Garuda Purana

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The Garuda Purana is one of the eighteen Puranas which are part of the Hindu body of texts known as smriti. It is a Vaishnava purana; the epic is in the form of a conversation between Lord Vishnu and Garuda (King of Birds), primarily emphasizing the reason and meaning of human life. It contains details of life after death, funeral rites and the metaphysics of reincarnation, and therefore is recited as a part Antyesti (Antim Sanskar) or funeral rites (funeral liturgy) in Hinduism.[1] The Padma Purana categorizes the Garuda Purana as a Sattva Purana (a purana which represents goodness and purity).[2] The epic purana, which is considered to have been edited into its current form by Veda Vyāsa, speaks of different incarnations of Lord Vishnu, geographical description, origin of the universe, creation, procreation, genealogy of the gods and the journey of a soul after death. The Garuda Purana also talks about the origin and propagation of Garuda himself and describes different kinds of austerities, methods of worship, atonement for sin and divine & sacred mantras.


Attributed to a period of 4th century CE.[3] The Garuda Purana is a Vaishnava Purana and has nineteen thousand shlokas that are divided into two parts, a purva khanda (first part) and an uttara khanda (subsequent part). The others in this group are Vishnu Purana, Narada Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Padma Purana and Varaha Purana.

The Purana which has nineteen thousand shlokas (lines)is classified as a medium-sized Purana. The Skanda Purana, for example, has eighty-one thousand shlokas. And the Markandeya Purana only nine thousand. Each khanda has several chapters (adhyaya).

The purva khanda has two hundred and thirty-four chapters. It is also called Achara Khanda. It deals with astronomy, medicine, grammar and other subjects, such as gems. In this khanda we can find the explanation of Ayurveda(medicine)in detail. The Uttara khanda has only forty-five. The latter half of Garuda Purana deals with life after death. Hindus generally read this Purana while cremating their dead.

List of Hellish Punishments

Garuda Wrongdoings Punishment given in Naraka
Tamisram Stealing other's property including wife, children and belongings Thrashing with the weapon, gada
Andhathamisra Post marital cheating between husband and wife Unconscious circulation in abyss
Rourava Destroying, splitting other's family and their belongings Spanking the Life organs with trident by Yama kinkaras
Maharourava Brutally destroying other's property and family for the sake of acquisition A wild animal, Ruru, tortures them in various forms
Kumbhipakam Destroying innocent lives for food Roasting in hot oil tank by yama kinkaras
Kalasuthra Torturing and putting elders & parents in starvation Same set of treatment in hell
asipathra Abetting God and devolve from Dharma practices Torture by evil spirits; results in fear.
Sukaramukha Punishing innocent people and accomplice unlawful activities Grinding under the sharp teeth of an animal resembling pig
Andhakoopam Torturing lives and inhumane activities Biting by wild animals; Run over by wild 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 tied under a stick
Vajrakandaka Unchaste people in physical contact with unmatching people Physical hugging with fire spitting idols
Krimibhojanam Selfish survival; eating other's work Insects are left intruding the body
Salmali Unchaste relationships by kamukas Thrashing with gada
Vaitarani Using official stature to attain undue advantage, acting against dharma Submerging in Vaitarna river where water is mixed with blood, urine and feces
Puyodaya Shameless behaviour, mixing with unchaste women & leading the life without any motive Biting by poisonous insects and animals
Pranarodhra Torturing lives and killing them Spanking the Life organs with arrows by Yama kinkaras
Pasusava Torturing cows (in which are all devatas) Slashing by canes
Sarameyadana Gutting houses, torturing lives, poisoning lives, involving in massacre Torture by unknown wild animals
Aveechi Giving false evidence Submerging and torturing in lava bodies
Paribathanam Drinking and making others drink alcohol Drinking lava
Kasharakarddama Involving in bad activities and defaming elders and living with selfish motives Torture the Life organs by unknown spirits
Rakshogana Performing naramedha yaga, eating non vegetarian dishes and torturing soft animals The same victims torture the hecklers
Shulaprota Killing innocent people, masterminding people, committing suicide and betraying a person's trust. Unknown birds peck and torture with shula
Suchimukha Not doing any good, amassing wealth by wrongdoings 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 scorpions
Vadaroga Severely torturing living beings Handcuffed and burnt in fire
Paryavarthanam Defaming guests and not treating them Torturing with hunger and thirst
Lalabhakshakanam Torturing wife / husband and involving her / him in unchaste relationships Same set of treatment in hell

Suta and the other sages

Sūta was a 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), leading to Goose bumps, 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 Sūta. 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 of Milk (samudra manthana).

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

The thirteenth was as Giant. Revealing his cosmic form to the Rishis of ancients.

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 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 is Parasurama.

The Twentieth incarnation was Rama.

The twenty first incarnation was Krishna.

In the twenty-second incarnation, Vishnu was a noble king of Nepal, We call him Buddha), His incarnation occurred between the dvapara Yuga and the Kali Yuga. He is the most well known incarnation beyond hinduism. It is said that the twenty fourth incarnation will also take place in the kingdom of himalaya, Nepal.

The twenty-third incarnation is yet to come. And Vishnu will come to destroy evil in the world and restore righteousness in the form of Kalki".

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

Puranic (ancient) Gemology

The Garuda Purana is considered the authoritative Vedic reference describing ancient Indian gemology. Chapters 68-80 give primitive gemological information describing 14 primary gems, viz., Ruby, Natural Pearl,[4] Yellow Sapphire, Hessonite, Emerald, Diamond, Cats eye, Blue Sapphire, Coral, Red Garnet, Jade, colorless Quartz, and Bloodstone. In Chapter 69 on pearls, the speaker, Suta Goswami, describes seven other types of pearls besides Oyster Pearl (Chandra-moti), viz., pearl from Conch shell (Shankh-moti), Wild Boar’s head (Varaha-moti), Elephant’s head (Gaja-moti), Cobra’s head (Naga-moti or Nagamani),[5] Bamboo stems (Venu-moti), Fish head (Matsya-moti), and from the sky and clouds (Akash-moti or Megh-moti).[6]


  1. Introduction: The Garuda Purana, Translated by Ernest Wood and S.V. Subrahmanyam (1911).
  2. Wilson, H. H. (1840). The Vishnu Purana: A system of Hindu mythology and tradition. Oriental Translation Fund. p. 12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Diane Morgan (2008). Fire and Blood: Rubies in Myth, Magic, and History. Greenwood Publishing. p. 9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Pearl described here refers to natural pearl, because the culturing of pearls was not known until long after the creation of this work
  5. The mineral Fluorite, cut into balls, is occasionally mistaken as genuine Naga-moti, which should be organic in composition.
  6. Richard S. Brown (2008). Ancient Astrological Gemstones & Talismans - 2nd Edition. Hrisikesh Ltd. pp. 61, 64. ISBN 978-974-8102-29-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links