed by Devas, the donor does not attain heavenly pleasures.
45. A calf is pure at the time of the discharge of milk from the udder of the cow, a bird at the time when it causes a fruit to fall, women during sexual intercourse, and a dog when it catches a deer.
46. The mouth of goats and horses is pure; cows are pure at their backs; Brāhmaṇas are pure in their feet; and women are pure (in all parts of their person).
47. A beloved wife should not be abandoned even if she is raped or if she falls into the clutches of robbers. Abandoning her is not laid down (anywhere).
48. Copper becomes pure when sour (acidic) things are applied; brass becomes pure by using Bhasma (ash). A woman becomes pure through her menstruation and a river through the flow (of water).
49. A woman who does not even mentally think of another men enjoys pleasures with Umā and enjoys renown here in the world too.
50. The order of the guardians of a girl is: father, grandfather, brother, a member of the same family, mother, the man who formally gives her in marriage. If the preceding one is not available the succeeding one (is the guardian) naturally.
51. If the guardian does not give her in marriage, he incurs sin of slaughter of a foetus in every menstural cycle. If there is no one to give her in marriage, a girl should choose her own husband.
52. If a woman strays from the path of sexual purity, she shall be divested of all her rights and kept dirty and discarded from the bed. Of course, she should be given a morsel of food for sustenance.
53. If the lapse in morality is only mental, the woman becomes pure after menstruation. She is abandoned if she conceives, or kills the foetus or the husband or commits any other great sin.
54. A Śūdra takes a Śūdra girl for wife; a Vaiśya takes a Śūdra girl as well as a Vaiśya girl for wife; a Kṣatriya takes a Śūdra, a Vaiśya as well as a Kṣatriya girl for wife; and a Brāhmaṇa takes all the other three girls as well as a Brāhmaṇa girl.
55. By allowing a Śūdra woman to lie on his bed (i.e., marrying a Śūdra woman—Comm.) a Brāhmaṇa incurs downfall; by procreating a son of her, he swerves from the status of a Brāhmaṇa.
57. Close female relatives curse the household wherein they are not properly honoured (which takes place in such a Brāhmaṇā-Śūdra household). Thereby these households certainly perish as if struck down by Kṛtyās (female deities of destructive powers).
58. Hence Suvāsinīs (women with husbands living) should be propitiated through jewels, raiments and food by men desirous of prosperity and by welcoming them in the course of festivities.
59. Where women are happy due to ornaments, clothes and foodstuffs offered to them, deities rejoice there. All the holy rites become fruitful there.
60. At every step, there shall be prosperity in that household where the wife (woman) is fully satisfied with the husband and the husband is completely satisfied with the wife.
62. Japa (Repetition of Mantras) is Āhuta; performance of Homa is Huta; oblations given to the Bhūtas constitute Prahuta; propitiation of Manes is Prāśita, and the adoration of Brāhmaṇas is Brāhmahuta.
63. A Brāhmaṇa regularly performing these five Yajñas is never faced with a disaster. By not performing these, he shall incur the sin of the five Sūnās (murders).
64. On meeting a Brāhmaṇa, one should enquire about his Kuśala (welfare); on meeting a Kṣatriya one should enquire about his Anāmaya (health, freedom from illness); on meeting a Vaiśya one should enquire about his Sukha (happiness); and on meeting a Śūdra one shall enquire about his Santoṣa (satisfaction).
65. Till the eighth year is completed a child is no better than a new-born baby. Till the Upanāyana ceremony is performed, the child does not become defiled due to indiscriminate eating (prohibited food).
66. The proper sustenance of those people of the Poṣya group (i.e., worthy of being brought up and nourished) has both visible and invisible benefits. In case they are not maintained there shall be disaster. Hence they are to be assiduously sustained.
67. Poṣyas are nine: mother, father, wife of preceptor, one’s own children, dependents, (preceptor), a casual visitor, regular guests and the sacred fire.
68. A man who is depended upon for subsistence by many people, lives in the real sense (of life). A man who fills his own belly should be regarded as dead though alive.
69. One with a desire for prosperity should make gifts unto the wretched, the helpless and the distinguished (scholars). Those who do not make liberal gifts are born as persons living upon other men’s fortune.
70. A householder of good conduct, sharing what he has with others, one having kindness and perfect forbearance and a. devotee of deities aṇd guests is said to be pious and righteous.
71. A Brāhmaṇa who sleeps in the two middle Yāmas of the night (i.e., between 9.00 a.m. and 3.00 a.m.) and drinks the ghee that remains after Homa has been performed, never faces difficulties.
