The Brahma Purana

by G. P. Bhatt | 1955 | 243,464 words

This is the Brahma Purana in English (translation from Sanskrit), which is one of the eighteen Maha Puranas. The contents of this ancient Indian encyclopedic treatise include cosmology, genealogy (solar dynasty etc.), mythology, geology and Dharma (universal law of nature). The Brahma Purana is notable for its extenstive geological survey includin...

Chapter 111 - The details of the Śrāddha ritual

The sages said:

1-2. O sage, tell us further in detail about the ritual of Śrāddha. O ascetic, let us know how it was performed, at what place, when and by whom?

Vyāsa said:

O great sages, hear in detail about the ritual of Śrāddha, how it was performed, where, when, in which nakṣatras or tithis, in what region and by whom?

3. Brāhmaṇas and Vaiśyas should perform Śrāddha each following one’s own dharma and reciting mantras.

4. Women and Śūdras too should perform the same under the direction of Brāhmaṇas. But there should be no recitation of mantras or ritual of sacrifice.

5-13. Śrāddha should be performed in holy places as Puṣkara, or meritorious spots, peaks of mountains or sacred regions, in streams of holy waters, rivers or lakes, in the confluence of rivers or in any one of seven oceans or in one’s own home purified or smeared with cowdung or spots enjoined by the Śāstras, at the root of holy trees or in lakes worthy of sacrifice. One should hold Śrāddha at such places. Śrāddha is prohibited among Kirātas, Kaliṅgas, Koṅkaṇas, Kṛmis, Daśārṇas, Kumāryas, Taṅgalas, Krathas, on the northern bank of Sindhu, on the southern bank of Narmadā, to the east of Karatoyā. Śrāddha should be performed every month on the Amāvasa day. In Ṛkṣagocarya (?) Śrāddha should be performed on Pūrṇamāsī for the manes as well as Devas. Nitya Śrāddha is performed for gods. There are other Śrāddhas performed for the attainment of desired objects. O Brahmins, they should be done every year. Vṛddhi Śrāddha should be performed on such occasions.

14. When the sun enters zodiac Kanyā, there are fifteen days exclusively meant for Śrāddha.

15-33. Pratipat is for riches, Dvitīyā for progeny, Tṛtīyā for sons, Caturthī for destroying foes, Pañcamī for obtaining wealth, Saptamī for lordship, Aṣṭamī for intelligence, Navamī for conjugal relations, Daśamī for fulfilling desire, Ekādaśī for acquiring Vedic knowledge, Dvādaśī for victory, Trayodaśī for increase in progeny, animals, intellect, independence, prosperity, longevity and supremacy, Caturdaśī for those who died in youth or who were killed by weapons and Amāvāsyā for fulfilling all desires including the attainment of heaven as an abode for eternity. O best of sages, I shall now tell you the material for food which pleases the pitṛs and the period of propitiation.

If in the Śrāddha, the sacrificial food is offered to the Brahmins, the Pitṛs are fed for a month. If the flesh of a fish is offered, the Grandfathers are fed for two months. If a goat’s flesh is offered, the Pitṛs are fed for three months. If a hare’s flesh is offered, the Pitṛs are fed for four months. If a bird’s flesh is offered, the Pitṛs are fed for five months. If a hog’s flesh is offered, the Pitṛs are fed for six months. If a ram’s flesh is offered the Pitṛs are fed for seven months. If black deer’s flesh is offered the Pitṛs are fed for eight months. If ruru deer’s nine months; if cow’s for ten months; if ram’s for eleven months. If cow’s milk or rice cooked in cow’s milk for one year; if of rhinoceros or of rohita fish for endless period of time. So also food for progeny. He who offers Śrāddha at Gayā with sesamum seeds mixed with sugar, honey or honey-mixture obtains endless stock of corn. The Pitṛs say: “May there be born one in our lineage who may give us oblation of water, rice cooked in milk and mixed with honey, during the rainy season, in Maghānakṣatra.” One should wish for many sons. If even one of them goes to Gayā or marries a girl of eight years or releases a blue-coloured bull or worships Pitṛs in Kṛttikās he obtains heaven.

