The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Giving ear to Dvaraka’s greatness and eminence of basil wood which is chapter 43 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 forty-third chapter of the Dvaraka-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 43 - Giving ear to Dvārakā’s greatness and eminence of basil wood

[Full title: Giving ear to Dvārakā’s greatness and eminence of basil wood—the message of Prahlāda]

Prahlāda said:

1-21. One having a genuine wish towards attainment/ fulfillment of his desires needs to worship Sāvitrī, Bhavānī, Durgā and Sarasvatī, with basil leaves. It is desirable to worship Viṣṇu with basil leaves in hands. All gods, demons and human beings get worshipped equally by such act of worship. Maheśa is to be worshipped on the fourteenth day of the brighter half of lunar month while the grandfather God, i.e. Brahmā and Gaṇapati are to be worshipped respectively on the full-moon day and on the seventh day of the brighter half of moon. Water offered in a conch during worship is considered more exalted than that of the water of the leading centre of pilgrimage. So is the water offered at the feet of God which is considered to be relatively higher than the best of the centres of pilgrimage. The food left-over from that offered to God in the act of worship is considered similar to performance of a crore of yajñas. The left-over flowers from those offered to God in worship (i.e. Nirmālya) which are but naturally waned out in freshness are considered comparable to charities made as part of the observance of vrata, i.e. religious vow.

If one takes the left-over boiled rice offered to Mukunda (an epithet of Viṣṇu) in the very act of worship everyday, he/she derives merits more than that made for through observance of one hundred candrāyaṇa [cāndrāyaṇa] vrata. If a man takes the left-over food offered to Murāri (an epithet of Kṛṣṇa) after adding basil leaves and the water, in particular, offered at the feet of Viṣṇu, he obtains meritorious fruits equal to that made for by performance of a crore of yajñas. He who, during the time of performing śrāddha offers, the remaining portion of balls of cooked rice made to Han, to his divine forefathers with due faith after adding sesame to it, his forefathers remain contented for the period of creation lasting crore of years. At the time of performing the act of bathing the idol of God and its worship, he who rings bells before the God, obtains the fruits similar to that made for by gifting crores of cows to Vāsudeva. All instruments of music bringing out sounds of tingling bells are always dear to Keśava. By making bells to ring, a man earns fruits of a crore of yajñas. It is the desirable duty on the part of all men to ring bells, if there is a paucity of music at the time of worship of God, for the tingling sounds of a bell accommodate/inhere all music. One who offers basilwood to Hari after applying a paste of sandalwood on it, he burns up hundreds of sins committed in previous births. Even offering of basil wood applied with paste of sandalwood along with balls of cooked rice in performing śrāddha makes one’s forefathers satisfied in the same way like the one conducted at Gayā. Basil-wood with paste of sandalwood is a favourite of all gods. Particularly in the Kaliyuga, it is dearest to Hari and the forefathers. While claiming themselves to be devotees of Hari and believers in Bhāgavat, those who do not always offer basil-wood with paste of sandalwood to Viṣṇu, cannot be taken for as such during the Kaliyuga. A body put on fire of pyre made of basil-wood with application of sandalwood paste (after death) if taken by Yama, also goes to the abode of Viṣṇu.

If there is just one piece of basil-wood with applied paste of sandalwood on it amidst the pile of wood in the funeral pyre, the same dead soul gets free from crores, hundreds and thousands of sins while the dead body is in the very process of burning. If one happens to witness the human body burning on the funeral pyre having basil-wood applied with paste of sandalwood, he/she can be assumed to have pleased Janārdana (an epithet of Viṣṇu) for hundred and crores of times of his/her cycle of birth. Witnessing human beings burning on the funeral pyre made of basil-wood with applied paste of sandalwood, the gods seated on aerial vehicle and carrying flowers in their palms joined together in shape of cups, appear to shower those on them.

O king of demons! divine beauties dance and sing with a melodious voice where the holy basil wood is put on fire. And Viṣṇu along with Śaṃbhu remain pleased to have a look of them. Śourie [Śauri?] (an epithet of Viṣṇu) holds that man by hand and proceeds ahead. And under the watchful eyes of Gods, he (i.e. Viṣṇu) cleanses all his sins. The gods celebrate greatly by sounding “hail you and victory to you”.

Sūta said:

22-26. Hearing about the greatness of Dvārakā brought to light before them by Prahlāda—all the sages as well as Bali, the master of demons, became very happy. Then they all greeted Prahlāda—the leader of the demons. With all intention to have a look of the lotus-face of Kṛṣṇa, they began their journey towards Dvārakā. Then with king Bali all the sages who were minute observers of religious vows, i.e. vratas, after reaching Dvārakā performed the ritual of bathing at Gomatī as per due procedure. They followed up their visit to Dvārakā as per rules by having a look of Kṛṣṇa and His worship. They also made plenty of charities there and felt themselves to have been gratified by that. Then they got back to their own homes. Bali returned to his own world underneath the surface of earth. On their part, they felt themselves to be gratified by saluting Prahlāda.

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