Vyasa Maha Muni narrated the details of Shraadhha Karma as follows: As Amavasya of a Month arrives at the noon time, Brahmanas are required to perform ‘Pindaan-vaahaaryaka’ with sincerity and devotion.This Deed may be done only by those eligible to light up Agnihotra ( not by widowers) and is performed after Pitru Yajna and this is a Nitya Shraaddha on every Amavasya. Excepting on Chaturdashi in Krishna Paksha, these Shraaddaas could be done on any days, especially on the three Ashtamis of Pusha,Maagha and Phalgunas; also during the Rainy Season when Crops reach home as Trayodhashi preferably coinciding with Makha Nakshatra. On Chandra and Surya Grahana Timings or on the days of death of relatives too Naimittika Shraaddha is to be done failing which, visits to Naraka Lokas are expected to be certain. Shraaddhhas during the Uttaraayana and Dakshinaayana timings as also Vishu Kaala are also certain to provide ‘Ananta Phala’ or Ever lasting Punya. Samkraanti and ‘Janma Dina’ shraaddhas are also stated to be highly fruitful.
Kaamya Shraaddhaas are helpful in any Nakshatras; Kritthika Nakshatra bestows Swarga Prapti; Rohini Shraaddha is to provide Santana Prapti; Mrigashira yields Brahma Teja prapti; Ardra nakshatra for Roudra Karma Siddhi or Shourya Siddhi; Punarvasu : Bhumi; Pushya : Lakshmi Prapti; Aslesha Shraaddha for fulfillment of desires; Magha for Soubhaagya; Uttara Phalguni for wealth; Purva Phalguni for destruction of sins; Hasta Nakshatra Shradda for Jaati Sreshthata or Superiority in the Jaati; Chitra for Putra Prapti; Swati :Vyapaara Siddhi; Vishakha : Suvarna Prapti; Anuraha for Bahu Mitrata or for Great Friendships; Jyeshtha for Rajya Prapti; Moola for Krishi; Purvaashadha for Samudra Yatra; Uttashadya for Kamya Siddhi; Sravana for Bahu Sreshthata; Dhanishta for Sarva Kaamna; Satabhisha for Parama Bala; Purva bhadra for Dhaatu Prapti or precious metals like gold and Silver; Uttaabhadra for Shubha Griha or construction; Revati Nakshatra Shraddha for Bahu-Dhenu prapti; Ashwini for Ashwa Prapti and Bharani Nakshatra Shraaddha for long life.
Dina Phalas of Shraadhas are: Sunday-Arogya; Monday: Sowbhagya; Tuesdays; Vijaya or Victory; Wednesday: Kaamna Siddhi; Thursday:Abhishta Vidya Siddhi; Friday Shraaddha: Wealth and Saturday: Ayu Prapti.
Tithi-wise Shraaddha Phalaas are: Pratipada: Putra Prapti; Dwitiya : Kanya; Tritiya: Vandijana or Persons with Praises: Chaturthi: Kshudra Pashu or low class animal; Panchami: Sundara Putra; Shashthi: Gambling succsess; Saptami: Krishi; Ashtami: Business Success; Navami: Sukha; Dashami: Pashu Laabha; Ekaadashi: Silver material and Putra with Brahmavarchas; Dwadashi: Gold and Silver; Trayodhashi: Superiority of Jaati; Chaturdashi Shraaddha is Varjita or to be avoided; Purnima or Amavasya: Fulfillment of desires.
One should perform Abhudaya Shraaddhaas at the beginning of a Kaarya-Praarambha or at the commencement of a Deed, at the birth of a son or Festival Days. Manu Deva prescribed five kinds of Shraaddhhaas viz. Nithya Shraaddha, Kaamya Shraaddha, Ekodishtaadi Naimitthika Shraaddha, Vriddhi Shraaddha, and Paarvana Shraadha; additionally there could be Yatraa Samaya Shraaddhas. Brahma prescribed Shuddi Shaaddha and Daivika Shraaddha and the latter relieves of fear. Shraaddhaas are never to be performed in the evenings and nights as a rule. How ever as exceptions, Shraaddhas may be performed during the Eclipse Timings of Surya and Chandra.