72-73. The following nine should always be practised at the visit of a guest by a householder: Enquiry after welfare (Kuśala) in speech, eyes, mind and face; standing up for wel-coming; greeting affectionately at the outset by words like “Welcome here”; Upāsana (making him sit near oneself or massaging his feet—Comm.), Anuvrajyā (following a few steps behind the guest at the time of departure). These acts which involve no expenditure are conducive to prosperity of a householder.
74-75a. Similarly the following nine should be practised involving a little expense: offering of seats, water for washing the feet, feeding within one’s capacity, ground as bed (grass underneath the bed—Comm.), water for drinking, oil for bath and lights. These nine give Siddhis (powers) in the life of a householder.
75b-76. Similarly the following nine Vikarmas (ill actions) should be avoided by a householder: Backbiting, approaching other men’s wives, injury, ruthlessness, falsehood, displeasing behaviour, hatred, arrogance and deceitfulness. These nine are obstacles in the path of heaven.
77-79. There are nine essential daily duties to be performed. They are: bath, Sandhyā prayers, Japa, Homa, study of the Vedas, worship of deities, Vaiśvadeva (oblation into fire before meal), receiving guests and the ninth one, libations to the Pitṛs.
O sage, listen to the nine things to be kept as secret and guarded: The star of nativity, sexual intercourse, Mantras (spells, secret counsels), interfamily feud, deception, span of life, monetary position, insult to prestige, and wife. These are not to be revealed at all.
80. These nine things can be revealed: secret sin, undespised thing or person, everything conducive to practical application, repayment of debts, one with the family, sale, purchase, giving away daughter (in marriage), perfection of good qualities. Nothing else should be revealed by anyone anywhere.
81. What is given to the following nine yields inexhaustible benefit: deserving persons, friends, humble ones, poor people, helpless ones, those who help others, mother, father and preceptors.
82. Futile indeed are these if given over to these nine: a garrulous one, a flatterer, a thief, a bad physician, a cheat, an outrageous one, a rogue, a wrestler, and a prisoner.
83-84. Even during emergency these nine things should never be given away: entire property if one has progeny, wife, those who seek refuge, short-term deposits, long-term deposits, pledged things, traditional avocation, dowry amount and a son. One who gives away these is a deluded soul. He can become pure only through expiatory rites.
85-86. By realizing these nine sets of nine, one shall achieve what is pleasing. I shall mention another set of nine that accords the pathway to heaven unto everyone: truthfulness, cleanliness, abstention from violence, forbearance, liberal-mindedness, mercy, mental control, non-stealing and control over the sense-organs. All these are means of piety (Dharma).
87. A householder who adopts these ninety things that illuminate the pathway to heaven and that are approved by good persons and so are holy, is never faced with difficulties.
88. Everywhere one will get high estimation if he has the following: humility, a wife, a son, a brother, a friend, a servant, dependents and (his) tongue (sweet speech).
89. The following six things defile women: drinking (wine), association with wicked persons, separation from the husband, wandering, over-sleeping and staying in another’s house.
90. He who collects (purchases) food-grains cheap and sells dearly (with high rates), is a usurer. No one should partake of his food.
91. On seeing a buffalo-keeper (Māhiṣika) in the beginning, husband of a Śūdra woman (Vṛṣalī)1 in the middle and a usurer at the end (at the time of the Śrāddha), Manes are disappointed and they go away.
92. (Explanation of the above two words in another way) The woman devoid of chastity is called Mahiṣī. He who loves that wicked woman is called Māhiṣika.
93. She who casts off her Vṛṣa (husband) and loves another Vṛṣa, should be known as Vṛṣalī and not a Śūdra woman (alone).
94. The Manes partake of the food offerings as long as the cooked rice is hot, people eat silently and the good qualities of the Havis (food offering) are not (boastfully) described.
95. When a man well-versed in the Vedas and possessing learning and humility comes to the house (as a guest), all the medicinal herbs sport about (saying) “We will attain the highest state.”
96. If the food is offered to a man who is ignorant of the Vedas, who is unclean, who does not practise good conduct or holy vows and who is fallen, the food begins to lament, “What sin has been committed by me?”
97. If a man (guest) is able to digest the food going into his belly due to the Vedic study and practice, he redeems ten previous generations and ten succeeding generations (of the donor).
98. Women are not to be shaven completely. One should not follow cows (as an avocation). One should not stay in a cowpen during the night. One should not utter Vedic passages (at night, or in a cowpen).
99. Muṇḍana (shaving the head) of women shall be done thus: Lifting up the whole of the tress cut off to a length of two Aṅgalas (an Aṅgula is a little less than two centimeters).
100. A king, or a prince or a Brāhmaṇa of much learning should not be subjected to tonsure. Some other expiatory rite should be fixed.
102. If a man considers himself a Gṛhastha (householder) without taking up the marital fire, his food should not be eaten. He is called a Vṛthāpāka (‘one with futile cooking’).
