by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Expiation of Paravasu which is chapter 197 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 one hundred ninety-seventh chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
In his later years he had a son well-known as Parāvasu whom he considered on a par with his own vital air.
He concluded the study of the Vedas by the time he became a full-fledged youth. He spent most of his time along with his esteemed friends who always indulged in jokes, fun and gaiety.
4. Once in the month of Māgha he went to the house of his preceptor and began to chant the Vedas.
5. At midnight he got up and went to the house of a prostitute guarded by all his friends. He slept with the courtesan there.
6. He kept near him a pot filled with water intended for Ācamana (ritualistic sipping) as well as for drinking purposes.
7. Towards the close of the night, he became very thirsty. Though overcome by sleep and lethargy, he left the bed and got up.
8. The pot of liquor kept by the courtesan had been placed lower down. Mistaking it for water, he drank the liquor.
9. Immediately, he came to know that it was liquor and he was distressed. He cast off the liquor-pot with great dejectedness. He lamented much.
10-11. “Alas, what a great misdeed has been committed by mer, Overcome by sleep, I have drunk the hated liquor mistaking it for water.
What shall I do? Where shall I go? How can I get myself sanctified. I shall perform expiatory rite even if it be very difficult to do.”
12. After resolving thus mentally, he went to Śaṅkha Tīrtha. When the day dawned, he took his bath.
13-14. He caused his tuft (and beard) to be shaved off in a hurry later and went to the place where his preceptor and his disciples were engaged in chanting the Vedas in the place assigned to it. Like a Śūdra, he sat in a place very far off.
15. When he was seen with hair and beard shaven off, by his friends, he was frequently stroked on the tonsured head by them with the tips of their hands.
16. On seeing him bereft of hair and beard, utterly distressed and shedding tears, the preceptor spoke to him:
17. “O my dear one, why are you sitting very far off in a morose mood? Come near me and tell me. By whom have you been humiliated?”
18-19. O venerable Sir, I am now unfit for your service. I had been to the abode of a courtesan. I mistook the pot of liquor of the courtesan for my water-pot and I drank it off. Hence, O holy Lord, prescribe an expiatory rite for the sake of purifying myself.
20. Undoubtedly, I shall perform whatever has been ordained in the Dharmaśāstra (religious) texts.
21. Thereupon, his friends, the Brāhmaṇa boys, who stood around there made funny remarks in the presence of the courtesan and the preceptor:
22. “The daughter of the king is well-known to all the people by the name Ratnavatī. You must hold her breasts and quickly kiss her lips. Thereby you will become purified' not otherwise.”
23. O my friends, this is no time for fun or gaiety when I am in an odd position. If you have any love for me by virtue of my being your boyhood friend, gather together other Brāhmaṇas and find out a way for my redemption,
24. Thereupon, they all became serious and stopped passing jocular remarks. They became distressed due to his grief. They went up to. Viśvāvasu and narrated the news concerning him (Parāvasu).
25. On hearing their words extremely disagreeable and unpleasant to the ears, he went along with his wife to the place where his son was present.
26. He was extremely distressed. He faltered at every step due equally to his old age and the grief arising from the misdemeanour of his son.
27-28. With words choked and faltering due to tears the grief-stricken couple spoke to their son: “Alas, dear son! What have you done?” He (Parāvasu) narrated all the details about his act to them and expressed his desire, saying: “Hence, I shall perform expiatory rite to sanctify myself.”
Thereupon, Viśvāvasu summoned for the purpose Brāhmaṇas expert in the Smṛtis and having great mastery over the Vedic lore.
29-30. Parāvasu stood before them with palms joined in reverence and said: “I have unwittingly imbibed liquor at night having lifted up the pot of the courtesan mistaking it for my own waterpot. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, considering this, do give me the requisite expiation so that, with your favour, I can regain sanctity.”
