In Naimisaranya, on the occasion of Satra Yaga, Soothi, the story teller, told the story of Mahabharata to Saint Sounaka and other sages and saints, as told by Saint Vaisampayana to King Janamejaya, on the occasion of Sarpa Yaga.
King Dharmaja asked Bhishma, lying on the arrow bed, thus:
“O Grandsire, Bhishma! What are the duties to be discharged with utmost devotion, care and attention.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! One has to follow the principles, enunciated in Vedas, devotedly. One has to study Vedas, understand them and preach them to others in detail. One has to control his mind and shall not receive anything from others. One has to discharge the duties assigned to him with greater care and attention, devotedly. One has to control his sense organs, speak truth always, and engage himself in studying Vedas and Scriptures. One has to show more interest in giving to others. One has to follow Brahmacharya and worship his parents and Guru. One has to be kind towards his followmen and protect cows always. The above principles have to be followed scrupulously.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandsire! you told me about Godaana (Giving cows in charity to others). Kindly tell me the procedure to be followed while performing Godaana” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! In the past, Brihaspati explained King Mandhata about the procedure to be followed while making Godaana.
On an auspicious day, with the permission of Brahmins, one has to observe fasting. On that night he shall stay in the cattle shed. Nextday morning, he shall call the cow, intended tobe given in Godaana, by name. He shall chant the Mantra told by Brahma: “This cow is my mother. The womb of this cow is heaven. The place where the cow stands is sacred” so saying, he shall pour water into the hands of the person who receives Godaana. Such person enjoys heavenly pleasures.
The person who receives Godaana shall fulfil the following conditions. He must be a Vedic student or interested in performing Vratas; a sinless person; a person with peace of mind; a person who controls his sense organs; and a person without anger.
Brihaspati continued to say: “One who intends to perform Godaana shall stay in cattle shed for three days from Ashatami in Asvayuja month-- Krishna Paksha; consume urine and dung of cow. Then all his desires be fulfilled.” said Brihaspati.
Hence, Dharmaja! you also follow the above conditions before performing Godaana, that too kapila cows (cows with red colour)” said Bhishma to Dharmaja.
“O Grandisre: Kindly tell me the importance of Kapila cows.” asked Dharmaja.
Bhishma said thus: “O Dharmaja! Once, the divine bodies were hungry. All of them went to Brahma. Brahma gave them Amrutha. Divine bodies consumed Amrutha. From the fragance of Amruta, Kama Dhenu was born. Kama Dhenu gave birth to some other cows. All the cows were grazing on the peak of Himalayas. While a calf was drinking milk of its mother, the foam of milk, due to the speed of wind, was sprinkled on the head of Lord Siva who was in meditation. Siva opened his third eye. All the cows became reddish. All the cows fled away.
Having come to know about this, Brahma came down to Siva. “O Maha Siva! Chandra (moon) is on your head. Chandra was showering Amrutha daily. The foam from milk of cows is equal to Amrutha. The cow milk is equal to Amrutha. Hence there is no reason to be angry against cows and their calves. Please be kind towards the cows and calves” prayed Brahma. Brahma presented one Vrishabha (ox ) to Siva. Sive made it as his vehicle. Siva permitted cows to move on Himalayas. All the cows returned back.
Siva told Brahma: “O Brahma! with the power of my third eye, all the cows became reddish. Hitherto, red cows are considered to be best and sacred of all cows.” told Siva. From then onwards, red cows are preferred in performing Godaana.
In this connection I tell you one story. Once there was a king called Soudasa in Ishvaku dynasty. His chief priest was Vasishta. One day, Soudasa asked Vasishta thus: “O Saint! What is sacred in this world?” asked Soudasa.
“O Soudasa! Cow is sacred in the entire world. Cow is the abode for Havis. Cow is the life for all creatures. Lakshmi stays where cows stay. Cow is the ladder to climb to heaven. Human beings shall give away one cow from out of ten cows as Godaana. Saluting cow in morning bestows greater Punya. Cow dung, cow urine are sacred but consuming cow meat is a great sin. Cleaning house with cow dung and consuming cow urine as medicine are advisable.” said Vasishta to King Soudasa.
O Dharmaja! once Suka, son of Vyasa, asked his father thus: “O father! which is greater than all and which is essential for performing Yajna?” asked Suka.
