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 CVII - A synopsis of the Dharma-Sastra by Parasara

Suta said:—The holy Parashara narrated to Vyasa the duties of the different social orders. Change is the law of the universe, and in each cycle the earth passes through the successive phases of origin, and decay, but the birthless ones (Vishnu, etc.,) suffer no modifications. The shrutis, (lit., things heard, are spiritual truths transmitted orally from generation to generation), Smritis (lit:—things remembered, are the unwritten laws of conduct, etc., subsequently collected into codes,) and the good institutions have their origin in the holy Védas(Vedas?). It was Brahma who first revealed the inspired rhapsodies of the Védas to the world at large, and the divine lawgivers of old, such as Manu etc, were the authors of the Dharma shastras (Institutes or Codes of Law, both moral and positive). Charity is the only virtue which would be practised in the cycle of Kali, and the votaries of all others would be scarce therein. Hence it is the only one virtue which should be practised for the redemption of human nature in that iron age. The kingdom of evil would come and vice would reign supreme on earth. Curses would take effect within one year of their making (giving). A pious conduct and a pure character would be the passport to all those merits in that age, which could have been secured only with the practice of the most austere penances in the preceding ones. The six acts of necromancy (Shatkarma) would be the matters of daily undertaking and the rites of Sandhya (recitation of a certain fixed portion of the Védas by a Brahmana) ceremonial ablutions, mental repetition of any sacred Mantra, Homa, worship of the gods and practice of hospitality, would be the stepping-stones to piety. Scarce would be the number of Brahmana-Yatis in the Kali Yuga who would stick to the noble art of spiritual culture, and the Kshatriyas would rule the earth by conquering the armed forces of other sovereigns even in the absence of any legitimate cause for war, and simply out of a spirit of land-craving. The members of the mercantile community, should diligently ply on their respective trades and engage in agriculture, and the shudras should live by serving the Brahmanas in the age of Kali.

A man would degrade himself by stealing or by going unto a woman related to him in the category of a “forbidden woman,” or by eating any thing that is prohibited in the Shastras for the purpose. A Brahmana engaged in agriculture, should not yoke a team of tired bullocks to his plough. The Brahmanas even in the age of Kali, shall bathe at midday, practise trance for a while, and then feed the Brahmanas assembled at his house. The five religious sacrifices enjoined to be performed by a Brahmana householder, each day, should be likewise performed in the Kali Yuga, and sins and inequities should be held in contempt they deserve. A Brahmana shall not sell sesamum and clarified butter for any pecuniary consideration. An agriculturist is absolved of all sins by giving a sixth part of the produce to his king, a twentieth part to the gods, and a thirty-third part thereof to the Brahmanas. A Kshatriya, a Vaishya, or a shudra agriculturist paying no such tithes as the preceding ones, stands charged with the guilt of theft.

A Brahmana, who knows the Supreme Brahma, becomes clean on the third day of the event on the happening of any birth or death in his family, whereas the period of uncleanness, under the circumstance, shall extend to ten, twelve, and thirty days in respect of the Brahma-knowing Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and shudras respectively. On the contrary, persons belonging to the Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and shudra communities by mere accidents of birth, shall be respectively deemed pure at the expiry of ten, twelve, fifteen and thirty days after the event under the circumstance. The Sapinda relations of a deceased person or of a stillborn child, though not living in the same house, nor in commensality, shall bide the same full term of uncleanness, while those removed from him to the fourth degree of consanguinity shall be unclean for ten days, those removed to the fifth degree shall be judged unclean for six days, those removed to the sixth degree, of consanguinity shall be regarded unclean for four days, and those removed to the seventh degree, shall be considered unclean for three days only from the date of the event under the circumstance. A child dead in a distant country does not entail any period of uncleanness to his relations beyond the moment the news is heard and delivered. The corpse of a child dead before cutting its teeth as well as that of a still-born one should not be cremated in fire, nor any funeral oblations and libations of water should be offered to it. In the case of a miscarriage or abortion of a fœtus, the period of uncleanness in respect of its mother, would extend to as many days as the age of the foetus in months at the time of abortion. The period of uncleanness incidental to the death of a child, dead without the rite of Namakaran (nomenclature) having been done unto him, shall expire with the day of its occurrence, that on the occasion of one expired before the rite of tonsure shall continue for the whole day and night, while that incidental to the demise of a child, dead before having been invested with the holy thread, would last for three days from the date of its happening, and for ten days after that age.

