The Garuda Purana is a sattvika purana. The others in this group are Vishnu Purana, Narada Purana, Bhagavata Purana, Padma Purana and Varaha Purana. The Garuda Purana has nineteen thousand shlokas. It is a medium-sized Purana. The Skanda Purana, for example, has eighty-one thousand shlokas. And the Markandeya Purana only nine thousand. The thousand shlokas of the Garuda Purana are divided into two parts, a purva khanda (first part) and an
uttara khanda (subsequent part). Each khanda has several chapters (adhyaya). The purva khanda is much longer, it has two hundred and thirty-four chapters. The Uttara khanda has only forty-five.

Suta and the Other Sages

Suta was a very learned sage. He was very well-versed in the Puranas and in the shastras (sacred texts). He was also devoted to Vishnu.
Perhaps it is best to clear up a little bit of confusion about Suta. The word Suta is not really a name. The sutas were a class of people, born of brahmana mothers and kshatriya fathers. As you probably know, in those days, society was divided into four classes or varnas.
The first two were brahmanas and kshatriyas. It was the duty of brahmanas and kshatriyas. It was the duty of brahamas to pray and study the sacred texts, apart from assisting in religious rites. It was the duty of kshatriyas to bear arms and protect the world.
The sutas were neither brahmanas nor kshatriyas, they were crossbreeds.
Their duties were to look after horses and act as charioteers.
Vedavyasa taught the Puranas to one of his disciples name Romaharshana or Lomaharshana. He was thus named because the hair (roma) on his body (roma) was thrilled (harshana) 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 Romaharashana 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 Suta. 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 dhrama (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 (kumara). 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 (devarshi). In this form, Vishnu spread the knowledge of several texts (tantras).
The fourth incarnation was as two sages named Nara and Narayana.
The fifth incarnation was as the great sage Kaila. Kapila taught his disciple Asuri the wonderful philosophy known as samkhya yoga.
The sixth incarantion was as the age 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 the son of Nabhi and Meru. His name was Urukrama. 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 (samudra manthana).
The twelfith incarnation was as Dhanvantari, physician of the gods and the originator of medicine.
The thirteenth was mohini avatara. In this form, Vishnu adopted the body of a beautiful woman so as to charm and rob the asuras of the amrita (a life-giving drink).
In the fourteenth incarnation, Vishnu became narasimha, a being who was half-man and half-lion. He killed the evil asura Hiranyakashipu as narasimha.
The fifteenth incarnation witnessed Vishnu’s adoption of the form of dwarf (vamana). This was to hoodwink the asura Vali and restore the gods to heaven.
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 the Vedas.
Vishnu’s eighteen incarnation was as the sage Narada.
The nineteenth incarnation was Rama and the twentieth was Krishna.
In the twenty-first incarnation, Vishnu became Buddha, the originator of Buddhism.
The twenty-second incarnation is yet to come Vishnu will be come. Vishnu will be born as Kalki so as to destroy evil in the world and restore righteousness.
There have been several other incarnations of Vishnu. But the ones mentioned above are the major ones.

The Background to the Purana:

Romaharshana next related how the Garuda Purana had originated.
He once went to the hermitage known as vadrikashrama and met Vedavyasa there. He worshipped Vedavyasa and asked the sage to tell him about the true nature of Vishnu.
I will, said Vedavyasa, I will tell you the Garuda Purana. I, Narada, Daksha, Bhrigu and several other sages had once gone to Brahma’s residence in brahmaloka to pay our respects. We asked Brahma to relate to us the best form of knowledge.
Garuda was the king of the birds. He pleased Vishnu through tapsaya and Vishnu appeared before Garuda. What boon do you wish for? he asked Garuda.
Please grant me the boon that I may be your carrier (vahana), answered Garuda. Grant me the boon that I may be able to prevail over all snakes. And finally grant me the boon that I may know everything so as to be able to compose a Purana.
This boon was granted and Garuda composed the Garuda Purana.
He then taught it to the sage Kashyapa. And Vishnu himself recited the Purana to Brahma, Shiva and the other gods. Vedavyasa learnt the Purana from Brahma and taught it to Romaharshana. It was this Purana that Romaharshana was now reciting. Creation:
In the beginning there was nothing. Only the divine essence (brahman) was everywhere. The brahman is the origin of the universe. It has no beginning and no end. Before creation, there was nothing except the brahman. The universe was immersed in water.
Then in the water a golden egg (anda) appeared. Vishnu was inside the egg. He had adopted a physical form so as to create. From Vishnu was created Brahma, the one with four faces. All that was created Brahma. The one with four faces. All that was created was inside the egg. Brahma is the creator, Visnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer. But it is the same brahma which adopts these different forms. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are not really separate entities.
At first, Brahma created four types of beings. These are devas (gods), asuras (demons), pitris (ancestors) and manavas (humans).
The gods are stronger during the day and the demons are stronger at night. Later, Brahma created two other types of beings. These were the rakshasas (demons) and yakshas (demi-gods). He also created the gandharvas (singers of heaven).
Snakes were created from Brahma’s hair, sheep from the chest, goats from the mouth, cows from the stomach, and horses, elephants, donkeys and camels from the feet. The hair on Brahma’s body became herbs. The brahmanas emerged from Brahma’s mouth and the kshatriyas from his arms. The third of the four classes consists of vaishyas. Agriculture and trade are the duties of vaishyas. The vaishyas came out of Brahma’s thighs. The last of the four classes consists of shudras. It is the duty of shudras to serve the other three classes. The shudras emerged from Brahma’s
The four Vedas came out of Brahma’s four mouths.
Brahma first created sons through his mental powers. Their names were Dharma, Rudra, Manu, Sanaka, Sanatana, Bhrigu, Sanatkumar, Ruchi, Shuddha, Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Vashishtha and Narada. Then Daksha was created from Brahma’s right thumb and Daksha’s wife from Brahma’s left thumb, Daksha
and his wife had several daughters.
From his own body Brahma also created a man named Svayambhuva Manu and a woman named Shatarupa. Manu and
Shatarupa had two sons named Priyavrata and Uttanapada and three daughters named Prasuti, Akuti and Devahuti.
The sage Kashyapa was born from Brahma. He married thirteen of Daksha’s daughters. Their names were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Kala, Anayu, Muni, Kadru, Prabha, Ira, Krodha, Vinata, Surabhi and Khaga.
The sons of Aditi were the adityas or gods and the sons of Diti were the daityas or demons. Two of Diti’s sons were Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu. Danu’s sons were the danavas or demons. Vinata had two sons, Aruna and Garuda, the same Garuda who composed the Garuda Purana. Kadru’s sons were the snakes. Kroudha’s sons were the pishachas (cannibalistic demons). Surabhi gave birth to cows and buffaloes. Ira was the mother of all trees and bushes.
Kahaga gave birth to rakshasas and yakshas and muni to apsaras (dancers of heaven).

