“Yudhishthira said, ‘O high-souled grandsire, thou hast duly discoursedto us on the subject of Sacrifices, including the merits in detail thatattach to them both here and hereafter. It should be remembered, however,O grandsire, that Sacrifices are incapable of being performed, by peoplethat are poor, for these require a large store of diverse kinds ofarticles. Indeed, O grandsire, the merit attaching to Sacrifices can beacquired by only kings and princes. That merit is incapable of beingacquired by those that are destitute of wealth and divested of abilityand that live alone and are helpless. Do thou tell us, O grandsire, whatthe ordinances are in respect of those acts that are fraught with meritequal to what attaches to sacrifices and which, therefore, are capable ofbeing performed by persons destitute of means.'
“Bhishma said, ‘Listen, O Yudhishthira! Those ordinances that I have toldthee of,–those, viz., that were first promulgated by the great RishiAngiras, and that have reference to meritorious facts for theirsoul,–are regarded as equal to Sacrifices (in respect of the fruits theybring about both here and hereafter). That man who takes one meal in theforenoon and one at night, without taking any food or drink during theinterval, and who observes this regulations for a period of six years insuccession, abstaining all the while from injuring any creature andregularly pouring libations on his sacred fire every day, attains,without doubt, to success. Such a man acquires hereafter a car of thecomplexion of heated gold, and attains to a residence, for millions ofyears, in the region of Prajapati, in the company of celestial damsels,that ever echoes with the sound of music and dance, and blazes with theeffulgence of fire. He who passes three years, confining himself everyday to one meal and abstaining all the while from congress with any otherwoman save his own wedded wife, attains to the merit of the Agnishtomasacrifice, Such a man is regarded as having performed a Sacrifice, withplenty of gifts in gold, that is dear to Vasava himself. By practisingtruthfulness of speech, making gifts, reverencing the Brahmanas, avoidingmalice, becoming forgiving and self-restrained, and conquering wrath, aman attains to the highest end. Riding on a car of the complexion ofwhite clouds that is drawn by swans, he lives, for millions and millionof years, in the company of Apsaras. Fasting for a whole day and eatingonly one meal on the second day, he who pours libations upon his sacredfire for the period of a whole year,–verily, he who observes such a fastand attends every day to his fire and rises every day from bed beforesunrise, attains to the merit of the Agnishtoma sacrifice. Such a manacquires a car drawn by swans and cranes. Surrounded by the mostbeautiful damsels, he resides in the region of Indra. That man who eatsonly one meal every third day, and pours libations every day on hissacred fire for a period of a whole year,–indeed, he who thus attends tohis fire every day and wakes up from sleep every morning before the sunis up, attains to the high merit of the Atiratra sacrifice. He acquires acar drawn by peacocks and swans and cranes. Proceeding to the region ofthe seven (celestial) Rishis, he takes up his residence there, surroundedby Apsaras of great beauty. It is well-known that such residence lastsfor full three Padmas of years. Fasting for three days insuccession, he who takes only one meal every fourth day, and pourslibations every day on his sacred fire, acquires the high merit of theVajapeya sacrifice. The car he ac-quires is graced by celestial damselsof great beauty that have Indra for their father. He resides in theregion of Indra for millions and millions of years and experiences greathappiness by witnessing the sports of the chief of the deities. Fastingfor four days in succession, he who eats only one meal every fifth day,and pours libations on the sacred fire every day for the period of awhole year, and who lives without cupidity, telling the truth,reverencing the Brahmanas, abstaining from every kind of injury, andavoiding malice and sin, acquires the merit of the Vajapeya sacrifice.The car he rides is made of gold and drawn by swans and endued with theeffulgence of many suns rising together. He acquires, a palatial mansionof pure white. He lives there in great happiness for full one and fiftyPadmas of years. Fasting for five days, he who takes food on onlythe sixth day, and pours libations on his sacred fire every day for awhole year, and who performs three ablutions in course of the day forpurifying himself and saying his prayers and doing his worship, and wholeads a life of Brahmacharya, divested of malice in his conduct, acquiresthe merit of the Gomedha sacrifice. He acquires an excellent car adornedwith pure gold, possessed of the effulgence of a blazing fire and drawnby swans and peacocks. He sleeps on the lap of Apsaras and is awakenedevery morning by the melodious tinkle of Nupuras and Kanchis. He leadssuch