HOW GARUDA PURAN WAS PROPAGATED
Queried by the sages on his knowledge of the contents of the Garuda Puran, Sutji told them--“Once, I had gone to Badrikashram, where I met sage Vyas. I requested him to enlighten me on various spiritual matters to which he agreed saying that he was going to narrate the tales of Garuda Purana which was first told by Lord Brahma to Narad, Daksha Prajapati and myself. Sage Vyas then told Sutji how once he along with Narad, Daksha and Bhrigu had gone to Brahmaloka to see Lord Brahma. After reaching there, all three of them requested Lord Brahma to shed light on the essence of real knowledge.

Lord Brahma revealed to them that the Garuda Puran contained the essence of all the scriptures and Lord Vishnu himself had narrated its divine tales to him (Brahma). Describing the incident when Lord Vishnu had told the divine tales of Garuda Puran to him as well as Shiva, Lord Brahma said—“I once went to Kailash mountain accompanied by Indra and other deities. We found Shiva engrossed in his meditation. We were amazed and asked him who was he meditating upon.

Lord Shiva told us that he was meditating upon the omnipresent, omniscient and the omnipotent Vishnu- in whom the entire universe exists. Lord Shiva also revealed to us that this was all he knew of Vishnu's power and also that if we wanted to know more about him, we will have to ask Lord Vishnu himself. So, all of us including Shiva went to Vishnu loka and requested Lord Vishnu to clear our doubts on various topics which confused us. Lord Vishnu gave a long discourse covering all major religious topics.

LORD VISHNU REVEALS HIS OMNIPOTENT NATURE

Dwelling at length on his power, Lord Vishnu told Shiva-- ' O Rudra! I am the lord of all the deities. I am the one who controls every event that occurs in the Universe. I am the one whom mortals worship with the desire of attaining salvation. The universe would have ceased to exist but for me. I am the creator, the nurturer as well as the supreme annihilator. I manifest myself in the sacred mantras as well as their meanings. People meditate on me. Matter is nothing but a medium through which I manifest myself.'

LORD VISHNU BLESSES GARUDA

In his description of how Garuda pleased him with his deep devotion, Lord Vishnu said-- 'During ancient times, Garuda once performed an austere penance to please me. I appeared before him and expressed my willingness to fulfill anything he desired. Garuda wanted to liberate his mother, Vinta from the slavery of Kadru-the mother of serpents. He also wanted to avenge his mother's humiliation at their hands. He expressed his desire of becoming immortal by having a Purana credited to his name and finally he requested me to give him the privilege of becoming my mount. I blessed Garuda as the result of which all his wishes were fulfilled. Once, on being requested by sage Kashyap, Garuda narrated the divine tales of Garuda Puran to him. Sage Kashyap had once brought back a dead tree back to life with the help of Garudi Vidya- a sacred mantra found in Garuda Puran. Similarly, Garuda too had brought numerous dead creatures back to life with the help of same mantra.'

THE BEGINNING OF CREATION

Lord Shiva requested Vishnu to shed light on different topics like Sarga (world), Pratisarga, Vansh (dynasties), Manvantar (fourteenth part of Brahma's day) and Vanshanucharit (genealogy). Lord Vishnu replied--' O Rudra! Lord Vasudeva in his incarnation of Nara-Narayan performs his responsibilities as creator, protector as well as the annihilator. Each perceptible and imperceptible particle in this universe is nothing but the medium through which the Almighty makes his presence felt. In the beginning of  creation, on account of HIS wil,l subtle matter of nature (imperceptible) came into being. HE is the one to whom 'Atma' or 'Purush' owe its existence. Subsequently, intelligence or 'Buddhi' manifested itself from the subtle matter of nature, mind or 'Mun' from intelligence, space or 'Aakash' from mind, air or 'Vayu' from Space, Fire or 'Teja' from air, water from 'Teja' and finally the earth manifested itself from water.'

' O Rudra! Then an enormous sized egg came into existence. I dwell within that egg and so do all the other deities. In fact, the whole universe is situated within that egg. The almighty Vishnu creates in the form of Brahma, nurtures in the form of Vishnu and annihilates in the form of Shiva at the end of each kalpa. The creations of the almighty are known as 'Sargas'. First of all, the almighty creates the Mahat tatva, which symbolizes his gross quality.

