Markandeya Puranam

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ALARKA said: – “Tell me truly, who ask, what acts should be duly performed by a householder, leaving which undone one is fettered and performing which one attains to liberation – that which leads to the well-being of men, that which should be discarded by a good man in his home and that which should be done. Tell me all this duly.” (1-2)

Madalasa said: – “By adopting the life of a householder, O my son, a man nourishes the entire universe and thereby conquers the wished-for regions. (3) The departed manes, the ascetics, the deities, the goblins, men, worms, insects, flies, birds, beasts and demons all depend upon a householder for their subsistence and attain to gratification through him. Thinking ‘will give or not’ every one looks at his face. (4-5) This is the support of all and the cow of the three (Vedas) on which is established the universe and which is recognised as the cause thereof. (6) The Rik is her back, the Yayur is her middle, the Saman is the face and neck, Ishtha and Purta are her horns; the sacred Suktas are her hairs; Santi and Pushti are her urine and excreta and the orders and modes of life are her developments. The whole universe is sustained by her. She suffers no deterioration or decay. (7-8) My son, Swaha, Swadha, Vashat, hanta are her four udders. The deities suck the udder Swaha, the departed manes the udder Swadha, the ascetics that of Vashat and all save the deities, goblins, Asuras and others – the human beings suck the udder Hanta. Thus my son, the cow of the threefold Vedas gratifies all beings. (9-11) The man who destroys these is guilty of a mighty iniquity. He is plunged into Tamishra and Andhatamishra (hell). (12) The person, who, in season, makes her calves, the immortals, drink her milk, attains to the region of the celestials. (13) Therefore, O my son, it is incumbent upon every human being to support the deities, the departed manes, men, ghosts as he sustains his own body. (14) For this reason having bathed and purified himself, a person, with a concentrated mind, should offer, in due time, oblations of water to deities, departed manes, and Prajapati. (15) After worshipping deities with sandal and incense, a man should worship fire and then offer eatables. (16) In a

room a person should place to the east and north offerings of food for Brahma, the Vishwadevas and Dhanyantari. (17) The food, intended for Sakra, should be placed in the east and that for Yama in the south, that for Varuna in the west and that for the Moon in the north. (18) The food for Dhata and Vidhata, should be kept, at night, at the gate of the house and that for the sun should be kept around outside the house. (19) A person should scatter in the air the food intended for ghosts and night-rangers. Placing one’s self towards the south one should offer food to the departed manes. (20) Then being up and doing and concentrating his mind well, the householder should take up water for rinsing his mouth. (21) Then the wise one should scatter food at different places designed for the deities. Having thus made offerings of food at his house the householder, purifying himself, should offer food to the ghosts for their gratification. He should keep on the ground food intended for dogs, Swapachas and birds. (22-23) The offering, named Vaishyadeva, should be performed in the morning and evening. Then rinsing his mouth the wise man should look towards the door. (24) Then for an eighth part of a Muhurtta he should look on in expectation of a guest. And on getting a guest at that place he should, to the best of his might, gratify him with meats and drinks and with fragrant flowers. One should not receive as a guest a friend or a person living in the same village. (25-26) A Brahmana, of unknown name and birth, stricken with hunger, wearied, and destitute, and who comes at that hour and begs for food, has been called a guest and should be entertained by the wise according to their power. (27) A learned man should not enquire after the lineage, status or Vedic accomplishments of his guest. Whether beautiful or ugly he should be considered as Prajapati himself. (28) Because a man does not live for ever therefore he is called Atithi. And when a guest is gratified the householder is freed from the debt of Nriyajna. (29) The sinful man, who feeds himself without feeding his guests, is visited by iniquity and lives on dung in the future life. (30) The guest, that goes away disappointed from the house of a man, transfers to the householder all his sins and takes away the latter’s religious merit. (31) To the best of his might a man should entertain his guest with water, herbs or any other thing that he himself takes. (32) A person should perform always the Sraddha with water and food for the departed manes and feed one or more Brahmanas. (33) Taking off the first portion of rice one should offer it to a Brahmana and he should offer alms to the begging mendicants and Brahmacharins. (34) A mouthful of rice is called Bhiksha and four mouthfuls make an Arghya and four Arghyas make up a Hanta. Thus say the leading twice-born ones. (35) Without offering Hanta, Arghya or Bhiksha according to his own power one should not take meals. (36) After having fed guests one should feed his kinsmen, friends, suitors, boys, old people, the diseased, destitute people stricken with hunger and begging food. If he has money he should also feed poor relatives who desire it. (37-38) If a person, obtaining a prosperous kinsman, meets with poverty, the sins, committed by him in that state, visit the prosperous kinsman. (39) This procedure should also be followed in the evening. When a guest comes at about sunset he should, to the best of one’s power, be entertained with a seat, fooding and bed. (40) If a person thus bears the burden of a domestic life, the friends, deities, departed manes, great saints, guests, beasts, birds and smallest worms, being gratified, bring about his well-being. (41-42) The highly pious Atri sang a hymn in this connection. Hear, O greatly righteous one, the same having the household life for its subject. (43) When a house-holder has money, he should, after worshipping the celestials, the departed manes, guests, friends, kinsmen and his spiritual guide, keep food on the ground for birds, Swapachas and dogs. The Vaishwadeva ceremony should be performed both in the morning and evening. (44-45) A man should not take meat, rice, herbs or any other culinary article, that may be in his house without offering duly a portion of them (to guests). (46)