|21 Shraaddha Kalpa Varnana|
At the Naimisha forest at the congregation of Munis, they requested Veda Vyasa to explain in brief the procedure of Shraaddha Karma: and the latter explained as follows: those who belonged to the Varnaas of Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vaishyas were required to perform Shraaddhaas as per their own Kula Dharma according to the prescribed ‘Veda Mantrocchaarana’. When done by only Women and others, the relevant Mantras were not to be recited nor Agni Homas while doing Shraaddhas on their behalf. The hallowed places where Shraddhas could be performed included Tirthas like Pushkara, Holy Temples, Mountian tops, Sacred Places, Holy Rivers, Sarovaras, Sangamas, Sea shores, own residences, Holy Tree root bottoms, and Yagna Kundas. There are three kinds of Shraddhhaas viz. Nitya, Nimittika and Kaamya Shraaddhas. At Jaata Karma and such other occasions, Abhudaayika or Vriddhi daayika Shraaddha too is required to be performed. When Surya is in kanya Rasi, Saaddhaas are best performed for fifteen days: Padyami Shraddhaas bestow Dhanalaabha, Vidiya Pashu sampada or the benefit of cattle, Tadiya Putras, Chaturthi Shatru Naashana, Panchami Aaishwaryaprada, Shashthi Loka Pujya, Sapatami Ganaadhipatya, Ashtami Jnaana prada, Navami Stree Labha, Dashami Sarvaabhistha, Ekadashi Veda Sampannata, Dwadashi Vijaya Labha, Trayodashi Santaana Vriddhi and Deerghaayu, Chaturdashi Shraaddha blesses those who perform to appease the Souls of those who died in battles and Amavaasya Shaaddhyaas provide all-round well-being. Gaya Shraaddhas would yield long term benefits, especially when performed with jaggery, honey and black ‘tilas’, since Pitru Devas would look forward to such opportunities to their ‘Vamseeyas’; they crave for tarpanas in the rainy season of Magha-Phalguna months and Gudaanna / Rice-Jaggery Payasas mixed with honey; they hope that atleast one son might turn up at Gaya to offer Pinda Pradaana and that was their desire when alive to procure many sons; they wished that at least one kanyaa daana or one Nila Vrishabha Utsarga might be executed! Pitru Shraaddha during Krittika Star provides paasage to Swarga; Rohini Nakshathra gives good progeny; Mriga Shira Nakshatra Shraaddha gives Tejas, Ardra secures Shourya; Purvasu Kshetra darshana prapti, Pushyami Akshayadhana, Aslesha purnaaryrdaaya, Magha Santaanapushti, Purvaphaluni sowbhaayga, Uttara phalguni uttama santaana, Hasta Shraaddha yields Shasrtra vidya phala, Chitra secures tejas and santaana, Swaati Vyaapaara laabha, Vishakha putraprada, Auradha Nakshatra Shraaddha provides Chakravartitwa, Jeshtha gives Aadhipatya, Moola excellent health, Purvaashadha gives fame and name, Uttaraahaashaadha demolishes grief and troubles, Shravana provided Shubha lokas, Dhanisdhtha dhana samruddhi, Abhijit gives knowledge Vedas, Shatabhisha Vaidya Siddhi, Purvabhadra gives goat-sheep sampada, Uttaraabhadra provides Go Sampada, Revati Rajata samruddhi, Ahwavi Ashwa Sampatti, and Bharani nakshatra shraaddha provides ‘’Deerghaayuraarogya’; thus Gaya Shraadha at any time during any Nakshatra bestows all kinds of auspicious tidings! When Surya is in Kanya rashi, those who offer Shraaddhha Pindaas would fulfill all their desires as Pitras look forward to them; in fact the entire fornight during this Mahalaya Period, Tarpana Pinda Pradaanaas are stated to be of high value resulting in Raajasua -ashwamedha Phalaas. Shraaddhas are to be offered at this time with water, leafy vegetables and ‘kanda mulaas’ or ground sprouted ones only. Devotees would do well in performing such Shraaddhaas as Surya enters Uttara-Hasta Nakshatra timings; such offerings when Ravi would enter Hasta in Vrishchik Raasi, but beyond Vrischika raashi, Pinda pranaanaas are not only counter-productive but might have adverse effects as Pitru Devas might even curse them for belated offerings!
