The Brahmanda Purana

by G.V. Tagare | 1958 | 319,243 words | ISBN-10: 8120838246 | ISBN-13: 9788120838246

This page describes offering rice-cake (pinda) to the manes (pitamahas) which is Chapter 11 of the English translation of the Brahmanda Purana: one of the oldest puranas including common Puranic elements such as cosmogony, genealogy, ethics, geography and yoga. Traditionally, the Brahmandapurana is said to consist of 12,000 verses metrical Sanskrit verses.

Chapter 11 - Offering rice-cake (piṇḍa) to the Manes (Pitāmahas)

Summary: Offering Rice-Cake (piṇḍa) to The Manes (Pitāmahas).

Note: This chapter is textually similar to Vāyu-purāṇa 72.

Bṛhaspaṭi Said:—

1-2. It is said that the vessels of the Pitṛs should be made of silver or should be silver-coated ones.[1] The very mention of silver, its sight and gift brings about infinite and everlasting benefit in the heaven. By means of this gift, good sons redeem their ancestors.

3. Formerly, when the earth (in the form of a cow) was milked, it was in a silver vessel that Svadhā was milked by them. Whether it is Svadhā or anything else, O dear one, whatever is offered in that (silver vessel) by those who seek (benefit), brings everlasting benefit.

4. The very existence nearby the skin of the black antelope, or its sight or its gift is destructive of demons. It is conducive to the achievement of Brahminical splendour. It accomplishes the redemption of animals and sons.

5. The gold vessel, the silver vessel, the sesamum seed[2] the eighth Muhūrta of the day, the Kuśa grass, the white gingelly seeds and the bundle of three staffs (in the hands of a Sannyāsin)—these are the sacred objects that sanctify other things.

6. This is excellent in the holy rite of Śrāddha. This is the eternal injunction of Brahmā. It causes the increase and development of longevity, renown, progeny, prosperity, intellect and lineage.

7. One shall allot the south eastern corner for the construction of the altar. It should be a square with the sides equal to an Aratni (the distance between the tip of the little finger and the elbow). It must be well situated.

8. I shall mention duly the spot of the Pitṛs as ordained (by the sacred literature). It is conducive to the attainment of wealth and longevity. It enhances the strength and brightens the complexion.

9. Three pits and three poles of Khadira wood should be made. The length of the poles should be an Aratni each. They must be embellished with silver bands.

10. Those pits should be Vitasti (the span or distance between the tips of the thumb and the little finger when they are extended on either side) in depth. The four sides should be four Aṅgulas each. One should make pit facing towards the south-east. They should be firm and free from holes.

11. The person performing the Śrāddha should be clean (in dress) and pure (in mind). He should always sanctify the pits etc. by means of water poured down through the Pavitra. (i.e. Kuśa grass ring for the ring finger. The ring shall have a tail too). The Śodhana (purification) can be carried out by means of goat’s milk or cow’s milk or by water.

12-13. The Tarpaṇa (water libation) is always by means of water alone. Thereby the satisfaction is perpetual both here and hereafter. If the performer of Śrāddha has perfect self-control, although he may have all sorts of desires, if he takes three times bath by way of plunging (into the river etc) and worships the Pitṛs with mental and physical purity, duly repeating the Mantra, he shall obtain the fruit of a well performed horse-sacrifice.

14-16. (Partially defective text). One shall establish those pits with sides of four Aṅgulas on the Amāvāsyā (new moon) day. The Yajñas should be twenty-one in number. Then the three worlds can be held by them (?). The performer shall attain nourishment, prosperity, longevity and perpetuation of his line. He shines brilliantly on account of his glory and he gradually attains salvation. A worship carried out by the Brāhmaṇas after due consecration removes sins. It is holy and sanctifying. It yields the fruit akin to that of a horse-sacrifice. The performer shall obtain the benefit of a horse-sacrifice.

