The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Glorification of Danadharma which is chapter 51 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 fifty-first chapter of the Reva-khanda of the Avantya-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 51 - Glorification of Dānadharma

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Uttānapada said:

1-9. O Īśvara, at what time is Śrāddha and Dāna to be performed and on what lunar day should pilgrimage be done? Tell me quickly.

Īśvara said:

Just as Pitṛtīrtha (i.e. Gayā) is meritorious, excellent and conductive to the fulfilment of all desires, so also this Tīrtha is meritorious for the performance of holy bath, giving Dāna, offering libations etc. One should perform special Śrāddha in all the Yugādis (days on which Yugas began). O dear one here are the names etc. of the Manvantaras:

Month & Tithi on which a Manvantara started Name of the Manvantara
Aśvayuj Bright half, Ninth day Sūryasāvarṇi
Kārttika Bright half, Twelfth Svāyaṃbhuva
Caitra Bright half, Third Uttama
Bhādrapada Bright half, Third Tāmasa
Āṣāḍha Bright half, Tenth Cākṣuṣa
Māgha Bright half, Seventh Vaivasvata
Śrāvaṇa Dark half, Eighth Dakṣasāvarṇi
Āṣāḍha Full Moon   Rudrasāvarṇi
Phālguna New Moon   Svārociṣa
Pauṣa Bright half, Eleventh Raivata
Kārttika Full Moon   Indrasāvarṇi
Phālguna Full Moon   Brahmasāvarṇi
Caitra Full Moon   Raucya
Jyeṣṭha Full Moon   Dharmasāvarṇi

The first days of the Manvantaras are proclaimed as those according infinite benefit. O king, Śrāddha is to be performed in the course of both the transits of the Sun viz. northern as well as southern. The following are the occasions for the performance of Śraddha: the third lunar day in the months of Kārttika, Māgha and Vaiśākha; the full-moon day in Caitra and Jyeṣṭha; the Aṣṭakas (seventh, eighth and ninth lunar days); the Saṅkrānti day (transit of the Sun in the signs of zodiac); and the Vyatīpāta day. What is offered during these days is proclaimed as everlasting.

10-16. One should observe fast on the eleventh day in the bright half of the month of Madhu (Caitra). At night he should keep awake near the feet of Viṣṇu. Those who perform the adoration of Viṣṇu with incense, light, Naivedyas (food offerings), flower garlands, agallochum, sandal etc. and read the old legends (Purāṇas) and a Brāhmaṇa who repeats the Sūktas from the Ṛk, Yajus or Sāma Vedas shall be rid of all sins. He goes to the world of Viṣṇu.

In the morning after assiduously worshipping Brāhmaṇas, he should perform Śrāddha and should make gifts (within his capacity) of cow, gold, cloth etc. His Pitṛs become pleased until the annihilation of all the living beings. The performer of the Śrāddha shall go there where Lord Janārdana is present.

On the thirteenth lunar day he should start from there for the Liṅga stationed in the cave. By seeing Lord Īśāna named Mārkaṇḍa, he is rid of all sins.

Uttānapāda said:

O Mahādeva, by whom was the highly splendid Liṅga installed within the cave? O Lord, it behoves you to narrate it to me.

Īśvara said:

17-28. The eminent sage Mārkaṇḍeya is well-known in all the three worlds! He performed severe austerities for a period of one thousand divine years. He entered the cave and practised Yoga there. The Liṅga named Mārkaṇḍeśvara was installed by him. A pilgrim should take his holy ablution there devoutly, observe fast and control the sense-organs. Keeping awake at night, he should assiduously offer lamps. The Lord should be bathed in Pañcāmṛta in accordance with one’s capacity. After anointing the Lord therewith, he should duly perform the adoration. Brāhmaṇas should perform Japa (chanting of Mantras) of the Mantras current in their Śākhās (branch of their particular Veda). They should also recite Sāvitrī Mantra one-thousand eight or one hundred eight times. By doing this, O excellent king, the person shall attain the fruit of his birth. On the fourteenth day he should again take his holy bath and perform the adoration duly. Gifts should be made after testing the worth of the recipient, if one wishes for one’s own welfare. Undoubtedly the Pitṛs are pleased with him for twelve years. The donor goes to that place where the enjoyment is eternal. After entering the middle of the cave the pilgrim should wallow on the ground as much as he can. The merit that is derived from the Nīla Mountain is entirely attained by them. Listen to the meritorious fruit of the person who performs Śrāddha at every Parva at Śūlabheda, especially at the end of the month of Caitra (on the New-Moon day). He shall obtain the Puṇya derived at Kedāra, at the confluence of Gaṅgā and the ocean, at the confluence of black and white (i.e. Gaṅgā and Yamunā) or in other Tīrthas, especially the Puṇya (Merit) that is derived from Arbuda and Amara mountain. One should propitiate the Pitṛs and deities in accordance with the injunction and with due utterance of the Mantras. The man thereby attains the fruit of all the Tīrthas beginning with Gayā.

