Bhrgu's test

By editor - 10.5 2017

Bhrgu's test (Padma Purana 6.255; its shorter version appears in SB 10.89.1-17 and it's also retold in Caitanya Bhagavata 3.9)

Dilipa said: 1-6. O brahmana, you have fully told (me) about all the practices, and about the general and particular nature of the highest (lord) and the individual soul. O best brahmana, through curiosity I am asking you one other (question). Due to your great love (for me) properly tell (i.e. answer) that also. Rudra, the destroyer of Tripura, is the best among the great devotees of Visnu. Due to what did he, along with his wife, have a condemned form of yoni and lingam? O best brahmana, how did the five-faced one, four-armed one, trident-holder and three-eyed one have a condemned form? O son of Mitra-Varuna, tell all this (to me). Vasistha said: 7-13. O king, listen.

I shall explain to you what you have asked me respectfully. In the pure hearts of men a thought for bliss is produced. Formerly on the best mountain Mandara Svayambhuva Manu performed, along with sages, an excellent prolonged sacrificial session. There came all sages who had fulfilled their vows, who were proficient in various holy texts, whose lustre was like that of the young sun and fire, who, the brahmanas, were well-versed in all Vedas, and who had mastered all religious practices. When the great sacrificial session took place, the sages whose sins had been exhausted, and who had penance as their wealth, spoke among themselves in order to find the truth about the deity. Which excellent deity should be honoured by brahmanas proficient in the Vedas? Who, out of Brahma, Visnu and Siva, being praised, gives salvation to men?

Water of (i.e. flowing from) whose feet should be resorted to? So also the purifying remnant of whose food should be enjoyed? Who, the immutable one, is the highest abode, the highest soul and who is eternal? Whose favour and holy place would gratify the manes? 14-20. Such a great discussion took place among those who were seated. Some great sages said: "Rudra alone (is the greatest deity)." Other best sages said: "Brahma alone is fit to be worshipped." Other best one said that the Sun alone was fit to be worshipped among the souls. Other brahmanas said: "The immutable lotus-eyed Vasudeva, the highest one, the one without a beginning or an end, Visnu alone is the highest lord. He, the best among the deities, deserves to be worshipped." To them, who were discussing, Svayambhuva Manu said: "He, the lord, who is full of good nature, who has auspicious qualities, who is lotus-eyed, who is glorious, who is the lord of Laksmi, who is the highest Brahman, is the only lord adored by brahmanas, proficient in Vedas. Others mixed with passion and vice are not fit to be worshipped."

Having heard these words of him, all the great sages, joining the palms of their hands, said to the brahmana, Bhrgu, the treasure of penance: The sages said: 21-25. O you of a good vow, you are able to remove our doubt. Approach, O you of a good vow, Brahma, Visnu and Mahesa. O sage, go near them and observe their bodies. Out of them, he who possesses the pure sattvaguna, is alone fit to be worshipped, and never anyone else. He, full of pure sattva, will be friendly to brahmanas. To brahmanas he will be a holy place and a favour. Even to deities and manes the remnants of his food will be purifying. Therefore, O best sage, go to the residence of gods. O lord, O best sage, quickly bring about the welfare of all people. 26-27.

Thus addressed, the best sage, along with Vamadeva, quickly went to Kailasa where the bull-bannered (god) lived. Having gone near the door of the house of the magnanimous Sankara and seeing very fierce Nandin with a spear in his hand, he said (to him): 28-34. "I, the brahmana Bhrgu, have come to see Hara, the best god. Quickly announce me (i.e. my arrival) to the magnanimous Sankara." Hearing the words of him, Nandin, the lord of (Siva's) attendants, spoke harsh words to the great sage of an unlimited splendour: "The lord is not in the vicinity. Sankara is sporting with goddess (Parvati). O best sage, go back if you desire to live." Thus repudiated by him the (sage) of a great penance remained there, at the door of the great lord, for many days. "Since he, arrogant due to the company of a woman, thinks lightly of me, he shall have the form of yoni and lingam. Approached (i.e. overcome) by vice he slights me, a brahmana! Reduced to an impious state, he will not be adored by brahmanas. Therefore, all the food, water, flowers and oblations offered to him will undoubtedly be useless." 35-40. The very lustrous one, having thus cursed Sankara honoured by the world, said to the very fierce attendant,

