The Garuda Purana

by Manmatha Nath Dutt | 1908 | 245,256 words | ISBN-13: 9788183150736

The English translation of the Garuda Purana: contents include a creation theory, description of vratas (religious observances), sacred holidays, sacred places dedicated to the sun, but also prayers from the Tantrika ritual, addressed to the sun, to Shiva, and to Vishnu. The Garuda Purana also contains treatises on astrology, palmistry, and preci...

Chapter LXIX - Tests of Pearls

Suta said:—Pearls are found in the temples of elephants and wild boars, in conch-shells, in oysters, in the hoods of cobras and in the hollow stems of bamboos. The origin of a species of pearls is ascribed to the effect of thunder. Pearls found in Oyster shells, abound in numbers and are usually included within the category of gems. An oyster pearl is capable of being pierced with a hole in the middle (running through its entire length) while the remaining species do not admit of being similarly bored. Pearls found in(?) the stems of bamboos or in the temples of elephants and wild boars or in the mouths of whales or in the entrails of conch-shells, are devoid of lustre, though possessed of other auspicious virtues.

Of the eight species of pearls described by the connoisseurs of gems, those obtained from conch-shells and the temples of elephants should be deemed as standing in the bottom of the list as regards colour and brilliancy. A conch-shell pearl is usually as big as a large Kona (point of a rapier) and assumes a colour similar to that of the mollusc it is found in.

A pearl found in the temple of an elephant, is marked by the absence of any definite colour and is lustreless like a pearl found in the stem of a bamboo. A pearl found in the mouth of a fish, is a perfect sphere in shape and is marked by a yellowish hue, like the back of a pathenam fish as is occasionally found inside the mouth of a whale that frequents the unfathomable depths of ocean beds. A boar-pearl resembles the tip of its tusk in colour, and is obtained in certain quarters of the globe and is blissful like the boar incarnation of the divine Vishnu. A pearl obtained from inside the hollow stem of a bamboo, resembles a hailstone in colour, and is found only in a bamboo that grows in the land of the honest and the pious, and not in every tope of that grass.

A pearl found in the hood of a cobra is round in shape like the one obtained from the mouth of a fish and emits a dazzling effulgence from its own natural seat. After copious washing such a pearl assumes the lustre of a well-polished sword. The possessor of a cobra or serpent-pearl, meets with a rare good fortune, and becomes a pious and illustrious king in time, with a treasury full of other species of precious gems.

Dark clouds, hung down and heavily charged with rain, and roaring with the voice of the eternal trumpets blown upon at the time of universal dissolution and spangled with flashes of lightning, closely envelop the sky, at the time, when the Brahmana, well versed in the religious and ceremonial proceedings, after enquiring about the acquisition of such a pearl, and having done the necessary rite of protection unto it, formally takes it into the interior of the house of its possessor. Neither the serpents, nor the Rakshas, nor diseases, nor disturbances of any kind would assail the man amidst whose treasure such a snake-pearl would lie.

A cloud-grown pearl rarely reaches this mortal globe, and usually falls to the lot of the celestials. By illumining the four quarters of the sky with its native lustre, a cloud-begotten pearl, like the sun, dispels the gloom of a cloudy day. Outshining the combined effulgence of the fire, the moon, and the myriads of scintillating stars, such a pearl, like the dawn of day, can dispel the gloom of even the darkest night on earth. The whole earth, girdled by the four oceans containing innumberable gems in their fathomless depths, can not be deemed as the adequate price of such a pearl, even if she be covered over with layers of pure gold. A man, born in indigence and of humble parents, but happening to be the possessor of such a pearl, only through the transformation of a good deed done in a previous existence, is sure to be the paramount sovereign of the entire surface of the Earth. Not to the good deeds of the king alone, but to the better fortune of the whole humanity, should be ascribed the advent of such a man on earth, and no evil would ever strike the land to the extent of a thousand Yojanas round the place of his birth.

The teeth of that great Vala lay scattered and perched up over the wide expanse of heaven like the galaxy of stars, and dropped down one by one into the wonderfully coloured waters of the oceans, and originated the seeds of gems vieing with the beams of the full moon, and the rainbow tint of a peacock’s feathers in colour. Some of these seeds entered into the inner organisms of oysters that lay in the deep beds of oceans and gave rise to pearls.

