by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 1,763,776 words
This page describes The Observance Called Madhuka Tritiya which is chapter 26 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 twenty-sixth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Note: This Vrata is observed on the 3rd day in the bright half of Phālguna. It is meant for women. It grams conjugal felicity and sons and is an insurance against widowhood. An observer of the Vrata is to fast on this day. The next day she is to worship Goddess Gaurī on a Madhūka tree and pray for Saubhāgya (conjugal felicity). Brāhmaṇa women whose husbands are alive are honoured with flowers, garments and edibles (Hemādri, Vrata I. 413-415). According to Bhaviṣya Purāṇa, the Vrata is to be observed on the 3rd day in the dark half of Phālguna. Our text prescribes this Vrata on the 3rd day of bright half of Caitra and also the rites to be observed throughout the fortnight.
Note: Madhūka (Cinometra ramiflora, Moh in Marathi) is useful for distilling intoxicating liquor.
Śrī Mārkaṇḍeya said:
They went by means of aerial chariots as huge as mountains, horses comparable (in bigness) to elephants, chariots of the size of cities drawn by lions and tigers and also by tortoises and crocodiles. Others went on foot.
After reaching the great region inaccessible to unrighteous persons, they saw the Lotus-born Lord, the benefactor of all the world. All of them went there and eulogized with concentration and mental purity.
The Devas prayed:
8-15. Be victorious, O immeasurable Lotus-born One. Be victorious, O cause of creation. O most excellent one among Suras, we have sought refuge in you.
On hearing the words of the Devas of purified souls, the Grandfather replied in words as deep-sounding and resonant as the rumbling of clouds: “Wherefore have you come, O Devas? Why this paleness in everyone? By whom have you all been insulted? O immortal ones, do tell me quickly.”
The Devas said:
There is a Dānava of great vigour and prowess named Bāṇa. He is arrogant on account of his strength. Everything belonging to us has been taken away by him. We have been deprived of all our wealth and jewels.
On hearing the words of the Devas, Brahma, the grandfather of the worlds, the Lord of Devas, pondered: “What is the means for his destruction? The sinful Dānava cannot be killed by any of the heaven-dwellers excepting Lord Śaṅkara. He cannot be killed by me or Viṣṇu. We shall go there alone where Lord Maheśvara is present. He is the resort unto all. There is no one else.”
16-23. He eulogized Parameśvara through richly-worded prayers.
The Devas said:
Be victorious, O Lord of the chiefs of Devas. Be victorious, O one half of whose body is shared by Umā, O bull-seated one, O mighty-armed one having the Moon as the ornament.
Obeisance, O Lord having (i.e. worshipped with) the five-syllabled (namaḥ śivāya) Mantra, O Lord having the five elements for physical form, O Īśāna having five faces. You are being sung about by the Vedas.
O Lord, your person is praised by the Brāhmaṇas as being constituted of five bodies, viz. Sadyojāta, Vāmadeva, Aghora, Īśa and Tatpuruṣa. (These are the opening words of Mantras from 17.1-5 Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣad.) In an extensive expanse of gold, O Hara, you coo like a swan.
On being eulogized thus by the groups of sages beginning with Brahmā and by the Suras and Asuras (?) the Lord became delighted in his mind and said to the groups of Devas:
24-34. Welcome unto the Devas and Vipras (Brāhmaṇas). The night has dawned well today. What shall we do? Tell me quickly. Who else is to be resorted to by Suras and Asuras?
What is the misery? What is the distress? Whence has fright arisen? Do tell me, O blessed ones, the cause thereof which you have been thinking of.
On being told thus by Rudra, the leading Suras replied displaying their respective bodies shyly with faces turned downwards: “There is a terrible Dānava of great virility and arrogant of his strength. He is well known by the name Bāṇa. He has three great cities.
He granted him three impenetrable cities that can go wherever he wishes to go. They are made of steel, silver and gold.
The great Asuras harass the entire region of the three worlds. Staff, noose, sword and other weapons are used to harass unagitating persons. The set of the three cities occupied by the Dānavas moves about like a wheel. As in the case of a mirage, it is visible at some places and invisible at others.
