Hindu Fasts: The Vow Illuminating A Divine Edifice

Said The God Of Fire:

Hear me, 0 Brahman, Course on the process of practising the Vrata of illuminating a divine edifice with lighted lamps (Dipadana Vrata), by observing which a man attains salvation after a prosperous career on earth. By illuminating the house of a Brahmana or an imaged deity for a year, a man becomes pos- sessed of all his wished for objects. Similarly by lighting such edifices for four months continuously, or by illuminating them in the month of Karticka, a person goes to the region of Vishnu or ascends heaven. There is no Vrata which can or will ever excel this rite of giving lighted lamps, in respect of merit. The man, who illuminates a divine edifice as above indicated, becomes the father of a large and happy family, and enjoys health and good fortune.

His eyes become keen and lustrous, while angels throng to glorify his name in heaven on his sojourn to that region after death. Out of a hundred wives of the king Charudharma, the ruler of the world, Lalita, the daughter of the king of Vidharba, was able to win and monopolize the live of her husband, through the merit of observing such a lamp-giving Vrata. Lalita used to light up the divine edifice of Vishnu with thousands and thousands of lamps, every night. The co-wives of the queen, asked her to describe the merit of practising such a Vrata, whereupon she narrated as follows: -

Lalita Said:-"In by-gone times, the holy sage Maitreya was a priest in the service of the king of Souvira, and he caused a temple to be built and dedicated to Vishnu, on the banks of the Devika. I was a she-mouse at the time, Oh ye my beloved sisters, living in a hole in a sequestered nook of the adytum of the temple. One day Maitreya caused a lighted lamp to be placed in the interior of the temple, which growing dimmer and dimmer every mo- ment, was about to be put out. Out of my natural dread for cats in that mouse-existence of mine, I came out of the hole, nudged the wick of the lamp with the tip of my nose, and re-excited the faint light about to be blown out by the wind. Even through the merit of such an involuntary act of piety, behold me, metamorphised into a princess and a favourite with the king, my husband, in my present existence. 0 ye sisters, I enjoy this high station, these pleasures and riches of royalty as fruits of the pious act of illuminating the divine edifice of Vishnu, though unintentionally done by me in my previous existence, and therefore it is, that each night I cause thousands and thousands of lamps to be lighted in the Vishnu temple, simply because I remember (Jatismara) the records of my previous birth.

By illuminating a divine temple with lamps on the day of the eleventh phase of the moon, a man is able to reside blissfully in heaven. The stealer of such a lamp is afflicted with dumbness and locomotorataxy in his next rebirth, and is doomed to suffer incessant nameless agonies in the dark and bottom- less abyss of perdition. The messengers of the god of death, asked these miscreants mourning their fates and filling the confines of the nether regions with wails and doleful sounds, "What is the good, 0 thou benighted souls, of wailing now ? What does it avail a being to cry his eyes out in hell, over the misdeeds and acts of inequity, foolishly and wantonly committed by him in his human existence ?

The human life is the culminating stage of all animal existences on earth, and it is by going through thou- sands and thousands of necessary cycles of animal- existence, that a being is evolved out as a man. Wherefore then, should a man forget such a memo- rable fact of his existence?-and wherefore should he indulge in sensuous pleasures which are nothing but the cravings of the animal nature which he could not very well cast off even then? If the highest good in human life is to secure as much creature-comforts as possible, or to madly run in pursuit of those articles that pander only to the senses, if its highest glory is to raise much sand and dust in a whirligig of contending passions,-wailing and wailing alone, needs must be the necessary corollary, the inevitable sequel to such an existence, when transplanted to these regions. You are eating only the bitter fruits of your own misdeeds on earth.

Why did you not think at the time of seducing other men's wives, that the fond and clandestine embrace of a false wife, (dearer it might have been for the very stealth), the warm and the fluttered up-heavings of a fair but frail heart, beating with the vibrations of hurried footsteps of a fugitive god flying therefrom, it might have carried for the time being into stagnant life, a fiendish flow of unnatural stimulation, but were sure to prove as gall and worm wood within these confines ? A moment's pleasure, a moment's gratification of the senses, is sure to be followed by millions and millions of years of extreme agony and excruciating pain. Instead of crying "Mother, 0 mother," in anguish and darkness why don't you sing the blessed name of Hari ? 0 you the defilers of your neighbour's beds ! Does the name lie so very heavy on you tongues ? As a spark of fire can be always obtained from the tiny flame of a lighted lamp, so a small lamp, lighted out of a love of god, goes much way to illumine the path of a soul in the darkness of death. An equal portion of misery falls to the lot of a man who is not inclined to offer such lighted lamps to the god, and steals them, dedicated by others, instead. Why should I mourn now when I have offered thousands and thousands of them ?" (10-18).

Said the Fire God:-Having heard these words from the lips of Lalita, the co-wives of the queen began to illuminate the temple of Vishnu in the night, and ascended heaven through its merit. Thus by offering lighted lamps to the god, a man acquires greater merit than by practising the Vrata (19).

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