SHRIMAD DEVI BHAGAVATAM | BOOK 3 CHAPTER 12
THE THIRD BOOK
On the Ambā Yajña rules
1. The king spoke:
O Lord! Kindly describe the rules and regulations as to how the Devī Yajña (sacrifice) is performed with its duly prescribed rites and ceremonies. Hearing it I will unwearied perform it, as far as it lies in my power, with as little delay as possible.
2. How the worship is done, what are the mantras, what are the articles required for oblations, how many Brahmins are required and what Dakṣiṇās are to be paid to them, describe in detail all these.
3-5. Vyāsa said:
O king! I am telling you duly how the Yajña is performed, hear. The actions are always threefold according as the preparations are made and according as they are practised with regard to the observed rules. The threefold divisions are Sāttvic, Rājasic and Tāmasic. The Munis do the Sāttvic Puja, the kings celebrate Rājasic and the Rākṣasas do the Tāmasic Pujas. There is another Puja which is devoid of qualities and which is performed by the liberated ones. I will describe to you all these in detail.
6-7. O king! The Yajña is then called Sāttvic, when it is performed in a Sāttvic country, like Benares, etc., in Sāttvic time, e.g., in Uttarāyaṇa, when the materials collected are earned rightly, when the mantras are those of the Vedas, when the Brāhmin is Srotriya, where there is Sāttvic faith, void of any attachment towards the sensual objects, when all these happen to coincide.
O king! When all the above takes place and there is purification of materials, actions, and mantras, i.e., when the materials are all right, when the actions are done as they ought to be, and where there is no error or omission, etc., in the mantras, etc., then and then only the Yajña becomes perfect and no doubt yield full results; there would be nothing contrary to this.
8-9. If the Yajña is performed with articles not rightly earned, then there is no fame either in this world nor there is any reward in the next world.
Therefore it is necessary that the Yajña should be performed with rightly earned materials; then there is fame in this world and better state in the next world; and happiness is also acquired; there is no doubt in this.
10. O king! It is before your eyes, as it were, that the Pāṇḍavas performed the Rajasuya Yajña, the king of sacrifices, and, on the completion whereof, the excellent Dakṣiṇās
were paid to the Brahmins and others.
11. In that Yajña the highly intelligent Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, the Lord of the Yādavas was present, as well as many other Brāhmaṇas, like Bharadvāja and other fully enlightened souls.
12. But within three months after completing the sacrifice, the Pāṇḍavas suffered extreme hardships and had to live, with extreme difficulty, as exiles in the forest.
13. Consider the insult shown towards Draupadi, the Pāṇḍava’s defeat in the play of gambling, their going away to dwell in the forest; these hardships were borne by the Pāṇḍavas. What rewards did then the Pāṇḍavas derive from the Rājasūya Yajña?
14-15. All the high-souled Pāṇḍavas had to work as slaves of Virāta; and Draupadī, the best of women, was very much troubled and insulted by Kichaka. When all these occurred, anyone can easily ask where were the ashirvādas of the pure souled Brāhmaṇas? Also what result did they derive from their unflinching devotion towards Śrī Kṛṣṇa when they were involved in the above critical state?
16. No one protected Draupadī, the chaste and the best, the daughter of Drupada, when she was drawn by her hair on her head into the hall of assembly where gambling was being played?
17. O king! How could all these happen in a place where Śrī Bhagavān Keśava Himself and the high souled Yudhisthira were present? If one argues, one would conclude “there must have been something wrong in that Yajña.”
18. If you say that nothing wrong happened in the Yajña, all these were caused by Fate;
then it follows that the Vedic mantras, Agamas and the other Vedic rites are all fruitless.
19. If it be argued that though the Vedic mantras are powerful enough to bear fruits, yet whatever is predestined to come to pass, will surely pass, then the proposition resolves into this that all the means, expedients, and appliances lead to meaningless conclusions.
