Glorification of Holy Places ||2||

1Suta said: Thereupon, the son of Pandu approached Narada who was adored by Devas and surrounded by Brahmanas. He made obeisance to all and grasped (their feet).
2Then Narada said to him: “O Dhananjaya, be victorious over your enemies. May your mind be inclined towards virtue and piety as well as (respectful to) Devas and Brahmanas.
3Engaged in this journey of pilgrimage lasting for twelve years, o heroic warrior, I hope you are not tired and afflicted nor have you become desperately furious.
4Even the minds of sages, o son of Pandu, become tired and afflicted by journeys of pilgrimage. They become desperately furious, despite its being the cause of obstacles to (spiritual) welfare.
5O son of Pandu, are you not (in the way) affected by this defect? In this connection, we have heard this Gatha sung by Angiras:
6‘Only he whose hands, feet and mind are well-restrained and whose rites are all devoid of aberrations, derives benefit from (visits to) holy places.’
7-9This fact should be borne in mind by you. O dear one, what do you think? Your brother is Yudhishthira and your friend is Kesava. (Hence it is proper that you should be virtuous.) Further, this is but proper that men should be guided and trained by Brahmanas, We are indeed the preceptors and instructors in virtue and piety, established therein by Vishnu. We hear this Gatha sung by Vishnu in the connection, in regard to Brahmanas:
10‘I am Vikuntha. Listening to my spotless, immortal fame is like a holy dip. It immediately sanctifies the universe down to a Svapaca (one who cooks dog’s flesh, a Candala). I have attained fame as a Sutirtha (‘holy and pious one’) through you. So I will (not hesitate to) cut even my own arm, if it were to be adverse.’
11We shall say something pleasing to you, o son of Pritha. All of those whom you desire to be happy and prosperous are so, namely the Yadavas and the Pandavas.
12Now, at the bidding of Dhritarashtra, Viravarma the king who had harassed Kurus, has been killed by Bhimasena.
13Indeed, he had been invincible to an the kings like the powerful Bali of yore. In the manner in which a thorn is remove ed by another thorn. Dhritarashtra conquered him.”
14On hearing these and other words uttered by Narada, Phalguna (i.e. Arjuna) became extremely joyous. He said: “Whence can there be absence of welfare in their case?
15They always abide by the opinions and suggestions of Brahmanas. They are the adorers of Brahmanas. I too am going on pilgrimage to holy places with mental restraint, in accordance with my ability.
16I came to this Tirtha. There is great joy in my heart. Blessed indeed is the visit to the Tirthas. A holy dip in them is all the more so.
17Listening to the greatness is still further so, as even Sage Aurva has said so. Hence, o sage, I wish to hear the good features of this Tirtha.
18-19Along with this alone should it be listened to as (to why pilgrimage has been) accepted by you, o sage. You have wandered in the three worlds. Hence you know all the essential things. I consider this Tirtha better than the other Tirthas, because this is honoured by you.”
20-21Narada said: This is proper on your part, o son of Pritha, possessing good qualities, that you enquire about the merits. Only meritorious persons can befittingly listen to the merits arising from holy rites. Time is spent everyday by good men in listening to holy rites and devout activities as well as in praying and eulogizing, (while) the whole life is spent by sinners in evil conversations and idle talk everyday. So I shall glorify the many merits of this Tirtha.
22-25On hearing the same you will know that what has been accepted and adopted by me is proper. Formerly, o son of Pritha, in the course of my wanderings in the three worlds, as a follower of Kapila , I went to the world of Brahma. There I saw the grandfather (of the worlds). Brahma, devoid of impurities and surrounded by saintly kings, celestial sages as well as by embodied and unembodied beings, shone-like the moon surrounded by the stars. I bowed down to him. I was offered welcome by means of a glance. I sat there joyously along with Kapila. In the meantime his spies and emissaries came there.
26-29aThey are sent everyday by Brahma to visit (the whole of) the universe. They bowed down and took their seats. With his gracious glances as sweet as nectar he seemed to flood them, as he spoke thus : What are those places you have wandered over? What are the wonderful things seen or heard by you? Recount them. Merit accrues on listening to them.” When this was said by the Lord, a person named Susravas, who was considered to be their leader, bowed down to Brahma and spoke thus:
29b-32Our submission (of information) in front of the Lord is like showing a lamp in front of the sun. Still the matter
must be reported by me as I have been urged by you for the sake of others. After listening to and understanding many holy rites and pious pursuits, a sage named Katyayana wanted to know the essence. (He performed a penance) standing on a single big toe for a hundred years. Thereupon a celestial voice spoke to him: ‘O Katyiyana, listen. Ask sage Sarasvata on the banks of Sarasvati. He is conversant with Dharma. He will explain to you the essential features to be achieved through Dharma.’
