The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Rules about the Eligibility for Dana which is chapter 50 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 fiftieth chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 50 - Rules about the Eligibility for Dāna

1-5. O Lord, what type of Brāhmaṇas are worthy of being adored? What type are proclaimed as not worthy of being adored, especially in connection with Śrāddha rites, Dāna rites and rites connected with marriage celebration? Kindly let me know whether the faith in regard to Śrāddha and other rites arises by the intercession of divine beings or Destiny. O Lord, to whom is Dāna not offered?

Īśvara said:

An elephant made of wood, a deer made of hide and a Brāhmaṇa who has not studied the Vedas—all these three are so by name only. Just as a eunuch is useless (unproductive) for women, just as a cow is useless for a cow, just as a gift made to an ignorant person is useless (meritless), so also a Brāhmaṇa without the knowledge of Ṛk (Ṛgveda) is useless.

Just as a sower who sows seeds in an arid place, does not reap the fruit thereof, so also a donor making a gift unto one without the knowledge of Ṛk does not derive any merit.

6-8. The following Brāhmaṇas should always be avoided{GL_NOTE::} after due consideration: a chronic patient; one deficient in organs or having extra limbs; one-eyed; a son (born) of a widow; one who violates the vow of continence; one with black teeth; a gluttonous one eating everything (pure, impure); a paramour of a Śūdra woman; one who betrays friends; a slanderer; one who sells Soma juice; one who censures others; one who abandons father, mother and the preceptor; one who always censures Brāhmaṇas etc. O king, a Brāhmaṇa who eats the cooked food of a Śūdra though consecrated with Mantras is a Karmacāṇḍāla (Cāṇḍāla by acts as against one born as a Cāṇḍāla). If one touches him, one should take bath. He is not worthy of being even touched.

9-14. After a careful enquiry these Brāhmaṇas should be abandoned: one with defective nails; one associating with a Śūdra woman; a thief; a bastard; one who depends upon great gifts and one who indulges in self-destruction; one who teaches on wages; a eunuch; a ravisher of a virgin and an accursed one.

If a Brāhmaṇa accepts a gift and trades therewith, one should not offer him gifts. It shall be futile.

There are Brāhmaṇas well-endowed with learning and regular study of the Vedas. They are of excellent conduct as well. A gift given unto them becomes everlasting. O king, make gifts to poor people and not flourishing ones. A medicine gives relief to the sick. Of what avail are medicines given to one devoid of illness?

Uttānapāda said:

What is the procedure thereof? What are the rites regarding Tīrtha Śrāddha? How is a gift to be made? O Śaṅkara, describe this to me.

Īśvara said:

15-26. A person should control all his sense-organs with great purity and devoutly perform Śrāddha at home. He should circumambulate the preceptor after feeding him and silently follow him till he reaches the boundary (of the village) (and bid farewell to him). Then he should go to Śūlabheda and duly perform the holy ablution. If a devotee performs Śrāddha with Havya, Kavya etc., in due order in five holy spots and then offers balls of rice along with milk pudding, honey and ghee, the Pitṛs are propitiated for seventeen years.

If a devotee performs the Śrāddha with raw rice grains, Badaras, Iṅgudas, honey and ghee in this Tīrtha, he too shall obtain the merit thereof. There is no doubt about it. He who assiduously offers shoes to Brāhmaṇas shall undoubtedly attain heaven, riding on a horse.

He who offers a bed, a horse and especially an umbrella shall go seated on an aerial chariot, surrounded by groups of celestial damsels.

He who gives an excellent house along with seven kinds of grain shall reside in a golden house in my world as he pleases.

He who gives a Tiladhenu (a cow made of gingelly seeds) covered with a cloth and accompanied by a calf shall dwell in heaven until the ultimate annihilation of all living beings.

O king, if the person gives water and cooked food in his own house, or in a forest or on the path to a pilgrim-centre, he shall never see the world of Yama. He will attain the merit as though all the types of gifts have been given (by him).

One should make gift of water, cooked food and freedom from fear. There has never been a greater gift than cooked rice nor will there ever be any.

If a devotee makes the gift of a virgin, or that of a bull, his residence shall be there where I am present. It cannot be otherwise.

Uttānapāda said:

27-29. O Lord, how is the gift of a virgin to be made by righteous persons? How is a wife to be nourished (taken care of)? How is the marriage rite of a virgin to be performed? O Lord of Devas, I have one more thing to ask. To whom is a virgin not to be given? O Lord, where should she be offered? By giving to whom will it be of everlasting merit? What is the criterion for considering something as best, middling or base, O Lord? How can (a gift) be Rājasa or Tāmasa or one having no better (i.e. Sāttvika)?

Īśvara said:

30-36. Of all Dānas, Kanyā Dāna (gift of a virgin) is the best. A parent should give his daughter after approaching a boy of noble birth, handsome features, learning and discretion. The father should give his well-adorned daughter on an auspicious Lagna and Muhūrta. If he offers horses, elephants and garments in accordance with his capacity, his stay shall be in the region where there is no ailment.

If the daughter dearer than one’s own life is given away, it is as though all the three worlds have been given away along with the mobile and immobile beings. If anyone begs for wealth for the sake of a virgin, he shall be a Karmacāṇḍāla (a Cāṇḍāla in action) and he shall become a woodworm after death. If, out of food-greediness, anyone takes food in his house, he will become pure only by means of the expiation called Cāndrāyaṇa or Taptakṛcchra.

Uttānapāda said:

If one has no wealth in one’s house but has a daughter to be given away, how can he celebrate her marriage if he does not beg?

Īśvara said:

37-46. O king, one should celebrate the marriage of a daughter, even if one has no wealth, merely by repeating the name of the virgin. It does not bring about any defect.

Without begging if the Dāna is made after approaching (a groom), it is the most excellent Dāna. Even if the Yuga comes to a close this (benefit of Dāna) does not become ineffective. The Uttama (excellent) Dāna is after approaching (the groom). If the groom is invited (and given the daughter), it is proclaimed as middling; if he is begged of it is base; if (he) makes the request “Give! Give!” it is the meanest.

If a stone is tied to another and dropped into water, both of them (sink down and) perish. So also is the gift of cooked food given to one not deserving.

Hence a gift (Dāna) is not to be made to one who is incompetent. It brings down the donor and especially oneself. One who is competent takes both across like dry wood put in water. Just as a boat, so also a learned man takes one to the other shore.

If an Āhitāgni (a Brāhmaṇa maintaining perpetual sacrificial fire in the family) accepts gifts from Śūdras, he is no better than a Śūdra here in this birth. After death he becomes a dog.

Accepting gifts from indecent people secretly and despicably is a futile effort in regard to a Brāhmaṇa who is an Agnihotrin. That man is unworthy of being fed. He is burned with Kāriṣa fire (fire of cowdung cakes). Afterwards for seven births he is undoubtedly born as a mat-maker. The Dāna made through sense of shame or for the desire of being considered chivalrous or because of importunity or through restraint and the Dāna made to servants—all these are futile.

Footnotes and references:


Compare the lists of undeserving donees given in Mbh, Vana, 300.5-9. The list given here is similar to infra SkP VII.i.205.58-72. The list of undeserving donees is similar to that of ineligibles for invitation to Śrāddha. Manu III.150-166 gives a long list of such persons, which has been adopted by this text.

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