20. Then the Agamas, the Vedas merely recommend a vidhi or precept by stating the good arising from its proper observance and the evils arising from its omission and also by adducing historical instances as its support; in other words, they are powerless as far as bearing fruits is concerned; all the acts are meaningless, asceticism to attain Heaven comes as useless and the peculiar duties of caste are fruitless. O king! This view is exceedingly culpable; it is never fit for acceptance by the high-souled persons.
21. O King! If what is laid by God in the womb of futurity (a state of things preordained by God in which it is sure to take place in the fullness of time), be taken as the first-hand proof, then all the other proofs are rendered null and void. Therefore Fate and human exertion both are to be undoubtedly taken into account to ensure success.
22. Human exertions being applied, if the results come otherwise, the wise Pundits would infer that some defects, omissions or imperfections crept into the work.
23. All the Pundits, very learned and institutors of sacrifices have classed Karmas under different headings according as the agents, mantras, and articles employed in the worship vary.
24. Once on an occasion Viśvarupa, ordained as a Gum by Indra (in a Yajña) (intentionally) did things contrary so as to benefit the Daityas, who belonged to his mother's side.
25. Viśvarupa uttered repeatedly the mantrams beneficial to the gods, while they were present; and, during their absence, prayed heartily for the welfare of the Daityas; and, in the long run, protected the Daityas.
26. On seeing the Asuras gaining strength, Indra, the Lord of the Devas, became very much enraged and instantly cut off Viśvarupa’s head by his thunderbolt.
27. O King! This is then the instance where the contrary fruits were borne out by the agent employed in performing the Yajña; there is no doubt in this. This is not possible in the other cases.
28. See, again, the king of Pānchāla performed his sacrifice to get a son to kill Droṇa, the son of Bharadvāja; and though he did this out of angry motives, still Dhristadyumna was born out of fire; and Draupadī sprang out of the altar.
29. Again, in days of yore, Dasaratha, the king of Kosala, was sonless; and he instituted a sacrifice to get one son; and lo! be got four sons.
30. Therefore O King! If the Yajña be performed according to proper rules and regulations, it yields fruits in all respects; again if it be done unrighteously, without any regard for the rules, etc., it yields results just the contrary; there is no doubt in this.
31-32. Therefore, there must have been some defects in the Yajña of the Pāṇḍavas; hence contrary effects ensued, and therefore the truthful king Yudhisṭhīra and his powerful brothers and the chaste Draupadī were all defeated in the play at dice.
33. It might be that the materials were not of a good stamp; they were all earned by killing the kings, good many in number, and earned thus unrighteously; or it might happen that the Pāṇḍavas did their Yajña with too much egoism. However, this is certain that there had crept in some defects in their actions.
34. O King! The Sāttvic Yajña is rare; it can be done only by the Sāttvic Munis who live in the 3rd order of the household life or who live as hermits.
35-36. The ascetics that eat daily the Sāttvic food, the roots and fruits, collected from forests and obtained rightly, that is good to the Munis and that is well cleaned and purified, are the only ones that can perform with full devotions the Sāttvic Yajñas, where no animals are sacrificed (where there are no sacrificial posts to which the victim is fastened at the time of immolation) and where offerings of cakes of ground rice in vessels are given. These are the best of all the Sāttvic Yajñas.
37. The Kṣattriyas and the Vaisyas perform the Yajñas with Abhimān (self-conceit and egoism) where many presents are given, animals are sacrificed, and all things are well cleansed, purified and elaborately decorated. This Yajña is called Rājasic.
38. That Yajña is according to the sages, Tāmasic, where the Dānavas, puffed up with arrogance, infatuated with anger, jealousy and wickedness perform their acts with the sole object of killing their enemies.
39. That Yajña is called Mānas Yāg or mānasic (mental) where the high-souled Munis, void of worldly desires, collect mentally all the necessary articles and perform the Yajña with the sole object of liberation from the bondages of the world.
