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    Agni Purana

    Agni Purana



    Courtesy: DILIP KUMAR RAVINDRAN prdili@yahoo.com
    Let us Start Reading Puranas.
    Puranas are also a Treasure to Sanathana Dharma.
    Agni Purana, Brahma Purana, Garuda Purana,
    Markandeya Purana, Varaha Purana, Matsya Purana
    Vishnu Purana, Linga Purana, Narada Purana,
    Padma Purana, Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana,
    Vamana Purana
    Let us start read one by one .
    We start with AGNIPURANA. I will post Each Purana as part by part.
    Here we start the translation of the text of the AGNIPURAN in Short at the currently available form :

    I am not a scholar to modify any of this laws or puranas or its languages suitable for modern life .I Humbly request you to read it and think in a modern scientific way. Like in Bhagavadgita Chapter 18 text 63 it is said by lord Krishna Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.

    Agni Purana part… 1


    The Agni Purana is a mahapurana. It usually figures eighth in the list of eighteen. There are about fifteen and a half thousand shlokas in the Agni Purana.

    The Agni Purana is a tamasika purana. The others in this group are the Matsya, Kurma, Linga, Shiva and Skanda Puranas.

    The narrator of the Agni Purana is the fire-god Agni. Agni related the subject matter of the Purana to the sage Vashishtha, who in turn, passed on the knowledge to Vyasadeva. Vyasadeva’s disciple Suta learnt the Purana from his teacher.

    Many sages had assembled in the forest naimisharanya. The most important of these sages was Shounaka. All these holy men wished to hear what the Agni Purana had to say. And that is how Suta came to relate the Purana.

    The Agni Purana has no separate sections as such. It is simply split up into three hundred and eighty-three adhyayas (chapters). One of these chapters, chapter number 380, is rather interesting. It gives in capsule form the essence of advaita brahmajnana. The brahman is the divine spirit and brahmajnana means the knowledge of the brahman. Advaita means one. Advaita brahmajnana teaches of the union of the individual human soul (atman) with the brahman. The sections in the Agni Purana are nothing but a summary of the teachings of the Vedas and the Upanishadas. These holy texts were difficult to understand, there were restrictions on who might read them and who might not. The Puranas were available to everyone. Anyone could read them or listen to their recitations. Thus, this supreme knowledge of brahmajnana was summarised for the general population through the Puranas.

    The Agni Purana is full of rituals. Its chapters are generally not long, they are very brief. And even when the stories are given, they are in greatly summarized form. They can be obtained in far more fascinating detail in the other Puranas. For example, you will wonder why so much has been missed out about Rama. But that is because you are familiar with the story of the Ramayana. And you will also wonder why so much has been missed out about the Kauravas and the Pandavas. But that again is because you are familiar with the story of the Mahabharata.

    This is no doubt partly due to the fact that the Agni Purana was written much after many of the other Puranas. It was a supplement to the other Puranas. The stories were already there in the other Puranas, what was missing in them were the rituals. And the rituals are very much part and parcel of the Vedic tradition. The Agni Purana was also written at a time when the brahmana religion had become much more ritualistic. The supremacy of the brahmana as a caste is much more pronounced in the Agni Purana than in the other Puranas.

    Tradition too says that the Puranas differ in character because they were written in different kalpas (cycles). The Agni Purana itself with tell you later what a kalpa is.


    Preliminaries

    In the forest that is known as naimisharanya, Shounaka and the other rishis (sages) were performing a yajna (sacrifice) dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. Suta had also come there, on his way to a pilgrimage.

    The sages told Suta, "We have welcomed you. Now describe to us that which makes men all-knowning. Describe to us that which is the most sacred in the whole world."

    Suta replied, "Vishnu is the essence of everything. I went to a hermitage named vadrika with Shuka, Paila and other sages and met Vyasadeva there. Vyasadeva described to me that which he had learnt from the great sage Vashishtha, Vashishtha having learnt it from the god Agni himself. The Agni Purana is sacred because it tells us about the essence of the brahman (the divine essence). I learnt all this from Vyasadeva and I will now tell you all that I have learnt."


    Avataras

    Do you know what an avatara is? An avatara is an incarnation and means that a god adopts a human form to be born on earth. Why do gods do this? This purpose is to destroy evil on earth and establish righteousness. Vishnu is regarded as the preserver of the universe and it is therefore Vishnu’s incarnations that one encounters most often. Vishnu has already had nine such incarnations and the tenth and final incarnation is due in the future. These ten incarnations of Vishnu are as follows.

    (1) Matsya avatara or fish incarnation

    (2) Kurma avatara or turtle incarnation

    (3) Varaha avatara or boar incarnation

    (4) Narasimha avatara - an incarnation in the form of a being who was half-man and half-lion

    (5) Vamana avatara or dwarf incarnation

    (6) Parashurama

    (7) Sri Rama

    (8) Sri Krishna

    (9) Buddha

    (10) Kalki ¾ this is the incarnation that is yet to come.

    The Agni Purana now describes these ten incarnations.


    Matsya avatara or fish incarnation

    Agni told Vashishtha the story of the fish incarnation.

    Many years ago, the whole world was destroyed. The destruction in fact extended to all the three lokas (worlds) of bhuloka, bhuvarloka and svarloka. Bhuloka is the earth, svarloka or svarga is heaven and bhuvarloka is a region between the earth and heaven. All three worlds were flooded with water.

    Vaivasvata Manu was the son of the sun-god. He had spent ten thousand years in prayers and tapasya (meditation) in the hermitage vadrika. This hermitage was on the banks of the river Kritamala.

    Once Manu came to the river to perform his ablutions. He immersed his hands in the water to get some water for his ablutions. When he raised them, he found that there was a small fish swimming in the water in the cup of his hands.

    Manu was about to throw the fish back into the water when the fish said, "Don’t throw me back. I am scared of alligators and crocodiles and big fishes. Save me."

    Manu found an earthen pot in which he could keep the fish. But soon the fish became too big for the pot and Manu had to find a larger vessel in which the fish might be kept. But the fish became too big for this vessel as well and Manu had to transfer the fish to a lake. But the fish grew and grew and became too large for the lake. So Manu transferred the fish to the ocean. In the ocean, the fish grew until it became gigantic.

    By now, Manu’s wonder knew no bounds. He said, "Who are you? You must be the Lord Vishnu, I bow down before you. Tell me, why are you tantalising me in the form of a fish?"

    The fish replied, "I have come to punish the evil and protect the good. Seven days from now, the ocean will flood the entire world and all beings will be destroyed. But since you have saved me, I will save you. When the world is flooded, a boat will arrive here. Take the saptarshis (seven sages) with you and spend the terrible night that will come on that boat. Don’t forget to take the seeds of foodgrains with you. Will arrive and you will then fasten the boat to my horn with a huge snake."

    Saying this, the fish disappeared.

    Everything happened as the fish had promised it would. The ocean became turbulent and Manu climbed into the boat. He tied the boat to the huge horn that the fish had. He prayed to the fish and the fish related the Matsya Purana to him. Eventually, when the water receded, the boat was anchored to the topmost peak of the Himalyas. And living beings were created once again.

    A danava (demon) named Hayagriva had stolen the sacred texts of the Vedas and the knowledge of the brahman. In his form of a fish, Vishnu also killed Hayagriva and recovered the Vedas.


    Kurma avatara or turtle incarnation

    Many years ago there was a war between the devas (gods) and the daityas (demons) and the gods lost this war. They prayed to Vishnu to rescue them from the oppression of the demons. Vishnu told Brahma and the other gods that they should have a temporary truce with the demons. The two sides should get together to churn the ocean. Vishnu would ensure that the devas benefited more from this churning of the ocean than the daityas did.

    The truce was agreed upon and the two sides got ready to churn the ocean. The mountain Mandara was used as a churning rod and the great snake Vasuki as the rope for churning. The devas grasped Vasuki’s tail and the daityas grasped Vasuki’s head. But as the churning began, the mountain Mandara which had no base, started to get immersed in the ocean. What was to be done? Lord Vishnu came to the rescue. He adopted the form of a turtle and the peak was balanced on the turtle’s back.

    As the churning continued, terrible poison named kalakuta emerged from the depths of the ocean and was swallowed by Shiva. Shiva’s throat became blue from this poison and he is therefore known as Nilakantha, blue of throat. The goddess Varuni, the goddess of wine (sura), came out next. The gods readily accepted her and thus they came to be known as suras. But the demons rejected Varuni and were therefore known as asuras. She was followed by the parijata tree, a beautiful tree that came to occupy the pride of place in Indra’s garden. A jewel named koustubha emerged and was accepted by Vishnu as his adornment. Three wonderful animals came out next - the cow Kapila, the horse Ucchaishrava and the elephant Airavata. They were followed by apsaras, beautiful women who became dancers of heaven. They were known as apsaras because they emerged from ap (water). The goddess Lakshmi or Shri came out next and was united with Vishnu.

    Finally, Dhanvantari emerged with a pot of amrita (the life-giving drink) in his hands. Dhanvantariwas the originator of medicine (ayurveda). The daityas led by Jambha gave half of the amrita to the devas and departed with the remaining half.

    But Vishnu quickly adopted the form of a beautiful woman. So beautiful was the woman that the demons were charmed. "Pretty lady," they said, "Take the amrita and serve it to us. Marry us."

    Vishnu accepted the amrita, but he had no intention of giving it to the demons. He served it to the gods instead. There was only one demon who was somewhat clever. His name was Rahu. He adopted the form of Chandra, the moon-god, and succeeded in drinking some of the amrita. The sun-god and the moon-god noticed what was happening and reported it to Vishnu. Vishnu thereupon cut off Rahu’s head with a sword.

    But Rahu had drunk the amrita, so he could not die. He prayed to Vishnu and Vishnu granted him a boon. The boon was that occasionally Rahu would be permitted to swallow up the sun and the moon, since these were the gods who had complained about him. You can see this happening at the time of the solar and the lunar eclipses. People who give alms during such eclipses are blessed.

    The gods obtained the amrita and the demons did not. Thus, the gods became more powerful than the demons. They defeated the demons and regained heaven.

    Will be continue on part 2
    Namaste

    Krishna
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    thanks

    Dear Krishna ji

    Thanks so much for writing about the puranas. I would like my children to read and know about our Vedas/Puranas. Thanks once again. Please keep writing about all the puranas.
    Bagya
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    Quote Originally Posted by krsna View Post
    Agni Purana



    Courtesy: DILIP KUMAR RAVINDRAN prdili@yahoo.com
    Let us Start Reading Puranas.
    Puranas are also a Treasure to Sanathana Dharma.
    Agni Purana, Brahma Purana, Garuda Purana,
    Markandeya Purana, Varaha Purana, Matsya Purana
    Vishnu Purana, Linga Purana, Narada Purana,
    Padma Purana, Shiva Purana, Skanda Purana,
    Vamana Purana
    Let us start read one by one .
    We start with AGNIPURANA. I will post Each Purana as part by part.
    Here we start the translation of the text of the AGNIPURAN in Short at the currently available form :

    I am not a scholar to modify any of this laws or puranas or its languages suitable for modern life .I Humbly request you to read it and think in a modern scientific way. Like in Bhagavadgita Chapter 18 text 63 it is said by lord Krishna Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.

    Agni Purana part… 1


    The Agni Purana is a mahapurana. It usually figures eighth in the list of eighteen. There are about fifteen and a half thousand shlokas in the Agni Purana.

    The Agni Purana is a tamasika purana. The others in this group are the Matsya, Kurma, Linga, Shiva and Skanda Puranas.

    The narrator of the Agni Purana is the fire-god Agni. Agni related the subject matter of the Purana to the sage Vashishtha, who in turn, passed on the knowledge to Vyasadeva. Vyasadeva’s disciple Suta learnt the Purana from his teacher.

    Many sages had assembled in the forest naimisharanya. The most important of these sages was Shounaka. All these holy men wished to hear what the Agni Purana had to say. And that is how Suta came to relate the Purana.

    The Agni Purana has no separate sections as such. It is simply split up into three hundred and eighty-three adhyayas (chapters). One of these chapters, chapter number 380, is rather interesting. It gives in capsule form the essence of advaita brahmajnana. The brahman is the divine spirit and brahmajnana means the knowledge of the brahman. Advaita means one. Advaita brahmajnana teaches of the union of the individual human soul (atman) with the brahman. The sections in the Agni Purana are nothing but a summary of the teachings of the Vedas and the Upanishadas. These holy texts were difficult to understand, there were restrictions on who might read them and who might not. The Puranas were available to everyone. Anyone could read them or listen to their recitations. Thus, this supreme knowledge of brahmajnana was summarised for the general population through the Puranas.

    The Agni Purana is full of rituals. Its chapters are generally not long, they are very brief. And even when the stories are given, they are in greatly summarized form. They can be obtained in far more fascinating detail in the other Puranas. For example, you will wonder why so much has been missed out about Rama. But that is because you are familiar with the story of the Ramayana. And you will also wonder why so much has been missed out about the Kauravas and the Pandavas. But that again is because you are familiar with the story of the Mahabharata.

    This is no doubt partly due to the fact that the Agni Purana was written much after many of the other Puranas. It was a supplement to the other Puranas. The stories were already there in the other Puranas, what was missing in them were the rituals. And the rituals are very much part and parcel of the Vedic tradition. The Agni Purana was also written at a time when the brahmana religion had become much more ritualistic. The supremacy of the brahmana as a caste is much more pronounced in the Agni Purana than in the other Puranas.

    Tradition too says that the Puranas differ in character because they were written in different kalpas (cycles). The Agni Purana itself with tell you later what a kalpa is.


    Preliminaries

    In the forest that is known as naimisharanya, Shounaka and the other rishis (sages) were performing a yajna (sacrifice) dedicated to the Lord Vishnu. Suta had also come there, on his way to a pilgrimage.

    The sages told Suta, "We have welcomed you. Now describe to us that which makes men all-knowning. Describe to us that which is the most sacred in the whole world."

    Suta replied, "Vishnu is the essence of everything. I went to a hermitage named vadrika with Shuka, Paila and other sages and met Vyasadeva there. Vyasadeva described to me that which he had learnt from the great sage Vashishtha, Vashishtha having learnt it from the god Agni himself. The Agni Purana is sacred because it tells us about the essence of the brahman (the divine essence). I learnt all this from Vyasadeva and I will now tell you all that I have learnt."


    Avataras

    Do you know what an avatara is? An avatara is an incarnation and means that a god adopts a human form to be born on earth. Why do gods do this? This purpose is to destroy evil on earth and establish righteousness. Vishnu is regarded as the preserver of the universe and it is therefore Vishnu’s incarnations that one encounters most often. Vishnu has already had nine such incarnations and the tenth and final incarnation is due in the future. These ten incarnations of Vishnu are as follows.

    (1) Matsya avatara or fish incarnation

    (2) Kurma avatara or turtle incarnation

    (3) Varaha avatara or boar incarnation

    (4) Narasimha avatara - an incarnation in the form of a being who was half-man and half-lion

    (5) Vamana avatara or dwarf incarnation

    (6) Parashurama

    (7) Sri Rama

    (8) Sri Krishna

    (9) Buddha

    (10) Kalki ¾ this is the incarnation that is yet to come.

    The Agni Purana now describes these ten incarnations.


    Matsya avatara or fish incarnation

    Agni told Vashishtha the story of the fish incarnation.

    Many years ago, the whole world was destroyed. The destruction in fact extended to all the three lokas (worlds) of bhuloka, bhuvarloka and svarloka. Bhuloka is the earth, svarloka or svarga is heaven and bhuvarloka is a region between the earth and heaven. All three worlds were flooded with water.

    Vaivasvata Manu was the son of the sun-god. He had spent ten thousand years in prayers and tapasya (meditation) in the hermitage vadrika. This hermitage was on the banks of the river Kritamala.

    Once Manu came to the river to perform his ablutions. He immersed his hands in the water to get some water for his ablutions. When he raised them, he found that there was a small fish swimming in the water in the cup of his hands.

    Manu was about to throw the fish back into the water when the fish said, "Don’t throw me back. I am scared of alligators and crocodiles and big fishes. Save me."

    Manu found an earthen pot in which he could keep the fish. But soon the fish became too big for the pot and Manu had to find a larger vessel in which the fish might be kept. But the fish became too big for this vessel as well and Manu had to transfer the fish to a lake. But the fish grew and grew and became too large for the lake. So Manu transferred the fish to the ocean. In the ocean, the fish grew until it became gigantic.

    By now, Manu’s wonder knew no bounds. He said, "Who are you? You must be the Lord Vishnu, I bow down before you. Tell me, why are you tantalising me in the form of a fish?"

    The fish replied, "I have come to punish the evil and protect the good. Seven days from now, the ocean will flood the entire world and all beings will be destroyed. But since you have saved me, I will save you. When the world is flooded, a boat will arrive here. Take the saptarshis (seven sages) with you and spend the terrible night that will come on that boat. Don’t forget to take the seeds of foodgrains with you. Will arrive and you will then fasten the boat to my horn with a huge snake."

    Saying this, the fish disappeared.

    Everything happened as the fish had promised it would. The ocean became turbulent and Manu climbed into the boat. He tied the boat to the huge horn that the fish had. He prayed to the fish and the fish related the Matsya Purana to him. Eventually, when the water receded, the boat was anchored to the topmost peak of the Himalyas. And living beings were created once again.

    A danava (demon) named Hayagriva had stolen the sacred texts of the Vedas and the knowledge of the brahman. In his form of a fish, Vishnu also killed Hayagriva and recovered the Vedas.


    Kurma avatara or turtle incarnation

    Many years ago there was a war between the devas (gods) and the daityas (demons) and the gods lost this war. They prayed to Vishnu to rescue them from the oppression of the demons. Vishnu told Brahma and the other gods that they should have a temporary truce with the demons. The two sides should get together to churn the ocean. Vishnu would ensure that the devas benefited more from this churning of the ocean than the daityas did.

    The truce was agreed upon and the two sides got ready to churn the ocean. The mountain Mandara was used as a churning rod and the great snake Vasuki as the rope for churning. The devas grasped Vasuki’s tail and the daityas grasped Vasuki’s head. But as the churning began, the mountain Mandara which had no base, started to get immersed in the ocean. What was to be done? Lord Vishnu came to the rescue. He adopted the form of a turtle and the peak was balanced on the turtle’s back.

    As the churning continued, terrible poison named kalakuta emerged from the depths of the ocean and was swallowed by Shiva. Shiva’s throat became blue from this poison and he is therefore known as Nilakantha, blue of throat. The goddess Varuni, the goddess of wine (sura), came out next. The gods readily accepted her and thus they came to be known as suras. But the demons rejected Varuni and were therefore known as asuras. She was followed by the parijata tree, a beautiful tree that came to occupy the pride of place in Indra’s garden. A jewel named koustubha emerged and was accepted by Vishnu as his adornment. Three wonderful animals came out next - the cow Kapila, the horse Ucchaishrava and the elephant Airavata. They were followed by apsaras, beautiful women who became dancers of heaven. They were known as apsaras because they emerged from ap (water). The goddess Lakshmi or Shri came out next and was united with Vishnu.

    Finally, Dhanvantari emerged with a pot of amrita (the life-giving drink) in his hands. Dhanvantariwas the originator of medicine (ayurveda). The daityas led by Jambha gave half of the amrita to the devas and departed with the remaining half.

    But Vishnu quickly adopted the form of a beautiful woman. So beautiful was the woman that the demons were charmed. "Pretty lady," they said, "Take the amrita and serve it to us. Marry us."

    Vishnu accepted the amrita, but he had no intention of giving it to the demons. He served it to the gods instead. There was only one demon who was somewhat clever. His name was Rahu. He adopted the form of Chandra, the moon-god, and succeeded in drinking some of the amrita. The sun-god and the moon-god noticed what was happening and reported it to Vishnu. Vishnu thereupon cut off Rahu’s head with a sword.

    But Rahu had drunk the amrita, so he could not die. He prayed to Vishnu and Vishnu granted him a boon. The boon was that occasionally Rahu would be permitted to swallow up the sun and the moon, since these were the gods who had complained about him. You can see this happening at the time of the solar and the lunar eclipses. People who give alms during such eclipses are blessed.

    The gods obtained the amrita and the demons did not. Thus, the gods became more powerful than the demons. They defeated the demons and regained heaven.

    Will be continue on part 2
    Namaste

    Krishna
    Dear Krishna ji,
    Thank you so much ...i like to buy 18 puranas in original sanskrit version ..im started collecting by srimad bhagavatha purana..
    i will buy all 18 puranas in sanskrit versions...

    regarsds
    tbs
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    Agni Purana - 2

    Agni Purana
    Courtesy: DILIP KUMAR RAVINDRAN prdili@yahoo.com
    Let us Start Reading Puranas. In continuation with Agni Purana 1st part, let us go to

    Agni Purana part… 2

    Varaha avatara or boar incarnation

    Vishnu’s next incarnation was in the form of a boar.
    The sage Kashyapa and his wife Diti had a son named Hiranyaksha’s meditation pleased Brahma and Brahma granted him the boon that he would be invincible in battle. Thus armed, Hiranyaksha went out to fight with the devas. He comprehensively defeated Varna, the god of the ocean. Thus, Hiranyaksha became the king of the heaven, the earth and the underworld.
    But the asura was not particularly fond of the earth. He himself had begun to live in Varuna’s palace under the ocean. So he hurled the earth into the depths of the ocean.
    The gods went to Vishnu and prayed that something might be done about Hiranyaksha. They wished to be restored to heaven and they wished that the earth might be brought back from the depts of the ocean. In response to these prayers, Vishnu adoptd the form of a boar and entered the ocean. Who should he meet there but Hiranyaskha himself?
    Hiranyaksha of course did not know that this boar was none other Vishnu. He thought that it was an ordinary boar and attacked it. The two fought for many years. But finally, Hiranyaksha was gored to death by the boar’s tusks. The boar raised the earth up once again with its tusks.
    Vishnu thus saved the gods and the principles of righteousness or dharma.

    Narasimha avatara or 'Half-man, Half-lion' incarnation
    Hiranyaksha had a brother named Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakshipu was furious to learn that his brother had been killed and he resolved to kill Vishnu. But this could not be done unless he himself became powerful and invincible. Hiranyakashipu, therefore, began to pray to Brahma through difficult meditation. Brahma was pleased at these prayers and offered to grant a boon.
    "I want to be invincible," said Hiranyakashipu. "Please grant me the boon that I may not be killed by night or day; that I may not be killed by man or beast; and that I may not be killed in the sky, the water or the earth."
    Brahma granted the desired boon. And Hiranyakashipu was happy. He thought that he had taken care of all possible eventualities. And since he had become so powerful, he conquered all the three worlds and kicked the gods out of heaven.
    Hiranyakashipu had a son named Prahlada. You no doubt remember that Hiranyakashipu had resolved to kill Vishnu. But strangely enough, Prahlada became devoted to Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu tried to persuade his son. That did not work. He tried to kill his son. That too did not work since, each time, Vishnu intervened to save Prahlada.
    Meanwhile, the gods had been driven off from heaven. They had also been deprived of their shares in yajnas by Hiranyakashipu. These shares now went only to the asura king. In desperation, they went and prayed to Vishnu and Vishnu promised them that he would find a solution.
    One day, Hiranyakashipu called Prahlada to him. "How is it that you escaped each time I tried to kill you?," he asked.
    "Because Vishnu saved me," replied Prahlada. "Vishnu is everywhere."
    "What do you mean everywhere?," retorted Hiranyakashipu. He pointed to a crystal pillar inside the palace and asked, "Is Vishnu inside this pillar as well?"
    "Yes," replied Prahlada.
    "Very well then. I am going to kick the pillar," said Hiranyakashhipu.
    When Hiranyakashipu kicked the pillar, it broke in two . And from inside the pillar, Vishnu emerged in his form of Narasimha, half-man and half-lion. He caught hold of Hiranyakashipu and placed the demon across his thighs. And with his claws, he tore apart the demon’s chest and so killed him. Brahma’s boon had been that Hiranyakashipu would not be killed by man or beast, it was half-man and half-beast. The boon had said that the asura would not be killed in the sky, the water or the earth. But Hiranyakashipu was killed on Vishnu’s thighs, which were not the sky, the water or the earth. And finally, the boon had promised that Hiranyakashipu would not be killed by night or day. Since the incident took place in the evening, it was not night or day.
    After Hiranyakashipu died, the gods were restored to their rightful places. Vishnu made Prahlada the king of the asuras.

    Vamana avatara or The Dwarf incarnation
    Prahlada’s grandson was Vali and Vali became very powerful. When he was the king of the asuras, there was a war between the devas and the asuras. The gods were defeated and were driven off from svarga. As always, the gods fled to Vishnu and began to pray to him to save them. Vishnu assured the gods that he would do something about Vali.
    Accordingly, Vishnu was born as the son of Aditi and Kashyapa. The son was a dwarf.
    King Vali had arranged for a huge sacrifice and had announced that, on the occasion of the sacrifice, he would not refuse anyone a boon. The dwarf arrived at this sacrifice and began to recite the Vedas. Vali was so pleased at this that he offered the dwarf a boon. Vali’s guru (teacher) was Shukracharya and Shukracharya thought that there was something fishy about the way the dwarf had arrived. So he tried to restrain Vali.
    "No," said Vali. "I have offered a boon and I shall stick to my word." What boon do you desire? I will give whatever you want."
    Before a boon was actually granted, a small rite had to be performed with holy water. Shukracharya was still trying to do his best to prevent the boon from being given. So he entered the vessel in which the holy water was kept to seal the mouth of the vessel and prevent the water from being taken out. To get at the holy water, the vessel was pierced with a straw. This straw also pierced one of Shukracharya’s eyes. Ever since that day, the preceptor of the demons has been one-eyed.
    "Give me as much of land as may be covered in three of my steps," said the dwarf. "I need this as dakshina (fee) for my guru."
    Vali agreed. But the dwarf adopted a gigantic form. With one step he covered bhuloka. With another step he covered bhuvarloka. And with the last step he covered svarloka. The three worlds were thus lost to Vali and Vishnu returned them to Indra. Vali had no option but to go down to the underworld (patala). But so pleased was Vishnu at Vali’s generosity that he granted the asura the boon that he would bear the title of Indra in the future.

    Parashurama avatara
    The kshatriyas were the second of the four classes. It was their job to wear arms and protect the world. And rule. The brahmanas were the first of the four classes. It was their job to pray, study the sacred texts and perform religious rites. But the kshatriyas became very insolent and began to oppress the world and the brahmanas. Vishnu was then born as the son of the sage Jamadagni and his wife Renuka. Since this was the line of the sage Bhrigu, Parashurama was also called Bhargava. Parashurama’s mission was to protect the brahmanas and teach a lesson to the kshatriyas.
    There was a king named kartavirya who had received all sorts of boons from the sage Dattatreya. Thanksto these boons, Kartavirya had a thousand arms and conquered and ruled over the entire world.
    One day, Kartavirya went on a hunt to the forest. He was very tired after the hunt and was invited by the sage Jamadagni to rest at the sage’s hermitage. Jamadagni had a kamadhenu cow. This meant that the cow producted whatever its owner desired. Jamadagni used the kamadhenu to treat Kartavirya and all his soldiers to a sumptuous feast.
    Kartavirya was enamoured of the kamadhenu that he asked the sage to give it to him. But Jamadagni refused. Kartavirya then abducted the cow by force and a war started between Kartavirya and Parashurama. In this war, Parashurama cut off Kartavirya’s head with his axe (parashu) and brought the kamadhenu back to the hermitage.
    After some time, Parashurama was away when Kartavirya’s sons arrived at the ashrama and killed Jamadagni. On the death of his father, Parashurama’s anger was aroused. He killed all the kshatriyas in the world twenty-one times. On the plains of Kurukshetra, he built five wells which were filled with the blood of kshatriyas. Eventually, Parashurama handed over the world to Kashyapa and went and lived on Mount Mahendra.

    Will be continue on part 3 tomorrow
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    Agni Purana part… 3

    Agni Purana part… 3

    Courtesy: DILIP KUMAR RAVINDRAN prdili@yahoo.com
    Let us Start Reading Puranas. In continuation with Agni Purana 2nd part, let us go to

    Sri Rama avatara
    Brahma came out of Vishnu’s navel. Brahma’s son was Marichi, Marichi’s son Kashyapa, Kashyapa’s son Surya, Surya’s son Vaivasvata Manu, Manu’s son Ikshvaku, Ikshvaku’s son Kakutstha, Kakutstha’s son Raghu, Raghu’ son Aja, Aja’s son Dasharatha, Dasharatha’s sons were Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Since Rama was descended from Kakutstha and Raghu, he was also called Kakutstha and Raghava. Since his father’s name was Dasharatha, he was also called Dasharathi. Rama’s story belongs to the solar line (surya vamsha), since one of his ancestors was Surya.
    Vishnu himself wished to destroy Ravana and the other rakshasas (demons). He therefore divided himself into four parts and was born as Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Rama was Koushalya’s son, Bharata Kaikeyi’s. Lakshmana and Shatrughna were the sons of Sumitra.
    The sage Vishvamitra came to Dasharatha and pleaded for Rama’s help in defeating the rakshasas who were disturbing his yajnas. Rama killed these demons and Vishvamitra was so pleased that he taught Rama the use of all divine weapons. Rama broke a bow of Shiva’s that had been in the possession of the king of Mithila, Janka. This was the task that had been appointed for marrying Sita, Janaka’s daughter. Rama married Sita, Lakshmana married Urmila, Bharata married Mandavi and Shatrughna married Shrutakirti. On the way back to Ayodhya, Rama also beat Parashurama in a duel.
    Dasharatha resolved that Rama should be made yuvaraja, that is, the heir apparent to the kingdom.
    But Kaikeyi had a servant named Manthara who plotted otherwise. When he was young, Rama had pulled at Manthara’s feet and ever since that day. Manthara had not been kindly disposed towards Rama. She reminded Kaikeyi of the two boons that had been promised to her by King Dasharatha. Years ago, the gods had been fighting with the demon Shambara and had asked Dasharatha for his help. In fighting with Shambara, Dasharatha had been injured. He had been nursed back to health by Kaikeyi. Dasharatha had promised two boons to Kaikeyi as a reward and Manthara’s suggestion was that Kaikeyi should now ask for these two boons. By the first boon Rama would be banished to the forest for fourteen years and by the second boon Bharata would become yuvaraja.
    Kaikeyi listened to Manthara. At Manthara’s instance, she asked for these two boons. Dasharatha was very angry, but Rama insisted that he would indeed go to the forest for fourteen years. Rama, Lakshmana and Sita first went to the banks of the river Tamasa. From there they went to the kingdom of Guha, the king of the hunters (nishadas). They crossed the river Jahnavi and arrived in Prayaga, where the sage Bharadvaja had his hermitage. Their final destination was the mountan range of Chitrakuta, on the banks of the river Mandakini.
    Meanwhile, back home in Ayodhya, King Dasharatha who could not bear to be parted from Rama, died. Bharata and Shatrughna had gone on a visit to their uncle’s house and were recalled. But Bharata refused to be king. He went to the forest to try and persuade Rama to return, but Rama insisted that he would not return before the fourteen years were over. So Bharata brought back Rama’s sandals. He placed these sandals on the throne as a token of Rama’s kingship. And he began to rule the kingdom in Rama’s name from Nandigrama, rather than from Ayodhya.
    Rama, Lakshmana and Sita then went to the forest that is known as the Dandaka forest, dandakaranya. This forest was on the banks of the river Godavari and there was a beautiful grove inside the forest known as Panchavati. They built a hut there and resolved to live there.
    There was a rakshasa woman named Shurpanakha. She happened to come to the place where Rama, Lakshmana and Sita had built their hut. Shurpanakha liked Rama so much that she wanted to marry Rama and eat up Lakshmana and Sita. But Lakshmana cut off Shurpaakha’s nose and ears with his sword.
    Shurpanakha fled to her brother Khara and demanded revenge. Khara and fourteen thousand other demons (rakshasas) attacked Rama, but they were all killed by Rama. Shurpanakha then went to her other brother Ravana, the king of Lanka. Ravana asked the rakshasa Maricha to adopt the form of a golden deer and roam around in front of Rama’s hut. Sita was so charmed by the deer that she asked Rama to capture it for her. Rama was long in returning and Lakshmana went to look for him. Taking advantage of Rama and Lakshmana’s absence. Ravana kidnapped Sita. Jatayu, the king of the birds, did try to stop Ravana, but he met his death at Ravana’s hands.
    Rama and Lakshmana were greatly distressed to find Sita missing and they looked for her everywhere. Rama made friends with the monkey Sugriva. He killed Sugriva’s brother Bali and made Sugriva the king of the monkeys. The monkeys were sent off in all the four directions to look for Sita.
    The monkeys who had gone towards the south learnt that Sita was in Lanka, across the ocean. One of these monkeys was Hanumana. Hanumana leapt over the ocean and arrived in Lanka. He discovered the lonesome Sita in a grove of ashoka trees, the ashokavana. Hanumana introduced himself and assured Sita that he would soon be back with Rama. Hanumana caused some general havoc in Lanka and was captured by Meghnada or Indrajit, Ravana’s son. Ravana ordered that Hanumana’s tail should be set on fire. But Hanumana used his burning tail to set fire to all the houses of Lanka. He then returned to Rama with the news that Sita had been found.
    Rama, Lakshmana and the army of monkeys arrived at the shores of the ocean. There they built a bridge over the ocean so that they could cross over into Lanka. There was a terrible war in which Rama killed the giant Kumbhakarna, Ravana’s brother. Lakshmana killed Indrajit. Rama killed Ravana with a powerful divine weapon, the brahamastra.
    The fourteen years were by now over and Rama, Lakshmana and Sita returned to Ayodhya. There Rama was crowned king and he treated his subjects as his own sons. He punished the wicked and followed the path of dharma. During Rama’s rule there was no shortage of food grains anywhere and the people were righteous. No one died an untimely death.
    On Rama’s instructions, Shatrughna killed the asura Lavana and built the city of Mathura in the place where Lavana’s kingdom had been. Bharata was sent by Rama to kill a wicked gandharva a singer of heaven named Shailusha, who lived on the banks of the river Indus with his sons. Bharata killed them and built two cities there, Takshashila and Pushkaravati. In Takshashila Bharata established his son Taksha as king and in Pushkaravti he made his son Pushkara the king. Rama and Sita had two sons named Kusha and Lava. Rama ruled for eleven thousand years before he died.
    This is the story of the Ramayana as recounted in the Agni Purana. It was written by the sage Valmiki after he had heard the story from the sage Narada.
    Rama was the seventh avatara of Vishnu. Krishna was the eighth.

    Sri Krishna avatara (and the linage of Sri Krishna)
    As you have already been told, Brahma emerged from Vishnu’s navel. Brahma’ son was Atri, Atri’s son Soma, Soma’s son Pururava, Pururava’s son Ayu, Ayu’s son Nahusha and Nahusha’s son Yayati. Yayati had two wives, Devayani and Sharmishtha. Devayani had two sons, Yadu and Turvusu. And Sharmishtha had three sons, Druhya, Anu and Puru. The descendants of Yadu were known as the Yadavas.
    Vasudeva was a Yadava. His wife was Devaki. Vishnu was born as the son of Vasudeva and Devaki in order to remove the wicked from the world. The seventh son of Vasudeva and Devaki was Baladeva. And the eighth son was Krishna himself. Krishna was born in the month of Bhadra in the thick of the night. Scared that the wicked Kamsa might kill the newly child, Vasudeva left him with Yashoda, the wife of Nanda.
    Nanda was the king of the cowherds and he brought up Baladeva and Krishna. Kamsa sent a rakshasa woman named Putana to kill Krishna, but Krishna killed her instead. In Vrindavana, Krishna subdued the terrible snake known as Kaliya. He killed several other rakshasas named Arishta, Vrishabha, Keshi, Dhenuka and Gardhabha and made the country safe from the attacks of these demons. He also stopped the worship of Indra. This led to a fight between Indra and Krishna , Indra tried to destroy the inhabitants of Gokula by sending down torrents of rain. But Krishna held aloft the mountain Govardhana and saved the inhabitants of Gokula.
    Kamsa’s capital was in Mathura, Baladeva and Krishna went there. Kamsa let loose a mad elephant named Kuvalayapida on Krishna. But Krishna killed Kuvalayapida. Baladeva and Krishna also killed two strong wrestlers, Chanura and Mushtika, whom Kamsa had instructed to kill Baladeva and Krishna. Finally, Krishna killed Kamsa and made Ugrasena the king.
    Kamsa was Jarasandha’s son- in-law and Jaradsandha became furious when he learnt of Kamsa’s death. He attacked the Yadavas and laid siege to the city of Mathura. After a prolonged war, Krishna managed to defeat Jarasandha. Krishna also defeated another evil king named Poundraka. On Krishna’s instructions, the Yadavas built the beautiful city of Dvaraka or Dvarakati. The Yadavas began to live in Dvaraka.
    There was an asura named Naraka who was killed by Krishna. Naraka had imprisoned sixteen thousand daughters of the devas, gandharvas and yakshas (guards of heaven’s treasury). These women were freed by Krishna and Krishna married all of them. Among Krishna’s other exploits were defeating the daitya Panchajana, killing Kalayavana, seizing the parijata tree from Indra and bringing back to life the sage Sandipani’s dead son.
    Krishna had several sons. Shamba was born of Krishna’s wife Jambavati and Pradyumna was born of Krishna’s wife Rukmini. As soon as Pradyumna was born, he was abductd by the asura Shambara. Shambara threw the baby into the sea, but a fish swallowed the baby. A fisherman caught the fish and brought it to Shambara’s house. When the fish’s stomach was cut open, the baby came out. There was a woman named Mayavati who lived in Shambara’s house and Shambara handed over baby Pradyumna to Mayavati so that he might be brought up well. When he grew up, Pradyumna killed Shambara and married Mayavati. They returned to Dvaraka and Krishna was happy to see his lost son.
    Pradyumna and Mayavati had a son named Aniruddha. Aniruddha secretly married Usha, the daughter of King Vana, Vana himself being the son of Vali. Vana’s capital was in a city named Shonitapura. Vana had pleased Shiva through hard and difficult tapasya, so that sometimes he was called the son of Shiva. Vana loved to fight and he had wanted a boon from Shiva that he might get the chance to fight with someone who was his equal in battle. A flag with a peacock on it used to fly from the ramparts of Vana’s palace. Shiva told him that the day this flag fell down, Vana’s desire for battle with an equal would be satisfied.
    With the help of a friend of Usha’s, Aniruddha and Usha used to meet secretly in Vana’s palace. Vana’s guards informed him about this and there was a fierce battle betweeen Vana and Aniruddha. At the same time, the flag with the peacock on it fell down. Krishna got to know from Narada about the fight between Vana and Aniruddha and he, Baladeva and Pradyumna arrived in Vana’s capital. Shiva came to fight on Vana’s side, accompanied by Nandi and Skanda or Kartikeya. But after a duel that lasted for a long time, Krishna triumphed over these enemies. Krishna’s arrows also cut off the thousand arms that Vana had. But at Shiva’s request, Krishna spared Vana’s life and gave him two arms with which to make do.
    All of these stories about Krishna are related in detail in the Harivamsha. The Agni Purana merely gives a brief summary of the Harivamsha. But stories about Krishna, the eighth avatara of Vishnu, also crop up in the Mahabharata. The Agni Purana, therefore, next summarises the Mahabharata.
    Will continue on part 4
    Dasan
    Navalpakkam Krishna
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    Agni Purana part… 4

    Agni Purana part… 4
    Courtesy: DILIP KUMAR RAVINDRAN prdili@yahoo.com
    Let us Start Reading Puranas. In continuation with Agni Purana 3rd
    part, let us go to

    The Mahabharta

    The Pandavas were merely a pretext. Krishna used the Pandavas to rid the world of evil men.
    You have already learnt that one of Yayati’s sons was Puru. In Puru’s line were born Bharata and Kuru. One of Kuru’s descendants was the king Shantanu. Shantanu married Ganga and Bhishma was born from this marriage. But Shantanu also married Satyavati and had two more sons, Chitrangada and Vichitravirya. Bhishma never married. Chitrangada died young. When Vicitravirya grew up, Bhishma defeated the king of Kashi and brought two of the king’s daughters, Ambika and ambalika, as brides for Vichitravirya. Vichitravirya was also quite young when he died of tuberculosis.
    Since Vichitravirya had left no children, Vyasadeva was brought to Hastinapura. Vyasadeva and Ambika had a son named Dhritarashtra and Vyasadeva and Ambalika had a son named Pandu. Dhritarashtra married Gandhari and they had a hundred sons, of whom the most important was Duryodhana. Pandu had two wives, Kunti and Madri. Kunti’s sons were Yudhishthira, Bhima and Arjuna and Madri’s son were Nakula and Sahadeva. But Yudhisthira was really the son of the god Dharma and not Pandu’s son. Similarly, Bhima was the son of the god Pavana. Arjuna the son of Indra and Nakula and Sahadeva the sons of the two Ashvinis. Earlier, Kunti had had a son named Karna from the sun-god. This was before she had got married to Pandu. Karna became a friend of Duryodhana’s. Because of a curse imposed on him by a sage, Pandu died in the forest.
    Duryodhana tried his best to kill the Pandavas. He set fire to a house of lac (jatugriha) in which Kunti and the five Pandavas were staying. But the Pandavas were saved and fled to a city named Ekachakra. There they lived, diguised as brahmanas. In Ekachakra, they destroyed a rakshasa named Vaka. They then won the hand of the daughter of the king of Panchala. Her name was Droupadi and all five Pandava brothers married her. When Duryodhana learnt that the Pandavas were alive, he handed over half the kingdom to them.
    Meanwhile, the forest Khandava had to be burnt and Krishna and Arjuna did this together. Krishna had befriended Arjuna. When Arjuna successfully defeated the god Agni at the burning of the Khandava forest, Agni gave him several divine weapons. Arjuna had also obtained divine weapons from his guru Dronacharya.
    On the Pandava side, Yudhishthira had become king. The Pandavas organised a rajasuya yajna (royal sacrifice) in which they conquered several kingdoms and accumulated a lot of wealth. This made Duryodhana envious. He arranged a game of dice (aksha) between Yudhishthira and Duryodhana’s uncle Shakuni. Shakuni did not play fairly and Yudhisthira lost the game. As a penalty for the loss, the Pandavas were to spend twelve years in the forest and one additional year without being detected. Droupadi went with them to the forest, as did the Pandava’s priest, Dhoumya.
    After the twelve years were over, the Pandavas came to the kingdom of King Virata where they proposed to spend the additional year that had to be spent in disguise. Yudhishthira pretended to be a brahmana, Bhima cook, Arjuna dancer, Nakula and Sahadeva stable-hands. Droupadi became the queen’s maid. The queen’s brother Kichaka tried to molest Droupadi, but was killed by Bhima. When the year was over, the Kauravas attacked King Virata to rob him of his cattle. But Arjuna defeated all the Kauravas and saved Virata’s cattle. After this success, the identity of the Pandavas could no longer be kept a secret. But thankfully, the one year during which identities had to be kept a secret, was over.
    King Virata’s daughter Uttara was married to Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s son. Abhimanyu’s mother was Subhadra, whom Arjuna had married. Subhadra also happened to be Krishna’s sister.
    The Pandavas now demanded their rightful share of the kingdom, but Duryodhana refused. A war was imminent. A huge battalion of soldiers was known as an akshouhini. Duryodhana collected eleven akshouhinis for the war and Yudhishthira collected seven. Krishna was sent as a messenger to Duryodhana to try and preserve the peace, Krishna told Duryodhana that the Pandavas would be satisfied with a mere five villages. Duryodhana refused to give them even this without a fight.
    So the armies gathered for a war on the plains of Kurukshetra. Noticing that elders and relatives like Bhishma and Dronacharyas were fighting on the side of the Kauravas. Arjuna was reluctant to fight. But Krishna gave Arjuna lessons which have come down to us as the Gita. He taught that there was no reason for sorrow if Bhishma or Dronacharya died. That true identity of a person was his atman (soul) which never died, but passed from one body to another. True bliss was obtained when the atman united with the brahman( divine essence) or paramatman (supreme soul). This was always the goal of a yogi, that is a person who sought union with god.
    Thus instructed by Krishna, Arjuna started to fight. With the help of Shikhandi, he defeated Bhishma. This happened on the tenth day of the fighting. Bhishma did not however die. He had earlier received the boon that he would only die when he actually wished to do so. For many days, he lay there in the battlefield on a bed of arrows. After Bhishma’s defeat, Dronacharya became the general of the Kauravas. Dhrishtadyumna was the general on the Pandava side. Dronacharya killed Virata, Drupada and several other kings and soldiers on the Pandava side. Dhrishtadyumna also killed many Kaurava soldiers. On the fifteenth day of the fighting, a rumour gained currency that Ashvatthama, Dronacharaya’s son, had been killed. Dronacharya abandoned his weapons on hearing this bad news and Dhrishtadyumna faced not problems in killing him. Karna now became the Kaurava general and lasted for two and a half days before he was killed by Arjuna. Shalya was the last Kaurava general. He fought for only half a day and was killed by Yudhishthira.
    Bhima and Duryodhana fought the last duel of the war with maces. Bhima broke Duryodhana’s thighs and killed him. Ashvatthama had been fuming ever since his father Dronacharya had been killed by unfair means. In the dead of the night, he entered the Pandava camp where he killed Dhristadyumna and the five sons of Droupadi. Droupadi was disconsolate and demanded revenge. Arjuna and Ashvatthama let loose divine weapons at each other. Since this might destroy the world, they were asked to withdraw these weapon. Arjuna could withdraw his weapon, but Ashvatthama could not. Ashvatthama’s weapon killed the baby that was in Uttara’s womb, but when the dead baby was born, Krishna brought it back to life. This baby was Parikshita.
    Many kings and soldiers died in the course of the Kurukshetra war. The only ones left alive were Kritavarma, Kripacharya and Ashvatthama on the Kaurava side and Satyaki, Krishna and the five Pandavas on the Pandava side. After the war was over, Bhishma taught Yudhishthira the duties of a king. It was only after this that he died.
    As a king, Yudhishthira performed many yajnas and gave a lot of alms to brahmanas. When Yudhishthira learnt that the Yadavas had been destroyed, he no longer wished to rule. He handed over the kingdom to Parikshita and the Pandavas left on a pilgrimage, in the course of which they died.
    It was Krishna who had used the Pandavas as a tool to rid the world of evil kings and establish the good ones. Realizing that the Yadavas were also evil, Krishna also ensured that the Yadavas would be destroyed. He then gave up his life at the place of pilgrimage that is known as Prabhasa. After Krishna died, the city of Dvaraka was swallowed up by the sea.
    This was the story of the eighth avatara of Vishnu.

    Buddha and Kalki
    The ninth avatara of Vishnu was Buddha and the tenth will be Kalki.
    Many years ago, there was a war between the devas and the asuras in which the demons managed to defeat the gods. The gods went running to Vishnu for protection and Vishnu told them that Mayamoha would be born as Buddha, the son of Shuddhodana. Such were the illusions that Buddha created, that the asuras left the path indicated by the Vedas and became Buddhists. These dastardly creatures performed ceremonies that were a sure ticket to naraka. Towards the end of the Kali era, all people will be dastardly. They will oppose the Vedas, become robbers and will be concerned only with wealth. The disbelievers will then become kings and these kings will also be cannibals.
    Much later, Kalki will be born on earth as the son of Vishnuyasha. He will take up arms to destroy these disbelievers. Kalki’s priest will be the sage Yajnavalkya. The norms of the four classes (varna) and the four stages of life (ashrama) will be etablished yet again. People will honour the sacred texts and become righteous. It will then be time for the dawn of a new satya yuga, a fresh period of righteousness.
    In every cycle (kalpa) and in every era (manvantara) Vishnu is thus born in various forms. It is sacred duty to listen to the stories of then ten avataras. The listener atttains his desires and goes to heaven.

    Creation
    Agni next told Vashishtha the history of creation.
    Vishnu is the Lord of creation, preservation and destruction. Before creation, it was only the brahman that was everywhere. There was no day, night or sky.
    First Vishnu created the waters. And in the waters he sowed the seeds if brahmanda, the great egg. From this seed there developed a golden egg which began to float on the waters. From the egg Brahma created himself. Since he created himself (svayam sambhuta). Brahma is also known as Svayambhu. Having created himself, Brahma stayed inside the egg for an entire year. And at the end of the year, he split the egg into two. One part of the egg formed the heaven, the other the earth. And in between the two parts of the egg, Brahma created the sky.
    Brahma next established the earth on the waters and made the ten directions. He created time, lightning, thunder, clouds, rainbows, words and anger. To ensure that yajnas could be performed, texts of the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda and the Sama Veda emerged from his body. Holy people use the Vedas to perform ceremonies meant for the gods.
    From the powers of his mind, Brahma created seven sons. Their names were Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vashishtha.
    Prithu is recognized as the first king. Prithu was descended from Dhruva. And Prithu’s father Vena was also a king. But Vena was an evil king; he was simply not interested in protecting his subjects. The sages therefore killed Vena with a straw. And after Vena had died, they began to knead the dead body’s right hand and it was thus that Prithu emerged. He wore armour and carried bow and arrows when he was born. He ruled well, as per the dictates of dharma. He looked upon all his subjects as his own sons. From Prithu the earth came to be known as prithivi.
    How to Pray, How to Build Temples and Idols
    The Agni purana next has several chapters on how to pray and on how to build temples and idols. The techniques of praying to Vishnu, Shiva, Surya and the other gods and goddesses are decribed, including the special mantras (incantations) that must be used so as to please specific gods and goddesses. Prior to prayers one must bathe and there are prescribed forms for such bathing as well.
    A person who builds temples is blessed. Even if one merely thinks of building temples, the sins of a hundred lives are forgiven. The ancestors of a builder of temples are rescued from hell. A builder of a single temple goes to heaven (svarga). A builder of two temples goes to brahmaloka, a builder of five to shivaloka, a builder of eight to vishuloka and a builder of sixteen temples is freed from the shackles of being born again and again. What is the point of earning money if one does not build temples? Money is also meant to be donated as alms to brahmanas, but the punya or merit earned from building a temple is greater than the punya earned from donating alms. The merit earned by a builder of temples is greatest for a golden temple, lesser for a stone temple, still lesser for a wooden temple and least for an earthen temple.
    More punya is acquired from building an idol than from a temple, Idols of gods and goddesses should always be set up so that they face the city; they should not face away from the city. The east is best for Indra’s idol , the south for Chandi’s, the centre for Brahma’s, Vishnu’s idol can be set up anywhere at all.
    Different idols of Vishnu must have different forms. Consider, for example, idols or images of the ten incarnations of Vishnu. The matsya (fish) avatara must naturally look like a fish and the kurma (turtle) avatara must look like a turtle. But the varaha (boar) avatara will have four arms like a man and will hold a gada (mace), a padma (lotus flower), a shankha (conch shell) and a chakra (bladed discus) in these four arms. The narasimha avatara should have two arms holding a chakra and a gada and should wear a a garland. The vamana (dwarf) avatara should hold an umbrella and a stick in his two hands. Parashurama will have four hands with a bow, arrows, a sword and an axe in these hands. Rama’s image can have either two arms or four. If there are four arms, the four hands will hold a bow, arrows, a conch shell and a chakra. Balarama’s image may also have either four arms or two. If there are two arms, the hands will hold a plough and a mace. If there are four arms, the hands will hold a plough, a conch shell, a club and a chakra. Buddha’s image should have a calm appearance. It should be seated one lotus. The ears should be elongated. Kalki’s image is that of a brahmana, seated on a horse and holding a bow and arrows, a conch shell, a sword and a chakra.
    Krishna’s image may be either two-armed or four-armed. Three of the four arms will hold a gada, a chakra and a shankha. The fourth palm will be opened out in the act of granting a boon. On either side of Krishna’s image, there will be images of Brahma and Shiva. Brahma has four faces and four arms and the image should have a pronounced stomach, a beard and matted hair. Brahma rides a swam. On either side of Brahma’s image, there will be images of Sarasvati and Savitri.
    Visnu’s image has eight arms. Seven of the arms hold a sword, a mace, arrows, a bow, a shield, a chakra and a conch shell. The eighth palm is spread out as if Vishnu is granting a boon. Vishnu should be shown riding on Garuda. Garuda will also have eight arms. To the right of Vishnu’s image, there should be images of Lakshmi and Sarasvati, Lakshmi holding a lotus and Sarasvati holding a veena ( a musical instrument). There has also got to be an image of Vishnu exhibiting his universal form (vishvarupa). The Vishvarupa image has four heads and twenty arms.
    Chandi’s image has twenty arms. The ten arms on the right hold a spear, a sword, a shakti (a small spear), a chakra, a pasha (noose), a shield, a drum and any two other weapons. The tenth arm on the right should be in the act of granting a boon. The ten arms on the left hold snakes, a rod, an axe, an amkusha (used for driving elephants), a bow, a bell, a flag, a mace, a mirror and a club. In front of Chandi’s image there will be the image of a buffalo with its head cut off. The image of an asura will be shown emerging from the body of the buffalo. The demon’s hair, eyes and garland will be red in colour. It will be shown to be vomiting blood and it will hold weapons in its hand. The demon’s neck will be bound up in a noose and Chandi’s lion will be attacking it. Chandi’s right leg will be on the lion and her left leg will be on the demon’s back. Images of Chandi may sometimes also have ten, sixteen or eighteen arms.
    Shiva’s image (linga) may be made out of earth, wood, iron, jewels, gold, silver, copper, bronze or mercury.

    Will continue on part 5

    Dasan
    Navalpakkam Krishna
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    Agni Purana part… 5

    Agni Purana part… 5
    Courtesy: DILIP KUMAR RAVINDRAN prdili@yahoo.com

    Let us Start Reading Puranas. In continuation with Agni Purana Part 4
    part, let us go to

    Places of Pilgrimage
    A visit to a place of pilgrimage (tirtha) brings the same punya that is obtained from performing a yajna. It is because people had not gone on pilgrimages or donated gold and cows in their earlier lives that they were born poor in their next lives.
    The best place of pilgrimage is Pushkara. Brahma, other gods and sages who wish to go to heaven live there. The best time to go to Pushkara is in the month of Kartika. In Pushkara itself there are two other places of pilgrimage known as Jambumarga and Tandulikashrama.
    It is difficult to go to Pushkara. But there are several other tirthas as well. One such is Kurukshetra, where Vishnu and the other gods keep on coming. The river Sarasvati flows near Kurukshetra. If one bathes in the Sarasvati, one attains brahmaloka.
    Any region through which the river Ganga flows also becomes a tirtha. Even if one sees the Ganga, the punya of performing yajnas is attained. A person who bears earth from the bed of the Ganga on his head is freed of all sins.
    Prayaga is another famous place of pilgrimage. Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and the other gods, gandharvas, apasaras and the sages are always there in Prayaga. This is because the two holy rivers, Ganga and Yamuna, come together in Prayaga. There are many tirthas inside Prayaga itself. The sages have said that, in the month of Magha, if one bathes for three days in Prayaga, that is better than donating crores and crores of cows. If one donates alms in Prayaga, one goes to svaraga and is born as a king in one’s next life. If one dies in Prayaga, one goes straight to vishnuloka.
    Shiva himself had told Parvati that Varanasi was a very holy tirtha and that Shiva never left the city. Varanasi is so named because it is located at the junction of two rivers, Varana and Asi. Varana is also known as Kashi.
    The river Narmada is also sacred.
    There may be several holy tirthas, but Gaya is the holiest of them all. A demon named Gayasura once started to perform tapasya and such were the powers of his tapasya that the gods began to suffer. They went to Vishnu and asked him to save them. Vishnu agreed and appeared before Gayasura. "Accept a boon," said Vishnu.
    "Grant me the boon that I may become the most sacred of all tirthas," replied the daitya.
    The boon was granted and Gayasura disappeared. The gods returned to svarga, but felt that the earth seemed to be deserted now that Gayasura had disappeared. Vishnu then instructed Brahma and the other gods to perform a sacrifice. He also asked them to go to Gayasura and ask for his body so that the sacrifice might be performed on it. Gayasura readily agreed, and as soon as he agreed, his head fell off from the body. Brahma then proceeded to perform the sacrifice on Gayasura’s headless body. But as soon as the sacrifice started, the body began to shake. This meant that the sacrifice could not be properly performed and a solution had to be found. The solution was the gods should all enter a stone which would be placed on Gayasura’s body so that the body would not shake. The sacrifice could then be performed. Vishnu himself also entered the stone. It is because the gods and Vishnu are always there in Gaya that Gaya is sacred.
    In fact, there is a story behind this stone as well.
    The sage Marichi was Brahma’s son and had married Dharmavrata. One day, Marichi went to the forest to collect wood and flowers and returned extemely tired. He called Dharmavrata and said, "I am very tired. Today you must wash my feet for me."
    Dharmavrata began to wash Marichi’s feet when Brahma suddenly arrived. Dharmavrata did not know what to do. Should she finish washing her husband’s feet? Or should she first attend to Brahma, since Brahma was Marichi’s father? She decided to attend to Brahma first. At this, Marichi became very angry and cursed Dharmavrata that she would turn into a stone. Dharmavrata was greatly distressed at being cursed for what she though had not been a fault at all. So she performed tapasya for many years. When Vishnu and the other gods were pleased at Dharmavrata’s meditation, they appeared and offered to grant her a boon.
    Dharmavrata wished that the curse imposed on her by Marichi might be waived. The gods explained that this was impossible, since Marichi was a very powerful sage. What they would however, do was to make Dharmavrata a very holy stone desired even by the gods. The god promised to be always inside this stone. It was this stone that was placed on Gayasura’s body.
    Once the sacrifice was over, Gayasura himself desired a boon from the gods and the gods granted him that Gaya would become the most sacred of all tirthas. It was in Gaya that the Pandavas had prayed to Vishnu.
    Geography
    The world is divided into seven regions (dvipas). Their names are Jambu, Plaksha, Shalmali, Kusha, Krouncha, Shaka and Pushkara. The seven dvipas are surrounded by seven oceans and the names of these oceans and the names of these oceans are Lavana, Ikshu, Sura, Sarpih, Dadhi, Dugdha and Jala.
    Right in the centre of Jambudvipa is Mount Meru. Mountains named Himavana, Hemakuta and Nishada are to the south of Meru and mountains named Nila, Shveta and Shringi are to the north of Meru. Jambudvipa is known by that name as there are a large number of jambu (jamun) trees in this area. On the top of Mount Meru is Brahma’s famous city.
    Under the earth is the underworld. This too, consists of seven regions and their names are Atala, Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala and Patala. The daityas and the danavas live in the underworld. Vishnu is also there in the underworld, in his form of the great snake Shesha. The snake Shesha holds up the earth on its hood.
    That part of the sky which is lit up by sun-rays is known as Nabha. Above the earth is the sun, above the sun the moon, above the moon the stars, above the stars Mercury, above Mercury Venus, above Venus Jupiter and above Jupiter the constellation of the great Bear (Saptarshimandala). Beyond this constellation is the world of Dhruva.
    Astrology
    The Agni Purana next gives a lot of information on astrogy. It states when marriages should take place and when they should not. For example, marriages are never to be held in the months of Chaitra and Pousha or under the signs of Libra or Gemini. If one is going on a trip, then Friday is the best day to start on. Medicine should not be taken if one of the nakshatras (stars Pushya, Hasta, Jyeshtha, Shravana or Ashvini is not in the sky. If one wishes to have a bath after recovering from an illness, then Saturday is the best day for such a bath.
    The first time a child’s head is shaved should never be on a Tuesday or a Saturday. Ears should be pierced on Wednesday or Thursday. New Clothes should not first be worn on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. A new house should not entered into in the months of Chaitra, Jyeshtha, Bhadra, Ashvina, Pousha or Magha. It is best to reap grain on a Wednesday.
    Manvantaras
    Each manvantara (era) is ruled over by a Manu.
    The first Manu was Svayambhuva. Shatakratu held the title of Indra during this manvantara.
    The second Manu was Svarochisha. Vipashchita held the title of Indra during this manvatara.
    The third Manu was Uttama and Sushanti was Indra then.
    The fourth Manu was Tapasa and Shikhi held the title of Indra then.
    The fifth Manu was Raivata and Vitatha was Indra then.
    The title of Indra was held by Manojava during the sixth manvantara, the Manu being Chakhusha.
    Next came Shraddhadeva, the seventh Manu, Purandara being the Indra.
    Th eighth Manu’s name is Savarni and the eighth Indra’s Vali. The eighth manvantara has not yet come.
    The ninth Manu will be Dakshasavarni and the ninth Indra will be Adbhuta.
    During the tenth manvantara, the Manu will be Brahmasavarni and the title of Indra will beheld by Shanti.
    During the rule of the eleventh Manu Dharmasavarni, the Indra will be Gana.
    The twelfth Manu will be Rudrasavarni and the twelfth Indra will be Ritadhama.
    Rouchya will be the thirteenth Manu and Divaspati will be the thirteenth Indra.
    The fourteenth Manu will be Bhoutya and the title of Indra will then be held by Shuchi,.
    Durng each of Brahma’s days, ther are fourteen such manvantaras. After that comes Brahma’s night, when all these living beings are destroyed.
    Will be continue on part 6

    Dasan
    Navalpakkam Krishna
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    Agni Purana part… 6

    Agni Purana part… 6

    Courtesy: DILIP KUMAR RAVINDRAN prdili@yahoo.com

    Let us Start Reading Puranas. In continuation with Agni Purana Part 5
    part, let us go to

    Varnashrama Dharma
    All the Manus practised the precepts of dharma (righteousness). This meant non-violence, truthfulness, piety, going on pilgrimages, donating alms, serving devas and brahmanas, tolerance of all religions and the following of the sacred texts. It also meant the practice of the system of the four classes (varna) and the four stages in life (ashrama).
    The four varnas are brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras. Performing sacrifices, donating alms and studying the Vedas are duties that brahmans, kshatriyas and vaishyas must perform. In addition, the kshatriyas must protect the good and punish the evil. The vaishyas must take care of trade, agriculture and animal husbandry. The dutites of shudras are to serve the brahmanas and artisanship. When brahmanas take up the upavita, the sacred thread that is the mark of the first three classes, it is like a second birth for them. So brahmanas are known as dvijas (born twice).
    An anuloma marriage is a marriage where the husband is from a higher class than the wife. The offspring of such a marriage belong to the mother’s class. A pratiloma marriage is a marriage where the wife is from a higher class than the husband. Chandalas were born this way from brahmana women, Sutas from kshatriya women, Devalas from vaishya women, Pukkashas from kshatriya women and Magadhas from vaishya women. Chandalas are executioners, Sutas charioteers, Devalas guards, Pukkashas hunters and Magadhas bards. Chandalas should live outside the villages and should not touch those belonging to any other class.
    The best name for a brahmana is that which ends in Sharma. Similarly, the best name for a kshatriya ends in Varma, for a vaishya in Gupta and for a shudra in Dasa. The sacred thread ceremony is to be held at the age of eight years for brahmanas, eleven years for kshatriyas and twelve years for vaishyas. No sacred thread ceremony should be held beyond sixteen years of age.
    The first stage in life is that of brahmacharya (studenthood). A student should never eat honey or meat and should never indulge in singing or dancing. He should completely give up violence and speaking to women. His duties are to discuss the shastras (holy texts) and associate with leanred men. Apart from that, he will meditate in solitude on the true nature of the brahman.
    The next stage of life is that of garhasthya (householder stage). A brahmana may have four wives, a kshatriya three, a vaishya two and a shudra one. The husband and the wife should be from the same varna. Marriage across varnas is to be avoided. A woman can marry again provided that her husband has disappeared, is dead, has become a hermit or is such a sinner that he is expelled from his own varna. If her husband dies, a widow is permitted to marry her late husband’s late younger brother.
    A householder should get up at dawn and pray to the gods. He should always bathe in the morning. He should not talk impolitely. He should not bite his nails. He should not laugh at those who are inferior. And he should never reside in a place where there is no king, no doctor or no river. He must not insult his elders. He should never criticise the Vedas, the shastras, the devas, the sages and the king. And he must never travel without a light at night.
    The third ashrama is vanaprastha (forest-dwelling stage). Such a person should always sleep on the ground and wear skins as clothes. He should wear his hair matted and give up the company of other people. He has to serve gods and guests and live on fruit and roots.
    In the final stage of life (sannyasa) a person becomes a hermit. In this ashrama, a person attains true knowledge and is completely freed. But he should becomea hemit only when he is convinced that he has completely lost all interest in material pursuits. Such a person is not affected by birth or death. He realizes that the physical body is transient, that it is of no concern at all. It is the knowledge of the atman (soul) that is the best form of knowledge. When one gains this knowledge, one realizes the identification of the atman with the brahman, one understands that the brahman is everywhere.
    Sins and Their Atonement
    If one commits a sin, one has to atone for it. This is known as prayashchitta. If one does not atone for the sins that one has committed, it is the king’s duty to punish the sinner.
    If one drinks from a well where the dead body of animal has been floating, one has to fast for three days. The worst possible sins are the killing of a brahmana, the drinking of wine and theft. Others sins are criticising the Vedas, the bearing of false witness, killing a friend, killing a cow, forsaking one’s parents or sons, the selling of ponds, murder, lying, killing animals and the cutting down of green trees for fodder.
    A killer of a brahmana has to build a hut in the forest and live there for twelve years. He has to beg for a living and give up all that he possess to another brahmana. A killer of cows has to live on just coarse for one month. He has to live with cattle and follow them around during the day. All his possessions have to be given up to brahmana and he has to bathe in cow’s urine for two months.
    If a brahmana steals gold, he should go and report his crime to the king. The king will then hit him with a club and this will be the brahmana’s prayashchitta.
    The sin of killing a kshatriya is one-fourth the sin of killing of brahmana. If one kills a vaishya, the sin is one-eighth the sin of killing a brahmana. And if one kills a shudra, the sin is one-sixteenth of the sin of killing a brahmana. Killing a cat, a mongoose, a frog, a dog, a lizard or a crow is as sinful as killing a shudra.
    Vratas
    Depending on the tithi (lunar day), the day of the week, the nakshatras (stars), the month, the season and the position of the sun, certain specific religious rites and ceremonies have to be performed. These are known as vratas.
    The first day of the lunar fortnight is known as paratipada. The day of pratipada in the months of Kartika, Ashvina and Chaitra are Brahma’s tithis. It is then that the worship of Brahma must be done.
    On the second day of the lunar fortnight (dvitiya), one should eat only flowers and pray to the two Ashvinis. This makes the supplicant handsome and lucky. Shuklapaksha is that lunar fortnight in which the moon waxes and krishnapaksha is thatlunar fortnight in which the moon wanes. Shuklapaksha dvitiya in the month of Kartika is earmarked for the worship of Yama. If one performs this vrata, one does not have to go to naraka (hell). This is also the day for praying to Balarama and Krishna.
    It was on the third day of the lunar fortnight (tiritiya), in shuklapaksha and in the month of Chaitra, that Shiva married Parvti or Gouri. Rites performed on this day are thus known as gourivrata. Shiva and Parvati have to be given offerings of fruit. The eight names of Parvati have to be recited. These are Lalita, Vijaya, Bhadra, Bhavani, Kumuda, Shiva, Vasudevi and Gouri.
    Chaturthi vrata is performed on the fourth day of the lunar fortnight, in shuklapaksha and in the month of Magha. This is the day for worshipping the common gods (gana devata). The offerings on this occasion are to be wine and fragrant perfumes.
    On the fifth day of the lunar fortnight, one performs panchami vrata. This grants good health and takes care of bad omens. Particularly auspicious for panchami vrata are the shukapakshas in the months of Shravana, Bhadra, Ashvina and Kartika.
    On the sixth day of the lunar fortnight one performs shashthi vrata. One has to live only on fruit and if one performs this vrata, the fruits of any action that one performs live forever. Shashthi vrata should be observed especially in the months of Kartika and Bhadra.
    Surya is to be worshipped on the seventh (saptami) day of the lunar fortnight. If saptami vrata is observed in shuklapaksha, all sorrow disappears. Sins are atoned for and all one’s desires are attained. Women who have no children can have sons if they observe these rites.
    The eighth day of the lunar fortnight (ashtami) is very significiant. Krishna was born on this tithi in the month of Bhadra when the nakshatra Rohini was in the sky. Ashtami is therefore auspicious in the month of Bhadra. If one fasts on that day and prays to Krishna, the sins of one’s earlier seven lives are atoned for. But this vrata is to be observed in krishnapaksha and not in shuklapaksha, since Krishna was born in krishnapaksha. Together with Krishna, Rohini and the moon, Devaki, Vasudeva, Yashoda, Nanda and Balarama are also to be worshipped on the occasion. Since Krishna took birth (janma) on this ashtami tithi, this particular day is known as janmashtami.
    The eighth day of the lunar fortnight can be important even if it is not the month of Bhadra. For example, the eighth day of the lunar fortnight might be a Wednesday (budha vara) in both suklapaksha and krishnapaksha. Irrespective of the month, such an ashtami is important and is known as budhashtami. On that day one has to live only on molasses and rice and perform the vrata.
    There used to be a brahmana named Dhira whose wife was named Rambha. Dhira’s son was Koushika, his daughter was Vijaya and Dhira’s bull was named Dhanada. Koushika would go with the other cowherds to graze the bull. Once when Koushika was having a bath in the river Bhagirathi and the bull was grazing, some thieves came and stole the bull. Koushika and his sister Vijaya looked everywhere for it, but could not find it. In searching for the bull, they came to lake where some women were bathing in the course of performing a vrata. Brother and sister were tired and hungry and they craved for some food. The women agreed to give them food, but only after Koushika and Vijaya had also performed the budhashtami vrata. And as soon as Koushika performed the ritual, the bull was miraculously returned to him. Such were the powers of the vrata that Koushika could get his sister Vijaya married off to Yama and himself became the king of Ayodhya. After their parents Dhira and Rambha had died. Vijaya discovered that her father and mother were in naraka. When she asked Yama as to how her parents might be delivered from naraka, Yama told her that Koushika and Vijaya should perform budhashtami vrata again. And immediately after they did so, the parents attained svarga.
    The ninth day of the lunar fortnight is navami and navami in shuklapaksha, especially in the month of Ashvina, is earmarked for the worship of Gouri. An animal has to be sacrificed and offered to the goddess on this occasion.
    The brahmanas become all powerful if they observe dashmai vrata on the tenth day of the lunar fortnight and donate ten cows. The eleventh day of the lunar fortnight (ekasdashi) is for fasting. It is also the tithi for praying to Vishnu. The observance of ekadasi vrata grants sons and wealth and stones for one’s sins.
    The twelfth day of the lunar fortnight is dvadashi. Any dvadashi in shuklapaksha is auspicious for worshipping Vishnu. Dvadashi in the month of Bhadra is for praying to cows and calves and in the month of Chaitra it is for praying to the god of love (Madana). If one observes dvadashi for an entire year, one never has to go to naraka. An especially good conjunction is dvadashi in shuklapaksha in the month of Bhadra when the nakshatra Shravana is in the sky. If one fasts and observes a brata then, one earns greater punya than from bathing in the confluence of sacred rivers. If Budha (Mercy) is also in the sky, the punya is multiplied severalfold.
    Trayodashi vrata is on the thirteenth day of the lunar fortnight and this ritual was first perfromed by the god of love when he wanted to please Shiva. This is the tithi on which Shiva is worshipped. In the month of Ashvina, Indra is also revered on this tithi. And in the month of Chaitra, the god of love is worshipped in shuklapaksha on the same tithi.
    The fourteen day of the lunar fortnight (chaturdashi) is also earmarked for Shiva, particularly in the month of Kartika. One fasts and donates to brahmanas and thereby attains svarga. The chaturdashi in krishnapaksha that comes between the months of Magha and Falguna is known as Shivaratri. Then one has to fast and stay awake the whole night. Earlier, there used to be an evil hunter named Sunarasena. But because he performed a vrata on Shivarati, all his sins were forgiven.

    Narakas (Hells)
    If one worships Vishnu with flowers, one never goes to hell.
    There are several such hells. Although people do not wish to die, they are bound to die once their predestined time span on earth has been exhausted. One then has to pay for whatever sins one might have committed. The sinners suffer and those who have performed good deeds are naturally rewarded. There are in fact two gates that lead into Yama’s abode. The good are brought by yamadutas (Yama’s servants) through the western gate and are then taken to svarga. Yama’s servants bring the evil to him through the southern gate and Yama then despatches them to the various hells.
    If one kills a cow, one has to spend one lakh years in a naraka known as Mahavicha. If one kills a brahmana or steals land, there is a burning naraka named Amakumbha that one goes to. There one suffers till the day when the world is destroyed. A killer of women, children or old men stays in Rourava naraka for the span of fourteen manvantaras. An arsonist is sent to Maharourava and burnt there for an entire kalpa. A thief goes to Tamisra, where he is continuously pierced with spears by Yama’ servants for several kalpas. After that, a thief is taken to Mahatamisra to be bitten by snakes and insects.
    If you kill your father or mother, you will be sent to the hell Asipatravana. There you will be continuously sliced into pieces with swords. If you burn someone to death, you will go to Karambhavaluka where you wll be placed on burning sands.
    A person who eats sweets alone goes to Kakaola and is fed only worms. A person who does not perform yajnas goes to Kuttala and is fed blood. An oppressor is sent to Tailapaka and is crushed like an oilseed there. A liar is sent to the naraka named Mahapata. There are several other narakas for those who encourage inter-class marriages, those who kill animals, those who cut trees, those who eat too much meat, those who criticise the Vedas, those who bear false witness and those who criticise their teachers.



    Will continue on part 7

    Dasan

    Navalpakkam Krishna
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    Agni Purana part… 7

    Agni Puranapart… 7

    Giving alms

    Giving alms is extremely important as a means for achieving punya. Alms always have to be donated when one goes to visit a temple or a place of pilgrimage. The giver must always face the east and the receiver must always face the north when alms are being given. Such donations have to be made after one has had a bath.

    The best objects for donations are gold, horses, oilseeds, snakes, maids, chariots, trees, houses, daughters, and cows. If one promises to give something but later goes back on one’s promise, one is sure to be destroyed. It should be remembered that the entire object of donating alms is lost if one expects gratitude or friendship in return. It is better to give something to a brother than to a daughter, it is better to give to a father than to a mother.

    The entire concept of donating alms is different in the four different eras. In satya yuga, the giver went out, in search of a recipient to whom he could give something. In treta yuga, the recipient had to come to the givers house before he would be given anything. In dvapara yuga, the giver never gave anything without being asked for it by the recipient. And in kali yuga, the giver gives only to those who are servile to him.


    Gayatri Mantra

    Gayatri mantra is a very powerful incantation.

    The human body has many veins. Out of these, ten veins are important and their names are Ida, Pingala, Sushumna, Gandhari, Hastijihva, Pritha, Yasha, Alambusha, Huhu and Shankhini. These veins bear the breath of life. The breath of life is called prana vayu. Apart from prana vayu, nine other major breaths course through the human body. Their names are Apana, Samana, Udana, Vyana, Naga, Kurma, Krikara, Devadatta and Dhananjaya.

    Gayatri is a goddess worshipped even by Vishnu and Shiva. This goddess is there everywhere, even in every individual’s heart in the form of a swan. Gayatri mantra is an incantation to the goddess. If one chants the mantra seven times, one’s sins are forgiven. Chanting it ten times means that one attains svarga. To attain worlds (lokas) which are even more desirable than svarga, one has to chant gayatri mantra twenty times. If one chants the mantra a hundred and eight times, one does not have to be born again. The severest of sins, like killing cows, brahmanas or parents, are forgiven if one chants the mantra a thousand times. Gayatri mantra has always to be preceded by the chanting of the sacred word Om.

    The King

    The king’s duties are many. He has to punish his enemies, ensure the prosperity of his subjects and arrange tha this kingdom is ruled well. He has to protect the sages who perform tapasya inside the boundaries of his kingdom.

    A king should appoint a wise brahamana as his priest. His ministers

    should also be wise and his queen should be a woman who follows the path of dharma. When a king dies, time must not be wasted. The priest must immediately find an auspicious occasion so that a new king can be anointed and crowned. A kingdom can never be without a king.

    Before the coronation, a prospective king has to purify himself by rubbing his body with mud. Mud from a mountain peak is used for the ears, from a Krishna temple for the face, from an Indra temple for the back, from a palace for the chest, mud raised by an elephant’s tusks for the right hand, mud raised by a bull’s horns for the left hand, mud from a pond for the back, from a river for the sides, from a yajna for the thighs and from a cowshed for the feet. After the king has thus rubbed himself with different forms of mud and purified himself, he is ready to be anointed. Four types of ministers will anoint him. Brahmana ministers with golden vessels full of clarified butter will stand on the eastern side. Kshatriya ministers with silver vessels full of sweet and thickened milk will stand on the southern side. Vaishya ministers with copper vessels full of curds will stand on the western side. And shudra ministers with earthen vessels full of water will stand on the northern side. The priests will then use material from all four directions to anoint the king. Water from all the places of pilgrimage will be poured on the king’s head and throat. There must be songs and musical instruments must be played.

    The king will next pray to Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and the other gods. He will look at a mirror, some clarified butter and the various signs of good omen that have been placed all around. The king will then be crowned and introduced to his ministers, advisers and guards. The priest will be given cows, goats, buffaloes and houses by the king. He will also bow before the brahmanas. After all these ceremonies have been completed, he truly becomes the king. He circles the fire, touches his guru’s feet and with all his soldiers, goes out on a procession through the streets so that his subjects can see him. At that time, the king must be seated either on an elephant or a horse. After the procession is over, the king may return to his palace.

    The king has to appoint many officials. The general has got to be a brahmana or kshatriya. The messengers must be strong and courteous. The charioteer must know about horses and elephants, the teasurer must be familiar with different jewels. There has to be a doctor, a keeper of elephants, a keeper of horses, a captain for the palace and another capatain for looking after the women of the royal household. Each person must be appointed to the job which suits his expertise and temperament best.

    Anyone thus appointed by a king has to stick to certain rules. He must always obey the king’s orders and must never do anything that is contrary to the king’s commands. In public he must always say pleasant things to the king. If there are any unpleasant utterances to be made, they have to be made in a private audience with the king. Those who serve the king must not be thieves, nor must they ever insult the king. They will not dress like the king, nor will they become too intimate with the king. They must not divulge royal secrets.

    For a fort, the king should choose a place that cannot readily be attacked by enemies. The king must ensure that the gods are worshipped, the subjects are protected and the evil are punished. He should never steal from the temples, instead he should build temples and set up idols of the gods there. The brahmanas must also be protects and the king has to make sure that no brahmanas are killed in his kingdom. For a queen, he has to choose a woman who subscribes to these beliefs.

    The king will appoint an official to look after every ten villages and another official to look after every hundred villages. Spies must be appointed to find out all that is going on in the kingdom. The king is entitiled to one-sixth of all the punya that accrues in his kingdom through his subjects. But he is also credited with one-sixth of all the sins that are committed in his kingdom. The taxes will be levied as per the dictates of the sacred texts. From whatever is received as taxes, half will go into the royal teasury and the remainng half will be distributed amongst the brahmanas. If there is a liar, the king will impose a penalty on him to the extent of one-eight of the liar’s total wealth. If the owner of any property is is not known, the king will keep the property in safe custody for a period of three years. Once the owner is identified within a period of three years, he can claim the property. But beyond three years, the king becomes entitled to the property.

    The property rights of any minor orphan are to be protected by the king. If there is a theft in the kingdom, the king must immediately replace what bas been stolen with wealth taken from his own royal treasury. If the thief is caught and the stolen goods recovered, they are used to replenish the treasury. One-twentieth of profits made from trade are to be paid to the king as taxes. One-fifth or one-sixth of foodgrains are to be paid as taxes. One day every month, craftsmen will work free of charge for the king. They will only be given food from the royal kitchen.

    The king has to pay proper attention to the princes. They have to be taught four types of shastras. The first is dharma shastra, which teaches what is right and what is wrong. The second is artha shastra, economics. The third is dhanurveda, the art of fighting. And the last subject that has to be taught to princes is shilpa, arts and crafts. The king has to assign bodyguards to take care of the princes. He must ensure that the princes associate with honourable and learned people and not with undesirable characters. In instances where the princes do not grow up properly despite the king’s best efforts, the king is free to keep them imprisoned. But they should be comfortable in the prison and should not be made to suffer there.

    The king should give up hunting, drinking and the playing of dice. He must not unnecessarily waste time in travelling around. He must first win over his servants through his behaviour and then do the same for his subjects. It is only after this has been achieved that he attains a position to conquer his enemies through the use of arms. Anyone who brings harm to the kingdom must immediately be killed. If the king delays in doing what which has to be done, the purpose of the action is completely lost. Nor must the king inform others in advance about what is going to be done. No one must get to know about king’s intended actions. Once the actions performed are information enough for everyone to see. This does not mean that the king will not consult his ministers. Of course he will, that is why they are ministers. Before sleeping or eating, the king must check whether the bed or the food is safe.

    There were seven techniques that kings were suppsed to use in ruling their kingdoms. These were known as sama, dana, danda, bedha, maya, upeksha and indrajala. Of these, the first four are the most famous. Sama means the art of gentle persuasion. Dana means the usage of donations or money to achieve one’s purpose. Danda is punishment. And bheda is the art of aggravating dissension amongst parties opposed to each other. Maya means to use illusions or deceit and upeksha is to deliberately ignore people so as to achieve one’s purpose. Indrajala literally means jugglery. In this context, it would mean to perform a balancing act amongst opposing pulls and opposing parties.

    What sort of punishment the king should mete out is also laid down. If anyone lies and says that his possessions have been stolen, he is to be fined an amount equal in value to that of the possessions which have supposedly been stolen. A brahmana who bears false witness is to be banished from the kingdom. A person who kills cows, elephants, horses or camels will have a leg or a hand cut off. A theif who steals gold or silver or an abductor of women will be executed, Execution is also prescribed in cases of arson and poisoning. A wife who does not obey her husband shall be torn to death by dogs. A woman who does not obey her husband or brahmanas may also have her nose, ears or arms chopped off. She will then be set astride a cow and banished from the kingdom.

    Dreams

    Some dreams are bad omens. In fact, they nightmares. Examples are: dreams about grass or trees growing on one’s body, dreams in which the dreamer is shaven-headed or is wearing shabby clothes or dreams in which one is falling from above. It is also bad to dream of marriages, singing, the killing of snakes and the killing of chandalas or animals. If you dream that you are drinking oil or eating bird meat, that is also a bad omen. Other examples are: where the dreamer dreams that he is playing with monkeys or chandalas, when he dreams that devas, brahmanas, the king or the guru is angry or when he dreams that his house had collapsed.

    Remedies have to be found if one dreams such evil dreams. Brahmanas have to be worshipped, a yajna has to be performed and the dreamer has to pray to Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Ganesha or Surya. Dreams dreamt in the first quarter of one’s sleep normally come true over the next one year. Dreams from the second quarter come true over the next six months and dreams from the third quarter over the next three months. Dreams from the quarter come true over the next fortnight and dreams dreamt right at dawn come true within the next ten days. If one first dreams a good dream and then an evil one, it is the evil dream that will come true. Therefore, if one dreams a good dream, one should not sleep anymore. One should immediately arise.

    There are many dreams that are good dreams. For example, dreams that involve mountains, palaces or snakes. Or the dreamer might dream that he is riding on a horse or a bull. It is also good to dream of white flowers in the sky or to see trees in a dream. Especially good dreams are those of the dreamer’s possessing many arms or many heads or of grass and bushes sprouting from his navel. What if you dream of wearing white garlands or clothes? That too is good. If you dream of eclipses of the sun, the moon or the stars, by all means rejoice. And if in a dream you see that yu have caught hold of the enemy’s flag, that surely means that you will triumph ove the enemy. And if you actually dream of defeating the enemy, the interpretation is clear enough.

    Strangely enough, a dream where the dreamer sees that he is eating rice pudding is a good dream. As is the case with dreams of drinking wine or blood. Or even of eating wet meat. A clear sky in a dream is good. Dreaming of milking a cow or a buffalo with one’s own mouth is also good. The dream continues to be a good one if one dreams of milking a lioness or a she-elephant thus. Other dreams which have good interpretations are, for example, dreams of the dreamer’s receiving blessings from devas or brahmanas or of being anointed with water.

    The dreamer who dreams of his coronation is blessed. And he is doubly blessed if he dreams that his head has been cut off or that he has died or even that his house has been burnt down. The relatives of such a dreamer increase in number and he also prospers. It is good to dream of musical instruments being played. Or of riding a bull or climbing a tree. Wet clothes, trees laden with fruit and clear blue skies in dreams are especially good.


    Omens and Signs

    If one is about to go out of the house, one should take care of any omens that there might be. Such bad omens are cotton, dried grass, cowdung, coal, molasses, leather, hair, a lunatic, a chandala, a widow, a dead body, ashes, bones and a broken vessel. If one comes across these as one is about to leave, one should not start without pacifying the elements through prayers to Vishnu. The sound of musical instruments is not an auspicious sound at the beginning of a journey. If the means of transport by which one is travelling breaks down, that too, is a bad omen. If weapons break, perhaps you should postpone the journey. The same is the case if an umbrella held over one’s head happens to fall. If one hits one’s head against the lintel of the door as one is about too cross the threshold, prayers are again indicated. And never call back someone who has just left. That is a bad omen and bodes ill for the success of the journey.

    There are good omens for a departure and if one sees these good omens, the journey is bound to be successful. Good omens are white flowers, full vessels, meat, distant noises, an old goat, a cow, a horse, an elephant, fire, gold, silver, a sword, an umbrella, fruit, clarified butter, curds, a conch shell, sugarcane, the sound of thunder, lightning and a dead body with no one crying over it.

    Omens are important even if one is not going on a journey. A peacock crying on the left means that something is going to be stolen. If a donkey brays with a broken voice, that is a good omen and something good will happen. If a boar or a buffalo crosses over from the left to right, that is a good omen. But if they cross over from the right to the left, that is a bad omen. One’s desire will be attained if horses, tighers, lions, cats or donekys cross over from the right to the left. Jackals, moles, lizards, pigs and cuckoos are good omens on the left and monkeys are good omens on the right. If a jackal calls once, twice, thrice or four times, that is a good omen. It is a bad omen if a jackal calls five or six times. It is a very good omen if a jackal calls seven times.

    If crows caw on the left of an army, the soldiers will not be able to win. If a crow can be seen near the door of a house, this means that there will soon be a guest. A crow looking at the sun with one signifies great danger. A crow covered with mud means the attainment of one’s desires. A dog barking inside the house leads to the death of the householders. A person whose left limbs are sniffed by a dog, will attain riches. If the right limbs are sniffed, there will be danger. A dog blocking one’s path signifies theft. A dog with a bone or a rope in its mouth means the loss of property. But it is a good omen to see a dog with meat in its mouth.

    Cows mooing irregularly mean threats to the master of the house. If this happens at night, there will be a theft or death in the house. If this happens at night, there will be a theft or a death in the house. If the cows have horns that are wet or daubed with mud, that is a good sign for the householders. A cow that plays with cranes or doves is bound to die. A cow that licks its feet is also destined to die. If an elephant strikes its right foot with its left, that is a good sign. Prosperity comes if an elephant rubs its right tusk with its foot.

    There is great danger if an umbrella falls just as one is about to leave on a trip. Journeys are to be avoided if the stars are not favourable.


    Will be continue on part 8

    Namaste

    Dasan

    Krishna
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