“O my son Suka! none is equal to cow in this world. Cow is essential for performing yagas. Once Brahma told the saints thus:
“Cows are sacred. Cows are essential for performing Yajnas. All troubles vanish on the sight of a cow. If cow milk, cow urine and cow dung are taken for three days as medicine, it cures all diseases. Cow ghee gives humanbeing brightness. Chanting Gomati Mantra amidst cows, purifies body and mind. Chanting Gomati Mantra in front of Brahmins and Cows accomplishes all desires. Hence Cow is said to be best of all” said Vyasa.
“O Dharmaja! this is the greatness of cow.” said Bhishma to Dharmaja.
“O grandsire Bhishma! Brahma is the master of all the three Lokas. Brahma’s abode is called Goloka. Why?” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! In the past, Visvakarma performed great Tapas and created Surabhi(sacred cow) as his brain child. Along with Surabhi, Visvakarma created another glorious man. That man fell in love with Surabhi. Brahma blessed both of them. Brahma named him as Marthanda and performed his marriage with Surabhi. Cows were born to both of them. Both divine bodies and human bodies were worshipping cows. Cows also were accomplishing the desires of divine bodies and human beings.” said Bhishma to Dharmaja.
“O grand sire! you told me that Marthanda married Surabhi. Tell me about their children. Who were born first?” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! first, eleven sons were born. They are Ekadasa Rudras. They are: (1)Ajapada, (2) Ahirbudhnyudu, (3)Triyambaka (4)Vrushakapi (5)Sambhu (6)Hara (7)Bahuroopa (8)Ugra (9)Visvaroopa(10)Kapaali (11)Raivata. All these eleven Rudras were worshipped by the entire world. After the eleven Rudras, Surabhi gave birth to several cows. All the divine bodies reside in several parts of the cow. Therefore, the glory of cow is indescribable.
In this connection, there is a story. There was a hill called Trisikhara. At the foot of that hill, some sages, born in Bhrigu clan, were performing Tapas. Sumitra was one of them. A brahmin called Angirasa gave a herb, useful for the health of cows, to Sumitra. Sumitra gave that herb to his cows as fodder. As a result of that herb, all the cows were grown healthy with good physique. The cattle were increasing day by day. Sumitra was looking after his cattle with great love and affection. Sumitra used to consume the foam emanated while the calves were drinking milk from their mother cows. Hence Sumitra was called Phena.
Those cows were blessed with Kamaroopa. One day, some of the cows, in the form of beautiful ladies, were swimming in the nearby pond. Some other cows also were taking bath in the same pond. Those cows recognised these ladies as cows.
They asked the ladies: “Who are you? How could you get this lady transformation?” asked those cows.
“We always serve brahmins. We give milk to Brahmins for their use in Yajnas, Pitru karmas, and worshipping guests etc. We send our children to work in fields. Because of our virtuous deeds, we are blessed with this transformation art.” said those ladies-cows.
The other cows realised their mistake. They requested those ladies-cows to show them a way out for liberation. “Listen! King Rantideva is performing a Yaga. You go there and offer yourselves as sacrifice. Then you attain Goloka.”said those ladies-cows.
All the other cows were ready to go to King Rantideva. But one cow raised a doubt. “Before going to Ranti Deva, we have to obtain the permission of our master, Sumitra.” said that cow. The other cows intervened. “Our master, Sumitra never allows us to go to Rantideva. The only alternative is to kill him. Then he also follows us to Goloka.” said the other cows. Other cows did not agree.
But some reddish cows came forward to kill Sumitra but they aspired for some reward. The other cows gave them a boon. From then onwards, all the reddish cows be considered best of all cows. Then all the reddish cows, in disguise, went to Sumitra and said thus:
“O master! You have worshipped cows sofar. We are very happy. Choose whatever you want” asked those reddish cows in disguise.
“Bless me with eternal devotion, love and affection towards cows.” prayed Sumitra.
The cows blessed him accordingly. “Then you follow us to Goloka.” asked those cows.
“I never leave my cows. I never come anywhere.” said Sumitra.
All the cows on earth approached Ranti Deva and prayed him to sacrifice them in Yajna, so that they may attain Goloka. Ranti Deva declined their request.
“Why should I be afflicted with sin by killing cows. I never do it.” said Ranti Deva.
“O Ranti Deva! we are destined to die. You have to execute it. This is the decision of divine bodies.” said those cows.
“I obey the decition of divine bodies but on one condition.
O Dharmaja! This is all about cows. I will also tell the words of Vyasa about cows.
“Brahma at the inception created cows. Cow is the basis for the entire world. Cow is equivalent to mother for divine bodies, Sidhas and Sadhyas. One who intends to attain Brahmapada, shall not cause harm to cow either physically or mentally. This is the word of Brahma. Even Vedas attributed sanctity to cows. Divine bodies worshipped cows and attained glory.
