Garuḍa Purāṇa 18
(This is part 18 and extract from Garuda Purana Series. Entire Garuda Purana series can be read at this link Garuḍa Purāṇa )
Lord says that all gifts should be given by rendering vyāhṛiti-s of Gāyatrī mantra - bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ and svaḥ. By using Gāyatrī mantra, even ghosts can be released from ghost hood. Those who use these mantras will attain the world of Śiva. Those who make gifts of gingelly seeds, cow, land and gold to worthy people, get their sins partly eradicated (again subject to his own karmic account). Lord says that out of all these gifts, gingelly seeds and cows are the best gifts that are capable of even eradicating serious sins. (The concept of gift purely depends on one’s mind set. One should offer gifts with complete mental satisfaction and gifts should be given only out of his own earnings. There is no necessity to offer any gifts by resorting to borrowing. Such gifts cause potential harm than good. In the same way, the receiver of gifts should be worthy of receiving it. There is no point in offering gifts to a person who already owns the same. Gifts should be given beyond the barriers of religion, caste, etc. Only such gifts are capable of serving the purpose. For example, if a cow is given as a gift to a poor man, he should also be given cash to feed the cow at least for one year. There is no point in gifting a land to someone, who cannot afford to construct even a hut. Again, one’s attitude, compassion and love for the humanity, animals and plants are the powerful gifts than any materialistic gifts.)
Gifts should be given after declaring a determination, which is known as saṃkalpa. If gifts are given to women and dependents, there is no necessity for saṃkalpa. It is preferable to offer these gifts, if some one is on his death bed. A gift made during one’s life time has manifold effect. Gifts of iron and gingelly seeds please Yama, the lord of death. Gift of gold brings happiness in the heaven, gift of land makes one rich. There are four important classes of servants of Yama, who execute the process of death and they are Curiṇas, Śaṇdas, Markas and Udumbaras. Any gift given on behalf of the departed souls should satisfy these four groups. Only then, they take the subtle bodies to the world of Yama without hurting them. Particularly these four groups are satisfied with the gifts of iron. Such gifts should be given either by wives, sons, grandsons, relatives or even by friends.
Immediately after death, the subtle body leaves the gross body and enters the cosmos. Next, the subtle body attains ghost hood and at the end of a year, the subtle body joins the world of ancestors known as pitṛ loka. Generally the world consists of many triads such as Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. Brahmā presides over the portion from foot to navel; Viṣṇu presides over the portion from navel to neck and Śiva presides over the head of a human body. They are only manifestations of the Brahman. The Lord says that He is the vital breath known as prāṇa and shapes the life of a person depending upon his karmic accruals. The Lord also says that He moulds one’s mind and induces different actions of the body. Garuḍa Purāṇa mentions ten Incarnations of Viṣhṇu and they are – Matsya (fish), Kūrma (tortoise), Varāha (boar), Nārasiṁha (lion), Rāma, Parasurāma Kṛṣṇa, Balarāma, Buddha and Kalki (yet to be incarnated). Garuḍa Purāṇa also says that the subtle body goes either to heaven or hell and is reborn again. It is only the karma that decides whether the subtle body goes to heaven or hell.
Chapter II.30 of Garuḍa Purāṇa ends by saying that Viṣṇu is to be propitiated either through eight syllables mantra (om namo nārayaṇāya ॐ नमो नारयणाय) or twelve syllables mantra (om namo bhagavate vāsudevāya ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय). Lord induces one’s mind either to perform auspicious acts or evil acts. Since the Lord does not transgress His own act known as the Law of Karma, it is only the karma that is ultimate in deciding one’s destiny. If one gives as gift, a brown cow, it absolves all the sins committed by him till this birth (including all the previous births). Goddess Lakṣmī resides in all the cows and Viṣṇu is present in the midst of cows.