Garuḍa Purāṇa 3

Kṛṣṇa now proceeds to elucidate on atonement of sins committed either consciously or unconsciously. As an immediate remedy one should take ten types of baths at least for a period of six years.  Ten types of bath include early morning bath to taking bath in the holy river Ganges.  Generally taking bath before sunrise is advocated.  Gifting cow, earth, gingelly seeds (til seeds) and other grains, gold, silver, ghee, new clothes, sugar and salt are the ten of gifts one has to give for atoning sins. These gifts should be given only to those persons who are present at the time of performing atonement ceremonies.  Various guidelines are prescribed for receiving gifts.  If sins committed are enormous, these baths and gifts have no significance. Such sinners have to cross a river in the hell known as Vaitaraṇi, which is full of pus and blood.  In order to cross this river with a little comfort, one has to donate a black cow along with its calf. Vaitaraṇi river is a mythical river flowing from earth to the hell and a soul after death has to cross this mythical river to reach the gates of the lord of death, Yama, who decides the destiny of the soul depending on the soul’s karmic account. Soul here means both the subtle and causal bodies with the Brahman within.  Afflictions caused to these bodies do not affect the Brahman and He always stand as a witness.  

When a person is dying, he should give the following eight as gifts gingelly seeds, iron, gold cotton, salt, seven grains, earth and cow. Either the person who is dying can give these gifts of any of his representatives approved by him can also give these gifts. These gifts should be given only to those who know Vedas and lead a life as prescribed by śāstra-s.   Apart from this, one has also to gift umbrella, footwear, clothes, ring, gourd, wooden plank to sit, vessels and food.  These gifts are intended for use by the soul during its journey from the earth to the other worlds like heaven or hell as the case may be.  It is said that she-buffalo, a hand fan and cloths should also be given to Vedic scholars.  It is also said that these gifts should be given as much as possible.  If any of these gifts are given at the time of his death, his soul does not reach the hell.  Amongst all these gifts, a person gifting a vessel filled with gingelly seeds or clarified butter (ghee) or the gift of a bed with accessories will never go to hell, says Garuḍa Purāṇa.  Gifting of salt is also considered as sacred.  It is said that if one gifts salt, the gates of heaven is open for his soul to take a sojourn there. Gifts given by a person during his life time are more favorable to his soul than gifts given by his sons during his last rites.

Gifting of cow and calf makes his soul as immortal.  If one gives the eight gifts described above, he reaches the world of Gandharva-s, a type of demigods, who are fond of pleasure and enjoyment. They are capable of astral travel and can travel from higher planes to lower planes and vice-versa.  If one gifts an umbrella, his soul takes rest under the shade when Yama, the god of death roasts the souls of sinners in the hell called Raudra. If food and a wooden plank are offered as gifts, the soul is able to sit and take its food comfortably on the way to the hell. If he has gifted footwear, his soul is taken on the back of a horse.  The one who has given clothes as gifts, his soul is not tortured by the servants of Yama.

If a vessel filled with gingelly seeds, is gifted the sins accrued on account of his body, mind and speech are destroyed.  Sins or bad karmas are accrued only due to these three instruments. Out of the three, mind is capable of causing worst sins and is the cause for all bad karmas and body is capable of causing least sins.  If a vessel containing ghee is given as gift, he is taken to Rudraloka after his death and he stays there. If he gifts a bed along with its accessories, he is taken to Indra loka and stays there for a long time and enjoys all the pleasures associated with Indra loka.  Once his sojourn is over in Indra loka, he is again born in the earth as a king. It is said that benefits accruing on account of gifts primarily depends upon according the intention with which the gift is given.  If one gives food as charity with a pure heart, his soul never feels the hunger. If death takes place in a sacred place, he attains liberation without further transmigration. If one enters into sannyāsa (renouncing worldly life) as prescribed by śāstra-s, he is bound to attain liberation.  If one dies by undertaking fast unto death, he also attains liberation. With this Kṛṣṇa concludes His sayings on the necessity of giving dāna or gifts.

Then Kṛṣṇa proceeds to talk about funeral rites.