Praying :

The Garuda Purana now has several sections on techniques of praying to Surya (the sun god), Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) and Vishnu. The mantras (incantations) that are to be used are described. For example, if you wanted to pray to Vishnu, you could say the following.
I pray to you, Lord Vishnu. Take your sudarshana chakra (a bladed discus) and protect my east. I seek your protection my south. I salute you. Take your sounanda hala (a plough) and protect my west. O louts-eyes, you alone are my refuge. Take your shatana mushala (a club and protect my north. I pray to you, Lord Vishnu. Take your khadga (sword) and charma (shield) and protect my northcast. Your are the killer of all demons, grant me my desire. Take our panchajanya (a couch-shell) and anudvadoha (a lotus) and protect my north-west. Your body is divine. Take your chandramasa khadga (a sword) and protect my south-east. I salute you. Take your shrivatsa (Vishnu’s necklace) and protect my south-west. Ascend. O Lord, on Garuda and protect me from the top. You are invincible. I bow down before you. Also
protect me in the underworld.
All these prayers and mantras help. But the best prayer of all is to recite Vishnu’s thousand names.

Vishnu’s Thousand Names

The following are the thousand names of Vishnu. For convenience, let us list them out in a hundred groups of ten each.

(1) Vasudeva, Mahavishu , Vamana, Vasava, Vasu, Balachandranibha, Bala, Balabhadra, Valadhipa, Valibandhanakrit.
(2) Vedhah, Varenya, Vedavit, Kavi, Vedakarta, Vedarupa, Vedya, Vedaparipluta, Vedangavetta, Vedesha.
(3) Baladhara, Balardana, Avikara, Varesha, Varada, Varunadhipa, Viraha Vrihat, Vira, Vandita.
(4) Parameshvara, Atma, Paramatma, Pratyagatma, Viyat, Para, Padmanabha, Padmanikdhi, Padmahasta, Gadadhara.
(5) Parama, Parabhuta, Purushottama, Ishvara, Padmajangha, Pundarika, Padmamaladhara, Priya, Padmaksha, Padmagarbha.
(6) Parjanya, Padmasamsthita, Apara, Paramartha, Paratpara, Prabhu, Pandita, Panditapavirta, Papmardaka, Shuddha.
(7) Prakasharupa, Pavitra, Parirakshaka, Pipasavarjita, Padya, Purusha, Prakriti, Pradhana, Prithivipadama, Priyaprada.
(8) Sarvesha, Sarvaga, Sarva, Sarvavid, Sarvada, Para, Sarvajagaddhama, Sarvadarshi, Sarvabhrit, Sarvanugrahakrit.
(9) Deva, Sarvabhutahridisthita, Sarvapa, Sarvapujya, Sarvadevanamaskrita, Sarvajaganmula, Sakala, Nishkala, Anala, Sarvagopta.
(10) Sarvanishtha, Sarvakaranakarana, Sarvadhyeya, Sarvamitra, Sarvadevasvarupadhrik, Sarvadhyaksha, Suradhyaksha, Surasurnamaskrita, Dushtaghataka, Asurantka.
(11) Satyapala, Sannabha, Siddhesha, Siddhavadita, Siddhasadhya, Siddhasiddha, Hridishvara, Jagaccharanya, Shreye, Kshema.
(12) Shubhakrit, Shobhana, Soumya, Satya, Satyastha, Satyaparakrama, Satyasankalpa, Satyavit, Satyada, Dharma,
(13) Dharmi, Karmi, Sarvakarmavivarjita, Karmakarta, Karma, Kriya, Karya, Shripati, Nripati, Shriman.
(14) Sarvapativarjita, Devapti, Vrishnipati, Hiranyagarbhapati, Tripurantapati, Pashupati, Vasupati, Indrapati, Varunapati, Vanaspatipati.
(15) Anilapati, Analapati, Yamapati, Kuberapati, Nakshatrapati, Oshadhipati, Vrikshapati, Nagapati, Arkapati, Dakshapati.
(16) Sukritapati, Nripapati, Gandharvapati, Asupati, Uttama, Parvatapati, Nadipati, Devapati, Shreshtha, Kapilapati.
(17) Latapati, Virudhpati, Munipati, Suryapati, Chandrapati, Shukrapati, Grahapati, Rakshasapati, Kinnarapati, Dvijapati.
(18) Saritpati, Samudrapati, Sarovarapati, Bhutapati, Vetalapati, Kushmandapati, Pakshipati, Pashupati, Mahatma, Mangala.
(19) Meya, Mandara, Mandareshvara, Meru, Mata, Pramana, Madhava, Manovarjita, Maladhara, Mahadeva.
(20) Mahadevapujita, Mahashanta, Mahabhaga, Madhusudana, Mahavirya, Mahaprana, Markandeyapravandita, Mayada, Mayatma, Mayabaddha.
(21) Mayavivarjita, Munistuta, Muni, Maitra, Mahanasa, Mahahanu, Mahavahu, Mahadanta, Maranavivarjita, Mahavaktra.
(22) Mahakaya, Mahodara, Mahapaka, Mahagriva, Mahamani, Mahamanah, Mahamati, Mahakiriti, Maharupa, Mahasura.
(23) Madhu, Mahadeva, Maheshvara, Makhejya, Makharupi, Mananiya, Makheshvara, Mahavata, Mahabhaga, Mahesha,
(24) Atitamanusha, Manava, Manu, Manavapriyamkara, Mriga, Mrigapujya, Mrigapati, Buddhapati, Brihaspatipati,
(25) Rahupati, Ketupati, Lakshmana, Lakshana, Lamboustha, Lalita, Alamkarayukta, Chandancharchita, Rasojjvaladvaktra, Pushpopashobhita.
(26) Rama, Ramapati, Sabharya, Parameshvara, Ratnada, Ratnaharta, Rupi, Rupavivarjita, Maharupa, Ugrarupa.
