Of the ‘Sapta Pitruganas’, four have a Form and three are Formless. The ‘Amurtamaan’ (Formless) Pitras reside on a Mountain called ‘Santaanaka’named after the Term of Progeny. They were the sons of Prajapati Viraja who were great practitionres of Yog and enhance the magnificance of Soma Deva. Their mind-born daughter was Devi Mena who was the wife of Himavan and her son was called Mainaaka. The son of that Mountain Mainaaka was Krouncha. Mena had three daughters viz. Aparna, Ekaparna and Ekapaatala. Both Ekaparna and Ekapatala took to ‘Saynaasa’ and Aparna practised Tapasya. Mena the mother Aparna asked the latter not to engage herself in Tapasya and said: U –A or ‘Child-Do not’ and thus was reputed in the Tri Lokas as UMA! All the daughters were remarkable Yoginis but Uma was outstanding. She became the wife of Parama Shiva but for long they were issueless.The Asura named Taraka secured a boon from Lord Brahma that none excepting the son of Shiva could destroy him; the clever Asura was aware of the past tense well since Mahadeva would never marry again as his earlier wife Sati Devi opted for Self-immolation at the notorious Daksha Prajapati’s yagna since she as the daughter of Daksha felt slighted that she was uninvited to the function due to his animosity against her husband Mahadeva. To stage-manage to provoke Mahadeva with a longing for Uma who was serving him with the supply of flowers etc.at that time for his puja, Indra commissioned Manmadha and his wife Rati Devi to shoot Shiva with passionate flowers by his flowery arrows; but the plan was foiled and Maha Deva opened his third eye and Manmatha was burnt to ashes. But to the disappoin- ment of Tarakasura Shiva and Uma got wedded in due course and Indra was anxious that a son should be born quickly to the couple. Indra asked Agnideva to take the shape of a sparrow to witness the bed chamber details of Shiva and Parvati as to whether and why not soon enough that Shiva and Uma were not seeking marital union. As Agni’s entry as a sparrow into the bedroom just at the time of Shiva-Parvati physical union, Shiva by a suspicion and haste just at that time of the union spilt his virility on the floor. Devi Parvati was dreadfully furious and cursed Agni for his terrible indiscretion and forced to consume and carry Shiva’s virility. For years together Agni carried the Garbha but could not tolerate the heaviness and approached Devi Ganga who accepted Shiva’s virility. But Ganga too could not bear the severe flames any further and relieved herself when a child with unprecedeted spledour was materialised on her river-banks. As soon as the child was born, celestial drums were sounded, Siddha Chaaranas rained fragrant flowers, Gandharvas sang and Apsaras danced with joy; Daitya-Danava-Rakshasas were burnt off in thousands by the sheer radiance of the boy; Krittika Devis were anxious in competion to feed the child with their milk and Indra having realised their disquiet materialised Six Faces to allow all the six Krittikas to feed the child simultaneously gaining thus the epithets of Shanmukha and Kartikeya. Even as child was born, his full range of armoury and weaponry including the most potent ‘Shakti Shula’ were in position. Bhagavan Vishnu despatched toys viz. a peacock and a cock to play by his Garuda; Vayudeva despatched a ‘Kukkuta Dhwaja’ or a Rooster Flag; Devi Saraswati gifted a Veena- a plucked musical instrument; Swayambhu Brahma gifted a goat; Shambhu presented a sheep’; and Indra appointed Skanda as the Deva Senapati or the Commader in Chief of Devas. As soon as the announcement was made by Indra, Pramathana Ganas, Deva Ganaas, Vinayaka ganaas, Matrika ganas and Bhutaganaas surrounded Skanda.
Skanda Deva then shifted over to Soma Pada, where the sons of Maharshi Marichi resided; Pitaras like Barhishaadas were Soma Padas. The Manasika Kanya or the mind born daughter of Barhishaadas was Acchoda in the form of a ‘Sarovara’ but she did not recognise her Pitaras and instead selected one Sage called ‘Amavasu’as her father. Amasasu was actaully a Nabhaschara or Sky-wanderer who fell in passion and slept with an Apsara named Adrika. Since she adopted Amavasu as the father, Acchoda started to slide down to Earth and as she was crying away, the real Pitras recognised her and told her that keeping in view the mistake of selecting a person as a father who indulged in sin, she had to suffer but after her death she would get a rebirth as the daughter of a King and in a further birth she would become called Mastyagandhi and would beget an illustrious Maharshi called Veda Vyasa; in fact, Satyavati or Matsyagandhi was born to the then Apsara Adrika and Amavasu! Then Satyavati in her subsequent birth would rejoin Pitruloka as the Manasika Putri of Pitras as Peevari. She would be blessed with five great sons called Krishna, Goura, Prabhu, Shambhu and Bhurishrava , besides a daughter.
