Discussion between Bhima and Yudhishthira on Preta ||22||

1-2Garuda said: -How do these ghosts come into being? How are they redeemed from Preta-hood? What are their features. What is their diet, O lord? How are the ghosts propitiate? O lord of deities, where do they stay? Please favour me, O lord, with an answer to this queries.
3Sri Bhagavan said: -It is the men of sinful actions actuated by their previous misdeeds who become ghosts after death. Please listen to me, I shall tell you in detail.
4-5He who desecrates wells, tanks, lakes, parks, temples, water sheds, groves of trees, alms-houses etc., and misdirects any one in religious rites for monetary gain is a sinner. After death he becomes a ghost and remains as such till the final deluge.
6Out of greed if people upset the boundaries of villages and destroy pasture lands, tanks, parks, underground drainage, etc., they become ghosts.
7Sinful persons meet with death at the hands of Candalas, infuriated Brahmins, serpents, animals with curved teeth or in watery graves or struck by lightning.
8-9Those who meet with foul death such as committing suicide by hanging from a tree, by poison or weapon, those who die of cholera, those who are burnt to death alive, those who die of foul and loath-some diseases or at the hands of robbers, those who are not cremated duly after death, those who do not follow · sacred rites and conduct.
10Those who do not perform Vrishotsarga and monthly Pinda rites, those who allow Sudras to bring sacrificial grass, twigs and other articles of Homa.
11-13Those who fall from mountains and die, those who die when walls collapse, those who are denied by women in their menses, those who die in the firmament and those who are forgetful of Vishnu, those who continue to associate with persons defiled due to births or death, those who die of dog-biting or meet with death in a foul manner, become ghosts and roam over the earth.
14One who discards one’s mother, sister, wife, daughter or daughter-in-law without seeing any fault in them, obtains ghost hood surely.
15One who deceives his own brother, kills a Brahmana or a cow, drinks liquor, defiles the preceptor’s bed, steals gold and silk-garments, becomes a ghost, O bird.
16One who usurps a deposit, deceives a friend, enjoys other man’s wife, kills other’s faith, is cruel, definitely becomes a ghost.
17One who discards the family-customs, takes to other customs, is without knowledge and good character, definitely becomes a ghost.
18To illustrate this there is an anecdote narrated by Bhishma to Yudhishthira. O you of good rites, I shall narrate the same to you, on hearing which you may feel pleasure.
19Yudhishthira said: -O grandfather, please tell me what those evil deeds are as a result of which one becomes a ghost and what are the means of redemption from the same on hearing which I shall not be delude4 thus further.
20Bishma said: -I shall tell you entirely what those causes are whereby one turns a ghost and how he is set free after falling into a dismal hell impassable even to gods.
21I shall tell all those things, on hearing which a person is set free from ghost hood.
22O dear, there was a brahmin of rigorous sacred rites named Santaptaka. For practising penance, he went to a forest.
23He was a man of kind, compassionate nature. He used to perform Homas and yogic practices as well as great sacrifices. He used to spend time usefully engaged.
24He strictly observed celibacy. He was served penances. He was soft-hearted, truthful and pure. He was afraid of the other world.
25He strictly followed the instructions of his preceptor. He was delighted in serving guests. He observed yogic practices. He was free from Duandvas (like happiness and misery, heat and cold and such opposite pairs).
26Practising yoga incessantly to conquer mundane existence, he subjugated the sense organs. Following the path of good conduct, he eagerly desired salvation.
27He spent years in the secluded forest. Then the idea of visiting holy centres entered his mind.
28He thought within himself “I shall keep immersed my body in the waters of a holy river till I die.” Accordingly, he hastened to a holy centre where he took bath at sunrise. He performed the rites of Japa and Namashkara (obeisance) and started on journey.
29-31One day, this brahmin of great penance lost his way and reached a forest full of thorny shrubs, secluded and devoid of big trees. While he was hurrying up, he saw five terrible ghosts. On seeing these live awful ghosts of deformed features, he was terrified, and he closed his eyes in, sheer fright. Then, he cast off his fear and become bold enough to ask in sweet words “O sires, how is it that you are so deformed?”
32What was the sin committed by you? Wherefore have you attained this deformity? Where are you proceeding in company?
33Pretaraja said: -O excellent brahmin, our ghost hood is the outcome of our own misdeeds. We had been engaged in harassing others. Hence, we became victims of foul death.
34In this state of our ghost hood we are oppressed with hunger and thirst. We are unable to speak. We have lost our mental equilibrium. We have lost consciousness too.
35We are Pisacas born of our own misdeeds. We do not know the difference between one quarter and another. We are extremely distressed. We do not know where we go.
36We have neither fathers nor mothers. This ghost hood is due to our own misdeeds; We are extremely dejected and sorrowful because the attack is al to sudden.
37O Brahmin, we are delighted on seeing you. We feel refreshed- Please wait a little. I shall narrate everything from the very beginning.
38My name is Paryyushita. This ghost is known as Sucimukha. The other one is Sighraga and the others are Rohita and Lekhaka. These are our names and we are ghosts.
39How can ghosts, the outcome of evil actions, have names? You may have some purpose in view in having these names. Please tell me.
