The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Importance of Penance which is chapter 238 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 two hundred thirty-eighth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 238 - Importance of Penance

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Note: (v. 2ff) The sixteen kinds of services are called ‘Upacāras’: Āvāhana, Āsana, Pādya, Arghya, Ācamaṇīya [Ācamanīya?], Snāna, Vastra, Yajñopavīta, Gandha, Puṣpa, Dhūpa, Dīpa, Naivedya, Tāmbūla, Dakṣiṇā, Pradakṣiṇā, For details see HD V. i. 33-36. Some of there were in vogue since Vedic times.

Brahmā said:

1. O great Brāhmaṇa of great intellect, listen to the details of Tapas (austerities) which, if listened to during Cāturmāsya destroys sins.

2. Continuous performance of the worship of Viṣṇu with sixteen kinds of services constitutes Tapas (penance). Hence when the Lord of the universe is asleep it (such worship) is cited as a great penance.

3. A regular performance of the five Yajñas is indeed Tapas. The same in the course of Cāturmāsya with due dedication to Hari, is a great Tapas.

4. Approaching the wife during the prescribed days after menstrual period by a householder is no different from Tapas at any time. If it is practised during Cāturmāsya with due dedication to Hari’s pleasure, it is a great Tapas.

5. Truthful utterance in the case of living beings is a rare Tapas on the earth at all times. The same maintained well when the Lord of Devas is asleep yields infinite benefit.

6. Continuous maintenance of non-violence and other qualities is Tapas. Eschewing all enmities during Cāturmāsya is a great Tapas. The devotee should be liberal-minded (too).

7. A man should perform worship of ‘Pañcāyatana’ (the five deities: The Sun, Goddess, Viṣṇu, Gaṇapati and Śiva) which is a great Tapas. It should be performed with great love and devotion to Hari (to propitiate Hari) in the course of Cāturmāsya in particular.

Nārada said:

8. What is denoted by the term Pañcāyatana? What is its connotation? How should the adoration be performed? Mention it in detail quickly?

Brahmā said:

9. During the adoration at dawn and at midday Ravi (Sun-god) should always be worshipped in the middle. At night the Moon shall be in the middle. He should be worshipped with splendid colourful flowers.

10. One should worship Heraṃba (Gaṇapati) in the South-East corner for the purpose of quelling all obstacles. Especially during Cāturmāsya he should be adored with red sandal-paste and red flowers.

11. Occupying the South-West the Lord (Viṣṇu) dispels the arrogance of the wicked and always carries out the task of destroying the enemies of a householder.

12. A wise man should always worship Viṣṇu occupying the South-West corner. He should adore him with sweet scents, sandal-paste, flowers, and very splendid Naivedyas (food offerings).

13. For the abundance of sons and grandsons the Daughter of the Mountain (Pārvatī shall always be adored in the North-West corner by learned ones. She should be worshipped with flowers charming the mind.

14. Lord Rudra is always adored in the North-East with white flowers, for the purpose of preventing premature death and dispelling all defects.

15. These five deities constituting the Pañcāyatana are always adored by householders. Its greatness has not been written (recorded) by Brahmā and others but it reigns supreme.

16. This Tapas should always be performed. When performed during Cāturmāsya it yields great benefit. During all Parvan days (festival occasions) gifts should be made. It is a permanent Tapas. Performed during Cāturmāsya in particular, it becomes infinite (in benefit).

17. It should be understood that Śauca (purity is of two types: external and internal. Cleaning with water is th.e external one and purification through faith is the internal one.

18. Curbing of the sense-organs should be practised. It is the greatest feature of Tapas. Cessation of fickleness of the senses during Cāturmāsya will he the greatest Tapas.

19. By controlling the horses in the form of sense-organs, one can augment one’s happiness. The same horses (sense-organs) going astray cause one to fall into Naraka along with the vital airs.

20. One should curb the atrocious she-alligator in the form of Mamatā (feeling of ownership) after rebuking it. Tapas alone increases the weightiness of men always particularly in Cāturmāsya.

21. This Kāma (lust) is a great enemy. One should vanquish it alone steadfastly. Those who have conquered Kama are noble-souled ones. The entire universe is conquered by them.

22. The conquest of Kāma, the victory over wishful volition is always the root of Tapas. It is the very root of Tapas,

23. That alone is the greatest wisdom, by which Kāma is vanquished. The same in Cāturmāsya they call as the greatest Tapas. It yields excellent benefit.

24. Covetousness should always be eschewed. Sin stands involved in greed. Its very conquest is Tapas, especially in Cāturmāsya.

25. Moha (infatuation) and aviveka (indiscrimination) should be assiduously avoided always. A man without it is sensible and wise. None can be prudent by succumbing to infatuation.

