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 CV - Rites of atonement (Prayaschitta)

Yajnavalkya Said:—For commission of heinous and infamous acts, and omission of doing what is good and commendable, a person is sure to be condemned to the torments of hell. An unbridled gratification of the senses paves one’s way to the gates of hell. Hence rites of expiation should be performed both for the cleansing of the spirit and the body. A performance of any expiatory rite restores the lost good name of its performer in society, and brings on that secret joy in the mind which is the true criterion of a reclaimed spirit. A non-repenting sinner, or the one not atoning for past iniquities with the performance of a proper expiatory rite, is sure to be doomed to the pangs of any of the different confines of hell, which are respectively known as Maha-Rauravam, Tamisram, Hansavanam, Lohitodakam, Sanjivana, Nadipatham, Maha-Nilyayam, Kakolam, Andha Tamisram, Avichi and Kumbhipakam, the doors of which are guarded by iron bolts and which are full of fœtid exhalations.

A wine-drinker, or an assaulter of the sacred person of a Brahmana, or a gold-stealer, or a person defiling the bed of, or calumniating, his own spiritual preceptor, as well as the one who speaks lightly of the Vedas, commits the same sin, both as regards extent and atrocity, as the killer of a Brahmana. By eating a food prohibited in the Shastras, by doing anything low and deceitful, by kissing the lips of a woman in her menses, one commits the same sin as that which originates from the use of wine. The sin, which is attached to the stealing of a horse, is identical in all respects with what is committed by a theft of gold. By going unto the wife of a friend, or on a virgin daughter of one’s own loins, or unto a girl of lowcaste, or unto a woman of one’s own consanguinity, or unto a sister of one’s own father or mother, or unto the wife of one’s own maternal uncle, or by visiting the bed of one’s own sister, or by living with a sister or a co-wife of one’s own mother, or with the daughter or wife of one’s own preceptor, one commits the same sin which is attached to the defilement of the bed of a preceptor. The male offending party should be killed by cutting off his genitals, as well as his female accomplice, if found to be a willing party to the incest under the circumstance.

The following sinful acts, viz., cow-killing, robbing of a Brahmana, non-repayment of one’s debts, and non-discharge of one’s monitary obligations, non-keeping of the sacred fire by a Brahmana, or his engaging in any sort of trade or merchandise, marriage by a younger brother in the unmarried state of his elder, tutelage under one’s own servant, or acceptance of any gift from him, going unto another man’s wife, negotiation of the marriage of a younger brother before that of his elder, creating a breach among friends and relations for money, tuition for pecuniary considerations, sale of salt, murdering of a Kshatriya, Vaishya or a regenerated Shudra, infamous livelihood, misappropriation by a man of any property held in trust, breaking of a vow, selling of meat roasted on a gird iron, or of a cow, abandoning by one of one’s own parents, selling of tanks, gardens, etc., dedicated to the use of the community, giving of one’s daughter in marriage with a Parivinda (a younger brother marrying in the unmarried state of his elder), officiating as a priest in a religious ceremony celebrated by a person charged with the preceding guilt, selling by one of the ornaments of one’s own daughter given her by her husband or friends, following of a crooked path in life, an attempt at defiling a religious vow or a penance of another, undertaking of any act for one’s sole and exclusive benefit, drinking of any spirituous liquor, seduction of another man’s wife, renunciation of the study of the holy Vedas, desertion of one’s sons and relations, abandonment of the sacred fire, perusal of immoral literature, and selling of one’s sons and wives, are included within the category of Upapatakas (minor moral delinquencies).

Now hear me describe the mode of performing the proper expiatory rites for the atonement of sins, enumerated before.

The killer of a Brahmana shall live on a spare diet, taking only as much food as is absolutely necessary for bare subsistence and roam about for a continuous period of twelve years, bearing a human skull on his head, and thereby making a contrite confession of his grave and unmitigated sin to the world at large. Paying no heed to the embellishment of his person and expressing the sincerest repentance both by his mind and mein, he shall not think of shaving himself and cast libations of clarified butter in the sacrificial fire by reciting the Mantra running as “Somebhyo Svaha,” or in the accompaniment of the Mantras, sacred to the god Skanda. The sin which is attached to the killing of a Brahmana, may be expiated in the preceding manner. The sin which is incidental to the killing of a bird or a cow unsuspiciously reposing in a bush or a forest, though killed at the instance and for the benefit of, a Brahmana, is atoned for by reciting all the Mantras contained in the three Vedas, in the gloom of a lonely forest, or by worshipping the goddess Sarasvati (Minerva of the Hindu pantheon) and by making money-gifts to any worthy receiver of public munificence.

