Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Puranas -13

1.1     The Deities Resting Days

Lord Vishnu takes rest on Sheshnaag during the whole period of Uttaraayan, which begins just after the last day of the bright lunar phase in the Hindu month of Ashaadh is over. After he goes to sleep, all the deities, Gandharva, Devamaata etc. follow suit.

Narad requested Sage Pulastya to shed light on the days when the deities take rest. Sage Pulastya replied- "A devotee should consider the eleventh day of the Hindu month of Ashaadh Shukla Paksha, when the Sun enters the zodiac of Gemini as the day when Lord Vishnu goes to rest. A devotee should make a replica of Sheshnaag and after worshipping the idol of Lord Vishnu, lay him down to rest on the twelfth day. Kamadev is said to take rest on the thirteenth day on his bed made of Kadamb flowers. The Yakshaganas take rest on the fourteenth day of the Hindu month of Ashaadh Shukla Paksha. Their beds are made of yellow lotus. Lord Shiva is believed to take rest on Purnima. His bed is made of tiger skin.

2         Markandeya Purana

This Purana consists of 16 chapters:

2.1     Introduction

Once Jaimini, a disciple of sage Vedavyasa expressed his curiosity before Markandeya- 'O Lord! In the great epic Mahabharat, which was created by Vedavyasa, description of Dharma, Arth, Kama and Moksha appears to be intertwined at times and at other times, it appears to be separate from one another. Vedavyasa had described the norms, the stages and the means to perform the duties in all the four stages. This epic contains cryptic knowledge of Vedas. Hence O great sage! I have approached you in order to grasp the full knowledge contained in Mahabharat with your help. Why did Lord take human incarnation even though He is the cause of the origin, perpetuation and destruction of the universe? How did Draupadi become the wife of five Pandavas? How did Balaram expiate for the sin of killing a Brahmin? How did Draupadi's sons give up their lives? Kindly narrate all these things in detail. '

Markandeya says- 'O Muni ! Presently I am engaged in evening worship. Hence I do not have time to narrate these things in detail. But I am telling you about the birds which will narrate you the entire content of Mahabharat. Those birds will also remove all your doubts. Sons of the great bird Drona- Pingaksha, Vibodha, Suputra, Sumuk etc. stay in the caves among the hills of Vindhyachal. They are proficient in Vedas. Go and ask them, they will remove all your doubts.'

Markandeya's words surprised Jaimini. To confirm, he asked again- 'It is surprising that the birds could narrate the content of Mahabharat just like human beings. It is even more surprising that they are proficient in Vedas knowledge, which is even rare to find among humans. Kindly tell me how did they come to acquire such profound knowledge despite having being born in the form of birds. Why do you call them as the sons of Drona?'

Markandeya says- 'Long ago, a strange event took place in Nandanvan involving Indra, Devrishi Narad and some of the elves. One day, Indra was enjoying his time in the Nandanvan forest along with his elves. At the same time Narad also arrived there. Indra welcomed and offered him a seat. The elves also greeted Narad. Indra then said- 'Munivar! Tell me what you desire now? If you desire to listen to a song, should I order the Gandharvas or if you wish to watch the dance, should I order one of my elves, Menka, Rambha, Mishrakeshi or Urvashi? Any of these four can perform a seducing dance before you.'

Narad expressed his desire to watch the dance of an elf, who was superior in beauty to the other elves. This led to a row among the elves. Each one of them was proud of her beauty and talent. Narad then advised them to test their beauty by breaking sage Durvaasa's penance who was at that time staying on a hilltop. All the elves expressed their inability to perform this task successfully. Only an elf named Vapu, driven by her haughtiness accepted to break the penance of sage Durvaasa.

Accordingly she reached the hill where Durvaasa was staying and began to sing an infatuating song in her sweet voice. Very soon, the song began to show its effect on Durvaasa. Attracted by the sweet voice, Durvaasa went in search of the origin of the voice and found Vapu singing at a distance. Durvaasa understood that the elf had come to break his penance. Angrily, he cursed the elf that she would take birth in the lineage of the birds for sixteen years, she would not bear a child and ultimately would be killed by a weapon to regain her heavenly abode. After saying this, sage Durvaasa migrated to Akashganga.

2.2     Various Creations and Famous Mythological Characters

This chapter contains 9 sections.

2.2.1   Birth of Four Birds

Markandeya says - 'In the lineage of the avian King Garud, there were two brothers- Kank and Kandhar. One day, Kank visited Kailash Parbat where a demon Vidrayudrup, who was a slave of Kuber, was enjoying privacy with his wife and drinking wine. Seeing Kank, the demon showed his displeasure at his arrival at an improper time. But Kank boldly asserted his right on the mountain as according to him, it belonged to all. The infuriated demon decapitated Kank with his sword.

Hearing the news of his brother's killing, Kandhar resolved to kill the demon. After performing the last rites of his brother, he also arrived on the mountain where the demon Vidrayudrup was still drinking wine with his wife. The demon lost his temper again. Kandhar then challenged the demon to have a fight with him. A fierce battle ensued between them. Ultimately, Kandhar killed the demon. The demon's wife- Madanika finding herself in a helpless situation accepted Kandhar as her husband. Thus, Kandhar returned to his palace with a newly found wife. Madanika was in fact the daughter of Menka, the elf and could change her guise at will. After marrying Kandhar, she took the guise of the bird. The bird Madanika was born as elf - Vapu in her next birth due to the curse of sage Durvaasa. Kandhar named her Taarkshi.

A Brahmin named Mandapal had four sons. Drona was the youngest among them and proficient in scriptures, Vedas etc. Kandhar married his daughter, Taarkshi to Drona. After their marriage, Drona and Taarkshi were spending their time happily. Taarkshi conceived during the same time when the battle of Mahabharat was going on. As destiny would have it, Taarkshi flew over the battlefield where she saw Arjuna and Bhagdatt, the king of Pragjyotishpur, fighting valiantly against each other. Accidentally an arrow aimed at Bhagdatt went in the direction of Taarkshi and struck her in the abdomen and tore it apart. As a result of this, four eggs fell on the ground. At the same time, a huge bell fell from Supratik's neck, the elephant of Bhagdatt, and covered the eggs safely.

After the battle of Mahabharat was over, a sage Shami visited the battlefield. There he happened to spot the bell and heard faint chirping coming from underneath the bell. The sage removed the bell and discovered four wingless chicks beneath it. Surprisingly he said to his disciples- 'Look! Falling of these eggs and getting safely covered by the bell simultaneously shows that these chicks are no ordinary birds.' Then he instructed his disciples to carry the eggs to the hermitage and keep it securely at a place safe from predators. The disciples did as told.

2.2.2   Birds Migrate to Vindhyachal

Sage Shami thereafter began to foster the chicks in his hermitage. With time, the chicks grew feathers and began to fly here and there. But every time the birds went out, they returned to the hermitage by evening. The birds also gained Vedic knowledge by hearing the discourses, which sage Shami used to give daily to his disciples.

 One day, when sage Shami was preaching his disciples, the birds arrived there and said- 'O great sage! You are like our father because you have protected us. You are our teacher also because we have gained knowledge from you. Now we have grown up, kindly tell us what should we do?'. The birds speaking like learned people amazed the sage as well as his disciple.

He asked the birds- 'Tell us, how did you speak so clearly and is there any curse behind your present condition?'. The birds replied- 'O sage! Long ago, there used to live a sage, Vipulasvan. He had two sons- Sukrish and Tumbaru. In our previous birth, we were the sons of Sukrish. When our father and uncle performed Yagya, we brought them all the required materials. One day, Indra arrived at our hermitage disguised as an aged bird. The aged bird was starving, hence we requested our father to provide him with some food. Upon enquiring by our father, the bird expressed his desire to eat human flesh. Our father tried to dissuade the bird but it did not give up its insistence. Then our father called us and said that he had promised the bird to feed it with human flesh. So, we were asked to donate our body in order to satisfy the bird's hunger. But being frightened, we expressed our inability to meet the demand of the starving bird. This infuriated our father for we were violating his promise that he had made to the bird. He then cursed us to take birth as birds in our next life and himself got ready to donate his body. As our father was breathing his last, Indra resumed his real self and said- 'O great sage! I took this guise only to test your character. Kindly forgive me and tell me what you desire now?' Indra blessed our father to have divine knowledge and penance free from all obstacles. Thereafter we also fell at our father's feet and begged for his pardon. We requested him to take back his words but he said that his words would not go futile. But still he blessed us to have supreme knowledge even in the form of birds.'

Concluding their talk, the birds said- 'O lord! Thus controlled by destiny, our father cursed us. After sometime, we took birth in bird form in the battlefield where you found us and fostered us in your hermitage. Now we are strong enough to fly long distances. So kindly free us from your obligation.'

Hearing the words of the birds, sage Shami said to his disciples- 'Look! I had already told you that these birds were no ordinary creatures. They even survived the battle of Mahabharat. It shows their greatness.' Then sage Shami granted them permission to migrate to the Vindhyachal. The birds decided to pass their time by studying the Vedas and doing penance as long as they stayed there.

2.2.3   Divine Plays of God

Sage Jaimini reached Vindhyachal and arrived before the birds as per Markandeya's instructions. He said- 'O birds! I am Jaimini, the disciple of Vedavyasa. I have come here with a desire to have your glimpse.' The birds welcomed him saying- 'It is our great fortune that you have arrived here. Your arrival has made us feel as if God himself has arrived.' Jaimini said- 'O learned birds! Kindly listen to the purpose of my visit. Sage Markandeya instructed me to come here and see you. You kindly answer my questions that I have in the context of Mahabharat.' The birds assured him of every possible explanation as per their knowledge. Sage Jaimini proceeded- 'Why did Lord take human incarnation even though He is the cause of the origin, perpetuation and destruction of the universe? How did Draupadi come to be the queen of five Pandavas? How did Balaram expiate for the sin of killing a Brahmin? How were Draupadi's sons attain martyrdom? Kindly narrate all these things in detail.'