17-18. I shall therefore mention the Mantra which is immortal (or nectarine) and which is composed by Brahmā. One shall always repeat three times both at the beginning and at the close of a Śrāddha. the Mantra:—“Obeisance to the deities, the Pitṛs and to the Great Yogins. Bow to Svadhā (food offering to the Manes). Obeisance forever to Svāhā (the wife of fire-god).”[3]

19. One should repeat this Mantra with great concentration at the time of offering the rice balls (to Pitṛs). The pitṛs arrive instantly and the demons flee.

20. On being regularly repeated at the time of Śrāddha by the expounders of Brahman, this Mantra redeems everyone connected with the Pitṛs in the three units of time (past, present and future).

21. A person who is desirous of a Kingdom should chant this Mantra vigilantly (with concentration). It is conducive to the increase of vigour, heroism, wealth, inherent strength, blessings, longevity, and intelligence.

22. I shall now impart the Saptarcis Mantra which is splendid, which yields all desires and by chanting which regularly one can propitiate the Pitṛs.

23. The Saptarcis Mantra[4]:—I shall always bow down to the Pitṛs both Amūrtis (formless) and Samurtis (endowed with forms) who are full of brilliant splendour, who habitually meditate and have the Yogic vision.

24. They are the leaders of (gods like) Indra and others of (Prajāpatis like) Dakṣa and Mārīca (i.e. Kaśyapa), of the seven sages and of the (other) Pitṛs. I shall bow down to them who bestow all desires.

25-26. They are the leaders of Manu and others of the Sun and the Moon. In all holy rites concerning the Pitṛs, I shall bow down to all of them.

With palms joined in reverence, I shall bow down always to the Pitṛs of all stars and planets, of the wind and fire and of the heaven and earth.

27. I shall pay obeisance to the grandfathers. They are the leaders of celestial sages. They are bowed down to by all worlds. They are the saviours of all living beings.

28. With the palms folded in reverence I shall always bow down to the Yogeśvaras (lords of the Yoga), to Soma (the moon-god), to Yama, to Prajāpatí, to the cows and to the fire-god.

29. Obeisance to the seven groups of Pitṛs in the seven, worlds. Salutation to Brahmā, the self-born lord with the Yogic vision.”

30. This is called as the Saptarcis Mantra adopted by the groups of Brāhmaṇa sages. It is extremely sacred, and glorious. It destroys ailments.

31. A man who adopts this in accordance with the injunction obtains three excellent blessings (viz. food-grains, longevity and sons). The Pitṛs bestow (on men) on the earth (in this very life) plenty of food, long life and good sons.

32-33a. If a person chants the Saptarcis Mantra everyday with great faith, full devotion, perfect conquest of the sense-organs and with great concentration of the mind, he shall become the sole ruler over the earth consisting of seven continents and oceans.

33b-34a. Whatever is cooked in the house, any type of food, should not be eaten in the house at any time, without first offering it to the Pitṛs.

34b-35. Hereafter, I shall mention in due order the vessels for the Bali (oblation) to Pitṛs.[5] Now listen to me as I recount what the benefit is (in using for oblations) in different vessels as mentioned (in the Scriptures).

In the Palāśa (i.e. if the oblation is kept in the cup made of Palāsa leaf and offered) the benefit is Brahmavarcastva (the Brahminical splendour). In the Aśvattha (holy fig tree) it is vasubhāvanā (outcome of wealth).

36. It is cited that the benefit in (using the cups of) Plakṣa leaves is the perpetual overlordship of all living beings.

In using the vessel of the leaves of Nyagrodha the benefit is nourishment, progeny, wisdom, intellect, fortitude and power of memory.

37. The Kāśmarī vessel (i.e. the cup made of the leaf of Kaśmari or Gambhāri is said to be destructive of demons and conducive to renown.

It is cited that the benefit in the Mādhūka (Aśoka?) vessel is excellent conjugal bliss in the world.

38. Keeping (oblation) in Phalgu (a kind of fig tree) vessels one shall obtain all desires. In the sun-plant the benefit is excessive lustre and bright illumination in particular.

39-40a. Keeping the oblation in a Bilva vessel one shall always obtain wealth, intellect and longevity.

40b-41a. One should always offer the entire food offerings and oblations in these good vessels alone. He shall obtain the fruit of all Yajñas.