103. If the younger brother takes up a wife and gets initiated on Agnihotra even as the elder brother is awaiting it, he should be known as Parivettṛ and the elder brother becomes Parivitti.
104. In such a case all the five, namely Parivitti, Parivettṛ, the bride acting as instrumental (in this sinful act), the person who gave her in marriage and the priest who presided over the rite shall go to hell.
105. (If the elder brother happens to be) impotent, in exile, dumb, a sluggish one, one who has renounced the world, humpback, dwarf or a fallen one, there is no harm in Parivedana (‘supersession in marriage etc.’).
106. The Brāhmaṇa who sells the Vedas incurs as many Bhrūṇahatyā (‘killing a foetus’) sins as the Vedic syllables he has utilized for monetary gain.
107. If a person who has become a recluse has sexual intercourse thereafter, he is born as a worm in faeces for sixty thousand years.
108. The following sins make even the most brilliant one fall: the food of a Śūdra, association with Śūdras, occupying the same seat as a Śūdrar and the acquisition of learning from a Śūdra.
109. Ignorant Brāhmaṇas who fetch donations from a Śūdra and cook that for Brāhmaṇas, being deprived of the lustre of Brāhmaṇahood, go to a terrible hell.
111. Hand-to-hand offering of oils, salt, pickles etc. does not benefit the donor and one who eats them incurs sin.
112. If cooked food is offered in an iron vessel, the giver shall go to hell and the person who eats it eats it like faeces.
113. Cleaning the teeth with finger (i.e., index finger), (handling) only salt and eating clay are on a par with eating cow’s flesh.
114. Water, milk pudding, alms, ghee and salt should not be accepted if offered hand-to-hand because it is on a par with eating cow’s flesh.
115. If a foolish one sits in front and the meritorious one sit far off, the gift is to be made to the meritorious one. There is no (harm) due to non-observance of precedence in the case of a fool.
116. If a Brāhmaṇa is bereft of the study of the Vedas, there is no harm in transgressing the rule of precedence in favour of Brāhmaṇas. An oblation is not offered in ash, leaving off blazing (fire).
117. In the matter of taking food and offering of monetary gifts, if anyone disregards the precedence in favour of a Brāhmaṇa well-versed in the Vedas and seated nearby, it shall burn the family till the seventh generation.
118. One should treat these Brāhmaṇas on a par with Śūdras: those who tend cows, traders, craftsmen, actors, messengers and usurers.
119. Families come to ruin quickly by sharing the money of gods (i.e., in a temple), by misappropriating a Brāhmaṇa’s property and by disregarding the precedence in favour of a Brāhmaṇa.
120. If anyone says “Do not give”, in regard to cows, fires and Brāhmaṇas, he shall be born in a hundred species of brutes and then is born among Cāṇḍālas.
121. If what (e.g. a gift) is promised orally but is not carried out in practice, it should be deemed a debt whose repayment becomes a duty in this world and in the other world.
123. If the cloth has fallen down from the left shoulder and has come to rest near the navel, the man becomes Ekavāsāḥ (‘wearer of one cloth’). One should exclude him from the rites of gods and Manes.
124. If an excellent Brāhmaṇa, after taking bath, performs Tarpaṇa (water libation) with water, he obtains the entire benefit of the rites of Piṭryajña thereby.
125. If anyone, after taking food, washes his hands and then swallows the mouthful of water, he injures and destroys all the three, viz. the divine rite, the rite of the Manes and his own soul.
126. One should perform Cāndrāyaṇa rite by way of expiation, after partaking of food in the following cases: group feeding, food cooked or offered by courtezans, food at the place of village priest and food at the celebration (of Sīmanta) at the time of the first confinement of women.
127. One should perform the expiatory rite of Cāndrāyaṇa after taking food at the place of a wicked man, where no Brāhmaṇa has taken food in the course of a fortnight or a month.
128. No Sūtaka (i.e., pollution due to births and deaths of relatives) need be observed in the case of Sattrins (those who take part in long-drawn Yajñas), Dīkṣitas (who have become initiated), ascetics, religious students and those who perform the rites of Ṛtviks.
129. Bath is prescribed in the case of indigestion, vomiting, getting shaved, indulgence in sexual intercourse, seeing a bad dream and touching a wicked person.
130. One should take bath along with one’s clothes after touching a Caityavṛkṣa (tree worshipped by villagers), a funeral pyre, a sacrificial post, one who partakes of Śivanirmālya (leavings of the food offerings to Śiva) and one who sells the Vedas.
131. One should leave footwear out of the chamber of sacrificial fire, cowpens, in the presence of the Devas and Brāhmaṇas, while reciting Vedic Mantras, while drinking and while eating.
132. The grain on a threshing floor and field, the water in wells and tanks and the water in a cowpen can be accepted from a prohibited one.