34-42. One who performs Śrāddha in Rohiṇī gets progeny, in Saumya splendour, in Ārdrā valour, in Punarvasu fields for cultivation, in Puṣya eternal wealth, in Āśleṣā longevity, in Maghā progeny and prosperity, in Phālgunī, good fortune, in Uttarās progeny and benevolence, in Hastā proficiency in Śāstras, in Citrā beauty, splendour and progeny. Śrāddha performed in Svātī bestows gains in merchandise, in Viśākhā gives sons, in Anurādhā sovereignty, in Jyeṣṭhā Lordship, in Mūla good health, in Āṣāḍhā attainment of fame, especially in Uttarās, in Śravaṇa fulfilment of auspicious desires, in Dhaniṣṭhā abundant riches, in Abhijit the knowledge of the Vedas, in Vāruṇa efficiency in medicine, in Prauṣṭhapadī skill in goats and sheep, in Uttara Bhādrapada cows, in Revatī a vessel of brass, in Aśvinī horses, in Bharaṇī longevity. The performer of Śrāddha obtains the result in these nakṣatras. O Brahmins, thus are the Śrāddhas performed for the attainment of particular desire.

43. When the sun has entered the Kanyā Zodiac, the performer of Śrāddha in that period obtains whatever desire he has in his mind. Nāndīmukha should be performed during the same period. It should be done in Pūrṇimā as stated in Varāha Purāṇa.

44-47. When the sun entered the Kanyā zodiac, the Pitṛs mobile or immobile, living in heaven, earth or firmament, wish for the rice-ball. The first sixteen days of the month, when the sun has entered Kanyā, one should propitiate Pitṛs with the libation of water, vegetable and roots. He gets the rare fruit desirable from the performance of Rājasūya and Aśvamedha sacrifices.

48-56. If a person propitiates Pitṛs, when the sun has entered Uttarā or Hastā, he goes to heaven.

When the sun enters Hastā asterism, Pitṛs leave home at the command of Yama. They remain out till the sun enters the sign Scorpion of the Zodiac.

When the sun has passed through Scorpion, Pitṛs return to their abode, together with Devas, sobbing and cursing their progeny.

In the ages of Manu, the Śrāddha should be performed in Aṣṭakas and Anvaṣṭakas. It should start serially beginning with the Mother. During the period of eclipse, in Vyatīpāta at the confluence of the Sun and the Moon, on the day of natal star, during the oppression caused by the planet, he should perform Pārvaṇa Śrāddha.

During the interval between the solstices, on the day of equinox or at the sun’s equinoctial passage, Śrāddha should be performed without offering the rice-ball. On the third of Vaiśākha, on the ninth of Kārttika, on the Pūrṇimā day, the Śrāddha should be performed as at the equinoctial passage.

On the thirteenth day of the Bhādrapada month, on the amāvāsyā day of the month of Māgha, one should do Śrāddha by means of rice cooked with milk in the manner it is performed at the winter solstice.

57. When a Brahmin versed in the Vedas and the fire-rituals comes to the house, he alone should be considered as worthy of Śrāddha.

58. When the material for Śrāddha approved by the experts is available, he should perform Pārvaṇa Śrāddha with the help of Brahmins well versed in the Śrāddha.

59. One should celebrate the anniversary of one’s departed parents, also of the uncle and elder brother if they died sonless.

60-62. In Pārvaṇa offerings should begin with Devas. In Ekoddiṣṭa no offerings should be made to Devas. In Śrāddha pertaining to Devas, he should offer two Piṇḍas, in that pertaining to Pitṛs three or a single piṇḍa should be offered to each. Similarly, in regard to maternal grandfather.

When a person is dead his son should offer rice-ball with libation of water with Kuśa grass and sesamum seeds outside the village on the bank of a river or a pond. On the third day, they should collect the bones.

63. If the deceased is a Brāhmaṇa, the purification of relatives of the same gotra is effected after ten days, if Kṣatriya, after twelve days, if Vaiśya after fifteen days, if Śūdra after a month.

64. After purification, they enjoin Ekoddiṣṭa, on the twelfth day, or after the expiry of a month or at the end of three fortnights.

65. O Brahmins, Śrāddha should be performed every month, for a year. Then he should perform sapiṇḍīkaraṇa rite after a year. When that is done, he should perform Pārvaṇa. The deceased then change their states as Preta to that of Pitṛs.

66. Pitṛs are twofold: mūrta and amūrta. Nāndīmukhas are amūrta and Pārvaṇas are mūrta. Pretas receive Ekoddiṣṭa, Pitṛs receive Pārvaṇa Śrāddha.

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