The present Volume contains the Garuda Purana Part I (chapters 1-146) in English translation. It is the twelfth in the series of fifty Volumes on Ancient Indian Tradition and Mythology.
The project of the series was envisaged and financed in 1970 by late Lala Sunderlal Jain, the Veteran enterprizer in the field of Oriental Publication and the leading partner Messrs Motilal Banarsidass. Hitherto twelve Volumes of the Series, including the present one, (that is, four Vols. of the Siva Purana, two Vols. of the Linga Purana, five Vols .. of the Bhagavata Purana and one Vol. of the Garuda Purana) have been published and released for sale.
The Garuda Purana is normally classified as a Vaisnava Purana, but, in fact, this Purana is non-sectarian and cosmopolitan in character. Its encyclopedic nature is reflected in the treat- ment of multifarious or miscellaneous subjects such as Medicine, Astrology, Palmistry, Metrics, in addition to the legitimate topics of a Purana. This variety of topics needed elucidation- a task which could not be accomplished by a mere translation. Hence the provision has been made for the footnotes. Further, to help the reader understand the background of the subject matter, an introduction has been added to this Volume. A list of Abbreviations is also prefixed for the convenience of the reader.
Acknowledgment of Obligations
It is our pleasant duty to put on record our sincere grati- tude to Dr. S. K. Chatterjee, Dr. V. Raghavan, Dr. R. N. Dan- dekar, Shri K.R. Kripalani and the authorities of the UNESCO for their kind encouragement and valuable help which render this work more useful to scholars than it would otherwise have been. We must also thank Shri T. V. Parameswar Iyer for his valuable spade-work which lightened our labour especially in the initial stage.
As a class of literature the Purana deals with ancient Indian religion philosophy, history, geography, sociology politics and other subjects and supplies the material for the study of various branches of knowledge and ancient wisdom.
The Purana has been defined as Pancalaksana and is supposed to contain five topics (i) creation (sarga), (ii) Dissolution and re-creation (pratisarga) (iii) Genealogy (vamsa), (iv) periods of time with manu as the primal ancestor and (iv) history of Royal dynasties both solar and luner. But this definition in inadequate. For the texts that have come to us under the title Purana characteristics. This fact was noticed by the Puranic redactors themselves who later on adopted a dasalaksaam definition that satiated the Puranic text.
But this too is not a standard definition. For the Puranaa contain aspects that are not covered by any of the ten characteristics. Besides some of the characteristics covered by this definition are not found in certain Puranas.
In fact the Puranas as a class represents different phases or aspects of Indain Life in diverse ages. It is not possible therefore to adopt a standard definition for the class of literary composition that contains heterogeneous phases or aspects Moreover, a definition formed on the numerical basis 0f points cannot be perfect.
We can, however, describe the Purana as a class of literature that deals with the legends of gods, asuras, sages and kings of ancient times, contains abstracts of works in arts, sciences, medicine, grammar, dramaturgy, music, astrology and other subjects, affords insight into different phases and aspects 0f Hinduism—its mythology, idol-worship, theism, pantheism, love of God, philosophy, superstition, festivals and ceremonies.2 In brief, the Purânas constitute a popular encyclopedia of ancient and medieval Hinduism in all its traits— religious, philosophical, historical, personal, social and political.
Origin and Development
The term Purãna connotes simply an old narrative4 or the record of old events.5 Ancient writers6 derived the term as. According to Skanda7 and Matsya8 Puranas and the Mahabhaya9 of Patanjali, there was at first a single work of literature called Purana or Purea-Sathhita. But when the process of interpolation started with the rise of sectarianism in India, the Purana assumed a massive form. Each sect built up a structure of its doctrines around the nucleus of ancient material. The original Purãl3a underwent different forms and shaped itself into Vaisnava, Saiva and Brahma Purãnas.
(ii) Upa-PurAga.1 Each class consists of eighteen Puranas. Thus the number of the Purãnas is thirty six.
The Mahâ-Purãnas are classified mainly into three categories—Vaisnava, Brahma and Saiva in proportion as they accord preferential treatment to Visnu, Brahma and Siva. The Purãnas glorifying Visnu are styled as Sàttvika, those glorifying Brahmã as Rajasa and those glorifying Agni and Siva as Tamasa. According to this description the eighteen Mahäpurãnas can be classified into Sãttvika, Rãjasa and Támasa. as under:
Sattvika: Bhagavata, Visnu, Garuda, Matsya, Kürma, Vayu.
Rajasa: Skanda, Padma, Varnana, Varaha, Agni, Bhavisya.
Tamosa: Brahmanda, Liñga, Brahmavaivarta, Märkandeya, Brahma, Aditya.
It is remarkable to note that in the list of Tamasa Puranas the Garuda Purãna mentions Aditya Puràna instead of Narada.
The Puranas are not unanimous on this division. For instance, among the Sattvika Purãnas, the Padma Puranas omits Matya, Kurma and Vayu which are replaced by Nãrada, Padma and Vãraha, retains only the Bhagavata, Visnu and Garuda of the Garuda list. Among the Rajasa Puranas the Padma Purana retains only the Vãmana Pural)a but leaves out Skanda Padma Varaha and Agni from the Rajasa list which are replaced by Brahmanda Brahma Brahmavaivaru markandeya and Bhavisya among the tamasa Puranas Padma Purana retains only the Linga Purana but omits brahmanda, Brahma vaivarta, Brahma Markandeya and Aditya of the Garuda list. Instead it includes Matsya Kurma, Siva skand and agni. Thus we find that there is confusion in this kind of classification which becomes more complicated by the statement of Skanda Purana which assigns ten Puranas to Siva four to Brahma two each to Devi and Visnu.
Yet another kind of classification is recorded is the devi bhagavata which names the Maha - puranas by their initial letters except the Garuda which it mentions by the full name.
Garuda Purana The Nomenclature
The Puranas themselves discuss their nomenclature so far as the Garuda Purana is concerned it is so called because the speaker of this Purana is Garuda himself.
One the evidence of the Bhagavata Purana the Garuda Purana was also called sauparna. The Vayu Purana calls it vainateya Alberuni as Tarkhya. Ballala the author of Danasagara mentions Tarksya in the list of Maha Puranas. In the nibandha granthas the terms Tarksya, vainateya, Sauparna are often used which according to Sanskrit lexicons are synonyms of Garuda.
But the quotations made under the names tarksya Vainateya or Sauparna are not found in the extant Garuda. It is no certain whether these quotations existed in the old text of the Garuda Purana which later on suffered change in the hands of redactors or whether they belonged to a Purana that was quite different from the extant text called Garuda.
The Purana is called Garuda because the original speaker i