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...
Said the God Brahma:—Hear me, O Vyasa, briefly dis course on the sanctity of the holy city of Gaya, which is the holiest of the holies, and a patient hearing whereof entitles the listener to all the good things in this life and to salvation in the next. Once on a time, there lived a mighty demon named Gaya, who agitated the whole universe with the energy of his own well-practised and austere penances. The gods scorched, as it were, with the fiery emanations of his austerities, deliberated his death in a synod duly convened, and resolved to seek the umbrage of the protecting arms of Vishnu to that end.
The latter promised them protection and the impending fall of the mighty Gayasura, and the Gods, encouraged by the words of that supreme divinity, repaired to their respective abodes.
Once upon a time, the mighty Gayasura culled several lotus flowers which decked the waters of the ocean of cream, the favourite haunt of Vishnu, with the object of offering them to the god Shiva in the course of a worship, and carried them away to the country of Kikata. Misguided by the illusive energy of Vishnu, the demon turned them to a sacrilegious purpose, by making a bed of them for his own use, and fell under the fatal stroke of the celestial mace of that divinity and departed his life in peace.
Since then, the mace-wielding Vishnu has been staying within the precincts of that sacred city (Gaya) and on the ossified remains of that mighty demon, with the single object of granting salvation to those who might come there on pilgrimage, and likewise the gods Brahma and Kalesha have been living ever since within their imaged embodiments, installed on the sanctified remains of that illustrious Gaya.
“Now then,” said the mace-bearning god—“Behold, I shall make a sanctuary of this blessed city. The man who bathes in the holy pools which flow within its sacred confines, or makes any gift or performs the Shradha ceremonies in honour of his departed manes therein, shall ascend to the region of Brahma, and shall never be doomed to the sufferings of hell.”
Then the god Brahma, the grandfather of the celestials, having been informed of the sacredness of the city (Gaya) celebrated a religious sacrifice therein. The Brahmanas who were invited on the occasion, were honoured with substantial tokens of devotion, and the priests, who officiated at the sacrifice, were rewarded with as much gold as they could carry. Streams of milk, curd, cream and thickened milk, were made to flow through the city, and reservoirs of cordials and luscious drinks were opened free to the public, not to speak of other sweet and costly viands were served to all who were present there. The god Brahma, by way of sacrificial remuneration, transferred to the Brahmanas the proprietary right of the whole city to the circuit of about ten miles, but cursed them for their greed of gold which they did not take the trouble of hiding on the occasion. Thus addressed them the offended god:—“Cursed be ye all. Futile will be the knowledge acquired by yourselves and your fathers, and the studies of your progenies in the Vedic lore will fail to bear any fruit. The wealth acquired by you and your fathers shall be miserably squandered, and penury shall fall to the portion of your children. Cursed be the soil of your city, cursed be the hills which defend its borders, cursed be the clouds which bring rain to your country, and cursed be the rivers which irrigate your fields.”
The Brahmanas, on their turn, fell on their knees and propitiated the enraged divinity, who, in a relenting mood, assured them that men coming on a pilgrimage to their sacred city, would purchase their satisfaction for good value, and that they would live on the bounties contributed by persons performing Shraddha ceremonies in honour of their departed manes at Gaya.
The fourfold means of salvation consists of a knowledge of the Supreme Brahma, performance of Shraddha ceremonies in honour of one’s departed. forefathers at Gaya, death in a cowshed, and residence within the confines of the holy field of Kurukshetra.
O Vyasa, all the holy oceans and pools and rivers and wells attend upon the man who makes a religious ablution in any of the sacred pools at Gaya. Sins incidental to the murder of a Brahmana, or to the drinking of wine, or due to one’s defiling the bed of a superior person, or incidental to the company of a person guilty of any of the aforesaid crimes, is absolved by performing a Shraddha ceremony in honour of his soul at Gaya. Persons who have departed this life without the rites of purification done unto their souls, or killed by thieves and ferocious wild beasts, as well as the souls of persons died of snake bites, enter the region of paradise through the merit of a Shraddha ceremony done unto them at Gaya. I cannot exhaust the merits and benefits which a man acquires and derives by offering an obsequious oblation at Gaya, if I go on relating them even for millions and millions of years.