An abortion of womb happening within the fourth month of gestation is called a Garbhasrava, while the one occurring at a later period and in the fifth or sixth month of incubation, is called a miscarriage (Garbha-Tyaga). No such uncleanness can attach itself to the person of a Brahmana who is a Brahmacharin or is a daily worshipper of the sacred fire, or has renounced all company and lives in solitude. The artisans, the mechanics, the physicians, and one’s servants, male slaves, and female slaves, are incapable of catching such personal disqualifications (uncleanness incidental to the birth or death of a person). The persons of kings, shrotriyas and custodians of the sacred fire, are perpetually clean. On the occasion of the birth of a child, its mother shall be considered clean at the close of ten days after the date of the event, while its father shall be clean again by an ablution on the receipt of the news. All acts should be suspended on the happening of the birth or death of a relation at the celebration of a marriage or a religious sacrifice or festivity, except those which have been actually projected and undertaken before the event. The mother of a child, dead within the period of uncleanness incidental to its birth, shall be clean again on the date of the event. The period of uncleanness incidental to the death of a person, dead in a cowshed, is only one day. By carrying the dead body of a friendless person to the cremation ground, a man shall remain unclean for a single day, while the period of uncleanness in respect of carrying the dead body of a Shudra, is three days only. The right of cremation is denied to a suicide, no matter whether the death has been brought about by self-poisoning or strangulation, as well as to one who has died of an insect-bite. A man, defiled by the contact of the corpse of a person, killed by any horned cattle or died of an insect-bite, is purified by practising a Krichchha Vrata.

He who forsakes a chaste and undegraded wife in her youth, is sure to incarnate as a woman, and to suffer the pangs of widowhood in his six successive re-births. By not visiting the bed of his wife during her menstrual period as enjoined in the Shastras, a man incurs the sin of infanticide, while a non-acommodating wife under the circumstance, is sure to be born as a sow in her next birth. An abstinence by the husband on the ground of being engaged in celebrating any Vedic rite or sacrifice at the time, deprives him of funeral libations, etc., after death. A son of one’s own loins as well as the one begotten on one’s wife by another under an appointment and hence related to one in that capacity, is equally entitled to offer oblations to one’s departed spirit. A younger brother marrying in the unmarried state of his elder, as well as his bride shall practise a penance of Krichchha Vrata for the expiation of the crime. The person at whose hand the bride is taken, shall as well practise the penances respectively known as Ati-krichchha and Chandrayana Vratas. A younger brother is not prohibited from taking a bride even in the unmarried state of his elder, when the latter is found to be born a hunchback, or a dwarf, or impotent, deaf, blind, or dumb, or as an idiot, or as one incapable of distinct articulation. A betrothed girl may be married to another in any of the five following contingencies, viz., in the event of no trace having been found of her appointed bridegroom, or in the event of his death, or of his taking to the life of a hermit, or on his loss of manhood or moral degradation. A wife immolating herself with the dead body of her husband at the same funeral pile, shall live in heaven for as many number of years as there are hairs on the human body. A man, bitten by a dog, or by an animal of the kindred species, is purified by mentally reciting the Gayatri Mantra.

The dead body of a Brahmana should be exhumed ora a funeral pyre lighted with Laukikagni (fire brought from, a household). The bone of a Brahmana, killed by a Chandala, should be washed with milk in order to impart to it the necessary purity before cremation, and burnt in fire with a recitation of the proper Mantras. An effigy of a Brahmana made of Kusha-blades, should be burnt in the following manner in the event of his death having happened in a distant country. Six hundred Palasha-twigs, should be spread in the shape of a man over a piece of black deer skin, a Shami-twig being placed over the spot where the penis would be, an Arani (fire churning apparatus) at the region of its scrotum, a Kunda (vessel) at the region of its right hand, an Upabhrit (a sacrificial utensil) at its left, an Udakhalam (a grain thresher) on either of its sides, a Mushala (threshing rod) at its back, a stone slab at the region of its breast, with rice, sesame and clarified butter at its mouth, a Prokshani on either of its ears, an Ajyasthali (vessel for clarified butter) on either of its eyes, and bits of gold in the orfices of its mouth, ears and eyes. Thus all the articles and utensils required in an Agni Hotra sacrifice, should be arranged along the different parts of the effigy of Kusha grass, which should be lighted with fire, and a single libation of clarified butter, should be cast therein by reciting the Mantra, “Asau svargaya lokaya svaha” (obeisance to the Fre-God, may he ascend the region of heaven). By thus burning the effigy of a Brahmana, dead in a distant country, his relation may ensure the residence of his soul in the region of Brahma.

The killer of a Swan, Sarasa, Heron, Chakravak, or a cock may regain the former purity of his self by fasting for a single day, which rule holds good as regards the killing of any other bird. The rite of expiation in connection with the killing of a quadruped, consists in fasting for a day and in mentally repeating any sacred Mantra. The proper atonement for inadvertantly bringing about the death of a Shudra, consists in practising a Krichchha Vrata, that for killing a member of the Vaishya caste, is the practice of an Ati-Krichchha Vrata. The penance to be practised for expiating the sin of killing a Kshatriya, is a Chandrayana, which should be practised twenty to thirty times by way of atoning for an J act of Brahman-killing.

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