Chapter 1

THE MANIFESTATION OF GODDESS LAXMI

Bheeshma expressed his desire to know about the manifestation of goddess Laxmi.

Pulastya replied-- Once, after being defeated by the demons, the deities went to Lord Vishnu and sought his help. Lord Vishnu instructed them to collect all the medicinal herbs, and put them in the Ksheersagar, so that after the churning of the ocean ambrosia could be retrieved.Lord Vishnu also advised them to use the Mandar mountain as a Churner and the serpent--Sheshnag as a rope for churning the ocean.The deities then reached an agreement with the demons according to which both the groups were supposed to unitedly churn the ocean. The great Mandar mountain was uprooted and placed on the back of the tortoise--the embodiment of Lord Vishnu. Sheshnag coiled around that mountain and both the ends were held by the demons and the deities respectively. The deities intelligently chose the tail-end, while the demons in their foolishness chose the mouth-end. The vemon spilled by Sheshnag destroyed the power and strength off the demons. When the process of Churning began, the first thing to emerge from the sea-bed was Kaamdhenu--the holy cow. The deities claimed the ownership of this divine cow. Subsequently, Vaaruni (intoxicating drink) emerged from the sea-bed, which was claimed by the ignorant demons. During the process of ocean-churning, various kinds of things emerged out from the ocean--Parijat, sixty crore apsaras, the moon and the Kaalkut (poison), which were distributed among the demons and the deities. Lord Mahadev drank the Kaalkut when he saw that there was no taker for it.

The churning of ocean also resulted into the manifestation of ambrosia-pot, Uchchaishrava (horse) and Eravat (elephant). Ultimately, goddess Laxmi manifested herself, seated on a lotus. The deities eulogised her by chanting the mantras of Sri Sukta. The deities were desirous of having goddess Laxmi on their side, so were the demons, but Lord Brahma instructed Vishnu to accept her as his consort. The demons became furious and snatched the ambrosia-pot from the hands of Sage Dhanvantari. Lord Vishnu then disguised himself as the most enchanting woman and fooled the demons into giving back the ambrosia-pot. Lord Vishnu gave the pot to the deities who became immortal after drinking ambrosia. A tremendous battle was fought between the demons and the deities. But, the demons were defeated in this battle and fled to the netherworld to protect their lives. The deities eulogised Lord Vishnu and returned to heaven.

SATI GIVES UP HER LIFE

On being enquired by Bheeshma about the reason why Sati gave up her life, Sage Pulastya narrated the following tale ----

Once, Daksha Prajapati had organised a grand yagya in which he had invited everybody except Lord Shiva. This Yagya was presided over by four prominent sages---Vashishth, Angika, Vrihaspati and Narad. Sati went to attend the yagya despite Lord Shiva's reluctance to send her. After reaching there she asked Daksha about the reason why he had not invited Lord Shiva.

Daksha said---"Your husband is unworthy of being in the company of other deities, because of his abhorrent appearance. He smears ashes on his body and wanders through the cremation grounds. In the name of clothes, your husband puts on tiger's skin. A garland of skulls keep on hanging down his neck. All species of serpents coil around his body. Do you think he is eligible to sit in the company of the deities? Your husband had brought great shame on me and this is the reason why I did not invite him."

Sati could no more listen to her husband's criticism and gave up her life by jumping into the oblation-fire.When the news of Sati's death reached Lord Shiva, he became extremely furious and sent his ganas to avenge her death. The Ganas went and created havoc at the oblation-site.After the death of Sati, Lord Shiva became a recluse and lost all interest in his life. His mind was preoccupied by nothing else but the thoughts of her beloved.One day, Sage Narad informed Lord Shiva about Sati's rebirth as the daughter of Himvan and Mena. Lord Shiva became extremely pleased by this good news. Eventually, he reunited with her eternal consort Parvati.

THE ORIGIN OF DEITIES, DEMONS & SERPENTS

Bheeshma requested Sage Pulastya to explain how different entities like the deities, demons and serpents came into being.