The birds say- 'The omnipotent, omniscient and the omnipresent Almighty God is worshipped even by the deities. We salute that Lord Vishnu who is the originator of this universe and who pervades everywhere. We salute Brahma from whose four mouths, the Vedas appeared and sanctified all the three worlds. We bow down at the feet of Mahadev. Those sages who have metaphysical knowledge assert that Narayan exists in four forms, which are both tangible and intangible. His first form is Vasudev, appearance of who is more imaginative in nature. This form exists everywhere and in every ages.

The second form of Narayan is the one that bears the earth on his head. This form of god is known as Shesh. Being Taamasi in nature, this form has taken a serpent incarnation. The third form of God exhibits his divine power and plays. It fosters all the creatures, protects religion, and is known as Pradyumna. Yet another form of God known as Aniruddh rests on the serpent's bed in the abysmal depth of water. It carries out the task of creation.

The third form of God destroys the irreligious demons. In the past, this same form rescued the earth from the abyss in the incarnation of a boar (Varaha avatar) and killed the demon King Hiranyakashipu in the form of Narsimha (lion face with human body). This same form of God has appeared now in Lord Krishna's incarnation.

2.2.4   Draupadi’s Five Husbands

The birds say- 'Frightened by the severe penance of Trishira, Indra killed him to protect his authority and power. But the sin of killing a Brahmin took away Indra's radiance. Trishira was the son of Twashta. Twashta became furious at his son's death. He plucked one strand of hair from his hair-lock and offered it in the sacrificial fire. This resulted into the creation of a formidable and strong demon named Vritrasur. This demon was created with the objective of killing Indra.

Learning about the birth of Vritrasur, Indra sent Saptarishis as emissaries to work out a pact with the demon. The Saptarishis effected a friendship between Indra and Vritrasur. But Indra had other ideas. He took Vritrasur by surprise and killed him. This deceitful action of Indra further enraged the clans of the demons. Soon the atrocities of the demons increased to unbearable limits. Even Prithvi felt unable to bear the burden of their atrocities. She approached the deities and requested them to get her rid of the burden.

Thus, to relieve Prithvi of her burden, the deities began to take incarnation on earth. Dharma and Vayu implanted Indra's radiance in the womb of Kunti. This resulted in the birth of Yudhishthir and Bheema. Then Indra himself produced Arjuna from Kunti. Nakul and Sahadev were born because of Indra's radiance implanted by Ashwini kumars in the womb of Madri. Thus all the five Pandavas originated from the same source even though they appeared as distinct entities, whereas Draupadi was none other than Shuchi, the wife of Indra, produced from the altar in Drupad's palace. In human incarnation, Draupadi got five Pandavas as her husband.

2.2.5   Expiation of Balaram

Shri Krishna's brother Balaram had remained impartial in the battle of Mahabharat. Instead of championing the cause either for the Pandavas or for the Kauravas, he had preferred to go on a pilgrimage. His wife Revati also accompanied him on this pilgrimage. Once while travelling, Balaram drank toddy and entered a beautiful garden known as Raivat. Taking a stroll, Balaram and Revati then reached a hut.

In the hut, many Brahmins were sitting and listening to Sutaji's oration. When the Brahmins saw Balaram, they stood up and felicitated him. Only Sutaji did not stand up. Balaram felt insulted and at once killed him. When Balaram regained his composure after the intoxication receded, he felt guilty for his deed. His belief that killing of Suta would enable him to attain a place in Brahma loka proved to be based on false notion as the Brahmins had shunned him for his deed.

After Balaram realised his folly, he began to curse himself and resolved to observe a twelve-year long fast in order to expiate for his sin. Thereafter, Balaram migrated to a place of pilgrimage known as Pratiloma Saraswati to carry out his expiation.

2.2.6   Killing of Draupadi’s Sons

In Treta Yug, there was a king named Harishchandra. Once he was hunting in the Mahabaahu forest when suddenly, he heard loud cries of a woman- 'Save me! Save me!' It was followed by the cries of many women. Hearing those cries, King Harishchandra shouted loudly- 'Don't be afraid' and dashed in the direction of the cries. The cries however were an illusion created by Vighnaraj, the lord of the obstacles. At that time when King Harishchandra heard those cries, sage Vishwamitra was observing severe penance in the forest. In order to test Harishchandra's virtuosity, Vighnaraj entered his body. As soon as Vighnaraj entered Harishchandra's body, Harishchandra lost his temper and began to abuse Vishwamitra, which enraged him. His anger destroyed all the knowledge, he had acquired due to his severe penance. Seeing the angry Vishwamitra, King Harishchandra began to shiver. With folded hands, he begged Vishwamitra's pardon. He said- 'O great sage! It is my duty to protect the subjects. Kindly forgive me. Your wrath could greatly affect the performance of my duties as a king. Vishwamitra said- 'O king! If you are a true follower of religion, tell me, who should be given a donation? Who should be protected and who should be fought with?' Harishchandra answered- 'O great penancer! Donations should be made only to such a Brahmin who indulges in fast and religious actions. Protection should be extended to those who are afraid and battle should be fought with enemies.'

Vishwamitra said- 'If you are a religious king, give me Dakshina (donation) as I am a Brahmin seeking salvation.' Harishchandra said- 'Tell me your desire. I am ready to grant it. Vishwamitra said- 'O king! Just presume that I have received whatever you would donate me. Now, give me Dakshina for the Rajsuya Yagya.'

Harishchandra said- 'Ask me whatever you wish to have as the Dakshina of Rajsuya Yagya.' Vishwamitra said- 'O king! Give me all you have except your own body, your wife and child.' Feeling pleased, King Harishchandra granted what Vishwamitra desired. Vishwamitra said- 'O king! Tell me, who is the lord of your kingdom?' Harishchandra said- 'Since the moment I have presented this kingdom to you, you are its master.' Vishwamitra said- 'If I am the master of this kingdom, what are you doing here? Leave at once! But before leaving, remove all your clothes, ornaments and other royal insignia and go out wearing tree's bark only.'

Thus after losing his kingdom, King Harishchandra got ready to leave with his wife Shaivya and son Rohit. Vishwamitra then intercepted him and said- 'Where are you going without paying a Dakshina for Rajsuya Yagya. Harishchandra said- 'O lord! I have donated my whole kingdom. Now only our bodies remain with us. What can I give you now?' Vishwamitra said- 'You cannot leave without paying a Dakshina because you have promised me.' Harishchandra said- 'Don't be angry, O Brahmin! I have nothing at present in my position but I will definitely pay you your Dakshina in due time.' Vishwamitra said angrily- 'Specify the time period within which you will give me my Dakshina or else be ready to get cursed by me.' Harishchandra said- 'I will pay the Dakshina within a month.' Thereafter, Harishchandra started to live in seclusion with his wife and children. Seeing the king's pitiable condition, his entire subjects began to follow him. Seeing their condition, Harishchandra halted and took a look on his subjects. At the same time, sage Vishwamitra also arrived there and began to curse Harishchandra for having attachment towards his subjects. Hearing the harsh words of Vishwamitra, Harishchandra left the kingdom with his wife Shaivya and son Rohit. To drive the king away as soon as possible, Vishwamitra began to beat the queen's back with a stick.

Vishwamitra's abhorrent action enraged the five guardian deities of the directions and they condemned him. Enraged Vishwamitra cursed them- 'O sinners! Go and take birth as human beings.' This curse of Vishwamitra frightened the deities. They begged his pardon. Pleased by their prayers, Vishwamitra said- 'My words cannot be undone. But despite having incarnation of human beings, you will remain bachelors throughout your life. You will never feel attachment and allurement for anybody.' Thus due to Vishwamitra's curse, those five guardian deities took birth as the five sons of Draupadi. Dronacharya's son, Ashwatthama, ultimately killed them.

2.2.7   King Harishchandra

After being thrown out from his kingdom by Vishwamitra, Harishchandra reached the holy town of Varanasi, which was an abode of Lord Mahadev. There Harishchandra saw Vishwamitra standing before him. Vishwamitra said- 'A month has been completed now. Now, give me my Dakshina.' Harishchandra said- 'There is still half an hour in the completion of this month. Please wait. I will give your Dakshina.' Vishwamitra said- 'I will come after half an hour.' Saying this, Vishwamitra departed.

When Vishwamitra left, Harishchandra started to worry as to what would happen to him in his next birth if he did not keep his promise made to a Brahmin. Seeing him perplexed, queen Shaivya tried to console him. She said- 'Man requires a wife only to produce a child. Now we already have a child- Rohit. Hence I am no longer useful for you. You sell me and pay the acquired wealth as Dakshina to the Brahmin.' Harishchandra fainted after hearing his wife's words. The queen began to wail at her husband's condition. Thus wailing, the queen also fell unconscious. The little Rohit also felt perplexed by his parent's condition. He began to cry- 'O father! O mother! I am hungry. Give me food.' At the same time, Vishwamitra arrived there in the guise of Kaal. After sprinkling water on Harishchandra's face, he made him conscious and said- 'O king! Get up and pay my Dakshina. Your sorrows will increase if you do not fulfil your promise.'

Harishchandra was regaining his consciousness slowly but seeing Vishwamitra he fainted once again. This further enraged Vishwamitra. He said- 'O king! If you have even slightest of respect for Dharma, give my Dakshina at once. I will wait till evening and curse you if you fail to pay my Dakshina.' Saying this Vishwamitra departed. The fear of the curse began to terrorise Harishchandra. Meanwhile the queen also regained consciousness. She once again insisted to sell her in order to pay the Dakshina. This time, Harishchandra accepted her proposal and took the queen to the township. There addressing the crowd, he said- 'O dear citizens, kindly listen to me. I am selling my wife who is dearer to me than my own life. Anybody interested in buying her, please do so before evening.' An old Brahmin stepped forward from the crowd and said- 'I will buy her.' Hearing his words, Harishchandra became extremely sad that he could not even utter a word. The Brahmin then stuffed the money in the bark clothes of Harishchandra and began to drag the queen by her hair. The boy Rohit began to cry holding the hem of her mother. Seeing the condition of her son, the queen requested the Brahmin- 'O Arya! Kindly let me see the face of my child for once.' Then the queen turned towards Rohit and said- 'O son! Your mother is no longer free now. She has become a slave. Do not touch me because I have become an untouchable.'

