The present English translation by M.N. Dutt was written and published hundred years before. Shri M.N. Dutt translated into English many Puranas and the Garuda Purana was one of them. It was first published in the year 1908. Then it was re-printed. Now the book is publishing its English translation with Sanskrit text. It is a medium size Purana consisting eight thousand verses. According to M. N. Dutta the book comprises three Samhitas viz. the Agastya Samhita, the Brihaspati Samhita (Nitisara) and the Dhanvantari Samhita. Each one of those Samhitas would give it a permanent value and accord to it an undying fame among the works of practical ethics or applied medicine. The Agastya Samhita deals with the formation, crystallization and distisestive. Traits of the different precious gems and enumerates the names of the countries from which our fore-fathers used to collect these gems. The cutting, polis lung, setting and apprecising etc. of several kind of gems and diamond, as they were practiced in ancient India, cannot but be interesting to artists and lay men, and the scientific traders unbudded in the highly poetic accounts of these original gems.
It will be welcomed even by the present day mineralogists. In these days of oriental research, it is quite within the possibilities of every ardent enquiries to make himself acquainted with the terms and technicalities of the science of our Rishis, and we are confident that any labour he may bestow op the subject in-connection with the Agastya Samhitas will be richly remunerated.
In his translation of Garuda Purana. M.N. Dutt has abandoned the Preta Khanda of the Purana which has been appended. It is a later addition to the Purana. He says Garuda-Purana’ is one of the scriptured Puranas of Vaishnavism, and the Preta Khanda which we find in variously appended to the Purana in many of the manuscripts does not reflect the necessity of subsequently adding to it a Treatise on funeral rites or on punishment and reward after death. It is only to enhance the utility of the work as a book of reference in everyday life. It requests nothing more than an average intellect to detect that the part under reference (Preta-Khanda) is manifestly an interpolation, in as much as the subject had already dealt with in the chapters on. Thus the insertion of a more detailed and elaborate dissertation on the subject under style of Preta-Khanda, is an unnecessary repetition, which is bad in reason and rhetoric.
A few preliminary remarks on the history, scope and contents of the Garuda Puranam may be necessary. The Garuda Puranam may be safely described similar work to the Agni Puranam. Each of them treats of Para Vidya and Apara Vidya secular knowledge and metaphysical truths, and partakes more of the nature of a catechism of the then prevailing Brahmanism, or of what a Brahmana was required to know at the time, than of the Puranam proper, at least if we may be admitted to look upon the Ramayana or the Mahabharatam as the model of that class of literature. Superficially conforming to the Rules of Panca Sandhis, etc., the Garuda Puranam, like its sister work. reflects but the knowledge of the Brahmanical world at the time, and had it used then as it have even now.
Cakrapani Dutta has quoted many a recipe from it, and the Vishnu Dharmottaram, according to several eminent authorities, originally formed a portion of the Garuda Puranam. All these factors emphatically demonstrate the fact that, the Garuda Puranam, was in existence even prior the tenth century of the Christian Era. On the contrary, we have reasons to believe that, hosts of Puranas and Upapuranas were composed in the age of Brahmanic renascence, which immediately followed the overthrow of Buddhism in India. The Garuda Puranam, like the Agni, Siva, Padma, and other Puranas were the exponents of the victorious Brahmanism tried to tutelary deity of each sect with the attributes of supreme divinity or Brahman and to equip its members with a complete code of rituals, law and other necessary information regarding the incidents of everyday life, subservient to, and in conformity with the Vedic literature. Thus each Puranam is the scripture of each sect of special, tutelary divinities, became a new school of law, medicine and metaphysics, etc., re-instating the old errors of the Vedic literature, as if to ignore the many advanced truths and principles of the later day Buddhistic science, and to confirm the victory of Brahmanism.
It not only succeeded in its mission but also in completely revolutionizing and modernizing the Vedic religion. Inter Hindu religion is an offshoot of the Puranic religion. the path of devotion and Lordship propounded in the Vedas and the Upanishads as against the path of ritualistic exercises, was followed more vigorously in the Puranas. Thus, the Puranas freed the religion from the hands of the chosen few and spilled over to masses who were unable to understand the complexities of the Vedic doctrines. In this way a socialistic approach is clearly visible in these ancient treatises, their prime concern was the common man and not the elite section of the society. These were devised as values of the liberal education for the masses, through the medium of interesting and beautiful stories, episodes and narrations, the Puranas presented the abstract subjects of the Vedas and the Upanishads so that the common man may be benefited by their study. Here the Puranas have been a great source of the inspiration to the mass mind especially of religious matters. For the orthodox Hindus, the Puranas are religious treatises of divine origin.