The sin, which is attached to the killing of a Kshatriya or a Vaishya while engaged in celebrating a religious sacrifice, may be atoned for by doing the same penances, as enjoined in the case of killing a Brahmana. The sin which is incidental to bringing about the abortion of a pregnant woman, may be expiated by doing a penance which is laid down in respect of an act of destroying a fœtus or a child of the same caste. The man engaged for the purpose, or one attempting to bring about such a miscarriage, shall perform a penance every way similar to the preceding one, even when the attempt will prove abortive. The sin which is attached to the killing of a Brahmana, while engaged in a rite of ceremonial ablution at the close of a religious sacrifice, may be atoned for by doing over again the penance previously enjoined in that behalf. A Brahmana who has wilfully taken any wine or spirituous liquor, shall expiate his sin by attempting self-immolation with potions of flame-coloured wine, water, cow's urine and clarified butter, or shall grow long hairs and perform, in tattered rags, the penances laid down in connection with an act of Brahmana-slaughter. All the Brahmanical rites such as those of tonsure, investiture of the holy thread, etc., should be done unto him after his purification through the performance of proper penances. A Brahmana woman polluted with any spirituous drink, or defiled by drinking semen or urine, is sure to be ousted of the eternal heaven of female chastity (Patiloka) and to reincarnate in the shape of a she-vulture, or as a sow or a bitch on earth. The expiation in the case of a Brahmana gold-stealer, consists in his being cudgled to death by his king with a club, voluntarily given by him to the latter with an express entreaty for the purpose, after having made a free and full confession of his own guilt, or in the alternative, he shall purchase his atonement by making a gift of gold of his own weight. A man ravishing a woman by taking advantage of her sleep in a lonely bed and chamber, shall atone for his crime by voluntarily cutting off his genitals and throwing them in the southwest quarter of the sky. A man defiling the bed of his preceptor, or going unto a woman bearing to him a relation-ship included within the category of Gurupatni previously described, shall expiate his sin with the performance of a Chandrayana penance, or with a continuous recitation of the Veda Sanhitas for an unbroken period of three months. A cow-killer, protected by the absence of any deliberate motive for the crime, shall practise self-control for a month, sharing the same shed with the cows, and leading them to pasturage, and drink by way of expiation the sacred compound, known as the Panchagavyam (lit., the five things obtained from a cow, consisting of milk, curd clarified butter, cow’s wine and cow-dung-serum). All crimes included within the list of Upapatakas (minor sins) may be expiated by performing a Chandrayana-Vrata, or by living on a milk-regime for a month, or by practising a Paraka-Vrata.

The sin, which is attached to the killing of a Kshatriya (a member of the military caste), may be atoned for by making the gift of a full-grown heifer with a thousand of young and healthy cows, or by doing for three years a penance enjoined to be performed for his expiation by a Brahmana-killer. Its duration shall be curtailed to one year only in the case of a person, who has killed a member of the trading community (Vaishya), whereas only a six monthsh practice of the penance, or a gift of ten cows, shall be the proper atonement for an act of killing a Shudra. A man who has accidentally killed his own good and unoffending wife, shall practise expiatory penances, as laid down in the immediately preceding instance.

The killer of a cat, or a lizard or a mongoose, or a toad, shall live on the milk regime for three days in sucession, or shall practise a Krichchha Vrata penance in addition thereto. The sin of killing an eiephant, may be atoned for by making the gift of five blue-coloured heifers and a white calf of two years of age to a Brahmana. A gift of a single ox, will expiate the sin of one’s killing a sheep, or an ass, or a goat, while in the case of a heron-killing (Crouncha) the animal of gift shall be a healthy calf of three years of age. The sin of tearing or uprooting a plant, or a shrub or a creeper, shall be expiated by mentally repeating a hundred Riks, while a Brahmacharin (a person who has taken the vow of celibacy) going unto a woman and thereby breaking his vow, shall touch an ass by way of atonement. The sin of eating a diet of honey and meat, may be expiated by practising a Krichchha Vrata or any other similar penance. In the death of a messenger in a foreign country, or at his destination, the sender of the message, or the person at whose instance he has been sent, shall practise the three penances designated with the term Krichchha An act of disobedience or insubordination to one's preceptor, is atoned for by doing his pleasure. The sin which results from doing an injury to one’s enemy, is expiated by making a gift of paddies to the latter, or by winning his good graces in a friendly and affectionate discourse, after having banished all hostile and uncharitable feelings from the mind. Death is the only atonement for a Brahmana, found guilty of ingratitude, or of repaying good by evil. An utterer of falsehood or indecent language, shall live in perfect continence and practise self-control for a month, passing his time in a solitary place and without asking for food of any body. A man, going unto his brother’s wife without any appointment from her husband, shall practise a Chandrayana penance. A person, going unto a woman in her menses, is purified by taking a draught of clarified butter at the end of a three days fast. The sin of accepting a gift at the hand of an evil or a dishonest giver, is atoned for by his constantly repeating the Gayatri Mantra, for a month in a cowshed or pasturage, and in perfect mastery over his senses. Three Krichchha Vratas should be performed for the expiation of the sin, incidental to the failure of a member of any twice-born order to be invested with the holy thread at the proper time (Vratya), and a Brahmana, officiating at any religious ceremony undertaken by or on behalf of such person, shall do the same. The sin which originates from one’s forsaking and deserting a person, who has asked one’s protection, shall be atoned for by reading the Vedas to the best of his ability. A man while riding in a carriage drawn by an ass or a camel, shall thrice control his respiration in the manner of a Pranayama. A man, who has gone unto a woman in the day time, shall expiate his sin by bathing naked in a pool or a lake. The sin which is incidental to reprimanding one’s elders or preceptors, as well as that which results from using abusive language towards a Brahmana, may be atoned for by regaining theÌF favour, and observing a fast for a single day. A man aiming a blow at a Brahmana shall expiate his guilt by practising a Krichchha Vrata, while the expiation shall consist in the performance of the one known as Atikrichchha Vrata in the case of actual assaub and battery.