a life of happiness for ten thousand million years and threethousand million besides and eight and ten Padmas and two Patakas.Such a man resides also, honoured by all, in the region of Brahma for asmany years as there are hairs on the bodies of hundreds of bears. Fastingfor six days, he who eats only one meal every seventh day and pourslibations on the sacred fire every day, for a full year, restrainingspeech all the while and observing the vow of Brahmacharya, andabstaining from the use of flowers and unguents and honey and meat,attains to the region of the Maruts and of India. Crowned with thefruition of every desire as it springs up in the mind, he is waited uponand adored by celestial damsels. He acquires the merits of a sacrifice inwhich abundance of gold is given away. Proceeding to the regions named,he lives there for countless years in the greatest happiness. He whoshows forgiveness to all and fasting for seven days eats on every eighthday for a whole year, and, pouring libations every day on the sacredfire, adores the deities regularly, acquires the high merits of thePaundarika sacrifice. The car he rides is of a colour like that of thelotus. Without doubt, such a man acquires also a large number of damsels,possessed of youth and beauty, some having complexions that are dark,some with complexions like that of gold, and some that are Syamas, whoselooks and attitudes are of the most agreeable kind. He who fasts foreight days and takes only one meal on every ninth day for a whole year,and pours libations on the sacred fire every day, acquires the highmerits of a thousand Horse-sacrifices. The car he rides in Heaven is asbeautiful as a lotus. He always makes his journeys on that car,accompanied by the daughters of Rudra adorned with celestial garlands andendued with the effulgence of the midday sun or the fires of blazingflames. Attaining to the regions of Rudra, he lives there in greathappiness for countless years. He who fasts for nine days and takes onlyone meal every tenth day for a whole year, and pours libations on hissacred fire every day, acquires the high merit of a thousandHorse-sacrifices, and attains to the companionship of Brahmanas’daughters endued with beauty capable of charming the hearts of allcreatures. These damsels, possessed of such beauty, and some of thempossessed of complexion like that of the lotus and some like that of thesame flower of the blue variety, always keep him in joy. He acquiresa beautiful vehicle, that moves in beautiful circles and that looks likethe dense cloud called Avarta, verily, it may be said to resemble also anocean-wave. That vehicle resounds with the constant tinkle of rows ofpearls and gems, and the melodious blare of conchs, and is adorned withcolumns made of crystals and diamonds, as also with an altar constructedof the same minerals. He makes his journeys on such a car, drawn by swansand cranes and lives for millions and millions of years in greathappiness in heaven. He who fasts for ten days and eats only ghee onevery eleventh day for a whole year and pours libations on his sacredfire every day, who never, in word or thought, covets the companionshipof other people’s wives and who never utters an untruth even for the sakeof his mother and father, succeeds in beholding Mahadeva of greatpuissance seated on his car. Such a person acquires the high merit of athousand Horse-sacrifices. He beholds the car of the Self-born Brahmanhimself approach for taking him on it. He rides in it, accompanied bycelestial damsels possessed of great beauty, and complexion as effulgentas that of pure gold. Endued with the blazing splendour of the Yoga-fire,he lives for countless years in a celestial mansion in heaven, full ofevery happiness. For those countless years he experiences the joy ofbending his head in reverence unto Rudra adored by deities and Danavas.Such a person obtains every day the sight of the great deity. That manwho having fasted for eleven days eats only a little ghee on the twelfth,and observes this conduct for a whole year, succeeds in obtaining themerits attaching to all the sacrifices. The car he rides in is possessedof the effulgence of a dozen suns. Adorned with gems and pearls andcorals of great value, embellished with rows of swans and snakes and ofpeacocks and Chakravakas uttering their melodious notes, and beautifiedwith large domes, is the residence to which he attains in the region ofBrahman. That abode, O king, is always filled with men and women (whowait upon him for service). Even this is what the highly blessed RishiAngiras, conversant with every duty, said (regarding the fruits of such afast). That man who having fasted for twelve days eats a little ghee onthe thirteenth, and bears himself in this way for a whole year, succeedsin attaining to the merits of the divine sacrifice. Such a man obtains acar of the complexion of the newly-blown lotus, adorned with pure goldand heaps of jewels and gems. He proceeds to the region of the Marutsthat teem