Wherever that great set of cities of the arrogant Dānava descends neither Brāhmaṇas nor Devas, neither cows nor other creatures are seen there. Nothing is seen where the three citie [cities?] fall. Rivers, villages and many countries have been reduced to ash.
35-45. Gold, silver, jewels, pearls, the beautiful jewel-like women—all these he seizes forcibly.
O Hara, it is not possible for the groups of Devas to slay him with any weapon or missile either during day or at night. Hence, O Mahādeva, do burn him down. You alone are our last resort. Thus, O Lord of Devas, it behoves you to do this favour unto all of us.
O Lord, it behoves you. to do everything whereby Devas, Gandharvas, sages and ascetics attain utmost courage.”
I shall do all these things. Do not get dejected. Ere long I shall do what is conducive to your happiness.
After consoling all those Devas with Indra as their leader, the Lord of Devas thought about the means of the destruction of the three cities.
‘How, in what manner, should the set of cities be destroyed by me? Excepting Nārada no other remedy is possible.’
After steadying himself thus, he meditated upon Nārada. At the very instant, the sage of excessive penance came like wind. The holy Lord had a Kamaṇḍalu (water-pot) held in his hand and three staffs tied together. He was endowed with perfect knowledge. He was resplendent with the Yogapaṭṭa (upper cloth) and rosary of beads as well as an umbrella. The matted hairs were kept tied upon his head. He had the splendour resembling that of fire and the Sun. He circumambulated the Lord three times and prostrated on the ground like a log of wood.
Nārada, the holy sage, joined his palms in veneration. He then eulogized Śarva, the lofty-minded Lord, with a great prayer.
You are the Lord protector. You are the creator of the universe. O Lord, you alone are the annihilator. You are the protector of the worlds, the slayer of the wicked god of Death.
For the sake of the destruction of the possibility of being (born) in the world, I seek refuge in you.
Why have I been thought of, O Lord? May the command be given, O Lord.
Whose mind am I to agitate and excite? Who should tumble down on to the ground? Whom shall I instigate for a quarrel, O Lord, O foremost one among the victorious ones?
On hearing the words of Nārada, Mahādeva, the Lord of Devas, became glad with eyes in full bloom and spoke these words: “Welcome unto you, O sage par excellence, always fond of quarrels. O eternal son of Brahmā, conversant with the principles of playing on the Vīṇā, O Nārada, hasten to the great set of three cities of Bāṇa, the Lord of Dānavas. It causes great fright among all the worlds. The husbanḍs there are on a par with the Devas and the wives are equal to the Apsarās. The great set of the three cities moves by the refulgence of those ladies. It cannot be split up by any means, O excellent Brāhmaṇa. You do go there quickly and enchant everyone by means of several rites of diverse characteristics.”
56-67. At your behest, O Lord of Devas, I shall get the excellent city broken up (by dissension) though it is impenetrable by diverse means on the part of the Devas including Vāsava (Indra).
After saying this, O king, the sage went to that excellent city of Bāṇa endowed with increasing prosperity and extending to a hundred Yojanas. All fanciful things had been stacked there. Different kinds of minerals gave it variegated, wonderful features. It was teeming with many mansions. It is (was) rendered brilliant with many buildings. It was equipped with ornamental gateways. It was rendered beautiful with panels with sliding bolts. It was equipped with many mechanical contrivances. It was sparkling with ramparts and moats. It abounded in tanks, wells and lakes as well as shrines of deities. It was embellished with lotus-ponds teeming with swans and Kāraṇḍavas. It was rich with many birds. The excellent city of Bāṇa had all these features.
Bāṇa’s huge palatial residence was in its centre. It had seven storeys and was resplendent. It was embellished in gold with divine workmanship. It was rendered beautiful with pearl strings, diamonds and lapis lazuli. The ground was paved with gold plates and made splendid with jewels. Various sounds such as the breaths (trumpetings?) of elephants in rut, chariots, the neighing sounds of horses, the jingling sound of the anklets of women etc. made the atmosphere resonant.
