Garuda Purana Chapter 2


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 |

An Account of The Way of Yama.

1. Garuḍa said: What is the path of misery in the world of Yama like? Tell me, O Keśava, in what, way the sinful go there.

2. The Blessed Lord said: I will tell you about the Way of Yama, bestowing great misery. Although you are my devotee, when you have heard it you will become agitated.

3. There is no shade of trees there, in which a man may take rest, and on this road there is none of the foods by which he may support life.

4. No water is to be seen anywhere that he, extremely thirsty, may drink. Twelve suns blaze, O Bird, as though at the end of a pralaya.

5. There the sinful soul goes along pierced by cold winds, in one place torn by thorns, in another stung by very venomous serpents.

6. The sinful in one place is bitten by ferocious lions, tigers, and dogs; in another stung by scorpions; in another burnt by fire.

7-8. In one place there is a very terrible forest of sword-like leaves, which is recorded as two thousand yojanas in length and breadth,

p. 11

Infested with crows, owls, hawks, vultures, bees, mosquitoes, and having forest-fires,--by whose leaves he is pierced and torn.

9. In one place he falls into a hidden well; in another from a lofty mountain; in another he treads on razor-edges and on spear-points.

10. In one place he stumbles in the awful black darkness and falls into water; in another in mud abounding in leeches; in another in hot slime.

11. In one place is a plain of hot sand, made of smelted. copper; in another a mound of embers; in another a great cloud of smoke.

12-13. In some places are showers of charcoal, showers of stones and thunderbolts, showers of blood, showers of weapons, showers of boiling water,

And showers of caustic mud. In one place are deep chasms; in others bills to climb and valleys to descend.

14. In one place there is pitch darkness; in another rocks difficult to climb over; in others lakes filled with pus and blood, and with excrement.

15-17. In the midst of the way flows the terribly horrible Vaitaraṇî River, which when seen inspires misery, of which even an account arouses fear.

p. 12

Extending a hundred yojanas, a flow of pus and blood, impassible, with heaps of bones on the banks, with mud of flesh and blood,

Unfordable, impassible for the sinful, obstructed with hairy moss, filled with huge crocodiles. and crowded with hundreds of dreadful birds.

18-20. When it sees the sinful approaching, this river, overspread with flames and smoke, seethes, O Târkshya, like butter in the frying-pan:

Covered all over with dreadful throngs of insects with piercing stings, infested with huge vultures and crows with adamantine beaks,

Filled with porpoises, with crocodiles, with leeches, fishes and turtles, and with other flesh-eating water-animals.

21. Very sinful people, fallen into the flood, cry, O Brother, O Son, O Father!'--again and again wailing.

22-23. Hungry and thirsty the sinful drink the blood, it is said. That river, flowing with blood, carrying much foam,

Very dreadful, with powerful roaring, difficult to see into, fear-inspiring,--at the very sight of it the sinful swoon away.

24. Covered with many scorpions, and with black snakes,--of those who have fallen into the midst of this, there is no rescuer whatever.

25. By hundreds of thousands of whirlpools the sinful descend to the lower region. They stay for a moment in the lower region, after the moment rising again.

p. 13

26. O Bird, this river was created only that the sinful should fall into it. It is difficult to cross and gives great misery, and its opposite cannot be seen.

27. Thus along the Way of Yama, of many kinds of pain, giving extreme misery, go the sinful, crying and weeping and laden with misery.

28. Bound by the noose, some of them being dragged by hooks, and pierced from behind with points of weapons, the sinful are led on.

29. Others are drawn along by a noose through the end of the nose, and also by nooses through the ears; others, by the nooses of death being dragged along, are pecked by crows.

30-32. Some go on the way neck, arms, feet and back bound with chains, bearing many loads of iron,

And being beaten with hammers by the awful messengers of Yama; vomiting blood from the mouth, which then they eat again,

Bewailing their own karmas these beings, becoming exhausted, full of very great misery, go on towards the mansion of Yama.

33-34. And the stupid, thus going on the way, calling on son and grandson, incessantly crying out, 'Oh, oh,' repents:--

'By great meritorious effort birth as a human being is gained. Haying obtained that, I did not do my duty,--also, whatever have I done!

p. 14

35. 'I made no gifts; no offerings to the fire; performed no penances; did not worship the deities; did not perform service at a place of pilgrimage as prescribed;--O Dweller in the Body, make reparation for whatever you have done!

36. 'I did not duly honour the assemblies of Brâhmiṇs; did not visit the holy river 1; did not wait upon good men; never performed any benevolent acts;--O Dweller in the Body, make reparation for whatever you have done!

37. ' Alas, I did not excavate tanks in waterless places, either for the benefit of men or for the sake of animals and binds; did not even a little for the support of cows and brahmins;--O Dweller in the Body, make reparation for whatever you leave done!

38. 'I made no daily gifts and did not give food daily to the cow; did not value the precepts of the Vedas and the Śâstras; did not listen to the Purâṇas, nor worship the wise;--O Dweller in the Body, make reparation for whatever you have done!'

39. 'I did not follow the good advice of my husband; never preserved fidelity to my husband; did not pay due respect to my worthy elders;--O Dweller in the Body, make reparation for whatever you have done!

40. 'Not knowing my duty I did not serve my husband, nor after his death enter the fire. Having become widowed I performed no austerities;--O Dweller in the Body, make reparation for whatever you have done!

p. 15

41. 'I did not emaciate myself by monthly fasts by the course of the moon, nor by detailed observances. Owing to my bad deeds in former lives I got a woman's body, which is a source of great misery.'