with celestial damsels, that are adorned with every kind ofcelestial ornament, that are redolent with celestial perfumes, and thatcontain every element of felicity. The number of years he resides inthose happy regions is countless. Soothed with the sound of musicand the melodious voice of Gandharvas and the sounds and blare of drumsand Panavas, he is constantly gladdened by celestial damsels of greatbeauty. That man who having fasted for thirteen days eats a little gheeon the fourteenth day, and bears himself in this way for a full year,obtains the merits of the Mahamedha sacrifice. Celestial damsels ofindescribable beauty, and whose age cannot be guessed for they are forever young in appearance, adorned with every ornament and with armlets ofblazing effulgence, wait upon him with many cars and follow him in hisjourneys. He is waked every morning from his bed by the melodious voiceof swans, the tinkle of Nupuras, and the highly agreeable jingle ofKanchis. Verily, he resides in a superior abode, waited upon by suchcelestial damsels, for years as countless as the sands on the shores ofGanga. That man who, keeping his senses under control, fasts for afortnight and takes only one meal on the sixteenth day, and bears himselfin this way for a whole year, pouring libations every day on his sacredfire, acquires the high merits that attach to a thousand Rajasuyasacrifices. The car he rides in is possessed of great beauty and is drawnby swans and peacocks. Riding in such a vehicle, that is, besides,adorned with garlands of pearls and the purest gold and graced withbevies of celestial damsels decked with ornaments of every kind, havingone column and four arches and seven altars exceedingly auspicious,endued with thousands of banners and echoing with the sound of music,celestial and of celestial attributes, embellished with gems and pearlsand corals, and possessed of the effulgence of lightning, such a manlives in heaven for a thousand Yugas, having elephants and rhinocerosesfor dragging that vehicle of his. That man who having fasted for fifteendays takes one meal on the sixteenth day and bears himself in this wayfor one whole year, acquires the merits attaching to the Soma sacrifice.Proceeding to Heaven he lives in the company of Soma’s daughters. Hisbody fragrant with unguents whose perfumes are as sweet as those of Somahimself, he acquires the power of transporting himself immediately to anyplace he likes. Seated on his car he is waited upon by damsels of themost beautiful features and agreeable manners, and commands all articlesof enjoyment. The period for which he enjoys such happiness consists ofcountless years. That man who having fasted for sixteen days eats alittle ghee on the seventeenth day and bears himself in this way for awhole year, pouring libations every day on his sacred fire, proceeds tothe regions of Varuna and Indra, and Rudra and the Maruts and Usanas andBrahman himself. There he is waited upon by celestial damsels and obtainsa sight of the celestial Rishi called Bhurbhuva and grasps the wholeuniverse in his ken. The daughters of the deity of the deities gladdenhim there. Those damsels, of agreeable manners and adorned with everyornament, are capable of assuming two and thirty forms. As long as theSun and the Moon move in firmament, so long does that man of wisdomreside in those regions of felicity, subsisting upon the succulence ofambrosia and nectar. That man who having fasted for seventeen days eatsonly one meal on the eighteenth day, and bears himself in this way for awhole year, succeeds in grasping the seven regions, of which the universeconsist, in his ken. While performing his journeys on his car he isalways followed by a large train of cars producing the most agreeablerattle and ridden by celestial damsels blazing with ornament and beauty.Enjoying the greatest happiness, the vehicle he rides in is celestial andendued with the greatest beauty. It is drawn by lions and tigers, andproduces a rattle as deep as the sound of the clouds. He lives in suchfelicity for a thousand Kalpas subsisting upon the succulence of ambrosiathat is as sweet as nectar itself. That man who having fasted foreighteen days eats only one meal on the nineteenth day and bears himselfin this way for a full year, succeeds in grasping within his ken all theseven regions of which the universe consists. The region to which heattains is inhabited by diverse tribes, of Apsaras and resounds with themelodious voice of Gandharvas. The car he rides in is possessed of theeffulgence of the sun. His heart being freed from every anxiety, he iswaited upon by the foremost of celestial damsels. Decked with celestialgarlands, and possessed of beauty of form, he lives in such happiness formillions and millions of years. That man who having fasted for nineteendays eats only one meal on every twentieth day and bears himself in thisway for a full year, adhering all the while to truthfulness of speech andto the observance of other (excellent) rituals, abstaining