The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'O foremost one of Bharata's race, do thou relate to me all the duties of the household mode and tell me all that a man should do in order to attain to prosperity in this world.'
"Bhishma said, 'O Bharata, I shall, in this connection, recite to thee the old story of Vasudeva and the goddess Earth, The puissant Vasudeva. O excellent prince of Bharata's race, after hymning the praises of the goddess Earth, questioned her about this very topic that thou hast enquired about.'
"Vasudeva said, 'Having adopted the state of a householder, what acts should I, or one like me, perform and how are such acts to fructify in good?'"
"The goddess Earth said, 'O Madhava, the Rishis, the deities, the Pitris, and men should be worshipped, and sacrifices should be performed, by a householder. Do thou also learn this from me that the deities are always pleased with sacrifices, and men are gratified with hospitality. Therefore, the householder should gratify them with such objects as they desire. By such acts, O slayer of Madhu, the Rishis also are gratified. The householder, abstaining from food, should daily attend to his sacred fire and to his sacrificial offerings. The deities, O slayer of Madhu, are gratified with such acts. The householder should daily offer oblations of food and water, or of fruits, roots and water, for the gratification of the Pitris, and the Vaiswadeva offering should be performed with rice boiled, and oblations of clarified butter unto Agni, Soma, and Dhanwantari. He should offer separate and distinct oblations unto Prajapati. He should make sacrificial offerings in due order; to Yama in the Southern region, to Varuna in Western region, to Soma in the Northern region, to Prajapati within the homestead, to Dhanwantari in the North-eastern region, and to Indra in the Eastern region. He should offer food to men at the entrance of his house. These, O Madhava, are known as the Vali offerings. The Vali should be offered to the Maruts and the deities in the interior of one's house. To the Viswedevas it should be offered in open air, and to the Rakshasas and spirits the offerings should be made at night. After making these offerings, the householder should make offerings unto Brahmanas, and if no Brahmana be present, the first portion of the food should be thrown into the fire. When a man desires to offer Sraddha to his ancestors, he should, when the Sraddha ceremony is concluded, gratify his ancestors and then make the Vali offerings in due order. He should then make offerings unto the Viswedevas. He should next invite Brahmanas and then properly regale guests arrived at his house, with food. By this act, O prince, are guests gratified. He who does not stay in the house long, or, having come, goes away after a short time, is called a guest. To his preceptor, to his father, to his friend and to a guest, a householder should say, 'I have got this in my house to offer thee today!' And he should offer it accordingly every day. The householder should do whatever
they would ask him to do. This is the established usage. The householder, O Krishna, should take his food last of all after having offered food to all of them. The householder should worship, with offerings of Madhuparka his king, his priest, his preceptor, and his father-in-law as also Snataka Brahmanas even if they were to stay in his house for a whole year. In the morning as well as in the evening, food should be offered on the ground to dogs, Swapachas, 1 and birds. This is called the Vaiswadeva offering. The householder, who performs these ceremonies with a mind unclouded by passion, obtains the blessings of the Rishis in this world, and after death attains to the heavenly regions.'"
"Bhishma continued, "The puissant Vasudeva, having listened to all this from the goddess Earth, acted accordingly. Do thou also act in the same way. By performing these duties of a householder, O king, thou shalt acquire fame in this world and attain to heaven after death!'"
175:1 Literally, they who cook for dogs, i.e., keep dogs a, companions; meaning members of the lowest caste.
Next: Section XCVIII