Nandin, holding a spear: "O king, may Siva's devotees, having ash, linga and bones, be impious and out of the Vedic fold." The sage, having thus cursed Rudra, Tripura's killer, went to Brahma's world, respected by all people. The very intelligent one, having seen Brahma, saluted him by joining the palms of his hands. The great ascetic, having saluted him, remained silent before him. Seeing the best sage, Brahma, possessed of an abundance of rajas did not honour him, the great sage that had approached him. He also did not rise to honour him, nor did he speak pleasing words. 41-45.

The lotus-seated (Brahma) remained there with great majesty. Seeing him with preponderance of rajas, the great sage, the grandsire of all worlds, who was very lustrous, said (these) words to Brahma: "Since you, having preponderance of rajas, are slighting me, therefore, be dishonoured by all people." Bhrgu, the brahmana, having thus cursed the magnanimous Brahma, respected by the world, suddenly went to Visnu's residence. The brahmana, having entered Visnu's world on the northern coast of the Milky Ocean, and being properly honoured there by the glorious ones remaining there, and not being stopped there, entered the inner apartment. 46-52.

Having entered that spotless palace, resembling the sun, he saw Laksmi's lord lying on the bed of the serpent. Both his feet were being rubbed by the lotus-like hands of Laksmi. Seeing him, the best sage Bhrgu, full of anger kicked with his left foot Visnu's chest. The lord, getting up quickly, and gladly saying, "I am fortunate", joyfully pressed his foot with his hands. Slowly stroking his feet he spoke (these) sweet words: "O brahmana-sage, I am fortunate. I am always blessed. Due to the contact of your foot, there will be propitiousness in my body.

May the dust-particles from the foot of a brahmana, which are the cause of the acquisition of affluence, which are the comets to the host of calamities that have come up, which are bridges over the boundless ocean of the mundane existence, purify me. All the holy places like Ganga etc. undoubtedly remain in the body of him, on whose body dust-particles from a brahmana's foot always remain." 53-54. Saying so and quickly getting up with goddess (Laksmi), Visnu devoutly honoured him with divine garlands, sandal etc. Having seen him, the best sage, with his eyes full of tears of joy, got from the best seat, and saluted that treasure of compassion. The great ascetic, having joined the palms of his hands, gladly said. Sri Bhrgu said: 55-64.

Oh, what a (handsome) form! Oh, (great) tranquillity! Oh, (great) knowledge! Oh, (great) pity! Oh, his patience is spotless ! Oh, the goodness of Visnu! Similarly the ocean of virtues has natural, auspicious, goodness. It is not at all present in all other gods. You alone are hospitable to the brahmanas. You alone are the protector. You alone are the highest Brahman. You alone are the lord of brahmanas. No other god is respectable. O Purusottama, those who worship any other god than you, have become impious, and are censured by all the world. You, Janardana, are alone fit to be worshipped by brahmanas, well-versed in the Vedas. None else among the gods is ever venerable. Brahma, Rudra and others, mixed with rajas and tamas are not fit to be worshipped. You, having pure sattva, are fit to be worshipped by brahmanas.