40Pretaraja said: -O excellent brahmin. While I myself took all sweet things, I left stale things for Brahmins to eat.
41While I was on earth as a man, I showed the hungry Brahmins the exit door. Hence, my name is Paryyusita.
42O excellent Brahmin, whenever a Brahmin begged him for food, out of hunger, this ghost used to run away, hence, he is called Sighraga.
43This other one irritated many Brahmins with sharp tongue when they came to him for food, hence he is called Sucimukha.
44In his life on earth, this ghost ate sumptuously, in isolation, the foodstuffs offered to gods and manes in the absence of Brahmins. Hence, he is known as Rohaka.
45Whenever a needy person requested him for something, this ghost pretended to be silent and went on scratching on the ground. As a result of this he is known as Lekhaka.
46-47Thus acquiring our ghost hood and names from our misdeeds we have got ourselves deformed too. This Lekhaka is goat-mouthed; Rohaka is mountain-faced; Sighraga is cow-faced; Sucimukha is needle-mouthed; I Parryusita; am crane-necked.
48-49Taking this illusory form, we wander over this wide region. We suffer from terrible distress. O Brahmin, you can judge from our deformed faces with protruding lips and twisted shape. Our teeth are long, our bodies huge, our faces crooked, due to our misdeeds. Thus, I have told you how we turned ghosts.
50We have become somewhat wise on seeing you. If you wish to hear more, you can ask us further whatever you like to know.
51Brahmana said: -The creatures on this earth subsist on food, I wish to know precisely what you all eat for. your subsistence.
52Preta said: -If you are inclined to hear what we eat, O noble sir, listen attentively.
53Brahmana said: -O king of ghosts, please tell me what you eat. Thus, requested the ghosts began to explain their diet respectively.
54Preta said: -O Brahmin, our diet is extremely loathsome, despised by all living beings. On hearing it from us you are sure to hate us. It is so despicable.
55Mucous, secretions, feces and urine together with other exudations, filth as well as leavings of food constitute our diet.
56We eat; drink and revel in the house where people do not pay attention to cleanliness and where they scatter litter carelessly. We haunt unclean beings as well.
57We reside and enjoy in the house where there is no purity and where people do not observe truthfulness and restraint and where outcastes, robbers, etc., join together and take meals.
58We take delight in haunting the house where no mantras are recited, where no oblation is offered, where no horns is performed and where people do not read the Vedas regularly nor perform religious rites.
59We hover round the house where gods are not honoured, where the householder is a vile wretch, without shame and decency and where the poor husband is controlled by his sturdy wife.
60We enjoy gaiety in the house where covetousness, fury, somnolence, sorrow, fear, haughtiness, lethargy, quarrels and deception reign supreme.
61We lick up the urine mixed with semen from the vaginal passage of the widow having illicit intercourse with her paramour.
62Dear friend, I am ashamed to tell you about the food we take. O pious Brahm.in, we lick up the menstrual blood from the generative organ of a woman.
63O noble Brahmin, preferring penance to riches, and engaged in performing the sacred rites, I ask you, out of frustration. Please tell me the means of warding off ghost hood. It is better to die a hundred times than turn a ghost.
64Brahmana said: -A person who is assiduously engaged in fasts such as Kricchra, Candrayana is never born as a ghost.
65He who observes fast, keeps awake at night and is purified by meritorious deeds is never born as a ghost.
66He who performs Asvamedha and other sacrifices, makes liberal gifts and builds monasteries, parks, drinking watersheds and cow-pens is never born as a ghost.
67He who helps brahmins to give their virgin daughters in marriage, according to his capacity, he who enables students to study, and he who accords shelter and refuge to the needy is never born as a ghost.
68If a man takes food offered by a fallen man and dies with that food undigested in his -stomach, he is supposed to have courted a foul death and hence, he becomes a ghost.
69If a priest officiates at the sacrifice of an unworthy person and neglects that of a worthy sacrificer, if a man lives in the company of despicable people, he becomes a ghost.
70He who associates with drunkards or indulges in intercourse with a woman addicted to wine or eats meat unconsciously becomes a ghost.
71He who misappropriates a brahmin’s s wealth, or the property of the temple or that, of his preceptor and he who takes money from his son-in-law before giving his daughter in marriage becomes a ghost.
72He who forsakes his innocent and guiltless mother sister, wife, daughter or daughter-in-law becomes a ghost.
73All these are sure to be bore as ghosts a man misappropriating a trust property, a man treacherous to his friend, a man fond of another man’s wife, a faithless man and a deceptive wretch.
74A man hating his brother, a murderer of a Brahmin, a slayer of a cow, a wine addict, a denier of the preceptor’s bed, one who casts off customary rites, or one who is fond of telling lies, a stealer of gold or one who takes possession of plots of land illegally all these are born as ghosts.
75Bhishma said: -When the Brahmin spoke thus, the beating of drums was heard in the sky. The gods showered flowers over the Brahmin.
76Five celestial chariots arrived there and took the ghosts away, the ghosts having taken leave of the saintly Brahmin.
77The ghosts were relieved of their sins after the pious speech of that Brahmin. They all achieved the highest region (Vaikunta).
78On hearing this anecdote, the lord of birds quaked like the Asvattha tree. He asked the lord again, for the benefit of human beings.