Then the old Brahmin began to forcibly drag the queen with him. Rohit also followed them crying loudly for his mother. The old Brahmin angrily kicked him. But still the boy did not give up following them. At last, the queen requested the Brahmin- 'O lord! I will not be able to serve you without my son. So kindly buy him also.' Hearing the words of the queen, the Brahmin once again stuffed some more money in the clothes of Harishchandra and tied the boy with the queen and began to drag both of them. Meanwhile Vishwamitra also appeared there and demanded the Dakshina. Harishchandra gave him all the money he had got from selling his wife and son. Seeing that amount of money, Vishwamitra boiled with anger and said- 'O wretched among the Kshatriyas! You call this small amount of money as Dakshina! Now look at the powers of my penance.' Harishchandra trembled with fear and said- 'O lord! Please wait a little more.' Vishwamitra said- 'Now only, a quarter of the day remains. I will wait only for this period and not more.' Saying this, Vishwamitra went away. With stooped face, Harishchandra once again said addressing the crowd- 'Now I am available for sale. Whoever wishes to buy me, please come forward before sunset.' Dharma in the guise of a Chandaal stepped forward from the crowd. He had a huge stinking body. He said- 'I will buy you.' Harishchandra asked- 'Who are you?' The Chandaal said- 'I am a Chandaal. My name is Praveer and I am the resident of this very town.' Harishchandra thought- 'It is better to accept the curse than accepting the slavery of a Chandaal.' At the same time, Vishwamitra also arrived there and said angrily- 'This Chandaal is ready to pay you a lot of money. Why don't you then pay my Dakshina?' Harishchandra said- 'O lord! I am born in Suryavansh. Accepting the slavery of a Chandaal causes great pain for me. I have no money now. Since now onwards, I will be your slave and do whatever you will ask me to do.' Vishwamitra said- 'If you are my slave and ready to obey me, then I sell you to this Chandaal for 1000 gold coins. Go and become his slave.' The Chandaal then presented many villages that were spread over an area of 100 Yojans to Vishwamitra and tying Harishchandra with a rope dragged him to his town.

In the Chandaal's house, Harishchandra contemplated- 'The queen must be thinking that I would soon get her freed from the slavery of the old Brahmin after paying his dues. But she does not know that I myself have become the slave of a Chandaal.' After a few days, the Chandaal appointed Harishchandra as the supervisor of the cremation place and instructed him to be there present all the time and to cremate each dead body only after thorough investigation. He also instructed him to collect the toll for cremating every dead body and divide it in such a way that one sixth part of the toll goes to the king and from the remaining five parts, three parts should be reserved for him he should take only the remaining two parts as his remuneration. Since that day, Harishchandra began to live in the cremation ground. He always remembered the glorious days of his kingdom, his queen and his son. He had great regret that just because of the anger of Vishwamitra, he lost everything. Very soon, his new found occupation began to show on his appearance. His hair grew long and was unkempt, his body dry and stinking. In this guise, he began to roam in the cremation ground always carrying a stick in his hand. His whole day passed in the assessment of the cremation toll and its division among the various claimants. He had lost his mental stature as he even forgot the count of the days and could not distinguish between the day and night.

One day, a snake bit Rohit as a result of which, he died. Shaivya brought Rohit, crying and wailing to the cremation ground. Even in the unkempt guise, she recognised Harishchandra. Hearing her wailing, Harishchandra went near her expecting to get the clothes of the deceased. There he saw a woman carrying a dead boy wrapped in a black cloth. He could not recognise queen Shaivya but the royal appearance of the boy forced him to think- 'To which royal family did this unfortunate boy belong to? How pitiable, the cruel Kaal did not even spare this boy. My son Rohit would have attained the same age by now.' His silence further hurt the queen who said- 'O lord! O king! How come, you have been living here without caring for your wife and son? We have already lost our kingdom. Now, we have lost our son also. O destiny! Did you not destroy everything of Harishchandra?' Harishchandra began to think who that woman could be and who that dead boy was? 'Isn't she my wife?' Thus recognising his wife and dead son, Harishchandra began to cry loudly and fainted. The queen after seeing her husband's condition fainted too. After sometime both of them regained their consciousness. Then the king took the dead boy in his lap and once again fainted. Queen Shaivya began to wonder why Harishchandra was staying in the cremation ground. For a moment, she forgot her sorrow and began to look at her fainted husband. Then she noticed the stick in Harishchandra's hand. Usually Chandaals used to carry that kind of stick. She became dejected with the thought that she had become the wife of a Chandaal. She then began to curse the destiny and began to wail embracing King Harishchandra and said- 'O king! I don't know whether I am dreaming or it is a reality. I have lost the power of thinking.'

Hearing the words of the queen, the king opened his eyes and narrated the whole events that led to his becoming a Chandaal. Then the queen narrated her experiences and how their son Rohit died because of snakebite. Harishchandra fell on the ground and began to hug his dead son. He was wailing- 'How unfortunate I am that even my wishes are not under my control. Without the permission of the Chandaal, I cannot even commit self-immolation. But now, I will not differentiate between the sin and virtuosity. I will destroy my body in the pyre of my son.' The queen said- 'O king! I am also unable to bear the burden of sorrows. I will also commit immolation with you. Then all three of us will stay unitedly in the heaven. It won't matter to us even if we suffer the tortures of hell.' Then the king arranged a huge pyre and put his dead son on it. With the queen, he began to pray to God. Just then all the deities arrived there led by Dharma. Sage Vishwamitra also accompanied them. They praised Harishchandra. Then Dharma, Indra and Vishwamitra came closer to the king.

Dharma said- 'O king! You have satisfied me with your merits like patience, endurance, truthfulness etc.' Indra said- 'Harishchandra, you are very fortunate. You have won our hearts along with your wife and son. You have even won the heaven with your action. I invite you to stay in heaven along with your wife and son.' Then Indra sprinkled ambrosia on the dead Rohit. Rohit got up and sat up in no time. Harishchandra, his wife and son Rohit were clad in divine clothes and garlands. Indra invited them to stay in the heaven forever but Harishchandra said- 'O king of the deities! Without the permission of this Chandaal, I cannot go anywhere.

' Dharma said- 'O king! I had learnt in advance about the miseries you would suffer in future. That's why I took the guise of a Chandaal and showed you all the grotesque action.' Indra once again invited them to heaven but once again, Harishchandra refused saying that in Koshal, people must have been living mournfully in his absence. 'I cannot leave them in that pitiable condition to enjoy the comforts of the heaven', said Harishchandra. Then, Indra, Dharma and Vishwamitra led Harishchandra to Ayodhya, the capital of Koshal. There they carried out the coronation of Rohit. Thereafter, they took Harishchandra and his queen Shaivya to the heaven.

2.2.8   The Stork and the Partridge

The birds say- O great sage Jaimini! When, King Harishchandra attained his heavenly abode, their family priest, sage Vashishta re-emerged from water. He came to know about the entire development. He was angry at Vishwamitra's stubbornness. He at once cursed Vishwamitra to become a stork.

On the other hand Vishwamitra cursed Vashishta to become a partridge. Thus both of them turned into birds and began to fight. Their fight caused great panic all around. At last accompanied by the deities, Brahma himself arrived at the scene and dissuaded the birds from fighting. But Brahma could not convince them and they continued to fight.

Brahma then destroyed their avian appearances and both the sages regained their original form. Their enemity too ended at the same time. Brahma explained to them that Vishwamitra had not done any harm to Harishchandra. In fact he had felicitated Harishchandra's ascend to the heaven. Both the sages felt ashamed and they embraced each other before leaving for their respective hermitages.

2.2.9   Birth of Living Creatures

Jaimini says- O great birds, how does a living being take birth? How does it grow in the womb bearing all the pain? How does it grow after taking birth? What happens to the soul after death? How does it experience the fruits of his Karmas? The greatest surprise is how does a little foetus survive in the womb. Kindly clear all these doubts.

Birds say- Once upon a time, a Brahmin lived along with his son- Sumati. One day, the Brahmin instructed Sumati to study Vedas under the tutelage of a teacher and himself went to the forest to attain Brahmagyan- the knowledge which frees the soul from transmigration. But due to his laziness, Sumati did not pay heed to his father. When his father repeated his instruction, he simply laughed and said- 'O father! I know everything. I have studied all the Vedas in my various births. I have experienced the darkness of mother's belly for many times. I have suffered thousand kinds of diseases in my previous lives. I have experienced the authority as well as slavery in my previous births. I had killed as well as got killed by others. Hence, I feel, I have all the knowledge and I am sure that I will definitely attain Brahmapad.' Sumati's father was pleased at his son's claims and asked him how he attained such virtuosity.

Sumati said- 'O father! I was a Brahmin in my previous birth. I had attained the designation of Acharya. After sometime, I became a recluse. I was blessed with an extraordinary memory, which I retained even after my death. This is the reason why I remember the self knowledge attained in my previous birth. With the support of this knowledge and religious virtues, I will attempt to attain salvation. Tell me what you expect from me. I will try to fulfil your expectations.' The Brahmin then asked many questions related to life and death. Sumati explained those queries thus:

Those who never tell a lie, who have faith and devotion, only such people die peacefully. Whoever's mind is free from the evils like Kama, Krodh, Moha, Dwesh etc. (lust, anger, affection, jealousy etc.) and who are altruistic in nature and make donations liberally die in peace. Those who lack these virtues suffer great pain at the time of death. As soon as such people sight Yamadoot they begin to cry and call their relatives. But their relatives do not understand their calls. Then the dying person turns away his eyes and grasps for breath. He feels great pain when his soul leaves his body. Even after death, sufferings of such people do not end. They have to undergo scores of tortures in hell. Those who donate umbrella, shoes, clothes and cereals attain heaven. The sinners on the other hand pass through different hells and take birth as inferior creature in their next lives. After continuous transmigration through lower life forms, these sinners once again take birth as human beings but are imperfect. They remain dwarf, hunched or have any other deformity. Then they pass through all the four castes- Shudra, Vaishya, Kshatriya and Brahmin classes. As their action improves, they might even attain the position of Indra.'

2.3     Description of Different Hells

This chapter contains 4 sections.

2.3.1   Introduction

The Brahmin says- O son! Describe in detail about hell.