42. Thus having lamented many times, remembering the past incarnation, crying 'Whence did I attain this human state?' he goes on.

43. For seventeen days he goes on alone with the speed of the wind. On the eighteenth day, O Târkṣya, the departed reaches the City of Saumya.

44. Large numbers of the departed are in that excellent and beautiful city. The River Puṣhpabhadrâ is there, and a fig-tree delightful to see.

41. In that city he takes rest, along with the servants of Yama. There he remembers the enjoyment of wife, son and others, and is miserable.

46-47. When he bewails his wealth, his family and dependents all, then the departed belonging there and the servants say this:

Where is your wealth now? Where are your children and wife now? Where are your friends and relatives now? You only suffer the result of your own karma, you fool. Go on for a long time!

48. 'You know that provisions are the strength of a traveller. You do not strive for provisions, O Traveller in the Higher World! Yet you must inevitably go on that way, where there is neither buying nor selling.

p. 16

49. 'Have you not heard, O Mortal, of this way, which is familiar even to children? Have you not heard of it from the twice-born, as spoken of in the Purâṇas?'

50. Thus spoken to by the messengers and being beaten with the hammers, he is forcibly dragged by the nooses, falling down and getting up again and running.

51. Here he eats the monthly rice-balls given by his sons and grandsons through either love or compassion, and thence goes on into Sauripura.

52. There is there a king named Jangama, who has the appearance of Death. Having seen him he is overcome with fear and decides to give up efforts.

53. In that city he eats a mixture of water and food, given at the end of three fortnights, and then passes on from that city.

54. Thence the departed speedily goes to Nagendrabhavana; and having seen the fearful forests there he cries in misery.

55-56. Being dragged unmercifully he weeps again and again. At the end of two months the afflicted leaves that city,

Having enjoyed there the rice-balls, water and cloths given by his relatives; being again dragged with the nooses he is led onwards by the servants.

p. 17

57-58. Upon the coming of the third month, having arrived at the city of the Gandharvas, and there having eaten the rice-balls offered in the third month he moves on.

And in the fourth month reaches Śailâgama city, There stones rain down copiously upon the departed.

59. Having eaten the rice-balls of the fourth month he becomes somewhat happy. In the fifth month the departed goes thence to the city of Krauncha.

60. Remaining in the city of Krauncha, the departed eats the rice balls given by hand in the fifth month, and then, having eaten it, goes to Krûrapura.

61. At the end of five and a half months the ceremony before the six-monthly is performed. He remains, satisfied with the rice-balls and jars then given.

62-63. Having stayed, trembling and very miserable, for a time and having left that city, threatened by the servants of Yama,

He goes to Chitrabhavana, over which kingdom rules a king named Vichitra, who is the younger brother of Yama.

64-65. When he sees his huge form he runs away in fear. Then having come before him some fishermen say:

'We have arrived, bringing a boat for you--who desire to cross the great Vaitaraṇî River--if your merits are sufficient.'

p. 18

66-67. 'It is said by the sages, who see the truth, that Vitarana is a gift, and this is called Vaitaraṇî because it is crossed over by that.

'If you have made the gift of a cow, then the boat will come to you, otherwise not.' Having heard their words, 'Oh heavens,' he exclaims.

68. Seeing him it seethes, seeing which he cries loudly. The sinful soul who has made no gifts verily sinks in that.

69. Having fixed a skewer through his lips, the messengers, floating in the air, carry him across like a fish upon a hook.

70. Having then eaten the rice-balls of the sixth month, he passes on. He goes on the way lamenting, very greatly afflicted with the desire to eat.

71. At the approach of the seventh month he goes to the city of Bahwâpada. There he enjoys what is given by his sons in the seventh month.

72. Having passed beyond that city, he arrives at the city of Duhkhada. Travelling in the air he suffers great misery, O Ruler of Birds.

73. Having eaten the rice-balls which are given in the eighth month he moves on. At the end of the ninth month he goes to the city of Nânâkranda.

74. Having seen many people crying in agony in various ways, and being himself faint of heart, he cries in great misery.

p. 19

75. Having left that city, the departed, threatened by the servants of Yama, goes, with difficulty, in the tenth month, to Sutaptabhavana.

76. Though he there obtains the rice-ball gifts and water, he is not happy At the completion of the eleventh month he goes to the city of Raudra.

77. There he enjoys what is offered in the eleventh month by his sons and others, and half after the eleventh month he reaches Payovarṣaṇa.

78. There clouds team, giving misery to the departed, and them, he, in misery, obtains the Śrâddha before the annual one.

70. At the end of the year he goes to the city of Śîtâḍhya, where cold a hundred times greater than that of the Himâlaya afflicts him.

80. Hungry and pierced with cold, he looks about in the ten directions. 'Does there remain any relative who will remove my misery?'

81. There the servants ask: 'What sort of merit have you?' Having eaten the annual rice-balls he plucks up courage again.

82. At the end of the year, coming nearer to the abode of Yama, having reached the city of Bahubhîti, he casts off the body the measure of a hand.

83. The spirit the size of a thumb, to work out its karma, getting a body of torment, sets out through the air with the servants of Yama.

p. 20

84. Those who do not offer gifts for the dweller in the upper body, O Kâśyapa, thus go, painfully bound in tight bonds.

85. Into the city of the King of Justice there are four gateways, O Bird, of which the way of the southern gate has been declared to you.

86. How they go on this most dreadful path, afflicted with hunger, thirst and exhaustion, has been told. What else do you wish to hear?

Next: Chapter III. An Account of the Torments of Yama

Suggestions for Further Reading


14:1 The Ganges.

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.

Translate the Page