Agni Purana Part 4

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Agni Purana Part 4

Manvantaras

Each manvantara (era) is rule over by a Manu.
The first Manu was Svayambhuva. Shatakratu held the title of Indra during this manvantara. The second Manu was Svarochisha. Vipashchita held the title of Indra during this manvantara. Third Manu was Uttama and Sushanti was Indra then.
The fourth Manu was tapasa and Shikhi held the title of Indra then. The fifth Manu was Raivata and Vitatha was Indra then.
The title of Indra was held by Manojava during the sixth manvantara, the Manu being Chakhusha.
Next came Shradhadeva, the seventh Manu Puranadara being the Indra.
The eighth Manu’s name is Savarni and the eighth Indra’s Bali. The eighth manvantara has not yet come.
The ninth Manu will be Dakshasavarni and the ninth Indra wil be Adbhuta.
During the tenth manvantara, the Manu will be Brahmasavarni and the title of Indra will be held by Shanti.
During the rule of the eleventh Manu Dharmasavarni, the Indra will be Gana. The twelfth Manu will be Rudrasavarni and the twelfth Indra will be Ritadhama. Rouchya will be the thirteenth Manu and Divaspati will be the thirteenth Indra.
The fourteenth Manu will be Bhoutya and the title of Indra will then be held by Shuchi.
During each of Brahma’s days, there are fourteen such manvantaras. After that comes Brahma’s night, when all these living beings are destroyed.

VarnA Ashrama Dharma
All the Manus practised the precepts of dharma (righteousness). This meant non-violence, truthfulness, piety, going on pilgrimages donating alms, serving devas and brahmanas, tolerance of all religions and the following of the sacred texts. It also meant the practice of the system of the four classes (varna) and the four stages in life (ashrama).
The four varnas are brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas and shudras. Performing sacrifices, donating alms and studying the Vedas are duties that brahmanas, kshatriyas and vaishyas must perform. In addition, the kshatriyas must protect the good and punish the evil. The vaishyas must take care of trade, agriculture and animal husbandry. The duties of shudras are to serve the brahmanas and artisanship. When brahmanas take up the upavita, the sacred thread that is the mark of the first three classes, it is like a second birth for them. So brahmanas are known as dvijas (born twice).
An anuloma marriage is a marriage where the husband is from a higher class than the wife. The offspring of such a marriage belong to the mothers‘ class. A pratiloma marriage is a marriage where the wife is from a higher class than the husband. Chandalas were born this way from brahmana women, Sutas from kshatriya women, Devalas from vaishya women, Pukkashas from kshatriya women and Magadhas from vaishya women. Chandalas are executioneers, Sutas charioteers, Devalas guards, Pukkashas hunters and Magadhas bards. Chandalas should live outside the villages and should not touch those belonging to any other class.
The best name for a brahmana is that which ends in Sharma. Similarly, the best name for a kshatriya ends in Varma, for a vaishya in Gupta and for a shudra in Dasa. The sacred thread ceremony is to be held at the age of eight years for brahmanas, eleven years for kshatriyas and twelve years for vaishyas. No sacred a thread ceremony should be held beyond sixteen years of age.
The first stage in life is that of brahmacharya (studenthood). A student should never eat honey or meat and should never indulge in singing or dancing. He should completely give up violence and speaking to women. His duties are to discuss the shastras (holy texts) and associate with learned men. Apart from that, he will meditate in solitude on the true nature of the brahman.
The next stage of life is that of Grihastha (household stage). A brahmana may have four wives, a kshatriya three, a vaishya two and a shudra only one. The husband and the wife should be from
the same varna. Marriage across varna is to be avoided. A woman can marry again provided that her husband has disappeared, is dead. has become a hermit or is such a sinner that he is expelled from his own varna. If her husband dies, a widow is permitted to marry her late husband’s younger brother.
A householder should get up at dawn and pray to the gods. He should always bathe in the morning. He should not talk impolitely. He should not bite his nails. He should not laugh at those who are inferior. And he should never reside in a place where there is no king, no doctor or no river. He must not insult his elders. He should never criticise the Vedas, the shastras, the devas, the sages and the king. And he must never travel without a light at night.

The third ashrama is vanaprastha (forest – dwelling stage). Such a person should always sleep on the ground and wear skins as clothes. He should wear his hair matted and give up the company of other people. He has to serve gods and guests and live on fruit and roots.
In the final stage of life (sannyasa) a person becomes a hermit. In this ashrama, a person attains true knowledge and is completely freed. But he should become a hermit only when he is convinced that he has completely lost all interest in material pursuits. Such a person is not affected by birth or death. He realises that the physical body is transient, that it is of no concern at all. It is the knowledge of the atman (soul) that is the best form of knowledge. When one gains this knowledge, one realises the identification of the atman with the brahman, one understands that the brahman is everywhere.

Sins And Their Atonement
If one commits a sin, one has to atone for it. This is known as prayashchitta. If one does not atone for the sins that one has committed, it is the king’s duty to punish the sinner.
If one drinks from a well where the dead body of an animal has been floating, one has to fast for three days. The worst possible sins are the killing of brahmana, the drinking of wine and theft. Other sins are criticising the Vedas, the bearing of false witness, killing a friend, killing a cow, forsaking one’s parents or sons, the selling of ponds, murder, lying, killing animals and the cutting down of green trees for fodder.
A killer of a brahmana has to build a hut in the forest and live there for twelve years. He has to beg for a living and give up all that he possesses to another brahmana. A killer of cows has to live on just coarse grain for a month. He has to live with cattle and follow them around during the day. All his possessions have to be given up to a brahmana and he has to bathe in cow’s urine for two months.
If a brahmana steals gold, he should go and report his crime to the king. The king will then hit him with a club and this will be the brahmana’s prayashchitta.
The sin of killing kshatriya is one-fourth the sin of killing a brahmana. If one kills a vaishya, the sin is one-eighth the sin of killing a brahmana. And if one kills a shudra, the sin is one-sixteenth
of the sin of killing a brahmana. Killing a cat, a mongoose, a frog, a dog, a lizard or a crow is as sinful as killing a shudra.

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