Garuda Purana, Chapter 5


Translated by Ernest Wood and S.V. Subrahmanyam

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An Account of the Signs of Sins.

1. Garuḍa said: Tell me, O Keśava, by what sins particular signs are produced, and to what sorts of birth such sins lead?

2. The Blessed Lord said: The sins on account of which the sinful returning from hell come to particular births, and the signs produced by particular sins,--these hear from me.

3. The murderer of a Brâhmaṇ becomes consumptive, the killer of a cow becomes hump-backed and imbecile, the murderer of a virgin becomes leprous,--all three born as outcastes.

4. The slayer of a woman and the destroyer of embryos becomes a savage full of diseases; who commits illicit intercourse, a eunuch; who goes with his teacher's wife, diseased-skinned.

5. The eater of flesh becomes very red; the drinker of intoxicants, one with discoloured teeth; the Brâhmaṇ who, on account of greed, eats what should not be eaten, becomes big-bellied.

6. He who eats sweet foods, without giving to others, becomes swollen-necked; who gives impure food at a Śrâddha ceremony is born a spotted leper.

7. The man who, through pride, insults his teacher, becomes an

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epileptic; who despises the Vedas and the Śâstras certainly becomes jaundiced.

8. Who bears false witness becomes dumb; who breaks the meal-row 1 becomes one-eyed; who interferes with marriage becomes lipless; who steals a book-is born blind.

9. Who strikes a cow or a Brâhmaṇ with his foot is born lame and deformed; who speaks lies becomes a stammerer, and who listens to them becomes deaf.

10. A poisoner becomes insane; an incendiary becomes bald; who sells flesh becomes unlucky; who eats fled of other beings becomes diseased.

11. Who steals jewels is born in a low caste; who steals gold gets diseased nails; who steals any metal becomes poverty-stricken.

12. Who steals food becomes a rat; who steals grain becomes a locust; who steals water becomes a Châtaka-bird 2; and who steals poison, a scorpion.

13. Who steals vegetables and leaves becomes a peacock; perfumes, a musk-rat; honey, a gad-fly; flesh, a vulture; and salt, an ant.

14. Who steals betel, fruits and flowers becomes a forest-monkey; who steal shoes, grass and cotton are born from sheeps' wombs.

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15. Who lives by violence, who robs caravans on the road, and who is fond of hunting, certainly becomes a goat in a butcher's house.

16. Who dies by drinking poison becomes a black serpent on a mountain; whose feature is unrestrained becomes an elephant in a desolate forest.

17. Those twice-born who do not make offering to the World-deities, and who eat all foods without consideration, become tigers in a desolate forest.

18. The Brâhmiṇ who does not recite the Gâyatrî 1, who does not meditate at twilight, who is inwardly wicked while outwardly pious, becomes a crane.

19. The Brâhmiṇ who officiates for one unfit to perform sacrifice becomes a village hog, and by too many sacrifices he becomes an ass; by eating without grace, a crow.

20. The twice-born who does not impart learning to the deserving becomes a bull; the pupil who does not serve his teacher becomes an animal,--an ass or a cow.

21. Who threatens and spits at his teacher, or browbeats a Brâhmaṇ, is born as a Brâhmiṇ-fiend in a waterless wilderness.

22. Who does not give to a twice-born according to his promise becomes a jackal; who is not hospitable to the goody becomes a howling Fire-face. 2

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23. Who deceives a friend becomes a mountain-vulture; who cheats in selling, an owl; who speaks ill of caste and order is born a pigeon in a wood.

24. Who destroys hopes and who destroys affection, who through dislike abandons his wife, becomes a ruddy goose for a long time.

25. Who hates mother, father and teacher, who quarrels with sister and brother, is destroyed when an embryo in the womb, even for a thousand births.

26. The woman who abuses her mother-in-law and father-in-law, and causes constant quarrels; becomes a leech; and she who scolds her husband becomes a louse.

27. Who, abandoning her own husband, runs after another man, becomes a flying-fox, a house-lizard, or a kind of female serpent.

28. He who cuts off his lineage, by embracing a woman of his own family, having become a hyena and a porcupine, is born from the womb of a bear.