Sumati says- O father! Yamadoots carry and lynch those people who eat inedible things, who deceive and dishonour their friends, who indulge in illicit relationships, who desert their wife, and who destroy public properties like garden, water sources etc. Yamadoots tie hands and legs of such people and throw them into the fire. On their way to hell, such people are bitten by crows, storks, wolves, vultures etc. They stay in the inferno for thousand years.

Then they are shifted to another hell named Tama, which is always shrouded in darkness. Sinners who kill the cows and their brothers are thrown into this hell. They panic due to darkness and extreme cold. They get nothing to eat and drink. Moreover, chilling winds aggravates their miseries by making their bones stiff. These sinners then drink their own blood and eat their own flesh. They stay there until all their sins have been attenuated completely.

Then they are thrown into yet another hell named Nikrintan, which revolves like the wheel of a potter. Hoisting the sinners on the wheel, Yamadoots cut their organs but still their sufferings do not end because the cut organs rejoin and get cut repeatedly. This continues for thousand of years. Then the sinners are put in Aprathisth hell where they experience unbearable sorrow and miseries. The sinners are then put in Chakrasankar hell where they are tormented with wheels and huge bells. They are disembowelled and their eyes are also pricked. The sinners have to pass through different hells namely Asipatra, Taptakumbha and Lohakumbha.

2.3.2   Yamadoot and the King of Videha

Sumati says- I was born in a Vaishya family, seven births before this present one. In that birth, I once prevented cows from drinking water. As a result of this sin, I was thrown in the hell named Daarun where I spent one hundred years without a drop of water.

Suddenly one day, cool pleasant wind began to blow, its cool touch gave some relief to me. I saw that a Yamadoot was guiding a gentle looking man. Besides me, all the inmates of the hell felt extreme joy by the sight of that gentleman. The gentleman was asking that Yamadoot as to why he was being taken to the hell. From the words of that gentleman, it appeared that he was a renowned scholar. That man was in fact the ruler of a kingdom named Videha and was popular as the fosterer of his subjects.

2.3.3   Description of Tortures in Hell

Thus asked by the gentleman, Yamadoots replied politely- 'O king! You once deliberately prevented your wife Pivari from conceiving because you were more attracted to your second wife- Sushobhana. It is because of that action that you have been brought here to undergo severe torture.' The religious minded king said- ' I am willing to go where ever you want to take me, but before doing that I would like to have answers to my questions. I see many people undergoing severe tortures in this hell. Big and frightening crows prick their eyes. Tell me, for what sin they are facing such tortures.'

Yamadoot said- 'O king! Humans suffer or enjoy according to their Karmas. The effect of their Karmas diminishes in proportion to their sufferings. These crows are pricking the eyes of such people who had seduced other women and deceitfully acquired others' wealth. These people will suffer for the same number of years as their eyes blinked during the leering. These crows prick the tongues of those people who had criticised Vedas, deities, Brahmins and teachers. Those who caused differences between friends, husband-wives, father and sons and relatives, or killed the performer of the Yagyas are suffering under the saw. Those who insulted their parents and teachers have been thrown in the pit of pus, faeces and other excretions with their head down. Those who had food before offering it to the deities, guests, servants, father and elders, fire and birds, stay in a pit of pus.

Iron nails are hammered into the ears of those people who gleefully heard the criticism of creatures, deities, Brahmins and Vedas. Those who remarried their daughters to another person despite her former husband being alive are cut into pieces and thrown into saline river. Those who betrayed their friends are tied tightly with a rope. Worms, scorpion, crows and owls then bite their bodies. Those who enjoyed carnal intimacy during daytime or had illicit relations with women are hammered with nails to a prickly Bombax tree. Those who insulted Vedas and fire are thrown from the lofty peaks of mountain. O king! Those who steal gold, those who kill Brahmin, those who drink wine and those who rape the wife of their teacher are burnt in fire.'

2.3.4   Attenuation of Sins

Yamadoot says- As a result of accepting money from a degraded person, a Brahmin takes birth as an ass. A Brahmin who carries out Yagya for a degraded person takes birth as worm after undergoing severe sufferings in different types of hell. A person takes birth as an ass or an inferior bird as a result of abusing his parents. A person who does not worship his tutelary god before eating takes birth as a monkey. Traitors take birth as fish. Those who steal cereals take birth as mice.

A Shudra, who manages to establish intimacy with a Brahmin woman, takes birth as a worm. Similarly, killers of woman and children also take birth as worms. Ungrateful people take birth as worm, insects, grasshoppers, scorpion, crows etc. Encroacher of land takes birth as grass shrubs, creepers and inferior trees. Butchers who kill bulls take birth as eunuchs. Thus a person has to face the result of his Karma according to the gravity of his sins.

Sumati says- As Yamadoot began to push the king ahead, all the creatures in hell gave a loud cry- 'O king! Please stay here for few more moments. The wind that blows towards us after touching your body gives us immense joy. This wind has ended our sufferings and pains. Have pity on us.' The king asked the Yamadoot- 'Why are these people so joyous by my presence? Yamadoot said- 'O king! Initially, you used to sustain your body by the leftovers of the deities, ancestors, guests and ascetics. This is the reason why the wind that blows touching your body causing such pleasure to these people.

' The king said- 'If I can eliminate the sufferings of these sinners merely by standing here, I will definitely stay here.' Yamadoot said- 'No, you cannot stay here. It is a place for the sinners only. Come with us. You will have to enjoy the pleasure of your pious action.' The king said- 'No, I will not go anywhere leaving these poor people in this pitiable condition.' Yamadoot said- 'O king! Look, Dharma and Indra have themselves arrived to escort you to the heaven.

' Dharma said- 'O king! You have worshipped me. Hence follow me to the heaven.' The king replied- 'No, I will not go anywhere leaving these thousands of people in the hell.' Indra said- 'Everyone has to taste the fruits of his Karmas. You cannot help them.' The king said- 'O Indra! Tell me, how virtuous was I in my previous life?' Dharma said- ' Though your pious actions are fathomless, be sure that their significance are not much than drops of water in an ocean, the stars in the sky. The kindness you have shown towards these sinners has further enhanced your virtuosity.' The king said- 'If it is so, may all these people be released from their sufferings by the virtue of my good Karmas.' Indra said- 'O king! By your words, your pious action has increased like the height of the mountain and these sinners have also been released from their sufferings.'

2.4     Famous Mythological Characters

This chapter contains 9 sections.

2.4.1   Greatness of Being Chaste (and birth of Durvasa, Dattatreya, Chandrama)

Brahmin says- O son! Tell me, what should I do now?

Sumati says- Now, you should become a Vanprasthi and lead a life of a Bhikshu by having control over your senses. You will attain that rare Yoga, which helps a man to unite with the almighty after freeing him from the cycles of birth, death and re-birth.

Brahmin says- O son! Now explain to me about this Yoga, which bestows liberation to a man.

Sumati says- I am now describing to you, the same text related with Yoga that was once narrated by Dattatreya to Alark.

The Brahmin asked Sumati- Who was Dattatreya's father? How did he acquire the knowledge of Yoga? Who was Alark?

Sumati says- In ancient Pratisthanpur (modern Paithan) there lived a Brahmin. He was inflicted by leprosy because of the sins he had committed in his previous birth. The Brahmin was very short-tempered and used to scoff at his wife frequently. But his wife was very chaste in character and worshipped him like a deity. One day, the Brahmin ordered his wife to carry him to the prostitute's house, as he had become too weak and feeble. Being chaste, the wife collected some money and began to carry the Brahmin on her shoulders to the home of the prostitute. On their way, they reached a place where sage Maandavya was hanged but still was alive. In the darkness, the woman could not see the things clearly and the Brahmin who was riding her shoulders happened to touch the sage. The sage cursed angrily that whoever had touched him would die before sunrise. Hearing the words of the sage, the Brahmin's wife thundered that there would be no sunrise tomorrow.

Words of the woman came to be true as next morning, the Sun did not rise. Thus the whole world was shrouded in darkness as a result of which, the deities became worried. The deities apprehended that without the occurrence of sunrise, the whole universe might be destroyed. They were also worried that without the differentiation of day and night, how could the months be calculated and the seasons known. Even the calculation of year would be impossible. The chastity of Brahmins wife had forced even the mighty sun to eschew its daily routine. As a result of this, religious activities like Havan, Yagya etc. also came to a halt. Seeing them perplexed, Brahma advised the deities to eulogise Ansuya, the wife of sage Atri. All the deities then pleased Ansuya who assured them to convince the wife of the Brahmin to retract her words. After that, Ansuya reached the Brahmin's hut and said to his wife- 'O fortunate one! May you always serve your husband with full dedication. A chaste woman enjoys half the virtues of her husband, which he earns by his religious activities.'

Brahmini said- 'I am blessed today that the deities have at last glanced at me. Now, tell me, what should I do?' Ansuya said- 'O Saadhvi! In the absence of the day, all the religious activities have ceased to exist. The world is on the verge of extinction. Only your wish can protect the world from imminent calamity. Hence, be pleased now and allow the Sun to rise as usual.' Brahmini said- 'O fortunate one! Sage Maandavya had cursed that my husband would die with sunrise. I cannot afford to lose my husband.' Ansuya said- 'Don't worry, O chaste woman! I will resurrect your husband. So, kindly allow the Sun to rise now.'

Then, Ansuya invoked the Sun by offering water as an oblation. However, the leper-inflicted Brahmin died as soon as the Sun rose. Then by the powers of her penance, Ansuya resurrected the Brahmin and transformed him into a disease-free handsome young man. She also blessed the couple to live for hundred years. The deities were pleased with Ansuya and asked her to seek a boon. Ansuya expressed her desire to give birth to the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh as her sons. The trinity blessed her with this boon. In due course of time, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh took birth as Chandrama, Dattatreya and Durvaasa from Ansuya.

2.4.2   Dattatreya Preaches Kartaveerya Arjuna

Sumati says- O father! After the demise of Kaartaveerya, his ministers and priests decided to crown his son Arjun as their new king. But Arjun refused saying that he would not become the king unless and until he had attained the status of a Yogi. Sage Garg then advised Arjun to worship Dattatreya who had helped the deities to reunite after the defeat of the demons.