33On hearing this, the excellent sage approached that renowned leading sage, bent down his head touching the ground and asked him what he had in his mind:
34-35‘Some praise Truth. Others praise penance and cleanliness. Some praise the Samkhya system of philosophy.
Others speak (highly) of Yoga system. Some praise forgiveness and forbearance as well as excessive straightforwardness. Some praise (the vow of) silence. Some say that learning is the greatest thing.
36Some praise perfect knowledge. Some praise excellent detachment. Some know the holy rites of Agnishtoma as the greatest thing.
37-39Some praise the knowledge of Atman whereby one views a clod of earth, a stone and a lump of gold alike. When this is the position in the world, people are deluded and perplexed in the matter of what should be done and what should not be done. They begin to argue as to which is the best one among these and contributes the most towards our welfare?’ It behoves you to say which of these is the greatest thing to be pursued by noble souls, o sage conversant with Dharma. Which is the thing that achieves all objectives.’
40Sarasvata said: I shall speak about the essence that Sarasvati told me. Listen to it. The entire universe is of the nature of a shadow. Origin and destruction are its characteristic features. It is transitory like the bending and breaking (i.e. knitting) of the eyebrows by a courtesan.
41Wealth, life, youth and worldly pleasures are unsteady like reflection of the moon in water. After pondering over this intelligently, one should resort to Sthanu (i.e. Siva) (the deity) and Dana (i.e. the holy rite of charitable gifts).
42A person inclined towards the rite of Dana is not liable to commit sins so says the Sruti. Similarly the Sruti avers that a devotee of Sthanu does nol undergo (frequent) births and deaths.
43-45Listen to the two Gathas formerly proclaimed and sung by Savarni. The Lord whose vehicle is the Bull, is veritable Dharma indeed. That Mahadeva is honoured and adored. He is called the greatest Dharma. Only Lord Hara redeems one from the ocean of worldly existence , where one gets immersed in its waters, where misery is the whirlpool, darkness is terrible, Dharma and Adharma constitute the waters, anger is the marsh and mud, arrogance and inebriation is the crocodile, greed. the cause of all pain and difficulty, is the bubble and false pride and prestige is the majestic depth extending as far as the netherworlds. But it is adorned with the vehicle (i.e. ship) of the Sattva Guna.
46-50Though the body is Asara (‘worthless’), one must extract the essence from it, viz. Dana (‘charitable gift’), Vritta (‘good conduct’), Vrata (‘holy observance’), Vacahi, (i.e. words auspicious, truthful and pleasing words), Kirti (‘fame’), Dharma (‘virtue’), Ayushahi (i.e. longevity or means of increasing longevity such as use of medicinal herbs, yogic procedures etc.) and Paropakarana (‘rendering help to others’)· Attachment of virtue, anxiety for renown, good indulgence in charitable gifts, absence of interest and attachment in the sensual objects if one gets all these, one has attained the benefit of one’s birth. In this country called Bharata , after taking the birth as a man, which is not stable and permanent, if one does not pursue activities conducive to the welfare of Atman, Atman is indeed deceived by him. Human birth is difficult to be obtained by (even) Devas and Asuras. After obtaining this, one should perform those things which would prevent him from falling into hell. Human birth is the root of everything. It is conducive to the achievement of all aims.
51-54Even if you (have put in) no effort to gain anything, at least save the capital by all means. The ship of your body has been bought by you at a great cost of merit in order to cross the ocean of misery. Cross it before it (i.e. the boat) breaks. Even after obtaining a body having no malady or defect, which is very difficult to get, if one does not get away from the world, he becomes the slayer of Atman, the basest man. Ascetics perform penance; sacrificing priests perform Havana and charitable gifts are given-all these are eagerly pursued for the sake of obtaining the other world.
Katyayana asked: Of these two, namely charitable gifts and penance, o holy lord, which is more difficult? Which yields greater benefit after death? O Sirasvata, tell it.
