Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana Book 7 Chapter 15:1-15

Book 7: Chapter 15

Srimad Bhagvata Mahapurana: Book 7: Chapter 15: Verses 1-15
An inquiry into right conduct (concluded)

Narada began again : Some Brahmanas are devoted to rituals (laid down in the scriptures as pertaining to their grade in society and stage in life), while others , O ruler of men, are intent on (the practice of) austerities. (Still) others are those that have pinned their faith in the study and teaching of the Vedas and other scriptures; while (yet) others are given to the pursuit of Maria (spiritual enlightenment) and Yoga or Devotion (each succeeding class being regarded as superior to the preceding one). By one seeking immortality (for oneself or for the departed soul), oblations of food etc., intended for the spirit of a deceased relation (on the occasion of a Sraddha) as well as for gods in a ritual intended to propitiate the gods should be offered to one devoted to the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. In the absence of such a Brahmana (of course) the offering may be given to others (those devoted to rituals etc,) according to their merit (giving preference to the higher types if a choice has to be made). One should feed (only) two Brahmanas in the course of a rite intended to propitiate the gods and three in a ceremony (Sraddha) in the interest of a deceased relative or (only) one on either occasion. Though very rich, a householder should not invite a large number (of Brahmanas) during a Sraddha feast. (For) due to (his) feeding alarge number and offering food to his relatives, (the amount of) reverence befitting the place and time (of the ceremony) the (quality of) materials (of food etc, used on the occasion), a worthy recipient (for the offerings) and (the correct procedure of) worship-(all) these cannot be adequately ensured. When a (proper) place and time are available, food fit for (the consumption of) hermits (such as wild rice), offered (in the first instance) to Sri Hari and (then) served with (due) reverence and in accordance with the scriptural ordinance to a worthy recipient yields the desired fruit (to those who crave for it) and proves (to be a source of) everlasting (good to a seeker of blessedness). Duly distributing the food (cooked on such occasions) among the gods, the Rsis (the seers), the manes and other living beings, one's own self and one's relatives, one should look upon all these as (so many) forms of the Supreme Person.

One who knows the essence of piety should not offer meat (to the manes) in a Sraddha, ceremony nor should he eat it (himself). The type of supreme gratification caused (to the manes as well as to the Lord Himself) through cereals fit for (the consumption of) anchorites (because involving no destruction of life) is never brought about through (meat etc., obtained by) the killing of animals. For men seeking true piety there is no other such virtue as abstinence from violence to living beings, perpetrated through mind, speech and body. (That is why) some wise men, (who are) foremost among the knowers of the truth about sacrifices and free from desire offer sacrifices consisting of rituals into the fire of self-control kindled by Knowledge (of the Self). (That is to say, they completely withdraw themselves from external rituals.) Seeing one proceeding to propitiate the Lord through sacrifices conducted with material substances, animals grow apprehensive lest the merciless fellow, who is ignorant of the truth of the Spirit and is (therefore) given to the (mere) gratification of his self, will surely kill them. Therefore, (remaining ever) contented, he who knows what is right should perform from day to day (his) obligatory and occasional duties even with the cereals fit for (the consumption of) hermits and obtained by force of destiny (rather than undertake big sacrifices involving destruction of life). He who knows (what is) piety should give up Vidharma, Paradharma, Abhasa, Upama (Upadharma) and Chala-these five offshoots of Adharma (vice) (even) as vice (itself, which is directly prohibited). Vidharma is that which interferes with (the pursuit of) one's own prescribed conduct even though practised as a virtue; while Paradharma is that which is prescribed for another (and not for one's own self). A course of conduct recommended in a scripture opposed to the Vedas or intended to deceive another is Upadharma (or Upama) whereas Chala is that course of conduct which is justified by distorting the sacred texts, (And) that which has been originated by men according to their own whim as apart from the (four established) Asramas or stages in life is (known by the name of) Abhasa. (The aforesaid five surely lead to frustration.) And in whose case has a course of conduct enjoined by one's own innate disposition (on the other hand) not proved capable of alleviating distress? An indigent man should not endeavour to obtain wealth even for the sake of piety or for maintenance. Effortlessness proves to be a means of subsistence to a man who ceases to strive (even) as it does in the case of a python.



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