Markandeya Puranam

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DATTATREYA said: – Hear, O great king, I shall enumerate the signs of approaching death; by observing them the Yogin may know when he will die. (1) He, who cannot see the road of the celestials, Dhruva, Sukra, the moon, his own shadow and Arundhati, meets with death after the expiration of one year. (2) The man, who sees the solar disc without rays and the fire full of the rays of the sun, does not live more than eleven months. (3) He, who in a dream sees gold or silver in what is thrown out, urine and excreta, lives only for ten months. (4) If one sees ghosts, Pisachas, the city of the Gandharvas and golden trees, he lives only for nine months. (5) If one, who is fat, all on a sudden becomes thin, if one thin built man at once becomes fat, his natural lease of life will surely run out after eight months. (6) He, who when he sets his foot on mire or manure, has the mark of the heel or the fore part half stamped, lives only for seven months. (7) He, on whose head, sits a vulture, pigeon, Kakola, crow, other carnivorous (birds) or dark-blue birds, does not live more than six months. (8) One, who is assailed by a row of crows, or a downpour of dust or who sees his own shadow in the opposite direction, lives for four or five months. (9) He, who, in the absence of clouds, sees lightning in the southern quarter and rainbow in the night, lives only for two or three months.

(10) He, who does not see his own shadow in clarified butter, oil, mirror or water, or even if he does so sees it without head, does not live more than a month. (11) The Yogin, O king, from whose body comes out the smell of a corpse, lives only for half a month. (12) He, whose heart and feet are dried up immediately after bathing, whose throat is dried up although he drinks water, lives only for ten days. (13) Death is impending to him whose vital parts are pierced by the winds clashing with one another and whose hairs do not stir even by the touch of the water. (14) Death is present to him, who, in a dream, proceeds singing to the southern quarter in conveyances of bears and monkeys. (15) He also does not live when in a dream, a female, clad in a dark-blue and crimson cloth, takes him to the southern direction, singing and smiling. (16) A learned man, seeing alone a nude, and highly powerful Buddha mendicant in a dream laughing and leaping, knows death to be present. (17) The man, who in a dream, sees his own body drowned neck deep in mire, meets with immediate death. (18) If a man sees in dream hairs, char-coals, ashes, serpents and rivers void of water, he meets with death on the eleventh day after ten days. (19) If a man sees in a dream, a highly terrific, dreadful and dark man, striking with uplifted weapons and stones he meets with immediate death. (20) If a jackal passes before a man or behind him or goes round him at sun rise he meets with immediate death. (21) Forsooth the lease of a man’s life has run out who feels hungry immediately after taking meals and whose teeth gnash against one another. (22) He, who does not perceive the smell of a lamp, who becomes afraid either in the day or night, who sees his own reflection in another’s eye, does not live. (23) The one, knowing his self, should for certain perceive his end who sees the rainbow in the middle of the night and the stars during the day. (24) The lease of his life has run out whose nose becomes crooked whose ears are either elevated or depressed and whose left eye sheds tears. (15) The wise man should then know his end to be at hand when his face becomes red and tongue yellow. (26) Forsooth should he know that his death is imminent who, in a dream, goes to the southern quarter in a conveyance drawn by camels or jackals. (27) He, who projecting his ears, does not hear the sound made by himself and the vision of whose eye is lost, does not live. (28) There is the end of his life who, falling into a pit in a dream, does not find the entrance and accordingly cannot come out. (29) The upward looks, the eyes becoming red, dilated and

1 The sign or symptom of approaching death.

whirling, the heat of the mouth and the dilation of the navel surely indicate the future birth of a man. (30) There is the end of his life, who, entering into fire in a dream, cannot come out nor entering into water can come out of it. (31) He, who is assailed by mischievous ghosts either in the day or in the night, forsooth meets with death within seven nights. (32) He, who sees his clean white cloth either as crimson or darkblue, has his impending death ascertained. (33) It is said that Yama and Antaka are near those who have the perversity of their nature and character. (34) The wise designate it as the end of that man who disregards and vilifies them before whom he should always be humble and who are worthy of his respect, who does not adore the deities, vilifies the preceptor, the elderly men and Brahmanas, who does not perform the obsequies of his parents, who does not welcome his son-in-law and who insults the Yogins, the wise and other great men. (35-37) O king, the Yogins should with care learn that these fore-bodings bear fruits daily or at the end of the year. (38) Observing particularly O king, that these fruits are dreadful they should always think of that time in their mind. (39) Knowing full well that time and resorting to a place void of fear the Yogin should practise Yoga so that the time may not be divorced from its fruits. (40) Beholding these omens, casting off the fear of death and marking the characteristics of the time when they set in the Yogin should engage in Yoga in whatever division of the day they may appear. In the morning, in the evening, in the noon or in the night or whenever these omens are seen he should engage in Yoga till the proper time comes. (41-43) Casting off all fear, controlling the time and restraining his own self he should engage in Yoga with the Great Soul; then conquering the three fold qualities and making his own soul at one with the Supreme Soul he should cast off intellectual faculties. (44-45) He will then be able to attain to the great beatitude which is beyond the reach of senses and intellect and is incapable of being described. (46) I have described to you all this truly, O Alarka; I shall now relate in brief, how you will attain to Brahman; hear me. (47) When the jewel Chandrakanta is united with the rays of the moon it discharges water and not when it is not united; this has been described as a simile for the Yogins. (48) When the jewel Suryakanta is united with the rays of the sun it displays fire and not alone; this is a simile for the Yogins. (49) Ants, rats, cats, Grihagodha and Kapinjalas live in a house where the householder resides; on his death they go elsewhere. (50) At the destruction of their master they feel no sorrow. This instance of their dwelling, O emperor, is also a simile for the Yogins. (51) An earth-worm, although its mouth is very small, gathers up a heap of earth; this is also an instruction for the Yogins. (52) Beasts, birds, mankind and other creatures destroy the trees crested with leaves, flowers and fruits; from this the Yogins should draw a lesson. (53) The top of the horn of a young one of a Ruru, although it is like a sessame seed, grows up with it; seeing this the Yogin should attain to the accomplishment of his object. (54) Observing the movements of the limbs of a person while ascending an elevation from the surface of the earth with a vessel filled with liquid substance in his hands what does not a Yogin learn? (55) Knowing truly the exertion of mankind that they destroy every thing for their own subsistence the Yogin can attain the accomplishment of his object. (59)1 Wherever one lives is his house; that by which one’s life is sustained is his food and that by which one’s object is accomplished is his happiness; so why there should be an attachment? (57) Although solicited as an effect is produced by causes so by intellect and others which are not his own he should strive to accomplish (the union with the) Great Soul.

