Viṣṇu Purāṇa | Book 3 - Chapter 11
Of the Sadāchāras, or perpetual obligations of a householder. Daily purifications, ablutions, libations, and oblations: hospitality: funeral rites: ceremonies to be observed at meals, at morning and evening worship, and before going to rest.
SĀGARA again said to Aurva: "Relate to me, Muni, the fixed observances of the householder, by attending to which he will never be rejected from this world or the next."
Aurva replied to him thus:
"Listen, prince, to an account of those perpetual observances, by adhering to which both worlds are subdued:
Those who are called Sādhus (saints) are they who are free from all defects; and the term Sat means the same, or Sādhu: those practices or observances (Āchāras) which they follow are therefore called Sadāchāras - the institutions or observances of the pious.'
The seven Ṛṣis, the Manus, the patriarchs, are they who have enjoined and who have practised these observances.
Let the wise man awake in the Muhūrta of Brahmā (or in the third Muhūrta, about two hours before sunrise), and with a composed mind meditate on two of the objects of life (virtue and wealth), and on topics not incompatible with them.
Let him also think upon desire, as not conflicting with the other two; and thus contemplate with equal indifference the three ends of life, for the purpose of counter- acting the unseen consequences of good or evil acts.
Let him avoid wealth and desire, if they give uneasiness to virtue; and abstain from virtuous or religious acts, if they involve misery, or are censured by the world.
Having risen, he must offer adoration to the sun; and then, in the south-east quarter, at the distance of a bowshot or more, or anywhere remote from the village, void the impurities of nature.
The water that remains after washing his feet he must throw away into the courtyard of the house.
A wise man will never void urine on his own shadow, nor on the shadow of a tree, nor on a cow, nor against the sun, nor on fire, nor against the wind, nor on his Guru, nor men of the three first castes;
nor will he pass either excrement in a ploughed field, or pasturage, or in the company of men, or on a high road, or in rivers and the like, which are holy, or on the bank of a stream, or in a place where bodies are burnt; or anywhere quickly.
By day let him void them with his face to the north, and by night with his face to the south, when he is not in trouble.
Let him perform these actions in silence, and without delay; covering his head with a cloth, and the ground with grass.
Let him not take, for the purposes of cleanliness, earth from an ant-hill, nor a rat-hole, nor from water, nor from the residue of what has been so used, nor soil that has been employed to plaster a cottage, nor such as has been thrown up by insects, or turned over by the plough. - All such kinds of earth let him avoid, as means of purification.
One handful is sufficient after voiding urine; three after passing ordure: then ten handfuls are to be rubbed over the left hand, and seven over both hands.
Let him then rinse his mouth with water that is pure, neither fetid, nor frothy, nor full of bubbles; and again use earth to cleanse his feet, washing them well with water.
He is to drink water than three times, and twice wash his face with it; and next touch with it his head, the cavities of the eyes, ears, and nostrils, the forehead, the navel, and the heart.
Having finally washed his mouth, a man is to clean and dress his hair, and to decorate his person, before a glass, with unguents, garlands, and perfumes.
He is then, according to the custom of his caste, to acquire wealth, for the sake of subsistence; and with a lively faith worship the gods.
Sacrifices with the acid juice, those with clarified butter, and those with offerings of food, are comprehended in wealth: wherefore let men exert themselves to acquire wealth for these purposes.
"As preparatory to all established rites of devotion the householder should bathe in the water of a river, a pond, a natural channel, or a mountain torrent;
or he may bathe upon dry ground, with water drawn from a well, or taken from a, river, or other source, where there is any objection to bathing on the spot.
When bathed, and clad in clean clothes, let him devoutly offer libations to the gods, sages, and progenitors, with the parts of the hand severally sacred to each.
He must scatter water thrice, to gratify the gods; as many times, to please the Ṛṣis; and once, to propitiate Prajāpati: he must also make three libations, to satisfy the progenitors.
He must then present, with the part of the hand sacred to the manes, water to his paternal grandfather and great-grandfather, to his maternal grandfather, great-grandfather, and his father;
and at pleasure to his own mother and his mother's mother and grandmother, to the wife of his preceptor, to his preceptor, his maternal uncle, and other relations, to a dear friend, and to the king.
Let him also, after libations have been made to the gods and the rest, present others at pleasure for the benefit of all beings, reciting inaudibly this prayer:
'May the gods, demons, Yakṣas, serpents, Rākṣasas, Gandharvas, Piśāchas, Guhyakas, Siddhas, Kushmāṇḍas, trees, birds, fish, all that people the waters, or the earth, or the air, be propitiated by the water I have presented to them. This water is given by me for the alleviation of the pains of all those who are suffering in the realms of hell.
May all those who are my kindred, and not my kindred, and who were my relations in a former life, all who desire libations from me, receive satisfaction from this water.
May this water and sesame, presented by me, relieve the hunger and thirst of all who are suffering from those inflictions, wherever they may be.'
Presentations of water, given in the manner, oh king, which I have described, yield gratification to all the world:
and the sinless man, who in the sincerity of faith pours out these voluntary libations, obtains the merit that results from affording nutriment to all creatures.