(27) Soumyarupa, Nilameghanibha, Shuddha, Kalameghanibha, Dhumravarna, Pitavarna, Nanarupa, Avarnaka, Virupa, Rupada.
(28) Shuklavarna, Sarvavarna, Survarna, Svarnamekhala, Suvarnapradata, Suvarnamsha, Suvarnapriya, Suvarnadhya,
Suparni, Mahaparna.
(29) Suparnakarana, Vainateya, Aditya, Adi, Adikara, Shiva, Mahatkarana, Puranakarana, Buddhikarana, Manahkarana.
(30) Chittakarana, Ahamkarakarana, Bhutakarana, Vibhavasukarana, Akashakarana, Prithivikarana, Andakarana,
Prakritikarana, Dehakarana, Chakshuhkarana.
(31) Shrotrakarana, Tvakakarana, Jihvakarana, Ghranakarana, Hastadvayakarana, Padadvayakarana, Vakyakarana, Payukarana, Indrakarana, Kuberakarana.
(32) Yamakarana, Ishanakarana, Yakshakarana, Rakshasakarana, Bhushanakarana, Dharmakarana, Jantukarana, Vasukarana, Paramakarana, Manukarana
(33) Pakshikarana, Munikarana, Shreshthakarana, Yogikakarana, Siddhaganakarana, Yakshaganakarana, Kinnaraganakarana, Gandharvaganakarana, Nadakarana, Nadikarana.
(34) Samudrakarana, Vrikshaganakarana, Virudhakarana, Lokakarana, Patalakarana, Devakarana, Sarpaganakarana,
Mangalakarana, Pashuganakarana, Sarvakarana.
(35) Dehatma, Indriyatma, Atma, Buddhi, Manatma, Ahankaratma, Chetatma, Jagradatma, Svapnatma, Paratma.
(36) Pradhanatma, Paramatma, Akashatma, Jalatma, Prithvyatma, Rasatma, Gandhatma, Rupatma, Paratma, Shabdatma.
(37) Vagatma, Sparshatma, Purushatma, Shrotratma, Rudratma, Tvagatma, Jihvatma, Ghranatma, Hastatma, Padatma.
(38) Upasthatma, Payvatma, Indratma, Brahmatma, Dakshatma, Satyatma, Ishtma, Roudratma, Mokshavid, Yati.
(39) Yatnavan, Yatna, Charmi, Khadgi, Asurantaka, Haripravrtanashila, Yatihitarata, Yatirupi, Yogi, Yogidhyeya.
(40) Hari, Shiti, Samvit, Medha, Kala, Ushma, Varsha, Mati, Samvatsara, Mokshakara.
(41) Mohapradhvamsaka, Dushtamohakarta, Vadavamukha, Samvartaka, Kalakarta, Goutama, Bhrigu, Angira, Atri, Vashishta.
(42) Pulaha, Pulastya, Kutas, Yajnavalkya, Devala, Vyasa, Parashara, Sharmada, Gangeya, Hrishikesha.
(43) Vrihacchrava, Keshava, Kleshahanta, Sukarna, Karnavarjita, Narayana, Mahabhaga, Pranapati, Apanapati, Vyanapati.
(44) Udanapati, Samanapati, Shabdapati, Sparshapati, Rupapati, Kshapati, Adya, Khadgapani, Halayudha, Chakrapani.
(45) Kundali, Shrivatsanka, Prakriti, Koustubhagriva, Pitambaradhara, Sumukha, Durmukha, Mukhavivarjita, Ananta,
(46) Sunakha, Surasundara Sukalapa, Vibhu, Jisnu, Bharjishnu, Ishudhi, Hiranyakashipuhanta, Hiranyaksavimardaka, Putananihanta.
(47) Bhaskarantavinashana, Keshidalana, Mushtikavimardaka, Kamsadanavabhetta, Chanurapramardaka, Arishtanihanta, Akrurapriya, Krurarupa, Akrurapriyavandita, Bhagaha.
(48) Bhagavan, Bhanu, Bhagavata, Uddhava, Uddhavesha, Uddhavachintita, Chakradhrika, Chanchala, Ahankara, Mati.
(49) Chalachalavivarjita, Chitta, Gagana, Prithivi, Jala, Vayu, Chakshuh, Shrotra, Jihva, Ghrana,
(50) Vak, Pani, Pada, Jaghana, Payu, Upastha, Shankara, Kharva, Kshantida, Kshantikrit.
(51) Nara, Bhaktapriya, Bharta, Bhaktiman, Kirtida, Bhadktivardhana, Bhaktastuta, Bhaktapara, Kirtivardhana, Kirti.
(52) Kirti, Dipti, Kshama, Kanti, Bhakti, Daya, Dana, Data, Karta, Devadevapriya.
(53) Shuchi, Shuchiman, Sukhada, Moksha, Kama, Artha, Sahasrapat, Sahasrashirsha, Vaidya, Mokshadvara.
(54) Prajadvara, Sahasranta, Sahasrakara, Shukra, Sukriti, Sugriva, Koustubha, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, Hayagriva.
(55) Shukara, Matsya, Parashurama, Prahlada, Vli, Sharanya, Nitya, Buddha, Mukta, Sharirabhrit.
(56) Kharadushanahanta, Ravanapramardana, Sitapati, Vardhishnu, Bharata, Kumbhanihanta, Indrajinnihanta,
Kumbhakarnapramardana, Narantakantaka, Shambarari.
(57) Devantakavinashana, Dushtasuranihanta, Narakanihanta, Trishirshavinashana, Yamalarjunabhette, Tapohitkara Vaditra, Vadya, Varaparada, Sara.
(58) Sarapriya, Soura, Kalahanta, Nikrintana, Agasti, Devala, Narada, Naradapriya, Prana, Apana.
(59) Vyana, Rajah, Sattva, Tamah, Sharat, Udana, Samana, Bheshaja, Bhiskata, Kutastha.
(60) Svaccharupa, Sarvadehavivarjita, Chakshurindriyahina, Vagindriyavivrjita, Hastendriyavihina, Payuvihina,
Padadvayavivarjita, Upasthavihina, Mahatapovivarita, Prabodhavihina.
(61) Buddhivivarjita, Chetovihina, Pranavivrjita, Apanavihina, Vyanavivarjita, Udanavihina, Samanavivarjita, Akashavihina, Vayuparivarjita, Agnivivhina.
(62) Udakavivarjita, Prithivivihina, Shabdavivarjita, Sparshavihina, Sarvrupavivarjita, Ragavigata, Shokarahita, Vachovarjita, Aghaparivarjita, Rajovivarjita.