Another branch of Pitaras originated from Agni Deva and Swadha Devi. The Agni Sutas who had ‘Yogotpatti’ as their Manasika Kanya. She was married off by Santkumara as the better half to Daitya Guru Shukracharaya; she became well known as Eka Shringa and enhanced the prestige of Bhriga Vamsha. Then there were Sadhyaganas the progeny of Angirasa Maharshi. They were the Pitaras called ‘Upahutaas’ and they were worshipped by Kshatriyas and their Manasika Kanya was Yashoda. The Vaishya ganaas worship Ajyapa Pitras originated from Maharshi Pulaha; Viraja was their Manasika Putri who was the wife of Nahusha and the mother of Yayati. Sukaala Pitaras originated from Vasishtha Vamsha whom Shudras worship. Those Pitaras who were in the Maanasika Lokas in Swarga and their Manasika Kanya was Narmada, the wife of King Purukutsa and the mother of ‘Trasaddasya’.
Thus each Varna or Caste would be required to perform Shraddhaas to the concerned Pitru Devas. Those who perfom Apyaayana Kriyas would be pleasing Soma, Agni and Vaivaswata (Yama); as indeed most certainly the Pitraas.The Shraddha Kartas are bestowed with thousands of blessings by Pitras like Yoga Shakti, Ishwarya, Arogya, Rajya Phala, Satsaantana and Sarvakarya Samruddhi!
Shraaddhaas: A Shraadda Karta should recite the following Mantra thrice at the beginning and end of the Shraddha:
Daivatebhyah Pitrubhyascha Maha yogibhyashra eva cha, Namah Swadhaayai Swaahaayai Nityameva bhavatyatya,Adyevasaaney Shraadhaasya Tiraavrittham Japetsadaa/
On reciting this Mantra Pitaras are duly invoked and Evil Forces are blown off. If the appointed Brahmanas of the Shraddha Karma are prevailed on to recite this Mantra, Pitraas of three generations are certainly redeemed and the Karta would gain Veerya, Shourya, Artha, Satwa, Aashis, Ayu, and Buddhi.
The next Mantra viz. Saptarshicha is highly propitious:
Amurteenaam Samurteenaam Pitrunaam Deepta Tejasaam,
Namasyaami sadaa teshaam dhyaaninaam yoga chakshushaam/
Indraadeenaam cha netaaro Dashamaarichayostathaa,
Saptaarsheenaam Pitrunaam cha taannamasyaami kaamadaan/
Manvaadinaam cha netaarah Suryachandramasostathaa,
Taannamaskruya Sarvaanvai Pitru –mastu vidhishyapi/
Nakshatraanaam Grahaanaamcha Vayavyaagneyoscha Pitrunatha/
Daavyaa prithivyoscha sadaa namasyaami kritaanjalih/
Devasshinaam cha netaarah Sarva loka namaskritaah,
Traataarah Sarva bhutaanaam Namasyaami Pitaamahan/
Prajaapater-gavaam Vahneyh Somaayacha Yamaaya cha,
Yogeshwreybhyascha sadaa namasyaami kritaanjalih/
Pitruganebhyah Saptabhyo Namo lokeshu satasu,
Swayambhuvey Namaschaiva Brahmaney Yogachakshushey/
Etaduktam cha Saptaarchir Brahmarshigana sevitam,
Pavitram Paramamhyetatcchreemadroga vinaashanam,
Etena vidhinaayuktastreenvaraan labhatey narah/
(Saptaarshi Mantra: My salutations to those Pitru Devas who are possessive of Form or Formless but are replete with radiance, Dhyaana and Yoga; my obeisances to Pitru Devas who are Manvaadi Nayakaas or Surya Chandraadi Nayakaas; I fold my hands to Pitru Devas who are of Nakshatras, Grahas, Vayu-Agni-Varuna-Prithvi-Akaakaashas; Pitru Devas are Devarshis and are worshipped by one and all! They are the Samraksha Kartas of Sarvabhutaas; May I reverentially greet Pajapatis, Dhenu Maatas, Agni, Soma, Yama, Yogeshwaras and Pitamahaas; May I prostrate before the Pitruganaas in the Sapta Lokas and that the Omniscient Swayambhu who view the Pitruganaas! This is known as the Saptarchisha Mantra which is Sacred, Supreme, highly propitious, prosperous and bestower of excellent well-being). In other words, this Mantra assures Finest Food, Long Life and best progeny!