While performing Yajnas and yagas, the usage of cow milk is most important. Even the Upanishads are the embodiment of cows. Worshipping cows itself is Yajna. Human beings generally worship reddish cows, give them as charity and get rid of their sins.” said Vyasa to his son, Suka.
Then Suka asked his father: “O father! You have been telling about reddish cows. How they attain that magnanimity and dignity? Kindly tell me.” asked Suka.
“O my son! Once, Agni was running away from Divine bodies and requested cows to hide him. Accordingly, cows concealed Agni. Divine bodies came there in search of Agni. Divine bodies requested Cows to reveal the whereabouts of Agni. Cows revealed Divine bodies about the whereabouts of Agni. Divine bodies were satisfied and requested Agni to bless the cows with a boon.
“As I was hidden inside cows, they attain reddish colour. The reddish cows will be considered best of all cows. Worshipping reddish cows attains liberation. Giving and taking reddish cow as charity attains greater sanctity and both attain higher lokas.” said Agni.
O my son Suka! now I tell you about the characteristics of reddish cows. Generally, the ears, horns, eyes, nose of Kapila cow (reddish cow) are in red colour. This is sufficient to characterise a cow as Kapila cow. Even if one of the above characteristics is present, it is sufficient to consider that cow as Kapila cow. Besides that, if the entire body of a cow is in red colour, its magnanimity is indescribable.
One shall neither put load on its back nor beat the red cow. Red cow shall not be utilised for sacrifice. Beating, kicking either with hands, legs or stick throws him into hell. One who feeds red cow timely with water and fodder, attains liberation.
It was said that along with cows, brahmins, mother Gayatri, spring season, truth and gold were born. Amongst all things given in charity, cows, gold and land are greater.” said Vyasa to his son Suka.
“Dharmaja! those are the words of Vyasa about the greatness of cows.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandsire Bhishma! I heard that Lakshmi stays in cow dung. Is it true?” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmanandana! In this regard, I tell you the conversation between Lakshmi and cow. Once Lakshmi went into the cattle shed.
Cows asked her “Who are you? Why you have come here? ”
“I am Lakshmi. I want to be your companion.” said Lakshmi.
“O Lakshmi! You are fickle minded. You never stay anywhere atleast for one day. You are not fit to be our companion.” said cows.
Lakshmi was distressed. “O cows! Previously I was with demons. But they proved bad. I left them and stayed with divine bodies. Now divine bodies are glorious. But human beings always worship me to be with them. But you are not allowing me as your companion.” said Lakshmi.
“O cows! even cows insult me, where can I go? Who allows me? Therefore I will be with you only.” said Lakshmi firmly.
“O Lakshmi! if that is so, do one thing. Vedas say that cow urine and cow dung are sacred. You reside in them.” said the cows. Lakshmi agreed. Since then cow urine and cow dung are places of stay for Lakshmi.
Once Kamadhenu did Tapassu. Brahma appeared before Kamadhenu and asked Kamadhenu “What do you want?”.
“O Brahma! Your appearance before me itself is sufficient. I dont want anything more than that. I am blessed.” said Kamadhenu.
Brahma was happy with those words. “O Kamadhenu! henceforth, goloka will be above Brahma (Satya) loka.” said Brahma.
O Dharmaja! that is the dignity and glory of Cows.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandisre Bhishma! you told me about cows. But I heard that in all Yajnas, Gold is best to be given in charity. Even in Vedas, Gold was siad to be an offering to Brahmins. You yourself said that land, gold and cows are best to be given in charity. Kindly tell me about Gold and its origin.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! After the demise of my father, Santana, I went to Ganga to perform obsequies. With the help of my mother Ganga, I was performing the obsequies of my father. At the time of Pinda Pradana (offering of food to Pitaras). I spread Dharbas (sacred grass) on the floor. While I was placing one Pinda on Dharbas, a hand with gold ornaments, probably that of my father, was stretched to receive the Pinda. I was astonished that my father personally came there to receive Pinda. I was very much satisfied. My heart was filled with joy. But if I put Pinda in the hand of my father, Vedas do not agree. Pindas shall be placed only on Dharbas not directly on hands. It was against Vedic rites. Therefore, I kept the Pinda intended for my father, on Dharbhas.
