SHRIMAD DEVI BHAGAVATAM | BOOK 11 CHAPTER 6
THE ELEVENTH BOOK
On the greatness of Rudrākṣas
1-21. Iśvara said:
O Kārtikeya! Kuśagranthi, Jīvapattrī and other rosaries cannot compare to one-sixteenth part of the Rudrākṣa rosary.
As Viṣṇu is the best of all the Puruṣas, the Ganga is the best of all the rivers, Kaśyapa, amongst the Munis, Uchchaiśravā amongst the horses, Mahā Deva amongst the Devas, Bhagavatī amongst the Devīs, so the Rudrākṣam rosary is the best of all the rosaries.
All the fruits that occur by reading the stotras and holding all the Vratas, are obtained by wearing the Rudrākṣam bead.
At the time of making the Akṣaya gift, the Rudrākṣam bead is capable of giving high merits. The merit that accrues by giving Rudrākṣam to a peaceful devotee of Śiva, cannot be expressed in words.
If anybody gives food to a man holding the Rudrākṣam rosary, his twenty one generations are uplifted and he ultimately becomes able to live in the Rudra Loka.
He who does not apply ashes on his forehead and who does not hold Rudrākṣam and is averse to the worship of Śiva is inferior to a chaṇḍāla.
If Rudrākṣam be placed on the head then the flesh-eaters, drunkards, and the associates with the vicious become freed of their sins.
Whatever fruits are obtained by performing various sacrifices, asceticism and the study of the Vedas are easily attained by simply holding the Rudrākṣam rosary.
Whatever merits are obtained by reading the four Vedas and all the Purāṇas and bathing in all the Tīrthas and the results that are obtained by immense practice in learning all are obtained by wearing Rudrākṣam.
If at the time of death, one wears Rudrākṣam and dies, one attains Rudrahood. One has not to take again one's birth.
If anybody dies by holding Rudrākṣam on his neck or on his two arms, he uplifts his twenty-one generations and lives in the Rudra Loka.
Be he a Brāhman or a Chaṇḍāla, be he with qualities or without qualities, if he applies ashes to his body and holds Rudrākṣam he surely attains Śivahood.
Be he pure or impure; whether he eats uneatables or be he a Mlechcha or a Chāṇḍāla or a Great Sinner, anybody if he holds Rudrākṣam is surely equal to Rudra. There is no doubt in this.
If anybody holds Rudrākṣam on his head he gets Koṭi times the fruit; on his ears, ten Koṭi times the fruit, on his neck, one hundred Koṭi times the fruit; on his holy thread, ayuta times the fruit; on his arm, one lakh Koṭi times the fruit and if one wears Rudrākṣam on one's wrist, one attains Mokṣa.
Whatever acts, mentioned in the Vedas be performed with Rudrākṣam on, the fruits obtained are unbounded.
Even if a man be without any Bhakti and if he wears on his neck the Rudrākṣa rosary though he does always vicious acts, he becomes freed of the bondage of this world.
Even if a man does not hold Rudrākṣa but if he be always full of devotion towards the Rudrākṣam, he attains the fruit that is got by wearing the Rudrākṣam and he attains the Śiva Loka and is honoured like Śiva.
As in the country of Kīkaṭa, an ass which used to carry Rudrākṣam seed got Śivahood after his death, so any man, whether he be a Jñāni (wise) or Ajñāni (unwise) attains Śivahood if he holds Rudrākṣam. There is no doubt in this.
22-28. Skanda said:
“O God! How is it that in the country of Kīkaṭa (Bihar), an ass had to carry Rudrākṣa; who gave him the Rudrākṣas! And what for did he hold that?”
Bhagavān Iśvara said:
O Son! Now hear the history of the case.
In the Vindhya mountain one ass used to carry the load of Rudrākṣam of a traveller. Once the ass felt tired and became unable to carry the load and fell down on the road and died.
After his death the ass came to Me by My Grace, becoming Mahēśvara with trident in his hand and with three eyes.
O Kārtikeya! As many faces as there are in the Rudrākṣam, for so many thousand Yugas the holder resides with honour in the Śiva Loka.