31. On being requested thus by him, those Brāhmaṇas, the expounders of the Smṛti texts, pored over the scriptural texts and spoke to him:
32-33. “If anyone performs expiatory rite on behalf of one who does not deserve it due to excess of arrogance, anger, love or fear, he incurs the sin thereof. Hence, we shall give (advise) you the befitting expiatory rites. If you are capable of doing it, do so with great concentration of mind.”
34. I have not been seen imbibing liquor by anyone, O Brāhmaṇas. Then why should I ask you, if I don’t intend to act accordingly at your instance?
35. Hence, lay down the amends befitting me for the sake of purity even if it be terrible and destructive of life. Otherwise, you will incur sin.
The Brāhmaṇas said:
36. A Brāhmaṇa who knowingly and wantonly drinks liquor shall become pure by drinking molten gold of equal quantity.
37. If liquor has been drunk unwittingly by any Brāhmaṇa, he becomes pure by drinking heated clarified butter of the same quantity.
38. Thus everything regarding the expiatory rite for the sake of purity has been mentioned to you. O excellent Brāhmaṇa, if you can do it, do carry it out.
39. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, a mouthful of liquor was drunk by me. I shall drink an equal quantity of ghee made hot like fire.
40. At your behest I shall do so today itself for the sake of the purity of my body.
Viśvāvasu (was stunned) on hearing those words comparable to the thunderbolt.
41. The words of his son and those of the Brāhmaṇas were no less than a thunderbolt. He then became extremely distressed and said with faltering words after shedding profuse tears:
42-43. “For the sake of the purity of my son, I will give away all my possessions. But I will not let him at any cost perform this expiatory rite.
Let me become Aśrāddheya (unworthy of being invited for Śrāddha) or Vipāṅkteya (unworthy of sitting in the row of Brāhmaṇas for meals) along with my son. I shall very well abandon this spot. Dear son, do not perform this.”
44. On hearing those words of his father causing obstacles to the expiatory rites, the son spoke words affectionately:
45. “Stop this excess of affection for me. Do not create obstacles. I will certainly carry out this expiatory rite. This decision has been taken by me.”
46. If it is compulsory for you, dear son, to perform this expiatory rite for the sake of purity, then I will enter the burning fire before you, along with my husband.
47. I will not be able to endure seeing you drinking the fiery hot ghee and falling dead thereafter. I solemnly take this vow.
48. Dear son, your mother has said most pertinently and also for the sake of your own benefit. I approve of it and shall do so undoubtedly.
49. In the meantime, all those friends of his heard about him and came there in great distress.
50. They spoke various words to Vibhāvasu (Viśvāvasu) distressed along with his wife over his son, having decided to commit suicide.
51. They also persuaded the son to desist from the performance of the said expiatory rite, but they were not able to do so.
52. Both of them, the father as well as the son, were bent upon putting an end to their lives.
53. Then they went to the Vāstupada (site of abode) where the omniscient Bhartṛyajña, the highly esteemed scholar who clarified all doubts, was present.
54-55. To him they narrated everything concerning Parāvasu, how he imbibed liquor, the details of expiatory rites jokingly mentioned by his friends, that enjoined by the exponents of Smṛtis and ultimately the idea of self-immolation by Parāvasu in fire.
56. They also reported how he, his wife and all the friends grieved over this. After narrating all this, they spoke again politely:
57-60. “We all know that there is nothing unknown to you whether past, present, or future. We know that this whole city is very much in doubt about Viśvāvasu. Hence, we have approached you.
O highly esteemed one, say whether there is any other expiatory rite for the purification of this Brāhmaṇa who has imbibed liquor. There is nothing in the Vedic lore that is not known to you.”
Thereupon, Bhartṛyajña laughed loudly and spoke these words:
61. “There is a very pleasant and easy means of purification for this Brāhmaṇa. Though present (in existence, available) it is actually non-existent. This is my opinion.”
