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

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The Collecting of the Bones from the Fire.

1. Garuḍa said: Tell me, O Lord, the rites for burning the bodies of the good, and describe also the greatness of the wife who is faithful.

2. The Blessed Lord said: Listen, O Tārkṣya. I will tell you all about the ceremonies for the upper body, by doing which sons and grandsons are released from the hereditary debt.

3. There is no need for numerous gifts, but one should perform the funeral ceremonies for his parents; the son who does so obtains fruit like that of the Agniṣṭoma. 1

4-6. Then the son, abandoning sorrow, should have the shave, along with all his relatives, in order to remove all sins.

The son who does not have the shave when the mother or father has died,--how can he be called a son, the helper through the ocean of changefulness.

Therefore he must have the shave by all means, except the nails and the hair of the armpits. Then, having bathed with his relatives he must put on clean cloths.

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7-9. Then, bringing river water, he should bathe the corpse and next adorn it with sandal-paste, garlands, or the clay of the Ganges;

Having covered it with new cloths he, with his sacred thread on the right shoulder, should pronounce the family name, and dedicate rice-balls and presents,

At the place of death, in the name of the so-called dead, he should offer them. By this the earth and its presiding deity become pleased.

10. Ḥe should wake offering at the threshold in the name of him who is become a traveller; by this the evil ones amongst the tens of millions of elementals can do no harm.

11-13. Then the daughter-in-law 1 and others should go round it and worship it; then along with the other relatives the son should bear it on his shoulder.

The son who bears his father on his shoulder to the burning-ground obtains the fruit of the horse-sacrifice at every step.

He who carries his dead father on shoulder or back or hip pays off the debt of constant parental kindnesses.

14. Then, half-way, after cleaning and sprinkling, he should make a halt. Having bathed the corpse, he should make an offering for him.

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15. Oblations should be made in order that goblins, demons and fiends, and others in the various directions, shall not cause disturbance of that body which is to be sacrificed.

16-19. Then it should be taken to the burning-ground, and laid down with its head to the north. Some place should be cleaned there, for the burning of the body, as follows:

Having swept the ground and washed it with cow-dung, having taken out some earth and erected an altar and sprinkled it with water, and having placed the fire as prescribed,

And having worshipped with flowers and coloured rice the Shining One known as the eater of flesh, 1 he should make an oblation as prescribed, beginning with 'loman,'--

"Oh, Thou, Supporter of Beings, Womb of the World, Nourisher of Creatures. This one belonging to the changing world is dead; lead Thou him to heaven!"

20-22. Having thus prayed to the fire, he should make there a funeral pyre with sandal wood, the holy bath wood, and with the wood of palāsha and aśwattha.

Having placed the departed on the funeral pyre, he should offer in the name of the departed two rice ball; in the hand of the dead,

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on the funeral pyre. From the time he is released on the funeral pyre the condition as departed begins.

Those who know the ways of the departed call him a seeker. An offering should be made on the funeral pyre, either in this name, or in that of Departed.

23. Thus the dead gets the benefit of the offering of five rice-balls; otherwise the above-mentioned come to disturb.

24. The son, having dedicated five rice-balls to the departed, and having brought the oblation with the grasses, should give them to the fire, if there is not Pañchaka. 1

25-27. Who dies in the Pañchaka does not attain a good condition. Burning should not be done then; if it is done, another death occurs.

Beginning from the middle of Dhaniṣṭhā, in the five Pañchaka mansions ending with Revatī 2 is not a suitable time for burning. If burning takes place, evil occurs.

Harm befalls the house in which death takes place in the Rikṣa mansion, and some trouble arises for the sons and family.

28. I will explain to you the rites for the warding off of all ills, in case burning takes place in the middle of Rikṣa.

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20-33. Then one should place near the corpse images, O Tārkṣya, make of darbha grass, and consecrated with the four Rikṣa mantras.