A noticeable change can be discerned in the Puranas in social rites and customs, religious traditions and moral ideals and manners from that of the Vedas and others. The Vedic hymns of creations, of praise, portraying incidents connected with some ancient kings, may be taken as the nucleus from which arose, the value of the Puranas can be minimized by calling their avowed theme, the presentation of the history of the Guptas up to the end of the 5th century A.O. The Puranas are a source of valuable information for the ancient period of Indian History. Prior to Bharata war, history can be reconstructed with the Data available from the Puranas.
The description of the incidents of the life of Buddha, however meagre and incidental it might be, and the occurrence of the name of Susruta in the medical portion of the Garuda Puranam leaves not the slightest doubt that its author was intimately acquainted with the Buddhistic literature of the age, both medical and Metaphysical. It is settled fact of history that the Susruta Samhita, at least the recension of the Sasruta Samithita by the Buddhist Nagarjuna, was written in the second century before the birth of Christ. Now, the Susruta Samhitas says that, the number of bones in the human body is three hundred. The Vishnu Smriti (Institutes of Vishnu) following the orthodox (Vedic) non-medical opinion on the subject gives it as three hundred and sixty-six.
We know that Nagarjuna and other Buddhistic Medical Acaryas so as to be fully convinced of the truth of their statement and attempted to make the Vedic number of skeletal bones as near to the truth as possible. This fact serves to throw a new light upon the date of the composition of the Garuda Puranam. It unmistakably points to a period of history when the victorious Brahmanism once more attempted to restore the teachings of the Vedas in their pristine glory, and the truths of the Buddhistic science or metaphysics were still too potent a factor to be ignored or lightly dismissed a fact which supports our contention and lends a plausible color to the view we have adopted as regards the probable date of the composition of the Garuda Puranam.
Smith has fully utilized the Puranic data for reconstructing the chronology of the Sunga, Nanda and Andhra dynasties. Above all Pargiter in his Ancient Indian Historical Traditions opened the treasure-house of Puranic traditions for the use of a student of ancient Indian History. There is no doubt that the Puranas embody the earliest traditional history and that much of their material is old and valuable. They give us material for critical study of such diverse subjects as religion and philosophy, folklore and ethnology, politics, and sociology. Takes collectively they may be described as popular encyclopedia of ancient and medieval Hinduism, religious, philosophical, historical, personal and political matters.
Shiva and Vishnu under one or other form are almost the sole objects that claim the homage of the Hindus in the Puranas departing from the domestic and elemental ritual of the Vedas and exhibiting a sectorial fervor and exclusiveness not traceable in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
The etymological explanation of the term Purana given by Yaska is that through which the old becomes new again. In a sense, Purana is old, but retains the spirit of newness by emphasizing the essential oneness of all men irrespective of their cast and creed, a sentiment which is modem in every age. The use of the term Purana in the sense of a religious book dates back to the days of Chandogya-Upanishad wherein Purana was declared to be the fifth Veda.
The Garuda Purana is a Vaishnava Purana and hence can be termed as Satvika Purana. It is enumerated in all the lists available in the Puranas, though these lists are not very ancient, yet they show the popularity of the Garuda, Purana in the Puranic literature. Also, the authors of Dharmasastric digests and philosophical works quote extensively from the Garuda Purana, thus it holds a unique place among the Puranas.
This Purana was told by Garuda it is discussed by the writers of Nibandhakaras. Indian mythology shows Garuda as the Vehicle of Vishnu. This Purana was recited by Vishnu to Garuda who in its tum narrated to Kasyapa, who passed it on to Vyasa and he taught to his disciple Suta. Suta recited this Purana to sages who assembled in Namisharainya in quest of knowledge. It describes the birth of Garuda from Vinata. The Agni Purana speaks of the Garuda Purana consisting 8000 verses, while according to die Matsya Purana and Narada Purana it comprised 18000 verses. Prof. Wilson believes that the Garuda Purana contains about seven thousand verses. It is quite possible to think that the original Garuda Purana, profusely referred to by the other Puranas, is lost to us and in course of time present Purana was compiled at a later date. It is more condensed than the Vishnu and the Bhagavata Puranas.
