The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes purification rites and the shraddha ritual which is Chapter 14 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 14 - Purification rites and the Śrāddha ritual

Summary: Purification Rites; Śrāddha Ritual; Sight of a Nude Ascetic to be Avoided.

Bṛhaspati Continued:—

1. Henceforth, I shall recount the benefits of all (kinds of) charitable gifts. I shall mention things considered pure and worthy for the Śrāddha rite and those which should be avoided therein.

2. One should perform Agnihotra on a steep snow-capped precipice or fetch snow from there (?). That is sacred and conducive to great welfare as well as longevity.

3. One should avoid performance of a Śrāddha at night[1] because Rāhu is seen elsewhere(?). As soon as Rāhu is seen Śrāddha must be performed with all of one’s assets.

4. He who does not perform (Śrāddha) at the time of eclipse becomes dejected like a cow sinking into the mud. He who performs it (at the time of eclipse) shall surmount sins like a good boat in the sea.

5. (Defective text) In Vaiśvadeva and Soma sacrifices, the flesh of a rhinoceros (or a buffalo) is the greatest offering. It is not through rivalry that we feed with the flesh of a rhinoceros (buffalo) excluding the horns.

6-9a. (Defective text)—Once Tvaṣṭṛ was the Yajamāna (performer of a sacrifice) when the noble-souled lord of Devas was the presiding deity. While the consort of Śacī (i.e. Indra) was drinking the Soma juice, a few drops fell in the middle on the ground. Śyāmākas (a kind of rice) grew there. They are successfully used for (propitiating) the Pitṛs. The sprays of the Soma juice sticking to and coming out of his nostrils became Ikṣu (Sugarcane). Hence, sugarcane is phlegmatic, cool, smooth and sweet. One should perform all the Pitṛ rites for the fulfilment of desire with Śyāmāka and sugar-cane. He who performs Āgrayaṇa i.e. the first soma libation at the Agniṣṭoma Sacrifice (with Śyāmāka and Ikṣu) attains the fulfilment of desires quickly.

9b-11. Śyāmākas having two names, have been laid down in the Smṛti texts for the purpose of Yajña. As they have been created by the Devas they are remembered as Akṣaya (of everlasting benefit). As regards their qualities or efficacy (in this rite) Prasātikas (kind of rice), Priyaṅgus and grams also are on a par with Śyāmākas. Black grams, gingelly seeds, barleys and paddy grains are excellent.

12. Mahāyavas, Niṣpāvas, Madhūlikās (a kind of Citron?) Black rice and black metals are censurable (and hence prohibited) in the Śrāddha rite.

13-21. Rājamāṣa and otherthings must be scrupulously avoided. Masūras (variety of pulse are) sacred. Kusumbha (safflower) is the abode of goddess Lakṣmī. The following things are sweet and excellent for Śrāddha rite.[2] Atiyava (during the rainy season) Vṛṣaka, (name of a plant), Vāsaka, Bilva, Āmalaka Myrobalan), Mṛdvīka (grapes) panasa (Jack fruit), Āmrāta (the hogplum), Dāḍima (pomegranate), Tavaśolaṃyata (?) Kṣaudra, Kharjūra (dates), Āmra (mango) fruit Kaśeru (Scirpus grossus, Linn), Kovidārya, (name of a tree, Hindi Kacnar), Tālakanda, Bisa (lotus), Tamāla Śatakanda, Madvasūcānta, Kāndikī, Kāleya, Kālaśāka (the potherb ocimum sanctum), Bhūripūrṇā, Suvarcalā, (Puta Graveolens), Ekāṃsākṣa, Duviśāka, Bubucetāṃkura, Kaphālaka, Kaṇā (grains of kaṇa), Drākṣā (grapes), Lakuca (Artocarpus lacucha) Coca (the fruit of the fan palm), Alābu (gourd), Grīvaka, Karkandhū the jujube berry) Madhusāhvaya, Vaikaṅkata, Nālikera (coconut) Śṛṅgajapa Carūṣaka (name of species of fruit), Pippalī, (picher lumgum) Marica (pepper), Paṭola (fruit of Tricho sanths Dioeca) and Bṛhatī (Brinjals).

Fragrant flesh of stout animals (? pīvanti) and all astringent things. Other excellent and sweet things such as Nāgara, Dīrghamūlaka (a kind of radish) Vaṃśa Karīra (shoot of a bamboo), Surasa Sarjaka (the Sāla tree) and Bhūstṛṇā (andropogon schoenanthus) can be offered in the Śrāddha rite. I shall mention those things that should always be avoided in the Śrāddha rite.