(63) Shadavikararahita, Kamavarjita, Krodhaparivarjita, Lobhavigta, Dambhavivarjita, Suksha, Susuksha, Sthulatsthulatara, Visharada, Baladyaksha.
(64) Sarvakshobhaka, Sarvadhyaksha, Arbhaka, Prakritikshobhaka, Mahatkshobhaka, Bhutakshobhaka, Bddihikshobhaka, Indriyakshobhaka, Vishayakshobhaka, Brahmakshobhaka.
(65) Sarvakarvivarjita, Nirakara, Nirnimitta, Niratanka, Nirashraya, Pushkaradvipa, Jagadishvara, Murari, Mukunda, Shouri.
(66) Rudrakshobhaka, Chakshuradyagamya, Kurma, Shrotragamya, Tvagagamya, Jibvagrahya, Ghranendriyagamya, Vagargrahya, Hastadvayagamya, Padagamya.
(67) Manohagrahya, Buddhyagrahya, Hari, Chetograhya, Ahambuddhigrahya, Shankhapani, Avyaya, Gadapani, Krishna, Sharngapani.
(68) Jnanamurti, Parantapa, Tapasvi, Jnanagamya, Jnani, Jnanavid, Jneya, Jneyahina, Jnapti, Bhava.
(69) Bhavya, Chaitanyarupadhrik, Bhavakra, Bhavana, Bhavanashana, Govinda, Gopati, Gopa, Gopala, Gopati.
(70) Sarvagopisukhaprada, Gomati, Godhara, Upendra, Nrisimha, Shouri, Janardana, Araneya, Vrihadhanu, Trikala.
(71) Vrihaddipta, Damodara, Kalajna, Kalavarjita, Trisandhya, Dvpara, Treta, Prajadvara, Trivikrama, Vikrama.
(72) Dandahasta, Ekadandi, Tridandadhrik, Sama, Bheda, Upaya, Samarupi, Samaga, Samaveda, Atharva.
(73) Sukrita, Sukharupadhrik, Atharvavedavid, Atharvacharya, Rigrupi, Rigveda, Rigvedapratishthita, Yajurvetta, Yajurveda, Ekapat.
(74) Vahupat, Supat, Sahasrapat, Chatushpat, Dvipat, Smriti, Nyaya, Yama, Yami, Sannyasi.
(75) Chaturashrama, Brahmachari, Grihastha, Bhikshuka, Vanaprastha, Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra, Varna.
(76) Shilada, Shilasampanna, Duhshilaparivarjita, Moksha, Adhyatmasamavishta, Stuti, Stota, Pujaka, Pujya, Vakakarana.
(77) Vachya, Vachaka, Vetta, Vyakarana, Vakya, Vakyavit, Vakyagamya, Tirthavasa, Tirtha, Tirthi.
(78) Tirthavit, Tirthadibhuta, Samkhya, Nirukta, Adhidaivata, Pranava, Pranavesha, Pranavapravandita, Pranavalakshya, Gayatri.
(79) Gadadhara, Shalagramanivsi, Shalagrama, Jalshayi, Yogashayi, Sheshashayi, Kusheshava, Karya, Mahibharta, Karana,
(80) Prithividhara, Prajapati, Shashvata, Kamya, Kamayita, Virat, Pusha, Samrat, Svarga, Rathastha.
(81) Sarathi, Rathi, Dhani, Dhanaprada, Dhanya, Arjunapriya, Arjuna, Bhima, Parakrama, Durvishaha.
(82) Sarvashastravisharada, Saravata, Mahabhishma, Parijatahara, Amritapradata, Kshiroda, Kshira, Indratmaja, Indratmajagopta, Govardhanadhara.
(83) Kamsanashana, Rastipa, Hastinashana, Prasanna, Shipivishta, Sarvalokartinashana, Mudra, Mudrakara, Sarvamudravivarjita, Dehi.
(84) Dehasthita, Dehaniyamaka, Shrota, Shrotaniyanta, Shrotavya, Shravana, Tvakasthita, Sparshayita, Sprishya, Sparshana,
(85) Chakshuhstha, Rupadrashta, Drishya, Chakshurniyanta, Jihvastha, Rasajna, Niyamaka, Ghranastha, Ghrata,
(86) Vakastha, Vakta, Vaktavya, Vachana, Pranistha, Shilpakrit, Shilpa, Hastadvayaniyamaka, Padavya, Ganta.
(87) Gantavya, Gamana, Padadvayaniyanta, Padyabhak, Visargakrit, Visarganiyanta, Upasthastha, Sukha, Upasthaniyanta, Anandakara.
(88) Shatrughna, Kartavirya, Dattatreya, Alarkahita, Kartaviryanikrintana, Kalanemi, Mahanemi, Megha, Meghapati,
(89) Annarupi, Annada, Annapravartka, Dhumakrit, Dhumarupa, Devakiputra, Uttama, Devakinandana, Nanda, Rohinipriya.
(90) Vasudevapriya, Vasudevasuta, Dundubhi, Hasarupa, Hamsarupa, Pushpahasa, Attahasa, Attahasapriya, Kshara,
(91) Akshara, Achyuta, Satyesha, Satyapriya, Vara, Rukminipati, Rukminiallabha, Punyashloka, Vishruta, Vrishakapi.
(92) Guhya, Mangala, Budha, Rahu, Ketu, Graha, Grahaya, Gajendramukhamelaka, Grahavinihanta, Gramani.
(93) Rakshaka, Kinnara, Siddha, Chandaha, Svacchanda, Vishvarupa, Vishalaksha, Daityasuhana, Anatarupa, Bhutastha.
(94) Devadanavasamsthita, Sushuptistha, Sushupti, Sthana, Sthananta, Jagatstha, Jagarta, Jagarita, Svapnastha, Svapnavit.
(95) Svapna, Sthanastha, Sustha, Jagratasvapna, Sushuptivihina, Chaturthaka, Vijnana, Chaitrarupa, Jiva, Jivayita.
(96) Bhuvanadhipati, Bhuvananiyamaka, Patalavasi, Patala, Sarvajvaravinashana, Paramanandarupi, Sulabha,
Dharmapravrtaka, Durlabha, Pranayamapara.
(97) Pratyahara, Dharaka, Pratyaharakara, Prabha, Kanti, Archih, Agrahya, Goura, Sarva, Shuchi.
(98) Abhishtuta, Vashatkara, Vashat, Voushat, Svadha, Svaha, Rati, Pakta, Nandayita, Bhokta.
(99) Boddha, Bhavayita, Jnanatma, Uhatma, Bhuma, Sarveshvareshvara, Nadi, Nandi, Nandisha, Bharata.
(100) Tarunashana, Chidrupa, Shripati, Chakravartiraja, Sarvadevesha, Pushkara, Pushkaradhyaksha, Janaka, Janya,

