Vaisampayana told Janamejaya the story of Mahabharata.
Dharmaja continued to ask Bhishma, all his doubts about Dharma. In that process, he asked thus: “O Grandisre Bhishma! Human beings worship divine bodies by lighting lamp, and burning incense sticks and eatables. Kindly enlighten me about it.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! What you have asked now, was previously told by Sukra Acharya to Emperor Bali; Bali to Manuvu; Mavunu to Saint Suvarna; Suvarna to Narada; and Narada in turn told me. I now tell you what Saint Narada told me:
On this earth, herbs are the best plants. Amongst the herbal plants, flowering plants are best of all. Those who worship divine bodies with flowers, they flourish. Therefore, flowers are called Sumanas. If divine bodies are worshipped with flowers they bless the humans and fulfil their desires. Therefore, divine bodies are called Sumanaskas. Flowers with good colour and fragrance, collected from thornless plants are best for worshipping deities. Deities receive such flowers with great plelasure.
Lotus flowers, Jaji flowers, Tulasi leaves are liked by deities. Yakshas like flowers from water. Flowers with pungent smell, collected from thorny bushes are used for Mantras and Tantrik activities intended to kill enemies. Flowers with pungent smell are liked by devils and demons. Humans like flowers with white and black colours with sweet smell.
Ladies shall not use flowers collected from temples and burial grounds. Before worshipping deities, lighting lamp is compulsory. Lighting lamp drives away darkness from the place of worship. It also denotes driving away ignorance from our mind. Lighting lamp with cow ghee is best.
I now tell you about offerings. After preparing food items, one should offer them to deities and then consume. Food not offered to God amounts to demon’s food. For Nagas, Yakshas and Asuras, food mixed with blood and flesh, coupled with wine is dearest.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandsire! what are the results that would flow by offering flowers, incense sticks, lamps and offerings to diving bodies.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmanandana! In the past, there was a king called Nahusha. He had no pride or arrogance. He worshipped divine bodies with great devotion by offering flowers, incense sticks, lamps and fruits and food items. He also worshipped Pitaras in the same manner by offering Tarpanas. He also worshipped Rakshasas, Yakshas, Bhootas, Bhujangas, with flowers and other offerings. Hence, Nahusha attained the highest position as Devendra. He was fortunate to be carried in a chariot driven by seven saints. He also visited the Brahma assembly. All this happened only due to his daily Pooja ritual. But due to his small mistake of eyeing on the wife of Indra, he had fallen on earth in the form of a python. On account of conversation with you only, he could regain his original status. O Dharmaja! lighting lamp before God is greatest of all. How long you keep the lamp before God, so many years you remain in heaven.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandsire Bhishma!what would be the fate of a person who steals the wealth and property of Brahmin?” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmanandana! Of all the sins, stealing the moneys of Brahmin is a greatest sin. His entire family be ruined. In next birth, he takes a lowest birth. In the past, there was a king called Kshatrabandhu. Once, he was going on his horse by the side of a field. A low caste man was also going by walk by the side of that field. Due to the force of wind, some grains were flying in air. The low caste man was averting those grains falling on him.
The King saw this. He called that low caste man and asked him why he was averting those grain particles.
“O King! in my past birth, I was a brahmin. One day, I sat under a tree and was about to take my food. Meanwhile, due to force of wind, dust particles fell on my food. I ate the food. I do not know those dust particles came from the adjacent field of a brahmin. As I had consumed the dust particles belonging to a brahin, I have taken this birth in low caste. Yesterday, I got a dream. In that dream, a brahmin appeared and said that my sin vanishes by talking to a king called Kshatrabandhu. Now I am before you” said the low caste man. Later, the low caste man died and attained higher regions.” said Bhishma.
“O Grand father Bhishma! I heard about heavens. The happiness and pleasures in all heavens are one and the same or are different from one heaven to other.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! the Punya Karmas are different kinds. So also, for each Punya Karma, different kinds of heavens are prescribed. In this connection, I narrate a conversation between a brahmin called Goutama and Devendra.
Once upon a time, a Brahmin called Goutama was performing Tapas in a forest. One day he saw an elephant cub separated from its mother. Goutama brought that elephant to his Ashram and nourished it. In due course of time, it had grown up. The elephant was serving Goutama by helping in his daily needs.
Once, Devendra came down to Goutama in the form of the King of that kingdom and asked Goutama to give away that elephant to him.
“O King! I am treating this elephant as my own son. It is serving me in my day to day affairs. It protects my house in my absence. Hence I cannot part with this elephant.” said Goutama.
Devendra grew angry. “O Goutama! What is the need of an elephant to you for performing Tapas. In fact, you need cows. I give them in abundance. I also give you gold. Giveme that elephant.” asked Devendra.
“O King! I brought this elephant, abandoned by its mother, while it was a cub. I nourished it as mother. You cannot evaluate my love towards this elephant. Even if you give me ten thousand cows and one crore gold coins, I wont give away this elephant.” said Goutama.
“O Goutama! elephants are the carriers for Kings. I require this elephant as my carrier. I can lift it by force. But I take it with your consent. Hence, kindly give this elephant to me out of your own volition.” said Devendra.
“O king! Either virtuous people or sinners will meet at one place. That is Yama Sabha. If you come there, I will give the elephant.” said Goutama.
“How is it. It is Yama Loka. Only sinners, non-believers of God and Vedas, arrive there. How can I come there.” said Devendra.