Afterwards, Arjun migrated to Dattatreya's hermitage and began to worship and serve him. Pleased by his penance and service, Dattatreya asked Arjun to seek a boon. Arjun said- 'O lord! Kindly bless me with such a power, which enables me to perform my duties as a king in a just manner. May nobody match me in war and may I have one thousand arms. I wish to get killed only by such a person who is more virtuous than me and may I guide the people towards the right path. May nobody in my kingdom remain poor and may my devotion for your lotus feet be eternal.' Dattatreya said- 'O son! All of your wishes shall come true. With my blessings, you shall rule over all the four directions.' Then, Dattatreya crowned Arjun as the king. Large number of people witnessed his crowning ceremony. Soon after becoming the king, Kaar taveerya Arjun ordered that nobody in his kingdom should wield a weapon except him.

2.4.3   Kuvalayashva and the Horse Kuvalaya

Sumati says- O father! Now listen to the tale of a Brahmin named Alark. Long ago, there lived a king named Shatrujit who had a meritorious son, Ritudhwaj. Prince Ritudhwaj had many friends with whom he used to play with. In course of time, two sons of Ashwatar, the king of Nagas became his friends in the guise of Brahmin boys. Both of them were young and good-looking. Both of them used to pass the entire day in the company of Ritudhwaj. They would return to their abode in Paatal loka only at night. On being enquired by their father, they revealed the reason about their late arrival at home. They said- 'O father! Up there on the land, there is a prince named Ritudhwaj. He is the son of King Shatrujit. He is very handsome, gentle, brave, truthful, knowledgeous and meritorious. We enjoy his company.' Ashwatar said- 'Prince Ritudhwaj is really blessed for even the meritorious people like you praise him. But have you done anything to make him happy?' His sons asked- 'What can we do for his pleasure? We find ourselves incapable of pleasing such a person whose riches are even rare for Paatal loka.' Ashwatar said- 'Even then, I wish to hear about the characteristics of your new friend.'

The sons said- O father! Once the prince narrated us a tale, we are going to relate it now. A Brahmin named Gaalav lived in King Shatrujit's kingdom. One day, he arrived in the court of the king riding on a horse and said- 'O king! For the past many months, a wretched demon has been tormenting me and causing severe disturbances in my daily rituals. He is capable of taking any guise at will. Disguising as an elephant, lion, tiger, wolf and many other wild animals, he terrorises me. It has become very difficult for me to do my meditation. One day in my frustration, I let out a deep sigh. As soon as I did so, this divine horse descended from the sky. I heard a heavenly voice, which said- 'O Brahmin! This horse is capable of circumambulating the entire earth without getting tired. It can climb lofty mountains effortlessly and can also run in all the three worlds with the same speed. Hence, this horse shall be renowned as Kuvalaya. Riding it, the son of King Shatrujit will kill the demon that torments you day and night. 'O king! That is the reason that I have arrived in your court with this horse. Kindly accept it and instruct your son to ride it and kill the demon.' King Shatrujit saw his son Ritudhwaj off with the Brahmin riding that divine horse.

2.4.4   Kuvalaya goes to Patal Loka, Killing of Demon Patal Ketu and Marriage with Madalasa

Prince Ritudhwaj stayed in the hermitage of sage Gaalav and helped him to perform his Yagyas without any problem by clearing all the minor obstacles. The demons were not aware of his arrival in the hermitage. One day, a demon arrived in the hermitage disguised as a wild boar and began to rub his bushy head against the body of sage Gaalav. Seeing this, his disciples began to scream. Prince Ritudhwaj at once rode the horse and wielding a weapon dashed after the boar. The prince injured the boar with an arrow, which was sickle-shaped. The demons fled from the scene. Prince Ritudhwaj followed the boar everywhere it went on the mountains, in the forests and on the riverbank. He was determined to slay the demon that had been disturbing the sage for long. Ultimately, the boar jumped into a pit. Ritudhwaj also followed it but could not see the boar anywhere in the pit. Instead he saw a beautiful town which could have matched even the abode of Indra. He entered the town where he saw an extremely pretty girl who was walking briskly. Ritudhwaj tried to know about her destination but she ignored him and climbed the stairs of a palace. Ritudhwaj also followed her and in the palace, he saw a beautiful girl sitting on a bedstead. As soon as the girl saw him, she fainted. Her beauty attracted even Ritudhwaj. He assured her that there was nothing to be afraid about. Then the same girl whom Ritudhwaj had sighted earlier came there and began to fan the fainted lady. The prince enquired about the reason of her unconsciousness. But the girl did not say anything. Instead she whispered something in the ears of her friend who then said- 'O stranger! This is the daughter of Vishwavasu, the king of Gandharvas. Her name is Madalasa. One day, while she was playing in her garden, a demon Paatalketu abducted her. Since then she stays here in his captivity. On the coming thirteenth day of this month that demon will marry her. But he doesn't deserve to be her husband. Yesterday, she was ready to commit suicide but the cow Surabhi, assured her that a man from the earth would come and kill the demon. Only he would be suitable for my friend. I am her friend. My name is Kundala. I am the daughter of Vindhyavan and wife of Pushkarmali. My husband had been killed by the demon Shumbh. Since then I have been touring various places of pilgrimage in order to receive salvation. That wretched Paatalketu had taken the guise of a boar but a brave man has injured him with his arrow. I have arrived here only to investigate who is that man. Do not worry about my friend's unconsciousness. She has fainted because of your infatuating handsomeness. She has begun to love you but her problem is that only that man can marry her who has injured the boar. This thought has caused her to lose her consciousness. Now reveal your identity.'

Ritudhwaj said- 'I am the son of King Shatrujit. I have been staying in the hermitage of sage Gaalav to protect the sages. Just a few days back, a boar arrived in the hermitage and began to torment the sages. I have injured that boar with my arrow. Now I have arrived here following that boar and happened to see you.'

Hearing the words of Ritudhwaj, Madalasa felt shy as well as extreme joy. Kundala then said to her friend- 'The prince speaks the truth. Words of Surabhi cannot go wrong.' She then said to Ritudhwaj- 'O brave man! Doubtlessly you have killed the demon, Paatalketu. My friend Madalasa is blessed now. Now its your duty to marry my friend and take her home as your bride.' Ritudhwaj said- 'How can I marry your friend without the permission of my father. I am still not fully independent.' Kundala said- 'Please do not say this. My friend is a divine beauty. Marry her right now.' Prince Ritudhwaj then agreed to marry Madalasa then and there. Madalasa happily remembered their family priest Tumbaru who arrived there instantaneously. In the presence of sacred fire, Tumbaru carried out the rituals of marriage and tied them in nuptial knot. Thereafter blessing the newly wed couple, Tumbaru and Kundala took to their respective paths.

On the other hand, when Ritudhwaj and Madalasa started off riding the horse, Kuvalaya, demons' army surrounded them. A fierce battle followed. In no time, prince Ritudhwaj slayed the entire army and reached his kingdom. There he narrated the whole incident to his father Shatrujit. King Shatrujit felt very much pleased by the prowess of his son and blessed them heartily. Thereafter, Ritudhwaj came to his palace with his wife Madalasa. They then began to live happily.

2.4.5   Separation of Madalasa

The newly-wed couple had hardly spent few months together when King Shatrujit once again instructed Ritudhwaj to travel across the entire earth and see whether the Brahmins were performing their religious duties without any obstacles. Ritudhwaj obeyed the dictates of his father. He used to scale vast distances for the whole day and returned to his wife only at night. One day he noticed that a sage was staying at the bank of river Yamuna. He was in fact Taalketu, the younger brother of Paatalketu. But the prince could not recognise him. That sage approached Ritudhwaj and requested him to extend his protection over his hermitage, as he was about to start Yagyas. He also begged for the precious necklace of the prince on the pretext that he had nothing to pay as Dakshina. The gullible prince gave his necklace to the sage. Then instructing the prince to guard the hermitage and promising to return soon, the sage left.

In fact, the sage who was actually a demon arrived in the court of King Shatrujit. Madalasa was also present in the court. He said- 'Prince Ritudhwaj sacrificed his life fighting with the demon while protecting my hermitage. Before his death, he gave me his necklace. His horse has been captured by the demon. I have brought this necklace to you to inform you about that sad incident.' After giving the necklace to Madalasa, the demon returned to the hermitage.

Hearing the news of her husband's death, Madalasa also gave up her life. Mourning soon enveloped the entire palace. Seeing the death of his daughter-in-law, Madalasa, King Shatrujit was in a dilemma as for whose death should he mourn. A little contemplation led him to the conclusion that it would be futile to mourn his son- Ritudhwaj's death because he had died for a noble cause. But his daughter-in-law had followed the steps of her husband, so her death should be mourned for. The queen also supported the king. Thereafter the king performed the last rites of both of them.

When Taalketu returned to his hermitage, he found Ritudhwaj still standing alert. In a sweet tone, Taalketu said- 'I am obliged by you, O prince! Staying here with unwavering mind, you have executed my desired task. I have met my objective, so you may go now.' Prince Ritudhwaj then returned to his palace riding his horse.

2.4.6   Madalasa is Reborn

When prince Ritudhwaj reached the capital, everyone expressed his pleasure with surprise. Ritudhwaj met everyone happily and went to the palace of his parents. Though the king and the queen blessed him but sad expression on their face surprised the prince. Upon enquiry, the king related the entire incident and also how his wife Madalasa had died. The news of Madalsa's death shocked Ritudhwaj. Then consoled by his parents and friends, prince Ritudhwaj carried out the necessary consecrations to pacify the soul of his dead wife. He had decided never to marry again.

The sons of the Naag said- 'O father! Now prince Ritudhwaj lives like an ascetic. He never casts his eyes on women and only indulges in playing with people of his age. Hence all we can do for him is to keep him happy.'

Hearing the entire tale, Naagraj fell in deep thought. After sometime he said to his sons with a laughter- 'O sons! Now I will do such a thing that will bring back the smile of Ritudhwaj.' Saying this, Naagraj Ashwatar reached Plakshaavataran, a place of pilgrimage at the foothills of Himalayas along with his brother Kambal. There they began to do severe penance to please Goddess Saraswati. At last, Saraswati appeared before them and asked them to seek a boon. Ashwatar requested her to bless both of them with a sweet and melodious voice. After granting them this boon, Goddess Saraswati disappeared. By her blessings, Ashwatar and his brother, Kambal became famous singers. Then they began worshipping Lord Shiva singing sweet and melodious hymns. Pleased by their prayers, Lord Shankar also asked them to seek a boon. At that Ashwatar said- 'O lord! I wish that Ritudhwaj's wife Madalasa takes birth as my daughter.' Lord Shankar said- 'With my blessings, your wish shall come true. During the Shraadh period, you yourself take the middle portion of the Pind (food offered to dead ancestors) and contemplating on me, offer oblations to your ancestors. Madalasa will emerge from your 'middle-hood'.