Since it was his first creation, it was called the first Sarga. The second Sarga consisted of the creation of the Panch-Tanmatras or the five basic elements- Earth (Prithvi), Water(Jala), Fire(Teja), Air(Vayu) and Sound(Shabda). These five basic elements are the elements from which matter is made. The third Sarga namely Vaikarik sarga comprising the creation of all the sense organs and the organs of actions, is basically intelligence oriented, because the sense organs can not function without intelligence. All these above mentioned three sargas come under the category of Prakrit sarga or natural creation.' ' The fourth sarga is known as Mukhya sarga or the main creation, and consisted of immovable things like mountains, trees, etc. The fifth Sarga is known as Tiryak sarga and consisted of animals and birds. The sixth sarga comprised the creation of deities and other celestial beings and hence it is also known as Deva sarga. The seventh sarga comprised the creation of human beings and hence it was called Maanush sarga. The eighth sarga, which is also called Anugrah sarga, consisted of creations that are both 'satvik' (pure) and 'tamasik'(dark) in nature. The ninth sarga is called Kaumar sarga.'

' Lord Brahma commenced his creation of supreme entities by expressing his will resulting into the manifestation of all the ten Manasputras. Subsequently, Lord Brahma created other entities like deities (deva), demons (danav), ancestors (pitra) and human-beings (manushya). He then created the Ashuras from his thighs and subsequently abandoned his body. The dark qualities emanating from the body resulted in the creation of night, a creation that immensely pleased the demons.'

' Lord Brahma then attained a new physical form, which was pure (satvik) in nature. He created the deities from his mouth and once again abandoned his body resulting in the creation of day. All the deities became extremely pleased by this particular creation of Brahma. Once again Lord Brahma attained another form and created the 'pitras' and when he abandoned that body, 'sandhya' (evening) manifested from it.'

'Lord Brahma then attained a form that was 'Rajomaya' in nature and created human beings. His abandoning that particular form resulted into the creation of 'Pratahkaal'(dawn). Subsequently, Lord Brahma created different species like 'yaksha', 'sarpa', 'Gandharva' and 'Apsaras' and many more creatures from the different parts of his body. All the four Vedas namely Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharvaveda manifested themselves from each of Brahma's four mouths. Similarly, all the four castes such as Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra manifested from Brahma's mouth, arms, thighs and feet respectively.'

THE BEGINNING OF COPULATIVE CREATION

'Having created Daksha Prajapati and his wife Prasuti from his right and left thumb respectively, Lord Brahma instructed both of them to make their contribution to increasing the population with the help of copulative creation. In time, Daksha Prajapati begot numerous daughters all of whom were given in marriage to the ten Manasputras.'

'Once, Daksha Prajapati had organized a grand Ashwamedha Yagya to which he had invited all his daughters and sons-in-law except Sati and Rudra. Sati eventually reached her father's place much against the advice of Shiva, who was strictly against going to a place uninvited. Shiva's apprehensions were not unfounded, as Sati was indeed humiliated by Daksha in front of all the esteemed guests. Sati was so deeply hurt by her father's rude behaviour and the manner in which he made fun of her husband that she gave up her life by jumping into the sacrificial fire. When Rudra learnt of Sati's death he cursed Daksha by saying that he would lose his divine status and would be born as a human being in the lineage of Dhruva. In her next birth, Sati was born as the daughter of Himalaya and Mainak. She was once again successful in getting Shiva as her husband by virtue of her deep devotion toward Shiva.'

THE DHRUVA DYNASTY

Lord Vishnu, continuing with the tales of Garuda Puran told Shiva-' Uttanpad had two wives-Suruchi and Suniti. From his former wife he begot a son named Uttam, while Suniti gave birth to Dhruva, who became immortal because of his unflinching devotion in me. Dhruva had a mighty son named 'Shlishta'. Prachinvarhi was Shlishta's son and Dhruva's grandson. A few other prominent personalities from Dhruva’s lineage were- Udardhi, Divanjaya, Ripu, Chakshush, Ruru, Anga, Ven etc. Ven was an atheist and was eventually killed by sages for his immoral deeds. Since Ven had no progeny, his death put a question mark on his successor. Sages tried to solve this problem by churning his thighs, which resulted in the emergence of Nishad. But, Nishad went to Vindhyachal to do penance. Seeing their whole effort go in vain, all the sages once again churned Ven's hands. This time Lord Vishnu himself incarnated as Prithu.'