Pulastya replied---Having failed in his repeated attempts of increasing population by the means of 'sankalpa' Daksha Prajapati was left with no option but to take the help of copulative creation. He begot sixty daughters from his wife named Virini. In course of time ten of them were married to Dharma whose names were---Arundhati, Vasu, Jami, Lamba, Bhanu, Marutvati, Sankalpa, Muhurta, Saadhya and Vishwa.Vishwa gave birth to Vishwadeva, while Saadhyaa was the mother of Saddhya. Marutvati gave birth to Marutvan. Vasu had eight sons who became famous as the Vasus---yourself (Bheeshma), Dhruv, Soma, Dhar, Anil, Anal, Pratyush and Prabhas. Bhanu had a son by the same name i.e. Bhanu. Mahurta begot deities, who were the lords of auspicious moments. Lamba gave birth to Ghosh while Jami had a daughter named Nagvithi. Arundhati became the mother of all the creatures of this world. As far as the offspring of eight Vasus are concerned, 'you' (Bheeshma) have four sons--Shant, Vaitand, Samb and Munibabhru. Dhruv had a son named Kaal. While Soma was the father of Varcha. Dhar had two sons--Dravin and Havyavaah. Anil had three sons--- Pran, Raman and Shishir. Anal also had three sons---Shakh, Upshakh and Naigameya. Pratyush had a son named Deval, who later on became a famous sage. Prabhas was the father of Prajapati Vishwakarma--the architect of the deities.

The names of the eleven Rudras are---Ajaikpad, Ahirbudhnya, Virupaksh, Raivat, Har, Bahuroop, Trayambak, Savitra, Jayant, Pinaki and Aparajit. All of them are said to be the lords of the Ganas and have all together 84 crore progenies known as the Rudraganas.

Sage Kashyap had thirteen wives---Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Sursa, Surabhi, Vinta, Tamra, Krodhvasha, Ira, Kadru, Khasa and Muni. Kashyap had two sons from Diti---Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. Hiranyakashipu had four sons---Prahlad, Anuhlad, Sanhlad and Hlad. Prahlad also had four sons---One of them was Virochan. Virochan was the father of Bali. Vanasur, who had one thousand arms, was the eldest son of Bali.Hiranyaksha had four sons, who themselves had 27 crore sons and grandsons in all. Kashyap had begotten one hundred sons from Danu, among whom Viprachitti was the most powerful.Viprachitti had fourteen sons from Sinhika---Sainhikeya (Rahu), Kansa, Shankh, Nala, Vatapi, Ilwal, Namuchi, Khasrima, Anjan, Narak, Kaalnaabh, Parmanu, Kalpavirya and Dhanuvanshavivardhan.

Kashyap also had six daughters from Tamra--Shuki, Shyeni, Bhasi, Gridhi, Sugridhi and Shuchi. All six of them gave birth to various species of birds. Shuki was the mother of Parrots and Owls. Shyeni gave birth to hawks while Bhasi was the mother of ospreys (a large fish eating birds.) Gridhi gave birth to Vultures and Sugridhi was the mother of pigeons. Shuchi was the mother of cranes, Swans and other similar aquatic birds. Vinita was the mother of Garuda and Arun---Supreme among birds. Arun was the father of Sampati and Jatayu.Sursa was the mother of the serpents and had given birth to one thousand snakes. Similarly, Kadru gave birth to one thousand cobras.Surabhi, one of the thirteen wives of Kashyap had given birth to cows, buffaloes as well as beautiful women. Muni was the mother of the celestial damsels --apsaras. Arishta gave birth to Kinnars and Gandharvas. Ira was the mother of various vegetation like grass, trees, creepers and bushes.

Khasa gave birth to crore of Rakshashas (monsters) and Yakshas.Kashyap had also begotten forty-nine Marudganas from Diti.

THE ORIGIN OF MARUDGANAS

Bheeshma requested Sage Pulastya to describe how all the Marudganas came into existence.