“If you come to the banks of River Ganges, I will give the elephant” said Goutama. “O Goutama! On the banks of Ganges, only those who worshipped guests, non-receivers of other’s wealth come there. How can I come there.” said Devendra.
“Then you come to Meru mountain. I will give my elephant” said Goutama. “There you find people who are soft spoken; truth telling; compassionate; and who love their own fellow men. How can I come there? said Devendra.
“Then there is a place where Saint Narada lives. Come there.” asked Goutama. “There, you find experts in music and dance and Narada will always be enjoying with them in music concerts. I dont come there.” said Devendra.
“If so, come to Uttara Kuru fields where divine bodies move freely. There I give my elephant.” said Goutama. “That is also not acceptable to me. People who discarded passion, violence and anger come there. I cannot come there.” said Devendra.
“Then come to moon” asked Goutama. “There
“Then will you come to Soorya Loka?” asked Goutama. “Those who perform Tapas and Svadhyayam come there. I dont come there” said Devendra.
“Come to Varuna Loka!” asked Goutama.
“Persons who perform Yajnas, Yagas, daily rituals, agnihotra come there. I dont come there.” said Devendra.
“Come to Indra!” asked Goutama. “Oh. All those who died in war field, who performed Yajnas, who completed 100 years on earth come there. I am not eligible” said Devendra.
“Come to Prajapati Loka” asked Goutama. “Those who peformed Asvamedha come there. I do not come” said Devendra.
“Come to Goloka where you do not find passions and distress” asked Goutaka. “Those who perform Godaana, who visited holy places in Pilgrimage and who observe Brahmacharya come there. How can I come there.” said Devendra.
“Then you come to Brahma Loka which is beyond duals like heat and cold, joys and sorrows, friends and foes etc.I will give my elephant” said Goutama. “That is also not possible. Those who are detached, who attained Atma Jnana and those who are interested in Adhyatma vidya go there. I cannot come.”said Devendra.
Then Goutama with folded hands said: “O Mahatma! You are none else than Devendra; otherwise how it is possible for others to know about several Lokas. O Devendra! you are going round all Lokas. Is there any loka which is not accessible to you?” asked Goutama.
“O Goutama! I am very much satisfied with your virtues. Ask what do you want?”
“I do not want anything, if you dont ask for
my elephant.” replied Goutama.
Goutama accepted his invitation. Both Goutama and his elephant remained in Svargaloka for ever.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandisre Bishma! you told me about Tapo Dharma. Is there any other dharma which is better than Tapo Dharma?” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! all dharmas are good. But Tapo Dharma is best of all. Tapas means consuming limited food. Once Saint Bhagiratha went to Brahma Sabha. Beholding Bhagiradha, Brahma said:
“To gain entrance into Brahma Loka, you have to perform great Tapas. Without performing any kind of Tapas, how can you come over here.” asked Brahma.
“O Brahma! I performed many Yanjas, Yagas, Godanas, Bhoodaanas, Kanyadaanaas, pilgrimages; Rajasooya Yagas, Asvamedha Yagas in abundance. But I have not come here on account of performing the above virtuous deeds. Once some Brahmins were performing a Yajna. There were so many obstacles. I helped them in putting an end to those obstacles and perform Yajna smoothy. Then they blessed me “Brahma Loka Praptirastu”. Hence I have come here. I served Brahmins without caring for thirst and hunger. I do not think there is any greater tapas than serving brahmins.” said Bhagiradha. Brahma was very much pleased with his words. Hence Dharmaja! you also worship Brahmins with great devotion.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandsire! “Satayushmaan Bhava! is the precept of Veda. Why people are dying even while they are young. What is the reason? How to prolong life? How the life diminishes?” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! good habits, disciplined living always extends life. Such a person gets wealth and fame. Bad habits, indiscplined liiving diminishes human life. All the elements in the universe refuse bad habits and indiciplined life. One has to follow the food steps of great people and follow Varna Ashrama Dharma. Then only one can lead disciplined life.
Not caring for the words of teacher; killing birds, biting nails, cutting plants without doing any work; staring at bright sun during morning and evening, diminish our life.
Having peaceful mind without anger; avoiding killing animals; telling truth alwlays; performing sandhyavandanam in morning; and worshipping deities daily, increase the life span.
Lusting for others’ wives always leads to lessening the life. It is a great sin. That too, lusting for the wife of friend, wife of teacher and lusting for ladies who are older than him; lusting for wives of kings, lusting for wives of those who are younger than him; lusting for the wives of relatives, brahmins, doctors, servants, learned people is a great sin. It creates decrease in his life. Performing Vratas increases the life to some extent.
One should not pass urine near temples, in streets, near meeting places, paddy fields. One shall not pass urine in standing posture. Before taking food, one has to wash hands and legs neatly and thoroughly. Avoid taking food in standing posture.
One should salute elders always. One should not keep hands on head while studying Vedas. Before going to bed, one has to take bath with hot water. One shall not rub his head with nails and shall not rub oil applied to head to other parts of body. One shall not bear grudge against eachers and shall not accuse teacher. All these cause diminishing of life.
If one come across bramins,cows, Kshatriyas, old people, weak people, pregnant ladies and persons carrying load on their back, he shall give way to them. One shall not have sexual intercourse with wife on full moon day, no moon day, chaturdasi, Ashtami and Dvadasi and also on birth days. This leads to lessening of life.
One shall not heckle handicapped, poor, uneducated and ugly people. It is a great sin. Accusing the above equivalent to accusing God.
Telling prophesy against money is a great sin. One shall not talk while cleaning teeth and while in toilet. One shall not sleep during sunrise and sunset times. Before worshipping God in morning, one shall not meet any other person.