The hand of my father disappeared. Before me, my father and forefathers appeared before me. “O Devavrata! You performed Pindapradana according to Dharma. You have not favoured your father because he stretched his hand. We are very happy. We are satisfied with your Pindapradana. You give Gold in lieu of land and cows because Gold is sacred. Hereinafter, you give Gold during Yajnas and Yagas in lieu of Land and Cows.”said my forefathers. Then my father and forefathers disappeared. Dharmaja! This was what I personally experienced.
Besides that, after Parasurama massacred all Kshatriyas twenty one times, he performed Vajapeya yajna. Parasurama was not satisfied with that Yajna. He went to Vasishta and asked him a way out to vanish all his sins.
Vasishta said thus: “O Parasurama! Gold is equivalent to Agni. Even divine bodies are embodiments of Agni. If you give Gold as charity, it is equivalent to giving Divine bodies as charity. This was told by Vedas. Therefore, give Gold as charity to Brahmins, and vanish your sins completely. I also tell you the words of Brahma about Gold.
After the marriage of Parvati to Lord Siva they were living together. As a result of their conjugal life, the semen of Lord Siva was deposited with Agni. At that time, one Taraka Asura was teasing and harrassing divine bodies and sages and saints. All of them went to Brahma and told him about their woes and sufferings.
Brahma said : “I already made sufficient arrangements. You go and meet Agni. He solves the problem” said Brahma.
All divine bodies and saints went in search of Agni but could not find him. At last they found Agni in a Jammi Tree. All divine bodies and saints told Agni about the words of Brahma. Agni immediately threw away the brilliantly shining semen of Maha Siva into Ganga. With the combination of the semen of Maha Siva, Ganga became pregnant. But she could not bear that pregnancy. Ganga deposited her pregnancy in a grass bush on its banks. In that grass bush a boy was born. Six Krittikas nourished and fed that baby. That boy with six faces sucked milk from those six Krittikas. Hence he was called Shanmukha. He was also called Agniputra, Gangaputra and Kartikeya. After growing up, that boy became the Chief of Army for Divine forces. Then Kartikeya killed Taraka Asura with Shakti weapon. All divine bodies and saints were very happy.
Maha Siva was the embodiment of Gold. Agni who bore the semen of Agni also shined as Gold. Gold was born from Agni. Hence Gold was called Jata Roopa. Therefore, Gold attained such splendour and sacredness.” said Vasishta to Parasurama. Then Parasurama performed several Suvarna Danas.
Therefore, Dharmanandana! You also make Suvarna Danas in abundance and attain name and fame.” said Bhishma.
“O Dharmaja! Worshipping Pitaras is greater than worshipping divine bodies. For human beings, worshipping their fathers and forefathers attain all kinds of fortunes. One who performs Pitru Yajna and Pinda Pradana on every Amavasya (no-moon day) gets the benefit of worshipping Pitaras everyday.
Different kinds of results follow the worship of Pitru Yajna on different days, like getting a beautiful wife by performing Pitru Yajna on Padyami day and begetting beautiful children by performing Pitru Yajna on Vidiya day and so on. For performing Sradha Karma (pitru yajna), days in Krishna Paksha and afternoon are auspicious.
While performing Pitru yajna, gingelly seeds, Payasam (food item prepared with rice, milk and sugar) and ghee are best items. Using of fish and meat in limited extent also yields good results. Cow milk, curd, butter and ghee prepared out of cow milk are also best to be used during Pitru Yajnas. During Pitru Yajnas, ram meat, rhino meat, goat meat also can be used.
Different results follow by performing Pitru yajnas on different Nakhatras. viz., Krittika, Rohini etc.” said Bhishma.
“O Bhishma! Kindly tell me about the nature of persons to be worshipped during Pitru Yajnas.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmanandana! for performing Divine worship, we need not test the veracity of brahmins in detail. If they are good, it is sufficient. But for performing Pitru yajnas, we have to test the veracity of brahmins strictly.
All the food items prepared for Pitru Karma shallbe purified by sprinkling water with gingelly seeds. People with peace of mind, people with good character, people who control their sense organs, teachers, people with kind heart, wise and learned, experts in grammer, Dharmasastra and Puranas are eligible to dine along with others in the same line.
Before deputing Brahmins for Pitru Karma, one has to test their eligibility as per the above norms. Once deputed, if they are found to be unfit for Pitru Yajna, the mental agony is unbearable. One who performs Pitru Karma as per the above standards, attains higher regions. In this connection, I narrate you a story.
Athri is the brain child of Brahma. Athri’s son was Dattatreya. His son was Nimi. Nimi’s son was Srimantha. Srimanta died. Nimi was performing Shraadha karma to his son. Nimi invited his grand father, Athri to supervise the ceremony. During that time, Saint Athri explained the procedure to be followed during Sradha Karma.