' Prithu was an extremely kind hearted king and cared for his subjects. Once, when his kingdom was experiencing acute famine, he successfully extracted essential nutrients from the earth and thus saved his subjects from starvation. Prithu had ten sons prominent among whom were Antardhan, Havirdhan, Prachinvarhi and Praachetas. In time, Praachetas married Marisha.'

' Just according to the curse of Shiva, Daksha Prajapati was reborn in the clan of Dhruva. His father's name was Praachetas and his mother was Marisha. In the beginning, Daksha Prajapati tried to do creation by merely expressing his will but his efforts went futile because of Shiva's curse. So, he had no option but to take the help of copulative creation and to meet his objective he married Asikni- the daughter of Viran.

Over time he became the father of one thousand sons, all of whom perished while on their impossible mission of finding the circumference of the earth. Actually sage Narad had incited all of them to undertake this impossible mission. Daksha though angry did not lose heart and once again fathered one thousand sons. Yet again, Narad was successful in convincing them to emulate the deeds of their elder brothers. All of them set out on an impossible mission never to return. Now, Daksha's anger crossed all limits and he cursed Narad by saying that he would take birth as a human for inciting his sons' to death. This is the reason why Narad was born as Kashyap's son.'

' In the years to follow, Daksha Prajapati begot sixty beautiful daughters from Asikni among whom he gave away two daughters in marriage to sage Angira, two to sage Krishashva, ten to Dharma, fourteen to sage Kashyap and twenty-eight daughters to Chandrama. The names of Krishashva's wives were Supragya and Jaya while Dharma's wives were Arundhati, Vasu, Yami, Lamba, Bhanumati, Marutvati, Sankalpa, Muhurta, Saadhya and Vishva. The names of Kashyap's wives were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Kala, Anayu, Sinhika, Muni, Kadru, Saadhya, Ira, Krodha, Vinta, Surabhi and Khaga.'

Dharma's wives Vishva and Saadhya gave birth to the Vishvedevas and Saadhyaganas respectively. Similarly, Marutvati gave birth to Marutvaans and Vasu to Vasuganas. Dharma's wife named Bhanu gave birth to twelve Bhanus while Muhurta gave birth to Muhurtaganas. Lamba gave birth to Ghosh while Yami gave birth to Naagvithi. Sankalpa gave birth to Sankalpa.

Kashyap's wife Aditi gave birth to twelve Aadityas while Diti gave birth to two sons (demons)- Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. Diti also had a daughter named Sinhika, who was married to Viprachiti. Hiranyakashipu had four sons- Anuhlad, Hlad, Prahlad and Sanhlad. Aayushman, Shibi and Bashkal were the sons of Sanhlad. Prahlad had a mighty son named Virochan who himself had a son named Bali. Bali had one hundred sons in all and Baan was the eldest among them. Hiranyaksha had six sons all of whom were very brave and valiant. Their names were Utkur, Shakuni, Bhutsantapan, Mahanam, Mahabahu and Kaalnaam.

Danu had numerous sons who were all very brave-Dwimurdha, Shankar, Ayomukh, Shankushira, Kapil, Shambar, Ekachakra, Mahabahu, Tarak, Mahabal, Swarbhanu, Vrishaparva, Puloma, Mahasur and the mightiest among them-Viprachiti. Puloma and Kalka, both daughters of Vaishwanar were married to sage Kashyap. Kashyap had sixty thousand sons (demons) from both of them. Demons such as Nighat Kavach came from the lineage of Prahlad. Tamra had six daughters and their names were Shuki, Shyeni, Masi, Sugrivi, Shuchi and Gridhika. Shuki gave birth to numerous species of birds like Shuka (Parrot), Uluka (owls) and Kaak(crows). Similarly Shyeni gave birth to Shyen (hawks) and Gridhika to Gridh (vultures). Shuchi was the mother of aquatic birds while Sugrivi gave birth to various animals like, horses, camels, donkeys, etc.' Arun and Garuda were born to Vinta while Sursa and Kadru gave birth to serpents. Krodha gave birth to powerful Pishachas, Surabhi to cows and buffaloes, Era to various vegetation like, creepers and grass, Khaga to Yakshas and Rakshas, Muni to Apsaras and Arishta gave birth to Gandharvas. Diti gave birth to fourty-nine Marutganas, all of whom are in fact the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

POWERFUL MANTRA




 

 

NAVGRAH MANTRA

Describing the significance of worshipping Navgraha (nine planets), Lord Vishnu told Rudra --' One who worships the Navgraha with appropriate rituals attains all the four 'purusharth'(objectives of man's life)-dharma(religion), artha(money), kaam(sex) and moksha(salvation).' He then went on to give various mantras related with the Navgrahas, which a devotee should chant while worshipping them --

SURYA(SUN) -- OM SURYA MURTAYE NAMAH.
                            OM HRAM HRIM SAH SURYAY NAMAH.