The Brāhmaṇas said:
62. O highly intelligent one, these statements are contradictory to each other. How is the means present? How is it non-existent? It behoves you to explicate. All the Brāhmaṇas are extremely surprised thereby.
63. A flaw in the performance of Japa, penance, sacrifice etc. can be corrected if the Brāhmaṇas wish so.
64. If the Brāhmaṇas, especially those hailing from the Nāgara community, utter “Achidra” (free from flaw) it shall definitely be so.
66-67. This Parāvasu has been told jokingly by his friends: “Your purity from the adverse effects of imbibing liquor shall be effected if you hold the breasts of Ratnavatī and kiss her lips.”
68. This has been mentioned by me as a pleasant and easy means of purification in the case of this Brāhmaṇa. If he performs this in accordance with the injunctions of Parāśara, he shall become purified.
The Brāhmaṇas said:
69. If the king were to hear this statement, he will become extremely intolerant and may kill all the Brāhmaṇas. It will be contrary to what we want.
70. Hence, let this Brāhmaṇa Parāvasu do whatever he likes in the company of his mother and father. We shall go home.
71. That king is just and wise. He is devoted to all types of pious activities. He is an adept in all scriptural texts and is a devotee of Devas and Brāhmaṇas.
72. Hence, let all the Nāgaras go to his abode along with me.
73. We shall keep the Madhyaga in front of us. Through him let us narrate the incident concerning the imbibing of liquor.
74. We shall also narrate what was said jokingly to Parāvasu by his friends. The statement of Parāśara is greater than any other Smṛti.
75. On hearing it, if the king becomes furiously intolerant and over-covetous, I shall make him abide by the path of the good.
76-82. Then all those Nāgaras became extremely pleased. They congratulated Bhartṛyajña in different kinds of words of approbation.
The Madhyaga was placed in the centre along with him (Bhartṛyajña). This Madhyaga hailed from Gartā Tīrtha. He had fully mastered the Vedas and Vedāṅgas. He was conversant with the Smṛtis and all characteristic omens. He was famous as a regular householder preserving the sacred fires. He regularly performed many Yajñas. He scrupulously abided by the opinion of Bhartṛyajña.
It was he who was settled in this holy spot in Camatkārapura by virtue of being a Brāhmaṇa, formerly by the father of Karṇotpalā, the king of Ānarta who had fallen from heaven. Due to his efforts all the tasks of all the Brāhmaṇas were accomplished. Other works of Camatkārapura also got completed through him.
His name was Haribhadra. All the Nāgaras took him along with Bhartṛyajña and came to the threshold of the royal palace. They also took with them Parāvasu and his parents.
83. The door-keeper hastened within and intimated to the king that the Brāhmaṇas had arrived accompanied by Haribhadra and Bhartṛyajña.
84. On hearing that they had all come to the royal threshold, Ānarta came to receive them directly accompanied by his own priest.
86. The same was offered to four Brāhmaṇas with Mudga (kidney bean) in their hands and also to the other Brāhmaṇas. Then the first one (the king) accepted their benedictions through Ṛk, Yājus and Sāman hymns.
87. He came to the pavilion and made all of them sit on excellent seats of gold in due order.
88. When all of them sat, the king sat on the ground. With palms joined in reverence he spoke thus:
89-91. “Blessed indeed am I. I have been duly honoured since all the Nāgara folk have come to my abode along with Brartṛyajña [Bhartṛyajña?].
Hence, surely command me, ye all. What task shall I carry out? To one who has arrived at my abode now, I will give even that which cannot be (ordinarily) given. I will approach even him who should not be approached. I will do even that which cannot be done.”
On hearing this, Haribhadra hurriedly stood up.
93-94. “May the Ādyas recite Prāṇarudra Mantras and the Bahvṛcas the Jīvasūkta hymn. It was by these that the Savana (sacrifice) of Prṭhivī etc., was performed formerly. Let all the Adhvaryus and the Chāndogyas recite separately the hymns including Madhucyuta for the purpose of fulfillment.”
