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 112 - The details of Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa Rite

The sages said:

1-3. How should the rite of Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa for the dead be performed, O best of Brahmins, according to the Śāstras? O best of speakers, let us know all.

Vyāsa said:

O Brahmins, listen, I shall tell you how the rite of Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa should be performed. Herein no offering is made to Devas. A single libation of water is enjoined. One ring of Kuśa grass is sanctioned. No offering in the fire. No invocation. A single brahmin is fed in that rite.

4. This rite is to be performed, every month, for a year. Listen attentively. I shall tell you what is additional to this rite.

5. There should be four vessels, three for the Pitṛs, mixed with sesamum seeds, incense and water and one for the Preta.

6. In each of the three vessels some water from the Preta pātra should be poured. In each case, he should recite the mantra “Ye samānā”.

7. In regard to women also, the same procedure should be adopted. But sapiṇḍīkaraṇa need not be performed if the deceased woman had no sons.

8. In case of women sapiṇḍīkaraṇa should be done every year by men. The rite should be performed on their death anniversary, as enjoined by the śāstras.

9. If there be no son, this should be performed by the relatives connected by the offering of rice balls. If there be no such relatives, brothers should do the same. If there be no brothers, grandsons or great-grandsons should perform the sacrifice.

10. The daughter’s son should perform the rite for his maternal grand-father. They are named dvyāmuṣyāyaṇa (for they are linked to both: the maternal grandfather and the paternal grandfather).

11. They should propitiate both, by Nitya and Naimittika Śrāddhas. If none of the aforesaid is there, the women should perform the rite but without mantras.

12-13. If there are no women too, the king should get the funeral rite done by his distant relatives or in their absence, he should do the same by himself, because the king himself is the relative of all. O Brahmins, thus I have told you Nitya and Naimittika rites.

14. I shall now tell you other sorts of Nitya and Naimittika rites. Darśa Śrāddha, performed on the Amāvasa day is Naimittika, for it is linked with the diminution of the moon.

15-32. Nitya is the fixed period of time, when one should do this rite as prescribed by Dharma.

After the rite of Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa has been performed, the great-grandfather of the father forfeits the right of receiving piṇḍa. He can receive only the residue of the piṇḍa. This fourth one loses importance in relationship. Hence his share in the rice-ball is reduced to residue.

The trio, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, are the rightful recepients of the rice-ball. Further, the three beginning from the grandfather of the grandfather are the sharers in the residue of the rice-ball. The seventh is the performer of sacrifice himself. Thus the relationship link is sevenfold as told by the sages.

After yajamāna (the performer of the ritual) the Pitṛs cease to have the right of partaking piṇḍa. Even distant relatives whether placed in hell or born in low species or transformed into evil spirits, imps, devils and the like become well fed with the leavings of food scattered on the ground. O Brahmins, the water dropped from the edge of bathing costume quenches the thirst and allays the hunger of those who are transformed into trees. Those who have reached divinity receive nourishment from the fragrant drops of water fallen from the rice-ball. Similarly, those who are born into animal creation receive nourishment by drinking drops of water fallen from the rice-balls. The infants who are dead before teething, the youths who are forbidden to perform ritual and have died without any rite get their hunger and thirst allayed by the water used in wiping floors or used in cleansing the feet of brāhmaṇas.

Whatever particles of water or leavings of food, pure or impure, are dropped by yajamāna or the brahmins, by that the departed spirits, whatever form of existence they have attained, get nourishment. By the Śrāddha performed with the riches acquired through unfair means, the low class of people—caṇḍālas etc. get nourishment. Thus, one should perform Śrāddha for the departed in the family, even by means of vegetables (in the absence of other materials) as prescribed in the Śāstras. By the drops of water and bits of food, dropped from the rice-ball, he alleviates thirst and hunger, not only of his close relatives but also of distant kins born in different species of existence.

33-35. By performing Śrāddha no one comes to grief in the family. Only those of the Brahmins should be invited at Śrāddha who possess self-control, who are accustomed to agnihotra, who are pure in deeds, who are learned in Śāstras as well as in the Vedas. The invitee should be the one who thrice kindles the Naciketā fire, who knows the three verses beginning with Madhu or Suparṇa, who knows six ancillaries of the Veda, who is devoted to his parents, who has sisters, knows Sāman. The performer of Śrāddha should feed the priest who officiates at the sacrifice, the family priest, the spiritual guide or a teacher.

36-37. The following should be invited to dine at Śrāddha—the maternal uncle, father-in-law, brother-in-law, a relative, the family teacher or the teacher in society, one who is expert in interpreting the Purāṇas, not greedy or with a little greed, not accustomed to charity. Brahmins with these qualities should be invited at Śrāddha. They are purifiers of society.