The palace was guarded by Dānavas of awful features, arrogant due to their strength. They were armed with Khaḍgas (swords) and Tomaras. They had various weapons such as thunderbolts, goads and arrows. The excellent palatial residence of Bāṇa had these characteristic features. It was famous like the peak of Kailāsa and was comparable to the abode of Mahendra.
Nārada hurriedly proceeded towards that city by the way of sky. After going up to the gate he spoke these words to the Kṣattṛ (the officer in-charge): “O gatekeeper, O very wise one, O one expert in discharging royal duties! Be quick and inform Bāna that Nārada is waiting at the gate.”
68-77. He bowed down to the feet of Nārada quickly. Then he began to submit to Bāṇa who was in the centre of the Royal Court. All his limbs began to tremble. He covered his face with the hand. Even as all the soldiers were listening he spoke these words: “There stands at the threshold, Nārada who is honoured and adored by Devas, Gandharvas, Yakṣas, Kinnaras and Dānavas. He is fond of (instigating) quarrels and is very difficult to pacify.”
Usher in the blessed son of Brahmā, the brilliant one who cannot be transgressed and who is unbearable. Why has he been stopped outside?
On hearing these words uttered by the Lord, he went there in great hurry and made Nārada step in.
On seeing the celestial sage Nārada adored by Suras, entering, the delighted Daitya got up at once and saluted the feet of the sage. He offered the sage a seat, formal Arghyapādya and adoration duly. Then he dedicated to him his kingdom and himself along with the kinsmen. Bāṇāsura himself enquired of the sage about his welfare.
78-89. Excellent! Excellent! O mighty-armed one causing Danu’s race to flourish! Who else excepting you is praise-worthy in the whole range of the three worlds? O leading scion of the family of Danu, O most excellent one among the descendants of Danu! I have been honoured with wealth and jewels of very excellent qualities; also by the offer of your kingdom as well as your own self. Who else will adore (me)?
I have nothing, to do with the enjoyment of worldly pleasures. Enjoy your own unimperilled kingdom. I have come here after visiting Maheśvara only with an eagerness to see you.
I have heard that the ṣet of your three cities moves about due to the chastity of your wife. O Lord of Dānavas, I have come here to see that celebrated wife of yours. If you consider it proper, do not delay; let me see her.
On hearing the words of Nārada, he looked at the Kañcukin, the elderly stāff-bearing officer of the womens’ inner apartment, endowed with good qualities. Delighted in his heart, the king made the quarters reverberate with his voice and told him: “O Kañcukin, may the chief queen accompanied by all the attendants of the inner apartment unhesitatingly grant an audience to Nārada.” In view of the command of his master, he grasped the hand of Nārada, entered the apartment and said to the queen: “This is Nāraḍa who has come to see you.” On seeing the excellent sage, she bowed down to his feet and offered an excellent golden seat, Arghyapādya and other things. The holy sage who was pleased offered her the greatest blessing and said: “O queen, in the entire range of the three worlds, no other woman like you is seen, who is chaste, well-behaved and endowed with truthfulness and cleanliness. It is by your power that the set of the three cities always whirls like a wheel.”
On hearing those words joyously uttered by Nāraḍa, the queen who was the most excellent one among righteous and pious ladies, devoutly asked the sage about the sacred rites:
Rājñi (the queen) said:
90-92. O holy Sir, what are those Vratas in the world whereby Devas become pleased? What are the Dānas (religious gifts) offered which yield great benefits? What are those holy observances of fasts included by learned ones among the holy rites meant for women, by the performance whereof virtuous ladies go to heaven? O highly esteemed one, mention all these things truthfully. I wish to know everything. Do speak unhesitatingly.
93. Excellent! Excellent! O highly blessed lady, you have put such a question as will enable all ladies to get their piety increased by paying heed to it.
94. By fasts and Dānas husband and sons come under control. I shall tell you those rites which when performed always bring about honour from kinsmen.
95-96. O beautiful lady, I shall mention those rites which bring good results if performed and bad results if not performed. If they are performed a Durbhagā (unfortunate woman) becomes Subhagā (fortunate). If they are not performed a Subhagā becomes Durbhagā A woman without a son shall be blessed with a son if performed and cursed (on non-performance). A virgin obtains a husband and another becomes deprived of the husband (when not performed).