95. When the excellent Brāhmaṇas were addressed thus with the concurrence of Bhartṛyajña, they recited everything as was said by that intelligent one.
96. At the conclusion of the chanting and recitation the Madhyaga duly narrated to the king the episode connected with Parāvasu.
97. He narrated how Āsava (liquor) had been imbibed by him, how the friends prattled something by way of expiation and how the expounders of the Smṛti proclaimed the expiatory rite of drinking (hot) ghee.
98. He also mentioned how all the Brāhmaṇas were brought together by Bhartṛyajña.
On hearing his words the king became delighted. With palms joined in due deference he spoke thus:
99-100. “I am blessed. I am meritorious because a great favour has been bestowed on me by the Nāgara Brāhmaṇas resulting in the saving of the lives of three Brāhmaṇas. Blessed indeed is my daughter who will herself save three Brāhmaṇas who had decided to end their lives.”
101. O Brāhmaṇas, then the king brought his daughter there immediately. When she sat in the centre of the assembly he offered her to the Brāhmaṇas (and said):
102. “O excellent Brāhmaṇas, at your instance this daughter of mine has been summoned by me. Let that Brāhmaṇa do what has been laid down by Bhartṛyajña.”
103. Thereupon, Bhartṛyajña summoned the Brāhmaṇa Parāvasu there and spoke these words in the presence of the girl:
104-107. “Even as you kiss her on her lips if you consider this girl as your mother you will attain Siddhi. If you kiss her with passionate love, O Parāvasu, blood will come out of your mouth. If you are innocent and pure, undoubtedly milk will exude therefrom.
On coming into contact with your hands if blood does not flow out of the breasts but milk does flow out, it should be known that you have become purified.”
108-110. After saying thus to him the Brāhmaṇa said to the girl: “Dear daughter, consider this excellent Brāhmaṇa as though he is your son. Thereby, he will attain purity. In accordance with the Smṛti, the expiatory rite is the kissing of your lips and touching your breasts.
This expiatory rite has been jokingly suggested by the friends of this leading Brāhmaṇa. Thereby, he will attain purity. Otherwise he will meet with death.”
111-112. She assented saying, “So it shall be” and spoke to him (Parāvasu) shyly: “Do come dear child, perform the expiatory rite for the sake of purity.
I have adopted motherly attitude and you have been considered my son.”
He too considered her as his mother and came to her vicinity.
113-114. Even as all the people were watching he touched her breasts. At the very same moment, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, two streams of milk flowed from those breasts touched by him. The streams resembled a jasmine flower, the moon and snow flakes.
115. Afterwards when the Brāhmaṇa kissed her lips, milk flowed out of her mouth as before.
116. In the meantime hands were clapped by all the Brāhmaṇas as well as the king, even as they repeatedly said: “This Brāhmaṇa is pure now.”
117. He (Parāvasu) circumambulated the girl many times. After bowing down to her, he said: “Forgive me, O mother fond of your son.”
118. On seeing this great wonderful incident the king was surprised. He praised Bhartṛyajña who had enjoined the expiatory rite.
119-121. “Oh! Wonderful! I am extremely fortunate, since such Brāhmaṇas hailing from Camatkārapura have come to my city.
A girl like this has carried out an unprecedented task. Ratnavatī is really highly praise-worthy and endowed with truthfulness and purity.
Similarly, this Brāhmaṇa Parāvasu is not an ordinary Brāhmaṇa. In spite of coming close to such a girl, he has not become excited.”
122. After saying thus and bidding farewell to those Brāhmaṇas, the excellent king went into the inner apartment taking his daughter with him.
123-125. Then all those Nāgaras stipulated the bounds of decency: “From now no courtesan staying here should keep liquor or meat in her abode. These defiled women will spoil the sons of Nāgaras.
One who transgresses this stipulation should be punished by us and banished from this holy spot. After death, she will incur sins.”