CHANDRAMA(MOON)-- OM SOMAY NAMAH.

BHAUM(MARS)--OM BHAUMAY NAMAH.

BUDDH(MERCURY)--OM BUDDHAY NAMAH.

VRIHASPATI(JUPITER)--OM VRIHASPATAYE NAMAH.

SHUKRA(VENUS)--OM SHUKRAY NAMAH.

SHANI(SATURN)--OM SHANAISHCHARAY NAMAH.

RAHU(DRAGON'S HEAD)--OM RAHAVE NAMAH.

KETU(DRAGON'S TAIL)-- OM KETAVE NAMAH.

SHIVA MANTRA

There are various mantras used in the rituals of Shiva worship. A devotee should begin by worshipping the 'Aasan' (the pedestal) on which the deity is seated. There is a specific mantra for this particular ritual- OM HRAM SHIVAY NAMAH. Subsequently, a salutation to lord Shiva is made by chanting - OM SHIVA MURTAYE NAMAH. A special ritual named 'Shadanganyas' is then performed by chanting different mantras associated with the specific parts of the deities' body such as -

OM HRANG HRIDAYAY NAMAH,
OM HRING SHIRSE SWAHA,
OM HOONG SHIKHAYAI VASHAT,
OM HRAING KAVACHAY HOOM,
OM HRAUNG NETRA TRAYAY VAUSHAT,
OM HRANG ASTRAY PHAT.

Having accomplished the above mentioned rituals, a devotee should then worship each of the five faces of Shiva by chanting the following mantras -

OM HRANG SADDYOJATAY NAMAH
OM HRING VAAMDEVAY NAMAH,
OM HOONG AGHORAY NAMAH,
OM HRAING TATPURUSHAY NAMAH,
OM HRAUNG ISHANAY NAMAH.
VISHNU MANTRA

While worshipping Lord Vishnu, first of all a devotee should worship the 'Aasan' of the deity by chanting
- OM VASUDEVA AASANAY NAMAH.

He should then make salutations to Lord Vishnu by chanting the following mantras--
OM VASUDEVAY MURTAYE NAMAH,
OM AING OM NAMO BHAGAVATE VASUDEVAY NAMAH,
OM AANG OM NAMO BHAGAVATE SANKARSHANAY NAMAH,
OM AING OM NAMO BHAGAVATE PRADYUMNAY NAMAH,
OM AH OM NAMO BHAGAVATE ANIRUDDHAY NAMAH.

Subsequently, a devotee should worship the various incarnations of Lord Vishnu, his weapons as well as his different mounts by incorporating the rituals of 'Shodashopachar' and by chanting the following mantras--

OM NARAYANAY NAMAH,
OM TATSAD BRAHMANE NAMAH,
OM HOONG VISHNAVE NAMAH,
OM HRAUNG NAMO BHAGAVATE NRISINHAY NAMAH,
OM BHUH OM NAMO BHAGAVATE VARAHAY NAMAH, ETC.

SARASWATI MANTRA

A devotee should begin his worship by making salutations to goddess Sarswati by chanting-- OM HRIM SARSWATYAI NAMAH.

He should then perform the rituals of 'Shadangnyas' by chanting the following mantras-- OM HRANG HRIDAYAY NAMAH,
OM HRING SHIRSE SWAHA,
OM HOONG SHIKHAYAI VASHAT,
OM HRAING KAVACHAY HOONG,
OM HRAUNG NETRA TRAYAY VAUSHAT,
OM HRANG ASTRAY PHAT.

LAXMI MANTRA

A devotee desirous of acquiring wealth and prosperity must worship Goddess Laxmi with appropriate rituals. He should begin by making salutations to the goddess by chanting the following mantra --

OM SRING HRING MAHALAKSHMYAI NAMAH.

Then follows the rituals of 'Shadangnyas' that is performed by chanting the specific mantras meant for them.

