Garuda Purana

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Garuda Purana (Devanagari: गरुड़ पुराण) is one of the Puranas which are part of the Hindu body of texts known as smriti. It is a Vaishnava Purana and its first part contains a dialog between Vishnu and Garuda, the King of Birds. The second half contains details of life after death, funeral rites and the metaphysics of reincarnation, thus it is recited as a part Antyesti (Antim Sanskar) or funeral rites (funeral liturgy) in Hinduism.[1]

Contents

Overview

Bhagawaan* = from the Sanskrit language: The Supreme, possessed of all material and spiritual opulences, in a proportion beyond limited human imagination or infinite as in the Sanskrit word, Ananta.

Garuda Purana is in the form of instructions by Vishnu to his carrier, Garuda (The King of Birds – a vahana of Bhagawaan* Vishnu). This Purana deals with astronomy, medicine, grammar, and gemstone structure and qualities. In addition, the Garuda Purana is considered the authoritative Vedic reference volume describing the Nine Pearls, which includes not only the well known Oyster Pearl, but also the Conch Pearl, Cobra Pearl, Boar Pearl, Elephant Pearl, Bamboo Pearl, Whale Pearl, Fish Pearl, and Cloud Pearl.

The Garuda Purana is a Vaishnava Purana. The others in this group are Vishnu Purana, Narada Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Padma Purana and Varaha Purana.

The Garuda Purana has nineteen thousand shlokas (lines). It is a medium-sized Purana. The Skanda Purana, for example, has eighty-one thousand shlokas. And the Markandeya Purana only nine thousand. The thousand shlokas of the Garuda Purana are divided into two parts, a purva khanda (first part) and an uttara khanda (subsequent part). Each khanda has several chapters (adhyaya). The purva khanda is much longer, it has two hundred and thirty-four chapters. The Uttara khanda has only forty-five.

The latter half of this Purana deals with life after death. The followers of the eternal Vedas, addressed as “Hindus” of India generally read this Purana while cremating the physically dead bodies of departed atmaas/souls. This has given great importance to the origin of Garuda. There are nineteen thousand verses describing the ways to the Lord.

Suta and the other sages

Suta was a very learned sage. He was very well-versed in the Puranas and in the shastras (sacred texts). He was also devoted to Vishnu.

Vedavyasa taught the Puranas to one of his disciples named Romaharshana or Lomaharshana. He was thus named because the hair (roma) on his body was thrilled (harshana) when he heard the Puranas from his teacher. It was Romaharshana who related the stories of the Puranas to everyone else. The Bhagavata Purana says the Romaharshana had a son named Suta and it was this son who related the story of that particular Purana to the other sages . On the other hand, Romaharshana himself belonged to the suta class, so that he too could be addressed as Suta. From reading the Garuda Purana, one does get the impression that it is Romaharshana himself who is relating the story, and not his son.

To come back to the point, Romaharshana came to a forest known as Naimisharanya. He sat there and contemplated the mysteries of the Lord Vishnu.

Several other rishis (sages) led by Shounaka also came to the forest. They told Romaharshana, “Sage, you know everything. Who is the god of all gods? Who is to be worshipped? What does one meditate on? Who destroys evil? How did the world come to be created? What is dharma (righteousness)? Tell us all these things and more”.

“I will”, replied Romaharshana. “I will recite to you the Garuda Purana. Many years ago, this Purana was told to the sage Kashyapa by the great bird Garuda himself. I learnt it from my teacher Vyasadeva. But first let me list for you the twenty-two avataras of Vishnu.

The first incarnation was a young boy. In this form, Vishnu adopted celibacy (brahmacharya) and performed difficult tapasya (meditation).

The second incarnation was as a boar (varaha). In this form, Vishnu rescued the earth from the underworld.

The third incarnation was as a great sage (devarishi). In this form, Vishnu spread the knowledge of several texts (tantras).

The fourth incarnation was as two sages named Nara-Narayana.

The fifth incarnation was as the great sage Kapila. Kapila taught his disciple Asuri the wonderful philosophy known as Samkhya yoga.

The sixth incarnation was as the sage Dattatreya, the son of Atri and Anasuya.

The seventh incarnation took place in the manvantra known as svayambhuva. Vishnu was born as the son of Ruchi and Akuti and performed many yajnas (sacrifices).

In the eighth incarnation, Vishnu was born as Urukrama, the son of Nabhi and Meru. He taught everyone the righteous way of life.

In the ninth incarnation, Vishnu became the king Prithu and restored foodgrains and herbs to the earth.

The tenth of Vishnu’s incarnations was as a fish (matsya). He saved Vaivasvata Manu from the flood that enveloped the world.

In the eleventh incarnation, Vishnu adopted the form of a turtle (kurma). This was to help out the gods (devas) and demons (asuras) in the churning of the ocean (samudra manthana).