41b-42a. If a person is always engaged in holy rites and earnestly offers flower garlands and sweet scents to the Pitṛs, he shines like the sun.

42b-43a. A person who offers to the Pitṛs Guggula etc (fragrant gum resin) and incense along with honey and ghee, obtains the benefit of Agniṣṭoma sacrifice.

43b-44. After making the incense mixed with scents of good quality, the devotee of the Pitṛs obtains good benefits and welfare both here and hereafter.

One shall offer to the Pitṛs everything thus carefully and promptly.

45. If a person is pure in mind and body and always offers light unto the Pitṛs, he obtains thereby splendid and unequalled vision as well as salvation.

46. There will be brilliance (all around him) on the earth on account of his lustre, renown and splendour and strength. He will shine in the Heaven.

47-48. He rejoices (i.e. shall rejoice) on the top of the Vimāna (aerial chariot) surrounded by Apsaras.

The performer of Śrāddha should carry out the worship of the Pitṛs by means of fragrant flowers, incense, chanting of Mantras, ritualistic offering of ghee into the fire, and the dedication of fruits, roots and obeisances. He should be pure in mind and body. After worshipping the Pitṛs he should worship and propitiate the Brāhmaṇas by means of cooked rice and gifts of money.

49. Invariably during the occasions of the Śrāddha ceremony, the Pitāmahas (grandfathers i.e. the manes) assume gaseous forms[6] and penetrate the excellent Brāhmaṇas. Hence I say this to you.

50. One shall worship, honour and propitiate excellent Brāhmaṇas by means of garments, gifts of jewels, food-stuffs, beverages, cows, horses and villages.

51. If the Brāhmaṇas are honoured and worshipped, the Pitṛs become delighted. Hence, one should always endeavour to worship the Brāhmaṇas duly.

52-54. The Brāhmaṇa should perform the rite of Ullekhana with both the hands (scraping the ground), keeping the left hand over the right one. Alert in the performance of the Śrāddha ceremony he should perform the Prokṣaṇa rite (sprinkling with water by means of the Darbha grass). The learned devotee should have everyone of these got ready for offering to the Pitṛs. Viz—Darbhas, rice-balls, foodstuffs, different kinds of flowers, offering of scents and ornaments.

After grinding the collyrium very well he should offer Abhyaṅga (oil for bath) by the tips of the bunch of Darbha grass, three times duly.

55-56. One should offer the excellent collyrium to the Pitṛs with sacred thread worn over the right shoulder. The same should be offered for the sake of garments and sacred thread kneeling on[7] the ground.

O Brāhmaṇas, Khaṇḍana (cutting), Prokṣaṇa and Ullekhana shall be done once for the Devapitṛs[8] and three times for (the other) Pitṛs.

57. (Defective text) One Pavitra (a ring of Darbhagrass) should be worn in the hand. By means of the Caila mantra, the Piṇḍas (rice-balls) shall be sprinkled once for each of the Pitṛs after showing the mirror over the skin of the black antelope(?).

58. The performer of Śrāddha earnestly devoted to the Pitṛs should always offer on the ground three Piṇḍas (balls of rice) mixed with gingelly seeds and ghee. He should place the the knee on the ground and wear the sacred thread in the normal manner.

59-60a. He should invoke the father, the grandfather and the great grandfather as well as the other Pitṛs of yore.

He should properly sprinkle the Piṇḍas by means of the Pitṛtīrtha carefully. He should pour the water in anticlock wise manner.

60b-62. Some men wish to perform the Śrāddhas on behalf of maternal grandfather (and other Pitṛs of the mother’s family) by means of separate cooked rice and different kinds of important food-stuffs.

He should offer three Piṇḍas in the proper order pressing them with the thumb. They are conducive to the increase of nourishment. He should offer the Piṇḍas by means of both hands placed in between the knees. The left hand should be placed over the right. He should repeat the respective Mantras (as follows for the sake of pouring water in the form of a thin current).

63. He should discharge the first Piṇḍa towards the south with both hands repeating alertly ṭhe Mantra beginning with Namo vaḥ pitaraḥ śoṣāya[9] etc.

