The Puṁsavana Ritualistic Ceremony by Srila Sukadeva Goswami
Maharaja Pariksit said: My dear lord, you have already spoken about the puṁsavana vow. Now I want to hear about it in detail, for I understand that by observing this vow one can please the Supreme Lord, Visnu.
Sukadeva Goswami said: On the first day of the bright fortnight of the month of Agrahāyaṇa [November-December], following the instructions of her husband, a woman should begin this regulative devotional service with a vow of penance, for it can fulfill all one’s desires. Before beginning the worship of Lord Visnu, the woman should hear the story of how the Maruts were born. Under the instructions of qualified brāhmaṇas, in the morning she should wash her teeth, bathe, and dress herself with white cloth and ornaments, and before taking breakfast she should worship Lord Visnu and Laksmi. [She should then pray to the Lord as follows.]
My dear Lord, You are full in all opulences, but I do not beg You for opulence. I simply offer my respectful obeisances unto You. You are the husband and master of Laksmidevi, the goddess of fortune, who has all opulences. Therefore You are the master of all mystic yoga. I simply offer my obeisances unto You. O my Lord, because You are endowed with causeless mercy, all opulences, all prowess and all glories, strength and transcendental qualities, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of everyone. [After profusely offering obeisances unto Lord Visnu, the devotee should offer respectful obeisances unto mother Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, and pray as fol- lows.]
O wife of Lord Visnu, O internal energy of Lord Visnu, you are as good as Lord Visnu Himself, for you have all of His qualities and opulences. O goddess of fortune, please be kind to me. O mother of the entire world, I offer my respectful obeisances unto you.
“My Lord Visnu, full in six opulences, You are the best of all enjoyers and the most powerful. O husband of mother Laksmi, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You, who are accompanied by many associates, such as Visvaksena. I offer all the paraphernalia for worshiping You.”
One should chant this mantra every day with great attention while worshiping Lord Visnu with all paraphernalia, such as water for washing His feet, hands and mouth and water for His bath. One must offer Him various presentations for His worship, such as garments, a sacred thread, ornaments, scents, flowers, incense and lamps.
Sukadeva Goswami continued: After worshiping the Lord with all the paraphernalia mentioned above, one should chant the following mantra while offering twelve oblations of ghee on the sacred fire: oṁ namo bhagavate mahā- puruṣāya mahāvibhūti-pataye svāhā. If one desires all opulences, his duty is to daily worship Lord Visnu with His wife, Laksmi. With great devotion one should worship Him according to the above mentioned process. Lord Visnu and the goddess of fortune are an immensely powerful combination. They are the bestowers of all benedictions and the sources of all good fortune. Therefore the duty of everyone is to worship Laksmi-Narayana. One should offer obeisances unto the Lord with a mind humbled through devotion. While offering daṇḍavats by falling on the ground like a rod, one should chant the above mantra ten times. Then one should chant the following prayer.
My Lord Visnu and mother Laksmi, goddess of fortune, you are the proprietors of the entire creation. Indeed, you are the cause of the creation. Mother Laksmi is extremely difficult to understand because she is so powerful that the jurisdiction of her power is difficult to overcome. Mother Laksmi is represented in the material world as the external energy, but actually she is always the internal energy of the Lord. My Lord, You are the master of energy, and therefore You are the Supreme Person. You are sacrifice [yajṣa] personified. Laksmi, the embodiment of spiritual activities, is the original form of worship offered unto You, whereas You are the enjoyer of all sacrifices. Mother Laksmi, who is here, is the reservoir of all spiritual qualities, whereas You manifest and enjoy all these qualities. Indeed, You are actually the enjoyer of everything. You live as the Supersoul of all living entities, and the goddess of fortune is the form of their bodies, senses and minds. She also has a holy name and form, whereas You are the support of all such names and forms and the cause for their manifestation. You are both the supreme rulers and benedictors of the three worlds. Therefore, my Lord, Uttamasloka, may my am- bitions be fulfilled by Your grace.
Sri Sukadeva Goswami continued: Thus one should worship Lord Visnu, who is known as Srinivasa, along with mother Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, by offering prayers according to the process mentioned above. After removing all the paraphernalia of worship, one should offer them water to wash their hands and mouths, and then one should worship them again. Thereafter, with devotion and humility, one should offer prayers to the Lord and mother Laksmi. Then one should smell the remnants of the food offered and then again worship the Lord and Laksmiji. Accepting her husband as the representative of the Supreme Person, a wife should worship him with unalloyed devotion by offering him prasāda. The husband, being very pleased with his wife, should engage himself in the affairs of his family. Between the husband and wife, one person is sufficient to execute this devotional service. Because of their good relationship, both of them will enjoy the result. Therefore if the wife is unable to
execute this process, the husband should carefully do so, and the faithful wife will share the result. One should accept this viṣṇu-vrata, which is a vow in devo- tional service, and should not deviate from its execution to engage in anything else. By offering the remnants of prasāda, flower garlands, sandalwood pulp and ornaments, one should daily worship the brāhmaṇas and worship women who peacefully live with their husbands and children. Every day the wife must continue following the regulative principles to worship Lord Visnu with great devotion. Thereafter, Lord Visnu should be laid in His bed, and then one should take prasāda. In this way, husband and wife will be purified and will have all their desires fulfilled. The chaste wife must perform such devotional service continuously for one year. After one year
passes, she should fast on the full-moon day in the month of Kārttika [October November]. On the morning of the next day, one should wash oneself, and after worshiping Lord Krishna as before, one should cook as one cooks for festivals as stated in the Gṛhya-sūtras. Sweet rice should be cooked with ghee, and with this preparation the husband should offer oblations to the fire twelve times. Thereafter, he should satisfy the brāhmaṇas. When the satisfied brāhmaṇas bestow their blessings, he should devotedly offer them respectful obeisances with his head, and with their permission he should take prasāda. Before taking his meal, the husband must first seat the ācārya comfortably, and, along with his relatives and friends, should control his speech and offer prasāda to the guru. Then the wife should eat the remnants of the oblation of sweet rice cooked with ghee.
Eating the remnants insures a learned, devoted son and all good fortune. If this vow or ritualistic ceremony is observed according to the description of śāstra, even in this life a man will be able to achieve all the benedictions he desires from the Lord. A wife who performs this ritualistic ceremony will surely receive good fortune, opulence, sons, a long living husband, a good reputation and a good home. If an unmarried girl observes this vrata, she will be able to get a very good husband. If a woman who is avīrā who has no husband or son executes this ritualistic ceremony, she can be promoted to the spiritual world. A woman whose children have died after birth can get a child with a long duration of life and also become very fortunate in possessing wealth. If a woman is unfortunate she will become fortunate, and if ugly she will become beautiful. By observing this vrata, a diseased man can gain relief from his disease and have an able body with which to work. If one recites this narration while offering oblations to the pitās and demigods, especially during the śrāddha ceremony, the demigods and inhabitants of Pitrloka will be extremely pleased with him and bestow upon him the fulfillment of all desires. After one performs this ritualistic ceremony, Lord Visnu and His wife, mother Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, are very pleased with him. O King Pariksit, now I have completely described how Diti performed this ceremony and had good children the Maruts and a happy life. I have tried to explain this to you as elaborately as possible.
—Srimad-Bhāgavatam » Canto 6: Prescribed Duties for Mankind » Chapter 19. Performing the Puṁsavana Ritualistic Ceremony » Verses 1-28.