22-23a. Laśuna (garlic), Gṛñjana (carrot), Palāṇḍu (a kind of onion), Piṇḍamūlaka (globular radish) Karambha (groats or flour mixed with curds) and other things that are devoid of taste and smell are to be avoided in the Śrāddha ríte. The reason for the same is mentioned.[3]

23b-24. Formerly, in the course of a war between the Devas and the Asuras, Bali was defeated by the gods. From his limbs wounded by the arrows, drops of blood fell down. It is from them that all these things Laśuna etc were produced.

25. Similarly, red exudations and salts found in and lands should be avoided in the rite of Śrāddha. Women in their monthly periods should also be avoided.

26. Water emitting foul smell, water having froth and foams, water from a wayside puddle, water whereby a cow is dissatisfied and water drawn and kept during the night (should be avoided).

27. The following milk should be avoided by a person with wisdom—the milk of a sheep, that of a deer, that of a camel, that of all animals with a single (i.e. not cloven) hoofs, that of a buffalo and that of Camara deer.

28. Henceforth, I shall mention the places that should be scrupulously avoided, the persons by whom the Śrāddha rite should not be seen and the entire procedure regarding cleanliness and pollution.

29. With great faith one should perform Śrāddha by means of fruits, roots and foodstuff available in the forest. He then attains royal position as well as infinite heavenly bliss.

30. In the Śrāddha rite, one should avoid a ground with undesirable noise, which is narrow or impure, pervaded by insects, muddy and dirty and which emits foul smell.[4]

31-32. Rivers adjoining the: sea, their entrances from the south and east and the entire country of Triśaṅku (to a limit of) twelve Yojanas should be avoided.

The lands known as Triśaṅku are bounded on the north by Mahānadī and on the south by the (mountain) Veṅkaṭa. These tracts of land called Triśaṅkus should be avoided for the Śrāddha rite.

33. The territories of Kāraskaras (Kārakal in south Kanara), Kaliṅgas, the northern region of the Sindhu as well as the countries where the discipline and virtuous practice of the various stages of life is not in vogue, should be scrupulously avoided.[5]

34. The Nagnas[6] (naked) and other persons must not see the well-arranged Śrāddha rite. The Śrāddha viewed by these do not reach the Pitṛs or the Pitāmahas (grandfathers).

Śaṃyu inquired:

35-38a. O holy lord, recount to me the Nagnas[6] (nudes) and other persons even as I ask you earnestly.

Bṛhaspati said:—

The Trayī (i.e. the three Vedas) is declared as the protective covering for all living beings. Those people who out of delusion discard it are called nudes and others. A Brāhmaṇa or a Kṣatriya or a Vaiśya is undoubtedly a Vṛṣala (Śūdra) in the following instances:

a) One in whom the Vedic stage of life gets dissolved or vanishes i.e. a person who does not strictly adhere to the discipline of the four stages of life as explained in the Vedas.

b) He who has no support in Vedic stage of life.

c) He who abandons the Vedic stage of life and seeks liberation elsewhere and

d). He who does not have a clear vision of the Vedic stage of life.

38b-42. Formerly, in the battle between the Devas and the Asuras, the Asuras were defeated. They created the heretics like Vṛddhaśrāvakīs, Nirgranthas, (nude Jainas), Śākyas (Buddhists), Jīvaskas and Kārpaṭas.

Those who do not follow piety and righteousness are the people called Nudes. The following also can be called Nagnas:—One who wears matted hair without any specific aim, one who shaves off his head without any specific aim, the Brahmin who moves about naked purposelessly, one who maintains Vratas (sacred rites and observances) without purpose, one who repeats mantras purposelessly.

They are permanent transgressors of the traditional righteous rites, they maintain their jobs and wives purposelessly[7] (?), they point out to the acts performed by them (?)—they are declared as persons following a means and lowly path. The Śrāddha offered or looked at by these goes to the Dānavas.

43. One shall discard the very sight of these viz—the Brāhmaṇa slayer, the ungrateful one, the atheist, the defiler of the preceptor’s bed, the robber and the ruthless person.

44-45. Persons of cruel activities are fallen ones. One should avoid all of them. The Śrāddha perceived by the following goes to the Asuras and Yātudhānas viz—those who argue and interrupt the discussion on the Devas and the sages; he who condemns the Devas, the Brāhmaṇas and the Vedas.