64. (Defective text). Repeating the Mantra beginning with “Namo vaḥ pitaraḥ saumyāḥ” (Obeisance to ye all, O gentle Pitṛs) alertly, (the other Piṇḍas) shall be offered with both the hands[10].

65. The line of Mortar (?) should be sprinkled with water from the water-pot. A new thread of silk, jute or cotton should be offered.

66. One should avoid woven silk, coloured cloth and Kauśeya (a variety of silk). In the Yajña, one should avoid sprinkling water even with an unwashed (i.e. fresh from the loom) cloth (?)

67. These things do not please (the Pitṛs). They say that the collyrium of the Trikakuda type (?) is always excellent.

68-69. The following things are very excellent (for use in a Śrāddha). The oil extracted from the black gingelly seeds and preserved carefully with great effort, sandalwood, Aguru (Fragrant aloe wood), Tamāla, Uśīra fragrant root of the plant Andropopogon muricatus) lotus, fragrant incense, gum resin and the white Turuṣka.

White flowers are excellent. So also the lotus and the lilies.

70. All the wild flowers equipped with sweet scent and beautiful form are excellent. So also the flowers witḥ Nāḍīs (long tubes) as well as the yellow Amaranth flower.

71-73. There are some flowers which should always be avoided in a Śrāddha ceremony. Flowers without fragrance and flowers with obnoxious smell should always be avoided by one who desires nourishment.

The Brāhmaṇas who are invited (for feast) should invariably sit facing the north. The Yajamāna (the performer of Śrāddha) should sit facing the south and perform worship in accordance with the injunctions. He should face them and offer the Piṇḍas scrupulously over the Darbha grass,

74-75. If everything is performed in accordance with this injunction it shall be as though the Pitāmahas (manes) are directly worshipped.

Kuśa grasses are excellent as seats if they are green in colour. They must produce a rustling noise. They must be sufficiently thick, straight and smooth and glossy. The length of the Kuśa grass shall be Aratni[11] (24 Aṅgulas). They should be consecrated by the holy water of Pitṛtīrtha. Near the root they must be dark-coloured.

76-80. The same also is to be cited about the varieties of rice Śyāmāka and Nīvāra and also about the Dūrvā grass.

Formerly, Prajāpati, the most excellent among the renowned persons, became a horse. His hairs fell on the ground and attained the state of Kuśa grass. Hence, Kuśa grass is honoured in the holy rites of Śrāddha. They should always be offered (in Śrāddha). The offering of the Piṇḍas must be made on them by one who desires prosperity.

The children will be endowed with nourishment, lustre, intelligence, fame and splendour. They will always become beautiful and charming. They will get rid of their sins. They will be free of evils. For the sake of Piṇḍas, the devotee with his face to the southern quarter should spread Darbhas only once. The tips of the Darbha grass should be towards the southeast. The injunction is mentioned as follows. The performer of the Śrāddha rite should not be dejected or angry. He should not have his mind distracted elsewhere. He should perform Śrāddha with his mind concentrating on one place (point) (i.e. the performance of Śrāddha) and should be pure-minded.

81. Mantra: “I destroy everything that has impurity in it. The Asuras and Dānavas have been killed by me. The Rākṣasas, the Yakṣas along with the groups of Piśācas, and Yātudhānas have been killed by me”.

82. The devotee should restrain himself and repeat the above Mantra while scrubbing the altar once. The wise performer (of Śrāddha), the Brāhmaṇa who is desirous of auspicious wisdom should certainly go towards the north and throw (Darbha grass).

83. The Asuras avoid that person who has seen (i.e. adopted and repeated) the Pitṛs Mantra. Rākṣasas avoid that place where this Mantra is recited.

84. He should neither see nor touch nor give unclean varieties of cooked rice that are rotten. If the man does not have the Pavitra (a ring of Darbha grass) in his hand (finger) he does not enjoy the fruit of the Śrāddha rite.

85. If a person always performs the Śrāddha strictly in accordance with this injunction, the grandfathers (manes) shall bestow on him whatever he desires in his mind.

86. If the Śrāddha is performed thus scrupulously everyday, the Pitṛs become delighted in their minds and the Rākṣasas become dejected.

87. The following should always be avoided in the Śrāddha ceremonies: Śūdras, milk of Avi (a variety of sheep), the varieties of grass named Balbaja, Vīraṇa and Otuvāla, pebbles and Laḍḍus[12] (a sweetmeat?)

88-90. These grasses unworthy of Yajñas should be discarded. One shall abstain from applying collyrium to the eyes, taking oil bath, applying scents and Sūtrapraṇayana (? sewing with threads). The holy rite should be performed with the Kuśa grass which grows again (when cut). One shall obtain the benefit of horse sacrifice. The following is the Mantra cited for offering flowers, applying scents and putting on ornaments.

The Mantra:—“The Kuśas and the regrown Kuśa grass are sacrificial grass and its regrowth[13]. Thus these Pitṛs are Devas and the Devas are Pitṛs”.

91. For the fulfilment of the holy rite one should perform Homa. For Homa the sacred fire Dakṣiṇāgni should be used scrupulously. For other purposes the ordinary fire can be used.

92-94. The Samits (sacrificial twigs) should be placed within. Then the fire should be placed all round. Then the fire is brightened up with concentrated mind. The following are the Mantras for Homas in the three fires in the proper order:

(1) Agnaye kavyavāhāya Aṅgirase namaḥ (Obeisance to Agni the conveyor of Kavya (food-offering). Obeisance to Aṅgiras.

(2) Somāya vai...punaḥ (Obeisance to Soma possessed of the Pitṛs. Svadhā once again to Aṅgiras).

(3) Tamāya Vaivasvate svadhā dhruvam. (Obeisance to Yama son of Vivasvān (sun), Svadhā is thus, surely offered).

95. The offering should always be made to Agni in the south, to Soma in the north and to Vaivasvata (Yama) in between the two.

96-98. Upahāra (offering of presents), Svadhākāra (utterance of Svadhā), Ullekhana (scrubbing), Homa, chanting of Mantras, obeisance, Prokṣaṇa (sprinkling rite) in particular, application of collyrium, oil bath, offering of rice balls—all these should be done when the fire blazes well with plenty of ghee and fuel. What is performed by Brāhmaṇas in the sacred fire that blazes very well yields the benefit of a horse-sacrifice. One shall scrupulously perform all the holy rites as directed.

99. For the fulfilment of the holy rite, one should perform Homa in the sacred fire that has plenty of ghee and fuel, that is made to blaze well in particular, that has no smoke and that has tongues of flame shooting up all round.

100. If the Yajamāna (the sponsor of Śrāddha) performs Homa in the fire that is not blazing well or that has not been kindled well, he will become blind here and hereafter. Indeed, this has been heard by us.

101. That fire ceases to yield benefit which has only very little fuel, which has no flames shooting up all round, which is very unpleasant to the eye or which has flames and smoke curling anticlockwise.

102. If there is a fire that emits foul smell, that has bluish flame, that appears extremely dark or that burns downwards towards the earth, one should know that failure and defeat lurk there.

103. That fire is conducive to the fulfilment of holy rite—the fire that has leaping flames and that has the top of flames curled up into circle, that resembles the collyrium made of ghee[14] (?), that has glossy appearance and that curls up clockwise.

104. (The devotee) obtains the perpetual honour and reverence from groups of men and women. The Pitṛs and the sacred fires should be worshipped by him for an everlasting benefit.

105. The leaves, fruits and twigs of Bilva and Udumbara trees are very sacred, pure and worthy of being used in a Śrāddha.

106-108. O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the Pavitra (ring of Darbha grass) is conducive to the purity of birth and holy rites.

The benefit that has already been indicated by me in the case of vessels in the holy rite of Śrāddha should be respectively known in its entirety in the case of Samits (sacred twigs) too.

The devotee shall keep the mind pure and concentrated and repeat, “May I perform the rite in the fire?”. He is then given permission by the excellent Brāhmaṇas who say “You are permitted. Do perform”. He should then take ghee in a vessel and perform Homa in the sacred fire.

109-111. The following trees are praiseworthy to be consigned to the holy fire. Palāśa, Plakṣa, Nyagrodha, Aśvattha, Vikaṅkata, Udumbara, Bilva, Candana—all those trees are worthy of Yajñas. So also are the trees Sarala, Devadāru, Śāla and Khadira. The trees with thorns found in the villages and those that are worthy of Yajñas are also honoured for Samits in accordance with the utterance of Pitṛs.

112-113a. Listen, even as I recount the benefit that accrues to the perfomer of a holy rite by means of Homas in the sacred fire with samits of Ṣaṭphala[15] trees.

It is everlasting. It is conducive to the fulfilment of all desires. It has the same benefit as that of a horse-sacrifice.

113b-115a. The following trees should be avoided in the holy rite of Śrāddha:—Śleṣmāntaka, Naktamāla, Kapittha, Śālmali, Nīpa and Vibhītaka. They are despicable. So also the trees and grasses Cirabilva, Kola, Tinduka, Balvaja.and Kovidāra should be discarded by all means.

115b-116a. One should avoid those trees also where birds have their abodes (nests). One shall avoid all other similar trees not worthy of Yajñas.

116b. In the Mantras of the rites of Pitṛs, the word Svadhā is added and in the Yajña rites of Devas the wors Svāhā is cited.

Footnotes and references:


Cf. Viṣṇu Dh. S. 79.14-15. Yājñavalkya 1.236 specially recommends silver vessels. Cf. also Vā. P. 74.1-2; Mt. P. 17.19-22.


‘Copper Vessel’ in Vā.P. 74.5.


Hemādri regards this as Saptarcis Mantra (vide C.G. Caturvarga Cintāmaṇi, Śrāddha, pp. 1079 & 1208). This mantra is found in Vā.P. 74.15-18, Skanda P. VII. 1.206; 11-116, GP. (Ācāra) 218.6. Our Text however regards VV. 23-29 as Saptarci Mantra.


As noted above, seven verses from 23 to 29 constitute the Saptarci Mantra and Vā.P. 74.21-27 agrees in toto with our text. This is rather a eulogy of the Pitṛs in details. As against Hemādri our Purāṇa states that ‘This is what called the Saptarci’s Mantra’ (V. 30).


VV. 34b-40 enumerate the different trees, the leaves (i.e. the cups of the leaves) of which (if used for oblations to Pitṛs) confer different benefits. The Śrāddha Sūtra of Kātyāyana recommends the use of (cups of leaves of) sacrificial trees for Arghya. Though Purāṇas strongly recommend the use of vessels of metals, cups of leaves are also allowed. (vide Pd.P. Sṛṣṭi 8 9.142-43.


VV. 49-51 state why Brāhmaṇas are to be worshipped, fed and gifted at the time of Śrāddha. Cf. Auśanasa Smṛti V. 4-5 endorsing the belief of Pitṛs entering the bodies of invited Brahmins, in gaseous form.


“After muttering their names” Vā. P. 75.19.


The reading devānām “to gods” in Vā.P. 75.20 is better.


Vā.P. 75.26 reads Śuṣmai for Śoṣāya., Bloomfield records both the readings from VS. in Vedic Concordance, p. 538.


Dharme’rdhe samatandritaḥ hereof is obscure dharme sarvam atandritah (in Vā. P. 75.28a) is better. It means “Careful (non-negligent) in all religious performances (?)”


Cf. Gobhila Smr. 1.21.


Vā. P. 75-51 reads: lava-varṣās ca nityaśaḥ.


barhiṇo hyupabarhinaḥ in the text is obscure. Vā.P.75-53 reads barhan ‘Sacrificial grass’ for barhin in the text.


The reading sarpikāñjana-sannibha is obscure as fire cannot be black like collyrium; kāñcana ‘like gold’ in Vā.P. 75-65 is better.


Vā.P.75.74 reads Kalkaleyābhiḥ with twigs (of pomegranate trees).

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