29. The lustful man who goes with a female ascetic becomes a desert fiend; who consorts with an immature girl becomes a huge snake in a wood.

30. Who covets his teacher's wife, becomes a chameleon; who goes with the king's wife becomes corrupt; and with his friend's wife, a donkey.

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31. Who commits unnatural vice becomes a village pig; who consorts with a Śûdra woman becomes bull; who is passionate becomes a lustful horse.

32-33. Who feeds upon the eleventh-day offerings to the dead is born a dog. The devalaka is born from the womb of a hen.

The wretch among twice-born who worships the deities for the sake of wealth is called a devalaka and is unfit to offer oblations to ale deities and forefathers.

34. Those who are very sinful, having passed through dreadful hells produced by their great sins, are born here upon the exhaustion of their karma.

35. The murderer of a Brâhmaṇ goes into the womb of an ass, a camel and a she-buffalo; a drinker of intoxicants enters the wombs of a wolf, a dog and a jackal.

36. The stealer of gold attains the condition of a worm, an insect and a bird. Who goes with his teacher's wife, goes to the condition of grass, bushes and plants.

37. Who steals another's wife, who misappropriates deposits, who robs a Brâhmiṇ, is born as a Brâhmiṇ-fiend.

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38-40. The Brâhmiṇ's possessions acquired by deception, enjoyed even in friendship, afflict the family even for seven generations,--and by forcible robbery even as long as the moon and stars exist:

A man may digest even iron filings, powdered stone, and poison; but where is the person in the three worlds who can digest a Brâhmiṇ's wealth!

Chariots and troops supported by the wealth of a Brâhmiṇ crumble away in battle like artificial river-banks of sand.

41-43. By appropriating temple property, by taking a Brâhmiṇ's possessions, and by neglecting Brâhmiṇs, families become broken up.

He is called a neglector who, instead of making a gift to one who is well-read in the Vedas and Śâstras and has resorted to him, gives it to some other,

But it is no neglect if the Brâhmiṇ is without Veda-knowledge; it would be like offering to ashes instead of to the blazing fire near by.

44. Having neglected, O Târkṣya, and having experienced the results in the successive hells, he is born blind and in poverty, becoming not a giver but a beggar.

45. Who takes away a plot of land, which was given by himself for another, is born for sixty thousand years as a worm in excrement.

46. The sinner who takes back by force what has been given by himself, goes into hell until the coming of the deluge.

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47. Having given the means of subsistence and a piece of land, he should then protect it firmly. Who does not protect, but robs, is born as a lame dog.

48. Who gives the means of support to Brâhmiṇs obtains fruit equal to that of a lakh of cows; who robs Brâhmiṇs of their means of sup port becomes an ape, a dog and a monkey.

49. These and other signs and births, O Lord of Birds, are seen to be the karma of the embodied, made by themselves in this world.

50. Thus the makers of bad karma, having experienced the tortures mf hell, are born with the residues of their sins, in these stated forms.

51. Then, obtaining for thousands of lives the bodies of animals, they suffer from carrying burdens and other miseries.

52. Having experienced as a bird the misery of cold, rain and heat, he afterwards reaches the human state, when the good and evil are balanced.

53. Man and woman having come together, he becomes an embryo in due course. Having suffered the miseries from conception onwards to death, he again dies.

54. Birth and death are the lot of all embodied beings; thus turns the wheel in the four kingdoms of beings.

55. As the wheel of time turns, so mortals revolve by my magic. They revolve at one time of earth, at another in hell, held fast by the noose of karma.

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56. He who does not mike gifts becomes poverty--stricken and through poverty he commits sin; by the force of sin he goes to hell, and is again born in poverty and again becomes sinful.

57. Karma which has been made, whether good or evil, must inevitably be suffered. Karma not suffered does not fade away even in tens of millions of ages.

Next: Chapter VI. The Miseries of Birth of the Sinful

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39:1 This refers to the custom among Brâhmiṇs of sitting in a row at meals, and rising together. Whoever gives different food to one than to another is said to break the row also.

39:2 A bird fabled to live only on rain-drops.

40:1 A sacred mantra repeated every day by the twice-born caste.

40:2 A class of evil spirits.

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.