ASTROLOGY IN GARUDA PURAN

THE CHARIOTS OF NAVGRAHAS

While describing the chariots of all the nine planets, Lord Vishnu told Rudra--' The chariot of Surya deva(sun) has an unbelievable expanse stretching up to nine thousand yojans. The axle of the chariot is one crore and fifty seven lakh yojans long and wheels are fixed at both its ends. The wheels have six circumferences symbolizing the six main seasons and five spokes symbolizing the five different units of time measurement in them. The chariot of Surya(sun) is pulled by seven horses. These horses symbolize the seven 'chhands' (stanzas used in poetry)- gayatri, vrihati, ushnik, jagati, trishtup, anushtup and pankti.

The chariot of chandrama(moon) has three wheels in it. It is pulled by ten white horses. The color of Mangal's(mars) chariot is golden and is pulled by horses of dark red color. Buddh's(mercury) chariot is of brown color and is pulled by eight horses of the same color. The chariot of Vrihaspati(jupiter) is made of gold and is pulled by eight horses of yellowish complexion. Jupiter remains in each of the twelve zodiacs for a year.

Shukra's (venus) chariot is well escorted by his army. The chariot has a mast on it's top and is pulled by horses that are found on earth.

·  Horses pulling the chariot of Shani(saturn) are of varicolored.

·  The chariot of Rahu is pulled by eight horses, which are of the color of smoke.

·  The chariot of Ketu is pulled by eight horses, which are red in color.

DESCRIPTION OF YOGAS AND MUHURTAS

In an elaborate description of inauspicious days on which one should not undertake travels or journeys, Lord Vishnu told Shiva-- 'Various Yoginis (goddesses) dwell in different directions on specific days and one should never set out on journeys on those days. A yogini named Brahmani dwells in the East on Pratipada(first) and navami(ninth) of both the fortnights of each month and nobody should travel on both these dates towards east. Maheshwari dwells in the north on second and ninth of both the fortnights of each month and hence nobody should travel towards north on both these dates. Varahi dwells in the south on the fifth and thirteenth of both the fortnights of each month and hence it is unadvisable to travel towards south on the above mentioned dates. In the same manner, Indrani dwells in the west on sixth and fourteenth of both the fortnights of each month and therefore nobody should travel in this direction on both the above mentioned dates.'

While giving names of some auspicious Nakshatras suitable for undertaking journeys, lord Vishnu said--' Constellations like Ashvini, Anuradha, Revati, Mrigashira, Mool, Punarvasu, Pushya, Hast and Jyeshtha are auspicious for undertaking journeys.'

Lord Vishnu, giving some specific combinations of days and tithis considered to be inauspicious said-' One should never travel on the following inauspicious days: Dwadashi falling on Sunday or Ekadashi falling on Monday or Navami falling on Wednesday or Ashtami falling on Thursday or Saptami falling on Friday and Shashthi falling on Saturday.

AMRIT YOGA -- It is the most auspicious yoga for commencing any work. The conjunction of a particular day and specific nakshatra constitute this yoga. Few examples of Amrit yoga are Mool nakshatra falling on Sunday, Shravan nakshatra on Monday, Uttara bhadrapad on Tuesday, Kritika on Wednesday, Punarvasu on Thursday, Purvafalguni on Friday and Swati nakshatra falling on Saturday.

VISHA YOGA --It is considered to be an inauspicious yoga and unsuitable for commencing any important work. Few examples of this particular yoga are Bharni nakshatra falling on Friday, Chitra nakshatra on Monday, Uttarashadha on Tuesday, Dhanishtha on Wednesday, Shatabhisha on Thursday, Rohini on Friday and Revati nakshatra falling on Saturday.

GRAHA DASHA

Describing the period for which a particular planet is supposed to have its influence on the native, Lord Vishnu told Shiva-- ' Surya's dasha continues for six years and brings turbulence, turmoil and agony to the concerned person. Moon's dasha continues for fifteen years and is considered very auspicious as it brings happiness and prosperity. Mangal's dasha is considered inauspicious and lasts for eight years. It brings sorrow and misfortune. Buddh's dasha is auspicious and lasts for seventeen years. It brings all kinds of favorable results and is extremely rewarding in every respect. Shani's dasha lasts for ten years and brings all kinds of inauspicious results to a man. Vrihaspati's dasha continues for nineteen years and is extremely auspicious. Rahu's dasha continues for twelve years and is inauspicious. Shukra's dasha lasts for twenty years and is auspicious.'

NOTE -- The period of years stated in the above mentioned Graha- dashas are at variance from those mentioned by sage Parashar, which is in practice nowadays.

