SHRIMAD DEVI BHAGAVATAM | BOOK 11 CHAPTER 23
THE ELEVENTH BOOK
On the Tapta Krichchhra vrata and others
1-20. Nārāyaṇa said:
The best Sādhaka, then uttering after his meals, the mantra “Amritāpidhānamasi.” (O Water-nectar! Let Thou be the covering to the food that I have taken), should make Āchamana (sip one Gaṇḍuṣa water) and distribute the remnant food (the leavings) to those who take the leavings:
“Let the servants and maid-servants of our family that expect the leavings of food be satisfied with what leavings I give to them.”
“Let those inhabitants of the Raurava hell or other unholy places who have remained there for a Padma or Arbuda years and want to drink water, be satisfied with this water that I offer to them and let this water bring unending happiness to them.”
Repeating the above two mantras let the house-holder distribute the leavings of food to the servants and the water to those who want water respectively.
Then opening the knot of the Pavitra (a ring of Kuśa grass worn on the fourth finger on certain religious occasions), let him throw this on the square Maṇḍalam or the ground.
The Brāhmaṇa that throws this Kuśa grass on the vessel (Pātra) is said to defile the vow of Brāhmaṇas, taking their food.
The Brāhmaṇa that has not yet washed his face after taking the food, or touching another such Brāhmaṇa or a dog, or a Śūdra, should fast one day and then drink Pañchagavya and thus purify himself.
And in case the Uchhiṣṭa Brāhmin (who has not washed his mouth and hands after meals) be touched by another Brāhmin, who is not Uchhiṣṭa, then simply bathing will purify him.
By offering this Ekāhuti (oblation once) according to rules mentioned above, one obtains the fruit of performing ten million sacrifices; and by offering this oblation five times one gets the endless fruit, of performing fifty million sacrifices,
and if one feeds such a man who knows well how to do this Prānāgni homa, then he as well as he whom he feeds both derive full benefits and they ultimately go to heaven.
The Brāhmaṇa acquires while taking each of his mouthful of food the fruit of eating Pañchagavya, who takes his food duly with the holy Pavitra Kuśa grass tied on his finger.
During the three times of worship, the devotee is to do his daily Japam, Tarpaṇam and Homa and he should feed the Brāhmins.
Thus the five limbed Puraścharaṇa is completely done.
The religious man should sleep on a low bedding (lie on the ground); he is to control his senses and anger; he is to eat moderately, the things that are light, sweet and good; he is to be humble, peaceful and calm.
He is to bathe thrice daily and not to hold any unholy conversation with any woman, a Śūdra, one who is fallen, without any initiation, and who is an atheist; as well he should not speak in a language spoken by the chaṇḍālas.
One is to bow down before him who is in the act of performing the Japam, Homa and worship, etc.; one is not to talk with him.
Never by deed, mind or word, on all occasions never speak about sexual intercourses; nor hold any contact with such people. For the relinquishment of this subject is called Brahmacharyam (continence) of the kings as well as of the house-holders.
But one should go to one’s legal wife during the night time after her menstruation duly according to the rules of the Śāstras; the Brahmacharyam is not thereby destroyed.
Man cannot repay the three-fold debts and he cannot aspire for Mokṣa without procreating sons or without doing the duties of the house-holders, as prescribed by the Śāstras.
An attempt to do so becomes entirely fruitless like the breast on the neck of a goat. Rather it drags one downward. So the Śrutis say.
So let yourself be free first from the debts due to the Devas, the debts due to the Riṣis and the debts due to the Pitris:
Make sacrifices first and then be free from the Devas’ debt. Hold Brahmacharyam and be free from the Riṣis debt. Offer til and water; that is, do Śrāddhas and Tarpaṇams and be free from the debt due to the Pitris.
Then do readily practise your own Varṇāśrama Dharma.
21-33. One is to practise Krichchra Chāndrāyaṇa Vrata and to take for his food, milk, fruits, roots and vegetables, Haviṣyānnam and food obtained by begging so that one may become sinless.
One is to make japam for Puraścharaṇam.
One is to avoid salt, salty or alkaline substances, acid, garlic, turnips, eating in Kamsa vessels, chewing betel, eating twice, putting on impure clothings, the intoxicating things and the un-śāstric nocturnal japam;
also one is not to waste one’s time over blaming and trying to find faults with the relatives, playing at dice, or talking at random with one’s wife (so that evil effects may arise).
One is to spend one’s time in worshipping the Devas, reciting the hymns of praise, and studying the Śāstras.
One is to sleep on the ground, practise Brahmacharyam, and the vow of silence, bathe thrice, avoid practising anything which befits the Śudras only.
One is to worship every day, make charities duly and be always happy, recite stotras daily, do occasional Deva worships, have faith in one’s Guru and Deva.
These twelve rules are to ensure success to the devotee who does Puraścharaṇam.
One is to daily praise the Sun, with one’s face turned towards Him, do japam before Him; or one is to worship one’s own Deity in front of fire or the image of any god, and do japam simultaneously.
The devotee who practises Puraścharaṇam is to bathe, worship, do japam, meditate, practise Homa, Tarpaṇam, is to have no desires and to surrender all fruits to one’s own desired Deity, etc.
These are necessarily to be observed by him. Therefore while doing japam, Homa, etc., the devotee’s mind is to remain always pleasant and satisfied.
One should be ready to practise tapasyā, to see the Śāstras and be merciful to all the beings.
As asceticism leads one to the heaven and to the attainment of one’s desires, therefore know this that all the powers come to an ascetic.
An ascetic can cause another’s death (māran); he can injure others, cure diseases and kill all. Whatever the several Riṣis wanted from the Devī Gāyatrī and to that end made Puraścharaṇam and worshipped Her, they obtained from Her all those things.
