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 CVI - Impurities and Purities

Yajnavalkya said:— O you, who are masters in the art of self-control, now hear me describe the funeral rites to be gone through in respect of the dead, according to the difference in age and social order. A dead child, who has been dead before completing his second year, should be buried instead of being cremated, and no sort of shraddha or Udaka-kriya (offering of libations of water to a departed spirit) is necessary in that case. The friends or relatives of a child, dead after completing its second year of life, shall carry its corpse to the cremation ground and exhume it in fire by mentally re-citing the Yama Suktam. The relatives of a deceased person related to him within the seventh or tenth degree of consanguinity on the father’s side, shall perform the rite of Udaka-kriya with their faces turned towards the south, which rule shall be extended to include the funeral rite of one's departed maternal grandfather or preceptor’s wife. Libations of water should be offered to the departed spirits of one’s friend, son, father-in-law and sister’s son, by mentioning their name and Gotra (spiritual clanship) in life. The rite of Udaka-kriya in these cases is optional, and its non-observance does not entail any moral delinquency. A rite of Udaka-kriya is forbidden in the case of a Brahmacharin, or of a degraded or sinful person, which in the case of a wife, dead after breaking her vow of chastity in life, is optional. The death of a suicide or of a wine-drinker, should not be mourned for, nor the rites of Udaka-kriya, etc., should be done unto their spirits. The death of any friend or relation or that of any man should not be mourned, nor should one indulge in an obstinate grief therefor, since life on earth is but transitory at the best. Having performed his funeral rites and paid the last honour to his earthly remains, the friends of a deceased person shall return to the house he has left behind for good, tear the leaves of a Nimva tree, and cross the threshold after having purified themselves with the touch of fire, cowdung, and white mustard seeds, perceded by acts of Achamanam. They shall strike their feet against a stone slab before entering the house. Similar procedure should be observed by all who might have touched the corpse, while the mere onlookers of the scene would be purified then and there without undertaking any religious ceremony for the purpose. The friends and consanguinous relations of a deceased person should be considered unclean till before their ablutions at the close of the funeral ceremony and until they would go through the necessary rites of Sanyama (self-control) in connection with the event. Returned from the cremation ground, they shall pass the day or night on fares purchased at a shop or a market, and lie down on the bare floor or ground, apart from one another. The performer of the incidental funeral sacrifice, shall offer oblations of boiled rice to the departed spirit for three successive days, for whose benefit an earthen vessel containing milk diluted with water, shall be as well kept in the open, during the period. The spirit should be invoked and worshipped in a lonely bower, and ceremonial rites (shraddha, etc.,) enjoined in the shrutis in that behalf, should be performed for his salvation.

The period of uncleanness in connection with the death of a child, expired before cutting its teeth, lasts for that day only, that incidental to the demise of one who has departed this life before attaining the age of tonsure, is one day and night, which extends to three days in the case of a boy who has been dead before attaining the proper age of taking the Brahminical vow (investiture with the sacred thread), while the death of a boy after that age entails a period of uncleanness for ten days in the case of a Brahmana. Persons standing in Sapinda relationship with the deceased, shall be deemed unclean for ten days after the occurrence, while those bearing only Sagotra relationship to him, shall so continue for three days (if Brahmanas). Both these kinds of relations shall be considered as clean on the very day of the event in the case of the death of the child happening before the completion of its second year of earthly existence, and only its mother shall bide the full time of uncleanness. In the case of two deaths ocurring successively in one’s family (the second happening within the period of uncleanness entailed by the first the period of uncleanness shall expire with the one resulting in consequence of the second without necessitating the observance of two full terms of uncleanness in sucession. The period of uncleanness incidental to the birth or death of a child of any cognate relation of a Brahmana, or of a Kshatriya or of a Vaishya, or of a shudra, is ten days, twelve days, fifteen days and thirty days respectively.

Cleanness in connection with the death of a male infant or of an unmarried daughter, is restored on the expiry of a single day after the event. The period of uncleanness in connection with the death of one’s preceptor, companion, maternal uncle, king, or of a son not of one’s own loins, or of one’s wife who has known another person, as well as that incidental to the death of a shrotriya (a Brahmana well-versed in the shrutis), or of one who has completed the study of his Véda with its kindred branches of study, is one day only. The relations of a person, who has suffered death in execution of the sentence of a king or of a king’s court, or killed by any horned cattle, or has committed suicide in private or by taking poison, shall not bide any period of uncleanness in consequence thereof. Uncleanness incidental to the death of a person addicted to the performance of a religious sacrifice, or while observing a religious vow, or of a Brahmacharin or a practiser of charities, or of a knower of the Supreme Brahma, or of one expiring while engaged in making gifts or celebrating a religious sacrifice, or fallen in battle or in a civic disturbance or political revolution, or killed by an act of God, shall expire on the very day of the occurrence. Fire, Time, good deeds, earth, air, Mind, knowledge, Meditation (divine) Repentence, fasting and practice of religious penances (Tapas) are the sources of all expiation and purification (cleansing) as the case may be. Charity is the atonement for all misdeeds and a river is purified by its current.

A Brahmana in distress, as well as the one fallen on evil days, may earn his livelihood by doing the office of a Kshatriya (a member of the military caste) or of a Vaishya (trader). One thus living by trade or merchandise, shall not sell any fruit, Soma, silk cloth (Kshauma), salt, edible shrub, curd, thickened milk, clarified butter, water, sesamum, boiled rice, mercury, alkaline preparation, honey, shellac. Aconite, requisites for a Homa ceremony, cloth, stone, wine, salads, earth (clay), leather-shoes, deer-skin, blanket, salt, flesh, levigated paste of any oil-seeds, edible roots or perfumes, however, may be sold for money only for religious purposes (celebration of a religious sacrifice, etc.,) in exchange of paddy and sesamum seeds. Even in most abject penury, a Brahmana shall rather live by agriculture than engage in selling salt, and shall make it a religion never to sell a horse under whatsoever circumstance in life. Even in the absence of any means of livelihood, a Brahmana shall fast for three days and abide by the decision of the king of the country regarding the choice of any new profession.

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