Shraaddhas performed in Ganga, Prayaga and Amarakantaka Kshetras are of such superior quality that Pitaras sing hymns saying:
Yeshtavyaa bahavah putraah Sheelavanto gunaanvitaah,
Teshaam tu samavetaanaam Yadyekopi Gayaam Vrajet/
Gayaam praapyaanushangena yadi Shaaddham samaacharet,
Taaritaah Pitarastena sa yaati Paramaam Gatim/
( Pitaras sing hymns saying that one should be blessed with many sons since atleast some of them might reach Gaya and perform Shraaddha so that the Pitaras attain ‘Uttama Gati’ High Class Journeys and the Karthaas could secure Paramagati.) Varaha Parvata where Hari and Ganga reside, as also Maha Kshetras like Vaaranasi, Ganga Dwaar (Hari Dwaar), Prabhasa, Bilvaka Tirtha, Nila Parvata, Kurukshetra, Kubjaagra Tirtha, Bhrugu tunga, Mahalaya, Kedara Parvata, Phalgu Tirtha, Naimisharanya, Saraswati River, Pushkara, Narmada, Bhadrakarnika, Vetravati, Vipaasha, Krushaavarta, Shrishaila,Godavari, and such other Sacred Places, Pitru Shraadhas and Pujas would be of great significance. Pitaras are highly satisfied with materials like Vrihi, Yavas, Maasha, Moolaas, Phalaas, Wheat, Tilaas, and such other food materials as al so fruits like mangoes, Draaksha / grapes, pomegranate, Bhumi Kushmanda, etc besides honey and sugar with fruits. But, food materials like buffalo milk, Kaala shaakam or pippili, Masoor dal, Raajamaasha, brinjal, pinda mula etc. should be avoided.
Eligibility of Brahmanas for Shraddhaas: Brahmanas who are ‘Veda Paraayanas’ or Experts in Vedas being eligible for Havya-Kavya-Daana-Tirthas should therefore perform Pitru Tarpanas and Pindaanvaahaaryaka Shraaddhhas on Amavasyas. Their eligibility qualifications are as follows: They should be Somapayis, Rajoguna rahitaas, Dharma vidas, Shanta Chitttas, Vrata Parayanaas, ‘Niyama baddhaas’, Panchaagni Sevakaas, Adhyayana Nirataas, Agnihotra paaraayanaas, Nyaaya Vetthaas; Vedaanga Jnaataas (Viz. Siksha, Kalpa, Vyakarana , Nirukta, Chhanda and Jyotisha Disciplines), Rishika or Rishi Putra, Yagjna karta, Samskaara Shudda like Naama Karama and Sandhyo- paasaka; Dana Karta, Chandraayana Vrata Karta; Satyavaadi, Purana Jnaana Sahita; Guru-Deva-Agni Pujaasakta; Jnaana Parayana; Brahma Jnaani; and so on. The best such Brahmanas could be the most ideal in the Shraadha Karyas. Matahaha, Pitamaha, Matula, Swashura, Jamaata, Guru and such intimate relatives are also eligible. But friends are not to take part in the Pankti Bhojana. Employees of Officials, Veda Vikrayas, Gram Purohitas, Patitas and their progeny, Naastikas, Napumsakas, Kaapaalikas, Madya Sevakaas, husbands of widows, Mitra drohis, those who sacrifice parents,wife and children; Santaana heenas, Rogis, and such other disqualified Brahmanas are not to be engaged in the Shraaddha Karmas.
Shraddhaas should not be performed in the houses of others and if not possible in one’s own, may be organised in common places like Punya Tirthas, Forests, Deva Mandiras, Choultries and such other ‘Saarvajanika’or common places where there is no owenership of an individual where black Tilaas are freely spread over to ensure that no evil spirits could enter and the Shraaddha Bhumi gets purified. Then, there must be facility for cooking various ‘Annas’/ food, besides bhojya, bhakshya, peya and other kinds of food material.