Purified gold should be used, and sacrifice performed with Rikṣa mantras, with the mantra "Pretājayata," and with leaf-vessels.

Then the burning along with the images should be done, and the son, on the day of the offering of the rice-balls, should perform the pacificatory rites for him.

For warding off ills he should give a vessel full of sesamum, gold, silver, diamonds, and a bronze vessel filled with clarified butter, in order.

Who, after having thus performed the pacificatory ceremonies, does the burning,--no harm befalls him; and the departed goes to the supreme condition.



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56-50. Whether half or wholly burnt, his skull should be split open, in the case of householders with a piece of wood, in that of ascetics with a cocoanut.

His son, so that he may attain the world of the forefathers, having split open the brahmarandra 1 should make an oblation of clarified butter with this mantra:

"Thou art born from him; 2 may he be born again from you. He is an offering to the heaven-world. O Fire, blaze forth!"

Thus having made an oblation of clarified butter, with mantras and sesamum offerings, he should weep loudly, that he may become happy

60-61. When the burning is finished the women should bathe, then the sons, and offer water mixed with sesamum, in the name of the family.

He should eat the leaves of the nimba-tree and recount the virtues of the dead. They should walk home, the women in front and the men behind.

62. Having bathed again at home, he should give food to a cow and eat-from a leaf-plate--but not any food already in the house.

63. Having cleaned the place of death with cow-dung, he should keep a lamp burning there, turned to the south, up to the twelfth day.

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34-66. For three days, at sunset, O Tārkṣya, he should offer, at the cross-roads or on the burning-ground, milk and water in an earthen pot.

Holding the unbaked earthen pot, filled with milk and water, bound with-three sticks, he should repeat this mantra:

"Thou hast been burned with the fires of the burning-ground. Thou hast been forsaken by relatives. Here is milk and here water; bathe and drink!"

67. On the fourth day the collection 1 should be made, by those who maintain household fires, and by those who do not. If there is nothing to prevent, on the second or the third day he should do as follows:

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68-78. Having gone to the burning-ground, having bathed and become pure, having put on a woollen garment, and wearing the sacred ring, 1

The son should make the grain oblation to the denizens of the burning-ground, and walk round three times, repeating the mantra beginning with "Yamāyatva."

Then having sprinkled milk over the place of the funeral pyre, O Lord of Birds, he should sprinkle water, and begin to pick up the heap of bones.

Having placed them on palasha leaves, he should sprinkle them with milk and water, and, having put them into an earthen pot, perform Śrāddha as prescribed.

Having prepared a triangular plot of ground, and cleansed it with cow-dung, he, facing south, should offer three rice-balls, in the three directions.

Having collected the ashes from the pyre, taking a three-legged stool he should place on it a jar with mouth uncovered, containing water.

Then he should make, for the departed, an oblation of cooked rice with curds and clarified butter, water and sweetmeats, as prescribed.

He should take fifteen steps in the northerly direction and, digging a hole there, place in it, O Bird, the jar of bones.

Then he should offer over it a rice-ball, which destroys the pain of burning, and, taking the vessel from the hole, carry it to a tank of water.

Then he should several times sprinkle the bones with water and milk, and worship them well, with sandal-paste and saffron.

Having put them into a leaf-box, touched with it his heart and head and walked round it saluting it; he should drop it into the middle of the Ganges.

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79-84. He whose bones sink in the water of the Ganges within ten days, never returns from the world of Brahma.

As long as a man's bones float on the water of the Ganges,--for so many thousands of years he remains in the heaven-world.

When the wind which has touched the waves of the Ganges touches the dead, his sin is at once destroyed.

Having worshipped, with great austerities, the divine Ganges, for the uplifting of his forefathers, Bhagīratha 1 brought her down from the world of Brahmā.

In the three worlds is celebrated the purifying fame of the Ganges, who led to heaven the sons of Sagara 2 who had been reduced to ashes.

