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 The Blessed Lord said: Listen, O Tārkṣya, and I will tell you about the ten-days' ceremony; having done which, a good son is released from the hereditary debt.
3-8. The son, taking calm courage, should offer rice-balls to the father, refraining from tears,
Because the departed has inevitably to drink the bitter tears let fall by his relatives, and they should not weep when sorrow is useless.
Although there be sorrowing day and night for thousands of years, the man who is dead may never be seen.
Death is certain for those who are born, and birth is certain for the dead. This is inevitable and therefore a wise man should not grieve over it.
If there were a way of averting the inevitable, then Nala, Rāma and Yudiṣhṭhira would not have experienced miseries.
9-11. Nobody should form an excessive attachment to anybody; the body is only a dream, what then of other persons’?
As a traveller, resorting to some shady place, rests awhile and then departs again; so is the coming together of beings.
The good things eaten in the morning are destroyed by evening; how can there be permanence in a body which is sustained by these foods?
12-17. Having considered this, which removes misery, and given up sorrow arising from ignorance, the son should perform the rites.
If there is no son the wife, should perform them, and if no wife the brother; or a Brāhmiṇ's pupil or a proper kinsman should perform them.
The ten-days' ceremonies, for the man who has no son, should be performed by the sons or grandsons of his younger or his elder brother, O Bird;
Manu declared that if, of brothers of the same father, only one has a son, they are all considered, on account of that son, to have a son.
For all who have no sons a friend may offer the rice-balls. The rites must not be neglected. If there is nobody else, the family priest may do them.
18. A man or a woman who performs the rites for a friend, by this sacrament for the helpless departed, obtains the fruit of tens of millions of sacrifices.
19-21. The ten-days' ceremony for the father should be performed by the son, O Bird. Even if the eldest son dies, the father should not, through excessive affection, perform it.
Although there be many sons, only one shall perform the ten-days' ceremony, the rice-ball offerings, and the other sixteen Śrāddhas,--
Only by one these ceremonies, even if the wealth has been divided. But the annual Śrāddha should be performed severally if the wealth has been divided.
The son obtains such fruit from the performance of the rite for the father and mother, as is obtained by going round the shrines seven times.
25-30. Having gone to a well or a tank, in a garden, at a sacred bathing-place, or in a temple, between nine and twelve noon, he should bathe without reciting mantras.
Being purified, seated facing southward at the root of a tree, he should make an altar there, cleansed with cow-dung.
He should place on it, over leaves, a twice-born made of darbha and kuśa grasses, and having worshipped it with water for the feet and other things, should bow to it, saying the "Atasī."
Then having spread kuśa grass in front of it, as a seat for the rice-ball, and having placed upon it a ball prepared in the family-name of the departed,
Made of cooked rice or of barley meal,--the son should make the offering. He should dedicate Usīra-root; sandal paste, the flowers of the Bhṛṅgarāja, incense, a lamp, eatables, mouth-perfumes and presents.
Crow-food, milk and water, and handfuls of castor-oil in a pot: "May all this, that has been given by me to the departed in his earthly name, persist."
Therefore, from the first day onwards, one should pronounce the name of the departed woman or man, in accordance with the sapiṇḍa rite.
33. In the same way that on the first day a rice-ball is given as prescribed, so should the nine rice-balls be given.
34-36. On the ninth day all the authorised kinsmen at the proper time should besmear themselves with oil, wishing the dead to reach heaven.
Having bathed in the open, taking with them panic grass and parched grain, and having the women go in front, they should proceed to the place of the dead,
And say: "May his family increase like the panic grass, and radiate like the parched grain," and then leave in the house the mixed-panic grass and grain.
37-38. On the tenth day a ball of flesh should be given, O Lord of Birds, or a ball of māṣa, since flesh is forbidden in the Kali Yuga at the ceremony for the forefathers.
On the tenth day he should shave, as also should the other relatives. The son who performs the ceremony must again have a complete shave.
40. There is no reason for fear for those who bow to Govinda, the Eternal, clad in yellow robes, as beautiful as the atasī flower.
41-42. "O Beginningless and Endless Deva, O Bearer of the conch, discus and mace, Indestructible, Lotus-eyed, be Thou the giver of release to the departed."
Every day at the conclusion of the Śrāddha he should prayerfully repeat this incantation. Having bathed, gone home, and given food to the cow, he may eat.
Footnotes and references:
One each day.
A square flat mound a few inches high.
A rough image, symbolical of the deceased twice-born person.