The Mahabharata Home
"Bhishma said, 'Then all the highly blessed deities and the Pitris, and the highly blessed Rishis also, addressing the Pramathas, said, 1 'Ye are all highly blessed beings. Ye are invisible wanderers of the night. Why do you afflict those men that are vile and impure and that are unclean? What acts are regarded as impediments to your power? What, indeed, are those acts in consequence of which ye become incompetent to afflict men? What are those acts that are destructive of Rakshasas and that prevent you from asserting your power over the habitations of men? Ye wanderers of the night, we desire to hear all this from you.'
"The Pramathas said, 'Men are rendered unclean by acts of sexual congress. They who do not purify themselves after such acts, they who insult their superiors, they who from stupefaction eat different kinds of meat, the man also who sleeps at the foot of a tree, he who keeps any animal matter under his pillow while lying down for sleep, and he who lies down or sleeps placing the head where his feet should be placed or his feet where the head should be placed,--these men are regarded by us as unclean. Verily, these men have many holes. Those also are numbered in the same class who throw their phlegm and other unclean secretions into the water. Without doubt these men deserve to be slain and eaten up by us. Verily, we afflict those human beings who are given to such conduct. Listen now to what those acts are which are regarded as antidotes and in consequence of which we fail to do any injury to men. Those men upon whose persons occur streaks of Gorochana, or who hold Vachas in their hands, or who make gifts of ghee with those ingredients that go by the name of Akshata, or who place ghee and Akshata on their heads, or those who abstain from meat are incapable of being afflicted by us. That man in whose house the sacred fire burns day and night without being ever put out, or who keeps the skin or teeth of a wolf in his abode or a hill-tortoise, or from whose habitation the sacrificial smoke is seen to curl upwards, or who keeps a cat or a goat that is either tawny or black in hue, is free from our power. Verily, those householders who keep
these things in their houses always find them free from the inroads of even the fiercest spirits that live on carrion. Those beings also, that like us range through different worlds in pursuit of pleasure, are unable to do any injury to such houses. Hence, ye deities, should men keep such articles in their houses,--articles that are destructive of Rakshasas (and other beings of the kind). We have thus told you everything about that respecting which ye had great doubts.'"
273:1 Pramathas are the ghostly companions of Mahadeva. Literally, the name implies smiters.
Next: Section CXXXII