The vast nature of the subjects treated in this work, makes it an encyclopedia of Indian Ethics. It frequently deals with the topics of dharmasutra. (whole of the Achara Kanda). The description duties of different Varnas (ch. 93-106) given in this Purana is based on the description found in the chapters 168-172 are called (???) and seem to be borrowed from some earlier. Ayurvedic text.
Discourses between Suta and Saunaka and other Risis in the forest of Naimisha promises to narrate the Garuda Puranam. Sources of the Garuda Puranam-Vishnu asks Garuda to compose the Garuda Puranam. Suta describes the subjects dealt with in the Garuda Puranam. Order of Universal creation described by Narayana to Rudra. Creation of the Prajapatis, the progeny of Daksha described. Re-incarnation of Daksha in the form of Pracetas. Origin of the different races of men, the progeny of Kasyapa described. Description of the sun-worship as performed by the Self origined Manu. Description of the mode of worshipping Vishnu, the mode of spiritual initiation. The mode of worshipping the goddess Lakshmi, description of the Nava-Vyuha form of worship. Description of the order to be observed in the course of worship, is the prayer of Vishnu Panjaram.
A brief discourse on Yoga. Enumeration of one thousand epithets of Vishnu. Description of the mode of meditation on Vishnu as well as of the sun-worship. Description of another form of sun-worship. Mode of worshipping the death-conquering deity (Mrtyunjaya). The Garudi Vidya which is the cure for all kinds of snakebite. Mantra cure (curative formulas) of snakebite are narrated by Siva.
Mode of worshipping the Pancavaktra (five faced) manifestation of Siva. Description of another form of Siva worship. The worship of Ganapati. Sandal-worship or Paduka puja) described. The mode of performing the rites of Karanyasa (location of the energies of different divinities in the different limbs by a votary by dint of occult and psychic force). Rites for neutralizing the effects of snake venoms. The mode of worshipping the Gopala manifestation of Vishnu. Mantras to be used in connection with the worship of Sridhara manifestation of Vishnu. Elaborate description of the mode of worshipping the Sridhara manifestation of Vishnu.
Description of other forms of Vishnu worship. Adoration of the five fundamental principles of the universe. Worship of the divine discs (Sudarsanam). The mode of worshipping the Hayagriva manifestation of Vishnu. Mode of performing the rite of Gayatri Nyasa. Description of the glories of Gayatri. The mode of worshiping the deities, Durga, etc. Description of other form of Sun-worship. Mahesvara worship. Enumeration of diverse incantation, Mantras (Nama Vidya) are made.
Description of investing a phallic emblem with sacred thread (Siva-pavitrarohanam). Description of the rite of investing an image of Vishnu with the holy thread Vishnu-pavitrarohahanam) Contemplation of embodied and dis-embodied God. Characteristic marks of Salagrama Stones, Adoration of the deity presiding over homesteads (Vastu). Essential features of a divine temple or of a palace. Installations of divine images. Discourse on Yoga and acts of piety. Discourses on charities and gift makings, etc. Regulations of Prayascittas. Traits of conduct of men marked by the several kinds of Nidhis. Story of Priyavrata and incidental description of the Seven Islands of the precious are described.
Description of the sanctity of Gaya, and its early history. Description of different rites to be performed at different places at Gaya and their merits. Ablutions in the river Phalgu, merit of offerings of funeral cakes to Rudra. History of king Visala. Merit of offering funeral cakes at Pretasila in Gaya. Merit of performing Sraddhas at Preta Sila. Enumeration of the names of fourteen Manus and of the Devas and Saptarishis who flourished in the time of their sons. Annals of Ruci incidentally narrated in the discourse between Markandeya and Kraustika.
Ruci hymnises the Pitris, who in their tum grant him a boon. Marriage of Ruci and birth of Raucya Manu. Contemplation of Hari and its process. Laws of virtue as promulgated by the holy sage Yajnyavalkya. Initiation with the holy thread the study of the Vedas: Duties of householders. Origin of mixed castes-the five great Yajnas, Sandhyantes, duties of householders and members of different castes.
Gift making and Charity. Mode of performing Sraddhas. Exorcism of Vinayakas. Propitiation of malignant Planets. Duties of the order of forest-dwelling hermits. Duties of Yatis. Signs of sinful souls. Rites of atonement. Impurities. A synopsis of the Dharma Sastra by Parasara is given.
