Skip to main content

Pitras (Pitrus) and the significance of Shradhha ceremony

Pitras (Pitrus) and the significance of Shradhha ceremony

Once, sage Markandeya arrived at Naimisharanya to see sage Gauramukha. Sage Gauramukha was delighted to find such an enlightened soul at his hermitage. After the formalities were over, Gauramukha requested him to shed light on the venerability of ancestors and the significance of shraddha rituals.

Sage Markandeya replied - "Lord Brahma, after having created the sapta rishis instructed them to worship him (Lord Brahma) but they became so arrogant that they started to worship themselves. Lord Brahma felt insulted and so he cursed them of becoming bereft of all the knowledge. In course of time, the sapta rishis had numerous sons. After the death of the sapta rishis, all the sons performed shraddha so that their souls could rest in peace. The sapta rishis were also famously known as 'Vaimanika' because they had manifested from the mind of Brahma."

Sage Gaurmukh was listening to Markandeya's utterances with rapt attention. He asked about the most appropriate time for performing shraddha and also about the number of 'ganas' each of the pitras were supposed to have. Sage Markandeya replied - "Pitras living in the heaven are known as 'somapa pitras' are believed to be the most privileged ones among all the pitras. They enjoy the most delicious beverage – somaras. Their life-span extends for the full period of kalpa and they worship 'marutas'. Sage Maricha belongs to this category of pitras."

Pitras belonging to the category of 'vairaja' are revered even by the marutganas. Sanaka comes under this categoty of pitras. Each of these pitras have seven ganas. Similarly, pitras known as 'bhaswara' have their abode in the world called 'santanaka'. These pitras are revered even by the deities as all of them are 'brahma vadis' (one who has realized Brahma). They remanifest themselves after every hundred yugas. People belonging to any caste can worship the revered 'pitras' with an appropriately modified rituals and obviously with the permission of the brahmin. Some of the prominent pitras are 'Vasu', 'Kashyap', 'Marichi', 'Sanak' etc.


Describing the auspicious time for performing the rituals of shraddha, Markandeya told Gauramukhq - "A person desirous of performing the rituals of 'kamya shraddha' can do so on any of the following days -

a) at the commencement of uttarayana or dakshinayana.
b)at the time when vyatipata yoga takes place.
c) at the time when vishu yoga occurs.
d) during both solar and lunar eclipses.
e) if troubled by the evil influences of a constellation or a planet.
f) if troubled by nightmares.
g)at the time when the Sun changes it's position from one zodiac to another.

The various nakshatras like Anuradha, Vishakha and Shwati are considered to be very auspicious for performing shraddha - especially, if the day happens to be amavasya. Shraddha performed on such a day pacifies the ancestor's soul for eight years. Similarly the combination of amavasya with either 'pushya nakshatra' or 'punarvasu nakshatra' is believed to pacify the ancestor's soul for twelve years. Some other days which are considered to be very auspicious for performing shraddha are - the third day of the bright half of the hindu month Vaishakha, the nineth day of the bright half of the hindu month Kartika, the thirteenth day of the dark half of the hindu month Bhadrapada and amavasya falling in the hindu month of Magha. A man desirous of performing shraddha can do so on any of the above mentioned days. He should take bath in a holy river and offer 'tarpan' (libation) to his ancestors. 


Describing the types of brahmin, considered to be elligible to preside over the rituals of shraddha, Markandeya told sage Gauramukha - "The following types of brahmin are eligible to perform shraddha – 'trinachiketa', 'trimadhu', 'trisuparna' and the brahmins who are well versed in all the Vedas. The shraddha rituals can be performed by any of the following relatives of the deceased, apart from his son-maternal nephew, grandson (daughter's son), father-in-law, son-in-law, maternal uncle, etc.

Similarly, the following types of brahmin should never be invited at the shraddha at the shraddha ceremony - a deceitful or a wicked brahmin, a brahmin who is a habitual backbiter or who is accused of theft, a brahmin who has married a shudra woman and a brahmin who earns his livelihood by working as a priest.


Invitation should be given to the all the brahmins one day in advance. If univited brahmins arrive to attend the shraddha ceremony they should be treated with due respect. The brahmin who is supposed to perform the rituals should wash the feet of other brahmins to show his respect towards them. He should then help them perform 'achamana' (rinsing of mouth). Finally, the invited brahmins should be fed after the rituals have been completed. 


