Friday, April 29, 2011

Garuda Puranam

The Garuda Purana is one of the eighteen Puranas. It is actually structured like any other normal purana - explains the glory of the Lord and the creation etc etc. 

Since it is in the form of dialog between Mahavishnu and Garuda it is named as Garuda Purana.

And it is a misconception that this book should be read only during the occasion of any death in the house. We have made our own ideas regarding various texts - like reading Mahabharata. Since Mahabharat has tales of war and killings, people think that it may bring disharmony and fights to the household.  

Similar is the case with Garuda Purana. It is wrong to say that one should not keep Garuda Purana at home. The entire epic is in the form of wonderful conversation between Garuda and Lord Vishnu regarding the meaning of human life. The Lord explains the life of the soul after death. Because the epic deals with death, people blindly say that Garuda Purana should not be kept at home. It is only a myth. One can very well  keep this book at home.

And many consider it unlucky to read this text except during unfavorable occasions. If that is the case and why Vyasa has listed this book as one among the Puranas ? Please understand that all the Puranas are fit for Parayanam and certain texts specially suit certain occasion. Thats all.

Garuda Purana is a more a scientific book of facts than a book of religious preachings.  

He, who takes birth, shall have to die. He, Who dies, shall have to take birth. This is law of Nature. Death is a a natural process that nobody can avoid. A section of Garuda Purana deals with process connected with death, the ritual and detailed description of the journey of the departed soul. 

The reason behind the rituals we do and their esoteric significance are also explained. For example the donation we give - The first object that should be donated is an umbrella (chhatra).  On the way to Yama’s abode, the preta has to pass long stretches where there is no shade at all and the sun shines very brightly.  If an umbrealla is donated , it can be held over the preta’s head as it is taken Yama’s abode.  The preta suffers less.  The second object that should be donated is a pair of sandals (paduka).   There is a possiblbility that the preta may land up in asipatravana naraka.  If you  remember, there the sands are very hot and sinners have to dash over the hot sands to a cool grove that is in the centre of the hell.  If sandals are donated, the preta does not have to walk over these hot sands, but gets to ride a horse.  The third object that should be donated is a seat (asana).  If a seat is donated, the preta gets enough food to eat as it is taken to Yama.  The fourth object that should be donated is a water-pot  (kamandalu).  If a water-pot is donated, the preta does not suffer from lack of drinking water on the journey.  The fifth object that should be donated is clothing (vastra).  If clothing is donated, Yama’s messengers do not torture the preta on the journey.  The sixth object that should be donated is a ring (mudrika).  If a ring is donated, Yama’s messengers allow the preta to travel at his own pace.  They do not rush him and goad him to travel fast.  The benefits of whatever is donated percolate through to the preta himself.  Sometimes they directly reach the preta.

According to merits earned by the departed soul, his life after death is decided. The travel of the dead person to the other lokaas in a different body is explained in Garuda Purana in detail. The yathra to Yama loka is described. After reaching Yama loka one's Papa and Punya are evaluated. Yama then gives the jeeva a new body called yaathanaa sharira - that is a body for suffering. (There are twenty eight different punishments for the sins one is committing in this world.. It also explains the different kinds of Sins which lead to different Hell. Iam not listing it here... If our readers are interested let me know I shall list it)

In this Yaathana Saharira - body which is meant for suffering, one has to suffer for the sins committed.

To put it simple -  the soul of a true bhaktha reach the abode of their ishta devatha after the death. For all others who have committed punya and paapa go to swarga and narakaa to enjoy for punyaa and suffer for paapaa respectively.

After that enjoyments and suffering... they take another birth in this mundane world and again enter into the cycle of Karma and start doing paapa and punya. This cycle is never ending; 

The law of Karma is very well established here and it tells - what janma a person, gets for his sins... So no one can escape from his own actions. Each action is having equal and opposite reaction

(The list is elaborate for each karma - example : Who deceives a friend becomes a mountain-vulture; who cheats in selling becomes an owl... the list goes on and on. Again Iam not detailing it here)

This is what is explained in Garuda Purana...

Great punya is acquired from reading or hearing the Garuda Purana. So by reading Garuda Purana one gets mental clarity and gets a chance to purify himself and help to cross over the ocean of existence !

The person who reads or hears this purana, is guaranteed happiness in this world and also the next world. This gives the true knowledge. And so Garuda Purana is a text which should be revered and not ignored or feared.

----- This article was sent to my email address by my friend

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sri Parthasarathy Kara Varuda Brahmothsavam -Day 8