Having sexual intercourse with pregnant ladies, unmarried ladies is a great sin. Sexual intercourse before marriage is also a sin. One shall not sleep keeping head towards north and west. One shall not wear clothes of others and shall not eat food items left by others.
While taking food, one shall keep his mind calm and quiet and keep silence.. One shall not take food keeping mind otherwise and talking with others in exciting mood. One shall not consume curd or honey during nights. Taking food in front of others, without offering them, is a sin. While dining with others, one shall not take better food while supplying cheaper food to others. One shall not give away ghee, honey, Payasam and water to others after consuming part of it.
One shall not have sexual intercourse during day times, even with his wife. One shall not have sexual intercourse with virgins and prostitutes. One shall not stare at ladies without clothes. When sisters, teachers, friends, learned people and cousins are poor and needy, one shall help them physically and financially. It increases one’s own lifespan.
Pigeons, parrots, flower bearing plants, golden items are auspicious and can be kept in house. Eagles, small insects, owls shall not be allowed to enter into house. One shall not read and dine duing sunset. One shall not perform Sraadha Karma during nights. While performing Sapindeekaranam and Ekodishtam (11th and 12th day ceremonies after death), one shall not take food during nights. One shall not visit others’ houses for food, uninvited.
Kshatriya shall learn horse riding, riding on elephant, chariot driving and expertism in launching several weapons, warfare, knowledge in penal laws, economics, public administration, Kama Sastra; music, vedas, performance of Yajnas etc.
One shall not touch ladies during periods. One can have intercourse on fourth day of periods. Intercourse on fifth day results in female child and intercourse on sixth day results in male child. Intercourse on even days from the day of commencement of period results in male child and on odd days, female child. Intercourse on all days from fourth day of the periods, results in pregnancy and child bearing.
Being kind towards others is a great dharma. It increases life span.” said Bhishma to Dharmaja.
“O grandsire! what would be the behaviour of brothers in this world?” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! younger brothers shall show regard towards elder brothers. In the same way, elder brothers shall show love and affection towards younger brothers. Even one of the younger brother is bad, nothing happens but if the eldest brother is bad, the entire family be ruined. All the brothers shall divide the ancestral property equally without quarrelling among themselves. Then the rest of the world regard their family.
If any one of the brothers is greedy and claims the entire property for himself, that family breaks into pieces and be defamed. After father, eldest brother is equavalent to father. His wife is equival to mother for other brothers. After the death of the father, all younger brothers shall treat the eldest of them as father and his wife as mother.
After the death of mother, eldest sister is equal to mother. Even the servant maids who nourished him during childhood are equal to mothers. Father is the first teacher. Father is ten times more than teacher. But mother is ten more times greater than father. While father and mother gives birth to body, teacher gives another birth by imparting knowledge and wisdom. The physical body given by father and mother is mortal whereas the knowledge and wisdom given by teacher is immortal. Therefore, teacher has to be greatly respected.” said Bhishma.
“O grandsire Bhishma! It was said that Upavasa Vrata (fasting) was prescribed for Brahmins and Kshatriyas but not to other communities. What is meant by Upavasa? What are the qualities of Upavasa? What are the fruits derived by observing Upavasa? Kindly tell me.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! in the past, I also asked Saint Angirasa in the same manner. I told you what he told me.
Brahmins and Kshatriyas are eligible to observe Upavasa for three nights. If body and health permits, they can observe Upavasa for some more days. Vysyas and Sudras are eligible to observe Upavasa for four half days. More than that, they cannot observe Upavasa Vrata.
The following are the days auspicious for observing Upavasa. They are.....full moon day, Sukla Ashtami, Sukla Panchami, Shashti, Bahula Pamchami, Bahula shashti. If a brahmin observes Upavasa during nights, he will get a beautiful wife and children. If he observes Upavasa during nights for one year, he will get all kinds of riches.
If anybody observes Upavasa for 15 days in a year, he will get Punya Lokas. If anybody observes Upavasa for 30 days in a year, he attains Brahma Loka. But one shall not observe Upavasa for more than 30 days in a year.
There is no teacher greater than mother, there is no Sastra greater than Veda and there is no Tapassu greater than Upavasa. Out of all purest , Brahmin is purest of all. Therefore, Brahmins have to be worshipped. In the past, divine bodies, saints became greater by observing Upavasa vrata only. Saint Visvamitra observed one time meal during his entire life. By observing Upavasa, body and mind become pure.
The above said Upavasa Vrata was dedicated by Saint Angirasa to this world.” said Bhishma.
“O grandsire Bhishma! you told me time and again to perform Yajnas and yagas. To perform Yajna, plenty of money is required. All cannot perform Yajnas. What about them? How can they perform virtuous deeds like Yajnas.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! that was the reason why Saint Angirasa prescribed Upavasa vrata to those who are unable to perform Yajnas. There are some easy methods to perform Upavasa Vrata. If anybody takes food twice a day, drinking water while taking food only, and without taking anything in between and who performs Agnihotra daily, is equal to performing Upavasa Vrata daily.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandsire Bhishma! Sri Krishna is embodiment of knowledge and wisdom. I want to hear his teachings about Tatva Jnana. Kindly tell me.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! in this connection I tell you the
conversation between Lord Siva and Sanatkumara. Once, Parama Siva came
down to Sanatkumara. Sanatkumara received Siva with due honours and
offered him a seat. Siva asked Sanatkumara to clear off some doubts.