40. In all the other Yajñas (than the Manas Yāg) some imperfections or other naturally arise, due to some defects in the materials, or want of faith, or in the performance or in the Brāhmins.
41. No other Yajñas can be so complete as the Mānasa Yajña; the reason being that in the other Yajñas some, imperfections come out due to time, place, and separate ingredients to be collected.
42-43. Now hear who are the persons fit to undertake this mental Yajña in honour of the Great Goddess. First this mind is to be purified, by making it void of the Guṇas; the mind being pure, the body becomes also pure, there is no doubt. When the mind becomes completely pure, after it has abandoned all sensual objects, fit for enjoyment, then that man is entitled to perform the Mother's Yajña.
44-45. There he should build mentally the big hall for sacrifice, many Yojanas wide, decorated with high polished pillars out of the materials brought for the purpose (e. g., fortitude, etc.). Within the hall he will imagine a wide and spacious altar and place the Holy Fire on it mentally according to due rules and regulations.
46-47. He is to select mentally the Brāhmiṇ priests and consecrate them as Brahmā, Adharyu, Hotā, Prastotā, Udgātā, Pratihatrā and other assistants. He is to worship mentally all these priests.
48. Then he will have to imagine the five Vāyus, Prāṇa, Apāna, Vyāna, Samāna, and Udāna, as the five fires and locate them duly on the altar.
49-50. Prāṇa Vāyu stands for Gārhapatya; Apāna, for Āhavanīya; Vyāna for Dakṣiṇā; Samāna for Avasathya; and Udāna for Sabhya Agni. These fires are all very terrible; then one should place these carefully on the altar with great concentration of mind. He is to collect then all the other necessary materials and think that all are very pure and free from any defects.
51-57. In the Mānasic Yajña, mind is the offerer of oblations and mind the Yajamāna, the performer of the Sacrifice; and the Presiding Deity of the Sacrifice is the Nirguṇa Brahmā.
The Great Goddess, the Nirguṇa Energy, who is always auspicious and gives the feeling of dispassion and indifference to worldly objects is the awarder of fruits in this Yajña. She is the Brahmā Vidyā, She is the substratum of all and She is all pervading.
The Brāhmin is to take the Devī's name and offer oblations in the fire of Prāṇa, the necessary articles for the Devī's satisfaction.
Then he is to make his Citta and Prāṇa void of any worldly thought, or any worldly support and to offer oblations to the Eternal Brahmā through the mouth of Kunḍalinī (the Serpent Fire.)
Next, within his Nirvikalpa mind, by means of Samādhi, be should meditate own Self, the Maheśvarī Herself by his consciousness. Thus, when he will see his own self in all the beings and all the beings in his own self, then the Jīva will get the vision of the Goddess Mahāvidyā, giving auspicious liberation (Mokṣa).
O King! After the high souled Munis have seen the Goddess, of everlasting intelligence and bliss, then he becomes the knower of Brāhman. All the Māyā, the cause of this Universe becomes burnt up; only, as long as the body remains, the Prārabdha Karma remains.
58. Then the Jīvas become liberated, while living; and when the body dissolves, he attains to final liberation.
Therefore, O Child! Whoever worships the Mother becomes crowned with success; there is no doubt in this.
59. Therefore follow the advice of the Guru, the Spiritual Teacher; and with all attention, hear, think and meditate on the Great Goddess of the World.
60. O King! Liberation is sure to ensue of this Mānasa Yajña. All the other Yajñas are Sakāma (with some object in view) and therefore their effects are temporary.
61-62. He who wants enjoyments in Heaven, should perform the Agniṣṭoma Yajña, with due rites and ceremonies; such is the Vedic injunction.
But when the acquired merit expires, the sacrificer will have to come again into this world of mortals. Therefore the Mānasa Yajña is eternal and best.