The water (flowing) from your feet should be resorted to by manes, gods, and all brahmanas. It gives salvation, and destroys sins. Manes, gods, brahmanas should take what is left over after you have eaten, and not what is left over after others have eaten. The food, flowers, so also water of (i.e. offered to) other gods, would all be unfit to be touched. It is useless like liquor. Therefore, a wise brahmana should constantly worship you, the eternal one, everyday and should take water of (i.e. sanctified by) you and food eaten by you. 65-68. A brahmana should not see another god; should not worship him. He should not partake of another god's favour; should not enter the sanctuary of any other (god). (If) a man does not give in this world the food and holy water enjoyed by you in the rite of sraddha offered to his ancestors, all that would be fruitless. His dead ancestors fall into (and live in) the hell of pus and blood for thousands of crores of kalpas and hundreds of crores of kalpas. O master, when one offers an oblation (into fire) or gives (offerings) to deities and manes after offering them to you, there is satisfaction (of deities and manes), (i.e. he satisfies them) and he gets immortality. 69-78a.

Therefore, you alone are adorable to gods, and none else. He who, through folly, would worship other (deities) will be impious. You are Narayana; you are glorious; you are the ancient Vasudeva. You are omnipresent Visnu. You are eternal, highest soul and the great god. You alone are fit to be worshipped by brahmanas. You are hospitable to brahmanas. You possess pure sattva. Due to your being venerable to brahmanas and due to your virtue of having pure sattva, obtain the status of a brahmana among all the gods themselves; for all brahmanas will resort to you, the highest Brahman, alone. They were brahmanas and not others. There is no doubt about this. Devaki's son is holy. Madhusudana is holy. The lotus-eyed one is holy. Visnu, Acyuta is holy. Lord Krsna is holy. Vasudeva, Acyuta, Hari (is holy). Narasimha is holy. So also is the immutable Narayana. Sridhara, Srisa, Govinda, Vamana is holy. Yajnavaraha, Kesava, Purusottama is holy. Glorious, lotus-eyed Rama, descendant of Raghu, is holy.

Padmanabha is holy. So also Damodara, the lord, Madhava, Yajna, lord Trivikrama is holy. Hrsikesa is holy; Janardana, wearing yellow garments (is holy). 78b-87. Salutation to the holy god, to Vasudeva, holder of the Sarnga (bow). (Salutation) to Narayana, Srisa, having lotus-like eyes. Salutation to the holy god, Vasudeva, Visnu. Salutation to the highest god full of auspicious qualities. Salutation to the holy god, of the form of all gods. Salutation to you having the body of the Boar. Salutation to you, the lord of the triad (of the Vedas). Salutation to the holy god, lying on the bed of the serpent. Repeated salutations to Raghava having eyes like lotus petals. O lord, all gods and sages, deluded by Maya, do not know you, the lord of all worlds and a great soul. O revered one, even all those proficient in the Vedas do not know you by your name, form and qualities and your acts difficult to be performed. I, capable of knowing your sattva, suggesting your superiority, have been sent by the great sages; (and therefore)

I have approached you. O Kesava, in order to know your character and qualities, I put my foot on your chest. O Govinda, O treasure of pity, forgive it. Speaking like this, and repeatedly saluting Visnu, and being honoured there by the divine, magnanimous, great sages, Bhrgu, with his mind delighted, again went to the place of sacrifice having an auspicious name. 88-93. The great sages, having seen the magnanimous one to have come back, rose, saluted him, and duly worshipped him. The best sage told them all that: "O best sages, Brahma and Siva have preponderance of the qualities of rajas and tamas. They were cursed by me. They are not fit to be worshipped by brahmanas. Sankara enveloped by tamas was cursed by me on the peak of Kailasa. Visnu full of pure sattva is the ocean of auspicious qualities. Narayana is the highest Brahman. Visnu is the deity of brahmanas. Sripati, Visnu, Vasudeva, Janardana is holy. Govinda, Hari, Acyuta of lotus-like eyes is holy. O best men, he alone is fit to be worshipped by brahmanas, and none else. 94-97. He who, through folly, would worship another (god) will be impious. Even sinners get salvation just by remembering Krsna. The water (flowing) from his feet should be taken. The remnants of the food (offered to) him are purifying. It gives heaven and salvation to men, especially to brahmanas. (A man) should everyday offer an oblation which is (first) offered to Visnu, to the gods. He should also offer it to his dead ancestors. (Then) he gets complete immortality. O brahmanas, the dead ancestors of him who does not offer (food) enjoyed by Visnu, at a sraddha-rite always eat (and drink) feces and urine. 98-101.