As far as the number of invited brahmins to the shraddha ceremony of the ancestors is concerned, the scriptures have strictly put it to odd numbers – one, three, five, etc. Similarly, the number of invited brahmins for the shraddha of the deities is concerned the number has been put to even number – two, four, etc. But, if the person finds it difficult to invite the above number of brahmins then he can invite only one brahmin for both the types of shraddha. While performing the shraddha of maternal grandfather it is mandatory to perform the shraddha of Vaishyadeva simultaneously. In the shraddha ceremony related with the deities the brahmins should always have their food facing east. On the contrary, in the shraddha ceremony of the ancestors the brahmins should have their food facing north. 


A person performing the shraddha rituals should have his seat made of 'kusha' grass. After taking his seat, he should invoke the deities and make offerings of 'ardhya' to them. While offering 'ardhya' to the deities water and barley are commonly used alongwith other articles like sandalwood, incense, etc. During the entire course of shraddha rituals 'yagyopavita' (sacred thread) should be worn in an inverse position-across the right shoulder and not across the left shoulder as it is normally worn. While performing the shraddha of ancestors offerings of articles like sesame seeds, water and kusha grass are normally made. 


It is customary to scatter sesame seeds near the place where brahmins are having food in the shraddha ceremony. The performer of the shraddha rituals should imagine that the food partaken by them are actually satiating the ancestors. The chanting of 'Rakshodhna mantra' is a must. 


One important characteristic of the rituals connected with pinda daana is the offerings made to manes in the form of sesame seeds and water. Another important aspect is that 'pinda' is offered on the 'kusha' grass which are kept facing south-first in the name of one's dead father and then in the name of one's grandfather and other ancestors


The performance of Balivaishva deva rituals mark the end of shraddha ceremony after which the person should sit down along with all the invited guests to have his food. Ancestors become satisfied if shraddha is performed in their names and all the desires of such a man are fulfilled. Three things have great importance in shraddha rituals-black sesame seeds, the auspicious muhurta named 'Kutup' and grandson (daughter's son). Donating silver is considered to be extremely auspicious. A person performing the shraddha rituals should not venture out of his house till the completion of the entire ceremony.

PS: This has been taken from Varaha Purana.


Popular posts from this blog

Maharshi Kashyapa, his wives and there children

Maharshi Kashyapa, his wives and there children

Kashyapa married thirteen of Daksha’s daughters. Their names were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Khasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ida, Kadru and Muni.

Aditi’s sons were the twelve gods known as the adityas. Their names were Vishnu, Shakra, Aryama, Dhata, Vidhata, Tvashta, Pusha, Vivasvana, Savita, Mitravaruna, Amsha and Bhaga.

Diti’s sons were the daityas (demons). They were named Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakshipu, and amongst their descendants were several other powerful daityas like Vali and Vanasura. Diti also had a daughter named Simhika who was married to a danava (demon) named Viprachitti. Their offsprings were terrible demons like Vatapi, Namuchi, Ilvala, Maricha and the nivatakavachas.

The hundred sons of Danu came to be known as danavas. The danavas were thus cousins to the daityas and also to the adityas. In the danava line were born demons like the poulamas and kalakeyas.

Arishta’s sons were the gandharvas (singers of h…

Bhakthi Story: Krishna killed Ekalavya, but why?

Krishna killed Ekalavya, but why?

We all know that Ekalavya had made the clay statue of the Guru Dronacharya and he was practicing the Dhanur Vidya and was also had become master in some of the Dhanur Vidyas. 
After some time, Dronacharya comes to know about the Ekalavya practicing Dhanur Vidya by keeping a statue of himself. Once Dronacharya meets Ekalavya and asks him "why are you practicing Dhanur Vidya by keeping my statue in front" and for this Ekalavya replies that "Guru Deva I have accepted you as my Guru and I have been practicing Dhanur Vidya since than". 
Than Dronacharya after few days again meet Ekalavya and asks him right hand's Thumb finger as the Guru dakshina. Ekalavya without any hesitation cuts off his finger to give his Thumb as the Guru dakshina to his Guru Dronacharya. 
We should think why Guru Dronacharya did like this?. Was Guru Dronacharya was jealous of Ekalavya that one day Ekalavya will become a much better Dhanur Vidyashali than the Nara…

Atithi Devo Bhava - Guest is God - Story of Kapota pakshis (Dove birds)

Atithi Devo Bhava - Guest is God - Story of Kapota pakshis (Dove birds)

In a parvatam known as Brahmagiri there used to live a hunter who was very kruri. He not only killed pakshis and praanis, but also brahmanas and rushis as well.

The hunter once went on a hunt. He killed many praanis nand pakshis and some he put in his panjaram. He had penetrated so far inside the aranyam that he was far from his gruham. It became raatri and also started to varsham. Hungry and thirsty, the hunter lost his way. He climbed up a vruksham and decided to spend the raatri there. But his mind kept going back to his ardhangini and shishus at his gruham.