also frommeat, leading the life of a Brahmacharin, and devoted to the good of allcreatures, attains to the extensive legions, of great happiness,belonging to the Adityas. While performing his journeys on his own car,he is followed by a large train of cars ridden by Gandharvas and Apsarasdecked with celestial garlands and unguents. That man who having fastedfor twenty days takes a single meal on the twenty-first day and bearshimself in this way for a full year, pouring libations every day on hissacred fire, attains to the regions of Usanas and Sakra, of the Aswinsand the Maruts, and resides there in uninterrupted happiness of greatmeasure. Unacquainted with sorrow of every kind, he rides in the foremostof cars for making his journeys, and waited upon by the foremost ofcelestials, damsels, and possessed of puissance, he sports in joy like acelestial himself. That man who having fasted for one and twenty daystakes a single meal on the twenty-second day and bears himself in thisway for a full year, pouring libations on his sacred fire every day,abstaining from injuring any creature, adhering to truthfulness ofspeech, and freed from malice attains to the regions of the Vasus andbecomes endued with effulgence of the sun. Possessed of the power ofgoing everywhere at will, subsisting upon nectar, and riding in theforemost of cars, his person decked with celestial ornaments, he sportsin joy in the company of celestial damsels. That man who having fastedfor two and twenty days takes a single meal on the twenty-third day andbears himself in this way for a full year, thus regulating his diet andkeeping his senses under control, attains to the regions of the deity ofWind, of Usanas, and of Rudra. Capable of going every where at will andalways roving at will, he is worshipped by diverse tribes of Apsaras.Riding in the foremost of cars and his person decked with celestialornaments, he sports for countless years in great felicity in the companyof celestial damsels. That man who having fasted for three and twentydays eats a little ghee on the twenty-fourth day, and bears himself inthis way for a full year, pouring libations on his sacred fire, residesfor countless years in great happiness in the regions of the Adityas, hisperson decked with celestial robes and garlands and celestial perfumesand unguents. Riding in an excellent car made of gold and possessed ofgreat beauty and drawn by swans, he sports in joy in the company ofthousands and thousands of celestial damsels. That man who having fastedfor four and twenty days eats a single meal on the twenty-fifth day andbears himself thus for a full year, succeeds in obtaining a car of theforemost kind, full of every article of enjoyment. He is followed in hisjourneys by a large train of cars drawn by lions and tigers, andproducing a rattle as deep as the roar of the clouds ridden by celestialdamsels, and all made of pure gold and possessed of great beauty. Himselfriding on an excellent celestial car possessed of great beauty, heresides in those regions for a thousand Kalpas, in the company ofhundreds of celestial damsels, and subsisting upon the succulence ofambrosia that is sweet as nectar itself. That man who having fasted forfive and twenty days eats only one meal on the twenty-sixth day, andbears himself thus for a full year in the observance of such a regulationin respect of diet, keeping his senses under control, freed fromattachment (to worldly objects), and pouring libations every day on hissacred fire,–that blessed man,–worshipped by the Apsaras, attains tothe regions of the seven Maruts and of the Vasus. When performing hisjourneys he is followed by a large train of cars made of excellentcrystal and adorned with all kinds of gems, and ridden by Gandharvas andApsaras who show him every honour. He resides in those regions, inenjoyment of such felicity, and endued with celestial energy, for twothousand Yugas. That man who having fasted for six and twenty days eats asingle meal on the twenty-seventh day and bears himself in this way for afull year, pouring libations every day on his sacred fire, acquires greatmerit and proceeding to Heaven receives honours from the deities.Residing there, he subsists on nectar, freed from thirst of every kind,and enjoying every felicity. His soul purified of every dross andperforming his journeys on a celestial car of great beauty, he livesthere, O king, bearing himself after the manner of the celestial Rishisand the royal sages. Possessed of great energy, he dwells there in greathappiness in the company of celestial damsels of highly agreeablemanners, for three thousand Yugas and Kalpas. That man who having fastedfor seven and twenty days eats a single meal on the twenty-eighth day andbears himself in this way for a full year, with soul and senses underperfect control, acquires very great merit, which, in fact, is equal towhat is acquired by the celestial Rishis. Possessed of every article ofenjoyment, and endued with great energy, he