A few of the names are repeated more than once. But the total number of names is certainly close to a thousand. Those who recite these thousand names of Vishnu attain their hearts’ desire. Brahmanas are able to go and live with Vishnu. Kshatriyias win battles. Vaishyas become wealthy. And Shudras are never unhappy.


There is a mantra named praneshvara that cures snake-bites.

If a person is bitten by a snake, the consequences depend on where the incident took place. For example, it is impossible for a person who is bitten in a river to live. If a snake bites a person in a cremation ground, a termite hill, a mountain, a well or a hole in a tree, and it is found that the bite mark has three lines on it. The person is sure to die. Bites under the armpits, the waist, the throat, the forehead, the ears, the stomach, the mouth, the arms and the back are impossible to cure. And if a soldier or a beggar is seen at the time of the snake-bite, that is a sure of death.
In all other cases, the praneshvara mantra helps to cure snakebites.
A lotus flower with eight petals is to be drawn and the words of the incantation are to be written on each of the petals. This is then placed on the bitten person’s body and he is bathed. It helps if the victim is given warm ghrita (clarified butter) to drink. In fact, if the incantation is chanted and a lump of sugar is simultaneoulsy flung into a house all snakes give that house a miss.

Details of several other mantras follow.


Do you know what a shalagrama is? It is a representation of Vishnu, made out of stone. A story in the Brahmavaivarta Purana says that Vishnu was cursed that he would become a stone on the banks of the Gandaki river. The Garuda Purana now describes different types of shalagrama images. All such images are sacred.
And if one touches any of these images, the sins committed in many earlier lives are forgiven.
A shalagrama that has the marks of shankha (conch-shell), chakra, gada (mace) and padma (lotus) is called keshava. That must be the precise order in which the marks are there on the image. If the order becomes chakra, shankha, padma and gada, the image is called madhava. Narayana has the order padma, gada, chakra and shankha. With an order gada, padma, shankha and chakra one has govinda. A vishnu image will have the order padma, shankha,
shakra and gada. Shankha padma, gada and chakra is madhusudana and gada, chakra, shankha and padma is trivikrama.
There can be many other permutations also. The order chakra, gada, padma and shankha leads to the image of vamana. And chakra, padma, shankha and gada is the image shridhara, Hrishikesha has padma, gada, shankha and chakra. You can recognise a padmanabha image by the order padma, chakra, gada, and shankha. Shankha, chakra, gada and padma is damodara, while chakra, shankha, gada and padma is vasudeva.
Sankarshana has the order shankha, padma, chakra and gada.
Shankha, gada, padma and chakra is pradyumna. Aniruddha has the order gada, shankha, padma and chakra. A purushottama image is known by the order padma, shankha, gada and chakra.
Gada, shankha, chakra and padma is adhokshaja, while padma, gada, shankha and chakra, is nrisimha. An ayuta image has the order padma, chakra, shankha and gada. The order shankha, chakra, shankha and gada. The order shankha, chakra, padma and gada is for the image janardana. An upendra has the order gada, chakra, padma and shankha. Chakra, padma, gada, and shankha signifies hari. And finally, shrikrishna has the order gada, padma, chakra and shankha.

Building Houses

Before a house is built, there has to be a ceremony for laying the foundation stone. Thirty two gods have to be worshipped on the occasion (outside the house).
Their names are Ishana, Parjanya, Jayanta, Indra, Surya, Satya Bhrigu, Akasha, Vayu, Pusha, Vitatha, Grahanakshatra, Yama, Gandharva, Brigu, Raja, Mriga, the Pitris, Doubarika, Sugriva, Pushpadanta, Ganadhipa, Asura, Shesha, Pada, Roga, Ahimukhya, Bhallata, Soma, Sarpa, Aditi and Diti.
These gods are to be worshipped outside the premises of the house. Inside the premises of the house one worships the four gods Apah, Savitra, Jaya and Rudra.
A temple should be built in front of the house, Gates and doors and places for performing sacrifices should be towards the east. The north is reserved for a storehouse. The pond can be towards the west and the guesthouse will be to the south.
Calculate the area of the house by multiplying the length with the breadth. Multiply the area by eight and divide by sixty-four. Or simply, divide the area by eight. The remainder determines the sort of life that the owner of the house is going to live. You can also divide the area of the house by five. The remainder now determines how the owner of the house is going to die.
The height of a door should be exactly double its width. Preferably, a house should have eight doors.