The twelfth incarnation was as Dhanvantari, physician of the gods and the originator of medicine.

The thirteenth was Mohini avatara. In this form, Vishnu adopted the body of a beautiful woman to charm and rob the asuras of the amrita (a life-giving drink).

In the fourteenth incarnation, Vishnu became Narasimha, a being who was half-man and half-lion, to kil the evil asura Hiranyakashipu.

The fifteenth incarnation witnessed Vishnu’s adoption of the form of dwarf (Vamana). This was to hoodwink the asura King Bali and restore the heaven to gods.

In the sixteenth incarnation, Vishnu became Parashurama, killed all the wicked Kshatriyas in the world twenty-one times.

The seventeenth incarnation was as Vedavyasa, the son of Parashara and Satyavati. Vedavyasa divided and classified the Vedas.

Vishnu’s eighteen incarnation was as the sage Narada.

The nineteenth incarnation was Rama. This incarnation is thought to be a bit contradictory, (Parshuram was present in the swayamvar of Sita) but it is not. Parshuram was ardh-avatara(Half incarnation) & Rama was poorna manav Avatara (Full Incarnation as a Human Soul).

The twentieth incarnation was Balarama.

In the twenty-first incarnation, Vishnu was Krishna .

The twenty-second incarnation is yet to come. And Vishnu will come to destroy evil in the world and restore righteousness”.

There have been several other incarnations of Vishnu. But the ones mentioned above are the major ones.

List of Punishments

Garuda Purana Wrong doings Punishment given in Naraka Schema
Thamisra Stealing other’s property including wife, children and belongings Thrashing with the weapon, gada

Yama Kinkara using the Gada
Andhathamisra Post marital cheating between husband and wife Unconscious circulation in abyss
Rourava Destroying, spiliting other’s family and their belongings Spanking the Life organs with trident by Yama kinkaras

Yama kinkara with trident
Maharourava Brutally destroying other’s property and family for the sake of acquisition A wild animal, Guru, tortures them in various forms
Kumbipaka Destroying innocent lives for food Roasting in hot oil tank by yama kinkaras
Kalasuthira Torturing and putting elders & parents in starvation Same set of treatment in hell
Asipathira Abetting God and devolve from Dharma practises Torture by evil spirits; results in fear
Panrimukha Punishing innocent people and accomplice unlawful activiites Grinding under the sharp teeth of an animal resembling pig
Anthakoopa Torturing lives and inhumane activities Biting by wild animals; wild run over by animals
Agnikunda Snatching other’s property by force, gaining undue advantage and unlawfully making best out of everything in the world Roasting in agni kunda in inverted position with hands and legs ties under a stick
Vajrakandaka Unchaste people in physical contact with unmatching people Physical hugging with fire spitting idols
Kirumibhojana Selfish survival; eating other’s work Insects are left intruding the body
Sanmali Unchaste relationships by kamukas Thrashing with gada
Vaitharani Using official stature to attain undue advantge, acting against dharma Submerging in Vaitarna river where water is mixed with blood, urine and feces
Booyoga Shameless behaviour, mixing with unchaste women & leading the life without any motive Biting by poisonous insects and animals
Prayanyoga Torturing lives and killing them Spanking the Life organs with arrows by Yama kinkaras
Pasusava All devatas are in cows; torturing those cows Slashing by canes
Sarameyathana Gutting houses, torturing lives, poisoning lives, involving in massacre Torture by unknown wild animals
Aveesi Giving false evidence Submerging and torturing in livebodies
Paribathana Drinking and making others drink alcohol Drinking lava
Sharakarthama Involving in bad activities and defaming elders and living with selfish motives Torture the Life organs by unknown spirits
Rakshogana Performing narametha yaga, eating non vegetarian dishes and torturing soft animals The same victims torture the hecklers
Soolaproga Killing innocent people, masterminding people, committing suicide and doing nambike droha [i.e., betraying(droha) a person’s trust(nambike).] Unknown birds peck and torture with shoola
Susimuga Not doing any good, amassing wealth by wrong doings and stealing wealth Stinging with nails and torturing with hunger and thirst
Kunthasootha Not doing any good and always doing bad to others Stinging by insects like scorpio
Vadaroga Severrly torturing living beings Handcuffed and burnt in fire

Roasting in fire
Piravarthana Defaming guests and not treating them Torturing with hunger and thirst
Lalapakshuga Torturing wife and involving her in unchaste relationships Same set of treatment in hell

Further reading

  • Mani, Vettam. Puranic Encyclopedia. 1st English ed. Manipal: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975.
  • Govindarajan “Garuda Puranam”, 1st edition. New Horizon,2007

References

  1. ^ Introduction:The Garuda Purana, Translated by Ernest Wood and S.V. Subrahmanyam (1911).

External links

 

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