Sanatkumara gladly accepted.
Sanatkumara told Siva thus: “O Siva! Tatvas are 24. Some may say Tatvas are 23 and some may say 25. Praakrutas say tatvas are 23. They say Mind and intellect are one and the same. It is not correct. Those who believe Tatvas are 24, say that pure mind itself is intellect.
I believe that Tatvas are 25. The 25th Tatva is Adhishtana. It manifests the other 24 Tatvas. All the 24 tatvas appear to have been mingled with 25th Tatva. Therefore, it can be said that there are 24 tatvas. It can also be said that there are no 24 tatvas. Both are possible. Now I tell you about 24 tatvas in detail.
In this Universe, there are Pancha Bhootas. They are
Vedas manifest paramatma tatva and brahma tatva. This is also called Amrutartha Tatva. Of all the tatvas, this Amrutartha tatva is best. By knowing Amrutartha Tatva, one can conquer Mruthyu. That is Eswara. There is no other God except this Tatva which is true and eternal.
O Parama Siva! if these Tatvas descend, creation starts. If these Tatvas ascend, destruction starts. Passing through all these tatvas and attaining Brahma is oneness. This knowledge is not available for those who do not have devotion and concentration of mind, control over sense organs and who do not study vedas.”. said Sanatkumara.
Next, Sanatkumara taught Parama Siva about Adhyatmamu, Adhi Bhootamu and Adhi daivamu.
“O Parama Siva! The real awareness is knowing that Adhyatma is inherent in all the living beings. Not knowing the above, divine bodies, Rakshasas, Gandharvas and human beings fell in ignorance. So far nobody is aware of Brahma. Brahma tatva is nothing but Omkara. Unless egoism is completely destroyed, Brahma Tatva is not visible. Brahma Tatva is unblemished, enjoyable and indestructible, beyond all duals and it is not visible to sense organs.
This Brahma Tatva was first known to Narayana. Through Narayana, divine bodies, saints, sidhas, sadhyas, gandharvas came to know about it. Later, only eligible human beings were taught about this Brahma Tatva. Brahma Tatva cannot be seen by one and all. Only those who discarded these worldly bondages can behold Brahma Tatva. First, Jeeva shall discard Ahankara (egoism). Then all the thoughts and works done by body, mind and intellect shall the discarded. Then mind and intellect turns towards Paramatma. When all these 23 attributes join Para tatva, what is there tobe seen. That is Advaita State
O Parama Siva! now I explain about the divine bodies in human body. Moon in tongue; Sarasvati in head; Vayu in life; thunders in Udana; Parjanya in Vyana, Sky in breast; Kousika in strength; Eesaana in Apaana;Mitra in Samaana; Sun in eye; earth in body; Vishnu in feet; sides in ear; Prajapati in genital organ; Brahma in intellect. All these are manifested by Atman.
Atma is of two kinds. Prabudha and Abudha. Yogi worships all divine forms equally and make his life travel upwards and keeps it in head and beholds Brahma. That is Avyakta state. Abudha knows about Vyakta form. (visible form). Prabudha knows about Avyakta form (invisible form). In fact, Abudha and Prabudha are two stages of Atma. Atma is one. A yogi who beholds Avyakta is second to none. Others cannot attain that state.
Atma is in three stages. They are Kshara, Akshara and Para. 25th tatva is Prabudha. If this 25th tatva joins Prakriti, it becomes Abudha. That Abudha is 26th tatva. This Abudha is not accessible either to mind or word. By knowing himself, Abudha becomes Prabudha. If Abudha identifies himself with Prakriti, he falls into ignorance. If that ignorance ends, he becomes Prabudha.
O Parama Siva! I told you about the three stages in Paramatma Tatva. Now I tell you about the activities of saints. One who receives sainthood, shall stay in forests and caves. He shall have control over his sense organs and discard all sensual pleasures. Then he becomes Yogi. Yogi controls his food and at last lives without food. Then his mind becomes stable. He beholds Paramatma.
For that purpose, he shall stay in a lonely place without any sounds or disturbance. Then Yogi attains a state without duals, viz., pleasures and sorrows, likes and dislikes etc. It is called Advaita state. Yogi liberates himself from all kinds of sorrows in Advaita state. He attains eight Siddhis viz., Anima, Garima, Laghima etc. He is placed abouve Yakshas, Gandharvas, Sidhas and Sadhyas. They are free from all bondages.
O Parama Siva!at present, myself and my brothers viz., Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatsujata are in the same state. Therefore, there is no other Dharma except Yoga Dharma. To attain Moksha, Yoga dharma is a ladder.
O Parama Siva! I have sofar told you about Yoga. Now I tell about Sankhya. Sankhya Yogis treat both Yoga and Sankhya as one and the same. Mind is greater than sense organs; egoism is greater than mind; intellect is greater than egoism; and nature is greater than intellect. Above all, Purusha remains.
O Parama Siva! Pancha Bhootas (main elements) are 5. Their attributes are 5. Sense organs are 10. Mind, intellect, egoism and Prakriti are 4. In total they are 24 tatvas. By coming into contact with conscious Purusha, Prakriti also becomes conscious. All these 23 tatvas are floating in the 24th tatva Prakriti. In fact, Purusha has no attributes. By coming into contact with Prakriti only, Purusha attains attributes, which are natural to Prakriti. If Purusha realises that he is different from Prakriti, and he is different from these 23 tatvas, Purusha ignores Prakriti and shines like fire without smoke.
