The sages said, O very wise one who is expert in the Vedas and the Satras. Repository of all spiritual knowledge, you are the most qualified guru we have found. You are omniscient and of perfect character. You have appeared because of the pious deeds we have performed in this and previous lives. Our life is this world is now very auspicious and we, as well as our ancestors, the Vedas, the sastras, our austerities and hermitages are blessed.
O best of the Brahmins, we have heard the eighteen Puranas at length and now would like to hear the others as well. For twelve years we have engaged in Saunaka Rsi's great sacrifice and our only reason for stopping is to drink the ambrosia of your tale.
Suta Gosvami said, O illustrious ones, due to your meritorious activities, your questions are very suitable. The inquiries of those who are virtuous and even-minded are beneficial to all living beings. O Brahmins, I also feel happiness when reciting these transcendental stories, especially in the association of pure devotees such as yourselves.
In any case, there are also eighteen minor Puranas such as the Ganesha, Narada, Nrsimha, etc. I am going to first recite the Ganesha Purana, which is rarely heard in this mortal world. Simply by hearing it, a person will have all his desires fulfilled. Neither Brahma nor Sesa can describe its majesty. But with your permission, I will recite it in summary. Those who have performed pious activities over many lifetimes are qualified to hear it. But those rebellious souls, atheists and demons will not hear it.
Since the post of Ganesha is eternal, without material qualities and has no beginning, no one seeks to describe His real appearance. However, those who are devoted and worship Him can describe His appearance, which is full of transcendental qualities. The blessed Lord Ganesha has the form of OM and He is situated as the first syllable of the Vedas. The great sages and demigods led by Indra always remember Him in their hearts and Brahma, Siva, Visnu and Indra continually worship Him, the cause of creation and cause of all causes.
At His command Lord Brahma creates the universe. At His command Lord Visnu maintains the universe. At His command Lord Siva destroys the universe. At His command the Sun, Lord of the day, moves throughout the universe. At His command Vayu directs the wind. At His command Varuna causes the waters to flow in all directions. At His command the stars shine in the sky. At His command Agni burns in the three worlds.
O Brahmins, His pastimes are hidden and not just told to anyone, but as I reveal them to you, please listen attentively. Brahma narrated it to the immeasurably splendid Vyasadeva. Vyasa narrated it to Bhrgu Muni and Bhrgu to the great King Somakanta. Myriads of meritorious results belong to those who visit sacred places, give gifts in charity, perform austerities, sacrifices and take vows. But for those who hear the Ganesha Purana, excellent Brahmins, wisdom blossoms and their minds turn away from worldly existence, land, wives and sons. They become excellent devotees, attentive to the pastimes of Ganesha, Lord of the Peacocks. So hear about His greatness by listening to this Purana's tale of the great King Somakanta.
In Devanagara in the province of Surastra there was a king named Somakanta. He was well versed in the vedas and sastras and understood the meaning of the dharmasastras. Twenty elephants, two thousand horses and six thousand chariots followed him when he marched out from his kingdom. He also had countless foot soldiers, some of whom carried weapons made of fire and others who carried bows with quivers of arrows. He surpassed Brhaspati in intelligence, Kubera in wealth, the earth in patience and in depth, the ocean. And the king also surpassed the sun in brightness, the moon in splendor, heat in fire and Kamadeva, the god of love, in handsomeness. His five ministers were powerful and resolute, and were also expert politicians. In this way they defeated their enemies. The first minister was called Rupavat and another was Vidyadhisa. There was also Ksemamkara, Jnanagamya and the fifth was called Subala. Due to their great prowess they conquered various countries. They were very handsome when dressed up in a variety of attractive clothes and ornaments. Always engaged in their dharma they were all very dear to the king.
The king had a wife named Sudharma who was endowed with all good qualities. The other wives of the king were named Rati, Rambha and Tilottama. These queens, because of their jealousy toward Sudharma, could not find happiness anywhere. On Sudharma's ears were splendid golden earings studded with many precious gems. On her neck she wore a golden ornament covered with pearls. On her hips she wore a girdle made of various jewels and wore matching anklets on her feet. She wore rings on her fingers, toes and hands and possessed valuable clothes by the thousands and of many colors. She was devoted to and revered her illustrious king and was also very generous and hospitable to her guests. In this way Sudharma served her husband day and night always obeying his command.
The king and queen bore an excellent son named Hemakanta who had the strength of a myriad of elephants. He was wise and courageous and instilled fear in his enemies.
Excellent Brahmins, such was Somakanta, best of kings. After he had conquered the entire earth, he established a kingdom based on dharma, sacrifice and generousity.
Thus ends the first chapter of Ganesha Purana Upasanakhanda called "The Description of Somakanta"
Suta Gosvami said, Sages, now you must all hear about Somakanta's past sinful life. As a consequence of his past karma, that virtuous king suddenly began to ooze with leprosy, which was very painful. Whether it is good or bad, karma always accompanies the living being. Whatever works a man does become karma which he experiences in future lives.