Synopsis of rules of conduct. Advice on thrift and economy in the Nitisara. Advice as the non rejectment of a certain good, etc. Commendable traits in kings, etc., (in the Nitisara). Commendable fraits in servants (in the Nitisara). Injunctions as to the appointments of the honest and the erudite in the King’s service, etc. Injunctions as to the distinction of friends and enemies (in the Nitisara). Counsels on forswearing bad wives, etc.
Enumeration of the names of Vratas (vows and penances) commenced. The Ananga Trayodasy Vratam. The Akhandya Dvadasi Vratam. The Rambha Trtiya Vratam. The Caturmasya Vratam, The Masopavasa Vratam Kartika Vratas. The Siva Ratri Vratam. The Ekadasi Vratam. Visvasena Puja Bhaimi Ekadasi and Dvadasi Various Vratas described. The Pratipada Vratas. The Sashthi Varatas, Marica Saptami Vratas are described.
Rohini Ashtami Vratas etc. The Sadgati Vratam, etc. Asokashtami Vratas etc. Mahakausika Mantra, The Vrranavami Vratas, etc. The Sravasta Dvadasi Vratam. The Damanaka Trayodasi, etc., are described. Genealogy of royal princes (solar race). Genealogy of the princes of the lunar race. Description of the race of Puru. Descriptions of kings who came after Janamejaya. Incarnations of Vishnu and the glory of nuptial fidelity described. The Ramayanam description of the Harivarilsa is there.
Description of the Nidanam of all the diseases. The Nidanam of Fever. The Nidanam of Raktapittam (Hemorrhage). The Nidanam of Cough. The Nidanam of Hiccough. The Nidanam of pulmonary consumption. The Nidanam of A version of food. The Nidanam of heart disease. The Nidanam of diseases resulting from the excess or abuse of wine. The Nidanam of Hemorrhoids. The Nidanam of Dysentery. The Nid,anam of Stangury, etc. The Nidanam of diseases of the Urinary organs (Pramehas). The Nidanam of abscesses, etc. The Nidanam of Chlorosis. The Nidanam of Erysipelas. The Nidanam of cutaneous affections (Kushthas). The Nidanam of bodily parasites. The Nidanam of diseases of the nervous system. The Nidanam of Vata-Raktam are discussed in detail.
The Nidanam of Mukharoga. The Nidanam of diseases of the ears. The Nidanam of diseases of the nose. The Nidanam of diseases of the eyes. The Nidanam of diseases of the head. The Nidanam of diseases of the female reproductive organs. The Nidanam of difficult labour. The Nidanam of diseases peculiar to parturient women. The Nidanam of disages peculiar to infant life. The Nidanam of syphilis. The Nidanam of variola. The Nidanam of minor affections. The Nidanam of fistula in ano, etc. The Niddnam of poisons, The Nidanam of goiter, scrofula and glandular swellings. The Nidanam of vomiting.
The Nidanam of Urtkaria, The Nidanam of Sula, neuralgic pain etc. The Nidanatn of aphonia. The Nidanam of Udavarta. The Nidanam of traumatic ulcers etc. The Nidanatn of Sarira Varunas (idiopathic ulcers), The Nidanam of fractures. Medicinal recipes of infallible efficacies. Medical treatment of fever, etc. Medical treatment of Sinus etc. Medical treatment of female complaints. Therapeutic properties of drugs. Preparations of medicinal oil and Ghritas, Various medicinal compounds disclosed by Hari to Hara Variaus other medicinal Recipe. The same continued, Various other Recipes. Medical treatment of cuts, wound, scalds, burns, etc, Other Medicinal Recipes. Medical treatment of snake bite, etc., are discussed in detail.
Various Recipes, Medical treatment of the diseases of cows, etc. Various Recipes for the cure of sterility, virile impotency, etc. Various Recipes of fumigation compounds, etc. The prophylactic charm of Vaishnava Kavacam, The Sarvarthada Mantra. The Vishnu Dharma Vidyia, The Garuda Vidya, The Tripura Vidyia. The Cundamani, The Pavana Vijaya, Medical treatment, of the disease, of horses. Different names of the Ayurvedic Drugs, Rule of Grammar. Duties of Brahmanas, etc.
A synopsis of practical pietas. Expiatory Penances. Dissolution of the Universe, Nauruttika Pralaya, etc. The Wheel of Existence (Sarilsara Cakra). The made of Practising the Great Yoga. Vishnu Bhakti. The contemplation of Vishnu. The excellence of Faith. Traits of a true Vaishnava. The hymn to Nrsirhha. The Jnamrita-Stotram. The hymn to Vishnu composed by the holy Markandeya. The hymn to Acyuta. The knowledge of Brahma. The knowledge of Self. Synopsis of the Gita. The eight essentials, of Yoga, etc. the merit that may be acquired by hearing the narration of the Garuda Puranam etc.