If Purusha identifies himself with Prakriti by means of Ahankara, and if he feels that he is creator of this Universe; he becomes Jeeva and Jeeva cannot go against Prakriti. He falls under the influence of Prakriti and drowns in worldly plealsures.
If Purusha ignores Prakriti and turns towards Paramatma, he attains Paramapada. Therefore, if purusha, by taking shelter under satva and attainng Tatva Jnana, he becomes Chidananda Svaroopa, by ignoring Prakriti. This 26th element is awareness. It is eternal, without beginnig or end. It is without death, without decay and everlasting. It shines in the form of Atma.
O Maha Deva! those who study Sankhya Yoga shines with greatest knowledge and intelligence. They remain in prakriti as fish in water and drop of water on lotus leaf, without coming into contact with Prakriti. Though Sankhya Yogi always moves in Prakriti, he is not influenced by the attributes of Prakriti. He beholds Prakriti from a distance and shines in a stable state. In this manner, Purusha by abandoning Prakriti attains Parama Tatva. It is called mukti.
O Parama Siva! this Sankhya was first taught by my teacher, Saint Kapila. Those who were trained under Saint Kapila became wise and learned. I also imparted my learning to one and all. Several Saints viz., Gargya, Goutama, Katyayana etc. cleared of their doubts. They abandoned their bondages with Prakriti and attained liberation.
O Parama Siva! in nutshell, I may say that Purusha, coming into contact with Prakriti, is bondage and Purusha ignoring Prakriti is liberation.
O Dharmaja! this is the conversation between Sanatkumara and Parama Siva.” said Bhishma.
“O Pitamaha! there are several Punya Tirthas . Which is the best of all of them?” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharma Nandana! all Punya Tirthas are good. There is no pure or impure. But Manasa Teertha is most auspicious. It is called Satya. It is in Dhruthi tank. Whoever dips in that Tirtha by ignoring Rajas and Tamas and holding Satya in hand, he becomes pure. Those who abandon likes and dislikes and maintain control over sense organs, they are all equivalent to Punya Thirthas. By serving them, one can attain the Punya of taking dip in Punya Thirtha. Without the above qualities, simply having holy dip in Punya Tirthas is nothing but cleaning body but not mind. Those who observe the following qualities viz., not aspiring for anything and feeling contentment with what he has; and abandoning greediness, need not go round Punya Tirthas.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandisre Bhishma! what would be the behaviour of a person to attain Parama Pada. After leaving the body, which follows him?” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmanandana! what you have asked are sacred. Only Brahaspati is eligible to teach about them. He is right now coming here. You can clear off all your doubts” said Bhishma.
Meanwhile, Brihaspati arrived there. Dharmaja along with his brothers, received him with due honours. Dharmaja asked the same which he earlier asked Bhishma. Brihaspati told thus:
“O Dharmanandana! During birth and death, either in Punya Loka or Naraka Loka, Jeeva shall exist. In this material world, father, mother, wife, sons, daughters, relatives accompany the dead body upto burial ground. But the dharma which he followed during his life time, follows him even after death. Therefore, even during the life time, one has to perform virtuous deeds, failing which, he goes to hell.” said Brihaspati.
“O Brihaspati! After leaving the body, how dharma accompanies Jeevatma.”asked Dharmaja.
“O Brihaspati! how does sperm form?” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! The body of human being forms out of five elements. Food gives strength to body. Lust and Passions created in body generate sperm. When female joins male, sperm enters into the body of female, and female becomes pregnant. After nine months, human body comes out. If that human does Punya, he enjoys pleasures. If that human was sinful, he spends sorrowful and miserable life. All the virtuous deeds performed in previous birth cause pleasure and happiness in the present birth. Therefore, one has to perform virtuous deeds always, and keep himself away from sinful acts. As a result of sinful acts committed in previous birth, one takes the birth of beasts, birds,insects etc. It itself is hell and there is no other hell.
Now I tell you about Karma and its results. One who worships father, mother and teacher, he enjoys pleasures. If they are put to trouble, he undergoes sorrowful life. One who commits theft of food grains takes the birth as rat. One who lusts for others’ wives takes birth as eagle or jackal or monkey. He may take the birth of insect also. One who consumes food without offering to divine bodies and Pitaras, takes the birth of a crow. One who abuses his own brother takes the birth of a bird.
If Sudra had intercourse with a Brahmin lady, he takes birth as an insect. One who kills a person for profit gets the birth of a donkey or bird. One who kills a lady goes to hell. One who steals cooked rice and milk, he takes birth like an insect in rice and milk.
One who steals fruits, iron, silver and gold, takes birth as monkey, crow, bird, insect etc. One who steals others’ clothes takes birth as rabbit. One who commits breach of trust takes birth as fish.” said Brihaspati.
“O Brihaspati! is there no way to get rid of the above sins?” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! generally all sins vanish by performing charities. Of all Danas, Annadaana is best. If one performs Annadaana with the money he legally earned, all his sins vanish. One who performs annadaana even by begging, he attains Punya Lokas.
Brahmin by studying Vedas and teaching Vedas to others; Kshatriya by looking after the needs of Brahmins attain higher regions. By performing Annadaana with legally earned money, human beings attain Punya Lokas. Even Sudra attains Punya Lokas by performing Annadaana with his hardearned money. To whichever caste he belongs, one who serves food to others before he eats, he gets Punya Lokas.
Therefore, Dharmanandana! Annadaana is best of all by peforming which all sins vanish.” said Brihaspati.
