(Last Updated on : 26-04-2010)
Agni Purana has explained the different types of gifts which are known as Merudanam. The best sort of Merudanam consists of a thousand Drona measures of paddy, the nine remaining sorts respectively consisting of a half measure of paddy less than the sort immediately preceding it in number. The gift known as the Lavanachala (hill of salt) should (the best of its kind) consist of sixteen Drona measures of the same article, while the best of the class of gift known as the Gudadri (the hill of treacle) should consist of tea Bhar measures of treacle, the middle and the inferior sorts of the kind being composed of half the quantity of molasses. The gift known as the Suvarna Meru should consist of a thousand Pala weights of gold, the middling and the inferior kinds of the class consisting of five hundred and two hundred and fifty Palas respectively. The gift known as the Tiladri should consist of ten Drona measures of the same article, the middling and the inferior sorts consisting of five and three Drona measures of sesame orientale respectively. The gift known as the hill of cotton should consist of twenty Bhara weights of cotton, the middling and the inferior sorts of the class respectively consisting of tea and five Bharas.
It has been mentioned that a first class gift of the kind known as the Ghritachala should consist of twenty pitchers of the same substance, while the middling and the inferior sorts should respectively consist of ten and five pitchers, full of clarified butter. A first class Rajatachala (hill of silver) should consist of ten thousand Pala weights of the metal. A first class Sharkara-chala (the gift of a hill of sugar) should consist of ten Bhara weights of the same article, a middling or an inferior gift of the kind respectively consisting of five and two and a half Bhara weights.
While describing the gift of Dasa Dhenu the first gift which has been mentioned in the Purana is Guda Dhenu (the cow of treacle), the second is Ghrita Dhenu (the cow of clarified butter), the third is Tila Dhenu (the cow of sessamum orientaie), the fourth is Jala Dhenu (the cow of water), the other Dhenus, being the gifts of cows made of thickened milk, honey, sugar, curd, or sweetened juice. It has been said that pitchers full of liquid substances should be duly stowed in cases of gifts such as Ghrita Dhenu, Madhu Dhenu etc, while solid substances should be kept in piles as in the case of Tila Dhenu etc. The ground should be plastered with cow dung, and blades of sacrificial Kusha grass should be scattered ever it, over which the skin of a black antelope to the extent of four cubits should be spread, with its neck facing towards the East. A similar piece of skin should be kept beside the former to represent the calf. The cow as above represented by the skin of a black antelope should be made to look towards the east with her calf, with her body stretching- north to south. A first class Guda Dhenu should be made of four Bhara weights of treacle, while its calf should be made of a Bhara weight only. A Guda Dhenu of the middling-quality should be made of two Bhara weights of treacle and its calf should be made of half a Bhara. A Guda Dhenu of the inferior class should be made of a Bhara weight of treacle, while its calf should be made of a quarter weight of that article according to the quantity of treacle at the disposal of the giver.
Agni Purana narrates that the treacle images of both the cow and her calf should be covered over with pieces of white linen of thin texture. Their ears, noses and legs should be made of mothers of pearl. The eyes should be made of pearls. The different veins on their bodies should be shown by laying down strings of silver thread. The humps on their backs should be made of copper, while the hairs on their body should be represented by pasting the hairs of a Chamari cow to them. The bunches-of hair at the end of the tails should be made of silk, milk should be represented by beads of bel-metal, while the eye balls should be made of a material known as the Indra-nila. The horns should be plated with gold and the hoofs with silver. The teeth should be made of diverse fruits and the best of the Brahmana should worship the images of the cow made as above, by reciting the Mantra
Similar way should be followed in the process of gifting of other cows. In the case of the Tila Dhenu the giver becomes sinless and attains salvation after a Jong and happy career on earth. It has been said that a living milch-cow with her horns plated with gold, her hoofs plated with silver and her entire body covered with a piece of white linen together with a milking bowl of bel-metal, should be gifted to a Brahmana with a view to consolidate the act of giving gift. The giver of such a cow is sure to live in heaven for as many years as the number of hairs on her skin.
Hence it can be said that this particular chapter in the Agni Purana has focussed on the fact that act of giving cows as gifts helps an individual to attain salvation and he also possesses many of the earthly joys.