63-65. This Mānasa Yajña is not fit to be performed by kings intent on getting victory. The Yajña that you performed, the serpent Yajña, is Tāmasic, for you wanted to take vengeance on your enemy, the serpent Takṣak; and millions of serpents were made to be burnt in that sacrifice.
O King! Hear now about the Devī Yajña that was performed by Viṣṇu in the beginning of the creation. You better now do that Devī Yajña with due rules.
66-67.I will tell you all about the rules; there are Brāhmins that know the rules and know best also the Vedas; they know also the seed mantrams of the Devī, as well as the rules of their application; they are clever in all the mantrams. These will be your priests and you yourself will be the sacrificer.
68. O King! Perform this sacrifice duly and deliver your father from hell by the merits that you will acquire thereby.
69. O Sinless One! The sin incurred on account of insulting a Brahmin is serious and leads the sinner to hell. Your father committed that sin and incurred the curse from a Brahmin. Therefore he has gone to the hell.
70. Your father died also out of a snake bite which is not a meritorious one. The death occurred also in a palace built high up in the air (on a pillar), instead of taking place on the ground on a bed of Kuśa grass.
71. O best of the Kurus! The death did not occur in any battle nor on the banks of the Ganges. Void of proper bathing and charities, etc., he died in a palace.
72. O best of Kings! All the ugly causes, leading to hell, were present in the case of your father. See, again, there is also one thing which done will lead to one’s liberation; but that was absent too with your father.
73-76. That is this:
Let a man remain, wherever he may, whenever he comes to learn that his end is approaching, even if he had not practised before any good practices or meritorious deeds, and even if he becomes senseless in the trial time of death, when dispassion comes to an individual whose mind becomes, for the time being, clear and free from any worldly thoughts, then he should think thus:
“This my body, composed of five elements, will soon be destroyed; there is no cause whatsoever in having any remorse for it; let whatever come, that it may;
I am free, void of qualities; and I am the Eternal Puruṣa; death is not capable to do any harm to me.
All the elements are liable to decay and destruction; what remorse can overtake me?
I am not a man of the world, I am always free, Eternal Brahmā; I have got no connection with this body that is merely the outcome of actions.
77. Before I did meritorious or unmeritorious acts, leading to happiness and pain; therefore I have got this mortal coil and am enjoying the fruits of my past auspicious or inauspicious Karma.”
78. Whoever thinks thus and dies, even if he does not take proper purification bath or make any charity, he gets himself freed from the awful Samsara and never comes to see himself again born in this world.
79. O King! This method of parting from one’s body is rarely attained even by the Yogins; this is the acme, the highest height of all the human efforts towards liberation.
80. But your father, hearing even the curse from a Brahmin, retained his attachment towards his body; therefore he did not attain dispassion.
81. He thought thus:
“My body is now free from any disease; my kingdom is free from enemies or any other source of danger; how can I now get myself saved from this untimely death.” Thinking thus, he ordered to call the Brāhmaṇs, who know the mantrams.
82. Then that king ascended to the palace, with medicines, many mantras and many other instruments.
83-84. He considered his fate to be the strongest and therefore did not take his bath in any holy place; he did not perform any charities, did not sleep on the ground or remember any mantram of the Devī.
Due to Kālī entering into his body, he committed the sin of insulting an ascetic and plunged himself in the ocean of delusion and died bitten by the Takṣak snake on the top of a palace.
85. The King has now fallen undoubtedly to the hell, on account of those vicious deeds. Therefore, O King! Dost Thou deliver your father from the sin.
86. Sūta said:
O Riṣis! Hearing these words from the fiery Vyāsa, the king Janamejaya became very sad and tears came from his eyes and flowed down his cheeks and throat.
He then exclaimed in a suffocating voice:
“Fie on me! My father is still in the hell. I will now do at once whatever leads my father to heaven.”
Thus ends the twelfth chapter on the Ambā Yajña rules in the 3rd Adhyāya of Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam, the Mahā Purāṇam of 18,000 verses composed by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.