97-99a. Those who offer these things do not go near Yama: Tiladhenu (a cow made of gingelly seeds), gold, silver, cows, clothes, beverage, plot of land, scents, incense, unguents, sandals of wood or leather, umbrella, meritorious fans, oil for foot massage, oil for head, bathing requisites, beds and seats. Those who give these (as Dāna) do not go to Yama (-loka).
99b-100. If the following are offered to couples on Lalitādina (the day of Lalitā, probably 5th day in the bright half of Āśvina), there shall be conjugal felicity in this world and hereafter; Honey, black gram, milk, ghee, salt, jaggery, medicine, beverage, plot of land, paddy, sugarcane juice and smooth red clothes.
101-102a. The following things should be offered to a meritorious and handsome Brāhmaṇa of good conduct: I shall tell you, O queen, how these things should be given and on what Tithis:
[Tithis and Dānas:]
102b-104a. I Lunar day: A woman should observe the Vrata of purity on the Pratipadā day and offer fuel to a Brāhmaṇa in the forenoon, reciting the Mantra: “May Hutāśana (fire) be pleased with me.’ O beloved one of the king, in the course of her twenty-six births she will never experience either ailment or distress in her limbs and joints.
104b-105a. II Lunar day: A woman who joyously offers butter to an important Brāhmaṇa on the second lunar day, shall become one endowed with a smooth, stender [slender?] body.
105b-107a. III Lunar day: Listen to the meritorious benefit of the woman who, on the third lunar day, offers salt to an excellent Brāhmaṇa, uttering the Mantra: “May Goddess Gaurī be pleased with me.” A virgin will attain a husband and will sport about with him like Umā (with Śiva). She will never be a widow. She will obtain great fame.
107b-109a. IV Lunar day: After observing the Vrata of Naktam (i.e. taking food only at night) on the fourth lunar day she should offer sweetmeats (Modakas) to a Brāhmaṇa. She should utter the Mantra: “May the Lord of Devas, Gaṇanātha, Vināyaka be pleased.” As a result of her act, O beautiful lady, there will never be any obstacle in any rite. So says the Grandfather (i.e. Brahmā.)
109b-110a. V Lunar day: A woman who offers gingelly seeds to a Brāhmaṇa on the fifth lunar day shall become endowed with beauty like Tilottamā.
110b-1112a. VI Lunar day: A devout lady shall always offer a fruit of Madhūka on the sixth lunar day with the Agni-born Lord (i.e. Kārttikeya) in view to a Brāhmaṇa who has mastered the Vedas. Her son will become a great king like Skanda who is the most excellent one among the groups of Devas. He will be adored in all the worlds.
112b-115a. VII Lunar day: With the Lord of the Cosmos, the Lord of Devas, Divākara (Sun-god) in view, a devout lady should honour an excellent Brāhmaṇa with gold. The meritorious benefit of that sacred rite has been extolled by excellent Brāhmaṇas. O queen, I shall mention it to you. Listen with concentration of mind, O chaste lady. None of these skin diseases will occur in (affect) her limbs even if the sins of prior births happen to be in force: Scabies, leprosy, (leucoderma, white patches, pachydermia etc.
115b-117a. VIII Lunar day: On the eighth lunar day a devout, beautiful lady should offer a black cow to a Brāhmaṇa with good conduct, uttering the Mantra, “May Maheśvara be pleased.” Her sin incurred in the course of many births perishes. She will become endowed with riches. There is no doubt about this because the Dāna is very excellent.
117b-119a. IX Lunar day: A woman should devoutly offer to a Brāhmaṇa, scents and incense with Kātyāyanī in view on the ninth lunar day. Listen to its benefit. If her brother, father, son or husband were to enter the battlefield, they shall never become overwhelmed because they are protected by that Dāna rite.
119b-121a. X Lunar day: O queen, a woman should offer sugarcane juice on the tenth lunar day to a Brāhmaṇa other than one with deficient limbs, with the Lokapālas (guardians of the worlds) in view. Due to that Dāna, she becomes the most endearing one for all the worlds. There is no doubt about this: So said Śaṅkara.
