SHRIMAD DEVI BHAGAVATAM | BOOK 11 CHAPTER 3
THE ELEVENTH BOOK
On the glories of the Rudrākṣa beads
1-21. Śrī Nārāyaṇa said:
O Nārada! There are the six kinds of Āchamana:
(1) Śuddha, (2) Smārta, (3) Paurāṇik, (4) Vaidik, (5) Tāntric and(6) Śrauta.
The act of cleaning after evacuating oneself of urine and faeces is known as Śuddha Śaucha.
After cleaning, the Āchamana, that is performed according to rules, is named as Smārta and Paurāṇik.
In places where the Brahmā Yajña is performed, the Vaidik and Śrauta Āchamanas are done.
And where acts, e.g., the knowledge of warfare are being executed, the Tantric Āchamana is done.
Then he is to remember the Gāyatrī Mantra with Praṇava (Om) and fasten the lock of hair on the crown of his head, thus controlling all the hindrances (Bighna Bandhanam).
Sipping again, he is to touch his heart, two arms, and his two shoulders.
After sneezing, spitting, touching the lower lip with teeth, accidentally telling a lie, and talking with a very sinful man, he is to touch his right ear (where the several Devas reside).
On the right ear of the Brāhmaṇas reside Fire, Water, the Vedas, the Moon, the Sun, and the Vāyu (wind).
Then one is to go to a river or any other reservoir of water, and there to perform one's morning ablutions and to cleanse his body thoroughly.
For the body is always unclean and dirty and various diets are being excreted out of the nine holes (doors) in the body. The morning bath removes all these impurities. Therefore the morning bath is essentially necessary.
The sins that arise from going to those who are not fit for such purposes, from accepting gifts from impure persons or from the practice of any other secret vices all are removed by the morning ablutions.
Without this bath, no acts bear any fruit. Therefore every day, this morning bath is very necessary. Taking the Kuśa grass in hand, one is to perform one's bath and Sandhyā.
If for seven days, the morning ablutions are not taken, and if for three days, the Sandhyās are not performed, if for twelve days, the daily Homas be not performed, the Brāhmaṇas become Śudras.
The time for making the Homa in the morning is very little; therefore lest ablutions be done fully which would take a long time and hence the time for the Homa might elapse, the morning bath should be performed quickly.
After the bath the Prāṇāyāma is to be done. Then the full effects of bath are attained.
There is nothing holier in this world or in the next than reciting the Gāyatrī. It saves the singer who sings the Gāyatrī; hence it is called Gāyatrī.
During the time of Prāṇāyāma, one must control one's Prāṇa and Apāna Vāyus, i.e., make them equal. The Brāhmin, knowing the Vedas and devoted to his Dharma, must practise Prāṇāyāma three times with the repetition of Gāyatrī and Praṇava and the three Vyārhiti (Om Bhu, Om Bhuvar, Om Svaḥ).
While practising, the muttering of Gāyatrī is to be done three times. In Prāṇāyāma, the Vaidik mantra is to be repeated, never a Laukika Mantra is to be uttered.
At the time of Prāṇāyāma, if anybody's mind be not fixed, even for a short while, like a mustard seed on the apex of a cow-horn, he cannot save even one hundred-and one persons in his father's or in his mother's line.
Prāṇāyāma is called Sagarbha when performed with the repetition of some mantra; it is called Agarbha when it is done simply with mere meditation, without repeating any mantra.
After the bathing, the Tarpaṇam with its accompaniments, is to be done; i.e., the peace offerings are made with reference to the Devas, the Riṣis, and the Pitris (whereby we invoke the blessings from the subtle planes where the high-souled persons dwell).
After this, a clean pair of clothes is to be worn and then he should get up and come out of the water.
The next things preparatory to practise Japam are to wear the Tilaka marks of ashes and to put on the Rudrākṣa beads.
He who holds thirty-two Rudrākṣa beads on his neck, forty on his head, six on each ear (12 on two ears), twenty four beads on two hands (twelve on each hand) thirty- two beads on two arms (sixteen on each), one bead on each eye and one bead on the hair on the crown, and one hundred and eight beads on the breast, (251 in all) becomes himself Mahā Deva.
One is expected to use them that way.
O Muni! You can use the Rudrākśas after tying, stringing together with gold or silver always on your Śikhā, the tuft of hair on the head or on your ears.
On the holy thread, on the hands, on the neck, or on the belly (abdomen) one can keep the Rudrākṣa after one has repeated sincerely and with devotion the five syllable mantra of Śiva, or one has repeated the Praṇava (Om).
Holding the Rudrākṣa implies that the man has realised the knowledge of Śiva Tattva.
O Brāhman! The Rudrākṣa bead that is placed on the tuft or on the crown hair represents the Tārā tattva, i.e., Omkārā; the Rudrākṣa beads that are held on the two ears are to be thought of as Deva and Devī, (Śiva and Śiva).
22-37. The one hundred and eight Rudrākṣa beads on the sacrificial thread are considered as the one hundred and eight Vedas (signifying the Full Knowledge, as sixteen digits of the Moon completed; on the arms, are considered as the Dik (quarters); on the neck, are considered as the Devī Saraswatī and Agni (fire).
The Rudrākṣa beads ought to be taken by men of all colours and castes.
The Brāhmaṇas, Kṣattriyas and Vaisyas should hold them after purifying them with Mantras, i.e., knowingly; whereas the Śudras can take them without any such purification by the Mantras, i.e., unknowingly.
By holding or putting on the Rudrākṣa beads, persons become the Rudras incarnate in flesh and body. There is no doubt in this.
By this all the sins arising from seeing, hearing, remembering, smelling, eating prohibited things, talking incoherently, doing prohibited things, etc., are entirely removed with the Rudrākṣa beads on the body; whatever acts, eating, drinking, smelling, etc., are done, are, as it were, done by Rudra Deva Himself.
O Great Muni! He who feels shame in holding and putting on the Rudrākṣa beads, can never be freed from this Samsāra even after the Koṭi births. He who blames another person holding Rudrākṣa beads has defects in his birth (is a bastard). There is no doubt in this.
It is by holding on Rudrākṣa that Brahmā has remained steady in His Brahmāhood untainted and the Munis have been true to their resolves. So there is no act better and higher than holding the Rudrākṣa beads.
He who gives clothing and food to a person holding Rudrākṣa beads with devotion is freed of all sins and goes to the Śiva Loka.
He who feasts gladly any holder of such beads at the time of Śrādh, goes undoubtedly to the Pitri Loka.
He who washes the feet of a holder of Rudrākṣa and drinks that water, is freed of all sins and resides with honour in the Śiva Loka.
If a Brāhmaṇa holds with devotion the Rudrākṣa beads with a necklace and gold, he attains the Rudrahood.
O Intelligent One! Wherever whoever holds with or without faith and devotion the Rudrākṣa beads with or without any mantra, is freed of all sins and is entitled to the Tattvajñāna.
I am unable to describe fully the greatness of the Rudrākṣa beads. In fact, all should by all means hold the Rudrākṣa beads on their bodies.
Note: The number one hundred and eight (108) signifies the One Hundred and Eight Vedas, the Brāhman, the Source of all Wisdom and Joy.
Here ends the Third Chapter of the Eleventh Book on the glories of the Rudrākṣa beads in the Mahā Purāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.