Pulastya replied--- All the sons and grandsons of Diti had perished in the battle fought between the deities and demons. Diti---the mother of daityas (demons) wanted to take revenge, so she started doing a penance at the bank of river Saraswati, which lasted for 100 years.Being pleased by her austere penance Sage Kashyap arrived and expressed his desire to bless her with a boon. Diti wanted a mighty son who could kill Indra. Sage Kashyap then implanted his sperms in Diti's womb and instructed her to remain there (where she had been doing penance) for 100 years. He also instructed her on various do's and don'ts which a pregnant woman is expected to observe. Diti agreed to follow his instructions.Mean while, Indra got wind of her pregnancy and became scared. He wanted to destroy the foetus at any cost, so he arrived at the place where Diti was staying. He had disguised himself to avoid being recognized by Diti. He engaged himself in her servitude, waiting for an opportune moment to destroy the foetus.

This way, ninety-nine years had passed and only three days were remaining after which Diti was expected to give birth to a son. As the inevitable day approached nearer, Indra started becoming restless.One day, Diti was very tired and fell down asleep. Her hair was untied and her head had stooped down while she was sleeping, just opposite to the instructions Kashyap had given to her. Finding the moment opportune, Indra entered into Diti's womb and cut the foetus into seven pieces with his Vajra. The seven fragments of foetus instantaneously got transformed into seven infants and started wailing. Indra became furious and once again he attacked them with his vajra and severed them into seven pieces each. But to Indra's sheer amazement, there were 49 infants, all wailing loudly. He tried to stop them from crying by shouting 'Marud' (don't cry), but to no avail.

Indra realized that the infants had attained immortality on account of the 'Pournamasi Vrata', which Diti had devoutly observed during the course of her penance. Indra named the infants as Marudganas and blessed them. He then begged for Diti's forgiveness and took her along with the Marudganas to heaven. The Marudganas, despite being born in the clans of demons, never associated with them and hence were revered even by the deities.Bheeshma expressed his curiosity to know about the detailed description of all the fourteen manvantars. Pulastya said--The first manvantar was called Swayambhuva, named after Swayambhuva- Manu. Yamya was the prominent deity of this manvantar. Marichi and other six prominent sages were the Saptarishis of this manvantar. Swayambhuva- Manu had ten sons---Aaghnigha, Agnibahu, Vibhu, Savan, Jyotishman, Dyutiman, Havya, Medha, Medhatithi and Vasu.

The second manvantar was named after Swarochish--Manu. Swarochish--Manu had four sons--Nabh, Nabhasya, Prasriti and Bhavan. Tushit was the prominent deity of this second manvantar. Dattatreya, Atri, Chyavan, Stanba, Pran, Kashyap and Vrihaspati were the saptarishis of this manvantar.

The third manvantar was called Autam and derived its name from Autami Manu, who had ten sons--Isha, Urj, Tanuj, Shuchi, Shukra, Madhu, Madhav, Nabhasya, Nabh and Saha, Bhanusangyak was the prominent deity of this manvantar. Sage Urj and other six sages were the saptarishis then.

The fourth manvantar was called Taamas--named after Taamas-manu, who also had ten sons like his predecessor. The names of his sons were--Akalmash, Tapodhanva, Tapomool, Tapodhan, Taporashi, Tapasya, Sutapasya, Parantap, Tapobhagi and Tapoyogi. Kavi, Prithu, Agni, Akapi, Kapi, Janya and Dhama were the Saptarishis of this manvantar, while Saadhyagana was the prominent deity.

The fifth manvantar was called Raivat--named after Raivat Manu, who had ten sons as well--Varun, Tatvadarshi, chitiman, Havyap, Kavi, Mukt, Nirutsuk, Satva, Vimoh and Prakashak, Bhutrajaa and Prakriti were the two prominent deities of this manvantar and the names of the saptarishis were--Devabahu, Subahu, Parjanya, Somap, Muni, Hiranyaroma and Saptashva.