55Sarasvata said: There is nothing more difficult to perform on the earth than Dana (charitable gift). O sage, this is perceived directly with the world as the witness.
56Abandoning (i.e. risking) their own dear life for the sake of wealth, they enter the oceans, forests and mountains out of great greed. They face the great dangers therein.
57Others adopt service which is known as Sva-vritti (‘canine way of life’). Others pursue agricultural activities involving great strain and much violence.
58It is very difficult to give up the wealth that has been acquired with great pain and strain, which is more important and beloved than the vital airs and which has been obtained by means of hundreds of strenuous exertions.
59Whatever a rich person donates (as a gift) or whatever he (enjoys and) consumes is the real asset of the man. (For after his death) other persons amuse and enjoy themselves with the womenfolk and the riches of the dead man.
60I consider the person who begs day by day as my preceptor because he wipes and cleanses (our minds) like one who wipes off a mirror.
61That which is being given is not wasted. It increases more and more. If the well (is dug up deeper and) water is pumped out, it becomes pure and has abundance of water.
62For the sake of pleasure in one birth, one gives up thousands of births. An intelligent man (through the meritorious deed of charitable gifts) amasses in a sing]e birth all the happiness and pleasure of a thousand births.
63A foolish man does not gift away wealth because he is afraid of poverty in this world. An intelligent man gifts away wealth because he is afraid of the same in the other world.
64What will those persons resorting to what is fragile and brittle, do with their wealth? The body for the sake of which they desire wealth, is not permanent.
65Formerly the two syllables ‘na-sti’ (‘there is nothing’) had been habitually repeated by them. That had become adverse to them now with the two syllabled ‘De-hi’ (‘give’).
66All the people (who beg) enlighten a miser thus: “Give. This is the result of not giving. May not you too be like this.”
67It is for helping the donor himself that the suppliant says, “Give me”, since the donor goes up (to heaven) and the donee stands below.
68The following persons are born so, because they have not given anything in charity: They are indigent persons, sickly ones, foolish ones and those who run errand for others. They are always victims of misery.
69A rich man who does not give in charity, a poor man who is not an ascetic (i.e. does not perform penance) these two should be thrown into water after tying a big rock round their neck.
70One in a hundred is born as a heroic warrior; one in a thousand is a scholar; one in a hundred-thousand is an orator; a donor may or may not be born.
71The earth is sustained by these seven: cows, brahmanas, Vedas, chaste women, truthful persons, persons who are not greedy and those who habitually gift away (i.e. donors).
72Sibi , the son of Usinara, went to heaven from here after dedicating his limbs and his own bosom-born son for the sake of a Brahmana.
73Since he gifted away his own eyes to a Brahmana, Pratardana , the lord of Kasi, attained unparalleled renown both here and hereafter.
74Nimi of the land of Videha gave his kingdom to Brahmanas Jamadagnya (i.e. Parasurama) gave the earth and Gaya, the earth along with the cities.
75When Parjanya (i.e. god of rain) did not shower, Vasishtha, the creator of abodes for all living beings, enlivened the subjects like Prajapati.
76Brahmadatta , the king of Pancala territory, the most excellent one among intelligent persons, gave the treasure Sankha to eminent Brahmanas and attained heaven.
77The saintly king Sahasrajit of great fame forsook his dear life for the sake of Brahmanas and attained very excellent worlds.
78These and many others who were tranquil in their minds and who had conquered their sense organs went to the world of Rudra due to their devotion to Sthanu and their charitable gifts.
79-80As long as this earth will exist, the reputation of these persons will remain well-established. Thinking thus you should seek the essential thing. Be devoted to Sthanu and the holy rite of charitable gift. Katyayana too
eschewed his delusion and was (devoted to Sthanu and the holy rite of charitable gifts).
81Narada said: On hearing this story recounted by Susravas, the Lotus-born Deity was much filled with tears of joy. He praised (him) again and again:
82“Well said, o dear one. This is thus and not otherwise.” Sarasvata spoke the truth. Similarly this Sruti is also true:
83Gift, monetary gift, is a shield unto Yajnas. In this world, all living beings derive livelihood from donors. They dispelled enemies through gifts. Through gift, enemies become friends. Everything is established in gift. Hence they speak of Dana (‘gift’) as the greatest (holy act).
84In the terrible ocean of worldly existence which is disturbed and turbid due to the billows of Dharma and Adharma one should resort to Dana. It is made like a ship.