One should declare the greatness of Rudrākṣam to one's own disciple; never to disclose its glories to one who is not a disciple nor a devotee of Rudrākṣam nor to him who is an illiterate brute.
Be he a Bhakta or not a Bhakta, be he low or very low, if he holds Rudrākṣam then he is freed from all sins. No equal can be to the merit of him who holds the Rudrākṣas.
29-39. The Munis, the Seers of truth, describe this holding on of Rudrākṣam as a very great vow.
He who makes a vow to hold one thousand Rudrākṣas, becomes like Rudra; the Devas bow down before him.
If thousand Rudrākṣas be not obtained, one should hold at least sixteen Rudrākṣas on each arm, one Rudrākṣam on the crown hair; on the two hands, twelve on each; thirty-two on the neck; forty on the head; six on each ear and one hundred and eight Rudrākṣas on the breast; and then he becomes entitled to worship like Rudra.
If anybody holds Rudrākṣam together with pearls, Prabāla, crystal, silver, gold and gem (lapis lazuli), he becomes a manifestation of Śiva.
If anybody, through laziness even, holds Rudrākṣam, the sin cannot touch him as darkness cannot come near light. If anybody makes japam of a mantram with a Rudrākṣa rosary, he gets unbounded results.
Such a merit giving Rudrākṣam, if one such Rudrākṣam be not found in any one's body, his life becomes useless, like a man who is void of Tripuṇḍrak (three curved horizontal marks made on the forehead by the worshippers of Śiva).
If anybody simply washes his head all over with Rudrākṣam on, he gets the fruit of bathing in the Ganges. There is no doubt in this.
One faced Rudrākṣam, the five faced, eleven faced and fourteen faced Rudrākṣas are highly meritorious and entitled to worship by all.
The Rudrākṣam is Śankara made manifest; so it is always worshipped with devotion. The greatness of Rudrākṣam is such as it can make a king out of a poor man.
On this point, I will tell you an excellent Purāṇic story.
40-49. There was a Brāhmin, named Girinātha in the country of Kosala. He was proficient in the Vedas and Vedāngas, religious and very rich. He used to perform sacrifices.
He had a beautiful son named Guṇanidhi. The son gradually entered into his youth and looked beautiful like Kandarpa, the God of Love.
While he was studying at his Guru Sudhiṣaṇa's house, he, by his beauty and youth captivated the mind of his Guru's wife named Muktāvalī.
The Guru's wife became so much enchanted by his extraordinary beauty that she, being unable to control herself, mixed with him and for some time remained with him in secret enjoyment.
Then, feeling inconveniences, due to the fear of his Guru, to enjoy her freely, used poison for the Guru, killed him and then he began to live freely with her.
Next when his father, mother came to know about this, he put to death instantly his father and mother, administering poison to them.
He became addicted to various pleasures and his wealth was exhausted gradually. He began to steal in Brāhman’s houses and became addicted very much to drinking.
His relatives outcasted him from the society for his bad behaviour and banished him outside the town.
He then went into a dense forest with Muktāvalī; and he began to kill the Brāhmins for their wealth.
Thus a long time passed away; when at last he fell into the jaws of death.
50-54. Then to take him to the region of Death, thousands of the Yama's messengers came; at the same time the Śiva's messengers came from Śiva Loka.
O Kārtikeya! A quarrel then ensued between both - the parties of Yama and Śiva.
The Yama's messengers then said:
“O Servants of Śambhu! What are the merits of this man that you have come to take him? First speak to us of his merits.”
Śiva's messengers spoke:
“Fifteen feet below the ground where this man died, there exists the Rudrākṣam. O Yama's messengers! By the influence of that Rudrākṣam, all his sins are destroyed; and we have come to take him to Śiva.”
Then the Brāhmin Guṇanidhi assumed a divine form and, getting on an aerial car went with Śiva's messengers before Śiva.
O One of good vows! Thus I have described briefly to you the greatness of Rudrākṣam. This is capable to remove all sorts of sins and yield great merits.
Here ends the Sixth Chapter of the Eleventh Book on the Greatness of Rudrākṣas in the Mahāpurāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.