38. The list of Brahmins as mentioned above should be invited a day before Śrāddha. Whether the rite pertains to gods or manes, he should appoint them accordingly.

39-41. The invitees to the Śrāddha should control their sense-organs. If the person performs Śrāddha and then after taking meals copulates with woman, his deceased ancestors sleep in that semen for a month. Again, if a person copulates with the woman, then partakes of Śrāddha, his deceased ancestors live upon semen and urine for that month. Hence, the performer of Śrāddha should invite the Brāhmaṇas on the day of Śrāddha or a day before. Those who are addicted to women should be excluded.

42-43. If, on the day of Śrāddha, the yatis of controlled mind come for alms, he of controlled mind should propitiate them with respectful homage and then feed them liberally.

44-68. The pitṛs have yoga as their base. The yogis should always be honoured therefore.

If among a thousand brāhmaṇas, there be a single yogī, he alone can take Yajamāna and the invitees across the ocean of existence, as a boat in the river.

Those versed in the Vedic lore recite a verse in the context, which was formerly sung in the assembly of king Aila.

“When in our family will there be born a son to one of the members who will give us rice-balls, when the yogīs have taken meals? We desire in Gaya, a rice-ball, flesh of rhinoceros, oblation, Kāla-śaka (?) butter mixed with sesamum seed or Kṛsara (?) pertaining to Viśvadeva and Samya. We desire the flesh of rhinoceros from the feet to the head.”

One should give Śrāddha on Trayodaśī in Māgha according to the prescription of the Śāstras in the winter solstice. He should offer rice cooked in milk as also honey and butter. Therefore, the performer should propitiate the Pitṛs, out of devotion. Satiated with Śrāddha, the Pitṛs will fulfil all desires of the performer, bring freedom from sins and set Vasus, Rudras, Ādityas, constellations, planets and stars to favourable desposition.

Propitiated with Śrāddha, the Pitṛs confer longevity, progeny, riches, knowledge, happiness, sovereignty, heaven and Mokṣa.

Pitṛs prefer noon to forenoon. When the brāhmaṇas reach the house, he should welcome them, honour them. While he is wearing kuśa-ring, he should give them water to sip and ask them to sit comfortably on the seat. He should perform Śrāddha accordingly to Śāstraic injunctions and let the best of Brāhmaṇas feed on sweet dishes and then dismiss them with sweet words and obeisance devotedly. He should follow them to the gate and return with their permission. Then he should perform his daily routine and then let his guests take meals. Some pandits hold that the rites to the Pitṛs should be performed everyday. ‘Not so to the pitṛs’, say others. Other rites should be performed as usual. He should take meals in the company of his family. Thus he should perform śrāddha attentively, as prescribed in the Dharmaśāstra, in the manner as it pleases the learned Brahmins.

Now I shall tell you the sort of people who are forbidden to receive Śrāddha: one who deceives friend, one who has diseased nails, one who is impotent, one who is suffering from tuberculosis, one who is suffering from jaundice, one who lives by trade, one who has dark-brown teeth, bald-headed, one-eyed, blind, deaf, dull, dumb, lame, cripple, eunuch, of bad skin, deformed, leper, red-eyed, hump-backed, pigmy, ugly, indolent, friend’s enemy, of bad family, a herdsman, despised, one who has married before his elder brother, an unmarried elder brother whose younger brother is married, the son of Parivedanikā, son of a woman whose husband has married before his elder brother, the husband of a śūdra woman and their son too, one who has officiated at the religious ceremony of the Śūdra’s son, one who has not married, one who has married the widow of his brother, one who is salaried teacher or one who is taught by a salaried teacher, one who partakes of food from the family in pollution, one who is a hunter, one who trades in soma, one who is under curse, a thief, a fallen one, a usurer, a rogue, backbiter, one who has abandoned the injunctions of Veda, one disinclined to charity, sacrifice, the king’s priest, the king’s servant, devoid of knowledge, jealous, ill-disposed to the elderly people, one who is short-tempered, harsh, stupid, an attendant upon an idol, an astronomer, maker of an arrow or the wearer of a foreign dress, one who officiates as a priest at the sacrifice of a person who is not worthy of holding sacrifice. Those of low class should not be invited to Śrāddha since they defile the social circle.

69. Where the wicked are honoured and the good are dishonoured, the terrible divine punishment befalls the people immediately.

70. Contrary to the Śāstraic injunction and in violation of the customary laws, if the performer of Śrāddha feeds a stupid person, he comes to grief.

If the holder of Śrāddha excludes the family brahmin and feeds another he is consumed by the fire of his grief.

71. If the holder of Śrāddha does not gift clothes, his performance of Yajña and penance, and his knowledge of Veda are of no avail. Therefore, he should give clothes especially on the occasion of Śrāddha.

