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The Garuda Purana, by Ernest Wood and S.V. Subrahmanyam, [1911], at

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An Account of the Miseries of the Sinful in this World and the Other.

1. The tree Madhusūdana,--whose firm root is Law, whose trunk is the Vedas, whose abundant branches are the Purāṇas, whose flowers are sacrifices, and whose fruit is liberation,--excels.

2. In Naimiṣa, the field of the sleepless Ones, 1 the sages, Saunaka and others, performed sacrifices for thousands of years to attain the Heaven-world.

3-5. Those sages once, in the morning,. having offered oblations to the sacrificial fire respectfully asked this of the revered Sūta sitting there:--

The sages said: The happiness-giving path of the Shining Ones

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has been described by you. We now wish to hear about the fear-inspiring Way of Yama; 1

Also of the miseries of the World of Change, 2 and the means of destroying its pains. Please tell us correctly about the afflictions of this world and the other.

6. Suta said: Listen then. I am willing to describe the way of Yama, very difficult to tread, happiness-giving, to the virtuously inclined, misery-giving to the sinful.

7. As it was declared to Vainateya 3 by the Blessed Viṣṇu, when asked; just so will I relate it, to remove your difficulties.

8-9. Once, when the Blessed Hari, the Teacher, was sitting at ease in Vaikuṇṭḥa, the son of Vinatā, 3 having bowed reverently, inquired:--

Garuḍa said: The Path of Devotion, of many forms, has been described to me by you, and also, O Shining One, has been told the highest goal of the devotees.

10. Now I wish to hear about the fearsome Way of Yama, along which is the travelling, it is revealed, of those who turn away from devotion to Thee.

11. The name of the Lord is easily pronounced, and the tongue is under control. Fie, fie upon the wretched men who nevertheless go to hell!

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12. Tell me, then, O Lord, to what condition the sinful come, and in what way they obtain the miseries of the Way of Yama.

13. The Blessed Lord said: Listen, O Lord of Birds, and I will describe the Way of Yama, terrible even to hear about, by which those who are sinful go in hell.

14-16. O Tārkṣya, those who delight in sin, destitute of compassion and righteousness, attached to the wicked, averse from the true scriptures and the company of the good,

Self-satisfied, unbending, intoxicated with the pride of wealth, having the ungodly qualities, lacking the divine attributes,

Bewildered by many thoughts, enveloped in the net of delusion, revelling in the enjoyments of the desire-nature,--fall into a foul hell.

17. Those men who are intent upon wisdom go to the highest goal; the sinfully-inclined go miserably to the torments of Yama.

18. Listen how the misery of this world accrues to the sinful, then how they, having passed through death, meet with torments.

19. Having experienced the good or the bad actions, in accordance with his former earning,--then, as the result of his 1 actions, some disease arises.

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20. Powerful death, unexpectedly, like a serpent, approaches him stricken with bodily and mental pain, yet anxiously hoping to live.

21-24. Not yet tired of life, being cared for by his dependents, with his body deformed through old age, nearing death, in the house,

He remains, like a house-dog, eating what is ungraciously placed before him, diseased, with failing digestion, eating little, moving little,

With eyes turned up through loss of vitality, with tubes obstructed by phlegm, exhausted by coughing and difficult breathing, with the death rattle in his throat,

Lying encircled by his sorrowing relatives; though being spoken to he does not answer, being caught in the noose of death.

25. In this condition, with mind busy with the support of his family, with senses unconquered, swooning with intense pain he dies amidst his weeping relatives.

26. In this last moment, O Tārkṣya, a divine vision arises,--all the worlds appear as one,--and he does not attempt to say anything.

27. Then, at the destruction of the decayed senses and the numbing of the intelligence, the messengers of Yama come near and life departs.

28. When the breath is leaving its place, the moment of dying

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seems an age, and pain like the stinging of hundred scorpions is experienced.

29. Now he emits foam; his mouth becomes filled with saliva. The vital breaths of the sinful depart by the lower gateway.

30-31. Then, two terrifying messengers of Yama are come, of fierce aspect, bearing nooses and rods, naked, with grinding teeth,

As black as crows, with hair erect, with ugly faces, with nails like weapons; seeing whom his heart palpitates and he releases excrements.

32. The man of the size of a thumb, crying out 'oh, oh,' is dragged from the body by the servants of Yama, looking the while at his own body.

33. Having put round him a body of torment, and bound the noose about his neck, they forcibly lead him a long way, like the king's officers a convict.

34-35. While thus leading him the messengers menace him, and recount over and over again the awful terrors of the hells,--

'Hurry up, you wicked man. You shall go to the abode of Yama. We will lead you now, without delay, to Kumbhīpāka and the other hells.'