Also, Shraaddhaas need to be performed during Ashtakaas, Manvantaraas, and Anvashtakaas; Ashtakaas are known as Krishna Paksha Ashtamis of the months of Pousha, Maagha, Phalguna and Chaitra. Manvantaraas denote Ashadha Shukla Dashami, Shraavana Krishna Ashtami and Bhadra Shukla Triteeya, since Utsavaas / celebrations were organized at these Manvantaraas. Anvashtakaas signify the Navamis followed by the Ahtakaas. Abhuyudayas denote the above three categories of Ashtakas-Manvantaraas-Anvashtakaas as these are first and foremost addressed invoke Maata- Pitaamahi- Pramitaamahi and then by Pita-Pitaamaha-Prapitaamaha. In other words, Maatru Varga would be addressed first, followed by Pitru varga and finally to Mataamaha- Pramitgaamah- Vriddha Mataamaha.Shraaddhaas are also required to be performed at Grahanas or Solar-Lunar Eclipses, Vyatipatas, Surya-Chandrama Sangamaas, Janma Nakshatraas, and Graha Peedaavasaras; these Shraaddhaas are to be Paarvana Shraaddhaas. At the timings of Aayana -kramana or change of Dakshinatana-Uttaraayana as also the two Vishus (or when Surya reaches the line when the day-night calculations are equivalent) as also on Samkraanti day, vidhi purvaka Shraddhas need to be performed in a full-fledged form, but minus Pindapradaada. Shraaddhhas are required to be performed on Vaishakha Shukla Triteeya and Kartika Shukla Navami as per the Samkraanti Vidhi; again on Bhadra Shukla Trayodashi and Magha Amavasya days, Paayasa Shraadha or Cooked rice in boiled sweet milk should be offered to Pitru Devaas. When ever a VedaVetta or Nityaagnihotriya Brahmana arrives at a Brahmana’s house, then too a Shraaddha would better be given. On the days of death of one’s own parents Shraaddhhas are required to be performed in a fulfledged manner every year including to Pitru devatas and Vishva Devatas separately.
Prati Samvararam Kaaryam Maataa Pitrormrotey hani,
Pitruvyasyaapya putrasya Bhraatur Jyeshthasya chaivahi/
Paarvanam Devapuryam syaadekoddhishtam Surairvinaa,
Dyuodevey Pitrukaaryea Treenakaikamubhayatravaa/
( On the day of the passing away of one’s own father or mother, one has to perform Ekoddishta Shraaddha; if father’s brother had no male issue then too the Ekoddishta Shraaddha be performed. In the Parvana Shraaddha, Vishva Devas are to be invoked first and their puja is to be performed.But without Vishvadevas in Ekoddishta Shraaddha, Brahmanas are arranged in Deva Pitru Shtaanaas and worshipped. In the Deva Kaarya, two Brahmanas are to be arranged and for Pitru Karyaa three Brahmanas; Or at least one each of the Karyas are required as minimum. Pretajeeva deeds to be kept in the form of a Pinda ón Bhumi beneath Kushaa grass with black Tilas and water. Brahnanaas would get shuddhi on the eleventh day of the demise, while Kshatriyas get purified on the thirteenth day, Vaishyas on the sixteenth day and Shudras on the thirty first day. On the termination of Sutaka or Asuddhi, Brahmanas should perform Ekoddishta Shraddha on the twelfth day, after a month, after Traipaksha or three weeks and every month thereafter for a year. Then the action of ‘Sapindeekarana Paarana Vidhhana’ must be followed, when the departed Soul would abandon the ‘Pretha Swarupa’ and attain the status of ‘Pitru Devatva’.The Pitaras are of two types viz. Amurtaas (Formless) and Murtimaan ( with Form). Naandimukhaas are stated to be Formless and Paarvanaas are Murtimaans.