72. He who gives fresh garments, made of silk or cotton, obtains the fulfilment of his desire.

73-74. Just as a calf finds out its mother from among several cows, similarly, the Pitṛs obtain food from the bellies of the brahmins who have partaken of Śrāddha meals.

75. The Pitṛs receive food offered to the brahmins who utter the Pitṛ’s name, gotra and mantras. Although they are not present in physical forms they get satiated thereby.

76. Homage to Deities, Pitṛs and Yogins. Homage to Svāhā, Svadhā for ever and for ever.

77. At the beginning and the end of Śrāddha, he should repeat the same thrice. At the offering of the rice-ball as well, he should recite this attentively.

78. Pitṛs come very soon. Rākṣasas fly away. They get propitiated in the three worlds. This mantra, indeed uplifts them.

79. He should gift a fresh thread, silken, hempen, cotton, one made of patrorṇa, patka or kauśeya. Variety should be avoided.

80. The wise man should avoid that piece of cloth which in spite of its being full has no fringe. The aforesaid variety does not propitiate the Pitṛs and the donor too comes to grief.

81. Piṇḍa is not to be given to one who is alive. He should be fed with the meals of his taste according to Śāstraic injunctions.

82. With faith and devotion he should offer ball into the fire. If he is in need of progeny, he should give it to his wife, reciting the mantras.

83. If he wishes for brilliant splendour, he should offer it to the cows. If he wishes for wisdom, fame and renown he should offer the same into waters.

84. If he wishes for longevity he should give it to the crows. If he wishes for children, or a house, he should give it to the cocks.

85. Again, some brahmins opine that Piṇḍa should be lifted by the front. He should do so when the Brahmins have said: “Now, lift it up please”.

86. Therefore, Śrāddha should be performed as the sages of yore have stated. Otherwise, he incurs sin, and the Pitṛs do not receive the essence thereof.

87-88. The following should be given in Śrāddha: barley, rice, sesamum seeds, beans, wheat, chick pea, kidney bean, śyāmaka variety of corn, mustard, wild rice, hasti-śyāmaka, priyaṅgu, prasātika (a kind of rice) along with the grains.

89-91. The mango-fruit, hog plum, bilva, pomegranate, bījapūraka, old myrobalan, milk, fruits of coconut, parūsaka, vatsaka trees, dates, grape, wood apple of blue colour, a fruit of patola tree, vine, fruit of jujube tree, berry, vaikaṅkata, orange, bījapūra—these fruits should necessarily be given in Śrāddha.

92-99. Treacle, sugar, juice of the sugar-cane, juice of other plants, mūrmuras, cow’s milk, curd, butter, oil squeezed from sesamum seeds, salt produced from ocean or lake should be offered in Śrāddha. He should offer essence of fragrant substances, sandal paste, aloe, suffron, Kālaśāka, Taṇḍulīya, Vāstuka, Mūlaka, wild vegetables, and the following flowers: jasmine, Campaka, Lodhra, Mallikā Bāṇa (Blue flower), Barbarī, Vṛntakāśoka, Tulasī, Tilaka, Pāvantī, Śatapatrā, fragrant Śephālikā, Kubjaka, Tagara, Mṛga, wild Ketakī, Yuthikā, Atimuktā. O Brahmins, these flowers are worth offering in Śrāddha. Moreover, day-lotus, night-lotus, white lotus, blue lotus, red water-lily, white water-lily, Kostus (Kuṣṭa) Māṃsī, Bālaka, Kukkuṭī, Jātipatraka, Nalikā Uśīra, Mustā and Granthiparṇī—these and other fragrant substances are worthy of Śrāddha.

100. Guggulu, sandal paste, Śrīvāsa, Aguru, and such other instances as are available.

101. Beans, Caṇakas, Masuras, Koradūṣakas, Vipruṣas, Markaṭas, Kodravas should be avoided.

102. He should avoid milk, curd, ghee produced from Mahiṣa, Camara, Mṛga, Avikā, Ekaśaphā (an animal whose hoof is not cloven) (as ahorse, ass etc.), the breasts of women, camel.

103. Tāla, Varuṇa, Kākola, Bahupatra, Arjunīphala, Jambīra, red Bilva, and the fruit of Śāla should be avoided.

104-110 He should avoid fish, boar, tortoise and cows especially. Pūtika, musk, Gorocanā, lotus-paste, Kāleyaka, Ugragandha, Turuṣka, Pālaṅka, Kumārī, Kirāta, Piṇḍamūlaka, Gṛñjana, Cukrikā, Cukra, Varumā, Canapatrikā, Jīva, Śatapuṣpā, Nālikā, Gandha-Śūkara, Halabhṛtya, Sarṣapa, Palāṇḍu, Laśuna, Mānaskanda, Viṣaskanda, Vajrakanda, Gadāsthika, Puruṣālva, Sapiṇḍālu—these should not be used.