Next arrived the sixth manvantar---Chakshush. This Manvantar derived its name from Chakshush--Manu, who had ten sons and among whom Ruru was the most prominent one. Lekh, Ribhu, Prithagbhoot, Varimool and Divau were the prominent deities of this manvantar. The names of Saptarishis were--Bhrigu, Sudhama, Viraj, Vishnu, Narad, Vivaswan and Abhimani.

The present manvantar, which is the seventh in order, is called Vaivaswat. The Saptarishis of this manvantar are---Atri, Vashishth, Kashyap, Gautam--yogi, Bhardwaj, Vishwamitra and Jamdagni.

The eighth manvantar will be called Savarnya and will be named after Savarni Manu, Savarni Manu will have ten sons---Dhriti, Variyan, Yavasu, Suvarna, Dhrishti, Charishnu, Aadya, Sumati, Vasu and Shukra. The Saptarishis of this manvantar will be--Ashwatthama, Rishyashringa, Kaushikya, Galav, Shatanand, Kaashyap and Parashuram.

The nineth manvantar will be named after Ruchi--Manu and will be called Rauchya manvantar. Ruchi--manu will have a son named Rauchya.

The tenth manvantar will be called Bhautya and will derive its name from Bhautya Manu--Son of Bhuti.

The eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth manvantars will be named after Merusavarni, Ribhu, Veetdhama and Vishkvasen Manus respectively.

All these fourteen Manus successively rule this world for the total period of 1000 Chaturyugas. At the end of Kalpa each of them unite with Lord Brahma.

KING PRITHU AND THE SURYA DYNASTY

Bheeshma enquired Sage Pulastya about the mighty King Prithu upon whom the earth was named as Prithvi.

Sage Pulastya replied---Anga-Prajapati was the descendant of Swayambhuva Manu and Sunitha was his wife. In course of time, Sunitha gave birth to a son, who was named Ven. After growing up, Ven turned out to be an extremely irreligious person and used to spend his time committing all sorts of immoral deeds. The sages tried to bring him to the virtuous path but to no avail. They became furious and cursed Ven as the result of which he died. The sages then churned his dead body, which resulted into the manifestation of a mean caste called Mlechchha. They kept on churning his body and in the process, an extremely virtuous entity manifested from the right hand of Ven. He held various weapons like mace, bow and arrows in his hands. He was none other than Prithu--the embodiment of Lord Vishnu.

After being crowned as a king, Prithu was saddened to see the prevalence of immorality throughout the length and breadth of earth. The lack of virtuosity and religiousness among the inhabitants of earth made him extremely furious. He decided to destroy the earth. The earth became scared and fled in the guise of a cow. Prithu chased her wherever she went. At last, the cow halted at a place as she had got tired. To save her life, the cow agreed to fulfill all the desires of Prithu. Prithu then milked the cow, which later on got transformed into cereals. Similarly all the deities, ancestors and other human-beings milked the cow and received numerous invaluable things.

Prithu was a just king. Peace and prosperity prevailed during his reign. People were religious and free from any kind of sorrow. The earth is named after him as Prithvi.Sage Pulastya then went on to give a detailed description of Surya dynasty---Vivaswan (Surya) had three queens---Sangya, Ragyi and Prabha. Ragyi had a son named Raivat while Somgya was the mother of Vaivaswat--Manu, Yama and Yamuna. Once, Sangya being unable to bear the extreme radiance of Surya created a superficial entity from her body and instructed her to act as Surya's wife in her absence. The name of this superficial woman was chhaya, who had two sons and two daughters from Surya. The names of her sons were Saavarna--Manu and Shanaishchar, while the names of her daughters were Tapti and Vishti.

Shanaishchar became immortal as a planet while Yamuna and Tapti became rivers. Vaivaswat Manu had ten sons among whom 'Ila' was the eldest. After appointing Ila as his successor, Vaivaswat, manu went to do penance.Once, Ila transformed into a woman after tresspassing a forest where Lord Shiva and Parvati were enjoying privacy. It was Lord Shiva's curse that any male who ventured in to that forbidden forest would become a woman. Later on, Buddh became enchanted by Ila's beauty and married her.