Temples should be constructed so as to have one spire, three spires, or five spires. There are essentially five types of temples.
Their names are Vairaja, Pushpaka, Kailasa, Malaka and Tripishtapa.
The difference lie in the shapes. Vairaja is square, Pushpaka rectangular, Kailasa circular, Malaka oval and Tripishtaka
octagonal. Of course, there may be many variations within these five basic types.
Near the gate of the temple should be a place where plays can be enacted. The priests should live at slight distance from the temple.
It must always be unsured that the temple is surrounded with fruits, flowers, water and creepers.

Varnashrama Dharma:

Varnashrama dharma is characterised by the duties of the four classes and the four stages in life.
The brahmana’s duties are to perform religious sacrifices, donate alms, study and teach. Kshatriyas and vaishyas should also perform sacrifices, donate alms and study. But the primary duty of kshatriyas is to rule, while that of vaishyas is to practice agriculture.
Shudras earn their living as artisans. Their duty is to serve the other three classes.
In the first stage in life (brahmacharya), one is a student. One begs for a living and serves one’s teacher. Next comes the householder stage (garhasthya). A householder should perform sacrifices, worship gods, donate alms and serve guests. In the forest-dwelling stage (vanaprastha), one goes to the forest and lives on fruits and roots. Such a person studies the Vedas and performs tapasya. The final phase is hermithood (sannyasa), A hermit seeks to attain yoga, the union of the atman (human soul) with the brahaman (divine essence).
A brahmana who performs his duties well goes to a sacred place named prajapatya. A kshatriya goes to indraloka, a vaishya to vayuloka and a shudra to gandharvaloka.
One should get up right at the stroke of dawn. After thinking of Vishnu, it is time to have a bath. It is best to bathe in the morning.
A sinner who does this is freed from all sins. There are however six types of baths and their names are brahma, agneya, vayavya, divya, varuna, and yougika. In a brahma bath one chants mantras while sprinkling water on one’s body. To rub one’s body with ashes is to have an agneya bath. To do the same with cowdung is to have a vagavya bath. Sunbathing means having a divya bath. In a varuna bath one bathes with water. And if one meditates on Vishnu, one can have a yougika bath, without doing anything else.
Teeth should always be brushed while facing the east.

Donating Alms

Donating alms is the best form of dharma. A person who donates is blessed in this and later lives. Donating alms is known as dana.
There are four types of dana: nitya, naimittika, kamya and vimala.
Nitya dana takes place when donations are made to brahmanas without expecting anything in return. When donations are made as penance or to take care of ill omens, that is known as naimittika dana. Kamya dana takes place when donations are made to attain children, victory, or wealth. Vimala dana consists of donations made simply for the sake of pleasing God.
A person who gives sugarcane, grain, cattle and land to brahmanas is not born again. The best article to donate is land.
A sinner who restrains others from donating alms is born as a bird in his next life.


Prayashchitta is to make atonement for one’s sins. The worst sin of all is to kill a brahmana. A sinner who does this should make a hut of dry grass and leaves and live in it for twelve years. Or he may fast himself to death or commit suicide by jumping off a cliff.
Immolating oneself or drowning oneself are also acceptable forms of penance. Sometimes less severe types of punishment may be allowed such as, giving food to learned brahmanas. The three holy rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati have a place of confluence and that is a tirtha (place of pilgrimage). If one fasts for three days and nights and bathes at this tirtha, the sin of killing a brahmana is also pardoned.
A brahmana who steals gold is beaten by the king with a club. He then lives in a grass hut for twelve years.
A drinker has to perform the penance of drinking hot wine, followed by swallowing milk, clarified butter or the urine of a cow.
A person who happens to die at a tirtha obtains pardon for all his sins. A woman who burns herself to death on her husband’s funeral pyre makes atonement for all the sins that her husband may have committed. A wife who serves her husband faithfully never commits in the first place.


The earth is divided into seven regions (dvipas) whose names are Jambudvipa, Plakshadvipa, Shalmaladvipa, Kushadvipa, Krounchadvipa, Shakadvipa and Pushkaradvipa. The seven regions are surrounded by seven seas.
The names of the seas are Lavana, Ikshu, Sura, Sarpi, Dadhi, Dugdha and Jala.
Jambudvipa is divided into nine parts (varshas). Their names are Nabhi, Kimpurusha, Harivarsha, Ilavrita, Ramya, Hiranvana, Kuru, Bhadrashva and Ketumala. Nabhivarsha eventually came to be known as Bharatavarsha.
Ilavritavarsha is right in the centre of Jambudvipa. And in the middle of Ilavritavarsha is Mount Sumeru, like the stem of a lotus flower. The mountain ranges Himalaya, Hemakuta and Nishada are to the south Mount Sumeru and the mountain ranges Nila, Shveta and Shringavana are to the north of Mount Sumeru.
Bhadrashvavarsha is the east of Sumer, Hiranvanavarsha to the sout-east, Kimpurushavarsha and Bharatavarsha to the south, Harivarsha to the south-west, Ketumalavarsha to the west, Ramyakavarsha to the north-west and Khruvarsha to the north.
Bharatavarsha itself is divided into nine parts. Eight of these parts are named Indradvipa, Kasherumana, Tamravarna, Gabhastimana, Nagadvipa, Kataha, Simhala and Varuna. The ninth part is named Sagaradvipa and is surrounded by the ocean. To the east of Bharatavarsha live the kiratas, to the west the yavana, to the south the andhras and to the north the turushkas.
The seven main mountain ranges of Bharatavarsha are Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, Shuktimana, Riksha, Vindhya and Paribhadra.
The kingdoms which are in the centre of Bharatavarsha are named Panchala, Kuru, Matsya, Youdheya, Patacchara, Kunti and Shurasena, Padma, Suta, Magadha, Chedi, Kashaya, Videha and Koshala are kingdoms that are to the east. In the south-east are the kingdoms of Kalinga, Banga, Pundra, Anga, Vidarbha and Mulaka. The kingdoms of Pulinda, Ashmaka, Jimuta, Nayarashtra, Karnata, Kamboja, Ghata, Daksinapatha, Ambashtha, Dravida, Lata, Strimukha, Shaka and Anarta are in the south-west. Toward the west are the kingdoms of Sindhu, Yavana, Mathura and Nishada.
The kingdoms of Mandavya, Tushara, Mulika, Musha, Khasha, Mahakesha and Mahanada ae in the north-west. And the kingdoms of Lambaka, Stana, Naga, Madra, Gandhara and Vahlika aer in the north. In the north-west are Tigarta, Nila, Kolabha, Abhishaha and Kashmira.
There are seven underworlds (patala) under the earth.
Their names are Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Mahatala, Sutala, Patala and Gabhastimata.
The daityas and the bhujangas (snakes) lives there.

