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Eighth Skanda

Chapter 16: Aditi Initiated into the Payo-vrata Ceremony, the Best of All Sacrifices

(1) S’rî S’uka said: ‘As soon as her sons thus had abandoned their position began their mother Aditi helplessly to lament over the loss of the heavenly kingdom that was seized by the Daityas. (2) When one day the mighty sage Kas’yapa [her husband] after a long time came out of his samâdhi [yogic trance] and came to Aditi’s quarters, found he her dispirited and morose. (3) After he, respectfully welcomed by Aditi, had accepted a sitting place, addressed he, thoughtful of her depression, her as follows, o best of the Kurus. (4) ‘Has anything unfortunate happened in relation to the brahmins, o gentle one, or are you in the world of today at odds with the dharma or with the people around you subjected to the whims of death? (5) Or has something gone awry my dearest princess, with the religion, the money, or the fulfillment of your desires in this household life which offers even the ones not prone to yoga an opportunity to unify the consciousness? (6) Or had you maybe any unexpected guests in the house, all too attached family members whom you couldn’t welcome properly and happened to walk out on you? (7) The home not even welcoming uninvited guests by offering them a glass of water, is, abandoned by them, nothing more than a jackal’s den. (8) Or have you during the time of my absence, o finest, for some reason forgotten your oblations of ghee in the fire, my sweet wife? (9) An attached householder achieves by the worship of pûjâ the fulfillment of all his desires and goes to heaven, for it are indeed the brahmins and the fire that are the mouth of Vishnu who is the heart and soul of all the God-conscious [compare B.G. 9: 26]. (10) Are your sons all faring well, o broadminded lady? I can see you are distraught of mind.’

(11) S’rî Aditi said: ‘With the twiceborn and the cows, o brahmin, the dharma and the people around me all fares well; your household is the best place for heartening the three of progress [kâma, artha, dharma], dear husband. (12) The fire, the guests, the servants and the beggars were all treated as should; from always thinking of you, o brahmin, nothing was missed. (13) What desire of mine would not be fulfilled o lord, with your good self as the founding father and the reminder of dharma in my heart? (14) Even though the Supreme Controller takes [special] care of the devotees, are you in your goodness from the Asura on equalminded to each who, stemming from either your body or your mind, o son of Marîci, is gifted with one of the three qualities of goodness, passion or slowness, o my lord [compare B.G. 4: 11 and 9: 29]. (15) Therefore, o controller, just consider the wellfare of me, your servitor. We are now, o gentle one, because of our competitors bereft of our opulence and residence; please protect us o master! (16) Exiled by the very same powerful enemies that took away all of our opulence, beauty, reputation and homes, have I drowned in an ocean of trouble. (17) O first of our well-wishers, be so kind to consider our good fortune, o saintly man, so that all we’ve lost by my sons may be regained.’

(18) S’rî S’uka said: ‘This way being beseeched by Aditi said he with a smile to her: ‘Alas, how powerful is the mâyâ of Vishnu when one is caught in this love for the world. (19) What is the meaning of this material body made of the elements that is not the soul and of whom and who is the spiritual soul transcendental to the world, the material universe that for sure is the cause indeed of the illusion of having a husband or son and such [see B.G. 2: 13, 5.5: 1, 7.5: 31]? (20) Try to be of respect for Vâsudeva, the spiritual master of the whole world, the Original Person of Janârdana, He who, residing in the core of each his heart, defeats all enemies. (21) Undoubtedly will He, the infallible Lord merciful to the poor, fulfill your desires; to my opinion does nothing compare to the devotional service unto the Supreme Lord [see also 2.3: 10].’

(22) S’rî Aditi said: ‘What are the rules I have to follow, o brahmin, so that the Lord of the Universe is pleased and by His grace my desires actually can be fulfilled [see also B.G. 7: 16]? (23) Teach me, o husband, best of the twiceborn, the vidhi [the regulative principles, see 1.17: 24 and 3.11: 21], the process of worship to the principle, so that the Godhead is quickly pleased with me now lamenting with all my sons.’

(24) S’rî Kas’yapa said: ‘I will explain to you the form of worship satisfying Kes’ava, about which the almighty one born of the lotus [Brahmâ] spoke when I, desiring offspring, laid this before him [see B.G. 4: 2]. (25) During the bright half of the month Phâlguna [February/March] should one for twelve days, vowed to take milk only [payo-vrata], charged with unalloyed devotion, be of worship unto the Lotuseyed One [see also 7.5: 23-24]. (26) When the moon is dark should one smear oneself with the dirt dug up by a boar if available, and enter a stream of water chanting this mantra: (27) ‘O divine mother [earth], desiring a place were you from the bottom of the ocean brought up by the tusk of Lord Varâha [see 3.13: 30]; with my obeisances unto you, please wash away all my sins and their reactions’. (28) After having finished the daily spiritual duties, should God be worshiped with full attention for the deities [see also 7.14: 39-40] in one’s shrine, for the sun, the water, the fire and the guru indeed: (29) ‘I offer my respectful obeisances unto You o Supreme Lord, o Original Personality and Best of All residing in the heart of all beings, o Vâsudeva the omnipresent witness. (30) My reverence unto You the Unseen One, the Transcendental Person of the Primal Reality, the knower of the twenty-four elements [see glossary], and original cause of the analytic order of yoga. (31) My respects unto You, the Enjoyer of the three types of rituals [of karma, jñâna and upâsanâ or bhakti, or fruitive work, spiritual knowledge and devotional service] with Your two heads [of prâyanîya and udâyanîya, the beginning and the end of the sacrifices], three legs [savana-traya, the three daily soma libations to solar time], four protruding horns [the Vedas to the bull of dharma] and seven hands [the chandas, ways of pleasing, mantras like the Gâyatrî, see also 5.21: 15], my obeisances unto the embodiment of all knowledge. (32) My allegiance unto You known as S’iva and Rudra, You as the reservoir of all potencies and all insight; unto the Supreme Master of the living beings my reverential homage. (33) Unto You as the fourheaded Brahmâ Hiranyagarbha, the source of all life and Supersoul of the Universe, my reverence, I bow for You, the cause of the unified consciousness of Yoga. (34) My esteem for You the Original Godhead and Overseer of all, You I offer my respects who as Nara-Nârâyana-Rishi took the form of a human being – unto that Lord my obeisances. (35) Unto You, blackish like a marakata gem [a kind of emerald], the Controller of Lakshmî, the Killer of Kes’î, unto You clad in yellow, again and again I offer my veneration. (36) You are to all entities the Bestower of all Benedictions, the Most Worshipable one and the Best of all Blessings and for that reason do the ones most sober worship the dust of Your feet as the source of all auspiciousness. (37) He unto whom all the gods and the Goddess of Fortune are engaged in devotional service, may He, the Supreme Lord, be pleased with me who desires nothing less but the celestial bliss of those lotus feet.’

