The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Efficacy of Adoration, Penance etc. which is chapter 239 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-ninth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 239 - Efficacy of Adoration, Penance etc.

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Nārada said:

1-2. How is the rite of adoration performed by means of the sixteen Upacāras? What are those sixteen Upacāras during the days of sleep of Hari?

O Patriarch, even as I ask you, kindly tell me in detail. With your favour, I can become worthy of being honoured by the entire world.

Brahmā said:

3. Everything here (in the world) has its root in the Vedas and the Vedas are (themselves) the eternal Viṣṇu. So devotion to Viṣṇu shall be firmly based on the injunctions of the Vedas and scriptural texts.

4. Those Vedas have Brāhmaṇas as their support. Brāhmaṇas esteem the sacred fire as their deity. A Brāhmaṇa worshipping the Lord always consigns Āhuti into sacred fire.

5-7. One who is always engaged in the worship of Viṣṇu, holds up and sustains the entire universe. Remembered and meditated upon, Nārāyaṇa especially destroys pains, miseries etc., during Cāturmāsya when Hari occupies the aquatic form. Cereals and grains grow out of water for providing satisfaction to the worlds.

Cereals (grain) having thus become a part of the physical form of Viṣṇu are conceived as Brahman. That cereal should therefore be offered to Viṣṇu with due invocation.

8. (Having offered Anna thus) one can avert the possibility of being assailed by the impressions of the previous births, pains, old age and the like.

Formerly the Veda was single when it originated from Ākāśa (Ether, the cause of sound).

9. Then Ṛgveda gained the appellation Yajus and Sāman resulting in the prosperity (of everyone). Formerly the Veda was called Ṛgveda and the Yajus was called Sahasraśīrṣan.

10. The great Sūkta (beginning with the word Sahasraśīrṣā) consisting of sixteen Ṛks is wholly identical with Nārāyaṇa. By reciting it alone; the sin of Brāhmaṇa-murder is destroyed.

11. A learned Brāhmaṇa should at the outset perform Nyāsa (Ritualistic touching of parts of one’s body as mentioned in the Smṛtis.) Thereafter (it is to be repeated) in front of an image particularly before Śālagrāma stone.

12-14. Thereafter in due order he should perform Āvāhana (Invocation) and other rites. He invokes the Sakala (one with attributes) form stationed in the Vaikuṇṭha region. He has the refulgence of ten million Suns and shines due to the Kaustubha jewel. Clad in yellow garment he is armed with a staff. He has a tuft of hair and a sacred thread. He is a great Sannyāsin. Especially in Cāturmāsya one should meditate upon Viṣṇu of such form, who dispels flood of sins.[1]

15. With the first Ṛk (of the Puruṣasūkta) uttered with Oṃkāra in the beginning, he should invoke (Vīṣṇu [Viṣṇu?] in front of him in the pose of meditation, O excellent Brāhmaṇa.

16. Āsana (Seat) is offered with the utterance of the second Ṛk (of Puruṣasūkta). The Brāhmaṇa is to be accompanied by his Pārṣadas (followers). The devotee should conceive mentally (the offers of) golden seats for these Pārṣadas.

17. Ponderance with due devotion makes it complete (the actual offer of Upacāra). Pādya (water for washing the feet) should be offered with the utterance of the third Ṛk. A learned man shall remember Gaṅgā on that occasion.

18. Arghya should then be offered to Viṣṇu (uttering the fourth Ṛk) by means of the rivers and the seven oceans (mentally conceived). Then Ācamana should be offered to the Lord of the universe through Amṛta (Nectar).

19. It is said that a Brāhmaṇa becomes purified (internally) through three Ācamanas. The water should be natural without foams and bubbles.

20. The Brāhmaṇas and other twice-born ones shall become purified as the water touches (respectively) the heart, the throat and the palate. A woman and Śūdra (become purified) if the water is touched once at the extremity.

21. The Ācamana is offered with a devout mind by uttering the fifth Ṛk. Hṛṣīkeśa should be won over through devotion. Thanks to the devotion, he offers his own self.

22. Then the ablution of the Deva is carried out by means of scented waters where all types of medicinal herbs have been put. The remaining waters shall be in golden pots.

23. Waters of the Tīrthas are brought mentally with perfect faith. Even a heap of jewels offered without faith shall be futile.

24. Even water offered with faith is capable of giving infinite benefit. Especially during Cāturmāsya, a man is sanctified through faith.

25. The ablution is performed with the utterance of the sixth Ṛk. There is another Ācamana to be offered after (the ablution). Then the devotee should offer two cloths accompanied by gold in accordance with his capacity and devotion.

26. The whole of the universe is covered with cloth if Hari is covered with a cloth. Especially in Cāturmāsya, the gift of cloths yields great benefit.

27. A further Ācamana is offered to the ascetic in the form of Viṣṇu, O leading sage. The offer of cloth to Viṣṇu is to be made with the chanting of the seventh Ṛk.