29-43. He would redeem twenty generations of his family, ten before him and ten after him. Thereafter the person should remain pure and with a mind fully concentrated perform Nyāsa on the southern idol as mentioned before and offer eight flowers.

These are the eight mental flowers mentioned in the scriptures: Listen. They are:

  1. Vārija,
  2. Saumya,
  3. Āgneya,
  4. Vāyavya,
  5. Pārthiva,
  6. Vānaspatya,
  7. Prājāpatya, and
  8. Śivapuṣpa.

Now listen to the meaning of these:

  1. Vārija should be known as water;
  2. Saumya means honey, ghee and milk;
  3. Āgneya means incense, light etc.;
  4. Vāyavya means sandal-paste etc.;
  5. Pārthiva means roots, bulbous roots etc.;
  6. Vānaspatya means fruits;
  7. Prājāpatya means reading and recitation; and
  8. Śivapuṣpa is vāsanā (imagination, knowledge through intuition etc.).

(Alternatively:) Non-violence is the first Puṣpa. Control of sense-organs is the second. The third Puṣpa is Dayā (compassion). Kṣamā (forbearance) is the fourth Puṣpa; then Dhyāna (meditation) is a Puṣpa; then Tapaḥ [Tapas] (austerity) and the seventh is Jñāna Puṣpa. Truth is the eighth Puṣpa. The deities are pleased with these. Ascetics and wise ones should be pleased through devotion, O king. An umbrella, a covering cloth and a pair of sandals should be offered. If one is adored with these, three persons (generations) are adored. The person shall stay in the heavenly world until all the living beings are annihilated. Men should perform Jāpya with devotion to the Tridentbearing Lord. They should anoint the Lord of Devas with Pañcāmṛta, Pañcagavya, Yakṣakardama and Kuṅkuma as well as Śrīkhaṇḍa, agallochum and sandal-paste. They should perform the worship of the Trident-bearing Lord with different kinds of flowers, keep awake at night and offer lights assiduously. Incense and Naivedya should be offered and Purāṇic legends should be read. Men who stay there should perform Japa devoutly. Śrīsūkta, Pauruṣasūkta, Pāvamāna, Vṛṣākapi and other Vedic Mantras should be chanted. Then the Rudrasūkta. of various sorts should be recited. He shall adore the Brāhmaṇas devoutly. The devotee adoring and bowing to them with various kinds of offerings is honoured in the world of Śiva.

44-55. A follower of Ṛgveda chants the Sūktas agnimīle etc. A follower of Yajurveda should chant Rudra Sūkta, Puruṣa Sūkta, Ślokādhyāya, Śukriya, the groups of Mantras beginning with iṣetvā, etc., Jyotir Brāhmaṇa, Gāyatrya, Madhu and Maṇḍala Brāhmaṇas.

A follower of Yajurveda should recite the Sūktas of Devavrata, Vāmadevya, Puruṣarṣabha and Bṛhadrathantara. These devotees shall proceed to that place where Lord Maheśvara is present.

If a devotee performs Pādaśauca (cleansing of the feet) and Abhyaṅga (oil bath) here with great devotion, he undoubtedly obtains the merit that accrues from the gift of a cow. He should feed Brāhmaṇas with honey and milk-pudding. If a single Brāhmaṇa is fed, it is as though ten millions have been fed. The devotee should with great devotion give to an excellent Brāhmaṇa, gold, silver or a garment. Thereby Devas, human beings and Pitṛs become propitiated.

At the time of a lunar or solar eclipse, men should take their holy bath with great devotion, worship the deity and perform Japa and Homa. They should make gifts in accordance with their capacity, to a Brāhmaṇa who has mastered the Vedas. The following gifts should be made to a deserving person: a horse, a chariot, an elephant, a vehicle, Tulāpuruṣa (things equal to one in weight), a cart filled with seven types of food-grains, a plough along with the tie of the yoke and mature bullocks bearing the yoke, cows, plots of lands, gingelly seeds, gold etc. The recipient should be duly adored.

Nothing should be given to an undeserving person by a sensible person desirous of prosperity. Since the earth holds all living beings, a plot of land producing all kinds of vegetation should be given to a Brāhmaṇa.

Now, O great king, listen to the benefit of gifting cows.

56-62. When two legs and the face of the calf are seen at the vaginal outlet of a cow, she should be known as the very earth, so long as she does not release the calf from the womb. Somehow the devotee should offer her to a Brāhmaṇa. The merit thereof is as though the earth consisting of mountains, forests and great parks has been gifted. On being gifted the cow shall redeem twenty-one generations of the family.

When the Sun or the Moon is eclipsed, then blessed ones shall give a milch cow with her hoofs covered with silver, along with a cloth and a brass vessel for milking.

I do not know the amount of the merit thereof even after the lapse of hundreds of years. O king, there is numerical limit to the merit earned for every gift made on other occasions but for a gift made at the time of lunar or solar eclipse there is no such limit.

Where a cow is seen, O king, all the Tīrthas are there. One should understand that Parva (period of holy festivals) too exists there. There need not be any doubt in this respect. If a man remembers the Tīrtha and goes there or dies there, he shall become an attendant of Rudra.

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