Now, the procedure of Sapindeekarana is as follows: In the context of Sapindeekarana, Vishwa Devaas are not invoked, only one ‘Arghya’/ water is given, no Agnikarana or invocation of Agni is done, four Patras or small vessels are used with Tilodakaas or water with black Tilas and chandana; three of the Paatras are to invite to three generations of forefathers and one for the Preta: Paatratraye pretapaatraadarghyam chaiva prasechayet, Yesamaanaah iti japanpurva -vacchhesha maacharet/ ( while reciting the Mantra ‘Yenamaanaah’, the Kartaa should perform ‘Jala Prokshana’ (sprinkle of water); even in respect of the deceased women the same procedure of Ekoddhishta should be adopted, but no need for Sapindeekarana is required in respect of women without children and the concerned relatives of husband or her own brothers could take up the task of Shraaddha. In case, there is none, the King becomes responsible as he would be the relative to all the prajaa who are helpless and execute all the related actions including the annual Shraaddhaas. Even related women could assume the charges, provided no Mantras are recited.
Nitya Naimitthika Shraaddhas are as follows: Nitya Sh raaddha would follow Sapindeekarana, when the departed father would join the ranks of the earlier three generations viz. the Karta’s departed father, grand father and the great grandfather who would all be the ‘Pinda bhuks’`; actually, seven previous generations of the Karta would be eligible for the fruits of the shraddha: Pindasambandhino hyetey vigjneyaah Purushaatrayah, Lepa sambandhinaschaaney pitaamah pitaamahaah/ Prabhrutyuktaa -strayasteshaam yajamaanascha saptamah, Ityesha Munibhih proktah sambandhaha Saapta Pourushah/ But those who were beyond the three earlier generations viz. those of Sapta Pourushaas of four further earlier generations would be satisfied with the particles of ‘Anna’ or rice grains spread along and around the leaf above the kushagrass on which three pindas are placed in a line; the water drops from the clothes after taking bath by the Karta would provide relief to those who might have turned as Piscachas; those who might have been born as trees would be satisfied too by the water drops from the body of snaana of the Kartha; and those who might have been born as Pashu-Pakshis would be satisfied from the water drops while performing prokshana around the pindas in the process of worship. As the bhojana of the Brahmana bhoktas would be complete, the water drops to wash the hands and feet of the Bhoktas would relieve those who might have been born otherwise. Thus each Shraaddha would liberate the Souls of Seven Generations and none indeed would be dis-satisfied in the ‘Kula’for seven generations! Those who perform Shraaddhaa even by the low caste human beings with Shraddha or Faith would relieve the misery of the departed Souls, while those Brahmanaas who are virtuous observing daily tasks would indeed be responsible for the certain salvation of the ancestors. Now, the Bhahmanas who are selected as bhoktas must also have proper qualfications; they should preferably be Veda vettaas, maatru-pitru bhaktas, Acharyas, Panditaas, fathers-in-law, brothers-in-law, Purana TatvaVetta, and such others. Those who are selected as the representatives of Vishwadeva Pitraas too should be equally learned. The Kartha should feed such ideal Brahmanas as would indeed alleviate the miseries of the departed ones and hence the care for the selection. The services provided to the bhoktas are as good as those given to the departed parents or others concerned. In this context, Vastra daanana was emphasized:
Vastraabhaavey kriyaanaasti yajgnaa Vedaastapaamsicha,
Tasmaadwaasaamsi deyaani Shraaddha kaaley viseshitah/
Kauseyam kshaama kaarpaasam dukulamahatam tathaa,
Shraaddheytwetaani yo dadyaat kaamaanaapnotichottamaan/
(Without the charity of Vastraas, no task of Shraaddhha would be complete; in fact, no sacred task like Yagnaas, Vedaas and Tapaas would be complete without Vastra daanaa. More particularly so, in respect of Shraaddhhaas as Pitru Devas would not be appeased otherwise. Silk Vastraas or at least new cotton Vastraas constitute a definite input in Shraaddhas.
