Garuda Purana, Chapter 3


Translated by Ernest Wood and S.V. Subrahmanyam

| Ch.1 | | Ch.2 | | Ch.3 | | Ch.4 | | Ch.5 | | Ch.6 | | Ch.7 | | Ch.8 | | Ch.9 | | Ch.10 | | Ch.11 | | Ch.12 | | Ch.13 | | Ch.14 | | Ch.15 | | Ch.16 | | Index | | complete |

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An Account of the Torments of Yama.

1. Garuḍa said: What are the torments like that the sinful suffers, having passed along the way of Yama into the abode of Yama? Tell me this, O Keśava.

2. The Blessed Lord said: Listen, O Descendant of Vinatâ. I will tell it to you from the beginning to the end. Even at the description of hell you will tremble.

3. Four and forty yojanas, O Kâśyapa, beyond the city of Bahubhîti, lies the great city of the King of Justice.

4-5. The sinful man cries when he hears the mingled wails of 'Oh, Oh,' and having heard his cry, those who walk about in the city of Yama.

All go to the door-keeper and report it to him. The doorkeeper Dharmadhwaja, always stands there.

6. He, having gone to Chitragupta, 1 reports the good and evil deeds. Then Chitragupta tells it to the King of Justice.

7. The men who are Deniers, O Târkshya, and always delight in great sin; these are all, as is proper, well-known to the King of Justice.

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8. Nevertheless, he asks Chitragupta about their sins. Chitragupta, although he is all-knowing, enquires of the Śravaṇas 1.

9. The Śravaṇas are the sons of Brâhmaṇ who wander in heaven, on earth, and in the nether regions, hear and understand at a distance, and see a long way off.

10. Their wives have a similar nature, and are called, distinctively, Sravanîs. They know accurately all that is done by women.

11. These report to Chitragupta everything that is said and done, openly and secretly, by men.

12. These followers of the King of Justice know accurately all the virtues and vices of mankind, and the karma born of mind, speech and body.

13. Such is the power of these, who have authority over mortals and immortals. Thus do these truth-speaking Śravaṇas relate the actions of man.

14. To the man who pleases them by austerity, charity and truthful speech, they become benevolent, granting heaven and liberation.

15. Knowing the wicked actions of the sinful, those truth-speakers, relating them before the King of Justice, become dispensers of misery.

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16. The sun and moon, fire, wind, sky, earth and water, the heart. Yama, day and night, the two twilights, and Justice--know the actions of man.

17 The King of Justice, Chitragupta, Śravaṇas, the sun and others see fully the sins and merits of the embodied being.

18. Then Yama, having assured himself concerning the sins of the sinful, summons them and shows them his own very terrible form.

19-21. Very sinful people behold the terrifying form of Yama--huge of body, rod in hand, seated on a buffalo,

Roaring like a cloud at the time of pralaya, like a mountain of lampblack, terrible with weapons gleaming like lightning, possessing thirty-two arms,

Extending three yojanas, with eyes like wells, with mouth gaping with formidable fangs, with red eyes and a long nose.

22. Even Chitragupta is fearful, attended by Death, Fever and others. Near to him are all the messengers, resembling Yama, roaring.

23. Having seen him, the wretch, overcome with fear, cries 'Oh, Oh.' The sinful soul who made no gifts trembles and cries again.

24. Then, by command of Yama, Chitragupta speaks to all those sinners, who are crying, and bewailing their karmas.

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25. 'O, you sinners, evil-doers, polluted with egoism, injudicious, why ever did you commit sin?

26. 'O, you foolish people, why ever did you commit that misery-giving sin which is born of lust, anger and association with the sinful.

27 'Hitherto you have committed sins with great delight, and thereby are now destined for torment. It is no use turning your faces away.

28. 'The sinful actions done by you are very many, and those sins are the cause of unavoidable misery.

29. 'It is known that Yama deals equally with the fool and the learned, the beggar and the wealthy, the strong and the weak.'

30. Hearing these words of Chitragupta, the sinful then grieve over their karmas, and remain silent and motionless.

31. The King of Justice, seeing them standing motionless like thieves, has fitting punishment ordered for the sinful.

32. Then the cruel messengers, having beaten them, say, 'Go along, you sinner, to the very dreadful terrifying hells.'

33. The messengers, Prachaṇḍa, Chaṇḍaka 1 and others, executors of the sentences of Yama, having bound them with one noose, lead them towards the hells.

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34. There is one big tree there, glowing like a blazing fire. It covers five yojanas and is one yojana in height.

35. Having bound them on the tree by chains, head downwards, they beat them. They, for whom there is no rescuer, cry, burning there.

36. Many sinful ones are hung on that silk-cotton tree, exhausted by hunger and thirst, and beaten by the messengers of Yama.

37. 'Oh, forgive my faults'--with suppliant hands, those most. sinful people, helpless, implore the messengers.

31. Again and again they are forcibly struck, by the messengers, with metal rods, with hammers, with iron clubs, with spears, with maces and with big pestles.

