by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Importance of Shraddha Dana which is chapter 13 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 thirteenth chapter of the Vastrapatha-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.
1-2. Having cut off (the effects of) auspicious or inauspicious acts, one should then desire happy deliverance. If it is not possible to do this good act, one should bathe after waking up and worship Viṣṇu and Śiva; one should speak the truth, do whatever is beneficial, give in charity according to one’s capacity.
3. One should avoid scandal and timidity; so also other’s wife; one should avoid taking away (others’) gold, land, wealth of a Brāhmaṇa, of a deity.
4. One should not mentally talk (i.e. think) unpleasant things about a Brāhmaṇa, a woman, a king, a child, an old person, an ascetic; so also about one’s father, mother and teacher.
5-8. (One should have) the knowledge of place and time and should discriminate between the worthy and the unworthy; one should not talk about (other) mens’ darkness (i.e. defect); householders should give butter-milk, fire, wealth, sour gruel, medicine, vegetables to the suppliants. On the eleventh day, the fifteenth day, the fourteenth day, the eighth day (of a fortnight), on the New-Moon day, on the day of any great calamity, on a Śaṃkrānti [Saṃkrānti?] day, so also on the day of an eclipse, on the day of a particular position of the Sun and the Moon considered to be inauspicious and malignant, on the day of the death of one’s father or mother, so also on a day when the Yuga had started, on a day when the age of Manu set in, a great festival should be observed in the house, or one should go to a holy place, as this is hundredfold more effective (than staying at one’s residence).
9. The sense-organs should be controlled, one should avoid liquor, gambling. A householder should carefully avoid dispute, march, war.
10. If a bath, giving (gifts), muttering of prayers, sacrifice, worship of deities and of Brāhmaṇa are properly done, all of them become inexhaustible.
11. At least one cow, adorned with garments and ornaments, yielding milk, having a calf, young, designed for the chief of Brāhmaṇas, should be given (to a Brāhmaṇa).
12. After reaching Bhārata Khaṇḍa, securing the best (i.e. human) birth, a man who gives a cow is blessed. Piercing the sun’s orb, accompanied by cows etc. he goes in an aeroplane (to Heaven).
13. A mean sinner, who, having committed sins in seven births, gives a cow, is freed from all sins.
15. Overpowering them, standing away, just by her ‘hum’ sound, and taking (with her) the giver of the cow she goes to Śiva’s abode.
16-18. Dharma (moral merit) is said to be a bull. One who is liberated by it is really liberated. (If) among the cows a man makes offerings to all his dead ancestors, or to Hara or Han, he gets residence in the city of the Sun or Brahmā on the Day of Brahmā. By giving a bull capable of drawing a plough to a Brāhmaṇa on the days of the four changes of the moon (viz. 2nd, 8th, 14th tithis & Full Moon), he, mounted on that bull, goes to the world of cows, viz., the proximity of Śiva.
19. By giving a horse with a covering or a bit of a bridle, he enjoys, due to the power of the lordly horse, for a Day of Brahmā.
20. Due to the gift of a lordly elephant, he is taken to Indra’s garden by that elephant. He becomes the king of the earth.
21. By giving a house with furniture to a Brāhmaṇa householder, he gets a divine aeroplane fulfilling all desires in Indra’s garden.
22. Gold is great wealth on the earth; Gods are delighted if it is given. As long as he roams here the Sun also gives him a shining aeroplane.
24. If he gives betel-leaf, jewels with sandalwood, camphor, (so also) flowers and garments, he happily goes to the Moon with groups of gods.
25-26. He, who would, give buttermilk, water, oil, clarified butter, milk, sugarcane juice, with candy, dates, bunches of grapes and figs, Darbhas, grains (whole used as article of worship), clay, cow-dung, Dūrvā grass, sacred threads, sesamum seeds, hide, Arka plant, is known for a long time in Heaven.
27. If from one’s food that is ready, one-fourth is given as an offering, the giver, one giving it certainly goes to Dhruva’s place.
28. If, according to the measure of one’s food, daily measure of food is everyday given to cows, a man (who gives it) goes to the abode of gods.
29. By giving alms everyday, a householder washes off the sins committed with (the use of) a wooden mortar, a muller, a fire-place, a broom.
30. The alms may be of the size of a morsel; (but) if it is given everyday, (then) that is (indeed) a home; any other house appears like a cremation ground.
31. By giving pitchers with water, ready (cooked) food, an umbrella, shoes, a water-pot used by ascetics, a ring, garments a man goes to the abode of gods.
32. O King, by giving a vehicle to one who is tired, water to a thirsty man, food to a hungry man, one goes, being praised by divine ladies, to Heaven in an aeroplane.
33. A meal covered with ghee should always be given according to one’s capacity. Since the (five) vital airs are made of it, therefore beings are nourished (by it).
34. In the world the suffering due to hunger is great. Food is supposed to be the medicine against it. By that he gets peace. Therefore excellent food should be given.
35-37. A man should always give food, garments, fruits, water, butter milk, vegetables, clarified butter, honey, leaves, flowers; so also shoes, a patched garment, a stick, a water-pot used by ascetics, an umbrella, a pot, a vow, learning, a rosary worship of deities, his daughter, sacred threads worn by the first three classes of Hindus, seeds, medicines, houses, crop, field, sacrificial utensils, a cloth thrown over the back and knees used by ascetics during abstract meditation, wooden shoes, hide of black antelope, knowledge, (tell) a tale for religious instruction.
38. And this should be given regularly. Due to that great credit would be (accomplished). Having destroyed all (his) sins the giver goes to Śiva’s abode.
39. At a śrāddha (a funeral rite performed in honour of the departed spirits of dead relatives) having invited Brāhmaṇas who belong to a good family, who have mastered the Vedas, who do not get angry, who are habituated to taking bath everyday, who are exclusively devoted to the practices of their country, who are free from desires, who are not greedy, who are free from any disease, who are not village-priests, should be invited on the previous day, and the presentation of the obsequial rice-balls should be done in front of them.
40. Śrāddha offered by one who has no faith, is as good as not performed, even though it is performed.
41. Therefore Śrāddha should be performed by those, free from anger, who have faith.
42-43. One living in the forest, a celebate, a traveller, one visiting holy places, should be honoured at a Śrāddha with the thought ‘A guest is all gods’.
44. Householders should always honour ascetics according to their capacity.
45. O best king, now I shall tell the mode of pilgrimage.