PREDICTIONS BASED ON PHYSICAL TRAITS

In a lengthy discourse on the importance of physical traits and symptoms apparent in an individual, Lord Vishnu told Shiva-' If one sees the following physical traits in a man, he should immediately understand that he is seeing a prospective King : Hands and feet as soft as a Lotus flower, pink nails and no space left between the fingers when kept straight. There is no sign of bulging veins on his hands and palms and they do not sweat excessively. On the contrary, a person having rough feet that appears pale, with prominent veins on them indicates that the concerned person would be poor and miserable.'

PREDICTING AGE WITH THE HELP OF FOREHEAD LINE

Lord Vishnu said-' Anybody having three parallel lines on his forehead lives happily for sixty years whereas two parallel lines indicates that he would live till the age of forty years. Only one line on the forehead indicates that he would have a short life but if the line stretches up to both the ears then he lives for a century. If two parallel lines on the forehead stretches up to both the years then the concerned person lives for seventy years while a triple parallel lines reaching both the years indicates that he would live till the age of sixty years. A forehead devoid of any line on it means that the concerned person would live for only forty years while a cobweb of intersecting lines on the forehead indicates that the concerned person is definite to die a premature death. A forehead with a Trident or an Axe mark on it indicates that the concerned person would be prosperous and live for a century.

PREDICTING AGE BY PALMISTRY

Lord Vishnu, continuing with his narration told Shiva that the age of a person could be predicted by the lines found on his palms- ' If the life line reaches the base between index and middle fingers then the concerned person lives for a century. If the life line is long, clear and without intersections from other lines then the concerned person lives for a hundred years.

PREDICTION BASED ON PHYSICAL TRAITS OF WOMEN

Lord Vishnu said-'A woman having a round face, curly hair and lower portion of her navel slightly slanted towards right, is extremely fortunate not only for herself but also for her whole clan. Similarly, a woman with golden complexion and hands as beautiful and soft as red lotus flower is exceptionally chaste and faithful towards her husband. A woman having dry and unruly hair and also round eyes becomes a widow.

A woman whose face is round like a full moon and which radiates like a rising Sun and whose lips are juicy like a 'Bael' fruit (Wood apple), enjoys a happy and contented life. A woman having a cobweb of lines on her palms is sure to lead a torturous and painful life whereas a palm with few lines indicates that she would be poor. If the lines are pink, then they indicate happiness, prosperity and good health whereas blackish lines indicate that she would live a life of slavery. Any woman having either a 'Chakra', a hook or a ear ring mark on her hand indicates that she would beget worthy sons and rule like a queen. A woman having hair around her breasts as well as a protruding lower lip spells doom for her husband. Any woman having a festoon mark on her palms indicates that she would get married in a family superior to her in status.

A woman having a round navel with brown hair around it leads a life of slavery despite being born in a royal family. A woman whose little toes as well as big toes of both the legs do not touch the ground while walking spells doom for her husband. In the same manner beautiful eyes indicate good fortune while soft and tender skin indicate a happy married life.

VARIOUS NAMES OF 'SHALIGRAM'

Describing how a Shaligram is named on the basis of number of Chakra present on it, Lord Vishnu said-' If there is only one Chakra on the Shaligram idol then it is called 'Sudarshan'. In the same way, Shaligram with two Chakras is known as 'Laxmi Narayan' while that having three Chakras on it is called 'Achyut'. Shaligram with four Chakra on it is known as 'Chaturbhuj', that with five Chakras 'Vasudev'. Similarly, Shaligram with six, seven, eight, ninth, tenth, eleven and twelve Chakras are called 'Pradyumana', 'Sankarshan', 'Purushottam', 'Navavyuha', 'Dashatmak', 'Aniruddha' and Dwi-Dashatmak respectively. Shaligrams with more than twelve Chakras are called infinite.

HOW JEWELS ORIGINATED

Sutji, once narrated the following tale to the assembled sages which sheds light on the origin of jewels and other precious stones -

' During ancient times there lived a mighty demon named Bala. Although he had defeated the deities and driven them out from the heaven, yet he had assured them that he would extend fullest cooperation and support in any yagya performed by deities in future. All the deities planned to perform a 'Yagya' in order to regain their lost kingdom. They made all the necessary preparations for the Yagya but were unable to find a person who could offer himself as a 'sacrificial being'- a ritual without which any yagya is incomplete.'