O Nārada! I will speak of Śānti Karmas etc., in a future chapter. Here I will speak of those rules, etc., that are to be observed in Puraścharaṇam in as much as they play the principal part to success.
First of all shave yourself and have your hairs and nails, etc., cut off and bathe and be pure.
Then perform the Prājāpatya Prāyaśchitta for one’s peace and purification and next do the Puraścharaṇam of the Gāyatrī.
Do not speak the whole day and night. Keep your thoughts pure. If words are to be spoken, speak only what you take as true.
First recite Mahā Vyārhiti and then the Sāvitrī mantra with Praṇava prefixed. Then recite the sin-destroying mantra “Āpohiṣṭhā, etc.,” and Svasti matī Sūkta and “Pāvamānī Sūkta.” In every action, in its beginning and at its end one is to understand the necessity of doing the Japam, why and what for one is doing that.
One is to repeat the Praṇava, the three Vyārhitis and Sāvitrī ayuta times or one thousand times or one hundred times or ten times.
Then offer with water, the peace offerings (Tarpaṇam) to the Āchārya, Ṛiṣi, Chhandas, and the Devas.
Being engaged in action, do not speak any impure language of the Mlechchas or talk with any Śūdra or any bad person.
Do not talk with wife in the period of menstruation, with one who has fallen, with the low-class person, with any hater of the Devas and the Brāhmaṇas, Acharyas and Gurus, with those who blame the fathers and mothers; nor show any disrespect to anybody.
Thus I have spoken in due order about all the rules of Krichchhra vrata. Now I will speak of the rules of the Prājāpatya Krichchhra, Śāntapana, Parāka Krichchhra and Chāndrāyaṇa.
34-54. One becomes freed of all the sins, if one performs the above five Chāndrāyaṇas.
By the performance of the Tapta Krichchhra, all sins are burnt off in an instant.
By the performance of the three Chāndrāyaṇas the people get purified and go to the Brahmā Loka.
By doing eight Chāndrāyaṇas, one sees face to face one’s Devatā, ready to grant boons.
With ten Chāndrāyaṇas, one gets the knowledge of the Vedas and one acquires all what one wants.
In the observance of the Krichchhra Prājāpatya Vrata, one has to take food once in midday for three days, once in the evening for three days, and for the next three days whatever one gets without asking anything from anybody.
For the next three days one is not to take anything at all and go on with one’s work.
These twelve days’ work constitutes the Prājāpatya Vrata.
Now about the rules of the Śāntapana Vrata:
On the preceding day one has got to eat food consisting of the mixture of cow milk, cow-dung milk, curd, ghee and the water of the Kuśa grass; the day following he is to fast.
These two days’ work constitutes the Śāntapana Vrata.
Now about the Ati Krichchhra vrata:
For the first three days, one is to eat one mouthful of food a day and for the next three days one is to fast. This is the Ati Krichchhra vrata. This vrata repeated three times is called Mahā Śāntapana vrata.
According to the opinion of Yama, the fifteen days’ work constitutes Mahā Śāntapana.
For the three days one has to eat cow-milk; for the next three days, cow-dung, for the next three days, curd; for the next three days milk; and for the next three days one has to take ghee. Then one becomes pure. This is called the all sin-destroying Mahā Śāntapana Vrata.
Now I am speaking of the nature of the Tapta Krichchhra Vrata:
The Tapta Krichchhra vrata is carried out for the twelve days.
For the first three days, one has to drink hot water; for the next three days, hot milk; for the next three days, the hot ghee and for the next three days, air only.
Every day one has to bathe once only under the above rules, and remain self-controlled.
If one drinks water simply everyday under the above conditions, that is called the Prājāpatya vrata.
To remain without any food for twelve days according to rules is called the Parāka Krichchhra vrata. By this vrata, all sins are destroyed.
Now about the rules of taking food in the Chāndrāyaṇa vrata:
In the dark fortnight one will have to decrease one mouthful of food every day and in the bright fortnight one will have to increase one mouthful every day and one has to fast completely on the Amāvāsyā (new moon) day. One has to bathe thrice daily during every Sandhya time. This is known as the Chāndrāyaṇa Vrata.
In the Śiśu Chāndrāyaṇa Vrata one will have to take four mouthfuls of food in the midday and four mouthfuls in the evening.
In the Yati Chāndrāyaṇa one has to take eight mouthfuls in the midday and to control his passions.
55. These abovementioned vratas are observed by the Rudras, Ādityas, Vasus, and Maruts; and they are enjoying thereby their full safety.
Each of the above vratas purifies the seven Dhātus of the body in seven nights simply! First skin, then blood, then flesh, bones, sinews, marrows and semen are purified. There is no doubt in this.
Thus purifying the Ātman by the above vratas, one is to do religious actions. The work done by such a purified man is sure to be met with success.
First control the senses, be pure and do good actions. Then all your desires will be undoubtedly fructified. Fast for three nights, without doing any actions and see the result. (You will not do anything and you want self-control! Is this a child’s play?)
Perform for three days the nocturnal vratas. Then proceed with your desired duties. If one works according to these methods, one gets the fruits of Puraścharaṇam.
O Nārada! By the Puraścharaṇam of Śrī Gāyatrī Devī all desires are fulfilled and all sins are destroyed.
Before doing Puraścharaṇam purify your body by performing the above vratas. Then you will get all your desires completely fulfilled.
O Nārada! Thus I have spoken to you of the secret rules of Puraścharaṇam. Never disclose this to any other body. For it is recognised equivalent to the Vedas.
Here ends the Twenty-third Chapter of the Eleventh Book on the Tapta Krichchhra vrata and others in the Mahā Purāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.