As if he was a boat in the ocean, he became immersed in an ocean of sorrow. And he felt so much pain as if bitten by a snake. The distressed king's body was completely covered with many sores dripping with purulent blood and worms. Seemingly filled with consumption, the king became very thin and deranged with anxiety. He experienced pain in all of his senses. Then having controlled his mind, with great effort, the king spoke to his ministers.
The king said, Curse my kingdom and my body. Curse my strength, my life and wealth! What has caused this disastrous karma to manifest? I have surpassed Soma in splendor, hence I am called Somakanta. And I have protected the good, the wretched, those who are versed in the Vedas, their hermitages as well as all the nations and every being as though they were my very own sons. And with my arrows I have defeated ferocious enemies. I have conquered the entire earth. And with a subdued mind and no false attachments, I correctly worshipped Sadasiva as the Supreme Self.
My body was previously scented fragrantly, but because I now emit a foul smell, my life is useless. For that reason and with your permission, I am going to the forest. For the sake of my kingdom, you must consecrate my son, Hemakanta, who possesses valor and intelligence, as king, and protect him courageously. I will never be able to show my face in this world. For me, there is no point in having a kingdom, nor wives, nor life, nor regal splendor. Prime Ministers, I will go the forest and practice austerities for my own liberation.
Suta said, Excellent Brahmins, after the king spoke he fell to the ground, like a tree blown over by the wind, with his body covered in warm purulent blood. The ministers and young women cried out loudly and the rest of his subjects made dreadful cries of distress. But by the minister's use of healing herbs and sacred medicines, and by fanning him and wiping his body with soft clothes, they revived the king. When the king started to feel better they spoke to him as follows.
The Ministers said, Because of you, O king, we have enjoyed happiness equal to that of Indra. How are we going to live without you? We will all become as evil as the killers of mother cow. Your worthy son will now rule the kingdom. He is a strong leader, a subduer of his enemies and possesses great wealth. But leaving behind all happiness, we will now accompany you to the forest.
Suta said, Then his chief wife and heroine, Sudharma, declared that she would accompany the king to the forest and serve him. I will stay with him until the end. But you ministers should stay. You must help my son rule the kingdom as I would. When one is joined with another person, they must suffer or enjoy the results of their previous karma together. At the same time, an individual suffers or enjoys the results of their own deeds, and that is uniquely experienced by them alone. So the king enjoyed the pleasures of the kingdom and I too enjoyed various kinds of pleasurable experiences. The satras prescribe that a woman should accompany their husband in this world and the next.
The refined Hemakanta, grief stricken, spoke the following words to his father, Somakanta.
Hemakanta said, O tiger amongst men, I cannot rule the kingdom, wives or riches. Just as a lamp without oil or a body without breath is useless, so too is this kingdom without you, O upholder of dharma.
Suta said, After he had drunk the ambrosial words of his ministers, wife and son, the king, delighted at heart, addressed his son concerning dharma.
The king said, A son who always obeys his father and faithfully performs the funeral ceremony, and who offers oblations to the ancestors is indeed a good son. A son like this will also bear a son. And he also knows the true meaning of the dharma sastras and of correct political conduct. Therefore my son, knowing this, I give my command for you to rule the kingdom. In cooperation with my ministers, rule these subjects as though they were your own children. Oozing with leprosy and beyond contempt, I will go to the forest with my wife Sudharma. Consent to this my strong vowed son.
Thus ends the second chapter of the Ganesha Purana Upasanakhanda called "The Renouncing of Somakanta"
Suta Gosvami said, Rising up and taking his son by the hand, the king took Hemakanta to a room upstairs in the palace where they always took council. In that room stood a golden Nrsingasana bedecked with many precious stones and inlaid with pearls and coral and shined like the palace of Indra. Father and son sat together on that throne and although there were only two of them, they appeared to be many, reflected in every gem. Concerned for his son and his family's honor, the king spoke first about personal conduct and then the art of politics.
Somakanta said, One should rise three hours before dawn. Sitting in a clean place one should meditate on his guru. Then one should meditate upon Mother Earth and ask her to patiently accept the touch of thy feet upon her. Then having meditated upon one's personal loving God, one should first offer prostrations and recite the following prayers.
"At sunrise I offer my humble supplication to Lord Gananatha, who is the cause of this manifestation, who awards boons to the demigods such as Brahma and others, who abounds in the Agamas, who awards the results of the activities of dharma, artha, and kama, who is the cause of liberation for the human race, who is beyond words, who is the beginning, and who has unlimited appearances."
"At sunrise I offer my humble supplication to Lord Shiva, the husband of goddess Parvati, who carries the moon on his head, who is dresses in a tiger-skin, who is pitiless toward mind-born lust, who awards boons to Visnu and Indra, who is loved by the demigods and perfected beings, who carries the damaru drum and trident, who wears a garland of snakes, and who is Puru's enemy."
"At sunrise I offer my humble supplication to Lord Visnu, the husband of goddess Laksmi, who possesses great strength, who manifests unlimited incarnations for the protection of the divine souls, who dwells in the ocean of milk, who is the controller of the demigods, who is the Supreme Lord - dispeller of darkness, who defeats all of his enemies and is also the cause of their liberation."