Meanwhile, when Ila did not return to his kingdom, his brother Ikshvaku went in search of him. Ikshvaku reached the outskirts of the same forest but did not enter it. He managed to please Shiva by his devotion. When Lord Shiva appeared, Ikshvaku requested him to make Ila a man once again. Shiva told him that it was impossible but assured him by saying "If you perform an Ashwamedha yagya and donate all the virtue thus acquired to me, then your brother will be able to live as a man for one month. But, after one month he will again become a woman. Thus, his form will keep on changing every alternate months."

Meanwhile Ila gave birth to four sons among whom Utkal, Gaya and Haritashwa were prominent. This way, Ila became the source from which the lineage of chandra sprouted.Ikshvaku ruled over Madhya-desh. He had one hundred sons, all of whom ruled the territories situated north of Meru Mountain. Ikshvaku also had one hundred and fourteen more sons, who ruled over the areas situated south of Meru.Kakusttha was Ikshvaku's grand-son. Kakusttha had a son named Suyodhan. Some other prominent kings coming from this lineage were--Prithu, Vrihadashwa, Kuwalashva, Purukutsu, Dharmasetu, Muchukund, Tridhanva, Traidharun, Satyavrat and Satyarath.

The most truthful king Harishchandra was Satyarath's son and Rohit was his son. Famous kings like Raghu, Dilip Aja, Dirghabahu and Prajapati-Dasharath were the descendants of Ikshvaku. Dasharath had four sons among whom Sri Ram was the eldest and who had killed the demon king Ravana. Ram had two sons--Lav and Kush.

BASHKALI--THE DEMON KING

Bheeshma requested Sage Pulastya to reveal Why Lord Vishnu had to take incarnation as Vaman. Sage Pulastya replied--- Once, during Satyayuga, the demons had defeated the deities and driven them out from their abode--heaven. The mighty demon, Bashkali was their leader. He had become immortal an account of a boon received from Lord Brahma. Indra went to Lord Brahma and narrated the aweful tale of the deities. Lord Brahma assured him that Lord Vishnu would certainly help in this matter. Lord Brahma contemplated on Lord Vishnu who appeared in a very short time.

When, Lord Vishnu came to know about the deities's pitiable condition, he promised them that very soon Bashkali's wings would be clipped.

Lord Vishnu said---"Very soon, I will take incarnation as Vaman. Indra will have to come along with me and demand a piece of land measured by my three steps. I shall then reveal my giant form and send him to the patalloka after making him bereft of his kingdom. In course of time Lord Vishnu manifested as Vaman from Aditi's womb. His manifestation was simultaneously marked by various auspicious signs--the air became full of fragrance, the deities started rejoicing, the trees started shedding flowers on their own and all the desires of living beings were fulfilled.

Lord Vaman then went to Bashkali's palace accompanied by Indra. Both of them marvelled at the grandness of Bashkali's city, which was surrounded by a high boundary-wall.Bashkali was a very virtuous and benevolent king. He was truthful and well versed in all the scripture. His subject lived in prosperity and enjoyed a long life.When the demons saw Indra coming with a dwarf they informed Bashkali. Bashkali instructed the demons to bring both the guests with due respect.

Bashkali treated his guests with all honour and asked Indra about the reason for his sudden arrival. Indra praised Bashkali's benevolence and said---"The short brahmin accompanying me is desirous of a piece of land measured by his three steps." Bashkali was amused at this ridiculous demand and requested Vaman to ask for anything he wished. But, Vaman wanted nothing more than a small piece of land measured by his three steps.

Shukracharya-Bashkali's guru smelled something fishy and warned him, but he was not to listen. Bashkali then requested Vaman to go ahead and measure the land by his three steps.Suddenly, Lord Vaman transformed his physique into a giant size. His first step reached the Surya-loka and his second step touched the dhruva-loka. He hit the top of the universe with his third step as a result of which water poured down. The water got collected and came to be known as Vaishnavi river. But, the land had still not been measured and hence Lord Vaman reminded Bashkali of his vow and ultimately the helpless Bashkali surrendered to the will of Lord Vaman and sought his refuge. Lord Vaman blessed him and sent him to Patalloka.

