DEATH AND AFTER – Garuda Purana

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God Garuda and Lord Krishna’s conversation

Garuda said- ‘ After visiting all the three ‘Lokas’ (World) I found the Earth (Prithvi) little overcrowded as compared to other ‘Lokas’. I also found that it provided better opportunities to a man both for materialistic enjoyments as well as his spiritual advancement. So, I have come to the conclusion that ‘Prithviloka’ was the best of all the ‘Lokas’ in every respect.

But, all round prevalence of sorrow and misery in ‘Prithviloka’ made me sad. I was really perplexed to see people performing complex rituals after the death of their relative. All these rituals appeared so absurd to me. I was really amazed to see people laying down their dead relatives on the ground. I could also not understand why a dead body is laid on the bed of ‘kusha’ grass and sesame seeds. I witnessed so many rituals that surprised me, for instance I could not understand the reason why donations are made after a man dies. I am puzzled by the mystery called death or, what becomes of him after he dies. The sight of sons lifting the dead body of their father on their shoulders is still fresh in my memory. I could not understand the reason why ‘ghee’(clarified butter) is applied on a dead body or why the relatives of the deceased chant ‘Yama sukta’ facing north. I was also surprised to see the son of the deceased being debarred from having meal along with his other relatives.

O Lord! Please reveal to me the significance of making ‘pinda- daans’ or, the significance of ‘tarpan’ rituals? Please tell me the proper method of offering ‘pinda daan’ and invoking ancestors? I find it hard to believe that all the deeds virtuous or evil committed by a man follows him after his death.’ This way Garuda flooded Lord Krishna with a barrage of questions and sought clarifications on them.

Lord Krishna replied–” I am so delighted that you have asked such important questions for the benefit of mankind. I am revealing to you the secrets, which were hitherto unknown even to the deities and yogis.

O Garuda! A man should try to beget a son with the help of means as mentioned in the scriptures because there is no salvation for a person bereft of son.

” Lord Krishna then went on to describe the proper rituals which are performed after the death of a man and said-

” First of all, the area should be purified by coating it with a layer of cow-dung (Gobar). This purified area is called ‘mandal’ and it is graced by the presence of the ‘Trinity’– Brahma, Shiva and Myself. Sesame seeds are then sprinkled on the purified area and kusha grass is spread. A person whose death is imminent is then laid down on the bed of kusha grass. Scriptures say that a person who does not leave his mortal body in the above mentioned way, wanders hither and thither in the form of a restless spirit. No amount of rituals can put such a soul to rest.

O Garuda! Sesame seed has manifested from my sweat and hence is extremely pure. All kind of evil forces like, ghosts, spirits, demons, etc. keep away from the place where it is used. Similarly, Kusha grass has manifested from my body hair and is graced by the presence of ‘Trinity’– Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Deities are satisfied if kusha grass is offered to them while ancestors are satisfied by the offerings of sesame seeds.

Scriptures say that if dying man is laid down on the bed of kusha grass spread on the land purified by cow-dung, he becomes absolved of all his sins.

There is a great significance of donating salt after the death of a person. Salt owes its origin to Me and donating it helps ancestors in attaining heaven. Donating salt also helps in reducing the pain and sufferings of a dying man and this is why it is donated along with other articles after a death of a person.

The relatives of the deceased should chant the sacred ‘Yama sukta’ facing north because it helps him to attain liberation.”

Lord Krishna then explained to Garuda the appropriate way of carrying the corpse to the cremation ground

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