In the first Chapter we learn that, the Puranam consists of eight thousand and eight hundred verses, and the subjects dealt with therein are creation of the universe, Pujas, Holy pools and shrines, Cosmogony and Geography, Ages of Manus, Duties of different social orders, Gift-making, Duties of kings, etc., Laws, Vratas, Royal dynasties, Vedangas, Pralaya, Laws of Virtue, desire and money, and Knowledge (of Brahman and external things): These then were the main themes that were originally dealt with in the Garuda Puranam, and we may say that this was so in the light of the principle of Adhyaya Sampravibhuga (classification of chapters) which forms one of the cardinal rules in forming the plan of a Sanskrit work. We regret to say, that, many things, having no legitimate connection with the main themes of this Puranam, nor having a direct bearing thereon have been added to it, and a large mass of original matter has been expunged from it so as to bring it within the compass of the eight thousand and eight hundred Slokas, as laid down in the introductory chapter. Thus we see that the Preta Khanda or Vishnu-Dharmottara was added to it by way of an appendix, and the reason of these successive accretions to the text can be easily understood if we consider that, the Garuda Puranam, like the Agni, etc., although originally a compendium of the available Brahmanical knowledge and rituals, pursued and followed by the Vaishnava section of the community, came to gather in many tributaries from the other branches of Brahmanic Thought and religion, as the distinction between the sects of Vishnu and other sects of Siva and Sakti etc., came to be less marked and pronounced and the points of difference of antagonism between them were more rounded off. Thu’s we see many Tantrik rites and Mantras such as, the Tripura Vidya Nityaklinna Vidya were introduced into the Garuda Puranam.
The question is natural enough, if the work is nothing but a compendium of Bramanic rituals and mysteries, what is the profit of disinterring it from beneath the oblivion which it so unqualifiedly deserves. Our answer is that, in addition to the many mystic rites and practices, which legitimately fall within the range of studies in spiritualism, the Garuda Puranam contains three Samhitas, viz., the Agastya Samhita, the Brihaspati Samhita (Nitisara), and the Dhanvantari Samhita; any one of which would give it a permanent value, and accord to it an undying fame among the works of practical Ethics or applied medicine. The Agastya Samhita deals with the formation, crystallization and distinctive traits of the different precious gems, and enumerates the names of the countries from which our forefathers used to collect those minerals. The cutting, polishing, setting, and appraising, etc., of the several kinds of gems and diamond, as they were practised in ancient India, can not but be interesting to artists and lay men alike, and the scientific truths, embedded in the highly accounts of their origin and formation, shall we doubt not, be welcomed even by the present day mineralogists, if they only care to look the trough the veil and to see them in their pure and native nudity. In these days of oriental research, it is quite within the possibilities of every ardent enquirer to make himself acquainted with the terms and technicalities of the science of our Rishis, and we are confident that any labour he may bestow on the subject in connection with the Agastya Samhita will be remunerated hundred-fold. The next Samhita in the Garuda Puranam is the Brihaspati Samhita, commonly known as the Nitisara, in which we find observations on practical conduct and a knowledge of human nature. The Samhita gains one or two points more, not to speak of its excellent poetry and harmony. In the A etiological portion of the Dhanvantari Samhita, one is astonished to find that in “certain types of fever the blood undergoes a sort of chemical change which produces the morbific factors of the disease, that in hemoptysis the blood comes from the spleen, liver or the blood-vessels, that there is a kind of parasites that produces leprosy, and cutaneous affections in general, facts which, it was but yesterday, that the science of the west have gained access to the therapeutically portion of the Samhita contains many excellent remedies which cannot but benefit man in the art of living long, healthy life. It is almost impossible for us to give within such a small compass even the faintest glimpse of the splendid truths that lid scattered through the pages of this noble Puranam; enough if we conclude our remark with the saying that, it broadens the vision of a man into regions where systems and worlds are but bubbles and atoms, and enables him to consolidate his amity with those profound realities, which encompass being and becoming” in every plane of existence, or at least helps him to lift up the veil of the Nature’s workshop and to catch a view, however slight and momentary, of the nature and essence of things.