For many years a dove and its kutumbam had lived happily on that vruksham. Both the purusha and the stree pakshis had gone out to look for aahaaram. But although the purusha dove had returned to the nest, the stree dove had not. In fact, the stree had been captured by the hunter and was now inside a panjaram. The male did not know this. He mourned for his wife…

Fighting between Krishna and Shiva: Story of Vanasura (Banasura), Usha and Anirudhha

Fighting between Krishna and Shiva: Story of Vanasura (Banasura), Usha and Anirudhha

Krishna had more than one lakh and eighty thousand sons. But the best of them was Pradyumna and Pradyumna’s son was Aniruddha. 
Vali’s son was Vanasura and Vanasura’s daughter was Usha. Usha once met Parvati and Shiva. She asked Parvati who her husband would be. Parvati replied that in the month of Vaishakha a person would appear in Usha’s dreams. And this person would be her husband.

As promised by Parvati, Usha did see a person in her dreams. But she did not know how this person was. She told her friend Chitraleka about this. Chitralekha thought that the only way to find out was to show Usha the protraits of various important personages amongst the devas, gandharvas and asuras. But the required person could not be identified from these portraits. Usha was then shown the portraits of humans and immediately she identified Aniruddha."

Many years ago, Vanasura had prayed to Mahadeva," he had said,…

Suryavamsha family tree

Suryavamsha family tree. The great family of Raghuvamsha, the great family of Bhagavan Sri Ramachandra Prabhu.


The real meaning of Arya:

The real meaning of Arya:

We all think that Arya is only used by the north Indians, whereas it is Dravida in south India. 
But is it true? Is it correct? But according to our great sages the real meaning is something different. ARYA according to Rushi Valmiki means giving respect to any person. Just like at present day we use Sri, Sir, Mr., etc, our ancestors were using as Arya Putra or Arya Kanya or Arya Rama or Arya Arjuna etc. Arya is nothing but the prefix to any name. Just like we use Sri. Mahatma Gandhiji. Earlier it was Arya. Mahatma Gandhiji.
In Vedic Literature, the word Arya is nowhere defined in connection with either race or language. Instead it refers to: gentleman, good-natured, righteous person, noble-man, and is often used like ‘Sir’ or ‘Shree’ before the name of a person like Aryaputra, Aryakanya, etc.
In Ramayana (Valmiki), Rama is described as an Arya in the following words: Arya – who cared for the equality to all and was dear to everyone.
Etymologically, according to M…

Yudham (War) between Suras (Gods) and Asuras (Demons)

Yudham (War) between Suras (Gods) and Asuras (Demons):

There were twelve major wars between the devas and the asuras. The first of these was known as the Narasimha War. This took place when Hiranyakashipu was the king of the asuras. Vishnu adopted the form of Narashimha and killed Hiranyakashipu. He then made Prahlada the king of the demons. The second war was the Vamana War and it took place when Vali was the king of the demons. Vishnu adopted the form of a dwarf (vamana) to subjugate the demons. The third war was the Varaha War and this took place when Hiranyaksha was the king of the demons. Vishnu adopted the form of a wild boar (varaha) and killed Hiranyaksha. The fourth war was the Amritamanthana War and this took place over the manthana (churning ) of the ocean for amrita (nectar). 

The fifth war between the devas and the asuras took place over the abduction of Tara and this came to be known as the Tarakamaya War. The sixth war was known as the Ajivaka War. The seventh war took pl…

Prachetas and there wife Marisha

Prachetas and there wife Marisha

In the vamsham of the Raaja Prithu, there was a Raaja called Raaja Prachinvarhi, whose vivaaham took place with the putri of Samudra Raaja, Savarana. With this vivaaham ten putras were born and they were known as Prachetas. These ten Prachetas performed ghana-ghora tapasya for ten thousand years inside the samudram. Here we should know why the ten Prachetas performed this type of tapasya for ten thousand years. Earlier BrahmaDeva had informed Raaja Prachinvarhi to make this bhoomandalam with lot of manushyas (people). So Raaja Prachinvarhi passed this kaaryam to his ten putras. But the ten Prachetas were unaware to how to go ahead with this kaaryam. Also Prachetas' father told his putras to pray to Bhagavan Vishnu to initiate the kaaryam as told by BrahmaDeva. Thus after hearing from there father, Prachetas started the ghana-ghora tapasya under the samudram.
When the ten Prachetas completed ten thousand years of ghana-ghora tapasya, Bhagavan Srimann …

Tripurasura - The three demons

Tripurasura - The three demons


Chandravamsha family tree

Chandravamsha family tree. The great family of Kuru or Kaurava, the great family of Santanu, Yudhisthira and Arjuna.