Markandeya Puranam

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Jara (inert) said: – Hearing the words of his mother Alarka again accosted her regarding the duties of the various orders and conditions of life. (1) “O noble body, you have described to me, the duties of the kings. I wish to hear now of those regarding the various orders and conditions of life.” (2)

Madalasa said: – “Gifts, study and sacrifice are the duties of a Brahmana; he has not the fourth duty, except carrying on trade for subsistence. (3) The adequate means of his livelihood has been described as three-fold, namely tuition, officiating as priests at sacrifices performed in a pure spirit and receiving sanctified gifts. (4) The duties of a Kshatrya have been described as three-fold, namely, gifts, study and sacrifice; the administration of the earth and the use of weapons are the means of his livelihood. (5) Gifts, study and sacrifice constitute the three-fold duties of a Vaishya; trade, tending cattle and agriculture are the means of his livelihood. (6) Gifts, sacrifice and serving the twice-born have been described by me as the duties of a Sudra; handicrafts, serving the other orders, keeping cattle and buying and selling are the means of his livelihood. I have described to you the duties of the orders and hear I shall now describe the duties relating to the diverse modes of life. (7-8) By observing the duties of his order and not deviating therefrom a person is crowned with success; but when one does a thing which is proscribed he goes to hell. (9) So long as a person, belonging to one of the twice-born orders, has not been invested with sacred thread so long he can act, speak or eat according to his will. (10) But when the proper ceremony of investiture is gone through he must live in the house of his spiritual guide as a Brahmacharin. Hear, I shall describe his duties. (11) The study of the Vedas, and the keeping of sacred fire, going about begging, taking food with the preceptor’s permission after having previously dedicated it to him, to satisfy him completely, promptitude in the preceptor’s work, to engage in study at his command, devotion to him, concentration of mind upon him (are the duties of a Brahmacharin). (12-13) Having obtained, one, two or all the Vedas from the preceptor’s lips, having saluted him and with his permission he should present Dakshina to the preceptor. (14) Then desirous of entering upon the life of a householder one should do it; or he can, according to his desire, enter upon the fourth mode of life, namely Vanaprashtha. (15) Or the twice-born one may live in his preceptor’s house performing hard austerities; shorn of vanity he should live as a Brahmacharin ministering to his son in the absence of the preceptor and to his disciples in the absence of his preceptor’s son’. Then returning from his preceptor’s house and desirous of entering upon the life of a householder he should, for leading a domestic life, marry a girl of a different race, befitting him, free from disease and having no defective limb. (16-18) Then acquiring wealth by his own exertions he should gratify completely the deities, the departed manes and the guests and support his dependants. (19) And as much as lies in his power, he should, with food, support his servants, sons, persons in

distress, the blind, the fallen, beasts and birds. (20) This is the duty of a householder as well as that of living with his wife while in her season. And he should, to the best of his power, celebrate the five sacrifices. (21) Respected by all, he should, along with his servants, feed upon what remains, proportionate to his means, after the departed manes, the guests and the kinsmen have eaten. (22) Thus have I described to you in full the duties of a householder. Hear, I shall now describe to you the duties of one entering upon the Vanaprashtha mode of life. (23) Seeing his children and grand children as well as the decay of his own body a wise man should retire to woods for purifying his soul. (24) There living on wild fruits he should improve his soul by asceticism. He should sleep on the earth, practise the Brahmacharyya mode of life, perform acts on behalf of the departed manes, deities and guests, perform Homa, bathe three times a day, wear bark and matted locks, practise Yoga and feed on the wild produces of the forest. (25-26) He should thus lead the Vanaprashtha mode of life for washing off his sins and improving his soul. The Vikshu (mendicant) mode of life is the final stage of a man. (27) Hear now from me the true account of the fourth condition of life, as well as the duties thereof, as has been described, O my child, by great men. (28) One, in this mode of life, should renounce company, practise Brahmacharyya, drive away wrath, mortify his senses, should not live at one place for a long time, withdraw himself from all actions, feed once only on whatever has been got by begging, should acquire the knowledge of self and an insight into his soul. (29-30) I have thus described to you the duties of the fourth stage of life. Do you now listen to me, describing, in a general way, the duties of the other orders and modes of life. (31) Truth, purity, freedom from malice and the desire of injuring others, forgiveness, kindness, liberality and contentment as the eighth quality – these have been described in brief by me to you as the duties of the various orders and modes of life. Every one should satisfy the duties of his own order and condition. (32-33) A king should mete out punishment to him who goes astray transgressing the duties of his own order and Stage of life. (34) If the king does not punish a man who disregards his own duties his Ishta and Purta acts come to naught. (35) Therefore the king should carefully place all the orders in their respective duties and inflict punishment on them whenever they go astray. (36)