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By Shrila Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasa
Told by Purnapragya Dasa
Published by Rasbiharilal and Sons, Loi Bazaar, Vrindavan
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The Garuda Purana is one of the eighteen principal Puranas, as stated in the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (SB 12.7.23-24): The eighteen major Puranas are the Brahma, Padma, Visnu, Siva, Lihga, Garuda, Narada, Bhagavata, Agni, Skanda, Bhavisya, Brahma-vaivarta, Markandeya, Vamana, Varaha, Matsya, Kurrna and Brahmanda Puranas,In a Bhagavad-gita lecture given in Los Angeles on February 15, 1969, Simla Prabhupada said, "There are eighteen Puranas. Men are conducted in three qualities: the modes of goodness, modes of passion, and modes of ignorance. To reclaim all these conditioned souls in different varieties of life, there are presentation of the Puranas. Six Puranas are meant for the person who is in the modes of goodness. And six Puranas are meant for the persons who are in the modes of passion. And six Puranas are for those who are in the modes of ignorance."The Garuda Purana confirms that it is one of the six Puranas that are meant for persons in the mode of goodness. It says that the Bhagavata Purana is the foremost, the Vishnu Purana is next, and the Garuda Purana is third in importance.Srila Prabhupada often quoted this famous verse from the Garuda Purana that describes the sublime position of the Shrimad-Bhagavatam. This verse was also used by Krishnadasa Kaviraja in his Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya 25.145):
artho 'yam brahma-sutranam
"The meaning of the Vedanta-sutra is present in Srimad-Bhagavatam. The full purport of the Mahabharata is also there. The commentary of the Brahma-gayatri is also there and fully expanded with all Vedic knowledge. Srimad-Bhagavatam is the supreme Purana, and it was compiled by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His incarnation as Vyasadeva. There are twelve cantos, 335 chapters and eighteen thousand verses."The primary characteristic of a Purana in the mode of goodness is that it exclusively glorifies Lord Vishnu as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Shrila Prabhupada quoted many verses from the Garuda Purana. In his purport to the Shrimad-Bhagavatam (SB 2.9.36), Shrila Prabhupada wrote: The same truth is also indirectly described in the Garuda Purana as follows:
pararm gato 'pi vedanam
yo na sarvesvare bhaktas
tarn vidyat purusadhamam
"Even though one may have gone to the other side of all the Vedas, and even though one is well versed in all the revealed scriptures, if one is not a devotee of the Supreme Lord, he must be considered the lowest of mankind."In another purport to Shrimad-Bhagavatam (SB 2.9.36), Shrila Prabhupada wrote: Therefore the devotional service of the Lord with perfect knowledge through the training of a bona fide spiritual master is advised for everyone, even if one happens not to be a human being. This is confirmed in the Garuda Purana as follows:
urahvdm eva gatim manye
kirn punar jnaninarh nrnam
"Even the worms, birds and beasts are assured of elevation to the highest peifectional life if they are completely surrendered to the transcendental loving service of the Lord, so what to speak of the philosophers amongst the human beings?"In his purport to Shrimad-Bhagavatam (SB 6.2.7), Srila Prabhupada quoted this verse:
puman vimucyate sadyah
simha-trastair mrgair iva
"If one chants the holy name of the Lord, even in a helpless condition or without desiring to do so, all the reactions of his sinful life depart, just as when a lion roars, all the small animals flee in fear." (Garuda Purana)In his purport to Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya 2.46), Shrila Prabhupada wrote: The Garuda Purana similarly states:
brahmananam sahasrebhyah satra-ydji visisyate
sawa-vedanta-vit-kotya visnu-bhakto visisyate
vaisnavanarh sahasrebhya ekanty eko visisyate
"It is said that out of thousands of brahmanas, one is qualified to perform sacrifices, and out of many thousands of such qualified brahmanas expert in sacrificial offerings, one learned brahmana may have passed beyond all Vedic knowledge. He is considered the best among all these brahmanas. And yet, out of thousands of such brahmanas who have surpassed Vedic knowledge, one person may be a visnu-bhakta, and he is most famous. Out of many thousands of such Vaisnavas, one who is completely fixed in the service of Lord Krsna is most famous. Indeed, a person who is completely devoted to the service of the Lord certainly returns home, back to Godhead.Later in the Shri Chaitanya-charitamrita (Antya 4.197), the author quotes Lord Chaitanya as saying: "Sanatana Gosvami is one of the associates of Krsna. There could not be any bad odor from his body On the first day I embraced him, I smelled the aroma of catuhsama [a mixture of sandalwood pulp, camphor, aguru and musk]."