SRI RAM KILLS SHAMBUK

After killing the demons king Ravan, Sri Ram returned to Ayodhya. Many sages had arrived there to bless him on the occasion of his crowning ceremony. Sage Vashishth was one of them.As Sri Ram was conversing with the sages a brahmin arrived there with the corpse of his son and wailed---"O son! Your death is certainly due to some flaw of Sri Ram. Now, your mother and I have decided to give up our lives as there is no point in living."

Sri Ram's heart was filled with grief and he asked Sage Vashishth as to how the brahmin could be helped. Sage Vashishth revealed to Sri Ram that the brahmin's son had died a premature death because of Shambuk. Vashishth said--"Shambuk is a Shudra by birth, but he is doing an austere penance. Shudras are not entitled to do penance in all the three yugas, except the Kaliyug. So, only his death can bring back the brahmin's son alive."

Sri Ram instructed both his younger brothers--Laxman and Bharat, to look after the state's affairs in his absence and went in search of Shambuk boarded on his Pushpak Viman.Sri Ram saw a man doing penance at the shore of a reservoir. He landed his Pushpak Viman and went near that man. He introduced himself and enquired about the man's identity--Sri Ram asked--Why are you doing such an austere penance. Who are you?

Without moving the man replied that he was a shudra named Shambuk. He said---- I am desirous of attaining to devaloka and hence I am doing this penance.Sri Ram took out his sword and severed Shambuk's head. All the deities hailed Sri Ram and the brahmin's child became alive once again.

 

MANIFESTATION OF GANESH & KARTIKEYA

Once, before taking her bath, goddess Parvati anointed unguent on her body and while removing it created a human form from the accumulated dross. The head of this human form resembled an elephant. Parvati then playfully immersed the human-form into river Ganga. But, to her sheer amazement the human form became alive and of enormous size. She accepted him as her son and he was none other than elephant-headed deity-Ganesh.

Once, Lord Shiva became so deeply fascinated by her consort. Parvati hat he did not come out from his palace for 1000 years. The deities became worried and sent Agni to find out the reason. Agni disguised himself as a parrot and entered the palace where Shiva was enjoying privacy with Parvati.

Meanwhile, Parvati went at the bank of a reservoir to quench her thirst. After reaching there she saw six divine women (matrikas) carrying water in the leaves of lotus flowers. As Parvati was thirsty, she requested them to give some water. The matrikas agreed on the condition that a son born to her (Parvati) should also have to be accepted as their son. Parvati gave her conscent. The matrikas gave Parvati water to drink.

Hardly had Parvati finished drinking water than a divine child emerged out from her womb. The child possessed various weapons like, trident, shakti and a noose in his hands. He was none other than Kartikeya.The deities appointed Kartikeya as the commander of their army. During that time, a mighty demon named Tarakasur used to torment the deities. Kartikeya killed that demon on the request of deities.

AN IDEAL BRAHMIN AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GAYATRI MANTRA

Describing about the qualities of an ideal brahmin, Sage Pulastya said--- Once, Narad had asked Lord Brahma as to who was worthy of receiving Vishnu's blessings. Lord Brahma had told Narad that Lord Vishnu showered his blessings on those who engaged themselves in the service of brahmins. A brahmin should be virtuous and well versed in all the scriptures. A brahmin who does not observe the rituals as mentioned in the Vedas, brings disgrace to his ancestors. An ideal brahmin is respectful towards his parents, teachers and treats his guests with due honour. He never aspires for women other than his wife and chants the sacred Gayatri mantra everyday.