46. The Kṛta Yuga is said to be Brahminical. The Tretā Yuga is that of the Kṣatriyas. They say that Dvāpara is the Yuga of the Vaiśyas and Kaliyuga is remembered as the Yuga of the Śūdras.

47. The Pitṛs were honoured in the Kṛta Yuga; the Suras were worshipped in the Tretāyuga. Wars were always worshipped in the Dvāpara Yuga and the heretics were respected in the Kaliyuga.

48. By merely looking at Śrāddhas, all these destroy them viz—one who has no honour, one who is cast off and discarded, the domestic pig and the dog.

49. What is touched by does or pigs (should not be used in a Śrāddha). It should never be seen by persons of chronic diseases, fallen persons and dirty ones.

50. The food offerings that these (above-mentioned ones) look at do not deserve to be used for Havya or Kavya. They are to be abandoned. In emergency cases they are to be consecrated by means of important things.

51. (Defective text) The Havis offerings (if they are looked at by the above-mentioned ones) should at the very outset be discarded. They can be cleansed with proper (sacred) water. Sprinkling with water is also prescribed.

52. Or it can be spread over with white mustard or black gingelly seeds. Or with efforts it should have the sight of view of the preceptor, sun, fire or such sacred things[8].

53-56. The following should be discarded in the Śrāddha rite:—the cooked rice and other eatables when they fall on seats aṇḍ are sat upon, that which is kicked by the foot, that which is seen by impure mobile beings, dried and stale things, that which is burnt too much, that which is licked by fire, that which is spoiled by sandy particles, worms, pebbles and hairs, the oil cake and pounded particles of gingelly seeds, barley etc; the foodstuffs got ready but apparently too saltish; the things that are seen and defiled by dogs or taken up by persons with defects and particles (of flour etc.) shaken off by the clothes should be avoided in the Śrāddha rite.

57. There are some persons who profess to be very great wise men merely by speaking against the Vedas. Those recluses (without sacrifices) (Ayajñā yatayaḥ)[9] certainly destroy (a Śrāddha) like the dust particles.

58-60. One shall avoid greens mixed with curds, foodstuffs devoid of medicinal properties, the egg plant and all kinds of distilled liquors in che Śrāddha.

Salt taken from seawater and salt originating from Mānasa lake—these two are extremely sacred. They must be put into fire and then taken stretching the hands. They must be placed on the head (?) which is declared as Brahmatīrtha. The Prokṣaṇa (sprinkling water) rite should be performed in respect of the articles (used in a Śrāddha).

61-62.2 The process of purification of stones, roots, fruits, sugarcane, ropes and leather is by placing them in water and sprinkling them. All types of wickwork vessels can be purified as before. Scraping (brushing) and scratching is the process of purification of vessels made of ivory, bone, wood and horn.

63. The process of purification of all types of earthen pots is burning them once again. The same is the process of purification of vessels of precious gems, pearls, corals and shells.

64. The purification of all types of hair and wool shall be through the Kalkas (powdered particles) of white mustard and gingelly seeds.

65. The purification of all bìpeds is by means of clay and water. The first process of purification of the feet is washing them with water (?).[10]

66. Purification of cotton (garments) is by means of ash. That of fruits, flowers and leaves is by floating them on water.

67. The purification of the earth (i.e. ground) is by various means. Water can be sprinkled. If can be smeared with cowdung. It can be scraped and scratched. Water can be poured over it in plenty. A cow can be made to tread over it. A portion can be burned or dug.

68-69. (Defective text) In a village the earth is purified by means of the air that is set in motion when (cows) move out. The process of purification of human beings1 and cattle is prescribed through mud. The excellent process of purification (of many articles etc.) is thus prescribed., Listen to what is not mentioned hitherto, even as I recount it.

70.[11] In the morning one must go a distance of an arrow’s throw from the house in the south western direction. After covering his head (with a cloth), he should evacuate his bowels. He should never touch his head with his hand.

71. He must do it in a very secluded spot after covering the ground with white grass, or leaves, or wood or pieces of bamboo sticks.

72. During the daytime, he should face the north and during the night he should face the south. After finishing the work of evacuating the bowels, he should take up some mud and the pot of water without uttering any word.

73. He should take the water pot with the right hand and wash the anus with the left hand. He should apply clay to the anus three times.

7. On the left hand, clay should be applied ten times slowly and gradually. Then apply clay on both the hands. This is optional. Then apply clay seven times on both the hands.