Yathaa goshu prabhutaasu vatso vindati maataram,
Tathaannam tatra Vipraanaam janturyatraavasishthatey/
Naama gotrancha mantraascha datthamannamnayantitey,
Aapiye nidhanam praaptaas trupistaanupatishthatey/
(Just as a calf reaches its mother’s udder on a group of cows, Anna daana to Brahmanaas too is an inclusive input in Shraaddhaas to enable the relief of the departed Souls; recitation of Naama-Gotraas in the formal medium of Mantras would reach the fruits of Shraaddhaas to the concerned Vamsha-Gotra-Naamaas so that the respective categories are satiated.) The relevant Mantra further states:
Deataabhyah Pitrubhyascha Mahaa Yogibhy yevacha,
Namah Swadhhaayai Swaahaayai Nithyameva bhanantiti,
Adhaavasaaney Shraaddhasya traavruttvaa japettadaa,
Pinda nirvahaney vaapi japedevam samaahitah/
Kshipramaayaanti pitaro Raahshasaah pradravanti cha,
Preeyantey trishu lokeshu Mantroyam taarayatyuta/
(My obeisances to Pitraas and Devataas; to my homage to Swadhaa Devi and Swaahaadevi; May these be always with me; This Mantraa must be recited thrice at the time of Pinda-Nirvahana of while performing the Task of Pindaas as also at the time end of the Shraadda. The recitation of this Mantra would instantly respond to the Pitra Devas and the Rakshasaas would run away; the Tri Lokas would be satisfied and the Performer would fully bless with salvation. Offering away the Pindaas to Agni in the Homakunda would bless the Karta would secure Bhoga Vriddhi or enhance pleasures; offering the Pindas to the Karta’s wife would result in Putra Prapti; offering them to Cows would ensure ‘Tejovriddhi’; immerse the pindaas would increase Keerti /fame; feeding them to crows would provide long life; and some Pandits stated that ‘Pindaagraas’ or tops of the Pindaas should be lifted.
Tasmaatsam Pujayet bhaktya swapitruunvidhivannarah,
Kaamaanabhhepsinsakalaan –paadaatma vimochanam,
Vasuun Rudraamstathaadityaan Nakshatra graha taarakaah/
Preenayanti Manushyaanaam Pitarah Shraaddha tarpitaah,
Aayuh Prajaam Dhanam Vidyaam Swargam Moksham sukhaanicha/
Prayacchanti tathaa Raajyam Pitarah Shraaddha tarpitaah,
Tathaapahaarnah Purvaahnaat pitruunaamatirichyatey/
Sampujya Swaagateynaitaan sadanebhyaagataandvijaan,
Pavitra paaniraachaantaa nasaneyshupa –vesayet/
Shaadhham krutwaa vidhaanena sambhojya cha Dwijottamaan,
Visarjaeyt priyaanyukaa pranipatya cha bhaktitah/
Aadwara manugacchhecchaa gacchhedan moditah,
Tato nitya kriyaamkuryaad bhojayeccha tathaa tithheen/
Nithya kriyaam pitruunaamcha kechidicchanti Sattamaah/
(As the Shraddha Karta is anxiously awaited by the concerned Pitru Devaas, he should worship them with faith and devotion as prescribed so that the desires of Karta are fulfilled; the Ashtaa Vasus, Ekaadasha Rudraas, Dwadasha Adityas , Nava Grahas and Nakshatraas would all be satisfied with the Shraaddhhas and bestow long and healyhy life, good progeney, prosperity, Vidya, over-all fulfillment and Swarga. As ‘Aparaahna’or mid-day is the appropriate time, the Kartha should welcome the Brahmanaas with devotion, make them feel comfortable and conduct the proceedings with perseverance and fortitude, perform the duties till the end and then take the Nitya Karmas after duly sending them off with reverence).
In conclusion, Veda Vyasa Maharshi assured:
Aajaaramaacharedyastu Pitru medhha shritam Narah,
Ayushaa dhana putraischa vardhastyasu na samshayah/
Pitrumedhaadhyaaya mimam Shraaddha kaaleshu yah pathet,
Tadannamasya pitaroshnanti cha tri-yugam dwijaah/
Yevam mayoktah Pitrumedha kalpah paaaapahah punyavivaddhanascha/
Shrotavya yesha prayatainaraihscha shraaddeghachainaapyanu keertayet/
( Those who observe the traditions of Pitrumedha Kalpa, are blessed with Dhana-Dhanya-Ayuraarogya- Putra Poutra-Vardhana. Those who read ‘Pitrumedha-adhyaa’ of this Purana, would be blessed with the contentment of Pitru Devatas of the past three yugas! The recitation or patient hearing of the contents of the Adhyaaya itself would bestow the boon of demolishing sins and of and ushering propitiousness).
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