Those men who die after committing sins attain the heaven-world by their bones falling into the Ganges.

85-86. There was a certain hunter, a destroyer of all sorts of creatures who, killed by a lion in a great forest, went to the place called hell.

When his bones were dropped into the Ganges by a crow he ascended the divine chariot and went to the abode of the Shining Ones.

87. Hence the good son should himself drop the bones in the Ganges. After the bones are collected he should perform the ten-days' ceremonies.

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88-90. Now, if anybody meets his death in an uninhabited place, or in a wood, or from dangerous thieves, and if his body is not found, then, on the day this is heard of--

Having made an effigy of darbha grass, one should burn it alone, as explained above, and then collect its ashes and drop them into the water of the Ganges,

And from the same day the ten-days' ceremonies should be performed and that date should be noted, for the performance of the annual Śrāddha.

91. If a woman dies in the fulness of pregnancy, her womb should be cut open, and the child drawn out and placed on the ground, and she alone be burned.

92-93. If a child dies on the bank of the Ganges, it should simply be thrown into the Ganges; if in another place, it should be buried in the ground, up to twenty-seven months old.

Older than that it should be burned and its bones strewn on the Ganges. A gift of a water-pot should be made, and food should be given to children.

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94-98. If the embryo perishes, there are no rites. If an infant dies, one should give milk. if a child dies, then one should offer a jar, milk-porridge and eatables.

If a youth dies, one should have young children fed. If a youth who has taken the vow dies, one should have Brāhmiṇs, along with children, fed.

When one who has passed five years dies, whether vowed or not, one should offer ten rice-balls, along with milk-food and lumps of sugar.

On the eleventh and twelfth days one should perform the ceremonies for a youth, but without the rites of releasing a bull and of the great gift.

If the father is living, there is not joint rite for the youth, but on the twelfth day one should perform the ceremony for him alone.

99. Marriage, with women and Śūdras, is declared to take the place of vows. Previous to the taking of vows, with all the castes, rites are done according to age.

100. He who is little attached to action, who is little bound by sense-objects, and he who is young in age of body, requires but scanty rites.

101. In boyhood and in youth the cot, the bull and other sacrifices should be performed; and the gifts of land, the great gift and the gift of a cow should be made.

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102-107. With all ascetics there is no burning, no water rites; and the ten-days' ceremonies should not be performed for them by their sons.

A man, by the mere holding of the staff, becomes Nārāyaṇa 1; because of carrying the three-fold staff they never go into the condition of the departed.

Those who know are always free, by realisation of their own true nature, hence they do not expect rice-balls to be given.

Therefore rice-balls and water should not be offered to them, but one should perform the annual Śrāddha at the sacred waters, and Śrāddha at Gayā, with devotion to the forefathers.

The Haṅsa, Paramahaṅsa, Kutīchaka, Bahūdaka; these are Sannyāsins, 2 O Tārkṣya, and when dead, they must be buried in the ground.

If the Ganges, or other, is not available, it is declared that they should be buried in the ground. Where great rivers exist, they should be thrown into them.


83:1 A certain sacrifice.

84:1 His son's wife--the wife of the son performing the rite.

85:1 The fire-deva.

86:1 A certain astrological position; 5 days in each month.

86:2 The fifth Nakṣatra.








90:1 An opening at the top of the head.

90:2 The funeral pyre is lighted from the sacred household fire.

91:1 Of the bones.

92:1 A finger-ring of kusha grass, put on the third finger of right hand.

93:1 A great king who is said to have brought down the Ganges from heaven to earth.

93:2 There is a legend to the effect that the 80,000 sons of Sagara were reduced to ashes by Viṣṇu, and that they, the ancestors of Bhrigu, were released and purified by him in the Ganges.

96:1 Viṣṇu.

96:2 These names are given to advanced stages of human development.

Next: Chapter XI. An Account of the Ten-Days' Ceremonies