(38) With the help of the necessities of worship engaged with faith and devotion, should one by chanting these mantras, call for the Master of the Senses Hrishîkes’a and honor Him in every respect. (39) This way of reverence with incense, flowers, etc., should one bathe with milk and dress, with a sacred thread and ornaments, the Almighty, and after touching [or offering] water for washing the lotus feet should one with the twelve-syllable mantra [of ‘om namo bhagavate vâsudevâya’ see also 6.8: 3 and 4.8: 53] [again] with fragrance and smoke and such, be of worship. (40) With rice cooked in milk with ghee and molasses – if available – offered to the deity, should one thus offer Him oblations in the fire chanting the same mantra. (41) So of worship with offering the deity betel nuts with spices as well, should the food of sacrifice [prasâda] by oneself personally be offered to His devotee to eat, with water to wash one’s hands and mouth. (42) After repeating the mantra one-hundred-and-eight times, should one, offering various prayers unto the Greatest, next circumambulating Him pay one’s respect by prostrating oneself in satisfaction. (43) After taking the remnants of the sacrifice via one’s [fore-]head and then depositing them in a sacred place should minimally two learned ones [brahmins] be fed with sweet rice. (44-45) Properly having honored them should then with their permission the remnants of the prasâda be taken by one’s kin. Of course should at night celibacy be observed from the first day on, for as long as the payo-vrata takes, and should early in the morning, having bathed, with great attention to the vidhi the bathing as was described with milk be performed. (46) With drinking [milk] only following this vow should one carry on the worship of Vishnu with faith and devotion, as stated offering oblations in the fire as also answering to the obligation to feed the brahmins. (47) This way indeed should one day after day for the full twelve days proceed with the ‘vow of drinking only’, worshiping the Lord with fire sacrifices before the deity and pleasing the twice-born [and one’s kin] with food. (48) Beginning with the day of pratipat [‘running to meet’] until the thirteenth day of the bright half of the month, should one, in celibacy sleeping on the floor, care to bathe three times a day. (49) One should refrain from discussing trivia and sensual pleasures superior or inferior, and, being of nonviolence towards all living beings, depend on Vâsudeva as the essence.

(50) Following should on the thirteenth day the Almighty [Vishnu] be bathed with five substances [milk, yogurt, ghee, sugar and honey] proceeding according the vidhi as laid down in the scriptures. (51-52) With the milk and the grains offered should in grand worship the miserly mentality [of not spending] be given up, being of good recitation with many a hymn [or sûkta] for Lord Vishnu residing in the hearts of all; thus with great attention and food offerings should one of worship for the Original Person with everything so richly prepared be of sacrifices highly pleasing to His Personality. (53) Try to understand that in worship of the Lord [vishnu-ârâdhana], the teacher of example [the âcârya] so well versed in the spiritual knowledge and also the priests, should be satisfied with clothes, ornaments and many a cow. (54) O pious lady, all of them and also the brahmins as far as possible and the rest assembled there, should receive the prasâda of the rich food of goodness [B.G. 17: 8] prepared with milk and ghee. (55) The guru and the priests should be financially compensated and by all means should the food even be distributed to the simpleminded and poor whom one also should reward for gathering for the ceremony. (56) After feeding also all the poor, the blind, the averse and so on, should one from that way of understanding pleasing Lord Vishnu, take with one’s friends and relatives prasâda oneself. (57) With dance, drum and song, reciting mantras, offering prayers and reading out the stories, should one from the first to the last day worship the Supreme Lord.

(58) This, related by my grandfather [Brahmâ], that I described unto you in all detail, is the supreme process called payo-vrata of honoring the Original Person. (59) O greatly fortunate one, also you will by this process, properly executed, with yourself in pure love unto Lord Kes’ava manage to settle yours in persistence of worship towards the Inexhaustible One. (60) Of all religious ceremonies is this one called sarva-yajña [the one covering all sacrifices] which is thus, with charity pleasing the Lord, understood as the very essence of all austerities, o good lady [*]. (61) Of all regulations is the one as mentioned indeed the most direct and best way to control the senses effectively, because by the austerity, the vows and the sacrifice Adhokshaja, the One beyond the Senses, is pleased [see footnote and 1.2: 8]. (62) And for that reason o blessed one, will the Supreme Lord being very satisfied by your executing this with faith according the to the rules observed vow, soon bestow upon you all benedictions.