“Brahmins invited for Sradha Karma must be eligible to dine with others.Dharbhas must be spread with their ends towards right side. Gingelly seeds shall be used plenty. Good quality of Dharbhas be procured. While spreading Dharbhas on floor, their ends shall face southwards. While preparing food items for Shradha, drumstick leaves, onion, spoiled meat, dirty salt, black jeera, karela leaves, assafoetida, shall not be used.
At the place of Shradha Karma,dogs, ladies under menstrual periods, prostitutes and low class people shall not be allowed to move. During the course of Sradha Karma, sneezing, crying shall be avoided. Peaceful atmosphere shall prevail. The above conditions shall strictly be followed.” said Athri to Nimi.
Athri continued to say: “In Sradha Karma, Brahma allotted shares to Aryama (sun) Soma (moon) and Agni. Along with fathers and fore fathers, Visve Devatas also shall be worshipped and shares be allotted to them. In divine bodies, there are Ushmapas numbering 60. Brahma allotted equal shares to them also along with Pitaras. If Shradha Karma were to be performed during journeys in hills and forests, simply mental worship of these sixty divine bodies is sufficient. It is equivalent to performing Shradha Karma.
Once several saints were performing Sraadha karma at a time. All the Pitaras suffered with indigestion as they consumed the offerings at a time. All Pitaras approached Chandra (lord of herbals) and sought for remedy. Chandra directed them to Brahma. All of them went to Brahma and told him about their sufferings. Brahma said that Agni will cure their indigestion. Agni told Pitaras “During Shradha Karmas, while consuming the offerings, you consume them through me. The question of indigestion does not arise.” said Agni. Since then, Pitaras have been consuming the offerings through Agni only. Therefore, during Sraadha Karma, Agni must be worshipped by which Pitaras also are satisfied.
During the course of Shradha Karma, the sacred thread (yajnopaveetamu) shall hang from right to left (apasavya). By performing Pinda Pradana, the deceased fathers and fore fathers leave their Preta Atmas and attain higher regions. Human beings aspire for more sons, with a fond hope that atleast one of their sons perform Pinda Pradana in Gaya.” said Saint Athri to his grandson Nimi.
O Dharmaja! these are the norms prescribed for Sraadha Karma.” said Bhishma to Dharmaja.
“O Grandsire Bhishma! Upavasa vrata (fasting) is called Tapas. Kindly explain me about it.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmanandana! Simply fasting, without taking any food, is not Tapas. Fasting is nothing but torturing himself. Tapas means performing a karma with great devotion. They are..... speaking truth, adopting Brahmacharya, cleanliness, maintaining silence without talking unnecessarily, disciplined life; showing kindness towards fellow beings, not hurting anybody either physically or mentally; making charities within his might; these are all called Tapas.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandsire! You told me about two kinds of persons. One who gives to others within his might; and one who does not receive anything as charity from others. What are the characteristics of these two kinds of persons. Kindly tell me.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! in this connection, I tell you a conversation between Seven saints and King Vrishadarbhi. Kashyapa, Athri, Visvamitra, Goutama, Bharadwaja, Jamadagni, Vasishta, are called Sapta Rishis (seven saints). Arundhati, wife of Vasishta always accompanies her husband,wherever he goes. A servant maid called Ganda serves them. Her husband was Pasusakha. He also accompanies them always.
Once there was a great famine. Food was not available for eating. It became difficult for humans to keep themselves alive. At that time, these seven saints were searing for food. They found a dead body kept on pyre for cremation. As all the saints were suffering with hunger, they were about to eat that dead body.
King Vrishadarbhi beheld that situation. “O Saints! what are you doing. It appears you are suffering with hunger. I am the king of this area. I will give you sumptuous food and sufficient water. Please come along with me. Not only that, I will make permanent arrangement for your sustenance. I give you sufficient money, grains, cows, carts, villages as charity.” said King Vrishadarbhi.
“O King! we never receive anything from anybody as charity. If we receive anything freely, it is nothing but poison. Perhaps you do not know about us. Hence you talked like that. You can go.” said those saints.
King Vrishadarbhi went back to his city. He kept some gold inside some fruits and sent them to the saints through his ministers, for eating. Accordingly, the ministers went to the Saints and offered those fruits to the saints. By simple touch, the saints grasped that those fruits contain gold. They smoothly rejected those fruits and went away.