“O Brihaspati! meditation, control of sense organs, serving teachers with devotion; ahimsa, daily worship of God, Tapas.... of these, which is best ....kindly tell me.” asked Dharmajua.
“O Dharmanandana! all the above are good. But Ahimsa (non violence) is best of all.” said Brihaspati and went away.
“O grandisre Bhishma! everybody says that Ahimsa is best of all. Kindly enlighten me about Ahimsa.” asked Dharmaja.
Bhishma said thus: “O Dharmaja! To tell in one word, all dharmas are embodied in Ahimsa. Ahimsa had four legs. Even if one leg limps, Dharma goes out of control. Violence means hurting killing animals for consuming meat. Consuming meat amounts to violence. If one avoids consuming meat, it amounts to nonviolence.” said Bhishma
“O Grandsire! Generally meat is used during Pitru ceremonies. Unless animals are killed, how can they get meat. Does it not amount to violence against animals?” asked Dharmaja.
“Giving up eating meat is equal to performing Asvamedha Yaga. Killing or getting the animals killed only for eating amounts to great sin.
But during Pitara ceremonies, Yagas, animals may be killed according to Veda rituals. There is no wrong. But only for the sake of taste and filling the belly, animals shall not be killed. It is a great sin. Giving up consuming meat itself is a Tapassu.
The taste of meat is greater than all eatables. If one gives up eating meat, he will be eqivalent to divine bodies. Unless the animals are killed, one cannot get meat. While killing animals, if the killer receives any injury, the he suffers with pain . The killer should realise that the animals to be killed also suffer with the same pain. Without such realisation, killing animals amounts to great sin. Therefore, animals shall not be killed only for the sake of eating tasty meat. If human beings avoid eating meat, the animals move safely.
Saint Markandeya said that the person who eats meat is equivalent to Rakshasa. After giving up eating meat only, divine bodies attained divinity. We do not know whether one can attain brahma loka if he performs Tapas and charities, but if one gives up eating meant, he certainly attains Brahmaloka.” said Bhishma.
“O grandsire Bhishma! knowing fully well that killing animals for the sake of meat is a sin, why people are craving for meat instead of vegetables and fruits.” asked Dharmaja.
Bhisham smiled and said: “O Dharmaja! Once human being addicts to the taste of meat, it is very difficult to avoid meat. Why because, eating meat improves vitality and vigour during sexual acts. Meat gives instant energy. Eating meat heals wounds quickly. Other eatables and fruits do not have such qualities. Consuming meat during Yajnas,Yagas and Pitara ceremonies is not wrong.
Saint Agasthya also said that hunting is the dharma of Kshatriyas. Using that meat during Pitara ceremonies and Deva rituals is quite common. But killing animals and consuming meat for the sake of taste and also to improve his vigour and vitality is wrong. It is a fact that the sin afflicted by eating flesh vanishes by making charities, on condition that he shall not consume meat from then onwards. Then only he gets rid of that sin.
A kind hearted person beholds the fear of death in the eyes of the animal being killed. Hence he never eats meat. Such person attains divinity. If humans are kind towards animals, animals also reciprocate the same kindness towards humans. If humans are cruel towards animals, same attitude will be reciprocated. Therefore, avoiding killing animals for the sake of meat is great dharma.” said Bhishma.
“O Dharmaja! in this connection, I tell you a conversation between said Vyasa and a small ant. Once Veda Vyasa was going on a pathway. On that pathway, several vehicles were passing this side and that side. In between those vehicles, one ant was running escaping those vehicles. Beholding that ant, Vyasa said: “O ant, you are a small insect. why you are running on the pathway with great fear. What is the reason?” asked Vyasa.
“Please see how the vehicles are moving and animals are running. I struck with fear. If I fell under the wheels of vehicles or feet of animals, I will be crushed. Life is a pleasure whereas death is a misery. Hence I am running.” said the ant.
“After all you are a small insect. You cannot enjoy sensual pleasures. This body is full of miseries. Why are you afraid of death? It is better to die than leading this miserable life?” said Vyasa.
That ant smiled and said: “O saint! how can you say that we cannot enjoy sensual pleasures. We got our own way to enjoy such pleasures as humans. Hence we also got the desire to live for ever and enjoy pleasures and we also fear for death. Don’t you know this much. In my last birth, I was a Rich Sudra but I was so cruel and unkind towards others. I was addicted to all vices. But I served my mother with greatest devotion. Once a Brahmin came to my house as guest. I worshipped him and offered him food. Hence I am blessed with knowledge of previous birth.” said that creature.
“O ant! beholding you, I know about your previous birth. I know that due to the sinful deeds committed by you, yout got this birth like an ant. As you have done some pious deeds, you could speak to me. As you are strongly desirous of getting a human birth, with the power of my Tapas, I could fulfil your desire, but in due process. First you take birth as animals, then humans. In humans you take birth as Soodra, Vysya, Kshatriya and atlast Brahmin. But in all these births, you will have the knowledge of your previous births.” said Veda Vyasa.
After touching the feet of Vyasa, that ant left its body. Vyasa went away. That ant, while taking birth by birth, was born as Kshatriya and became King of a Kingdom. One day, that King went to the Ashram of Vyasa and prostrated before him. Then Vyasa advised the King to perform Tapas and leave the body for the sake of Brahmins and cows. Then only he will born as Brahmin. That King performed Tapas and died in battle field. In next birth, he was born as Brahmin. In that birth also he performed Yajnas and yagas and visited several holy places and made charities to poor and needy. O Dharmaja! there is no doubt that those who died in battle field also attained higher regions.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandisre Bhishma! education, tapas, charities...which is best of these three.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! in this connection, I will tell you the conversation between Vyasa and Maitreya. Once Veda Vyasa visited Kasi town and met Saint Maitreya. Maitreya received Vyasa with due honours and offered him sumptuous food. Vyasa was satisfied with his hospitality.