"Having then rinsed his mouth, he is to offer water to the sun, touching his forehead with his hands joined, and with this prayer:
'Salutation to Vivaswat, the radiant, the glory of Viṣṇu; to the pure illuminator of the world; to Sāvitrī, the granter of the fruit of acts.'
He is then to perform the worship of the house, presenting to his tutelary deity water, flowers, and incense. He is next to offer oblations with fire, not preceded by any other rite, to Brahmā.
Having invoked Prajāpati, let him pour oblations reverently to his household gods, to Kāśyapa and to Anumati, in succession.
The residue of the oblation let him offer to the earth, to water, and to rain, in a pitcher at hand; and to Dhātri and Vidhātri at the doors of his house, and in the middle of it to Brahmā.
Let the wise man also offer the Bali, consisting of the residue of the oblations, to Indra, Yama, Varuṇa, and Soma, at the four cardinal points of his dwelling, the east and the rest; and in the north-east quarter he will present it to Dhanvantarī.
After having thus worshipped the domestic deities, he will next offer part of the residue to all the gods (the Viśvadevas); then, in the north-west quarter, to Vāyu (wind);
then in all directions, to the points of the horizon, to Brahmā, to the atmosphere, and to the sun; to all the gods, to all beings, to the lords of beings, to the Pitris, to twilight.
Then taking other rice, let the householder at pleasure cast it upon a clean spot of ground, as an offering to all beings, repeating with collected mind this prayer:
'May gods, men, animals, birds, saints, Yakṣas, serpents, demons, ghosts, goblins, trees, all that desire food given by me; may ants, worms, moths, and other insects, hungered and bound in the bonds of acts; may all obtain satisfaction from the food left them by me, and enjoy happiness.
May they who have neither mother, nor father, nor relations, nor food, nor the means of preparing it, be satisfied and pleased with the food presented for their contentment.
Inasmuch as all beings, and this food, and I, and Viṣṇu are not different, I therefore give for their sustenance the food that is one with the body of all creatures.
May all beings, that are comprehended in the fourteen orders of existent things, be satisfied with the food bestowed by me for their gratification, and be delighted.'
Having uttered this prayer, let the devout believer cast the food upon the ground, for the nourishment of all kinds of beings; for the householder is thence the supporter of them all. Let him scatter food upon the ground for dogs, outcasts, birds, and all fallen and degraded persons.
"The householder is then to remain at eventide in his courtyard as long as it takes to milk a cow, or longer if he pleases, to await the arrival of a guest:
Should such a one arrive, he is to be received with a hospitable welcome; a seat is to be offered to him, and his feet are to be washed, and food is to be given him with liberality, and he is to be civilly and kindly spoken to; and when he departs, to be sent away by his host with friendly wishes.
A householder should ever pay attention to a guest who is not an inhabitant of the same village, but who comes from another place, and whose name and lineage are unknown.
He who feeds himself, and neglects the poor and friendless stranger in want of hospitality, goes to hell. Let a householder who has knowledge of Brahmā reverence a guest, without inquiring his studies, his school, his practices, or his race.
"A householder should also at the perpetual Śrāddha entertain another Brahman, who is of his own country, whose family and observances are known, and who performs the five sacramental rites.
He is likewise to present to a Brahman learned in the Vedas four handfuls of food, set apart with the exclamation Hanta; and he is to give to a mendicant religious student three handfuls of rice, or according to his pleasure when he has ample means.
These, with the addition of the mendicant before described, are to be considered as guests; and he who treats these four descriptions of persons with hospitality acquits himself of the debt due to his fellow men.
The guest who departs disappointed from any house, and proceeds elsewhere, transfers his sins to the owner of that mansion, and takes away with him such a householder's merits.
Brahmā, Prajāpati, Indra, fire, the Vāsus, the Sun, are present in the person of a guest, and partake of the food that is given to him.
Let a man therefore be assiduous in discharging the duties of hospitality; for he who eats his food without bestowing any upon a guest feeds only upon iniquity.
"In the next place the householder must provide food for a married damsel, remaining in her father's dwelling; for anyone who is ill; for a pregnant woman; for the aged and the infants of his house; and then he may eat himself.
He who eats whilst these are yet unfed is guilty of sin in this life, and when he dies is condemned in hell to feed upon phlegm.
So he who eats without performing ablutions is fed in hell with filth; and he who repeats not his prayers, with matter and blood: he who eats unconsecrated food, with urine; and he who eats before the children and the rest are fed is stuffed in Tartarus with ordure.
Hear therefore, oh king of kings, how a householder should feed, so that in eating no sin may be incurred, that invariable health and increased vigour may be secured, and all evils and hostile machinations may be averted:
Let the householder, having bathed, and offered libations to the gods and manes, and decorated his hand with jewels, proceed to take his meal,
after having repeated the introductory prayers, and offered oblations with fire, and having given food to guests, to Brahmans, to his elders, and to his family.
