The Dharma Of A Householder On The Path To Salvation
Shiva and Parvathi
According to Mahanirvanatantra, in the age of Kali men have to observe only two ashramas, namely Grihasta (life of a householder) and Bhikhshuka (life as an ascetic). Life as a householder is crucila because it gives several opportunities for a person to practice dharma and prepare himself for his liberation. The scripture prescribes the following duties for a householder.
A householder should be devoted to the contemplation of Brahman and possessed of the knowledge of Brahman, and should consign whatever he does to Brahman.
He should not tell an untruth, or practise deceit, and should ever be engaged in the worship of the Devatas and guests.
Regarding his father and mother as two visible incarnate deities, he should ever and by every means in his power serve them. If the mother and father are pleased, then Parvathi, the Mother Goddess is pleased. and the Supreme Being will be propitious. One should offer seats, beds, clothes, drink, and food to mother and father. They should always be spoken to in a gentle voice, and their children’s demeanor should ever be agreeable to them.
The householder should cherish his wife, educate his children, and support his kinsmen and friends. This is the supreme eternal duty. The body is nourished by the mother. It originates from the father.
The householder should never punish his wife, but should cherish her like a mother. If she is virtuous and devoted to her husband, he should never forsake her even in times of greatest misfortune.
The wise man, whilst his own wife is living, should never with wicked intent touch another woman, otherwise he will go to hell. The wise man should not, when in a private place, live and sleep or lie down close to other men’s wives. He should avoid all improper speech and braggart boldness in their presence. The wise man should not send his wife to any festival, concourse of people, pilgrimage, or to another’s house, except she be attended by his son or an inmate of his own house.
He should also maintain his fellow-worshippers, fellow-villagers, and guests, whether ascetics or others. If the wealthy householder does not so act, then let him be known as a beast, a sinner, and one despised in the worlds.
The householder should not be inordinately addicted to sleep, idling, care for the body, dressing his hair, eating or drinking, or attention to his clothes. He should be moderate as to food, sleep, speech, and sexual intercourse, and be sincere, humble, pure, free from sloth, and persevering.
Chivalrous to his foes, modest before his friends, relatives, and elders, he should neither respect those who deserve censure nor slight those who are worthy of respect. Men should only be admitted to his trust and confidence after association with them and observation of their nature, inclination, conduct, and friendly character .
A religious man should not speak of his own fame and prowess, of what has been told him in secret, nor of the good that he has done for others.
A man of good name should not engage in any quarrel with an unworthy motive, nor when defeat is certain, nor with those who are superior or inferior to himself He should diligently earn knowledge, wealth, fame, and religious merit, and avoid all vicious habits, the company of the wicked, falsehood, and treachery.
Ventures should be undertaken according to the circumstances and one’s condition in life, and actions should be done according to their season. Therefore, in everything that a man does he should first consider whether the circumstances and time are suitable .
The householder should employ himself in the acquisition of what is necessary and in the protection of the same. He should be judicious, pious, good to his friends. He should be moderate in speech and laughter, in particular in the presence of those entitled to his reverence. He should hold his senses under control, be of cheerful disposition, think of what is good, be of firm resolve, attentive, far-sighted, and discriminating in the use of his senses.
The wise householder’s speech should be truthful, mild, agreeable, and salutary, yet pleasing, avoiding both self-praise and the disparagement of others.
He should engage in pious deeds and lead a morally uprighteous and socially responsible life. The scriptures says, "The man who has dedicated tanks, planted trees, built rest-houses on the roadside, or bridges, has conquered the three worlds. That man who is the happiness of his mother and father, to whom his friends are devoted, and whose fame is sung by men, he is the conqueror of the three worlds. He whose aim is truth, whose charity is ever for the poor, who has mastered lust and anger, by him are the three worlds conquered. He who is not afraid in battle nor to go to war when there is need, and who dies in battle undertaken for a sacred cause, by him the three worlds are conquered. He whose soul is free from doubts, who is devoted to and a faithful follower of the ordinances of Shiva, and remains under My control, by him the three worlds are conquered. The wise man who in his conduct with his fellow-men looks with an equal eye upon friend and foe, by him are the three worlds conquered. O Devi! purity is of two kinds, external and internal. The dedication of oneself to Brahman is known as internal purity, and the cleansing of the impurities of the body by water or ashes, or any other matter which cleanses the body, is called external purity."
He should observe external purification upon awakening from sleep, after sexual intercourse, making water, voiding the bowels, and at the close of a meal, and whenever dirt of any kind has been touched.
The four Padas or paths to salvation
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