26. Conceited ardour (Mada) alone is the greatest enemy of men. It is firmly rooted in the physical frame of man. It should always be restrained, especially when the Lord is asleep.

27. Māna (Jealous anger) resides in all living beings. It is frightening. One should suppress it by means of forbearance. The practice thereof during Cāturmāsya is superior in virtue.

28. A wise man should overcome Mātsarya (envious spite) which is the cause of great sin. If it is overcome in the course of Cāturmāsya it is as though all the three worlds along with the immortal ones have been conquered by him.

29. Even the sages who have conquered the sense-organs, if overwhelmed by egotism, abandon the path of righteousness and commit blunders involving moral turpitude.

30. By eschewing egotism one should always attain happiness. Especially if it is avoided during Cāturmāsya, it yields great benefit.

31. This indeed is the root of Tapas that it is eschewed from the mind. When all these base qualities are eschewed, one shall become identical with Brahman.

32. At the outset one should practise Prājāpapatya for the purification of the body. At the time of the sleep of the Lord of Devas in particular, it is a great Tapas.

33. A man who devoutly observes fast on alternate days always during the period of sleep of Lord Hari, never goes to Yama’s abode.

34. During the time of Hari’s sleep, a man should observe Ekabhakta (taking in one meal per day) everyday. For each day he will get the benefit of twelve days.

35. During Cāturmāsya if a man strictly adheres to vegetarian food, he will get the merit of thousands of Kratus. There is no doubt about it.

36. During Cāturmāsya a man should always perform Cāndrāyaṇa Vrata every month. It is impossible to extol adequately his merit.

37. If a man of pure intellect or a woman endowed with faith performs Pārāka Vrata when the Lord is asleep, it destroys the sins of a hundred births.

38. He who resorts to the expiatory rite of Kṛcchra when Lord Janārdana is asleep, shall shed off a heap of sins and attain the status of Gaṇa in Vaikuṇṭha.

S9. He who engages himself in Taptakṛcchra when Lord Janārdana is asleep, shall get a son or excellent reputation and shall thereafter, attain Sāyujya (merging) with Viṣṇu.

40. If an embodied soul clings to milk diet during Cāturmāsya, thousands of his sins get dissolved.

41. If a man remains calm and eats sparingly during Cāturmāsya he sheds off all his sins. He attains the Vaikuṇṭha region.

42. A man who takes food only once (a day) is never overwhelmed by ailments. One who does not take pungent and saline foods never becomes a sinner.

43. One who takes food in the course of these four months with Hari in view, certainly becomes rid of great sins.

44. One who abides by the diet of roots and bulbous roots redeems himself and the ancestors from the hideous Naraka and resides in the same world as that of Viṣṇu.

45. One who takes in only water during Cāturmāsya undoubtedly attains the benefit of a horse-sacrifice every day.

46. If a man endures cold and rain during Cāturmāsya for the sake of Hari’s pleasure, the Lord of the universe gives his own self to him.

47-52. A great Tapas has been cited named Mahāpārāka. By undertaking fast for a month, everything becomes complete. It begins from the day of sleep of the Lord (i.e. eleventh day in the bright half of Āṣāḍha) and ends with Pavitra Dvādaśī.

The period beginning with Pavitra Dvādaśī and ending with Śrāvaṇa Dvādaśī is glorified as the second Mahāpārāka.

The period beginning with Śrāvaṇadvādaśī and ending with Āśvina Dvādaśī is cited by learned men as the third Mahāpārāka.

If a man or a woman devoutly performs any one of these Mahāpārākas he or she is the eternal Viṣṇu himself. This is cited as the greatest Tapas of all.

53. It is very difficult to perform. It is very rare in the world. During Cāturmāsya it is superior to a Makha (performance of sacrifice). For each of its days the benefit of ten thousand Yajñas is incurred.

54. This great Tapas if performed duly yields benefits rare in the world. This alone is highly meritorious. This alone is the great happiness. Resorting to Mahāpārāka is highly beneficial.

55. Even if he commits great sins, still Nārāyaṇa dwells in his body. He gets perfect knowledge. He becomes a soul liberated while still living.

56. Sins roar, Narakas torment, and thousands of Māyās flourish only until a devotee becomes an Upavāsaka (one who undertakes fast) for a month.

57. If any one gets as his guest a person who has observed fasts during Cāturmāsya, he shall become free from sins, even if he commits thousands of murders.

58-59. A man who recites this, one who reads this always himself, shall be on a par with Vācaspati (Preceptor of Devas). He will undoubtedly get this benefit.

60. This is very ancient and highly sacred. If one listens to this or extols this it causes purification. One who dies mentally remembering Nārāyaṇa attains immortality and excels all Suras.

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