by Ernest Wood | 1911 | 34,987 words
This is a translation of an abridged version of the Garuda Purana. The Garuda Purana is one of the Vishnu Puranas. It is in the form of a dialog between Vishnu and Garuda, the King of Birds. The second section of this Purana (given here) deals with issues connected with death, particularly funeral rites and the metaphysics of reincarnation. Portion...
2. Garuḍa said: Tell me by what means men who have committed sins unknowingly or knowingly escape from the torments of the servants of Yama.
3-4. For those men who are immersed in the ocean of transmigration, of weak intelligence, their reason clouded by sin, their self dimmed by attachment to sense-objects--
For their uplifting tell me, O Lord, the exact meaning of the Purāṇas; and the means by which people attain a happy condition, O Mādhava.
5. The Blessed Lord said: O Tārkṣya, you have done well in asking for the benefit of men, Listen attentively, and I will tell you all.
6. Hard indeed, as already said, is the fate of the sinful and those without sons; but never so, O Lord of Birds, that of those who have sons and who are righteous,
8. Having listened to the Harivanśa, or performed the Śatachaṇḍī, or worshipped the Blessed Śiva with devotion, the intelligent should beget a son.
9. The son saves his father from the hell called Put; therefore he was named "putra" by the Self-existent himself.
10. Even a single son, if righteous, carries the whole family over. 'By the son he conquers the worlds,' is the ancient saying.
11. The Vedas also proclaim the great importance of the son. Accordingly, having seen the face of a son, one is released from the debt to the forefathers.
12. By the touch of his grandson a mortal is released from the three-fold debt. With the help of sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons he goes from the worlds and obtains heaven.
13. The son of a Brāhma marriage uplifts, but the illegitimate drags down. Knowing this, O Best of Birds, one should avoid a woman of lower caste.
14. Sons having father and mother of the same caste are legitimate, O Bird. They alone, by making Śrāddha-gifts are the means of their fathers' attaining heaven.
16. Concerning this I will give you, from ancient history, an example of the efficacy of gifts for the higher body.
17-19. Formerly, in the Treta age, Tārkṣya, there reigned over the delightful city of Mahodaya a king named Babhruvāhana, who was very powerful, and firm in righteousness,
A sacrificer, Lord of Gifts, prosperous, a lover of Brāhmaṇs, valuing the good, endowed with good character and of good conduct, compassionate, skilled,
Righteously protecting his subjects as though they were his own sons, always delighting in Kṣattriya duties, and punishing the guilty.
20-21. Once, that powerful king, with his army, went hunting. He entered a thick forest, full of various kinds of trees,
Crowded with various species of animals, and resounding with the cries of various birds. In the midst of the forest the king saw a deer in the distance.
22. The deer, severely wounded by his very hard arrow, ran out of sight into the interior of the forest, carrying the arrow with him.
23. The king, following the blood-stains on the grass, pursued the deer and came into another forest.
25-27. Then, having drunk of that cool water, rendered fragrant by the-pollen of the lotus, Babhruvāhana came out of the water refreshed,
And saw a delightful fig-tree, giving cool shade with its large spreading boughs, sounding with many birds,
And standing like a big standard over the whole forest. The king approached and sat at its root.
28. Now he beheld a Departed One, of terrible appearance, humpbacked and fleshless, with hair erect, dirty, and with senses discomposed by hunger and thirst.
29-31. Seeing him deformed and dreadful Babhruvāhana wondered. The Departed One, also seeing the king who had come to that dreadful forest,
And becoming filled with curiosity, came near to him. Then, O Tārkṣya, this king of the Departed spoke thus to the king:
"I have escaped the condition of the Departed and reached the highest condition, by being in touch with you, O Great-Armed one,--I am highly blessed."
"Tell me in detail the cause of your condition, dear. Who are you, and by what gifts will your condition as Departed pass away?"
