There have been some queries about obtaining progeny. There are several procedures prescribed for those without progeny. The foremost of these is upAsana of mantras of Santana Ganapati and Santana Gopala, and related Homas. However, as these have to be performed under the guidance of Sadguru after due upadesha, I will list some general guidelines.
shravaNam harivamshasya bhUsurANAm cha bhojanam |
Listening to Harivamsha and feeding learned Brahmana-s is prescribed in Padma Purana for begetting children.
IshAna iti mantreNa japaM kuryAt sahasrakam |
dashAmshahomasaMyuktaM kuryAccha vidhivattataH ||
Reciting the mantra IshAnaH sarvavidyAnAm 1000 times for a mandala and performing dashamsha homa is prescribed in works like Santi Ratnakara.
Padmaistu lakShasaMkhyaakaiH shivaM sampUjya yatnataH |
swarNadhenuH pradAtavyA savatsA surabhistathA |
ghR^itakumbhaM vainateya brAhmaNAya nivedayet ||
One should perform Laksharchana to Mahadeva with lotuses, donate a golden cow with calf (pratimA or an idol) and gift a pot of ghee to a brAhmaNa [Suta Samhita].
mahArudrajapo vApi lakShapadmaiH shivArchanam |
Reciting Rudra mantra (rudrAdhyaya) and performing laksharchana to Mahadeva with lotuses is a sure remedy. Reciting abhilAShASthaka [skAnde kAshIkhaNDe] is traditionally prescribed as well.
Harivamsha Parayana and Shravana are one of the oft suggested remedies. For other Yugas, yagnas like putrakAmeShTi etc were prescribed but in Kali, Harivamsha pArAyaNa is considered sufficient - shravaNam harivamshasya kalau yaj~naphalapradam. These days, one sees that people buy a book of Harivamsha and read it like a novel - while watching their favorite soap on television and blame the Purana later as being ineffective. There is a fixed procedure for Harivamsha Parayana prescribed by the learned. There are certain modalities for every prescribed karma. These days there are people who perform navAvaraNa on a dining table, dressed in Bermuda shorts and T-shirts. Well, the argument is that bhAvanA is important, but if the bhAvanA were to be that strong, where then is the need for bahiryAga at all? Even before one undertakes the pArAyaNa or shravaNa of Harivamsha, one should undergo suitable prAyashchitta prescribed by one's kulAchArya - by performance of prAjApatya, chAndrAyaNa etc. (or like most of us do these days, perform the prescribed dAna as an alternative). On an auspicious day, one should perform his nitya karma, sit with his wife facing east in a mandapa chosen for the pArAyaNa (at one's house or a Vishnu temple)and perform an appropriate Samkalpa. He should then perform Ganapati Puja, Punyahavachana, Matrika Pujana and Nandi Shraddha. He should then perform pAda pUja of one's kulAchArya or a naiShThika brAhmaNa, worship him with gandha and puShpa, offer him vastra, abhushana, alamkara etc and request him to narrate Harivamsha Purana. Also, to compensate for various deficiencies in the pArAyaNa, five suitable brAhamaNa-s with necessary dIkShA should be entrusted with the responsibility of performing japa of vAsudeva dwAdashI, japa of Santana gopAla mantra, japa of rudrAdhyAya, japa of mahAgaNapati mantra and worship of pArthiva shiva linga. The recitation of the Purana should start at sunrise and go on till late evening with a break at noon for lunch and at appropriate times for Nitya Karmas. The couple desiring progeny should listen devotedly to the kathA throughout. The Purana should be recited clearly, neither too fast or too slow, along with its meaning in one's colloquial language. Everyday before the recitation, the shrotA should worship sAlagrAma or an idol of Bhagavan Srimannarayana with Shodashopacharas reciting the Purusha Sukta mantras (deva puja with purusha sukta is a part of the nitya karma anyway). The couple should abstain from oil, tambula, kShaura (shave, haircut), copulation, sleeping on a bed etc. and live on haviShyAnna. After completion of the pArAyaNa, the Acharya should be gifted with suitable dakShiNa and 24 couples should be fed and gifted, after offering 1000 ahutis with gAyatrI (tilAjya). Some scriptures also recommend performing homa with the shlokas of Harivamsha.