Therefore, brahmanas should always eat the remnants of the food offered to Visnu. The remnants (of food offered to other gods) are useless and (therefore) condemned. A brahmana, weak in knowledge, who even once eats the remnants of food etc. offered to Sankara etc., would certainly be a candala. For thousands of crores of kalpas he is roasted in the fire in hell. O best brahmanas, the remnants of offerings to gods like Rudra, are said to be equal to food offered to demons, yaksas, goblins and like liquor and flesh. Brahmanas should not eat that food, the offering enjoyed by (these) gods. 102. Therefore, O best brahmanas, leaving another god, worship diligently, till you live, the ancient Visnu only. 103-109. With your doubts removed, endowed with the five purifications like imprinting the body with heated marks, with good hearts, looking upon that as the highest abode of Visnu, properly worship that extraordinary Visnu, O best brahmanas.

The brahmanas marked with the disc are good and extraordinary. Those without the disc marks are said to be ordinary and vicious. Therefore, a man should have the heated marks of a disc and a conch at the roots of his arms, which (marks) of (i.e. sacred to) Visnu burn the stream of sins due to contact with ordinary persons. Having had the upright sectarian marks on the body according to the manner prescribed in the holy texts, he should worship Visnu according to the rules with the gem of the hymn (viz. Visnu-sahasranama). Being diligent he should also partake of the remnants of food offered to him. He should always worship gods [tridasa] at the time of finishing his worship. O brahmanas, knowing him to be the highest lord enjoying all sacrifices, one should always offer (oblations into fire), give (presents to him) and chant (his names)." Vasistha said: 110. All the sages, thus addressed, and with their sins exhausted, saluted Bhrgu and with the palms of their hands duly joined, said. The sages said: 111-112.

O revered best brahmana, you alone remove our doubts. You are the refuge of the people. O brahmana, you are the highest asylum. You alone are the best piety. You alone are the highest penance. We shall exist due to your favour, and not otherwise, O brahmana. Vasistha said: 113-117. All the great sages, having thus praised that brahmana Bhrgu, and having got the hymn from him, worshipped Visnu. O best king, I have told all this to you as the occasion has arisen. O best king, due to the touch of the lotus-like hand of Rama the entire form condemned by the world will be spotless. Raghava, the highest Brahman, is the purifier among all gods. Touched and seen by him all these, Sankara and others, become spotless. Visnu, the ocean of the virtue of affection, is the father, the mother of all gods. He is also the protector of all people. If you desire the highest position, then seek his shelter only. 118. O king, I have told you the entire Purana, acceptable to the Vedas, and narrated by Brahma in the age of Svayambhuva Manu. 119-125.

This account, (causing) liberation, of Visnu should be told to the one modest due to devotion for Visnu and having pure sattva, and not otherwise (i.e. to none else). The reader (or reciter) of this should have the marks of a conch, a disc, an upright mark etc. It should always be heard from his mouth. (Then only) you will have a son. Not otherwise. In him who, being well-composed, would recite to others or read (for himself) this (Purana), is always produced undivided devotion for Visnu.

A student obtains knowledge; one seeking religious merit obtains it. One seeking salvation obtains it. One desiring enjoyment gets happiness. A man, full of devotion, should read it on the twelfth day, when the Sun is in the Sravana (constellation), on a Sankranti day, or at an eclipse, or on the full-moon day or the new-moon day. He who, being composed, reads half a verse or a quarter of it, undoubtedly obtains the fruit of a thousand horse-sacrifices. I have thus narrated to you this Purana. Worship Visnu if you desire the highest position.