The significant inputs of Shraddas include the leaf-made vessels made of Sacred Trees like Palaasha, Plaksha, Nyagrodha, Kashmira and Madhuka in which to offer Pitru Yagna Phala; flower garlands; Gandha; Dhupa; Madhu (honey); ghee in the Agnishtomas; Deepa; Japa-homa- Phala mula Namaskaaraas; Vastra-Ratna-Go-Vastu- Dhana Danas; darbhas and tilas; and Bhaksya-Bhojya-Choshya-Lehya-Bhojanas. The climax however would be the Pinda Pradaana with tilas and ghee while invoking three generations of Pitrus by Apasavya Yagnopaveeta, sprinkling of holy water called Pitru Tirtha, by seating in the posture of bent knees; by pouring water drops keeping right palm under the left palm and by reciting the Mantras viz. Namovah Pitarah Soshaaya and Namovaha Pitatah Sounyuh and lift up the first in Apasavya position and after prokshana position it back and follow the same procedure for the second and third pindaas to represent Pitamaha and Prapitaamah. Then would follow Nava Kshouma Sutra Samarpana. The Karta would be seated Dakshinmamukha for peforming formal puja to the pindas laced on the darbha(Kusha gras). Later on the Bhoktaas should face North. The Shraadha Mantra states:
Nihanmi Sarvam yadamedhyavadbhavet taascha sarvey Suradaanavaamaya, Rakshaamsi Yakshaah sapiscacha sanghaa hataa mayaa yaatu-dhaanaascha sarvey/
(Let the impurity be destroyed; Asuras and Danavas be destroyed and so let Rakshasaas-Yakshas-Piscacha Sanghas and Dhatus be destroyed) When this Mantra is recited the Evil Spirits should run away and not even look back!
Further, Karta should perform Homas for Karma Siddhi by using Dakshinaagni while other wise Loukika -agni could be utilised. As ‘samidhas’or material offered are placed in the Homa Kunda, three types of Mantras are to be recited:
Agnaye swakavyavaahanaaya Swadhaa Angirasey namah-Somaaya vai Pitrumatey Swadhaa Angirasey Namah-Yamaaya Vaivaswataye Swadhaa nama iti dhruvam/
While performing the homaas or offerings to Agni, these be performed to Agni to Southern side, to Soma to Northern side and to Yama in between. It is essential that the various homas are performed with liberal helpings of ghee, and samidhas so that Agni is flamed up brightly with the least possible ‘Dhuma’or smoke. It is well known that in Pitru Karyas including Tarpanas, the word ‘Swadha’ must be used while in Deva Karyas only the Swaha Mantras are required to be utilised. Tarpanas to Pitaras are an integral part of the Shraddha Karma. As regards Pinda Visarjana, the Karta might offer the first Pinda to Agni to gain happiness; the middle Pinda might be offered to Agni to secure good progeny and the last Pinda be given away to a cow; those desirous of fame and name might offer the Pindas to a running water body and to obtain longevity might offer to crows; in all these cases, the Pinda Visarjana would have the desired effect if suitable Mantras are recited for obtaining the above benefits.
Nakshatra Shraddha Phala: Deva Guru Brihaspati detailed the results of performing Shraddhaas as per Nakshatras on specified days instead of the basis of Tithis; Yama Deva stated that such Nakshatra Shraddhaas are classified as Shashabindu Shraddaas; the fruits of performing them on the basis of Agni Homas are as follows: Those who perform these in Krittika Nakshatra are assured of Swarga if the Karta does the Shraddha with full faith and sincerity. Rohini Nakshatra Shraaddha would bestow ideal son. Mrigasirsha Shraddha Karta would enhance his physical radiance and intellectual faculties as this Nakshatra is Sowmya- featured. Shraddha in Ardra Nakshatra might lead the Karta to perform cruel deeds! Punarvasu Shraddha helps partnership in Vyavasaaya or activities connected to agriculture as also also attainment of an excellent son. Pushyami Sharaddha too would result in Putra Prapti. Alsesha Shradda too would yield Veera Putra Prapti. Magha Nakshatra blesses Sarva Varna Shreshtthata or dominance of all Varnas. Purvaphalguni Shraaddha results in Material Prosperity. Natural nobility and Character would be the Phalaas of Shraddhas in Uttara Phalguni. Hasta Nakshatra Shraddha secures Sabha Pramukhyata or Dominance in the Public. Chitra yields progeny with social smartness and achievements. Swati assures business succsess. Securing excellent progeny in Vishakha.Anuradha gives fame and authority. Jyeshta Nakshatra Shraddhas bestows High Positions in Public Life. Mula Nakshatra Shraddha relieves of physical ailments. Purvashadha Shraddha leads to high popularity and Uttaraashaadha Shraaddha liberates the Karta from distress and troubles. Shravana Shraddha bestows Parama Gati and that of Dhanishtha results in Vedaadhyana and excellent physical well being. Bhadrapada Shraddha provides the fruit of charity of thousand cows. Revati Shradda offers considerable fortune by gaining gold and silver. Ashwini provides Ashwa Prapti and Bharani Shraddha leads to the company and nearness of Uttama Sadhus. Thus Yama Dharma assured Shraddha Phalas on the basis of Nakshatras as above.
( More details are provided on Shraddhas vide the Chapters on ‘Shraaddha Kalpa Varnana’ in the Essence of Brahma Purana as also on ‘Shraadda Prakarana’ in the Essence of Kurma Purana as compiled by the same Author in the Series of the Essence of Puranas).