If nothing works, viShNu yAga is prescribed as the final resort. One may refer to works like Brhat parAsharIya etc for details.
Finally, kalau chaNDI kalau chaNDI kalau chaNDI samastadA. What is it that one cannot obtain by the grace of Sri Chandika Durga Parameshwari? Saptashati Parayana (shata chandi and sahasra chandi) for Santana has been prescribed in Katyayani Tantra.
There is a certain procedure for reciting purANa-s, Ramayana, Mahabharata etc., and these rules should especially be followed when the parAyaNa is done for obtaining a certain desire. The tithi vAra etc for commencing the recitation of the mahApurANas (like Devi Bhagavata Purana) and Upa-Puranas (like Vishnu Bhagavata Purana) are described in the pAtAla khaNDa of Padma Purana. One should start reciting/listening to a Purana from an auspicious day in the shulka pakSha (this rule has an exception for gaNesha purANa and chaNDI, the subtleties of which should be learnt from upAsakas of Ucchishta Ganesha and Chandika). Purana shravana or parayana should never be commenced on a Grahana or in the presence of an atheist. The person reciting the Purana should be respected as Acharya by those listening. The number of shlokas recited every day should be more than those recited on the previous day, till the completion of the recitation. The recitation should always by accompanied by explanation of the essence therein, especially when the audience does not follow Sanskrit.
There is a special procedure for Bhagavata Purana (Vishnu Bhagavata). After Nitya Kritya, Prayaschitta etc described above, one should recite the following chapters of Bhagavata everyday:
Day 1 - Hiranyaksha Vadha
Day 2 and Day 3 - Bharata Charitra
Day 4 - Amrita Mathana, Harerjanma
Day 5 - Rukmini apaharana
Day 6 - Uddhava Samvada
Day 7 - Complete the parayana
This constitutes of the Bhavata Saptaha Parayana Krama. Padma Purana prescribes Homa after the completion of Bhavata Saptaha Parayana for the purpose of karma shanty, but only for Grihasthas [tatparyAya dAnam vA]. While reciting any of the puranas, one should not break before the completion of an adhyAya. If done so, the adhyAya has to be commenced from the beginning again.
The best months for pArAyaNa of rAmAyaNa (vAlmIkikR^ita) are chaitra, vaishAkha, mAgha and kArtIka. The recitation should be started on Shukla Panchami and completed in nine days (navAha krama). The daily break-up of kanda-s, rAmAyaNa pustaka dAna vishi etc. are described in works like rAmAyaNamAhAtmyam, rAmasevAmanjUShA etc. One desiring progeny should recite bAla kANDa, for prosperity ayodhyA kANDa, to regain lost position kiShkindhA kANDa, sundara kANDa for all desires and lankA kANDa for getting rid of enemies (or enmity). There was a query if Valmiki Ramayana is a mantra - yes, it is recited as a mAlA mantra, after duly obtaining an initiation from Sadguru. The Rishi of this mAla mantra is Valmiki, Chandas is Anushtup, Devata is Ramachandra, bija is the verse abhayaM sarvabhUtebhyaH, shakti is the verse angulyagreNa taan hanyaami, kilaka is the verse etadasrabalam divyam. By Samputa of the entire Ramayana or the desired kANDa with the verse ApadAmapahartAraM, one attains siddhi quickly. When recited as a mantra, nyAsa vidhi prescribed for every kANDa should be followed (e.g. Rishyashringa is the rishi for bAla kANDa, anushtup is the metre and dAsharathi is the devatA, rAM namaH rAmAya are the bIja shakti kIlaka). There are detailed procedures for AdhyAtma rAmAyaNa as well with nyAsa, dhyAna, sampuTi etc.
All these details are discussed here for academic purposes. anuShThAna of these give fruit only when done with the guidance and blessings of one's Guru or kulAchArya.
vandehaM paradevataM shivakarIM shrIkAmakoShThasthitAm