The ministers went back and told the King what had happened. The King was enraged with great wrath. He performed a Homa (burning sacred fire) and created a demon called Kritti from that Homa. The King ordered Kritti to kill all the saints and cut them into pieces. Kritti went in search of the saints.
At that time the Saints were searching for some fruits to eat. A Sanyasi called Sunassakha approached them and joined them in search of fruits. All of them could not find a single fruit. They went near a pond to pick up atleast some lotus stems for eating. There, Kritti appeared and obstructed them from picking up the stems.
They requested Kritti: “We are suffering with hunger. We could not find anything for eating. Let us eat atleast these stems to subside our hunger” they requested.
“If that is so, tell me your names and then get into the pond” said Kritti.
All the saints realised that it was a demon which had come to kill them. Hence, they revealed their names, with equivalent words, explanations and derivatives which could not be understood by Kritti. Meanwhile Sunassakha told his name correctly, as it was.
Kritti grew angry. “Why you are confusing me. Cannot you tell your name correctly and straight?” said Kritti.
“What! when I told my name correctly, you are finding fault with me. Even if I tell correctly you could not understand. My Mantra Danda will tell you my correct name.” so saying Sunassakha beat Kritti with his Manthra Danda on its head. With that blow, Kritti fell on the ground and reduced to ashes.
Then all of them went into the pond and picked up louts stems and cleaned them and kept the bundle of lotus stems on the bund of the pond. Again all of them went inside the pond to perform daily rituals. When they returned back, they did not find the bundle of lotus stems. They were suspecting each other.
They kept Sunassakha as mediator and made promises.
First Athri said: “Had I stolen the lotus stems, I would be inflicted with the sin of beating a cow, making excretion and urinating in front of Sun, studying Vedas on inauspicious days.
Then Saint Vasishta said: The person who had stolen the lotus stems will be inflicted with the greater sin of evading studying of Vedas; having sexual intercourse being a sanyasi; having a dog along with him; selling of his own daughter; not rescuing a person who sought refuge; asking for charity knowing fully well that that person has nothing to give etc.
All the other saints, Arundhati, including the servant maid and her husband made similar promises to prove their innocence. All of them cursed the one who stole the lotus stems. At last Sunassakha said that giving away the lotus stems to the so called thief is equivalent to giving away his daughter to a wise and learned virtuous brahmin. All astonished for his words. They all suspected that Sunassakha stole those lotus stems.
“O Sunassakha! we are all suffering with hunger. Kindly give those stems to us.” requested those sages and Arundhati.
“O great saints! kindly forgive me. I am telling the truth. With a view to know your mind, I have concealed the bundle of stemps. Please take them and subside your hunger.” so saying Sunassakha brought the bundle of lotus stemps.
Sunassakha continued to say: “I cannot hide myself anymore. I am Devendra. I have come and joined you to save you from Kritti, the demon, created by King Vrishadarbhi for the purpose of killing all of you. I killed that demon. As you are all freed from greediness, you attained Punya Lokas. Let all of us go to heaven.” said Devendra. Then the seven saints, Arundhathi along with Devendra departed to heaven.
“O Pitamaha! Generally, during Pitru ceremonies, chappals and umbrellas are given in charity to Brahmins. Why chappals and umbrellas are chosen for charity. Kindly explain.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! In this connection, I narrate a conversation between Sun and Saint Jamadagni. Once Jamadagni along with his wife Renuka, went far away from their Ashram for a stroll. Jamadagni was holding his bow and Renuka was holding the arrows pouch. While Jamadagni was releasing arrows from his bow, Renuka was collecting the arrows.
This went on upto midday. Sun was shining bright and hot in the middle of the sky. During that hot son, there was some delay in bringing the arrows.
“Why so much delay?” asked Jamadagni.
“The sun is hot. My feet are burning. Hence I stood under a tree for a while. Hence the delay.” replied Renuka.
Jamadagni grew angry. “What! Sun caused your feet burning and pained you. I will teach a lesson to Sun. I will cover the entire Sun with my arrows.” roared Jamadagni.
Sun heard these words and arrived there under the guise of a Brahmin. “O Saint Jamadagni! kindly subside your anger against Sun” requested the Brahmin (Sun).
“Go away. I will pull down the Sun from sky to earth” said Jamadagni.
“O Saint! You are a saint. How can you get anger! Due to the heat of Sun only, the waters in the Seas are transformed into clouds and giving us water in the form of rain. Otherwise, how can we get drinking water and water for cultivation. Therefore, heat of sun is a must.” said Brahmin (Sun). But Jamadagni was not convinced. Then Sun appeared before Jamadagni in his original form.