"At sunrise I offer my humble supplication to the Sun, Lord of Light, who removes sins, who removes darkness, who is praised by divine beings, who is the three Vedas, who by means of illusion expelled the enemies of the demigods, and who is the cause of spiritual knowledge."
"At sunrise I offer my humble supplication to Goddess Parvati, daughter of the Himalayas, who creates prosperity, who saves those who are drowning in the ocean of material existence, who possesses three eyes, who is the cause of the creation of matter, who by means of illusion expelled the enemies of the demigods, who is illusion personified, who is praised by the great sages and demigods and who is known as Suresi."
After one has meditated on other demigods and sages in the same way and worshipped them in one's mind, he should pray to them for forbearance. Then taking a water-pot, one should walk in a southwesterly direction from the village. One should also take along clay (white for a Brahmin, red for a Ksatriya, and black for a Vaisya or Sudra). One should never take clay from a riverbank nor an anthill or from the house of a brahmin. After one has covered the ground with grass he should pass stool and urine whilst facing the north or south. Whether it is day or night, having first cleaned one's behind with grass or soft wood, one should wash there five times with clay and water. Then immediately after, one should wash the left hand ten times and both hands seven times. The genitals should be washed once and left hand three more times. After one has passed only urine, both hands and feet should be washed twice. For a householder it is prescribed that this should be done at least one time, but for one who is practicing austerities - twice, and for a sanyasin - four times. For purification, (both day and night) a woman or a sudra should do at least one-eighth of the latter.
After sipping some water and taking a piece of wood from the milk or thorn tree, one should clean his teeth and tongue. And thus praying, "O Lord Krsna, please give me strength, power, glory, energy, cows, intelligence, wisdom and knowledge of Brahman." Then having taken one's bath in cool water, one should perform the samdya worship with prayers and benedictions for his immediate family. Then one should offer libations to the ancestors and demigods, and practice the recitation of the Vedas. Finally one should perform worship to one's personal loving God. One should then offer food to the demigods, deities and guests under the guidance of the Brahmins. One should also listen to the recitation of the Puranas, give gifts in charity and avoid criticizing others. With loving words, energy and wealth, one should be very generous to others and never hurt anyone's feelings or engage in self-praise. One should always be faithful and respectful towards one's guru nor be offensive toward the Vedas. Nor should one engage in heresy or associate with irreligious people nor eat unclean foods like meat, fish or eggs or have sexual relations with a married woman. Nor should one avoid one's wife, but approach her at the right time for sexual relations. One should always respect and act dutifully towards one's mother and father, guru and the cows. One should give food and clothes to the weak, blind and poor. And most importantly, always be truthful in speech and honest in all of one's dealings.
Those who are virtuous enjoy the king's favor but those who are not are to be punished according to the Dharma Sastras but only after consulting with those learned in politics and the law. One should never have confidence in those who do not inspire the same. But do not have excessive confidence in those who are overly confident, if one wants to survive. And especially do not be confident in those who are overly confident and who are violent also.
By ruling the kingdom through the principles of the Dharma Satras, one should create prosperity for all. Give in charity according to one's capacity, otherwise you will become weak minded. When there is confusion, always choose the right path. The king alone shall mete out punishment. He should always be represented honestly through ambassadors and be of handsome appearance.
Only through fear of punishment do ordinary people adhere to their own duties. Otherwise how would they discern the difference between right or wrong. In praise and blame one should remain equipoised. If in the past one has injured another or has lost his riches, yet now comes for refuge, he should always be afforded that. The advice of spies should be utilized for the protection of the kingdom. Having subdued the six enemies of the soul such as sensuous desires, he should strive to conquer the rest. An excellent king sees to the livelihood of everyone and not the deprivation of his subjects, the demigods, the parks or places of worship. To attain renown he should give gifts and charity during the recommended phases of the moon. He should not issue commands to his friends or divulge secrets amongst women. He should help cows stuck in the mud and release a Brahmin from debt. He should never tell a lie or abandon the truth. He must captivate the hearts of his ministers, subjects and dependents. And he should always pay homage to God and the Brahmins.
When he had taught his son, Hemakanta, everything about political conduct, as it is presented in the Vedas, in respect to its standard usage, which brings about peace, is very pleasing and directs the sciences, noticing that the hour was auspicious, the king summoned his ministers. They immediately gathered together many Brahmins from their homes who were expert in Vedic knowledge and skilled in sacrificial rites. Then the king invited other kings and queens, his own friends, the city chiefs and the citizens to witness the consecration of his own son, Hemakanta, the subduer of enemies. After the king worshipped Ganesha and Shiva, according to the rite, asked for his mother's blessings and then performed the obligatory funerary ceremony. He then refreshed the Brahmins with fruit juice and completed his son's consecration to the accompaniment of Vedic hymns. Somakanta then made the following statement to his three principal advisors.
The king said, Here is my son, ministers. Be prudent. My son is in your hands alone. Since those who are skilled in politics carry out my orders, so they too, including the chiefs of the cities, should obey his order.
Thus ends the third chapter of the Ganesha Purana Upasanakhanda called "The Description of Conduct"