Dec 10, 2023
Dec 10, 2023
Garuda Puran Part – 4
Having listened to Sri Hari’s narration with rapt attention Garuda asks his Lord further to tell him as to which torments would sinners be put to for what evildoings of theirs. In this chapter Sri Hari describes again the specific punishments meted out to sinners for particular sins. Once again the reader gets a further description of Yama’s way, what the servitors of the Deity of Death do and how cruel the torments would be for various kinds of sin. A careful reading of this would surely act as a deterrent for one to desist from sin. Thus it helps one to keep to the path of good conduct and righteousness.
Garuda asks Sri Hari to tell him why sinners fall into the river Vaitarani. He also requests his lord to let him know the specific torments ordered for particular sins committed by the arrogant and the wicked. Sri Hari tells Garuda that those who take pleasure in performing wicked deeds and those who turn away from God would go from hell to hell, from torment to torment and from one fright to another. There are four gateways on four sides. While the good and the well-behaved go through the east, west and north gates, the sinners get into Yama’s city through the gate on the south.
The Vaitarani is on the southern way. Killers of Brahmins, alcoholics, killers of women and those who are responsible for infanticide and foeticide and stealers of children’s money, those who do not repay their debts, those who are wicked, who shun good-all these go in the way of Yama. The list is long. Those who take pleasure in criticising, those who hate pilgrimages, despise good and prefer wickedness, those who speak lightly of scriptures25and vedas and the variousVedangas go to horrible hells to suffer the torments they deserve. Those who take pleasure in seeing others suffer, inflict pain and speak wickedly and are foul-mouthed are sinners who must get torments in hell. Those who do not pay heed to good advice and wise counsel and those who violate the rules laid down by shastras would suffer tortures in hell. Basically, all those who stray form the path of rectitude and righteousness deliberately for their pleasure out of arrogance and pride are sinners.
The servitors take sinners beating them all the way towards the river Vaitarani. Those wretched people who kill their parents, teachers or gurus and the highly revered ones like sadhus and sants fall into the river. Also those who desert their wives though they are good and virtuous sink in the river. Those who make false allegations against the good and malign them fall in the river. Breaking a vow made to a twice-born makes sinners fall in the river. Those who turn away a Brahmin having invited him suffers the same end. He also falls in the river who takes away what he has given or takes away one’s means of livelihood, or makes hurdles for performance of Yagas. The one who occupies the land of others and ploughs up grazing pastures falls into the Vaitarani. A Brahmin who eats non-vegetarian food, sells liquor and sleeps with a woman of a low caste or kills animals for sense gratification falls in the river. A Shudra who studies the vedas or drinks the milk of the tawny cow or wears the sacred thread or sleeps with a Brahmin woman falls in Vaitarani. In short, all those who transgress or violate the rules of conduct as laid in shastras come to this terrible end of falling and sinking in the river Vaitarani.
Having come upto the river and reached Yama’s abode, some sinners are thrown into the river at the command of Yama. Vaitarani is the foremost of the hells. Sinners who have no merit, who have not performed ceremonies as prescribed for the body alone go to the huge silk-cotton tree on the river-bank. Those who give false witness, earn money by deceit and steal to make a living, cut down trees and damage gardens, neglect vows to make pilgrimages and violate widows are beaten near the silk-cotton tree. The servitors throw those who fall at being beaten into the river. Those who break the laws of the moral code, guilty of avarice, attached over much to sense-gratification, go to hell. Ingratitude and hypocrisy also lead one to hell. People who damage or destroy water bodies in public use go to hell.
Sinners are those who neglect the family, servants and teachers. They too, like those who neglect their duty to their forefathers, devatas taken out in precession are thrown into hell.Sinners obstructing highways and roads are hurled into hell. Those who are engrossed in sense-gratification to the extent of neglecting worship to deities like Shiva, Hari, Surya, Ganesha and others suffer hell fires as those who disrespect their teachers. A Brahmin who takes a harlot to bed falls into a mean, low condition. If he begets children to a low-caste woman he is downgraded and suffers hell. Those who are cantankerous, those who invite and enjoy quarrels and sow dissensions among the twice born rot in hell. The sin of having intercourse with a woman who is with child and is helpless would attract the torments of hell fire. In the same way consorting with a woman during her periods, in water and on occasions like performing Shraadha, rites of offering oblation to the dead, make the sinner undergo tortures of all kinds in hell. Those who throw their excrement into water, fire, garden or on to a path suffer in hell. Makers of weapons like swords, bows and arrows and other such and sell them to be used for wrong reasons would go to hell. Businessmen who sell hides and skins, women who sell hair and vendors of poisons go to hell. Men and women who do not have compassion and hate good and punish the innocent go to hell. Sinners are also those who do not feed a hungry guest when the food is cooked and ready. They would go to hell. Harming and killing creatures is a sin and the sinners go to hell. Those who undertake to go on fast or other observances and violate the vows out of an urge for sense-gratification would go to hell. Those who slight or disrespect the guru who teaches them the knowledge of God and other world and the people who read out scriptures to audiences would go to hell. Those who give the cold shoulder to or betray friends would surely go to hell. Those who disturb marriages, or processions taking out deities during festive occasions go to hell from which there is no return or release (Aveechi). Incendiaries who torch houses, villages or woods would be baked in pits of raging fire. When with burnt limbs, the sinner appeals for mercy, they are taken into forests where the leaves are like swords and gash them all over their bodies. When the sinner suffers, Yama’s servitors heckle him and ask him to enjoy the shades of cool comfort in that forest when the sinner begs for water out of extreme thirst and aparched tongue, he is given boiling oil to drink. They taunt, heckle and ask him to drink that as his food. The sinner wails pitifully. Utterly exhausted he would not be able to speak at all. Sri Hari tells the Lord of Birds that such are the torments for foul sinners. In fact, he tells him that all the shastras mention these.
Thus tortured in many ways, sinners, both men and women, are roasted in hell till the end of the eon, Yuga. Having experienced all the torments as per their own sins, the sinners return to the earth as creatures of various kinds or as trees, plants, rocks or grasses, insects birds, animals and fish. There are eighty-four thousand creatures on the earth. These take birth according to their deserts and deeds in the earlier births.
In course of time, these too slowly acquire birth as humans. First they have human birth but in a lowly condition and if they still commit sins the punishments in hell would become unavoidable. When punished again for their sins, they would be struck with dreadful diseases like oozing leprosy or with blindness or with insufferable maladies. These sufferers are marked out and considered sinners in their earlier births also.
Continued to “Marks of Sinners”
More by : Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.