Shraaddha Vidhi: As the mid- day arrives, the Karta and the participating Brahmanas should take their baths to ensure physical purity and inward cleanliness before the commencement of the Sacred Deed. The designated Brahmanas are to be seated over three Kushas looking ‘Purvaabhi mukha’. The Karta should then sprinkle ‘Tilodaka’ and offer the seat to the Pitru Brahmana with the Sankalpa Mantra viz. Aasadhwam etc.Vaishvadeva (Agni Deva) sambandhi Brahmanaas-two of them-would be Purvaabhimukha and Pitru sambandhi Brahmanas-three of them- would be ‘Uttaraabhimukha’; keeping in view the factors of Desha-Kaala-kaaranas and of availability, even one Brahmana each might suffice for the representatives of Pitrus and Devas. All the Pitru Karyaas must be followed after Vaishvadeva Karmas. ‘Shraadhhiya Anna’or the Cooked Rice meant for Shraaddha, without salt but with ghee is served to Agni. The formal ‘Prathama’ or the first Naivedya must be done ( in house) at Deva Mandira. Pitru Brahmanas may be offered ornaments if any, besides garlands, Yagjna Sutras,dhupa, Vastra, Gandha etc. Thereafter Deva Brahmana/s should be seated Uttaabhimukha and Vishvey deevaasa etc Rucha be recited to invoke (Aavahana) Devas; they would take two Pavitra Kushas and recite the Mantra viz. sham no Devi, pour water into the Paatra or vessel and recite again the Mantra viz. Yavooseetim placing Yavas with water into the Vessel; then along with the Mantra viz. Yaa divyaa etc. the Karta should leave the Arghya Patra jala into the hands of the the Deva Brahmana. The next step is that the Karta would perform ‘Apasayva’of the Yajnopaveeta facing ‘Dakshinaamukha’and invoke Pitras with the Rucha viz. Ushantastwaa etc. Then recite the Mantra Sham no Devi etc and pour water with Tilas reciting the Mantra Tilomsi etc. As done earlier in case of Deva Brahmanas, Arghya or water be poured into the hands of the Pitru Brahmanas; then the Anna with ghee is taken in hand, after making ‘Savyam’or from left shoulder to right of Yagmopavita and keeping kusha on hand , make the offering to Agni reciting: Agnow karishye! Then the response would be Kurushwaa. Always, Pitru Kaarya should be done in Apasavya and Deva karyaas are to be in Savya. The Karta should keep the right Jaanu (Knee) on the ground for all Deva karyas and vice versa recite the Mantra Somaaya vai Pitrumatey swadhaanamah and perform havan to Agni saying Agnaye Kavyavaahanaaya Swadhaa/ Then keep towards the Southen side Three Pindas or Rice balls of equal size-representing three generations of the deceased (viz the father, grand father and great grand father) on a cow-dung cleaned ‘Bhuvedi’(Platform) over Kushas spread and arranged with right palms turned to left as the spare morsels be sprinkled and dressed all around the Pindas. Then the Karta should perform ‘Aachamana’ of three spoons full of water, slowly breathe and greet the Pitaras placed in vertical order. The Pindaas be worshipped with Dhupa-Deepa-Naivedya and the rest of the Prashad is consumed by Brahmanas.The wife of the Karta desirous of securing good sons should consume the middle pinda.Then the Karta should clean his hands with water, perform Achamana and serve the food to family members, relatives and friends. On the night when shraaddhai is performed, the Karta should observe celibacy and any departure from the rule would attract Maha Rourava naraka to the husband and wife concerned. Shraddha Kartha as well as those Brahmanas involved in the Shraddha should be placid, peaceful and pure-minded and to the extent possible observe ‘Swaadhyaaya’; they should also observe one meal that day; the Karta is required not to travle that day. Those who perform Shraaddhaa without Agni Karya, who are definitely required to travel or are unwell or would have to perform ‘Aama Shraddha’ only giving away uncooked rice and other material to a Brahmana and the recipient should recite Agnoukarana Mantra while accepting the material and ‘dakshina’. Those who perform the Shraaddha as prescribed are blessed by Pitras who not only lessen the impact of sins committed by the Karta but bring in auspicious tidings to him and his family.
There after the Karta should pray the Pitras as follows:
Daataaram nobhivardhantaam Vedaah santatirevacha,
Shraddaacha no maa vyagmad bahudeyam cha nostwati/
( May our Vamsha be full of persons who give large daanaas ( donations) and who possess Veda Jnaana; may our progeny be increased in good srtength; may not the persons in my clan lessen our devotion to Brahmanas, Pitaras and Devas as also our great interest in Shastras and Scriptures!