He should also leave Alābu, Tiktaparṇī, Kuṣmāṇḍa, three sorts of Kaṭukas, Vārtāka, Śivajāta and the hairy Vaṭas, Kālīya, Crane of red colour.

Similarly, the fruit of Vibhītaka, Āranāla, partially broken conch shell and stale food.

111-131. Things of bad odour should not be given in Śrāddha. Similarly, Kovidāra, Śigruka, that which is sour, picchila, rūkṣa, vātayāma should not be given. Similarly, that which is devoid of taste or emits smell of wine should be cast off. Hiṅgu of bitter smell, Phaṇiśa, Bhūnimba, Nimba and Rājikā, Kustumburu growing in Kaliṅga, sour Vetasa, pomegranate, Māgadhī, Nāgara, Ārdraka,Tittiḍī, Āmrātaka, Jīvaka,Tumburu—these are not prohibited. Similarly, rice cooked in milk, Śālmalī, Mudga and sweet balls should be included. Drinks made of mango juice and cow’s milk should be included. So also those which are in common use, sweet and oily, though a little sour and bitter. Those which are extremely sour, bitter and tasteful to Devas should be used in Śrāddha. The meat of goat, quad, partridge, hare, jackal, Lāvaka or Rājīva fish should be used.

Besides, the flesh of rhinoceros, red jackal, a fish having scale, a fish named Siṃhatuṇḍa, osprey should be used in Śrāddha. Though Manu has allowed the flesh of Rohita, it should not be used. This is my considered opinion which is supported by Varāha. If he feeds on things prohibited in Śrāddha, he will go to Raurava hell. O ascetics, Varāha has prohibited the following which are forbidden to the twice-born. They should not be offered to the Pitṛs:

Rohita fish, pig, tortoise, iguava, swan, the Cakra bird, Madgu (diver bird), fish without scale, osprey, snakes, Vāsahāri, Kukkuṭa, Kalaviṅka, Mayūra, Bhāradvāja, Śārṅgaka, Nakula, Ulūka, Mārjāra, Lopas, others which are not easily available, Ṭiṭṭibha bird, jackals, tiger, bear, hyena—if a stupid person eats the flesh of these and other prohibited animals or birds, he having incurred a great sin goes to the Raurava hell. If that sinner includes the prohibited flesh in Śrāddha, he will let his Pitṛs, though stationed in heaven, fall into hell.

If he eats Kusumbha-śāka (vegetable mixed with safflower), Jambīra, Śigruka, Kovidāra, Piṇyāka, Vipruṣa, Masūra, Gṛñjana, Śaṇa, Kodrava, Kokilākṣa, Cukra, Kambuka, Padmaka, Cakora, flesh of Śyena, Vartula, Alābu, Tālinī and the fruit of tall trees, he goes to hell. If he gives these to the Pitṛs, he falls along with them in Pūyavaha. Therefore by all means, a wise person should not partake of them.

132-135. Varāha has said that they should not be offered to the Pitṛs. Better feed upon one’s own flesh rather than partake of the forbidden meat.

If out of ignorance or negligence, one has eaten the forbidden things, he should perform the rite of expiation or atonement.

If he eats what is prohibited he should, for the atonement thereof, feed upon fruits, roots, curd, milk, buttermilk mixed with water, cows’ urine, yāvaka—one each day for a week.

136-143. Thus should transgression be corrected, especially by the devotees of Viṣṇu. O ascetics, the forbidden things as mentioned above should be excluded. The material necessary for Śrāddha should be collected according to the capacity of the performer. Thus, if the person performs Śrāddha according to the prescribed rules and his resources, he will remain happy so long as he lives upon this earth.

The sages said:

If the father is alive, grandfather and great-grandfather are dead, how will he perform Śrāddha? Please tell us in detail.

Vyāsa said:

The son should offer Śrāddha to the departed who could duly receive the same from his father. There is no infringement of duty—secular or Vedic in regard to that.

The sages said:

If the father is dead but the grandfather is alive, how will he perform Śrāddha? You will kindly explain.

Vyāsa said:

He should offer Piṇḍa to the father and feed the grandfather who is alive. This is the judgement of Śāstras.

The Piṇḍa should be given to the dead, food should be given to the alive. He should not perform Sapiṇḍīkaraṇa or Pārvaṇa in that case. If the son performs Pitṛmedha, he is blessed with sons, riches and longevity.

144. He who recites this section on Pitṛmedha at the time of Śrāddha, O Brahmins, his Pitṛs feed upon his food for a number of years lasting for three yugas.

145. Thus I have told you the section on Pitṛmedha which destroys sins and increases merit. Men with controlled mind should hear it attentively and recite the same during the period when the Śrāddha is being performed.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: