The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Eligibility (of Brahmanas) for Shraddha which is chapter 207 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 seventh chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 207 - Eligibility (of Brāhmaṇas) for Śrāddha

Īśvara said:

1-3. Henceforth, I shall explain (enumerate) the different kinds of Dāna associated with Śrāddha in due order. Given at the confluence of Sarasvatī and ocean, they are conducive to the redemption of all living beings.

Whatever is the most excellent of all things in the world, everything that is dear to oneself—all these should be given as gifts (Dāna) with the Pitṛs in view, if people wish for the same to be everlasting. A man who gives (serves) cooked rice obtains a divine golden heavenly car resembling the sun and filled with celestial damsels.

4. He who gifts at the time of the Śrāddha rites an unbeaten (without washing i.e. new) garment obtains longevity, illumination, affluence and comeliness.

5. If a person gives a water-pot to a Brāhmaṇa who has mastered the Vedas, a cow that exudes honey-like milk follows the donor.

6. If the devotee accords Abhaya (protection during danger) to living beings seeking life, at the time of Śrāddha (it is beneficial). Granting of freedom from fear excels the gift of a thousand horses, of a hundred chariots and of a thousand elephants.

7. A man devoutly attached to his father (or the Pitṛs) immediately obtains everything—all the jewels on the earth, all the vehicles and all the women.

8. In all the worlds, in all Tīrthas and times Pitṛs like Devatās, wholly come to a man like cows (cattle) flocking to a water-trough near a well.

9. Let them not go back without being duly honoured during the Parva occasions. Let not their hopes here as well as hereafter be frustrated at all.

10. If a devotee feeds a single Brāhmaṇa in the vicinity of Sarasvatī, he gets the benefit of feeding a crore of Brāhmaṇas. There is no doubt about this.

11. If a man partakes of food (in the house) of another man on a New-Moon day, the donor of cooked rice obtains the merit attained in the course of one month by other man.

12. If a man partakes of food in the house of another man on an Ayana day (transit of the Sun), all his merits attained in the course of the six.months perish. If a man partakes of food in the house of another man on the Viṣuva day (equinox), all the merits accrued in the course of three months perish. If a man partakes of food in another man’s house during a solar or lunar eclipse, all the merits earned in the course of twelve years perish entirely.

13. If the food is taken at the time of the transit of the Sun (from one house of the Zodiac to another) the merits of more than a month perish; in the case of the first Śrāddha, the merit of three years; in the case of the Māsika (monthly Śrāddha) the merit of a year and in the case of half-yearly Śrāddha, the merit of a half of the year perishes.

14. If the food is taken at Sañcayana Śrāddha the merit acquired in the course of the whole life perishes. There is no purificatory rite for a man who accepts the gift of a dead man’s bed, a man who sells the Veda and a man who misappropriates the assets of a Brāhmaṇa.

15. A person who illegally takes possession of a plot of land is not purified through the merit of digging a thousand lakes, performing a hundred horse-sacrifices and by gifting a crore of cows.

16. A man who illegally takes possession of even a Māṣa of gold, a cow or even half an inch of the earth falls into hell and remains there until all living beings are annihilated.

17. The sin arising from Brāhmaṇa-slaughter, imbibing liquor, seizing the assets of a poor man, association with the wife of preceptor and stealing gold will cause the downfall of even a man staying in Svarga.

18. Gift of a cow is on a par with the gift of a thousand other things; that of a bull is on a par with that of ten cows; the gift of a vehicle is on a par with that of ten bulls; and the gift of a horse is on a par with the gift of ten vehicles.

19. The gift of a virgin is on a par with the gift of ten horses and the gifts of plots of land is superior to it. Hence one should assiduously make gifts of plots of lands; one should not sell them.

20. Especially so in a great holy spot that is destructive of all sins. If one touches a pile of wood intended for funeral pyre or Yajña Yupas (sacrificial posts) or persons who sell the Vedas, one should take holy bath. It has been enjoined.

21. He who gives the order, and he who reads it (aloud and proclaims), both of them are sinners sure to be the residents of Pātālatala (bottom of the nether worlds).

22-23. A man who. reads the royal proclamation at the entrance to the palace shall, O goddess, grow as a tree full of thorns in an arid land. The same occurs to a man who stands at the gate to the palace and indulges in selling the Vedas, for the sin is on a par with that of Brāhmaṇa-slaughter. Such a sin there never was nor will there ever be. O goddess, he may very well commit that sin, but he should never commit the sin of selling the Vedas.

24. A base Brāhmaṇa may very well kill cows and eat their flesh, he may very well live in close association with barbarians, but he should not commit the sin of selling the Vedas.

25. Selling of the Vedas is of six types, mentioned as: Pratyakṣokti (direct statement), Pratyaya (solemn oath), Praśnapūrvaḥ pratigrahaḥ (acceptance of remuneration after answering a question), Yājana (performing Yajñas), Adhyāpana (teaching) and Vāda (disputation).

26. One who commits sale of the Vedas incurs as many sins of foeticide as the number of Vedic syllables which the sinner has employed for his own selfish ends.

27. If a person gives Pratigraha (donation, fee) to a Brāhmaṇa after a censure and reproof thereof he falls into hell first and the Brāhmaṇa thereafter.

28. Brāhmaṇas may be endowed with Veḍic knowledge. Yet if they are devoid of (performance of) Vaiśvadeva, and if they are without hospitality, they are Vṛṣalas completely by their conduct.

29. All these belong to Śūdra caste: those who carry no self-study of the Vedas, those who do not maintain sacred fires and those who do not belong to the family of Veda-learners.

30. O fair lady, a Brāhmaṇa who does not respectfully perform Śrāddha on the day of the death of his father or of his mother is on a par with a Śūdra.

31. One should consider that person a Śūdra who takes food on the day of a death, when there is the eclipse of the Sun or of the Moon and during the Parva Gajacchāyā.

32. In regard to (the death of) a bachelor, one engaged in a Yajña, an ascetic, an artisan, one who is initiated for Yajña, (while in) Sattra and Yajña, there is no Sūtaka (pollution due to birth etc.).

33. The following Brāhmaṇas should be treated like Śūdras: those who tend cows and cattle, traders, craftsman and usurers.

34. A Brāhmaṇa engaged in misdemeanour leading to downfall, an arrogant fellow and one who is usually engaged in evil deeds—all are remembered as equal to a Śūdra.

35. One who takes food without bathing is actually eating rubbish; one who takes food without performing Japa is actually taking in putrid blood; one who takes food without performing Homa is actually eating worms; and one who takes without offering (it to others) is actually consuming poison.

36. If a person eats food of others (given by others) and begets sons (those sons) are the sons of the food-giver because semen is created from cooked food.

37. The food of (i.e. given by) a king takes away brilliance; the food of a Śūdra, the Brāhmaṇical splendour; the food of a goldsmith takes away longevity; and that of a cobbler, takes away fame.

38. The food of a Kāruka (an artisan, a mechanic) kills the progeny; that of a washerman takes away strength. The food of Gaṇa (mob, group of people) and Gaṇikā (harlot) deprives one of the (heavenly) worlds.

39. The food of a physician is (like) putrid matter; the food of an unchaste woman is (like) semen; the food of a usurer is faeces; and that of a seller of weapons is rubbish.

40. Better is a Brāhmaṇa though (merely) conversant with the essence of Gāyatrī, if he is a man of self-control. Not so a Brāhmaṇa conversant with all the four Vedas, if he has no self-control, if he eats everything (indiscriminately) and sells everything.

41. One falls down immediately through (selling) meat, red lac and salt. A Brāhmaṇa becomes a Śūdra in three days through selling milk.

42. Juices should be checked through juices but not through juices in the case of salt. Kṛtānna (cooked food) should be checked through Kṛtānna. Gingelly seeds equal to them through grains.

43. If anyone does anything else with gingelly seeds except taking in as food, anointing the body as oil or gifting away, he will be born as a worm in shit and goes down along with his Pitṛs.

44. (Or if the unlettered takes these as Pratigraha viz.) Pratigraha of fried pie, gold, cow, horse (a plot of) earth and gingelly seeds, he becomes reduced to ash like a piece of wood.

45. (Pratigraha of) gold and jewels take away longevity; a plot of land and a cow pull up the body; a horse pulls the eye; a garment spoils the skin; ghee spoils the splendour and gingelly seeds the progeny.

46. If a person is made an Agnihotrī or to undertake penance with the aid (of cash and materials), all the (fruits of) Agnihotra and Tapas (penance) become the assets of the financier.

47. Gift becomes shit if it is given to a habitual seller of Soma. It becomes putrid blood if made to (that of) medicine. Gift is doomed (has no fruit) if made to a Devalaka (paid worshipper in a temple) and censured if made to a usurer.

48. A Brāhmaṇa engaged in worshipping the deity for the sake of ready cash is named Devalaka. He is censured in Havyas and Kavyas (i.e. worship of the deities and the Pitṛs) in all the three worlds.

49. If a man indulges lustfully in intercourse with the wife of his dead brother though she is Niyuktā (conventionally engaged by way of religious duty) he should be known as Didhiṣūpati (husband of a widow).

50. Even while the elder brother remains (a bachelor) if anyone marries and maintains sacred fires, he should be known as Parivettā and that elder brother is Parivitti.

51. If a man makes use of and enjoys other person’s garments, wells, parks and houses, though they are not offered to him, he incurs a fourth of the sin committed by that person.

52. If a person invited to a Śrāddha enjoys it with a Vṛṣalī (Śūdra woman), he entirely incurs all the sins and misdemeanour of the donor (performer) of the Śrāddha.

53-55. The daily diet should be known as Ṛta. The food received without begging is called Amṛta. Maintenance of oneself by means of usury is called Mṛta. Cultivation (Agriculture) is remembered as Pramṛta. Engaging oneself in trading activities is called Satyānṛta (truth and lie). One can very well live and sustain oneself through Ṛta and Amṛta, through Mṛta or Pramṛta or through Satya and Anṛta. But one should never maintain oneself through Śvavṛtti (canine behaviour). Sevā (service to others) is called Śvavṛtti. Hence one should avoid it.

56-57. After being born in Brāhmaṇa womb (i.e. as a Brāhmaṇa) one should avoid Saṃkara (inter-mixture). Human birth is rarely achieved in the world. The state of being a Brāhmaṇa is more so. Saṃkara (inter-mixture) is said to be of nine kinds: (1) Sitting in the same seat, (2) Lying on the same bed, (3) Sitting in the same row (paṅkti), (4) Using the same utensils, (5) Exchanging sweetmeats, (6) Miśraṇa (free social intercourse), (7) Performing Yajña and teaching, (8) Yoni (i.e. intermarriage), and (9) Taking food together. These activities should not be shared with base people.

58. If a Brāhmaṇa is unable to sustain himself through his own legitimate traditional activity, he should do the work of a Kṣatriya or a Vaiśya. He must avoid the activity of a Vṛṣala (i.e. Śūdra) i.e. Service.

59. A Brāhmaṇa should engage himself in usury, agriculture and trading during emergency though he is defiled. (After bath such a Brāhmaṇa becomes touchable.)

60. When he acquires profit, he should propitiate the Pitṛs, Devas and Brāhmaṇas. On being satisfied, they undoubtedly quell his sin.

61. During famine, the following are remembered as means of sustenance: water, cow, cart, park, begging, usury, trading activities, marshy lands, mountain and king.

62. If a man takes money from a wicked person and gives it to good people, that money redeems that man as well as the wicked person from an impossible difficult position.

63. Dāna made to a Śūdra has ordinary fruit. In regard to a Vaiśya it is remembered as yielding double fruit. In regard to a Śrotriya (Brāhmaṇa well-versed in the Vedas), it gives thousandfold fruit and in regard to an Agnihotrin it gives infinite fruit.

64. A Brāhmaṇa should not be transgressed. A person who does not follow this conventional order (errs). One should not perform Homa in the ashes after discarding the burning fire.

65. A Pratigraha (gift as Dāna) should not be accepted by one who is deficient in learning and power of penance. If he accepts, he causes the downfall of the giver as well as of himself.

66. Hence a Śrotriya (a master of Vedas) having purity, good qualities and virtuous habits alone is qualified. One without defects or bodily deficiencies is remembered as the most deserving person.

67. Water held in a skull and milk poured into a leather (water) bag are defiled due to the defect of the container. So also is the learning in a man of base avocation.

68. A Pratigraha (gift) offered to an underserving person after overlooking a deserving person, is like giving of the daily allotment of cow’s fodder to a donkey after overlooking the cow.

69. Hence one should preserve character and conduct. If money is lost, it may come again. One poor in wealth is not really poor, but one doomed in character is doomed for ever.

70. A devotee should, at the outset, offer excellent gift to preceptor and then in due order to the other Brāhmaṇas according to their competence and qualifications.

71-72. What is given to deserving persons by men is (also) considered as the due Dāna made to the preceptor.

If an evil-minded one insults his preceptor and makes him angry and then offers a gift, it shall be futile and the person (donor) goes down. A deluded person doomed by dishonouring the preceptor will never get peace.

73. In case the preceptor is not present, his son should be honoured. If the son is not present, the wife of the preceptor is to be honoured. A grandson through son or daughter or anyone of the family is to be honoured duly.

74. If it is known that the preceptor is present within five Yojanas there should be no overlooking of the Guru. He must make gifts to the deserving person.

75. If an ascetic, out of greed, requests for some special gift, it should not be given by learned people. Greed is not commendable in an ascetic.

76. After getting wealth, an ascetic may cease to practise vow of silence (sage-hood) and acquisition of knowledge. Enjoyment of pleasures will be encouraged through Dāna whereas his life should be sacred through celibacy.

77-78. Those who have gained birth in a noble family, thanks to their initiation, are excellent men. By avoiding spirituous liquor indeed, one attains conjugal felicity. If one avoids meat, all his children will be long-lived.

79. One should abandon clothes and ornaments and wear bark-garments. By fasting a man attains the overlordship of serpents.

80. By means of truthful speech one sports with the Devas in heaven. Through non-violence, he gains health and through liberal gifts one attains fame duly.

81. By rendering service to Brāhmaṇas one shall acquire kingdom and very excellent state of being a Brāhmaṇa. By serving Devas a man attains divine form.

82. One shall get satisfaction through the gift of food. He shall have fulfilled all excellent desires. By gifting a lamp a man becomes endowed with (good) vision.

83-84. By gifting scents and garlands one shall always have satisfaction. Those who give gifts of salt, gingelly seeds and ghee are born brilliant and long-lived. They enjoy pleasures. A man who gifts excellent variegated garments and ornaments and bed with pillows, shall get a wife endowed with beauty and charming features such as excellent curved eyelashes.

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