121b-123a. XI and XII Lunar days: On the eleventh day, a woman should observe fast and should offer water to a Brāhmaṇa devoted to Viṣṇu on the twelfth day with Nārāyaṇa in view. She will make people delighted with her touch and talk. She should purify people too. Since the gift of water will be of infinite benefit, it is considered great.
123b-125a. XIII Lunar day: With great devotion, a woman should offer to a Brāhmaṇa oil for foot-massage and oil for the head with Kama (god of love) in view on the thirteenth lunar day. After death she may be born in any womb. In all those, she will never be separated from her husband.
125b-126a. XIV Lunar day: A woman should offer to a Brāhmaṇa on the fourteenth lunar day, with Dharma in view, a utensil and sandals. In regard to her all the worlds are never imperilled.
126b-127. XV Lunar day: Thus in the course of Śrāddha at the close of every fortnight, she shall propitiate excellent Brāhmaṇas. O queen, her line of progeny shall always be unbroken. Thus the efficacy of the Tīrthas and Dāna offerings has been recounted to you.
[Propitiation of Plants and Herbs:]
128-130. Also, listen to the propitiation of Vanaspatis (plants and herbs). One will attain heaven by approaching (devoutly) the following trees: Jaṃbū, Niṃba, Tinduka, Madhūka, Āmra, Āmalaka, Śālmalī, Vaṭa, Pippala, Śamī, Bilva, Amalivṛkṣa, Kadalī, Pāṭalī and other, meritorious trees.
131-134a. If a Vrata is performed in the month of Caitra by a woman, other Vratas are not on a par with even the sixteenth fraction thereof.
If it is listened to, O lady of good fortune, one will never see misfortune. Just as snow disappears when sunlight falls on it, so also misery and misfortune become dispelled due to this Vrata.
134b-139. On the third lunar day of the bright half of Caitra a woman takes holy bath and keeps het mind pure. The image of Śaṅkara along with that of Umā is to be made out of the trunk of a Madhūka tree. They have to be duly installed by an excellent Brāhmaṇa. With scented flowers, incense, camphor and saffron, she adores the Lord with due utterance of the Māntras. The feet are adored uttering the Mantra: “Obeisance to Śiva.” The penis is worshipped uttering “Obeisance to Manmatha.” The belly is worshipped by uttering “Obeisance to Kālodara.” The neck is worshipped by uttering “Obeisance to Nīlakaṇṭha.” The head is worshipped by uttering “Obeisance to Sarvātman (one identical with all, one who is the soul of all).”
She then adores Umā. The belly is worshipped with the utterance “Obeisance to Kṣāmodarā (‘one who has a lean belly’). The neck is worshipped by uttering the Mantra “Obeisance to Sukaṇṭhā (‘one with excellent neck’). The head is worshipped by uttering “Obeisance to Saubhāgyadāyinī (‘One who grants conjugal felicity’).” The Arghya is offered later.
140. “Obeisance to you, O Lord of the chiefs of Devas, O consort of Umā, O Lord of the cosmos. O Lord, accept this Arghya and destroy all my misfortunes.”
141. After the offering of Arghya, the Karaka (waterpot) is offered. It is filled with water and it is covered with a leaf of Madhūka and is offered along with a gold piece in accordance with the capacity of the devotee.
[The Mantra for offering the Karaka:]
142. “O Lalitā, the Karaka filled with water and endowed with Saubhāgya (conjugal felicity) is offered to you. It should increase conjugal felicity etc.”
143-152. Uttering this Mantra, the excellent Karaka is offered to a Brāhmaṇa. Till the next third lunar day of the bright half of the month the devotee should avoid salt. After praying for the forgiveness of the Goddess and the Lord of Devas the devotee should eat only the Havis at night. This procedure should be adopted every month. The Vrata is concluded on the third day of the bright half of Phālguna.
