Prapanna Pārijāta | Chapter 7
On Serving The Virtuous
For the removal of doubt in regard to the teachings that have been heard, and for mutual enlightenment; sages (Sādhus) should be sought out; for the virtuous are a remedy for attachment.
Bhagavān Vyāsa says regarding the remedy for the renunciation of sense-objects as follows:—
“Attachment must be given up at all costs, if it is not possible to [spontaneously] give it up, then Sādhus should be sought after; for [the company of] the virtuous is the cure of attachment.
3 – 4.
Whenever a doubt arises as regards one’s own conduct and action, one should approach with humility, such sages (Vipras) who are reflective and are perfect and steady in the path of Dharma, and from them one shall learn the solution.
Whatever course of conduct they pursue, in the particular case at hand, that course a virtuous person should adopt1.
Sages ought to be associate with even though they do not give a single [formal] instruction. For even their spontaneous conversation becomes Shastra.
6 – 7.
Śaunaka mentions the benefit of visiting Sādhus as follows: —
“The place where a holy man (Bhāgavata) lives, even though it be a long way off should be visited and great effort made to see the holy man for therein dwells Hari.”
Indeed, Nārada has said exactly the same thing to Śaunaka:—
Those who wish to be absolved of all their sins always resort to Vishnu, but the Sādhus who purify the world become a tīrtha2 for the righteous people who pay them a visit to see them, no matter how far away the may be. A holy tīrtha yields fruit in the course of time but the association with Sādhus immediately.
Bhagavān Śūka says that praising the qualities of the Sādhus is, as it were, the fruit of knowledge that has been acquired over a long time — in the following terms:—
“No reward has directly been proclaimed by the sages from the long arduous labour of accumulating knowledge; therefore is [prescribed] the constant thinking of the qualities of those, in whose heart are the lotus feet of the lord (Mukuṇḍa).
The good should attentively worship the sages that have come to their house, with kind words, with offerings of water to wash the hands etc. and with agreeable food in a suitable manner.
“The Smriti (Manu) enjoin that one shall not wash the feet [of a visitor] from a vessel made of bell-metal. Therefore one should use other vessels such as those made of clay.
And Bhagavān Śūka says:—
“Those houses that are devoid of the holy water [obtained] from [washing] the feet of spiritually great men, even though they may not be devoid of all sorts of prosperity, are verily the [sandalwood] trees which are the [favourite] abode of snakes.”
“The wise have determined that the atonement for all sins is the utilization of the water from washing the feet of the devotees of the Lord.”
“This water is to be sprinkled on the head as well as on the arms and eyes. It is to be taken in the same way as the Soma Juice where there is no necessity of sipping water for purification before or after (Āchamana).”
“Of best of the twice-born! If the water from the feet of Vishnu and especially of the Vaishnavas be drunk, then no ceremony of sipping should be done just as in the case of the Soma Juice”. (Vāyu Purāṇa 45)
Lord Krishna washed the feet of the guest Nārada with his own hands in the houses of all the beloved (Gopis) and then drank the holy water of the feet of that sage.
In order to deepen one’s awareness of one's subservience to God (Śeṣatva) with the triple knowledge (trividhaḥ-jñāna)3, one should gratify the Vaishnavas in one's house with repasts which are to their liking and conform to the Śāstras.
After they have finished eating a truly pious person should eat the food that is left over. For those virtuous ones who eat the leavings [of a sacred offering] are liberated from all sins:
“Those who cook for themselves alone verily eat sin!”
The conversation and such social intercourse with them has mentioned in the Pāñcharātra Śāstra: —
“What the twice-born, who ride the chariot of the Vedas wielding the sword of knowledge shall say even in jest, is considered as the highest Dharma.”
The Vedic scholars know that the practices of those who have taken refuge with Vāsudeva alone to be the Dharma-Śāstra (codes of law).
People are purified not so much by holy places as by the mere glance of the Vaishnavas cast but playfully.
Śauṇaka says as follows:—
“O King! a being is not purified by holy waters from thousands of sacred places as by the mere glance Vaishnavas cast as if in sport.”
“Residing within a cage of the flames is preferable to the torment of association with people who are averse to the thought of Śauri (Vishnu).”
“Great sage! I am the slave of those that touch the Bhāgavatas (the devotees) with their limbs, even just sit near (them) see (them) and hear (them).”
With the good alone should one live, also with the good should one associate, with the good alone should one argue and make friendship; but with the wicked should one have nothing to do.
As Yayāti4 having fallen among the good regained his own position from there, even so, one will never become deluded when falling among the good.
- 1. See Taittirīya Upaniṣad 1:11
- 2. Tīrtha literally means a ‘ford’ or place of crossing and signifies a holy place with a sacred tank or river, bathing in which, is believed to wash away one’s sins.
- 3. Triple knowledge is that of (1) object of attainment, (2) the means (3) the appropriator. A variant reading is trividhaḥ tyāga — the triple relinquishment = relinquishing the reward of actions, attachment to the activity and idea of agency.
- 4. The reference is to a story in the Mahābhārata:
When Yayāti, son of Nahuṣa, the celebrated king of the lunar race was enjoying the fruits of his merit in Svarga-loka, blinded with pride one day used vile language towards the sages which destroyed his merit and resulted in his fall due to a curse from Indra.
But by the favour of the king of gods he fell from heaven among sages called Aṣṭakas and by their grace regained his lost position.