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"Yudhishthira said, 'I have heard the discourse regarding the ordinance about the gift of food. Do thou discourse to me now about the conjunction of the planets and the stars in relation to the subject of making gifts. 1
"Bhishma said, 'In this connection is recited this ancient narrative of the discourse between Devaki and Narada, that foremost of Rishis. Once on a time when Narada of godlike feature and conversant with every duty
arrived at Dwaraka, Devaki asked him this question. Unto her that had asked him, the celestial Rishi Narada duly answered in the following words. Do thou hear as I recite them.'
"Narada said, 'By gratifying, O blessed lady, deserving Brahmanas with Payasa mixed with ghee, under the constellation Krittika one attains to regions of great happiness. 1 Under the constellation Rohini, one should for freeing oneself from the debt one owes to the Brahmanas make gift unto them of many handfuls of venison along with rice and ghee and milk, and other kinds of edibles and drinks. One giving away a cow with a calf under the constellation called Somadaivata (or Mrigasiras), proceeds from this region of human beings to a region in heaven of great felicity. One undergoing a fast and giving away Krisara mixed with sesame, transcends all difficulties in the next world, including those mountains with rocks sharp as razors. By making gifts, O beautiful lady, of cakes and other food under the constellation Punarvasu one becomes possessed of personal beauty and great fame and takes birth in one's next life in a family in which there is abundance of food. Making a gift of wrought or unwrought gold, under the constellation Pushya, one shines in effulgence like Soma himself in regions of surrounding gloom. He who makes a gift, under the constellation Aslesha, of silver of a bull, becomes freed from every fear and attains to great affluence and prosperity. By making a gift, under the constellation Magha, of earthen dishes filled with sesame, one becomes possessed of children and animals in this world and attains to felicity in the next. 2 For making gifts unto Brahmanas, under the constellation called Purva-Phalguni of food mixed with Phanita the giver observing a fast the while, reward is great prosperity both here and hereafter. 3 By making a gift, under the constellation called Uttara-Phalguni, of ghee and milk with rice called Shashthika, one attains to great honours in heaven. Whatever gifts are made by men under the constellation of Uttara-Phalguni produce great merit, which, again, becomes inexhaustible. This is very certain. Observing a fast the while, the person that makes, under the constellation Hasta, a gift of a car with four elephants, attains to regions of great felicity that are capable of granting the fruition of every wish. By making a gift, under the constellation Chitra, of a bull and of good perfumes, one sports in bliss in regions of Apsaras like the deities sporting in the woods of Nandana. By making gifts of wealth under the constellation Swati, one attains to such excellent regions as one desires and wins besides great fame. By making gifts, under constellation Visakha, of a bull, and a cow that yields a copious measure of milk, a cart full of paddy, with a Prasanga for covering the same, and also cloths for wear, 4 a person gratifies the Pitris and the deities attains to inexhaustible merit in the other world. Such a person
never meets with any calamity and gratifies the Pitris and the deities and attains to inexhaustible merit in the other world. Such a person never meets with any calamity and certainly reaches heaven. By making gifts unto the Brahmanas of whatever articles they solicit, one attains to such means of subsistence as one desires, and becomes rescued from hell and every calamity that visits a sinner after death. This is the certain conclusion of the scriptures. By making gifts, under the constellation Anuradha of embroidered cloth and other vestments and of food, observing a fast the while, one becomes honoured in heaven for a hundred Yugas. By making a gift under the constellation Jyeshtha, of the potherb called Kalasaka with the roots, one attains to great prosperity as also to such an end as is desirable. By making unto Brahmanas a gift under the constellation Mula, of fruits and roots, with a restrained soul, one gratifies the Pitris and attains to a desirable end. By making under the constellation Purvashadha, a gift, unto a Brahmana conversant with the Vedas and of good family and conduct, of cups filled with curds, while one is in the observance of a fast, one takes birth in one's next life in a family possessed of abundant kine. One obtains the fruition of every wish, by making gifts, under the constellation Uttarashadha, of jugs full of barley-water, with ghee and inspissated juice of sugarcane in abundance. By making a gift under the conjunction called Abhijit, of milk with honey and ghee unto men of wisdom, a righteous person attains to heaven and becomes an object of attention and honour there. By making under the conjunction Sravana, a gift of blankets or other cloth of thick texture, one roves freely through every region of felicity, riding on a white car of pure resplendence. By making with a restrained soul, under the constellation Dhanishtha, a gift of a vehicle with bulls yoked thereto, or heaps of cloths and wealth, one at once attains to heaven in one's next life. By making gifts, under the constellation Satabhisha, of perfumes with Aquilaria Agallocha and sandalwood, one attains in the next world to the companionship of Apsaras as also eternal perfumes of diverse kinds. By making gifts, under the constellation Purva-Bhadrapada, or Rajamasha, one attains to great happiness in the next life and becomes possessed of an abundant stock of every kind of edibles and fruits. 1 One who makes, under the constellation Uttara, a gift of mutton, gratifies the Paris by such an act attains to inexhaustible merit in the next world. Unto one who makes a gift, under the constellation Revati, of a cow with a vessel of white copper for milking her, the cow so given away approaches in the next world, ready to grant the fruition of every wish. By making a gift, under the constellation Aswini, of a car with steeds yoked thereto, one is born in one's next life in a family possessed of numerous elephants and steeds and cars, and becomes endued with great energy. By making, under the constellation Bharani, a gift unto the Brahmanas of kine and sesame, one acquires in one's next life great fame and an abundance of kine.'
"Bhishma continued, 'Even thus did Narada discourse unto Devaki upon the subject of what gifts should be made under what constellations. Devaki herself, having listened to this discourse, recited it in her turn unto her daughters-in-law (viz., the spouses of Krishna).'"
76:1 What Yudhishthira wishes to know is what conjunctions should be utilized for making what particular gifts.
77:1 Payasa is rice boiled in sugared milk. It is a sort of liquid food that is regarded as very agreeable.
77:2 Vardhamana, Sarava or Saravika. It is a flat certain cup or dish.
77:3 Phanita is the inspissated juice of the sugarcane.
77:4 A prasanga is a basket of bamboo or other material for covering paddy.
78:1 Rajamasha is a kind of bean. It is the Vinga sinensis, syn. Dilicheos sinensis Linn.
Next: Section LXV