Astronomy and Astrology:

The sun’s (surya) chariot is drawn by seven horses:
Their names are Gayatri, Vrihati, Ushnika, Jagati, Trishtupa, Anushtapa and Pamkti. The moon’s (chandra) chariot is drawn by ten horses and the horses are completely white.
There are twenty-seven nakshatras (stars) in the sky:
Their names are Ashvini, Bharani, Krittika, Rohini, Mrigashira, Ardra, Punarvasu, Pushya, Ashlesha, Magha, Purvafalguni, Uttarafalguni, Hasta, Chitra, Savti, Vishakha, Anuradha, Jyeshtha, Mula, Purvashada, Uttarashada, Shravana, Dhanishtha, Shatabhisha, Purvabhadrapada, Uttarabhadrapada and Revati.
It is auspicious to begin a journey when Ashvini, Anuradha, Revati, Mrigashira, Mula, Punarvasu, Pushya, Hasta or Jyeshtha is in the sky.
New clothes should be worn when Hasta, Chitra, Svati, Vishakha, Anuradha, Uttarafalguni, Uttarashada, Uttarabhadrapada, Ashvini, Rohini, Pushya, Dhanishtha, or Punarvasu is in the sky.
Wells and ponds are to be dug when Krittika, Bharani, Ashlesha, Magha, Mula, Vishakha, Purvafalguni, Purvashada or Purvabhadrapada is in the sky. These nakshatras are also auspicious for harvesting crops or for building temples. Sowing of seeds should take place when Revati, Ashvini, Chitra, Svati, Hasta, Punarvasu, Anuradha, Mrigashita or
Jyeshtha is in the sky. These stars are also auspicious for building boats. Coronations are to be fixed when Rohini, Ardra, Pushya, Dhanishtha, Uttarafalguni, Uttarashada, Uttarabhadrapada, Shatabhisha or Shravana is in the sky.
A tithi is a lunar day. The fourth (chaturthi). Sixth (shashthi, eighth (ashtami), ninth (navami), twelfth (dvadashi), fourteenth (chaturdashi) lunar days and the day of the new moon (amavasya) and the day of the full moon (purnima) are inauspicious.
Nothing important should be begun on such days. Never travel on the following days-shashthi in the months of Vaishakha and Shravana, ashtami in the months of Ashvina and Ashada, chaturthi in the months of Jyaishtha and Falguna, dvadashi in the months of Magha and Kartika, dashmi (the tenth lunar day) in the month of Agrahayana and Bhadra and chaturdashi in the months of Pousha and Chaitra.
There are twelve signs of the Zodic (rashi). Their names are Mesha (Aries), Vrisha (Taurus), Mithuna, (Gemini), Karkata (Cancer), Simha (Leo), Kanya (Virgo), Tula (Libra, Vrishchika (Scorpio), Dhanu (Saggitarius), Makara (Capricorn), Kumbha (Aquarius) and Mina (Pisces).
The sign under which a person is born is known as janma rashi.
Consider the position of the moon in relation to the janma rashi. If the moon is in the jama rashi itself, the person will always be satisfied. The janma rashi is known as the first house. The next rashi is the second house and so on and so forth until one has the twelfth house. If the moon is in the second house, the person will be poor. A moon in the third house signifies honour shown by the king, in the fourth house quarrels, in the fifth house marriage, in the sixth house wealth, in the seventh house honour, in the eighth house threat to life, in the ninth house riches, in the tenth house
success, in the eleventh house victory and in the twelth house certain death.
The following conjuctions of planets bode well. Shukra (Venus) and Chandra in the first house; Chandra, Budha (Mercury), Shukra and Brihaspati (Jupiter) in the second house; Mangala (Mars), Shani (Saturn) and Surya in the third house; Budha in the fourth house; Shukra, Brihaspati Chandra and Ketu (no real counterpart in English, sometimes identified with Pluto) in the fifth house; Shani, Surya and Mangala in the sixth house; Brihaspati and Chandra in the seventh house; Budha and Shukra in the eight house; Brihaspati in the ninth house; Surya, Shani and Chandra in the tenth house; and Budha and Shukra in the twelfth house. All planets are good in the eleventh house.
A Leo bride should be married to a Capricorn groom, An Aries bride to a Virgo groom, a Libra bride to a Pisces groom, an Aquarius bride to a Cancer groom, A Saggitarius bride to a Taurus groom, a Gemini bride to a Scorpio groom. Such marriages bring happiness.