(58) Thereupon saluting him and bending low with humility the king Alarka, filled with delight,

1 These verses are very terse and an explanation is therefore necessary. The object of the Yogin is to cast off all attachment for the world and to effect an union of his own soul with the Great Soul. For renouncing this attachment he should take lessons from the various objects. (48 Sloka) As by the union with the rays of the moon, the jewel, so called, discharges water so the mind, of the Yogin when engaged in the contemplation of the supreme spirit, enjoys a happiness which he cannot otherwise feel. (49) – As when touched by the rays of the sun the jewel, so called, displays fire, so the Yogin, by virtue of Yoga or concentration of the mind, can see the Great Brahman. (50) – From the ants and other creatures, going away to another house after the death of a house¬holder and cherishing no attachment for him the Yogin should learn that after the destruction of one body another springs up and therefore he should cherish no attachment for the body. (51) – As an earth worm, though an insignificant creature, can collect a heap of earth, so though the attainment of Brahman is a difficult task it can be gradually had by the practices of Yoga. (52) – As a tree, enveloped with blossoms and fruits, is felled by men, so this body, however rich and great a man might be, will fall a prey to death. So the Yogin should cherish no attachment for this body which is frail.

said: -(57) “O Brahman, by good luck it is that this dreadful fear of life was engendered by the terror of a defeat from the enemy. (60) By good fortune it is that the king of Kashi is gifted with prowess and prosperity for whose ruin I have come hither and been united with you. (61) By fortune it is that my strength has been weakened, my servants have been slain, my treasure has been exhausted and I have been possessed by fear. (62) By fortune it is that the pair of your feet came within the range of my recollection and by fortune it is that your words have found room in my heart. (63) By fortune it is that I have attained to knowledge by seeing you. And by fortune it is, O Brahman, that you showed me this kindness. (64) With the advent of good luck to a man even an evil is converted into good; for this calamity, by bringing me to you, has conduced to my well-being. (65) Suvahu is a benefactor of mine, as also, the lord, the king of Kashi, by whom I have been brought to you, the lord of asceticism. (66) And that I, having all my sins consumed by the fire of your grace, shall so engage in hard austerities that I may not again come by these miseries. (67) Obtaining permission from you who are high-souled and can confer knowledge I shall cast off this condition of a house-holder which is a forest of the trees of ills.” (68)

Dattatreya said: – “Depart, O king, may you fare well. As related by me, shorn of attachment and egoism, do you so exert as may bring on liberation.” (69)

JARA said: – Being thus addressed and saluting him he came speedily where the king of Kashi and his elder brother Suvahu were. (70) Approaching the large-armed and the heroic king of Kashi, Alarka, as if smiling, said to him in the presence of Suvahu. (71) “O lord of Kashi, desiring for kingdom, enjoy this kingdom earned by you as you like or confer it upon Suvahu.” (72)

The king of Kashi said: – “Why do you, O Alarka, surrender this kingdom without a battle; such is not the duty of a Kshatrya and you too are conversant with their duties. (73) Having brought under his subjection the host of ministers and cast off the fear of death a king should take arrows aiming at his enemy. (74) And having conquered him the king should enjoy all the most desired for objects and celebrate great sacrifices for accomplishing his great object.” (75)

Alarka said: – “Formerly such was my mind, O hero. But now it is quite the contrary. Hear the cause. (76) As the body of a man is but a collection of elements, so all the inner faculties and essential ingredients (Gunas) are composed of elements. (77) There exists only one Absolute intelligence and none else; how can then be, O king, the notion of an enemy, friend lord and servant? (78) Afflicted by pain begotten by the fear of you, I have, O king by the grace of Dattatreya, attained to excellent knowledge. (79) Having conquered the number of senses and cast off various associations I shall concentrate my mind on Brahman. Obtaining Him a man gets every thing. (80) A man should set forth every exertion for obtaining Him save whom nothing exists. By controlling the senses one can attain to Him. (81) I am not your enemy, nor you are mine. This Suvahu is not my malefactor. I have learnt all this truly. So do you seek for another enemy.” (82) Having been thus addressed the king Suvahu delightedly rose up and welcomed his brother with saying, “By good luck it is so.” He then said to the king of Kashi. (83)