'Seeing no other option, the worried deities took refuge of 'Balasur' and requested him to offer himself for sacrifice so that the yagya could be accomplished without any hitch. Balasur was bound by his promise so he agreed. This way, the deities were able to accomplish their yagya. But, a strange event coincided with the death of Balasur, which surprised even the deities. The virtuous deed of offering himself as a sacrificial being in the yagya ceremony had amazingly transformed Balasur's corpse into jewels. Deities tried to carry the 'Jewel-body' through the aerial route towards a safer place, but it was fragmented into countless pieces due to the impact of ferocious speed of the wind it had to negotiate. These pieces scattered all over the places- ocean, rivers, Mountains, Forests, etc. In course of time these places got transformed into countless mines of jewels and precious stones such as Vajra (diamond), Muktamani, Indraneel, Sphatik, Prawal, Pushparag and many more.

PROMINENT PLACES OF PILGRIMAGE

Sutji, while giving the names of some prominent places of pilgrimage told the assembled sages-'The banks of Ganga are considered to be the holiest among all the places of pilgrimage. The holy Ganga, which originates from the Himalayas in the north, ultimately gets merged with the ocean in the east. During her entire course of flow, she passes through numerous holy places, which owe their holiness mainly to her. Although, any place situated on the banks of Ganga is considered holy, yet Prayag, Haridwar, Varanasi and Ganga sangam (The place where she meets the ocean) have special significance and there is no other place as holy as each of them. Prayag is believed to fulfil both the wishes, which a man aspires for- worldly enjoyments as well as salvation.

Performing the rituals of pinda daan here not only helps the ancestors to liberate but also himself. Varanasi is the same place where lord Shiva and Keshav have their respective abodes. Donating at Kurukshetra brings incomparable virtues and gives both worldly enjoyments as well as salvation. Kedar teerth is capable of liberating even a heinous sinner from all his sins. Few other places considered very holy are- Shwetdweepa, Naimisharanya, Pushkar, Ayodhya, Chitrakut, Gomti, Kanchipuri, Sri Shail, Kaam- teerth, Amarkantak, Ujjain, Mathura, Govardhan, etc. All these places have great religious significance and each of them is capable of liberating a man from all his sins.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GAYA TEERTH

Once, while narrating how Gaya, a prominent place of pilgrimage in eastern part of India got its name, Lord Brahma told sage Vyas-' During ancient times there lived a mighty demon named Gaya. He used to torment the deities, who ultimately went to seek the help of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu successfully killed Gayasur after a fierce mace-duel. The place where Gaya died became famous by his name. There is a grand Vishnu temple situated at Gaya where there is a magnificent idol of Lord 'Gadhadhar' (Lord Vishnu holding a mace in his hand).

Gaya is considered to be the most ideal place of pilgrimage for performing the shraddh rituals. It is believed that a person goes to hell if he dies in the following circumstances- if he dies without his consecrations being performed, or if a wild animal kills him, or if he meets an accidental death no matter what the reasons are. But, if 'Shraddh rituals' are performed at 'Gaya' then the soul of such a man gets rid of the tortures of the hell and goes to heaven.

The importance of performing 'Shraddh rituals' over there can be gauged by the fact that a person becomes liberated from 'pitra rina' (debts towards one's father) once he touches the sacrosanct soil of 'Gaya'. The reason being that Lord Vishnu himself dwells there in the form of 'Pitra devata' and by having his divine glimpse a man is freed of all his three debts. The entire area stretching from the foothills of Vishnu mountain to 'Uttar Manas' is considered extremely holy and this is the same area where river Falgu flows. Offering 'Pinda daan' to ancestors at this place helps them to attain salvation. While performing the rituals of 'Pinda daan' he should chant the following matra-

'ESHA PINDO MAYA DASTRATAV HASTE JANARDANAH;
PARLOKAM GATE MOKSHAM KSHAYMU PATISHTHATAAM.

There are many other places as holy as the banks of Falgu and performance of 'Shraddh rituals' over there give undiminished virtues to the ancestors - Dharma-Prishtha, Brahmasar, Gayashirsha, Akshay-Teerth, Dhenukaranya are few such places capable of liberating twenty generations of a man. The entire city of 'Gaya' is considered sacrosanct and performing the rituals of 'Shraddh' or offering Pinda daan to ancestors at any place within 'Gaya' helps the soul of the ancestors to attain to Brahmaloka.