blazes with the effulgence ofthe midday sun. Sportive damsels of the most delicate features and enduedwith splendour of complexion, having deep bosoms, tapering thighs andfull and round hips, decked with celestial ornaments, gladden him withtheir company while he rides on a delightful and excellent car possessedof the effulgence of the sun and equipped with every article ofenjoyment, for thousands and thousands of Kalpas. That man who havingfasted for eight and twenty days eats a single meal on the twenty-ninthday, and bears himself in this way for a full year, adhering all thewhile to truthfulness of speech, attains to auspicious regions of greathappiness that are worshipped by celestial Rishis and royal sages. Thecar he obtains is endued with the effulgence of the sun and the moon;made of pure gold and adorned with every kind of gem, ridden by Apsarasand Gandharvas singing melodiously. Thereon he is attained by auspiciousdamsels adorned with celestial ornaments of every kind. Possessed ofsweet dispositions and agreeable features, and endued with great energy,these gladden him with their company. Endued with every article ofenjoyment and with great energy, and possessed of the splendour of ablazing fire, he shines like a celestial, with a celestial form havingevery excellence. The regions he attains are those of the Vasus and theMaruts, of the Sadhyas and the Aswins, of the Rudras and of Brahmanhimself. That man who having fasted for a full month takes a single mealon the first day of the following month and bears himself in this way fora full year, looking on all things with an equal eye attains to theregions of Brahman himself. There he subsists upon the succulence ofambrosia. Endued with a form of great beauty and highly agreeable to all,he shines with energy and prosperity like the sun himself of a thousandrays. Devoted to Yoga and adorned with celestial robes and garlands andsmeared with celestial perfumes and unguents, he passes his time in greathappiness, unacquainted with the least sorrow. He shines on his carattended by damsels that blaze forth with effulgence emitted bythemselves. Those damsels, the daughters of the celestial Rishis and theRudras, adore him with veneration. Capable of assuming diverse forms thatare highly delightful and highly agreeable, their speech is characterisedby diverse kinds of sweetness, and they are able to gladden the personthey wait upon in diverse kinds of ways. While performing his journeys,he rides on a car that looks like the firmament itself in colour (forsubtlety of the material that compose it). In his rear are cars that looklike the moon; before him are those that resemble the clouds; on hisright are vehicles that are red; below him are those that are blue; andabove him are those that are of variegated hue. He is always adored bythose that wait upon him. Endued with great wisdom, he lives in theregion of Brahman for as many years as are measured by the drops of rainthat fall in course of a thousand years on that division of the earthwhich is called Jamvudwipa. Verily, possessed of the effulgence of adeity, he lives in that region of unalloyed felicity for as many years asthe drops of rain that fall upon the earth in the season of showers. Theman who, having fasted for a whole month, eats on the first day of thefollowing month, and bears himself in this way for ten years, attains tothe status of a great Rishi. He was not to undergo any change of formwhile proceeding to heaven for enjoying the rewards of his acts in hislife. Verily, even this is the status to which one attains by restrainingspeech, practising self-denial, subjugating wrath, sexual appetite, andthe desire to eat, pouring libations on the sacred fire, and regularlyadoring the two twilights. That man who purifies himself by theobservance of these and similar vows and practices, and who eats in thisway, becomes as stainless as ether and endued with effulgence like thatof the sun himself. Such a man, O king, proceeding to haven in evenhis own carnal form, enjoys all the felicity that is there like a deityat his will.
‘I have thus told thee, O chief of the Bharatas, what the excellentordinances are in respect of sacrifices, one after another, as dependentupon the fruits of fasts. Poor men, O son of Pritha (who are unableto perform sacrifices) may; nevertheless, acquire the fruits thereof (bythe observance of fasts). Verily, by observing these fasts, even a poorman may attain to the highest end, O foremost one of Bharata’s race,attending all the while, besides, to the worship of the deities and theBrahmanas I have thus recited to thee in detail the ordinances in respectof fasts. Do not harbour any doubt in respect of those men that are soobservant of vows, that are so heedful and pure and high-souled, that areso freed from pride and contentions of every kind, that are endued withsuch devoted understandings, and that pursue their end with suchsteadiness and fixity of purpose without ever deviating from their path.'”