“O Maitreya! amongst all Danas, Annadaana is greatest. You offered me food. I am very much satisfied. In fact, this body and the life in it grow with food only. By performing Tapas, mind will be purified. Learning would become easier. Learning increases his Tapas. Therefore, learning and charities increase the power of Tapas. Amongst all Danas, Annadaana is best. However bad he may be, by performing Annadaana, he becomes pure.” said Vyasa to Maitreya. Therefore, Dharmanandana! amongst all Dharmas, daana dharma is best. Amongst all daanas, Annadaana is best.” said Bhishma.
“O grandsire! you told me about several things. But you never told me about ladies and their behaviour.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! in this connection, I tell you
about conversation between Kaikeyee and Sandilya. Kekaya Princess once
asked Sandili: “O Sandili! how could you come and live in Deva
I like what my husband likes. I never abuse anybody inspite of their rude behaviour towards me. Whenever my husband is out of station, I never wear flowers, good clothes and never eat tasty food. I never waste food. I regarded all my relatives equally. I looked after the cows in my house. I never tease my husband with household affairs. I take care about Agnihotra daily. I never reveal my family secrets to neighbours. While I was pregnant, I took nourishing food instead of tasty food. Hence I attained divine loka.” said Sandili.
I hope your doubts are cleared.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandisre! what is best deed enunciated in Sastras and Vedas.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmaja! in this connection, I tell you the conversation between Narada and Pundareeka. The same question which you now asked, was put by Pundareeka to Narada. Narada told thus:
“O Pundareeka! Pancha Bhootas are five. Their attributes are five. Sense organs are ten. Mind, intellect and egoism are three. These are 23. the 24th element is Prakriti. 25th element is Purusha. He is also called as Nara. As these elements are influenced by Nara, they are called Naaras. The chief of Naras is Narayana. Narayana causes creation and destruction. That Narayana is Para Brahma, Paratatva, Paramapada, Eswara, Vishnu. Narayana is shining throughout the Universe. Narayana also is clled Vasudeva, Atma etc. There is no difference between Nara and Narayana. Therefore, Narayana is the greatest of all and he should be worshipped.
If people, for some time, think about Narayana, they attain higher regions. Atleast, at the time of leaving this body, if one chants the name of Narayana, Om Namo Narayanaya, he attains Brahma Pada because Narayana himself is Brahma. Constant chanting of Narayana Mantra vanishes all sorts of sins. Whatever be the Ashram, be it Brahmacharya, Grihastashram etc., chanting Narayana mantra is must. Otherwise, he may not attain higher regions.
Vishnu cannot be seen except with devotion. Hence Narayana is called Bhakta Vatsala.” said Narada to Pundareeka. Then Pundareeka worshiped Vishnu with great devotion.
In his dream, Narayana appeared with Sankhu, Chakra, Gadha, Sarja in his four hands, with lotus petal eyes, crown on head, ear rings for ears, with Srivatsa mole on chest, and Koustabha in his ornaments. Therefore, Dharmaja! you also worship Narayana constantly.” said Bhishma.
“O Grandisre Bhishma! generally, human beings perform charities and endowments and speak with others softly. What is best of these two.” asked Dharmaja.
“O Dharmanandana! both are good and have to be done according to the mind of others. Making charities is always appreciable. I now tell you a story about soft spoken people. Once a Brahmin was lonely going through a forest. In that forest, there was a demon. That demon caught that Brahmin to kill him and consume his meat. The Brahmin was not afraid of the demon.
The demon was astonished for his braveness. “O Brahmin! If you answer my questions, I leave you. Otherwise I kill you.” said the demon. The Brahmin accepted his challenge.
“Now my body is tired and weakened. I am unable to do anything. What is the reason?” asked the Demon.
“You are bad. Knowing that you are bad, all your relatives abandoned you. You are very much worried about it. You are suffering with poverty and you are worried for not getting riches.Though you are defeated for the sake of others, while they are enjoying their victory, you are unable to swallow it. While wicked and wretches are praising you, you are worrying that wise and learned are not praising you. That is why you are very much distressed.
There are also other reasons for your decay. Others are not accepting your words. While your wife is annoying for your deeds, you are unable to console her. While others are trying to grab your money, you are unable to protect your money. Your relatives are not trusting you. Even while you are trying to do good deeds, others are not trusting you. In view of the above, you are unable to control your sorrow. These are some other reasons for your decay.
Your wife and children and your sons in law are worrying you with their misdeeds. Your parents and brothers are suffering with incurable diseases. In the past birth, you killed a cow belonging to a brahmin. You stole the money of deity and brahmins. You are worrying for the money you lost. Your lamentation for the death of your relatives. Your servant is behaving badly towards you and you are becoming responsible for his misdeeds. While you are about to finish a work, some miscreants are spoiling it and you are worrying a lot. There are some other reasons for a man’s distress and decay.” said the Brahmin. Dharmaja! this is the answer for your question.” said Bhishma.
It appears that Dharmaja exhausted all his doubts. Hence he asked Bhishma to tell him a old pouranic story. Bhishma said thus: “O Dharmaja! I now tell you about the conversation beween Maheswara and Uma devi, that too with the kind permission of Sri Krishna.