He must not eat with a single garment on, nor with wet hands and feet, but dressed in clean clothes, perfumed, and wearing garlands of flowers: he must not eat with his face to any intermediate point of the horizon, but fronting the east or the north:
and thus, with a smiling countenance, happy and attentive, let him partake of food, of good quality, wholesome, boiled with clean water, procured from no vile person nor by improper means, nor improperly cooked.
Having given a portion to his hungry companions let him take his food without reproach out of a clean handsome vessel, which must not be placed upon a low stool or bed.
He must not eat in an unfit place or out of season, nor in an incommodious attitude; nor must he first cast any of his meal into the fire.
Let his food be made holy with suitable texts; let it be good of its kind; and it must not be stale, except in the case of fruit or meat; nor must it be of dry vegetable substances, other than jujubes or preparations of molasses;
but never must a man eat of that of which the juices have been extracted. Nor must a man eat so as to leave no residue of his meal, except in the case of flour, cakes, honey, water, curds, and butter.
Let him, with an attentive mind, first taste that which has a sweet flavour: he may take salt and sour things in the middle course, and finish with those which are pungent and bitter.
The man who commences his meal with fluids, then partakes of solid food, and finishes with fluids again, will ever be strong and healthy.
In this manner let him feed without fault, silent, and contented with his food; taking, without uttering a word, to the extent of five handfuls, for the nutriment of the vital principle.
Having eaten sufficiently, the householder is then to rinse his mouth, with his face turned towards the east or the north; and having again sipped water, he is to wash his hands from the wrist downwards.
With a pleased and tranquil spirit he is then to take a seat, and call to memory his tutelary deity; and then he is thus to pray:
'May fire, excited by air, convert this food into the earthly elements of this frame, and in the space afforded by the ethereal atmosphere cause it to digest, and yield me satisfaction!
May this food, in its assimilation, contribute to the vigour of the earth, water, fire, and air of my body, and afford unmixed gratification!
May Agasti, Agni, and digestive fire effect the digestion of the food of which I have eaten; may they grant me the happiness which its conversion into nutriment engenders; and may health ever animate my form!
May Viṣṇu, who is the chief principle of all invested with bodily structure and the organs of sense, be propitiated by my faith in him, and influence the assimilation of the invigorating food which I have eaten!
For verily Viṣṇu is the eater and the food and the nutriment: and through this belief may that which I have eaten be digested.'
"Having repeated this prayer, the householder should rub his stomach with his hand, and without indolence perform such rites as confer repose, passing the day in such amusements as are authorized by holy writings, and are not incompatible with the practices of the righteous; until the Sandhyā, when he must engage in pious meditation.
At the Sandhyā, at the close of the day he must perform the usual rites before the sun has quite set; and in the morning he must perform them before the stars have disappeared.
The morning and evening rites must never be neglected, except at seasons of impurity, anxiety, sickness, or alarm.
He who is preceded by the sun in rising, or sleeps when the sun is setting, unless it proceed from illness and the like, incurs guilt which requires atonement; and therefore let a man rise before the sun in the morning, and sleep not until after he has set.
They who sinfully omit both the morning and the evening service go after death to the hell of darkness.
In the evening, then, having again dressed food, let the wife of the householder, in order to obtain the fruit of the Vaiśvadeva rite, give food, without prayers, to outcasts and unclean spirits.
Let the householder himself, according to his means, again show hospitality to any guest who may arrive, welcoming him with the salutation of evening, water for his feet, a seat, a supper, and a bed.
The sin of refusing hospitality to a guest who comes after sunset is eight times greater than that of turning away one who arrives by day.
A man should therefore most especially show respect to one who comes to him in the evening for shelter, as the attentions that gratify him will give pleasure to all the gods.
Let the householder, then, according to his ability, afford a guest food, potherbs, water, a bed, a mat, or, if he can do no more, ground on which to lie.
"After eating his evening meal, and having washed his feet, the householder is to go to rest:
His bed is to be entire, and made of wood:
it is not to be scanty, or cracked, or uneven, or dirty, or infested by insects, nor without bedding: and he is to sleep with his head either to the east or to the south; any other position is unhealthy.
In due season a man should approach his wife, when a fortunate asterism prevails, in an auspicious moment, and on even nights, if she is not unclean, sick, unwell, averse, angry, pregnant, hungry, or over-fed.
He should be also free from similar imperfections, should be neatly attired and adorned, and animated by tenderness and affection.
There are certain days on which unguents, flesh, and women are unlawful, as the eighth and fourteenth lunar days, new moon and full moon, and the entrance of the sun into a new sign:
On these occasions the wise will restrain their appetites, and occupy themselves in the worship of the gods, as enjoined by holy writ, in meditation, and in prayer; and he who behaves differently will fall into a hell where ordure will be his food.
Let not a man stimulate his desires by medicines, nor gratify them with unnatural objects, or in public or holy places.
Let him not think incontinently of another's wife, much less address her to that end; for such a man will be born in future life as a creeping insect.
He who commits adultery is punished both here and hereafter; for his days in this world are cut short, and when dead he falls into hell.
Thus considering let a man approach his own wife in the proper season, or even at other times."