Goddess Gayatri is said to have manifested in the lineage of Sankhyayan. She is of fair complexion and fire is the symbolical expression of her mouth. Lord Brahma dwells on her forehead, Lord Vishnu in her heart and Lord Rudra has his abode in her braided hair. The Gayatri mantra consists of 24 letters and each of them is related with a specific deity. There is a mention of Gayatri mantra, which consists of 18 letters. It begins with the word 'agni' and ends with 'swaha'.
The mantra is as follows---OM AGNERVAKPUNSI YAJURDEDIN JUSHTA SOMAM PIBA SWAHA.

A person, who chants the mantra for 100 times, becomes liberated from gravest of sin. The various deities related with the twenty-four letters of Gayatri Mantra are as under-

                           Deity

  • 1st letter ---- Agni
  • 2nd letter ---- Vayu
  • 3rd letter ---- Surya
  • 4th letter ---- Aakash
  • 5th letter ---- Yamraj
  • 6th letter ---- Varun
  • 7th letter ---- Vrihaspati
  • 8th letter ---- Parjanya
  • 9th letter ---- Indra
  • 10th letter ---- Gandharva
  • 11th letter ---- Poosha
  • 12th letter ---- Mitra
  • 13th letter ---- Twashta
  • 14th letter ---- Vasu
  • 15th letter ---- Marudganas
  • 16th letter ---- Soma
  • 17th letter ---- Angira
  • 18th letter ---- Vishwadeva
  • 19th letter ---- Ashwini kumar
  • 20th letter ---- Prajapati
  • 21st letter ---- All the deities
  • 22nd letter ---- Rudra
  • 23rd letter ---- Brahma
  • 24th letter ---- Vishnu

A devotee should then perform the ritual of 'nyas' by mentally establishing different words of the Gayatri mantra in the various parts of his body as given below --

  • OM BHUH --- in the heart,
  • OM BHUVAH --- in the head,
  • OM SWAH --- in the top-knot (Shikha),
  • OM TATSAVITURVARENYAM --- in the whole body,
  • OM BHARGODEVASYA DHIMAHI --- in both the eyes
  • OM DHIYO YO NAH PRACHODAYAT --- in both the hands.

Regular chanting of Gayatri mantra bestowes similar virtues attained by the study of all the four vedas. A brahmin who does not know Gayatri mantra is considered to be worse than a shudra. Anybody who chants Gayatri mantra attains salvation.

BRAHMIN'S LIVELIHOOD

Describing how a brahmin should earn his livelihood, Lord Brahma said to Narad--Alms, which a brahmin gets without making any demand for it, is called Vritta. 'Unchhavritti' is even better than Vritti and it means collecting foodgrain which are scattered in places like fields, granary, market-place etc. A brahmin should accept the dakshina that his host gives him after the completion of yagya-ceremony. He should engage himself in educational activities. He can also earn his livelihood by engaging himself in other auspicious activities.

If the circumstances do not permit a brahmin to earn his livelihood by any of the above mentioned means, then he may opt for the occupation of a kshatriya. In such a case, he should endeavor to have mastery both over the vedas as well as different weaponary. Battle should be his last option. When the very existence of religiousness is at stake, he should wage a war against irreligious people and to protect the religion.

In an emergency situation, a brahmin can also choose the occupation of aVaishya and earn his livelihood by doing business or agriculture. But, while earning his livelihood by doing agriculture, he should in no circumstances abandon his own duties (duties of a brahmin). He should be honest while doing business and never try to exploit the customers.
 

NAROTTAM---THE BRAHMIN

Describing about the importance of five virtuous deeds, Pulastya said to Bheeshma---"The five supreme virtuous deeds are--obedience to parents, faithfulness towards husband, equanimity, not having enmity towards friends and devotion towards Lord Vishnu. By pleasing his father, one pleases all the deities. Mother is superior even to all the places of pilgrimage combined together.