The circumstances of the guilt, as well as the age, and physical capacity of a sinner, should be taken into consideration in determining the nature of his expiatory rite. Wilful miscarriage of a foetus, and speaking ill of her husband, are the acts which degrade a woman, whose very presence should be shunned from a distance. A person of notorious guilt shall do his penances of atonement at a public place, and in conformity with the injunctions of his preceptor, while an atonement for a sin which has not got any publicity, shall be done in private. A killer of a Brahmana shall fast and recite the “Aghamarshana Shuktam” for three days stand-in water, after which he shall make the gift of a milch cow with milk. Then he shall recite the Rik beginning as “Obeisance to Soma,” observing a fast on the day following, and cast forty times libations of clarified butter in the sacrificial fire, while standing in water. A wine-drinker or a stealer of gold shall fast for three days, recite the Mantra sacred to the god Rudra, and cast libations of clarified butter in the fire by chanting the Kushmanda Mantra. A sin unwittingly committed by a Brahmana, as well as the one which he is unconscious of, is atoned for by his regularly attending to his Sandhya, thrice each day, whereas a sin may be expiated by reciting eleven times the Rudradhyaya. The sin of defiling the bed of one’s own preceptor may be expiated by mentally repeating the “Sahasra Shirsha” Mantra, whereas a sin of whatsover denomination may be atoned for by practising Pranayama for a hundred times.

A person inadvertently taking any semen, urine or feculent matter, shall fast for the day, and drink water consecrated with the Gayatri Mantra in the evening. No sin can assail the divine self of a Brahmana who has subjugated his senses, and lives in divine peace and contentment, daily reciting the holy Vedas, and practising the five religious sacrifices, enjoined to be performed by a householder (Pancha-Yajna). All sins other than the one incidental to the killing of a Brahmana, are expiated by mentally repeating the Gayatri Mantra for a thousand times. Practice of Brahmacharyya [continence), pity, contentment, contemplation, truthfullness, sincerity, annihilation of all killing propensities, non-stealing, sweetness of temperament and subjugation of Senses, constitute what is technically known as Yama (self-control). Ablution, vow of silence, fasting, performance of religious sacrifices, reading of the Vedas, self-control, practice of austerities, non-irascibility, devotion to preceptors, and cleanliness, constitute what is called Niyama. A Brahmana, practising a Krichchha Santapana Vrata shall live on a milk regime on the first day, on curd on the second day, on cow’s urine on the third, on cowdung on the fourth, and on clarified butter on the fifth, and fast on the sixth day, breaking the vow on the seventh. A vow practised for a week in the preceding manner is called the Maha-Santapanam Vrata. In a vow of Parna-Krichchha, the observer shall successively live on the leaves of Audumvara, Rajiva, and Vilva trees and on the washings of Kusha grass on the fifth. In the penance known as the Tapta Krichchham, the practiser shall successively live on warm milk, clarified butter, and water, observing a fast on the day of its close. A Pada-Krichchha Vrata consists in living on a single meal at day on the first day, on a single meal at night, obtained without asking, on the second day, followed by a day of fast. Any of the preceding penances practised for a thrice as much period, constitutes what is technically known as a Prajapatya, which may be converted into a Krichchhati-Krichchham, by its practiser’s living on a palmful of water each day instead of the diet enjoined to be taken during the time by the scriptures. A continuous fasting for twelve days, constitutes what is called the Paraka Vrata. A diet of Pinyaka, Whey and powdered barley alternated with fast, constitutes what is called a Krichchha-Sama, which being extended to a period of fifteen days, is called a Tulapurusha. A morsel of food to the size of a hen’s egg, should be increased by one from the first day of the light fortnight to the day of the full moon, decreasing by the same number each day from the commencement of the dark one to the day of the new moon. This is what is known as Chandrayana Vrata.

Now hear me describe another mode of practising the same (Chandrayana) Vrata. The practiser of the penance shall thrice bathe each day, observing a regimen of diet as in the preceding case, recite the sacred Mantras, take morsels of food consecrated by reciting the Gayatri Mantra. A Chandrayana Vrata is the atonement for sins of all kinds and characters, and its performer is purified both in his body and spirit and goes to the region presided over by the Moon-God in the event of his undertaking the same out of a purely religious motive. A man practising a Krichchha Vrata for a similar purpose is rewarded with a boundless wealth.

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