Devi Bhagavatham describes who a secular Brahmin is (most of us) and how he attained Moksha

Story of Sathyavratha

1-5. Lomas’a said :– O Munis! Utatthya, the son of Devadatta, was quite ignorant of anything of the Vedas, Japam, Âsana, Prânâyâma, Pratyâhâra (restraint of mind), Bhûtas’uddhi (purification of the elements of the body), mantra, Kîlaka (chanting of a mantra to serve as an anchor), Gâyathrî, Saucha (cleanliness, external and internal),Âchamana, Prânâgnihotra, Sandhyâ. Daily he rose in the morning and somehow rinsed his mouth and washed his teeth and bathed in the Ganges river without any mantrams (like a Sûdra).

6. That stupid fellow ate indiscriminately, did not know what to eat and what not to eat. During the mid-day he collected the fruits from the forest and used to eat them.

7. But he always spoke truth while he stayed there; never did he say any untruth. The people of that place, seeing this, named him Satyatapâ.

8-9. That Utatthya did no good or bad to anybody; he slept peacefully and blissfully; but be used to think when he would die; thus his troubles would be ended; he felt that the life of an illiterate Brâhman is a curse; his death would be a better alternative.

10. He used to think thus :– Fate has made me a fool; I do not find any other cause for it. Oh! I got the exceedingly good birth amongst men; but all this has been rendered in vain by Fate.

11. Oh! As a fair woman, if barren, a cow if giving no milk, and a tree without any fruits are all useless, so Fate has rendered my life, too, quite useless.

12. Why am I cursing Fate? This is all the fruits of my past Karma. In my previous life I never wrote a book and presented to a good Brâhmin; hence I am illiterate in this birth.

13. In my former birth I did not impart any knowledge to my favourite pupils; hence I am wicked and a cursed Brâhmin in this birth.

14. I never performed any religious asceticism in any holy place, I did not serve the saints, I never worshipped the Brâhmins with any offerings. For all these reasons I am now born of perverted intellect in the present birth.

15. Many a son of the Munis have learnt the meanings of the Vedas and the S’âstras; and I am whiling away my time thus in a quite illiterate condition by some wretched combinations of incidents.

16. I do not know how to perform Tapasyâ; what is the use, then, of my attempting to do so? I am of very bad luck, and thus my good resolve will not be crowned with success.

17. I consider Fate to be the strongest of all; Fie on one’s own prowess! For actions done with effort and hard labour are frustrated entirely by Fate.

18. Time can never be overstepped; See! Brahmâ, Visnu, Rudra, Indra, and others are all under the influence of the Great Time.

19. O Risis! Thus arguing in his mind, that Brâhmin son Utatthya stayed there in that hermitage on the bank of the holy Ganges.

20. And gradually he became thoroughly unattached to all the things and, being peaceful, passed away his time in that forest without any habitations and men, with great difficulty.

21. Thus passed away fourteen years in that forest where the Ganges was flowing. Still he did not learn how to worship the Supreme Deity, how to make Japam, nor did he learn any mantrams. Simply he lived there and whiled away his time.

22. People surrounding that place knew this much only of him that this Muni spoke truth only and hence his name was Satyavrata. This one name made him celebrated that he is Satyavrata; never did he say any untruth.

23. Once on a time, a hunter named Nisâda, exceedingly clever in hunting, came accidentally with bows and arms in his hands, while hunting a deer in that wide forest. He looked like a second God of Death (Yama) and seemed to be very cruel.

24. That savage mountaineer, drawing his bow so as to touch the ear, pierced a boar with his sharp arrows. The boar, being very much terrified, fled with enormous rapidity to the Muni Satyavrata.

25. On seeing the distressed condition of the boar trembling with fear and his body besmeared with blood, the Muni was moved with mercy.

26. While the boar, pierced with arrows and besmeared with blood, was running away in front of him, mercy took possession of the Muni, therefore the Muni began to tremble and agreeably to the human nature exclaimed “Ai” “Ai” (go to that direction), the seed mantram of the Goddess of learning with “m” left out (Aim, Aim).

27. That illiterate Brâhmin son never heard before that “Ai” was the seed mantram of the Sarasvatî Devî; nor did he come to know of it by any other means. Accidentally it came out of his mouth, and he uttered. And afterwards that Mahâtmâ seeing the boar’s distressed condition was merged in deep sorrow.

28. The boar entered trembling into the Muni’s hermitage very much distracted and being very much pained with arrows. Being unable to find any other way the boar hid himself in the dense bushes.

29. Instantly there appeared then, before the Muni, the terrible savage hunter, like a second God of Death, with string stretched to his ear, in pursuit of that boar.

30-33. On seeing the Muni Satyavrata sitting there alone and silent on the Kus’a grass seat, the hunter bowed down to him and asked “O Brâhmin! Whither has that boar gone. I know very well everything about you that you never speak untruth; therefore I am enquiring about the boar pierced by my arrows. My family members are all very hungry; and to feed them, I am come out in this hunting. This is the living, ordained by the Fate; I have got no other means of maintaining the livelihood of my family. This I speak truly to you; whether it is bad or good, I will have to maintain my family with it. O Brâhman! You are famous as Satyavrata; my family members are starving; kindly reply quickly where that boar has gone?”

34. Thus asked by the hunter, the Mahâtmâ Satyavrata was merged in an ocean of doubt; he began to argue “If I say I have not seen the boar then my vow to speak the truth will certainly be broken.

35. The boar struck with arrows has gone this way, it is true. How can I tell a lie? Again this man is hungry and is therefore asking, he will instantly kill the boar no sooner he finds him. How then can I speak truth?

36. Where speaking out the truth causes injury and the loss of lives, that truth is no truth at all; moreover, even untruth, when tempered with mercy for the welfare of others, is recognised as truth. Really speaking, whatever

leads to the welfare of all the beings in this world, that is truth; and every thing else is not truth.

37. O Jamadagni! Thus placed between the horns of a religious dilemma what shall I do now so as to meet both the ends — to save the life of the boar, to do the welfare, as well as not to speak untruth.”

38. When Satyavrata saw the boar wounded by the arrow of the hunter, he, moved with pity, uttered the seed mantra of the Goddess of Learning; and now that most auspicious Goddess, on account of his uttering Her seed mantram, was very pleased and gave him the knowledge, difficult to be attained otherwise.

39. The door of all his knowledge opened out at once, and he became at once instantly the seer, the poet like the ancient Muni Vâlmikî.

40. Then that religiously disposed, merciful Brâhman, aiming at Truth, addressed that hunter before him with bows in his arms, thus :–

41. That force which sees (as witness) never speaks; and that force which speaks, never sees. O hunter! Why are you asking me repeatedly, impelled by your own selfish desire?

42. The hunter, the killer of the animals, on hearing this was disappointed in the matter of finding out the boar and went back to his home.

43. That Brâhmin turned out a poet like Varuna and he became celebrated as Satyavrata, the speaker of truth, in all the worlds.

44. He began to recite the Satyavrata mantram duly, and, by its influence, became a Pundit, rivalled by none in this world.

45. During every festival the Brâhmans chanted his praise and the Munis used to narrate his story in detail.

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