Bowing before Lord Shiva thereafter, both the brothers returned to their kingdom in Paatal loka. Ashwatar organised a Shraadh in the same way as told by the Lord and consumed the middle portion of the food offered to the ancestors. Then contemplating on the desired object, he let out a deep sigh. Instantaneously, Madalasa emerged from his 'middle-hood'. Ashwatar did not reveal this fact to anybody and made adequate arrangements so that she could live in secrecy.

Thereafter one day, he instructed his sons to bring their friend Ritudhwaj to the palace. Both the sons once again joined the company of Ritudhwaj. One day while playing, they insisted him to visit their palace. The prince gladly accompanied them. In Paatal loka, he was amazed to see his Brahmin friends getting transformed into serpents. They took Ritudhwaj through the streets and lanes of their kingdom. Ultimately they reached the palace of Ashwatar. Introducing Ritudhwaj, the serpent princes said- 'O father! This is our brave friend, Ritudhwaj.' Ritudhwaj greeted Ashwatar respectfully and received his blessings. Ashwatar said to him- 'Long live O prince! My sons always sing praise of your divine virtues. I request you to stay with us for a few months and enjoy the pleasures of Paatal loka.'

2.4.7   Ritudhwaj Reunites with Madalasa

Ritudhwaj stayed in the palace of Ashwatar. Naagraj did his best to keep Ritudhwaj happy and forget the sorrow of his wife's separation. During his stay, Ashwatar tried many times to coax Ritudhwaj into revealing his heartiest desire. But every time Ritudhwaj intelligently avoided the topic. Once, King Ashwatar, in Ritudhwaj's presence, asked his sons what should be done to please him. They informed the king that nothing less than Madalasa would please the prince most and that the prince was eager to see his deceased wife once more.

Prince Ritudhwaj also said shyly that he would be greatly obliged if Naagraj could help him to have a sight of his deceased wife. Ashwatar said- 'O son! If you wish to see the illusion, come on, have a sight of your deceased wife.' Saying this, Naagraj called Madalasa who was staying secretly in his palace and asked Ritudhwaj- 'Take a good look, O son, if she is your wife.' Seeing his wife before him, the prince fainted. When he regained his consciousness, he stepped forward to touch her but Ashwatar stopped him cautioning that she was not real but illusionary and would vanish as soon as he touched her.

Hearing this, Ritudhwaj once again lost his consciousness. When he regained his consciousness, he uttered nothing but 'She's mine! She's mine!' Seeing the pitiable condition of the prince, Naagraj revealed the whole story of Madalsa's resurrection. Ritudhwaj became extremely joyous after re-uniting with his wife. Then he contemplated on his divine horse as a result of which, it appeared within a moment. Riding the horse, prince Ritudhwaj returned to his kingdom with his wife Madalasa.

2.4.8   Birth of Madalasa’s Sons

After returning to his father's kingdom, Ritudhwaj narrated the whole incident to his parents of how he regained Madalasa. Then they began to live happily. After many years, King Shatrujit crowned Ritudhwaj as the king. After King Ritudhwaj's accession to the throne, Madalasa gave birth to her first son. Ritudhwaj named the child as Vikrant. After sometime, Madalasa gave birth to her second son whom Ritudhwaj named as Subahu. Subsequently, their third son was born and named Shatrumardan. After the naming ceremony of the third son, Madalasa could not help laughing, as she was very amused by such a name given to her son. The metaphysical knowledge, which Madalasa gave to her three sons, had helped them to become ascetics. When their fourth son was born, the king sought her approval on the name being given to him. This made the queen laugh. The king asked her to name the child. Madalasa named this child as Alark.

Hearing the name, the king ridiculed its relevance. Madalasa said that the names have significance only for worldly matters. She also reminded the king about the futility of the names given to their previous children. As Madalasa began to preach her fourth son about the metaphysics, the king stopped her by saying that she had already preached all the three sons on the path of renunciation. He requested her to spare the fourth child so that he could grow up and become the king one-day. Madalasa then blessed her son- 'You are blessed my son because you will rule the earth without obstacles. Now cultivate in your heart the desire to do well to others. Never caste your eyes on women other than your wife. Always contemplate on Murari to destroy the evil thoughts in your heart.'

2.4.9   Preachings of Madalasa

Madalasa used to preach the little prince while played. When Alark attained boyhood, he asked- 'O mother! What should I do in order to mastery over physical and metaphysical matters? How can I serve my subjects in the best possible way?'

Madalasa said- 'Looking after the welfare of the subjects religiously is the supreme duty of a king. He should always be alert against the activities of his enemies. With the help of spies, the king should keep a watch on the activities of his minister so that he could not make friends with the enemies. It is unwise for the king to trust everybody but under certain circumstances, he may trust even his enemies. A king must control his lust but at the same time, he should make efforts to increase the boundaries of his kingdom. Surrendering to sensual comfort is like death for a king. A king should appear as all pervasive and omnipresent. Fostering the subjects with total righteousness enhances the wisdom of the king.'

2.5     Duties of People Belonging to Various Ashrams

This chapter contains 2 sections.

2.5.1   Varnashram Dharma

Alark says- 'Tell me about the duties of the different classes and stages of life.'

Madalasa says- 'Donation, study and Yagya, these three are the religion of a Brahmin. Performing Yagya for others, teaching and accepting donation are the three vocations of Brahmin. Donation, study and Yagya are also the religious duties of Kshatriyas. Protection of land and using weapons are vocation for Kshatriyas. Religious duties of a Vaishya are also same like that of the Brahmins such as donation, study and Yagya. For a living, Vaishya may take up animal rearing, agriculture and trade as profession. Serving all these three above mentioned castes as well as making donations and performing Yagya are the religious duties of a Shudra. Tilling the earth, serving Brahmins, feeding animals, selling and purchasing items are professions of a Shudra. A person belonging to Dwij class may relatively enjoy freedom until his sacred thread ceremony has not been performed. After the sacred thread ceremony, he should come to stay at the home of his teacher and observe celibacy strictly while studying scriptures. There he is expected to serve the Guru sincerely. At the completion of education, he should pay Dakshina to his Guru. He may get married and start the second stage of his life that is Grihasthashram. He should then subsequently opt for Vanprastha and Sanyaas respectively.

After the completion of education and paying all the dues, the disciple is ready to start second stage of his life that is Grihasthashram. For this he should first find a suitable girl from his caste and get married. Grihasthashram is considered as the best stage of life. It is in itself a complete Yagya. As a householder, he is expected to foster those who are dependent on him. During this stage of his life, he should earn his livelihood by occupations ascribed for his caste. He should please the deities by performing Yagyas, his ancestors by making oblations, Prajapatis by producing children, spectres by offering sacrifices of cereals and society by showering love. Even the ascetic and celibates depend on married people for their daily bread. Hence married life or Grihasthashram is stated to be superior among all the Ashrams.

A Grihastha must welcome and treat even his unexpected guests with great warmth. A householder who fails to satisfy his guest never succeeds in religious matters. The Yagyas that are offered in such households go futile. Hence it is not proper for the householder to show ego and abuse a guest otherwise he will have to expiate for it later.

When the children of the householder grow up and his body becomes senile, he should go to the forest after relinquishing the world. There, he should pass his time by indulging himself in austerities and religious activities. This stage is known as Vanprasthashram and is most necessary for the sanctification of his soul. This stage is followed by Sanyaasashram- the stage, which requires complete renunciation, celibacy, control of senses and anger etc. The virtues like truthfulness, sanctity, non-violence, tolerance, forgiveness, kindness, generosity and contentment are the religious merits applicable to all the Ashrams equally. Those who abide by their religion stay in the abode of Brahmaji till the reign of fourteen Indras. The king punishes those who violate this religious code. If the king doesn't punish them, he is himself destroyed. Hence a king must first of all abide by the duties as prescribed for different Ashrams in his life and only then he has the right to punish those people who violate these dictates. '

2.5.2   Duties of a Grihastha (Householder)

Alark says- What are the duties of a married man by discharging which he becomes free from all kinds of bondage and attains salvation. Kindly tell me about these things.

Madalasa says- O son! Those people who discharge their duties as a householder by fostering all the living beings attain to the heaven automatically. All the living creatures of the world including the deities and the dead ancestors are dependent on their nurturing on the householder. They always look at the face of the married man for their living. In fact, Grihasthashram can be compared to a cow that fosters others with her milk. All the four Vedas are present in this 'cow' that is Grihasthashram. Entire universe is reflected in this Ashram.

Daily after the bath in the morning, a Grihastha must perform oblations to the deities, to the sages, Prajapati and ancestors by offering water to them. Then he should perform a Yagya and offer cereals in the sacrificial fire. There are certain places in the house, which are reserved for specific deities and where offerings are made to them. Sacrifice to Brahmaji should be offered in the central part of the home, to Vishwadeva in the eastern side of the home, to Dhanvantari in the northern side, to Indra again in the eastern side, to Yama in the southern side, to Varun in the western side and to Soma in the northern side of the home. At the threshold of the house, sacrifice should be offered to Dhaata and Vidhaata. One must sit facing the south while offering sacrifice to his dead ancestors. For the dogs and birds, sacrifices should be given on the ground in the morning and evening. At the arrival of a guest, a Grihastha must worship him by offering water, cereals, flowers etc. as per his financial condition. If possible, a Grihastha should feed one or more Brahmins in order to pacify his ancestors. He should give alms to a beggar and a celibate. Without giving alms, a Grihastha must not proceed to dine. He should also feed starving and diseased people first. Such kind of living definitely benefits a Grihastha.

2.6     Shradha and its Rituals

This chapter contains 4 sections.