36. Then hearing these words, and the weeping of his relatives; crying loudly 'Oh, oh,' he is beaten by the servants of Yama.

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37-38. With failing heart and shuddering at their threats, bitten by clogs upon the way, afflicted, remembering his misdeeds,

Hungry and thirsty, roasting in the sun, forest-fires and hot winds, struck upon the back with whips, painfully he walks, almost powerless, along a road of burning sand, shelterless and waterless.

30-40. Here and there falling exhausted and insensible, and rising again,--in this way, very miserably led through the darkness to the abode of Yama,

The man is brought there in a short time and the messengers show him the terrible torments of hell.

41. Having seen the fearful Yama, the man, after a time, by command of Yama, swiftly comes back through the air, with the messengers.

42. Having returned, bound by his past tendencies, desiring the body but held back with a noose by the followers of Yama, tortured by hunger and thirst, he weeps.

43. He obtains the rice-balls given by his offspring, and the gifts made during the time of his illness. Nevertheless, O Tārkṣya, the sinful Denier does not obtain gratification.

44. The Śrāddha, 1 the gifts, and the handsful of water, for the sinful, do not uplift. Although they eat the rice-ball offering, still they are tortured with hunger.

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45. Those who are in the departed condition, deprived of the rice-ball offering, wander about in great misery, in an uninhabited forest, until the end of the age.

46. Karma not experienced does not die away even in thousands of millions of ages; the being who has not experienced the torment certainly does not obtain the human form.

47. Hence, O Twice-born, 1 for ten days the son should offer rice-balls. Every day these are divided into four portions, O Best of Birds.

48. Two portions give nourishment to the five elements of the body; the third goes to the messengers of Yama; he lives upon the fourth.

40. For nine days and nights the departed obtains rice-balls, and on the tenth day the being, with fully formed body, acquires strength.

50. The old body being cremated, a new one is formed by these offerings, O Bird; the man, the size of a hand (cubit), by this experiences good and evil on the way.

51-53. By the rice-ball of the first day the head is-formed; the neck and shoulders by the second; by the third the heart forms:

By the fourth the back forms; and by the fifth the navel; by the sixth the hips and secret parts; by the seventh the thigh forms;

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Likewise next the knees and feet by two; on the tenth day hunger and thirst.

54. Dwelling in the body formed by the rice-balls, very hungry and pained with thirst, on both the eleventh and twelfth days the departed eats.

55. On the thirteenth day the departed, bound by the servants of Yama, walks alone along the road like a captured monkey.

56. The extent of the way of Yama measures eighty-six thousand Yojanas, 1 without Vaitaraṇī, O Bird.

57. Two hundred and forty-seven Yojanas each day the departed travels, going by day and night.

58-59. Having passed successively. through these sixteen cities on the way, the sinful man goes to the place of the King of Righteousness 2:--

Saumya, 3 Sauripura, 4 Nāgendrabhavana, 5 Gāndharva, 6 Shailāgama, 7 Krauncha, 8 Krūrapura, 9 Vichitrabhavana, 10 Bahwāpada, 11 Duḥkhada, 12 Nānākrandapura, 13 Sutaptabhawana, 14 Raudra, 15 Payovarshana, 16 Shītādhya, 17 Bahubhīti 18:--before the city of Yama, the abode of righteousness

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60. Held by the nooses of Yama, the sinful, crying out "Oh, oh," having left his own house, goes on the way to the city of Yama.


1:1 I.e., The superphysical beings, who do not sleep.

2:1 Yama is the Lord of death.

2:2 Saṁsāra: The three worlds in which men circle through births and deaths.

2:3 A name of Garuḍa, Vinatā was the mother of Garuḍa.

3:1 The ambiguity of the pronouns in this work is unavoidable, They may be interpreted only with the aid of common-sense.

6:1 Ceremony for the dead.

7:1 Members of the three higher castes take a "second birth" when invested with the sacred thread; all birds are twice-born, in and from the egg.

8:1 A Yojana is between 8 and 9 miles.

8:2 Another form of Yama.

8:3 Calm place.

8:4 Town of Saturn.

8:5 Residence of the Lord of Serpents.

8:6 Place of Singers.

8:7 Inaccessible mountain.

8:8 Name of a mountain.

8:9 Town of cruelty.

8:10 A wonderful place.

8:11 Many calamities.

8:12 Misery-giving.

8:13 Town of varied cries.

8:14 Very hot place.

8:15 Savage.

8:16 Rains

8:17 Very cold.

8:18 Many horrors.

Next: Chapter II. An Account of The Way of Yama