34-38. The Departed one said: "I will tell you everything from the beginning, O Best of Kings. You will surely have compassion upon me when you have heard the cause of my condition as Departed,
"There is a town named Vaidaśa, possessed of all prosperity, having many districts, and abounding in precious stones of various kinds,
"Beautiful with palaces and mansions, and in which many religious acts are performed. There, O Reverend Sir, I dwelt, always engaged in worship of the Shining Ones.
"By caste I am a Vaishya, by name Sudeva, please know. By fire-offering I pleased the Shining Ones, and likewise the forefathers by food.
"I gladdened the twice-born by offering various gifts. I gave food of various kinds to the poor, the blind and the wretched.
39-41. "All this, O King, through my evil fate has proved fruitless. How my good deeds proved fruitless I will relate to you.
"If the sixteen monthly Śrāddhas, O great king, are not performed, the condition as Departed becomes firmly fixed, even if hundreds of annual Śrāddhas are performed for him.
42-45. "Uplift me then, O Lord of Earth, by doing the ceremonies for my higher body. It is said that in this world the king is the kinsman of all castes.
"Therefore, O Lord of Kings, help me over, and I will give you a most precious jewel, so that my departed condition may be destroyed, and my higher state arise.
"In that manner please act, O warrior, if you desire my welfare. Suffering from the misery of hunger and thirst, I cannot endure this departed condition.
"In this forest there is sweet and cool water, and pleasant fruits, but I am not able to grasp them at all, although afflicted with hunger and thirst.
46-48. "If the great Nārāyaṇa rite is performed for me, O King, along with all the ceremonies for the higher body, with Vaidic mantras,
"Then surely my condition as departed will unfailingly pass away. Vaidic mantras, austerities, gifts, and compassion to all beings,
"Listening to holy scriptures, worship of Viṣṇu, association with the good,--these, I have heard, are the destroyers of the departed condition.
"Dress it with a pair of yellow cloths, put on it various ornaments, bathe it in many waters,--and placing it, you should worship thus.
"Then, having gone round them, make offerings in the fire to these deities. Make offerings to the universal deities with clarified butter, curds and milk.
"Next, having bathed, calm and controlled in mind, the sacrificer should perform, according to the rite, in front of Nārāyaṇa, the ceremony for the upper body.
"He must commence, as prescribed in the scriptures, by giving up anger and greed, and perform all the ceremonies and the release of a bull.
57. The king said, "How is the pot for the departed to be prepared, and in accordance with what: rites must it be given? Tell me, on account of my sympathy for all, about the pot which gives release to the departed."
58-63. The departed said: "Oh Great King, you have done well in asking this. Please take notice and l will describe that good gift by which the departed condition cannot exist.
"The gift which is named 'the pot for the departed,' is a destroyer of all evil. In all the worlds it is difficult to obtain this dissipator of evil conditions.
"Having prepared a pot of refined gold, consecrated it to Brahmā, Īśa and Keśava, and all the guardians of the quarters, filled it with clarified butter and worshipped before it with devotion, give it to a twice-born. What good are a hundred other gifts from you?
"These having duly worshipped, O King, with incenses, flowers and sandal-paste, one should give away the golden pot, full of milk and clarified butter.
"This gift, O King, which is superior to all other gifts in removing great sins, should be made with faith, for the release of the departed."
64-65. The Blessed Lord spoke on: His army, while he was thus conversing with the departed, followed him up, with elephants, horses and chariots, O Kāśyapa.
On the arrival of the army the departed one, having given the great jewel to the king, bowed to him, again implored him, and became invisible.
66-68. Having come out of the forest, the king returned to his city, and arrived there remembering all that was said by the departed one.
He duly performed; O Bird, the rites and ceremonies for the dweller in the upper body, and the departed, released by these sacred gifts, attained heaven.
By the Śrāddha, performed even by a stranger, the departed attain a happy state,--what wonder then that when the son performs it the father should reach it!
60. He who hears, and he who causes others to hear this holy history, never go to the departed condition, though they may. have acted sinfully.
Footnotes and references:
Viṣṇu, a form of.
Another form of Viṣṇu, slayer of the demon Madhu.
The divine dwarf Viṣṇu.
The club-bearing Viṣṇu.
A name for Śiva.