It is important to be able to tell the nature of men and women by their physical characteristics. This is physiognomy.
A man who will be king will have soft feet which do not sweat. The toes will be even and no veins will be seen on his legs. A man who will be king is known also by round thighs and very little body hair.
Each pore on his body will have ony one hair in it.
A man who will be poor is known by rough nails on his toes. Veins will be seen on his face. The toes will be dry and he will flat-footed.
He will also have three hairs in each of his pores.
A person with two hairs in each of his pores in each of his pores becomes a learned man.
Person with spindly thighs always suffer from ill health.
Lines can be seen on a man’s forehead. The number of such lines determines how long he is going to live. A person with three lines lives for sixty years, one with two lines for forty years and a person with one line for twenty years. If a single line extends right across the forehead, the person will die at a very young age. But if three lines extend right across the forehead, the person will live for a hundred years.
A woman with a round face brings prosperity to her household. A women with round eyes becomes a widow and suffers for life. Large eyes and red lips mean that the woman will always be happy. If there are many lines on a woman’s palm, she will always suffer. But if there are few lines on a woman’s palm, she will always be poor. If you see the sign of a chakra on woman’s palm, she will become either the wife or the mother of a king. A woman with bright eyes has good fortune, one with shining teeth gets good food to eat and one with glowing skin gets excellent beds to sleep on.
A man with a long nose is fortunate. A man with a bent nose is a thief and a man with a nose bent to the right is cruel. A man who has sneezes one at a time is strong. You will know a man who is always content by the fact that he has many sneezes at a time. A person who speaks in a nasal tone lives to an old age. Eyes like a cat’s eyes indicate a sinner. Cross-eyed men are cruel. A man with symmetric eyebrows is poor. If a man cries but the tears cannot be seen, that man is sure to be unfortunate.
Look at the life line on a woman’s palm. If the line is thick, she wil have many sons. But if the life is thin, she will have many daughters. Those whose life lines are split into many parts do not live for a long. But those who life lines are long and unbroken live to a ripe old age.

This science of physiognomy is known as samudrika shastra.


A long time back, there used to be a demon named Balasura. He defeated Indra and the other gods. Balasura was invincible. Not knowning what to do, the gods arranged a yajna. They then went to Balasura and ask him for his body so that it might be offered as a sacrifice at the yajna. The demon was generous and he was not going to refuse a request. He gave his body to the gods.
The gods ascended a vimana (space vehicle) and were travelling through the sky with Balasura’s body. But the vimana was moving so fast that Balasura’s body fell off. It broke into many parts which got scattered throughout the earth. Wherever a part of the body fell, earth, mountain or garden, that place became a source of jewels and precious stones.
There are many types of jewels. Some of the more important ones are vajra (diamond), mukta (pearl), mani, padmaraga (ruby), marakata, (emerald), indranila, (sapphire), vaidurya, pushparaga (topaz), karketana, pulaka, rudhira, sphatika (crystal) and pravala (coral).
Vajra or hiraka was formed from Balasura’s bones. Diamonds can be of many colors, coppery, milky-white, blue, golden, yellow and dark.
Red and yellow diamonds should be worn only by a king, not by anone else. A multi-colored and round diamond should not be worn indiscriminately. It can cause great suffering, and due precautions have to be taken before such a diamond is worn as adornment.
Even Indra takes care before wearing such a diamond. A hexagonal diamond is extremely rare and brings good fortune. A diamond is valuable because it can cut and mark any other object. But a diamond cannot be cut or marked except by another diamond.
Muktas (pearls) can be obtained from eight different places from elephants, clouds, boars, conch-shells, fishes, snakes, oysters and bamboos. But oysters are the most common source. Pearls got from bamboos, elephants, fishes, conch-shells and boars are not at all bright. Balasura’s teeth fell into the ocean. There the teeth entered the bodies of oysters and became the seeds for pearls. A pearl which weights half a tola (weight) is worth 1305 coins. There are several other grades for pearls, the worths being 800, 783, 325, 200, 110, 100, 97, 40, 30, 14, 11 and 9 coins respectively.
If you need to polish a pearl, put it inside the stomach of fish. Cover the fish with clay and roast it. The pearl should then be taken out and washed with milk, wine and water. It will become bright and shining. What happens if one suspects that a pearl is not genuine?
It should be kept in saline water for a night and then dried. If its colour does not fade, it is a genuine pearl.
Balasura’s blood fell into a river. In fact, at first it had not fallen into the river at all, but was retained by the sun. But Ravana, king of Lanka, once decided to attack the sun. And in the process, the sun dropped Balasura’s bood into a river which came to be known as Ravanaganga. This blood became rubies (padmaraga). Rubies are red. Some of them may be tinged with a little bit of black or blue. A good quality ruby should never be worn wih a bad quality ruby.
The wearer of a good quality ruby is protected from all misfortunes.
The king of the snakes is Vasuki. Vasuki accepted the bile (pitta) that came out of Balasura’s body. The snake was traversing the sky when he was suddenly attacked by Garuda. Garuda too wanted to possess the bile. While the two were fighting, the bile fell into the valley of a mountain. This bile gave birth to marakatas (emeralds).
Emeralds are generally green in color. The herbs which grow in emerald mines are cures for sorts of poison. A true emerald never fades in color.
Balasura’s eyes fell on the shores of the ocean. And these eyes became indranila jewels (sapphires). Sapphires are tinged with blue. A sapphire shoud never be flung into a fire. The person who does this deed suffers great misfortune. A special sort of sapphire is known as mahanila. It is dark blue in color and if it is kept
immersed in milk, the milk turns blue in color.
Balasura roared before he died. This roar echoed in a mountain range named Vidura. And from the roar was born a gem known as vaidurya, so called because it can be found on the mountain Vidura.
Vaiduryas are green or blue in color.
Balasura’s skin fell on the Himalayas. This skin was the origin of pushparaga (topaz). A pushparaga is light yellow in colour. But if a topaz is also tinged with red, it is known as kourandaka. And if a topaz is slightly tinged with blue, it is known as somanaka. A woman who does not have son will give birth to one if she wears a topaz.
Another type of jewel is named karketana. It originated from Balasura’s nails. These nails fell into a bed of lotuses and there created this gem. Karketana can be of many colors, red, milky-white, yellow, copper-colored and blue. His jewel becomes brighter if it is wrapped in gold leaf and burnt in a fire. Karketana is a good jewel to wear if one wants to stay healthy or prolong one’s life.
Several other jewels were created from other parts of Balasura’s anatomy.

The Garuda Purana - Continued

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