Salt is to be offered in the month of Vaiśākha and Ghee should be offered in the month of Jyeṣṭha. In the month of Āṣāḍha Niṣpāva (variety of rice) is to be offered. Milk is to be offered in Śrāvaṇa. Mudgas (green gram) are to be offered in the month of Nabhasya (Bhādrapada). Paddy is offered in Aśvayuja. A vessel of Śarkarā (sugar) is offered in Kārttika and also a Karaka filled with juice. In the month of Mārgaśīrṣa, Kārpāsa (cotton) is offered along with a Karaka filled with ghee. Kuṃkuma (saffron) is offered in the month of Pauṣa and in the month of Māgha a vessel filled with gingelly seeds is offered. In the month of Phālguna a vessel filled with sweetmeats is to be given. What is to be offered in the succeeding Tṛtīyā should be avoided in the course of the current month. The procedure in the case of these later rites is the same as before, O beloved one to mind. The same image made of Madhuvṛkṣa is to be worshipped regularly. Ultimately everything is handed over to the Brāhmaṇa preceptor.
Listen to the rite of Udyāpana (ritualistic conclusion of a Vrata). The devotee goes to the Madhuvṛkṣa with all requisites kept ready. The image is fixed in the centre of Madhūka and Śarva stationed there as Umā sharing half of his body is to be worshipped.
153-159. Śarva is to be worshipped with profuse offerings of the adoration and repeatedly with Kuṃkuma, and garlands of very tender flowers as well as Kusuṃbha flowers and Kesara. Twelve couples should be offered pairs of Kausumbha (red in hue) cloths, resembling the flowers of Atasī for wearing. Each of these pairs should be given pairs of sandals, umbrellas, necklaces, chains, bangles, rings and beds with splendid sheets covering them. They should be smeared with Kuṃkuma and adored with many flowers. They are made to stay in the Madhûkāvāsaka (grove of Madhūka trees) and offered various jewels and fed duly. After they have taken food, they are to be made to rest on the beds and forgiveness is requested for since everything is rooted in the Guru. The Guru should be known as Maheśvara. If the Guru is pleased, the entire world consisting of Suras and Asuras is pleased. If one wishes for one’s welfare, one should offer unto the Guru whatever one likes the most in the world, whatever endearing thing one has in the house. These things are to be offered by the rich, well-to-do people. What should be given by others is as mentioned below:
160-169. Others should worship two couples duly, the first couple being any and the second that of Guru and his wife. In adoring them, one should avoid Vittaśāṭhya (over-scrupulousness in the expenditure). Then forgiveness is craved from the Goddess, the Lord, the Brāhmaṇa and the Guru: “O Goddess Lalitā, just as you are never separated from Śaṃbhu, so also grant me non-separation from my husband and sons.”
It is by performing the observance of Madhūkatṛtīyā in accordance with this procedure that Indrāṇī attained the status of the wife of Indra and also an excellent son. She attained conjugal felicity and good fortune in all the worlds and also excellent happiness with all prosperity.
A virgin who performs this Vrata in accordance with this procedure attains an excellent husband like Indrāṇī who got Indra.
An unfortunate one attains good fortune; a fortunate one begets a son. A lady with a son gains everlasting happiness. She never sees grief anywhere.
Misfortune accumulated in the course of many births certainly perishes. The lady after death goes to heaven and rejoices along with Umā.
After enjoying the worldly pleasures for more than hundreds of crores of years she is born into the world again when she: gets a king as her husband.
The lady of good fortune then becomes richly endowed with beauty and bears a son destined to become a king.
Thus the Vrata that is the most excellent one of all Vratas has been narrated to you completely. O lady of good fortune, whatever desire you have within your heart do ask for it.
Footnotes and references:
The Purāṇa regards Bāṇa as the king of Tripuras (three cities made of three metals). But Mahābhārata, Karṇa, Ch. 33 names Kamalākṣa, Tārākṣa and Vidyaunmālī as the masters of these three cities. Those cities were created by Maya, the architect of Asuras and not by Brahmā as in this text. The capital of Bāṇa was Śoṇitapura (in Kumaun).
vv 134-150 give details of a different variety of Madhūka Tṛtīyā. Goddess Lalitā is identified with Madhūka tree. The Vrata begins on the 3rd day of the bright half of Caitra and is to be continued every month and is to be concluded on 3rd day of the bright half of Phālguna.
The Udyāpana (concluding procedure of the Vrata) is described in verses 150-169.