85-87It is after thinking thus that Brahmanas were established by me at Puskara; in Kritayuga Brahmanas were established by Sri and Hari between Ganga and Yamuna, in the middle land (‘doab’)· Most excellent ones among the knowers of the Vedas were established by Srigauri; Nagaras were established by Rudra and Saktipurbhavas were established by Parvati. Similarly (Brahmanas were established) at Srimala by Lakshmi. Thus, these and other Agraharas (i.e. villages gifted to Brahmanas) were provided by excellent Suras with a desire for uplifting the worlds.
88We do not have any desire for the benefit of the holy rite of Dana. O excellent Suras. It is for the sake of protecting good people that Dana has been glorified by us.
89Brahmanas who have been allotted proper abodes, uplift the other three castes by means of instructions of various sorts in the matter of piety and virtue. Therefore Brahmanas are extremely worthy of adoration.
90-91Dana is of four types : Dana, Utsarga, Kalpita and Samsruta. They are of different nature; they have been glorified in this order. The gift of tanks, wells and lakes, trees, educational institutions, temples, monasteries, water booths, houses, fields-this is called Utsarga.
92If any man were to perform any meritorious rite while resorting to these, one-sixth of the merit accruing therefrom is obtained by the Brahmana who has gifted the same.
93Among all these, settling Brahmanas (in a good place) is the greatest. Settling deities also is an act of Dharma, because it has that as its root.
94The share of the ancestors of the donor in the merit remains as long as the temple lasts or the abode of the Brahmana remains steady.
95This is a small form of trade (i.e. investment) yielding much benefit. When old ruins are restored and renewed the benefit is stated to be double the same.
96Hence I too say this, o exceJJent Suras. There is nothing equal to Dana. What Sarasvata said was true.
97Narada said: The Suras applauded what had been said by Sarasvata and the Lotus-born Lord said approvingly: “Well said! Well said!” The Suras and I were struck with wonder.
98Then, when the assembly dispersed, I sat on a slab on the beautiful top of Meru and thought thus:
99-101“Viranci (Brahma) spoke the truth. Why does he live. He by whom not a single thing has been done whereby he could have the satisfaction of having done the duty? Therefore, how can I clearly perform the rite of charitable gift? My only asset is a loin-cloth and a staff. I don’t have even a little of wealth. If one gives to a non-deserving person or if one does not give to a deserving person (one incurs sin). Hence the holy rite of charitable gift is a difficult one, because one has to distinguish between the deserving and the non-deserving.
102If a gift is made at the proper place and time to a deserving person, with a pure mind, of what is acquired by justifiable means, the benefit is enjoyed at the time of youth.
103If the gift is made with a Tamasa attitude or in an angry mood, the benefit is enjoyed while he is in the womb. There is no doubt about it.
104-105Even during boyhood, the benefit is enjoyed if the gift is made out of arrogance or hypocrisy. If the gift is made with unjustly acquired wealth or if it is made with an ulterior motive, the man enjoys the benefit during
old age. There is no doubt about it. Hence gift is to be made in this manner. The time and place must be proper. The person receiving must be deserving. The gift should be made in accordance with the injunctions. The wealth should have been acquired by fair, auspicious means. There must be respect (for the recipient)
in the man making the gift. He should not have roguish tendency or stubbornness .
106How can this take place in the state of poverty? The ancient sages devoid of impurities have spoken truthful words.
107A man devoid of wealth has neither this world nor the other world at any rate . People see an indigent person standing by as a despicable one.
108Poverty is a sin in this world. Who dares or deserves to praise it? A fallen man is pitied by all. A poor man is also pitied.
109A man who is bodily lean is not actually lean. Lean are those who are deficient in horses, wealth, servants and guests. Only such a person is called Krsa (‘lean’)·
110A man with plenty of wealth is highly praiseworthy in the world, though his family may be a bad one. An indigent person is censured even if his family is on a par with the bright moon.
111People who have become superior in knowledge, those who have grown rich with penance, those people who have acquired vast learning-all these stand at the doorway of one who is rich in (i.e. has accumulated) wealth, as his servants.
112Although in the three worlds wealth is not averse to us, it yields fruit only when solicited by another.”
113-114I thought over all these things clearly. I looked ahead for a suitable place. After thinking in various ways, I wandered over countries, villages, cities and many hermitages. There I got a place which was good and where I could settle Brahmanas.