The Mahabharata Home
Vaisampayana said, "On one occasion, while residing in the retreat of Nara and Narayana, Narada the son of Pramesthi, having duly accomplished the rites and observances in honour of the deities, set himself to perform thereafter the rites in honour of the Pitris. Beholding him thus prepared, the eldest son of Dharma, viz., the puissant Nara addressed him, saying, 'Whom art thou worshipping, O foremost of regenerate persons, by these rites and observances in connection with the deities and the Pitris? O foremost of all persons endued with intelligence, tell me this, agreeably to the scriptures. What is this that thou art doing? What also are the fruits desired by thee of those rites thou hast addrest thyself in performing?'
"Narada said, "Thou saidst unto me on a former occasion that rites and observances in honour of the deities should be accomplished. Thou saidst that the rites in honour of the deities constitute the highest sacrifice and are equivalent to the worship of the eternal Supreme Soul. Instructed
by that teaching, I always sacrifice in honour of the eternal and immutable Vishnu, through these rites that I perform in worshipping the deities. It is from that Supreme Deity that Brahma, the Grandsire of all the worlds, took his rise in days of yore. That Brahma, otherwise called Prameshthi, filled with cheerfulness, caused my sire (Daksha) to start into being. I was the son of Brahma, created before all others, by a fiat of his will (although I had to take birth afterwards as the son of Daksha through a curse of that Rishi). O righteous and illustrious one, I am per-forming these rites in honour of the Pitris for the sake of Narayana, and agreeable to those ordinances that have been laid down by himself. The illustrious Narayana is the father, mother, and grandfather (of all creatures). In all sacrifices performed in honour of the Pitris, it is that Lord of the universe who is adored and worshipped. On one occasion, the deities, who were sires, taught their children the Srutis. Having lost their knowledge of the Srutis, the sires had to acquire it again from those sons unto whom they had communicated it. In consequence of this incident, the sons, who had thus to communicate the Mantras unto their sires, acquired the status of sires (and the sire, for having obtained the Mantras from their sons, acquired the status of sons). 1 Without doubt, what the deities did on that occasion is well known to you two. Sons and sires (on that occasion) had thus to worship each other. Having first spread some blades of Kusa grass, the deities and the Pitris (who were their children) placed three Pindas thereon and in this way worshipped each other. I wish to know, however, the reason why the Pitris in days of yore acquired the name of Pindas.'
"Nara and Narayana said, 'The Earth, in days of yore, with her belt of seas, disappeared from the view. Govinda, assuming the form of a gigantic boar, raised her up (with his mighty tusk), Having replaced the Earth in her former position, that foremost of Purushas, his body smeared with water and mud, set himself to do what was necessary for the world and its denizens. When the sun reached the meridian, and the hour, therefore, came for saying the morning prayers, the puissant Lord, suddenly shaking off three balls of mud from his tusk, placed them upon the Earth, O Narada, having previously spread thereon certain blades of grass. The puissant Vishnu dedicated those balls of mud unto his own self, according to the rites laid down in the eternal ordinance. Regarding the three balls of mud that the puissant Lord had shaken off from his tusks as Pindas, he then, with sesame seeds of oily kernel that arose from the heat of his
own body, himself performed the rite of dedication, sitting with face turned towards the East. That foremost of deities then, impelled by the desire of establishing rules of conduct for the denizens of the three worlds, said these words:
"Vrishakapi said, I ant the Creator of the worlds. I am resolved to create those that are to be called Pitris.--Saying these words, he began to think of those high ordinances that should regulate the rites to be gone through in honour of the Pitris. While thus engaged, he saw that the three balls of mud, shaken off his tusk, had fallen towards the South. He then said unto himself,--These balls, shaken off my tusk, have fallen on the Earth towards the southern direction of her surface. Led by this, I declare that these should be known henceforth by the name of Pitris. Let these three that are of no particular shape, and that are only round, come to be regarded as Pitris in the world. Even thus do I create the eternal Pitris. I am the father, the grandfather, and the great grandfather, and I should be regarded as residing in these three Pindas. There is no one that is superior to me. Who is there whom I myself may worship or adore with rites? Who, again, is my sire in the universe? I myself am my grandfather. I am, indeed, the Grandsire and the Sire. I am the one cause (of all the universe).--Having said these words, that God of gods, Vrishakapi by name, offered those Pindas, O learned Brahmana, on the breast of the Varaha mountains, with elaborate rites. By those rites He worshipped His own self, and having finished the worship, disappeared there and then. Hence have the Pitris come to be called by the name of Pinda. Even this is the foundation of the designation. Agreeably to the words uttered by Vrishakapi on that occasion, the Pitris receive the worship offered by all. They who perform sacrifices in honour of and adore the Pitris, the deities, the preceptor or other reverend senior guests arrived at the house, kine, superior Brahmanas, the goddess Earth, and their mothers, in thought, word, and deed, are said to adore and sacrifice unto Vishnu himself. Pervading the bodies of all existent creatures, the illustrious Lord is the Soul of all things. Unmoved by happiness or misery, His attitude towards all is equal. Endued with greatness, and of great soul, Narayana has been said to be the soul of all things in the universe.'"
177:1 The story is that once on a time the deities, on the eve of going out on a campaign against the Asuras, communicated the Vedas unto their children, Agnishatta and others. In consequence, however, of the length of time for which they were occupied on the field, they forgot their Vedas. Returning to heaven, they had actually to re-acquire them from their own children and disciples. The Scriptures declare that the preceptor is ever the sire, and the disciple is the son. Difference of age would not disturb the relationship. A youth of sixteen might thus be the father of an octogenarian. With Brahmanas, reverence is due to knowledge, not age.
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