2.6.1   Regular and Causal Duties

Madalasa says- O son! A Grihastha has three kinds of duties- regular, causal and a combination of both. Rituals, which are connected with oblations and carried out daily, are called regular duties. Rituals and consecrations performed at the birth of a child are called causal duties. Yearly performance of Shraadh for the dead ancestors is a combination of regular and causal duties. Now listen about the causal duties.

At the time of a child's birth, different kinds of rituals and consecrations are carried out in the household. During the time of marriage ceremony also, many more rituals are carried out. At the time of marriage however, performance of the Shraadh named Naandimukh is a must. During the Shraadh, the host should sit facing the north or the east and offer a loaf made of barley flour and yoghurt. Then he should circumambulate around two Brahmins and worship them.

Rituals and Shraadh carried out in the household after the occurrence of any death in the household comes under the category of causal duties. During the Shraadh period, all kinds of sacred activities are forbidden. Only the use of Kusha grass is permitted. Donation of 'Pind' comprising of barley flour, yoghurt, honey etc. is made for only one time to pacify the soul of the dead person. Then oblation of water with sesame seeds should be offered in the name of the dead person. This ritual should continue for a year- once every month. After a year, Shraadh is organised in which one, three or five Brahmins are fed. Thereafter, every year, during the darker phase of Ashwin month, a Shraadh should be carried out for the dead ancestors. This ritual is a combination of regular and causal duties.

Sages have made provision for appeasement of dead ancestors up to the last seven generations. Cereals, which the people offer in the name of their dead ancestors, pacify those souls who stay in Pishaach Yoni. Water falling on the earth at the time of wringing the clothes after one's bath pacifies those souls, who have taken the form of vegetation after their death. Water falling during the bath satisfies those souls who have attained the status of deities. Cereals that fall during the lifting of Pind satisfy those souls who are in lower life forms. The cereals that scatter here and there and swept aside satisfy souls of those people, who had died in their childhood before the accomplishment of any consecration. The waste water falling down while Brahmin washes his hands after dining and pacifies all the other souls.

Every month, during the waning phase of the Moon or on the day of Amavasya, Shraadh should be carried out. Besides it, eighth day of darker phase in the month of Paush is also good for carrying out Shraadh. If a virtuous Brahmin is available, time of solar and lunar eclipses is also good for Shraadh. The time when the Sun crosses the equator during its northward and southward journey is also good for Shraadh. Apart from these above mentioned situations, one can also organise Shraadh in the following circumstances- at the time of great calamity, availability of items suitable for Shraadh, after a nightmare, during the period of birth Nakshatra and during the period of unfavourable stars etc. On the first day of the Shraadh, a virtuous Brahmin should be invited while the host must observe total restraint. It is said that such a man, who indulges in sexual intercourse on the same day after carrying out Shraadh or eating food of Shraadh, causes his dead ancestors to sleep in semen for one month. Ancestors of such a man, who performs Shraadh immediately after having a sexual intercourse, drink urine and semen for one month. Hence a virtuous Brahmin, whom the host is intending to feed, should be informed about the Shraadh one day earlier in advance. If a Brahmin is not available, a true celibate can be fed on the day of Shraadh.

After the Brahmin has carried out all the necessary rituals, Havan, oblation etc., he must be formally insisted to dine. All kinds of edible items that a Brahmin may wish to eat should be offered. While reciting the Rakshodhn mantra, grains of sesame and mustard should be scattered on the ground. After the Brahmin has dined, he should be offered with water to wash his hands and some cereals that should be scattered on the ground with his permission. Then sitting on the seat of Kusha grass, the host should offer a Pind made of sesame seeds, barley flour, sugar, ghee etc. An oblation of water should follow it. At the end, the Brahmin should be seen off with proper Dakshina. Only then the host is free to dine himself along with other invited guests and family members.

2.6.2   Dos and Don’t During a Shraadha

Madalasa says- O son! I am now narrating about the do's and don'ts to be followed during Shraadh. Many kinds of edible items can be offered in the Shraadh. These include cereals like barley, wheat, rice, millet, corn, etc., fish, flesh of deer, rabbit, bird, wild boar, goat and Neelgai (antelope). All these kinds of items are capable of pacifying the soul of dead ancestors for different period of time depending on the nature of offerings being made. Likewise cereals offered in sacred fire cause satisfaction for one month. Fish causes satisfaction for two months. Flesh of deer causes satisfaction for three months. Flesh of rabbit causes satisfaction for four months. Flesh of bird causes satisfaction for five months. Flesh of wild boar causes satisfaction for six months. Flesh of goat causes satisfaction for seven months. Flesh of different types of deer and antelope causes satisfaction for eight, nine and ten months respectively.

Food items made of cow's milk and ghee and kheer cause satisfaction to the dead ancestors for one year. Different varieties of rice, barley, millet, wheat, sesame, moong dal, mustard etc. are extremely satisfying food for the ancestors. Different types of pulses and corn can also be offered. Use of garlic, carrot, onion, radish, refined salt, red gum, gourd etc. is prohibited. Water that is stinking, frothy, stale or otherwise incapable of quenching a cow's thirst should also be discarded. Milk of doe, camel, goat, buffalo and other one-hoof animals, yak and such a cow that was milked for the past ten days is also forbidden for use in Shraadh. Soil that is infested with insects, dry, baked with fire, stinking or collected from an unholy place should not be used. Similarly, such people who are violent, wretched, killers of Brahmins, impotent or have fiendish characters should not be involved in the Shraadh. Cocks and pigs should also be kept away from the place of Shraadh. This is the reason why sesame seeds are scattered at the site of Shraadh secretly. The host must not see a woman in menses. It is also not necessary to feed a host of Brahmins. Instead it is sufficient to feed only one meritorious Brahmin with complete devotion and respect. It is enough to appease the dead ancestors. Appeasement of ancestors automatically lead to appeasement of the deities, planets, Nakshatras and all whose blessings can transform the living condition of the person.

2.6.3   Auspicious Days and Months

Madalasa says- Shraadh can be performed on any day during the dark lunar phase in the Hindu month of Ashwin i.e. from the first day to the Amavasya. Performing of Shraadh on any of these days brings the following benefits- Performing Shraadh on the first day or Pratipada brings monetary gain. Shraadh performed on the second day brings prosperity, Shraadh performed on the third day blesses the performer with a boon. Performing Shraadh on the fourth day leads to the destruction of enemies. Performing Shraadh on the fifth day gives benefit from a woman; Shraadh performed on the sixth day helps a man to acquire respect in the society. Shraadh performed on the seventh day makes the performer an able leader; Shraadh performed on the eighth day enhances the intelligence. Shraadh performed on the ninth day brings the company of the attractive women. Shraadh performed on the tenth day leads to the fulfilment of all the desires. Performing Shraadh on the eleventh day helps him to attain the knowledge of Vedas. Shraadh performed on the twelfth day makes the performer victorious. Shraadh performed on the thirteenth day leads to long life and luxuries. Shraadh performed on the fourteenth day and Amavasya lead to the fulfilment of all the desires.

Fruits of Shraadh performed during different Nakshatras:


KRITIKA  Abode in heaven 
ROHINI  Increase in progeny 
MRIGSHIRA  Radiance 
ARDRA  Bravery 
PUNARVASU  Increase in land property 
PUSHYA  Improvement in health 
MAGHA  Help from relatives 
PURVAPHALGUNI  Good fortune 
UTTARAPHALGUNI  Increase in the virtues 
HASTA  Increase in greatness 
CHITRA  Beauty and handsome personality 
SWATI  Increase in trade 
VISHAAKHA  Increase in progeny and fulfilment of desires 
ANURADHA  Respect 
JYESHTHA  Dominance 
MOOLA  Disease-free life 
PURVAASARHA  Popularity 
UTTARASARHA  Freedom from sorrows 
SHRAVAN  Attainment of auspicious abode 
DHANISHTHA  Immense wealth 
ABHIJIT  Knowledge of Vedas 
ABHIJIT  Knowledge of medical science 
SHATABHISHA  Increase in animal wealth 
PURVABHADRAPAD  Increase in knowledge and cattle 
UTTARABHADRAPAD  Receiving of precious metals like gold and silver 
REVATI  Receiving of horses 
ASHWINI  Increase in average life 
BHARANI  Prosperity and increase in comforts 

2.6.4   Forbidden and Permitted Items

Madalasa says- O son! Now, I will tell you the do's and don'ts for healthy living. Stale cereals, oil and fats stored over a prolonged period of time, items prepared from wheat and barley and food items which is not prepared from pure ghee or milk should not be consumed. Flesh of turtle, porcupine etc. is worth eating whereas flesh of village pigs and cocks should not be consumed. Brahmin can eat flesh offered to him in a Shraadh. Things like conch, stone, gold, pearl etc. are purified simply by washing in water. Cereals either touched or washed by unwarranted people is not fit for any purpose. Flesh of animals killed by Chandaal or killed for the purpose of oblation in Shraadh is also considered pure. Seat, bed, vehicle, boat, grass, rays of the Sun and Moon and air are naturally pure things. Touch by a woman who is in her menses, dog, jackal, a mother who has recently given birth to a child, a Chandaal, carriers of the brier etc. is defiling in nature. A person however can become pure once again by taking bath if touched by any of these people and animals. One should not neglect the appearance of blood and cough. Excretions and water collected after washing the feet should be thrown out of the home at once. Getting touched by the people who criticize deities, ancestors, Yagya, mantra etc. is also defiling. Sighting of the Sun however purifies the defiled person.

Duties of the woman: Different male and female deities dwell at the threshold of the home. Hence this portion of the home should be worshipped properly everyday. At dawn, the threshold should not be left vacant or it may have adverse effect on one's lineage. The whole area inside the home should be plastered with cow dung daily or washed with pure water. All these activities should be carried out by the better half of the householder. Those women, who prepare food during the last quarter of the night, suffer from infertility in future births. Those women, who do not sweep their home in the evening, remain unmarried and are bereft of wealth in future births. Such women also lose their wealth, life-span and reputation. Kicking the following things like broom, hearth and mortar etc. or touching them with feet also leads to the loss of progeny and wealth.

The householder should not use broken seat, board and black blanket for sitting purpose. He should not comb his hair while facing south. Those who do not dine, perform Havan or make donations at the appropriate time are no better than eunuchs. Those who shun these activities despite having wealth are worse than mice. Those who do not respect the deities, teachers, wife of the teacher, cow, Brahmin etc. are boycotted by the society. Naked are those who are devoid of Vedas, other religious scriptures and rituals. Such a house is really contemptible, which is boycotted by the Brahmins and where daily routines are not followed regularly.

After birth or death in the family, a Brahmin becomes purified in ten days. During this period of ten days, he should avoid all the religious activities. In similar conditions, a Kshatriya gets purified in twelve days after a birth or death in his family, a Vaishya in fifteen days and a Shudra in one month. Dead body of a person should be cremated outside the boundaries of the village. His family members should offer oblation of water to pacify his soul on the first, fourth, seventh and ninth days after the cremation. Ashes should be collected from the fourth day. In case of deaths caused by a snake bite or poisoning family members may get purified after a day. There is no impurity in case of the death of a child, an immigrant and the one who has renounced everything. Even their cremation is not carried out nor oblation of water is made.

If one more death occurs in the family while the mourning period of the earlier death is still continuing, impurity of the second death lasts as long as that of the first one. Similar rules are applied to the impurity caused by the birth. Thus abiding by these norms, the householder can easily attain the four objectives of life that is Dharma, Arth, Kama and Moksha.

2.7     King Alark and his queries about Yoga

This chapter contains 9 sections.

2.7.1   King Alark Receives a Ring

After reaching youth-hood, Prince Alark got married. By that time, his father King Ritudhwaj had also grown old. Hence before Grihastha, he crowned his son as the new king. At the time of crowning, queen Madalasa presented him a ring and said -

'O son! This ring contains a note which will teach you on how a king should administer the kingdom.' Saying this, Madalasa blessed Alark and left the palace with her husband Ritudhwaj to spend their lives in the forest.

2.7.2   Wisdom of Alark

After his accession to the throne, King Alark ruled justly. In due course of time, he got many sons. He followed the dictates of Dharma, Arth and Kama while ruling his kingdom. Inspite of enjoying all the luxuries, Alark still could not experience bliss and felt as if he was missing something in his life. Very soon, Subahu came to learn about the royal luxuries of his brother Alark and got tempted to enjoy the same luxuries. To attain his objective, Subahu took the help of the king of Kashi. The king of Kashi sent an envoy to Alark with a message to give the kingdom to Subahu, which Alark refused. Instead, he sent a reply that the request must be made by Subahu himself. 'I will not give him my kingdom out of fear of war,' said Alark. But Subahu did not pay heed and with the help of the king of Kashi, launched a massive attack on his kingdom and conquered it. Now Alark's days of sorrow had begun.

He then remembered the ring presented by his mother Madalasa. He opened the ring and found a letter in it. The letter said- 'When you lose your everything, give up the company of your present advisors and join the company of learned sages.' This message made Alark to pine for the company of the learned sages. Very soon, he went to the refuge of Dattatreya and requested him to remove his miseries. Dattatreya assured him of removing his miseries at once but before doing that, he wanted to know the reasons for his miseries. Alark said- 'I do not long for pleasures but my elder brother wants to grab my kingdom.'

2.7.3   Dattatreya Preaches Alark

Alark says- 'O lord! With the arising of disenchantment in my heart, I have no miseries now. Only those people feel drowned in the ocean of miseries who are attached to worldly things. A man feels all kinds of sorrows due to his attachments towards the luxuries in which his mind indulges. Now neither sorrow nor joy can affect me.'

Dattatreya says- 'O king! Whatever you said is correct. Attachment is the cause of both sorrow and happiness. It is because of the knowledge I gave to you that the 'mist of attachment' has disappeared from your heart. A small sprout of ego ultimately develops into a huge tree of ignorance. Affection is the trunk of this tree. Home and family are the branches and wife and children are the leaves of this tree. Wealth and cereals are the flowers and happiness and sorrow are the fruits of this tree. Relation that emerges out of affection is the canopy of this tree. This tree grows day by day and obscures the path of liberation. This tree is full of desires and those who sit under the lee of this tree can never attain salvation. Hence felling of this tree is of foremost importance for a person desirous of attaining 'Brahmajitva.'

2.7.4   Yogadhyay

Dattatreya says- O king! With the attainment of knowledge, people come to conjugate with the Supreme Almighty and which results into dispersion of their ignorance. To attain Moksha, it is necessary for a man to shun attachment first of all. Only after that, he will become free from sorrows. When he becomes free from sorrow, he unites with the supreme almighty. This phenomenon is known as Yoga. Unification with the supreme almighty enables a man to attain knowledge and finally Moksha (salvation). It is therefore essential for the all those seeking salvation that first of all they should renounce affection and attachment for the worldly objects including their near and dear ones.

Knowledge and renunciation are nothing but two sides of the same coin and one is necessary to give rise to the other. Home is nothing but the place for staying, food is nothing but the energy required sustaining our body and knowledge is nothing but an aid to attain salvation. Anything that caused obstacles in the way of salvation is ignorance. A living being is bound to receive the fruits of action no matter whether they are good or bad. Hence one should carry out his duties without bothering for the results. With the attenuation of the results of the action performed in the previous births, a living being becomes free from the cycles of life and death. With the attainment of Yoga, Yogis take refuge in none other than Brahma. But the path of attaining Yoga is indeed difficult, if not impossible. One has to conquer his soul first of all because the soul itself is regarded as invincible. Control of physical impurities with the help of Pranayam, sins by determination, lust by self-restrains and contemplation on God are the ways to conquer the soul.

2.7.5   Perfection in Yoga

Dattatreya says-During the process of conquering the soul, different kinds of allurements begins to divert the mind of the Yogis. It is imperative for the Yogi to keep his mind busy by observing fast, worshipping and contemplating in God. It is the duty of the Yogi to always contemplate on God, only then he can seek solace in Him. Thus, after controlling his senses, a Yogi ought to eat and sleep less, attain unification with the Supreme Being. O king! A Yogi unifies with Brahma once his physical and mental faults are removed. Then, he never separates from the Supreme Being.

2.7.6   Daily Routine of a Yogi

Alark says- O lord, now kindly narrate about the daily routine, a Yogi should abide by in order to preserve his piousness.

Dattatreya says- O king! Respect and insult are the two reasons for love and hatred. Yogis attain perfection by understanding insult as respect and vice versa. A Yogi should therefore never attend social functions like Shraadh, marriage ceremonies or other festivities. He should not accept the hospitality of others and should shun unnecessary journeys. A Yogi should seek alms only after the householder and his family has dined. A Yogi should accept alms only from those households whose inmates are gentle, religious and free from blemishes and should accept things like whey, milk, fruits, edible roots, gram flour etc. Before going to dine, a Yogi should offer his food to the deities reciting he following mantras-

After reciting these mantras one by one and offering food to the deities who are present in his body as different forms of air, the Yogi may now proceed to dine.

Control of senses and greed, celibacy, renunciation and non-violence are the five resolutions of a Yogi. Control of anger, service to the Guru, sanctity, eating less and studying Vedas regularly are the five norms for a Yogi. A Yogi must practice meditation at a desolate place, forest, cave or peak of a mountain. A true celibate has full control over his speech, mind and action. Iron and gold have equal worth in his eye; he loves no one and hates no one.

2.7.7   Description of Omkar

Dattatreya says- Those Yogis who abide by their resolution are never degraded from their supreme position. Such Yogis always recite Om while contemplating on the eternal God. 'A', 'U' and 'M', these three syllables constitute the body OM or AUM. These three syllables represent the virtues (gunas) of Sata, Tama and Raja respectively. Thus, by contemplating on God and reciting Om, a Yogi ultimately achieves unification with that eternal spirit. But there are still some disastrous traps that a Yogi should guard himself against, otherwise his entire penance might turn futile at the time of death. Hence every Yogi must be aware of these disastrous traps.

2.7.8   Description of Disastrous Traps

Dattatreya says- A person who is unable to see the path of the deities, or the heavenly bodies like- Dhruv, Shukra (Venus), Soma (Moon), or his own shadow or Goddess Arundhati, must understand that his death is near. For those people to whom, the Sun appears without radiance but fire appears as the Sun, die within eleven months. Sighting of gold and silver in urine or stools signifies death within ten months. Those who see ghosts, Gandharvas and gold tree in the dreams live for nine months only. Those who become fat or thin suddenly live for eight months more. Those Yogis whose heels appear cracked while walking on sand or mud die within seven months. Getting perched on the body by volatile birds like vulture, pigeon, owl, crow etc. indicates that the concerned person will live for only six months. Those who see their shadow in opposite direction live for four or five months more only. Those who sight lightning without clouds or rainbow during the night time, in their dream live for two or three months more. Those who cannot see their reflection in ghee, oil, water and mirror die within a month. A person whose body smells like a cadaver die within fifteen days. Those whose hands and feet remain dry even after taking bath and dry even after taking light refreshments live only for ten days. Those who sight hair, cinders, ash, snakes and dried rivers in the dream, die on the eleventh day. Those who feel hungry even after eating to their fill also die soon.

O king! There are many more disastrous symptoms that indicate death. A Yogi must always be alert regarding these signs. Whenever a Yogi perceives the appearance of all or some of these disastrous symptoms, he must at once take to Yoga to minimise the effects.

Brahmagyan- A Yogi experiences extreme joy when he meditates while doing Yoga. Only then can he experience Brahma. Physical body is ephemeral; hence a true Yogi does not mourn over the loss of physical body. Hence, a Yogi must train his mind in Yoga ignoring sorrow or affection. This is indeed a difficult task to achieve.

Alark says- O Brahmin! By your blessings, my ignorance has ended. Now I will do everything so that ignorance does not grip me once again.

Then taking Dattatreya's permission, Alark went back to the king of Kashi and said- 'O king! You have a desire for the kingdom, so take this kingdom and enjoy its luxuries yourself or give it to Subahu.' The king of Kashi asked Alark as to why he was renouncing the kingdom without fighting a war. He also tried to instigate Alark by saying that his conduct did not suit the Kshatriyas. Alark said- 'Only Brahma is truth, all the other things are false. Now controlling my senses, I will attain perfection in Yoga.'

Om Tat Sat


My humble salutations to Swamyjis, Philosophic scholars , dharmicscriptures dot org
for the collection)


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