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 XCVIII - Gift making and Charity

Yajnavalkya said:—O you holy masters of excellent penitential rites, now hear me discourse on the method of making gifts. The Brahmanas are the fittest persons to make gifts to, foremost among them being those who regularly perform and celebrate the Brahminical rites and ceremonies. The best even among the latter are those who know the Supreme Brahma, and have devoted themselves to the cultivation of intellectual and spiritual knowledge.

Gifts of cows, proprietory rights in lands, food grains and gold, should be given to a Brahmana, who is every way worthy of receiving the same. A Brahmana who has neither erudition, nor is a seeker of spiritual knowledge, has no right to accept any gifts; and degrades the giver as well as his own soul by accepting any. A gift should be made every day to a worthy receiver, as well as on special occasions. A person is morally bound to give something in charity to a person in Straitened circumstances, and soliciting his help, according to his own means and in a devout spirit.

A thousand of milch-cows with their horns cased in gold, and hoops bound with silver, may be given in gift to a Brahmana with thousand bowls of Indian bell-metal. The horn cases should be made of a Pala weight of gold (one Pala=eight tolas), the hoofs, of seven Palas of silver, and the bowls, of fifty Pala weights of bell-metal, each. A calf should be given with each of the abovesaid number of cows, or a sound and healthy calf, with a golden bowl, Should be given with them.

By making a gift in the preceding manner, a giver is enabled to live in heaven for as many years as there are hairs on the body of each cow, gifted away. A cow of the Kapila species, gifted away in the preceding manner, succours the souls of the relations of her giver, removed to the seventh degree in the ascending line. A cow with the head and hoofs of a yet unborn calf just issued out of the passage of parturition, should be regarded as the embodied representative of the earth goddess; and the merit of making the gift of such a one at the time, is identical with that of making a gift of the whole world. A giver of a healthy and disease-less cow, whether with or without a calf, is glorified in heaven. By shampooing the feet of a tired and travel-worn person, by nursing the sick and the poor, by worshipping the god, or by washing the holy feet of a Brahmana, one is sure to acquire the same merit as that of making the gift of a cow. A man, by making the gift of a wished-for thing (desired by the receiver himself) to a Brahman, is glorified in the region of the gods. By making gifts of lands, lamps, boiled rice, cloths, and clarified butter, a man is sure to acquire opulence in his next birth. The merit of making the gift of a house, or paddy, umbrella, garland of flowers, or of a tree, or a carriage or of clarified butter, or water, ensures an exalted position to the giver in heaven. By making the gift of Vedas, a man is translated to the region of the supreme Brahma, unattainable even by the gods. By transcribing the Vedas, Yajna Shastras or the works on Dharma Shastras even for money, a man is elevated to the beatitude of Brahmaloka. The true signification of the Vedic verses, is to be gathered at all costs, since God created the universe on the basis of the immutable Vedas (knowledge). By making the gift of a well-transcribed work on Itihasa or Puranam, a man is glorified in the region of the supreme Brahma, and becomes doubly entitled to the privileges of heaven. It is sin for a Brahmana to join in any secular topic, or to lend his ears to any scandalous gossip, or listen to a speech, made in a vulgar, or in a Mlechchha tongue. He, who though being a fit and worthy receiver of gifts, studiously avoids accepting any, acquires the same religious merit as a maker of gifts. Water, Kusha grass, milk, sandal wood, or any kind of edible roots or leaves, need not be refused when offered, it being not anywise impious to accept a gift from a dishonest person, voluntarily made and received without asking. Anything offered by a eunuch, by a man or woman of questionable morals, as well as the one offered by one’s enemy, should be unconditionally rejected, except for the purpose of celebrating any religious ceremony, or performing the obsequies of one’s own father.

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