Pulastya then narrated the same tale to Bheeshma, which lord Brahma had once told some prominent sages ---

Once, there lived a famous Brahmin called Narottam. He had acquired divine powers on account of his austere penance but unfortunately he never treated his parents with respect.After taking his daily bath, Narottam hanged his wet clothes in the open sky without any support and they used to dry without falling down on the earth. This special power had made him very arrogant.One day, a crane flying in the sky passed dung on his face, which made him very furious. Narottam cursed the crane as the result of which it was burnt to death. His special power vanished due to the sin acquired by killing an innocent bird. Now, no longer his clothes remained in suspended position in the sky.

Narottam became very sad. Suddenly he heard a heavenly voice instructing him to see a 'chandala' named Mook. "His discourses would be beneficial for you."- Said the heavenly voice. Narottam went in search of Mook--the chandal and found him in the servitude of his parents. Mook was a great devotee of his parents and his total devotion towards his parents had blessed him with an extraordinary power-his house used to hang in the air without any support.Narottam was deeply amazed at this wonderful sight. He wanted to know how Mook had acquired such divine powers. But, Mook requested him to wait, which made Narottam very angry. Mook then told Narottam---"I can talk to you only after attending to my parents. I am not that crane which was charred to death by your curse. If you don't have time then go and meet that 'faithful-wife. She will answer your questions."

Narottam did not know where that faithful wife lived, so he stood there wondering what to do next. Suddenly Lord Vishnu emerged from Mook's house disguised as a brahmin. He took Narottam to the 'faithful-wife's house. All along the way Lord Vishnu preached Narottam on the qualities of a chaste woman. As both of them were about to reach that chaste woman's house, lord Vishnu disappeared, leaving Narottam all alone.

Narottam requested the woman to enlighten him on the finer points of virtuosity. But, the woman was busy attending her husband and requested him to wait. Narottam threatened to curse her, to which the woman replied---I am not that crane whom you had cursed. If you are in a hurry then you can go and meet 'Dharm--Tulaadhar'. He is an honest businessman and is capable of answering your queries."

Lord Vishnu once again appeared from that woman's house disguised as a brahmin. Narottam asked him as to how were both Mook and faithful-wife aware of the incident in which the crane was charred to death. Lord Vishnu told him that both of them had acquired this special power by the virtue of their respective religiousness.

Lord Vishnu and Narottam proceeded towards the place where Dharmtuladhar did his business transactions. As they were about to reach the place, Lord Vishnu disappeared once again, leaving Narottam all alone.Narottam saw Dharmtuladhar busy in his dealings with total honesty. He requested him to reveal as to what made the wet clothes to hang in the air without any support. Dharmtuladhar requested him to wait but Narottam was in a hurry to get answer to his questions. Dharmtuladhar told Narottam--Please wait for sometime, as I am busy doing my business transactions. If you don't have time then you can go and meet Adrohak, who is fully capable of giving answer to your questions. Lord Vishnu once again accompanied him disguised as a brahmin.

When both of them were about to reach the place where Adrohak used to live, lord Vishnu disappeared and Narottam was left all by himself, once again. Narottam requested Adrohak to preach on the essence of religiousness. Adrohak was a man of impeccable conduct and had full control over the sensual urges. He advised Narottam to meet the supreme devotee of Lord Vishnu, who lived nearby. Adrohak said-- You would get answers to all your questions. He will reveal to you the reason that made wet clothes to hang in air without any support.Narottam then proceeded towards the place where the supreme devotee of Lord Vishnu lived. Lord Vishnu once again accompanied him in the guise of a brahmin.After reaching there, Narottam expressed his desire of seeing Lord Vishnu. The supreme devotee took him to a temple situated inside the house-premise.

Narottam was amazed to see the same brahmin, who had been accompanying him all along the way, siting on a lotus flower. He realized that the brahmin was lord Vishnu himself. Lord Vishnu blessed him and said---Be respectful towards your parents, if you want to attain to my abode. I dwell in the houses of people who are virtuous, truthful, possessed equanimity and who have full control over their passion. This is why you found me present at the homes of chandal, Tuladhar & Adrohak.

Narottam realized his mistake and decided to be in the servitude of his parents for the rest of his life.