133. It is the way of eating of demons, if one covers the head while taking food, if one takes food facing south and if one takes food with shoes on.
135. All the Suras including Brahmā, all the great sages including Vasiṣṭha, derive livelihood from Maṇḍala. Hence one should make the Maṇḍala.
136. The Maṇḍala to be made by a Brāhmaṇa is square. That by a Kṣatriya is a triangle and that by a Vaiśya is a circle. It is laid down that sprinkling of water should be done in the case of a Śūdra.
137. One should not take food (placing the plate) on the lap, nor in hand, nor in soiled garment, nor on seat, nor on bed. One should not take food when got muddy.
138. The Brāhmaṇas are seated in the chariots of Dharmaśāstras. They hold the sword of the Vedas. Even that which they utter playfully is remembered as the greatest Dharma.
139. One desirous of piety and virtue should not eat food mixed with parched grain and curds at night. If one eats so, one shall become impious and is also afflicted with ailments.
140. A Brāhmaṇa should perform Kṛcchra Cāndrāyaṇa (expiatory rite) after giving (in case he gives) with bare hands Phāṇita, milk, water, salt, and gruel.
141. A person conversant with Dharma who makes gifts of scents, ornaments and garlands shall always be delighted and fragrant, wherever he happens to be.
142. One should cast away a cloth dyed in indigo. It is not harmful in a bed intended for sexual intercourse with women.
143. By growing Nīlī plants, by selling them and by sustaining himself thereby, a Brāhmaṇa becomes impure. He shall become pure by observing three Kṛcchra rites.
144. He who wears a cloth dyed with Nīlī does not attain the benefit of holy ablution, gifts, penance, homas, study of Vedas, libation to the Manes and the great Yajñas.
145. If a Brāhmaṇa wears a cloth dyed in Nīlī, he shall certainly reside in hell for as many (years) as there are threads in the cloth.
146. After fasting for a day and a night, he becomes pure by taking in Pañcagavya.
147. If food is offered on a cloth dyed in Nīlī, the person who eats it, eats faeces, as it were, and the person who offers it shall fall into hell.
148. The food of a Brāhmaṇa is Amṛta; the food of a Kṣatriya is remembered as milk; the food of a Vaiśya is the real food and that of a Śūdra is remembered as blood.
150. The food of a Kṣatriya is acquired through the meting out of justice befitting the cases and the due protection of the subjects. Hence it becomes milk.
151. The food which a Vaiśya offers is produced by means of bullocks yoked for hours to a plough, and is consecrated by performance of Sītāyajña (a holy sacrifice offered to the plough).
152. A Śūdra is blind due to the darkness of ignorance and is addicted to liquor. The food of a Śūdra is devoid of Vedic Mantras. Therefore it is blood.
153. A good man should not make futile affidavit for the sake of small sums of money. One who makes it comes to ruin here and hereafter.
154. There is no sin in swearing for the sake of beautiful loving women, marriage, fodder for cows, when money has been lost and in protecting a Brāhmaṇa.
155. A Brāhmaṇa must be made to swear by truth, a Kṣatriya by vehicles and weapons, a Vaiśya by cows, seeds and gold and a Śūdra by all sorts of sins.
156. A Śūdra may be asked to carry fire; he may be sunk in water or he may be asked to touch the heads of his sons and wife severally.
157. They do not call only Yama by the name Yama, It is the self that is called Yama. If the self is controlled, what can Yama do (to him)?
158. A sword cannot be as sharp, a serpent as intractable or an enemy as perpetually angry, as the self out of control.
159. There is only one fault in those possessing forbearance; there is nothing else as the second. That is, people may consider a patient man to be weak.
160. There is no salvation to one engrossed in the science of words (Grammar); nor to one fond of beautiful residence; nor to one who is fond of food and raiment (dress); nor to one engaged in taking away the wealth of the (other) people.
161. Salvation is certain to one who always habitually remains alone, one who makes all desires for sensual pleasures recede, and one whose mind is directed towards Yoga and Svādhyāya (student of Vedas) and who is always nonviolent.
162. There is salvation in Kāśī naturally even without a man living an isolated life, without ceasing to enjoy sensual pleasures, without practising Yoga and without worshipping deities.
164. A householder who acquires wealth by legitimate means, who is engaged in acquiring the knowledge of reality, who is fond of guests, who performs Śrāddhas and who habitually speaks the truth becomes liberated here itself.
165. By giving food particularly to the poor, the blind and the miserable suppliants and by performing those rites that are praise-worthy, a householder shall obtain welfare (salvation).
166. The Lord of Kāśī becomes pleased with men who practise these. It is through the favour of the Lord of Kāśī that one attains Kāśī that accords salvation.
Footnotes and references:
These are apparent meanings; for the real meanings see the next two verses.