28. Yajñopavīta (sacred thread) is to be offered with the utterance of the eighth Ṛk. Listen to it with the basis of the soul on the mental planes. It is refulgent with its brilliance of ten million suns (hot) to the touch.

29. If a Brāhmaṇa is overwhelmed with anger it (the sacred thread) has the lustre of ten million lightning streaks. With the association of the Sun, the Moon and Fire it has thrice the splendour.

30. The three worlds are in the form of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra and pervaded by the Trayī (Vedas). He is called Dvija, O leading Brāhmaṇa, by whose power the worlds are so pervaded.

31-34a. A man is no better than a Śūdra at his birth. He is called a Brāhmaṇa (Twice-born) due to the consecration. The ability to curse and to bless, the states of being angry and pleased and the status of being the foremost in all the three worlds occur only in a Brāhmaṇa. There is no other kinsman on a par with a Brāhmaṇa. There is no one equal to a Brāhmaṇa in all the three worlds. If a sacred thread is given to a Brāhmaṇa when Lord Janārdana is asleep, the whole universe becomes Brāhmaṇical. There is no doubt about it.

34b. Excellent unguent should be offered to the Yajñamūrti (Representative of Lord Viṣṇu) with the utterance of the ninth Ṛk.

35. Indeed the entire universe is satisfied and refreshed and rendered fragrant with reputation by that person who smears Viṣṇu, the preceptor of the universe, with the excellent Yakṣakardama unguent.

36. A man who makes the gift of sandal-paste resembles the Sun by his lustre in this world. After attaining the state of Deva, he rejoices in Brahmaloka and other worlds.

37. Men who view Viṣṇu rendered graceful by smearing with sandal-paste especially during Cāturmāsya never go to the city of Yama.

38. The adoration with flowers as well as with devotion is to be accompanied by the chanting of the tenth Ṛk. Lakṣmī always resides in flower.

39. No defect clings to Lakṣmī though she habitually goes everywhere, just as Viṣṇu pervading everything is not assailed by defects.

40-42. So also Lakṣmī who pervades everything does not become deficient in chastity.

Worship with flowers is enjoined always in the case of all idols and all living beings, human beings, Devas and Pitṛs. Everything in the universe beginning with Brahmā and ending with a blade of grass is worshipped by him who adores only Hari along with Śrī (Lakṣmī). Hence one should always worship Viṣṇu with very white flowers.

43-45a. Especially during Cāturmāsya a devout householder should always be pure and worship Viṣṇu with white flowers. O Brāhmaṇa, if the adoration with flowers is well performed with devotion he will attain without obstacles whatever he desires. If others also worship and bow to Viṣṇu covered with flowers they too will have everlasting worlds. The benefit is more, if the same is performed during Cāturmāsya.

45b. Incense should be offered to the ascetic representing Hari, with the utterance of the eleventh Ṛk.

46. The Maṇtra: “Let this incense be accepted. It is the divine juice of a Vanaspati (plant, vegetation). It smells sweet. It has excellent scent and is worthy of being smelt by all the Devas.”

47. One should always offer the splendid incense arising from Aguru (agallochum) to the Lord. It yields great benefit during Cāturmāsya.

48. When the Lord is asleep, O excellent one, it should be offered along with camphor, sandal leaves, sugar, honey and Māṃsī-jaṭā (a medicinal twig).

49. Devas are satisfied through inhaling and the incense is splendid and it captivates the nose. The offer of Dīpa (light) is to be made by those who wish for salvation, with the utterance of the twelfth Ṛk.

50-51. There is a Purāṇic Mantra: “Dīpa (Lamp, Light) is the Lord of the luminous ones. In all the rites it is the foremost. Dīpa is conducive to the destruction of the columns of darkness. Dīpa amits lustre. Hence may Janārdana be pleased with me through the offer of Dīpa.” This Purāṇic Mantra along with the Vedic Ṛk, if wholly employed while offering Dīpa, shall quell sins.

52. If anyone offers Dīpa during Cāturmāsya before Hari, the mass of his sins shall be burnt in a moment.

53. Sins roar only so long, a sinner fears only so long, as a refulgent Dīpa is not offered in the abode of Nārāyaṇa.

54. Merely by seeing the Dīpa, a man shall attain all the Siddhis.

55. Whatever may be the wish in view of which one offers Dīpa unto Hari, it is fulfilled without hindrance. If the same is offered when the infinite Lord is asleep, it has more good effects.

56. Dīpa offering made during Cāturmāsya to the five deities presiding over the Pañcāyatana accords great benefit.

57. Viṣṇu alone, when meditated upon, worshipped, and eulogized, always becomes pleased and gives salvation. For the sake of salvation excellent men should offer whatever they keenly desire and whatever splendid thing they have in their house.

Footnotes and references:


Henceforth the sixteen Upacāras are associated with each Mantra of the Purusasūka [Puruṣasūkta?].

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