“O saint Jamadagni! I am Sun. Kindly excuse me if any wrong is committed by me. Kindly receive these two things. These are umbrella and chappals. These two things protect humans from hot sun. If chappals and umbrellas are given to brahmins, attainment of Punya is certain.”said Sun. Jamadagni was very happy.
Dharmaja! in that manner, umbrella and chappals were created by Sun.” said Bhishma.
“O grandsire Bhishma! what would be the behaviour of Sudra to have pleasures on earth and heaven.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmanandana! On a previous occasion, Saint Parasara taught his students some Dharmas. I tell you those teachings.
A sudra who conquers sense organs and inner-enemies viz., Kama, Krodha,Lobha,Moha,Mada and Matsarya, eschews pride and anger; and serves brahmins, kshatriyas and Vaisyas with great devotion, he enjoys pleasures on both earth and heaven.
If a Sudra, avoiding his own dharma and adopts studying Vedas, performs tapas, he falls down to hell.
Study of Vedas for Brahmins, vigour and valour for Kshatriyas; trade and commerce for Vysyas and serving the above three castes for Sudras are ordained duties. These are the duties prescribed by Vedas. If all castes follow their own duties, they attain higher regions. If they follow dharma other than prescribed for their own caste, their fall is certain.
Dharmaja! now I tell you the words of Saint Parasara about Soucha (cleanliness). Northern side during day time and southern side during night time are best for urination and excretion. Urination and excretion shall be done facing northwards during morning, midday and evening times. After excretion, the excretory organs shall be cleaned with left hand smoothly as they are very sensitive. After cleaning, both hands shall be cleaned thoroughly by applying mud. Then feet shall be cleaned thoroughly. Excretion and urination shall not be done in public places.
After excretion, one has to perform Achamanam means taking pure water thrice. Then one should wash his mouth, eyes and nose, arms, chest and naval and sprinkle water on head. Achamanam shall be done facing east or north. This Achamana shall be done after taking food also. This shall be done by all castes.
Dharmaja! Parasara, then, explained the Varna Ashrama Dharmas: For a Brahmin, meditation itself is Yajna. Studying vedas is his livelihood. Tapas brings glory to Brahmin. For Kshatriya, Ruling the Kingdom is his duty. Performing Yajnas, punishing wrong doers, protecting law abiding citizens and maintaining peace and tranquility are his foremost duties. Supplying all kinds of commodities to Yajna is Vysya’s duty. His main profession is trade and commerce and entertaining guests. Serving the above three castes is the livelihood of Sudra. It is equivalent to performing Yajna by Sudra.
The qualities of a Sudra are....soft spoken, peace of mind, control of sense organs, ever vigilant, virtuous behaviour, eschewing greediness; serving sages and saints; earning money by lawful means and serving others. Sudra need not perform charities. Sudras attain the fruits of making charities by serving sages and saints.
Then Parasara told some Dharmas which are applicable to one and all. One should not be greedy; one should treat all creatures and human beings equally; one should be disinterested and detatched towards worldly objects; one should be kind towards others; one should help others to the extent possible; one should feel that the fruits of his virtuous deeds always accompany him.
If anybody commits any wrong unknowingly, and causes harm to others, he should immediately repent for his mis deeds and perform expiation (Prayaschittam). The sin afflicted by killing another person shall not be vanished even by begging years together. The sin afflicted by Drunkenness and lusting teacher’s wife shall not vanish even by self immolation. Therefore one should lead his life with the fear of sin.
Then Parasara told them about bad omens. If anybody beholds a person with golden colour on northern side facing southern side, he may meet his death within three years. If anybody beholds Sun without shining, he may die within two years. If anybody finds holes in his shadow in moon light, he may meet his death within one year. If one finds his shadow without head, his end will be within six months. If one could not hear any sound while closing his ears, he may die within one month. If one loses life in eyes and face turns awkward, he may die on the same day.
In his next birth, he will born in Brahmin, Vysya, and Kshatriya communities, in a rich family. He enjoys pleasures in his next birth also both on earth and in heaven.
But in next birth, he shall realise himself that........... nothing is eternal in this world; nothing follows him after death; birth and death are certain to each and every living being;Samsara is full of sorrows; small happiness always followed by great sorrows;we always crave for such small happiness,forgetting the great sorrows, unaware of the fact that again sorrow follows happiness.
Realising these eternal truths, one should not develop love and affection towards the worldly plealsures. All Karmas yield good abd bad results. One shall not avoid undergoing the results of Karma. He enjoys the fruits of his past virtuous deeds in heaven.