39-40. Thus beaten they become still, swooning away. Then, seeing them quiet, the servants address them thus:

'O, you sinners, you evildoers, why ever did you commit such wicked deeds? You did not even make the easy water and food offerings at all.

41. 'You did not give even halt a mouthful of food to the dog or the crows, nor honour your guests, nor make the water-offering to the forefathers.

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42. You did not meditate well upon Yama and Chitragupta, nor repeat their mantra, along with which torment cannot exist.

43. You never visited any places of pilgrimage, nor worshipped the deities. Though living as a householder you did not even express compassion.

44. 'You did not do any acts of service. Suffer the fruits of your own sin! Because you are devoid of righteousness you deserve to be beaten.

45. 'Forgiveness of faults is done by the Lord Hari 1 Îśwara. We only punish miscreants, as we are ordered.'

46. Thus having spoken the messengers heat them mercilessly; and on account of the beating they fall down like glowing charcoal.

47. In falling their limbs are cut by the sharp leaves, and they cry, fallen down and bitten by dogs.

48. Then the mouths of those who are crying are filled with dust by the messengers; and, being bound with various nooses some are beaten with hammers.

49. Some of the sinful are cut with saws, like firewood, and others thrown flat on the ground, are chopped into pieces with axes.

50. Some, their bodies half-buried in a pit, are pierced in the head with arrows. Others, fixed in the middle of a machine, are squeezed like sugar-cane.

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51. Some are surrounded closely with blazing charcoal, enwrapped with torches, and smelted like a lump of ore.

52. Some are plunged into heated butter, and others into heated oil, and like a cake thrown into the frying-pan they are turned about.

53. Some are thrown in the way, in front of huge maddened elephants, and some with hands and feet bound are placed head downwards.

54. Some are thrown into wells; some are hurled from heights; others plunged into pits full of worms, are eaten away by them.

55. By the hard beaks of huge flesh-eating crows and vultures they are pecked in the head, eyes and faces.

56. Others clamour: 'Give up, give up my wealth, which you owe me. In the world of Yama I see my wealth being enjoyed by you.'

57. Thus disputing, the sinful, in the hell-region, are given pieces of flesh torn off with pincers by the messengers.

58. Thus quarrelling, they are taken hold of by the messengers, by order of Yama, and thrown into the dreadful hells, Tâmisra and others,

59. Hells full of great misery are there,--near to the tree,--in which there is great misery indescribable in words.

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60. There are eighty-four lakhs of hells, O Bird, the midst of which are twenty-one most dreadful of the dreadful.

61-64. Tâmisra, 1 Lohaśaṇku, 2 Maharauravaśâlmalî, 3 Raurava, 4 Kuḍmala, 5 Kâlasûtraka, 6 Pûtimṛittika, 7

Saṅghâta, 8 Lohitoda, 9 Saviṣa, 10 Sampratâpana, 11 Mahâniraya, 12 Kâka, 13 Ûlu, 14 Sanjîvana, 15 Mahâpathin, 16

Avîchi, 17 Andhatâmisra, 18 Kumbhîpâka, 19 Sampratâpana, 20 and Tapana, 21--in all twenty-one,

All formed of various afflictions and diseases of different classes, the various fruits of sin, and inhabited by multitudes of servants.

65. The sinful fools, devoid of righteousness, Who have fallen into these, experience there, until the end of the age, the various torments of hell.

66. Men and women suffer the torments of Tâmisra, Andhatâmisra, Raurava and other hells, which are produced by secret association.

67. Thus he who was holding a family or gratifying his belly, having given up both, and being departed, obtains appropriate fruit.

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68. Having cast off his body, which was nourished at the expense of other creatures, he goes alone to hell, provisioned with the opposite of happiness.

69. The man experiences in a foul hell what is ordained by his fate, like an invalid who has been robbed of his wealth, the support of his family.

70: The individual, who was fond of supporting his family by unrighteous means alone, goes to Andhatâmisra, which is the place of uttermost darkness.

71. Having experienced in due order the torments below, he comes here again, purified.

Next: Chapter VI. An Account of the Kinds of Sins which lead to Hell

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Suggestions for Further Reading


21:1 Name of the being who records the doings of men.

22:1 Lit. Listeners.

24:1 Both names mean fierce or violent.

26:1 Lit. He who takes away (sins).

28:1 Darkness.

28:2 Iron spears.

28:3 Very terrible silk-cotton tree.

28:4 Terrible.

28:5 Blossoming.

28:6 The thread of death.

28:7 Stinking clay.

28:8 Accumulation.

28:9 Iron weights.

28:10 Poisonous.

28:11 Burning.

28:12 The great exit.

28:13 Crows.

28:14 Owls.

28:15 Living together.

28:16 The great path.

28:17 Waveless.

28:18 Besetting darkness,

28:19 Based like a pot.

28:20 Burning.

28:21 Hot.

Source: Originally Scanned at, June 2006. Proofed and formatted by John Bruno Hare. The text has been reformatted and rearranged for this online edition at by Jayaram V. This text is in the public domain in the United States because it was published prior to January 1st, 1923. These files may be used for any non-commercial purpose, provided this notice of attribution is left intact in all copies.