Sri Krishna married Rukmini. For long time, they did not beget children. Sri Krishna along with Rukmini went to Himalayas and performed Vratas for 12 years. At that time Saints Narada, Vyasa, Valmiki, Devala, Kasyapa etc arrived there to meet Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna and his wife Rukmini received them with due honours. While Sri Krishna was talking with them, a great fire emanated from the face of Sri Krishna and started to destroy the forests. The animals, birds, saints, sidhas, sadhyas who were doing tapas there, were running away. Beholding this, Sri Krishna with his kind looks, withdrew all flames. The forest resumed to normal position.
Beholding this, the sages and saints assembled there astonished. They all asked Sri Krishna: “O Krishna! the entire universe is created and destroyed by you only. The entire creation is under your control. Everything is occurring according to your intentions. But how the flames emanated from you. Kindly tell us.” asked the saints.
Sri Krishna said thus: “There was a Rakshasa. He was an expert in archery skills. He learnt archery from me. Hence I dont want to kill him. Taking advantage of my weakness, he was teasing the inmates of three Lokas with his cruel behaviour. I am vexed with his behaviour. I should beget a son to kill that Rakshasa. Hence I came here for doing Tapas. Due to the gravity of Tapas, flames emanated from my body and burnt the forests. Those flames spread upto Brahma Loka. Brahma blessed me with a son. He is Manmadha. I withdrew my flames and resumed the forests to their normal position. That is what you have seen.” said Sri Krishna.
O Saints! It is a great pleasure for me to meet all of you. Kindly tell me a story.” asked Sri Krishna.
“O Sri Krishna! You are the chief of all Three Lokas. There is nothing not known to you in these three Lokas.” said those saints.
“O Saints! For the present, I am a human being born to a human being. My mind also is in the same state. You should not forget that. Whatever you say now, is unknown to me. Is it not?” said Sri Krishna.
“O Sri Krishna! Narada is fit and eligible to tell anything to you. Hence Narada will tell a story.” said those saints. Then Narada told them the conversation between Maheswara and Uma Devi.
While going round this universe, I once visited Himalaya mountains. Parameswara was sitting in a beautiful garden. He was surrounded by Pramadha Ganas, Devatas, Sidhas, Sadhyas, Vidyadharas, saints etc. I also went there and saluted Maheswara and sat on a suitable seat.
At that time, Parvati Devi came there and closed the eyes of Maheswars from behind with her hands. For this sudden action, the entire Universe plunged into darkness. The entire creation was annoyed. There was a great confusion. Parameswara opened his third eye. Flames emanated from the third eye burnt away the entire Himalaya Mountain range. Himalaya Mountain King was the father of Parvati. Hence she fell on the feet of Maheswara and sought for mercy. Parama Siva closed his third eye. He was very much delighted. The flames extinguished. Then Parvati asked Parama Siva thus:
“O Siva! why you opened your third eye and caused this disaster? Kindly tell me if it is not a secret.” asked Parvati.
“ O Parvati!There are no secrets not known to you. I am the master of this Universe. The entire Universe looks through my eyes. When you closed my eyes, I could not see. Hence the entire Universe could not see anything, resulting in complete darkness. The entire creation was frightened. To dispel the darkness without removing your hands, the only alternative is to open my third eye.” said Parama Siva.
“O Parama Siva! Why you have four faces?” asked Parvati.
“O Parvati! in the past, there were two Rakshasas called Sundu and Upasundu. They possess great vigour, valour, mighty personalities. They are not killed with any weapon or Astra. To kill those Rakshasas, a human weapon was created by Maya. Her name was Tilottama. Maya brought her before me. She went round me. I looked at her from four sides. Hence I got four faces.” said Parama Siva.
“O Maha Siva! why your neck is black?” asked parvathi.
“ O Parvati! in the past, both divine bodies and Rakshasas churned the sea for Amrutha. First Haalahala was emanated. I swallowed and kept it in my throat. Hence my neck is black.” said Maha Siva.
“O Maha Siva! why you like Pinaka more than all other weapons.” asked Parvati.
“O Maheswara! while there are several animals in this creation, why you chose bull as your vehicle.” asked Parvati.
“O Parvati! Once, while I was performing Tapassu, several cows were grazing around me, disturbing my Tapassu. I looked at them with anger. With my harsh looks, the cows frightened. Brahma intervened and pacified the matter. At that time, Brahma presented me a bull as my vehicle. Since then, bull was my vehicle.” said Parama Siva.
“O Siva! though there are several buildings equipped with comforts, why you are staying in burial grounds amidst skulls and bones, emanating foul smell.”asked Parvati.
“O Parvati! the cruel Bhootas, Pretas were destroying the man kind. Brahma requested me to retaliate their cruel actions. I also intended to save the man kind from Bhootas and Pretas. Hence I am staying in burial grounds which is the abode for Bhootas and Pretas. Besides that, saints craving for liberation like to meditate in burial grounds. Hence I stay in burial grounds.” said Maha Siva.
“But why you apply ashes to your body, wear Trishool and wear bones, skulls and snakes as ornaments. Why you appear so frightful and fearful.” asked Parvati.
“O Parvati! The entire creation is divided into two kinds. Hot and Cold. Soft and fearful. The entire Universe is admixture of Softness and fearfulness. Softness is borne by Vishnu. I bear the fearfulness. Hence I appear to be frightful and fearful always.” replied Maha Siva.
“O Parama Siva! Kindly explain me about Varna
Ashrama Dharmas” asked Parvati. Maheswars told thus: