Markandeya Puranam

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JAIMINI said: – O eminent twice-born ones, do you remove my doubt, who ask you regarding the birth and death of creatures obtaining (in this world). (1) Why is a creature born, why does it grow up, why with its body assailed by sufferings does it live in the womb? (2) Why coming out of the womb does it attain growth? And why at the time of death is it deprived of consciousness? (3) Verily does a man while dying reap the fruit of both his good and bad actions? How does an act produce its fruit? (4) Why in the womb of a female, where is digested the food which is hard of digestion, is not a small lump of flesh digested? (5) Do you explain to me all this so that all my doubts may be removed. This is a great mystery wherein all creatures are stupefied. (6)

THE BIRDS said: – The question, that you have put to us, is a difficult one, though of very great interest; referring to the existence or otherwise of all creatures it is not within the range of easy comprehension. (7) O great one, hear, what formerly a highly virtuous son, by name Sumati said to his father. (8) A certain high-minded Brahmana, born in the race of Bhrigu, said to his gentle son Sumati, resembling one void of sense at the time of his investiture with sacred thread: (9) “Study the Vedas, O Sumati, in due order being intent upon serving your preceptor and depending upon alms. (10) Then entering the life of a house-holder do you celebrate excellent sacrifices and beget desirable offspring and then enter into woods. (11) When you shall live in the forest, O child, and leaving the company of your wife, lead the life of a mendicant, you will attain to that Brahman, approaching whom no one grieves.” (12)

The birds said: – Although accosted thus in many ways (the son) could not say anything on account of his decrepitude; but the father, out of affection addressed him again and again on many topics. (13) Being thus urged on by his father out of parental affection with nectarine words, he, smiling, said: (14) “O father, all that you advise me to study has been exhaustively read by me together with various other branches of learning and diverse mechanical arts. (15) Ten thousand births more come to my recollection. I was conversant with happiness and misery and was engaged in destruction, progress and prosperity. (16) I had union with enemies, friends, and wives, as well as separation from them. I saw many a mother as well as many a father. (17) I experienced thousands of miseries and happiness. I had a great many friends and different kinds of father. (18) I lived in a female womb sullied by urine and excreta and I suffered from severe diseases and ailments in thousands. (19) I suffered numberless miseries in the womb in infancy and youth and in old age; all these I now recollect. (20) I was

born as a Brahmana, a Kshatrya, a Vaishya and a Sudra and again as a beast, a worm, a deer and a bird. (21) I was born in the houses of the royal retainers and war-like kings, as I have been born in your house. (22) I became servants and slaves of many men and I came by mastery, lordship, and poverty. (23) I slew many and in turn was slain and struck down by them. My wealth was given away by many to others and I also gave away much. (24) I was always pleased by fathers, mothers, friends, brothers and wives; and when I became poor I bathed my countenance with tears. (25) Thus revolving on the perilous wheel of the world, I have attained to this knowledge, O father, which is instrumental to the attainment of liberation. (26) Acquiring this knowledge all the actions sanctioned by Rik, Yajus and Sama appear to me as shorn of any virtue and inadequate. (27) Therefore of what use are the Vedas to me who have acquired understanding, have been satiated with the wisdom of the preceptor, am devoid of exertion and am fond of the soul? (28) I shall attain that most excellent Brahma state which is shorn of the six kinds of action, misery, happiness, delight, sentiment, and attributes. (29) Therefore I shall go, O father, renouncing the collection of evils, as is well-known, originating from sentiment, joy, fear, anxiety, anger, spite, decrepitude, and casting off the three Vedas which are like the Kimpaka fruit and lead to demerit.” (30-31)

THE BIRDS said: – Hearing his words, the great father with delighted heart said to his own son, being filled with joy and wonder: (32) “What is it that you say, O my son? Whence has this your knowledge come? By what your previous dullness been changed into wisdom? (33) Is it that on the wane of the curse of an ascetic or a deity, your knowledge that was once lost to you has come back? (34) I wish to hear all this; great is my curiosity. Tell me O my child, all that you did formerly.” (35)

The son replied: – “Hear, O father, my history, the origin of happiness and misery as to what I was in another birth and what took place thereafter. (36) I was formerly a Brahmana having my soul consigned to the Supreme Spirit; I acquired eminence in discussion relating to self-knowledge. (37) Being always engaged in Yoga in that birth, I, from practising integrity of conduct, companionship of the pious, from passing a righteous course, from reforming the ordinances, attained great delight and acquired the position of a preceptor being eminently fitted to remove the doubts of the disciples. (38-39) Thereupon after a long time I attained highest concentration. But the tranquillity of mind being disturbed through ignorance, I, by my carelessness, fell into peril. (40) But till the time of my death my memory did not fail me; and I remember all the days of my life which I have told. (41) By virtue of my previous practice, O father I shall, controlling my senses, so endeavour to work that the same thing might not befall me again. (42) This my recollection of the previous births which is the fruit of knowledge and gift, is not acquired by men engaged in duties laid down by the three Vedas. (43) Resorting to the virtue of intense, whole-minded concentration, acquired in previous birth I shall exert myself for acquiring emancipation. (44) Tell me therefore, O great one, the doubts which exist in your mind. Encompassing your pleasure on this head I shall be freed from the debts that I owe you.” (45)

The birds said: – Reverencing his words, the father asked the son of the same thing that you have enquired of me – the birth and death of creatures. (46)

The son said: – Hear, O father, a true account of what I have experienced again and again. This wheel of an world is undecaying, still it has no existence. (47) Commanded by you, O father, I shall communicate to you all from the time coming out, which no one else can speak.

(48) In this body, the bile1, growing angry, being fanned by a strong wind and flaming, although nearly no fuel, pierces the (very) vitals. (49) Then the wind named Udana2 moves over it and obstructs the passage of the meat and drink taken. (50) Only those persons, that have given away food and drink to others, enjoy comfort at that precious moment. (51) He, who has given away food with a meat purified by reverence, obtains satisfaction even without food. (52) He who has never uttered a falsehood, he who has not made a distinction of love, he who believes in God and who is reverential, meets with happy death. (52) Those who are

1 Air, bile and phlegm’s are according to the Hindu system the essential ingredients of a human body 2 These are the five vital breath in the body – namely Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana und Vyana.

intent upon adoring the deities and Brahmanas, who are free from spite, who are pure in spirit, are liberal and bashful, meet with easy death. (54) He who does not forsake virtue through lust, anger or spite, he who keeps his promise and is gentle, meets with easy death.

(55) But he who does not give water to one who is thirsty, food to one who is hungry, are assailed by them when death presents itself. (56) Those who give fuel conquer cold, those who give sandal conquer heat; but those, who afflict people, come by a dreadful pain destroying (the very) life. (57) Those worst of men, who cause ignorance and stupefaction, attain great fear and are crushed by fierce pangs. (58) Those, that give false evidence, or speak false, or satisfy the orders of a wicked man, or disregard the Vedas, die in ignorance.

(59) The dreadful and vicious-souled followers of Yama, breathing hellish smell around, with nooses and maces in hands; approach them. (60) And when they come within the range of their vision they all tremble and continually bewail for their brothers, mothers and sons. (61) Then their speech becomes indistinct, O father, and is composed of one letter; their eyes roll and their faces are dried up with fear and sighs. (62) Then with breath running high, sight dimmed and assailed by pain he renounces his body. (63) Then going before the body, for undergoing affliction consequent upon his acts he assumes another body not sprung from a father or a mother but which has the same age, condition and habitation as assigned to the other body. (64) Then the emissaries of Yama quickly bind him with dreadful nooses and drag him to the south, trembling with the stroke of the rod. (65) Then he is dragged by the emissaries of Yama sending out dreadful, inauspicious yells through grounds rough with Kusha, thorns, ant-hills, pins and stones, glowing with flames at places, covered with pits, blazing with the heat of the sun and burning with its rays. (66-67) Dragged by the dreadful (emissaries) and eaten by hundreds of jackals, the sinful person goes to Yama’s house through a fearful passage. (68) But those, who have distributed umbrellas and shoes, those who have given away cloth, and as well as those who have given away food, go easily by that way. (69) Going through such sufferings, losing all control over self and assailed by sin a man is taken on the twelfth day, to the city of Dharma. (70) When his body is burnt he experiences a great burning sensation; and when his body is beaten or cut he feels a great pain. (71) His body being thus destroyed, a creature, although walking into another body, suffers eternal misery on account of his own adverse actions. (72) Going there he feeds on the sesame and water or the ball of boiled rice offered by his descendants. (73) A person receives comforts from his relations rubbing their bodies with oil, from their kneading their limbs and from their taking their food. (74) He enjoys rest his relations lying down on the ground. A dead man is pleased with his relations by his performance of charitable works. (75) Taken to his own home on the twelfth day he sees it and feeds on the Pinda and water that are offered on the earth. (76) After the twelfth day, being drawn, a man beholds the dreadful and terrible-looking iron city of Yama. (77) As soon as he enters there he beholds Yama in the midst of the Destroyer, Death and others having blood-red eyes, and resembling a mass of crushed collyrium, with face with dreadful teeth, and a dreadful frowning countenance; – the lord, encircled by hundreds of distempers having disfigured and dreadful visages, carrying his rod, mighty-armed, with the noose in his hand and highly fearful to look at. A creature attains to a state, good or bad, assigned by him. (78-80) One giving false evidence or uttering falsehood goes to Raurava. Hear now, I will give what is the true description of Raurava. (81) It measures two thousand Yoyanas. There is a pit which is knee-deep and difficult of being crossed. (82) Levelled with heaps of flaming charcoal it is heated by a piece of land burning dreadfully with coal. (83) Into it the followers of Yama throw the perpetrator of impious deeds. And burnt by the dreadful fire he runs about. (84) His feet get torn and injured at every step and within a day and night he can but once take away his feet. (85) When he thus goes over a thousand Yoyanas he is let alone. Then to have his sins washed off he is taken to another such hell. (86) After having gone through all the hells the sinner takes upon a beastly life. Then going through the lives of worms, insects, and flies, beasts of prey, gnats, elephants, trees, horses, cows, and through diverse other sinful and miserable lives, he, coming to the race of men, is born as a hunch-back, or an ugly person or a dwarf or a Chandala Pukkasa. (87-89) Then carrying the remnant of his virtue and vice he goes up gradually to the higher caste, Sudras, Vaishyas, Kshatryas, Brahmanas, and the state of the king of gods; sometimes perpetrating iniquities he falls into the hell beneath. (90—91) Hear, I shall now describe, how virtuous people proceed. These persons follow the pious course laid down by Yama. (92) With Gandharvas singing, Apsaras dancing, wearing many a beautiful and shining garlands they proceed in excellent cars embellished with chains, bangles and other beautiful ornaments. (93) Coming down therefore they are born in the families of other high-souled kings and protect people engaged in noble works. (94) After having enjoyed all the best things of life they go upward; but if they go down they fare as before. (95) I have thus described to you all about the sufferings of creatures. Hear now, O Brahmana saint, how embryos, are created. (96)