Garuda Purana, Chapter 6


Translated by Ernest Wood and S.V. Subrahmanyam

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The Miseries of Birth of the Sinful.

1. Garuḍa said:--Tell me, O Keśava, how he who returns from hells is formed in the womb of the mother, and what miseries he suffers in the embryonic condition.

2. Viṣṇu said: I will tell you how the mortal is born when the male and female elements are bound together by the union of man and woman.

3. In the middle of the menstruation period, in the three days on which Indra incurs the sin of Brâmicide, the body of the sinful begins to form.

4. The mother of one returning from hell is regarded on the first day as an outcaste woman, on the second as the murderer of a Brâhmiṇ, and on the third as a washerwoman.

5. The creature, in obtaining a body, according to karma, the divine eye, enters the womb of a woman, which is the receptacle of a man's seed.

6. In one night it becomes a lump; by the fifth night round; by the tenth day like the fruit of the jujube tree, 1 and after that an egg of flesh.

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7-8. By the first month the head, by the second the arms and other parts of the body are formed; by the third occurs the formation of nails, hair, bones, skin, linga and other cavities;

By the fourth the seven bodily fluids; by the fifth hunger and thirst arise; by the sixth, enveloped by the chorion, it moves to the left of the womb.

9. The bodily substances are formed of the foods and liquids of the mother, and the creature at the time of birth lies in the disgusting hollow of the loins, amid fœces and urine.

10. All its limbs bitten constantly by hungry worms, it swoons away repeatedly through excessive pain, as they are very tender.

11. Thus enveloped by the womb and bound outside by the sinews, it feels pain all over its body, caused by the mother's eating many things--pungent, bitter, hot, salt, sour and acid.

12. With its head placed in its belly and its back and neck curved, it is unable to move its limbs,--like a parrot in a cage.

13. There he remembers, by divine power, the Karma generated in hundreds of previous births,--and remembering, sobs for a long time, obtaining not the least happiness.

14. Having this insight he, with hands put together, bound in seven bonds, imploring and trembling, adores in plaintive tones Him who placed him in the womb.

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15. From the beginning of the seventh month, though he gains consciousness, he who is in the womb trembles and moves about because of the parturition winds, like a uterine worm.

16-23. The creature says, "I seek refuge in Viṣṇu; the husband of Śrî, the supporter of the universe, the destroyer of evil, who is compassionate to those who come for shelter.

"I am bewildered by Thy magic, as regards body and son and wife; misled by my egoism I am transmigrating, O Lord.

"I did good and evil actions for the sake of my dependents, and as s result I am tormented, while they who enjoy the fruits escape.

"If I am released from this womb I will lay myself at Thy feet, and I will take the means by which I may obtain liberation.

"Fallen into a well of fœces and urine, I am burnt by the fire of the belly, and anxious to escape from it. When shall I get out?

"In Him alone, who has given me this experience, and is compassionate to the afflicted, will I seek refuge. Let not this transmigration occur to me again.

"But no, I wish never to come out of the womb, where misery results from my sinful actions.

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"Because remaining even here in great misery, bearing the fatigue, resorting to Thy feet I will keep myself aloof from the worlds of change."

24. The Blessed Lord said: He who has thus considered, and has been ten months in the womb, endowed with insight, while praying, suddenly is cast out head downwards into birth, by the winds of delivery.

25. Cast out forcibly, bending down his head, he comes out with anxiety and painfully breathless and with memory destroyed.

26. Having fallen on the ground he moves like a worm in excrement. He is become changed in condition, and cries loudly, deprived of knowledge.

27. If the state of mind which arises in the womb, during illness, on the cremation ground, or upon hearing the Purâṇas were permanent--who would not be liberated from bondage!

28. When he comes out of the womb, after experiencing his karma, then verily the man is bewildered by the magic of Viṣṇu.

29. Then, when he is touched by that magic, powerless, he is unable to speak. He experiences the miseries of infancy and childhood arising from dependence.

30. He is nourished by people who do not understand his wishes, unable to ward off what is thrust upon him against his desire.

31. Lain upon a bed unclean and befouled by perspiration, he is unable to scratch his limbs, to sit, rise or move.

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32. Mosquitoes, gnats, bugs and other flies bite him, skinless and weeping and deprived of understanding, just as insects bite little worms.

33. In this wise having experienced the miseries of infancy and of childhood, he reaches youth and acquires evil tendencies.

34. Then he begins evil brooding, mingling in the company of the wicked; he hates the scriptures and good men, and becomes lustful.

35. Seeing a seductive woman, his senses captivated by her blandishments, infatuated he falls into great darkness, like a moth into a flame.

36. The deer, the elephant, the bird, the bee and the fish: these five are led to destruction by one of the senses; how then shall the infatuated one not be destroyed, when he enjoys the five kinds of objects by five senses.

37. He longs for the unobtainable, and on account of ignorance becomes angry and sorry, and his pride and anger increase with the growth of his body.

38. The lover makes quarrels with rivals, to his own ruin and is destroyed by those stronger than himself, as one elephant by another.

39. Who is more sinful than the fool who, attached to sense-objects, spends in vain the human birth which was difficult to obtain.

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40: After hundreds of lives one obtains human birth on earth; and even more difficult to obtain is that as a twice-born: and who then only provides for and pampers the senses, through foolishness lets slip the nectar from his hand.

41. Then, having arrived at old age, he is troubled with great diseases; and, death having come, he goes to a miserable hell, as before.

42. Thus held fast in the ever-circling noose of karma, the sinful, bewildered by my magic, are never released.

43. Thus I have related to you, O Târkṣya, how the sinful, deprived of the sacrifices for the dead, go in hell. What else do you wish to hear?

Next: Chapter VII. Babhruvâhana's Sacrament for the Departed One

Suggestions for Further Reading


46:1 That is, hard.

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.

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