Pearls are divided into eight different species according to the places of their origin, such as the Sainhalika (off the coast of Ceylon), the Paralaukika (heavenly) the Saurashtrika (born in the country of Shaurashtra), the Tamraparna (off the coast of modern Tamluk), the Parashava (Persian), the Kauvera, the Pandyahataka and the Hemaka. Pearls obtained from oysters fished off the coast of Ceylon, Vardhana and Persia or the coast of any other foreign or southern islands (Patala) do not lose much in comparison with the other species as regards shape, size, colour and other properties.

The place of origin, should not be taken into account in determining the price of a pearl. A learned gem-expert shall only notice its shape and size. Nor can it be said that defects or excellencies are restricted to any particular species, since pearls of all shape and size can be obtained from oysters of the several fisheries described above.

An oyster-pearl, grounded into a well round shape, should be appraised at a price of thirteen hundred and five silver coins. A pearl, weighing half a mashaka less in weight than the former, should be valued at a sum of mony equal to a two-fifth part of that of the former. A pearl weighing three Mashakas, should be valued at two thousand silver coins. According to a similar computation, the price of a pearl weighing two Mashakas and a half, should be fixed at two thousand and three hundred silver coins. A pearl, weighing two Mashakas only, but otherwise belonging to the commendable type, should be valued at eight hundred silver coins. A pearl weighing a Mashaka and a half, should be valued at three hundred and twenty-five silver coins. The price of a pearl weighing six Gunjas, should be laid at two hundred silver coins, while a pearl, weighing half as much as the former, should be valued at a hundred silver coins only. A pearl, weighing less than the preceding one by sixteen Dharanas, is called a Darvikam as regards its weight, and can fetch a price of hundred and ten silver coins only from the hands of the ignorant. A pearl, weighing less than the foregoing one by twenty Dharanas, is called a Bhavakam by the experts and should not be valued at a higher sum than seventy-nine silver coins.

A string of thirty pearls, each weighing a Dharanam, should be valued at forty-four coins. A string of forty-four pearls of Shiktha class, should be valued at thirty silver coins. A string of sixty pearls, each weighing a Nikara, should be valued at fourteen silver coins. A string of eighty or ninety pearls of the Kupya class, should be respectively valued at eleven and nine silver coins.

The process of cleansing and perforating the pearl seeds, is as follows:—First, all the pearls should be collected and kept in a bowl of boiled rice, previously saturated with the expressed juice of the Jamvera fruits (lime). Then the whole contents of the bowl, should be kept simmering for a while, after which the pearls should be taken out and rubbed with the liquid extract of boiled rice. Thus softened they, should be pierced through as desired. The process of cleansing consists in gently heating the pearl seeds placed in a covered crucible, known as the Matsaputa and covered over with a plaster of clay, after which they should be boiled in milk, water or wine, according to the process known as the Vitanapatti. Then the pearls should be gently rubbed with a piece of clean linen, until they would begin to shine with their characteristic lustre, which would indicate the completion of the process of cleansing. This is what the mighty Vyadhi laid down as regards the cleansing of pearls out of his compassion towards the good and the erudite.

Pearls used for the personal decorations of kings and noblemen, should be kept immersed in mercury contained in a glass receptacle saturated with a solution of gold. This is what is done by experts in the island of Ceylon. A pearl of suspected genuineness, should be kept immersed, for a night, in warm oil saturated with a quantity of common salt. Its genuineness should be pronounced in the event of its successfully stood the preceding test. In the alternative, a pearl of questionable appearance, should be covered with a piece of dry linen and rubbed with a seed of Vrihi grass, and its genuineness should be presumed from the fact of its colour having not been any way affected by the friction.

A pearl which is white, of good size, heavy, transparent, round and possessed of cool and effulgent lustre, should be regarded as the best of its kind. A pearl, which is possessed of a pretty large size, is white, and round, emits rays of effulgent lustre, is pierced with a hole of uniform girth throughout its length and evokes even the pleasure of a person not disposed to purchase the same, should be looked upon as a pearl of rare virtues. Not even a single evil can befall the possesor of a pearl which is possessed of all the commendable features and qualities enumerated in the present chapter.

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