After his Punya is extinguished, he will again take birth in a wise and learned family and worship deities, pitaras and guests. He enjoys marital life with wife and childlren. After half of life, he proceeds to forests and live with sages and saints. Later he becomes Sanyasi and spends austere life, in temples and caves. He eschews anger and desire; pleasure and sorrow, egoism and greediness and spends a contented life. At last he attains liberation.
Such persons, take along with them, their companions also to such a eternal state of liberation. If Sudras serve such Sanyasis, they also attain liberation without any effort on their part. This facility is not available to other castes. Because Sudras serve others. By serving such Sanyasis, they attain Moksha effortlessly along with their masters.
Everybody aspires for liberation but Sudras, by serving Sanyasis, attain liberation easily. But Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vysyas attain liberation by controlling their sense organs. By controlling sense organs and serving Sanyasis, even sinners, prostitutes, downtrodden attained liberation. But all of them, at the inception, shall abandon their sinful acts and lead a virtuous life. A sinner never beholds virtuous path.
Then they should go in search of a righteous teacher and follow his teachings. But they shall not be egoistic that they got realisation through best Guru. The sign of attaining Jnana is being non-egoistic. While serving those Gurus, they may attain liberation. While serving Guru, one shall keep his mind, stomache, genitals, hands, legs, eyes and ears under strict control. (means.....unnecessary thinking, over eating, uncontrolled lust; seeing and hearing unnecessary things and visiting unwanted places.)
If any person follows the above dharmas strictly, he attains liberation. This is called Sankhya. Keeping this Sankhya path in mind, without egnoism and pride, serving a Guru leads to liberation. Sanyasa Ashram is limited to Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vysya. But Soodras attain moksha by serving Sanyasis. Soodra need not become Sanyasi to attain liberation.” said Saint Parasara to his students.
Therefore, Dharmaja! Soodras are more blessed than the other castes.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandsire! It is heard that even in human beings, there are persons worshipped by diving bodies. Kindly enlighten me about them.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmanandana! the same question was asked by Matali (charioteer of Devendra), for which Devendra gave the following reply.
Those who earn money and enjoy sensual pleasures through lawful means; those who possess phisique and beauty desired by beautiful ladies, but do not have any sensual desires towards ladies; those who possess higher education, enormous wealth and riches but do not have pride; those who conquered their sense organs; those who are satisfied with their own wives; those who speak truth always; those who are desirous of performing Tapas; those who remain neat and clean always; those who do not indulge in unnecessary affairs; and those who are sanyasis are worshipped by divine bodies though they are human beings.” said Bhishma.
“O Bhishma! kindly tell me about digging tanks for the welfare of people.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! tanks are the abode for divine bodies, animals etc. In tanks, cows drink water. Hence the person who dug that tank attain Punya Lokas. As long as the tanks remain with full of water, the name and fame of the person who dug those tanks, shall remain. If trees are planted on the bund of the tank, those trees give shade to the passers by and also useful as place of stay for all kinds of birds. The fathers and fore fathers of the persons who dug tanks attain Punya Lokas.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandsire Bhishma! kindly tell me in detail about Grihastha Ashram” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! in this connection, I narrate you the conversation between Goddess Earth (Bhoodevi) and Maha Vishnu. Bhoodevi said thus:
Grihastu shall perform Agni Karya daily. He shall perform Bhoota Bali (offering food to domestic animals and birds) every day. A Grihasthu shall offer cooked rice, milk, fruits and fresh water to Pitaras daily. He shall perform Vaisva Devamu (offering food to Visve Devatas). He shall do poor feeding within his might.
Daily, Grihasthu shall worship guests and offer food to them.If for any reason, a guest is not found on any day, first lump of food shall be offered to Agni. Then Grihasthu shall dine along with his relatives and friends. Then he shall perform Bali (offering) ceremony.
Bali is of two kinds. The first is Srouta Bali. Srouta Bali was mentioned in Vedas. This Bali is concerned with herbs, forests and demons. The second is Smartha Bali. This Bali relates to cattle, birds etc. Grihasthu shall perform both these Balis. After performing these two Balis (offerings) Grihasthu shall take food.” said Goddess Earth to Maha Vishnu.
Dharmanandana! this is the reply for your question about Grihasthu” said Bhishma to Dharmaja.
Thus said Sooti to Saint Sounaka and other sages and saints the story of Maha Bharata as told by Saint Vaisampayana to Janamejaya.