75. He should then apply clay to the feet and wash them. He shall then perform the Ācamana (ritualistic sipping of water) rite in accordance with the injunctions. The first three water drops have the sun, the fire and the wind as their deities.

76. One should always keep two Kamaṇḍalus (water-pots) ready at hand. They must not have holes (as the water will leak out). It is only with the remaining water that one should duly wash one’s feet.

77. (Partially defective text). There is a second type of Ācamana in respect to the rites of the Devas. Fasting for three high ts is cited (as the rite of expiation?) when one is freed from wicked persons (?)

78. In respect to protracted cases (? Viprakṛṭeṣu[12]) the rite of Kṛccha is cited for expiation. After touching a. dog or a Cāṇḍāla one shall perform expiation rite of Tapta-Kṛcchra.

79. After touching human bones, one should observe fast for the sake of purification. If the bones are oily (slimy) it is said that the fast must be for three nights. Otherwise only for one night.

80-82. (Defective text). The Kāraskaras, Kaliṅgas and the Andhras, the Śabaras etc, the northern, bank of the Sindhu, the region further to the north—these are the countries of sinners. They are occupied by sinful persons. They are avoided by good people (and) the Brāhmaṇas who have mastered the Vedas. If any one goes there out of attachment or delusion, h is sin cannot be removed even if he drinks (holy) water with plenty of gingelly seeds[13] (the idea seems to be “even if libations are offered by a number of his successors”) or even when he goes (as a pilgrim) to Yugandhara (near Kurukṣetra).

83-84. By going to a place devoid of merit, one incurs all types of sins. He can get rid of his sins by climbing the Bhṛgutuṅga, by going to the sacred river Sarasvatī, or to the beautiful river Gaṅgā or to the divine river Mahānadī or to the rivers rising in the Himavān or to the other rivers honoured by the sages.

85. By going to all the holy lakes, rivers and waterfalls, he may be freed from sins. He enjoys infinite bliss in heaven.

86. In the case of a Brāhmaṇa, it is said that he has defilement for ten nights on account of the death of a relative or a birth in the family. It is prescribed for twelve days in the case of a Kṣatriya.

87. It is for half a month in the case of a Vaiśya and for a full month in the case of a Śūdra. The lady in the monthly period becomes pure in four nights. This is true in the case of all castes.

88. It is laid down that one gets defiled by touching a women in her menses, a woman in confinement, a dog, a Cāṇḍāla, nudes (like Digambara Jainas) Nagnas and others and those persons who had carried a dead body.

89. The purificatory rite in the above case is as follows. If it is a Brāhmaṇa, he must take a bath along with his clothes. He will be pure by the application of clay twelve times. This alone is the purificatory rite after indulging in sexual intercourse or after vomiting.

90-91. A man should perform purificatory rite after washing his hands with clay and water. After washing with water, he must take bath and clean his hands with clay once again. He should perform this rite in three stages so that the total number shall be twelve. There should not be any stickiness left. It is thus that the injunction regarding purificatory rites is to be observed in every case at all times.

92. In washing the feet, one should apply clay three times to each of his feet. This is the purificatory rite in the forest. Henceforth, I shall mention the process of purification pertaining to (i.e. while residing in) the village.

93. Application of clay fifteen times particularly on. hands etc. is purification. One should apply the clay once over and above the prescribed number of times. After the application of the clay one shall wash it with water.

94-96. In all these cases, if the dirt is not clearly visible the process of purification is by means of water alone.

If one covers the neck or the head and goes along the streets or bazaars (he becomes impure). If he does not wash his feet, he continues to be impure even after performing the Ācamana rite. He should wash his feet and set down the water pot. After performing the Ācamana rite, he must sprinkle water for the purpose of consecration. He should also perform the sprinkling rite or the Abhyukṣaṇa of other articles. Sprinkling is done in the case of flowers etc., grasses and Havis offerings as well.

97. Articles brought by others must be purified by the Abhyukṣaṇa rite after placing them down. One must not touch anything if it is not consecrated by the ritualistic sprinkling of water. Whether the rite is Śrāddha or it is a rite for the Devas.

98. An article must be received from the northern side and disposed off on the southern side. A Yajamāna (sponsorer of a Śrāddha) shall perform every Śrāddha in a secluded spot.

99-100. In all rites pertaining to the Devas or the Pitṛs there is likelihood of adverse results if one is Ucchiṣṭa (i.e. polluted by the leaving of food etc.).

One should touch the southern altar with the right hand, and with both the hands the offerings unto the Devas and the Pitṛs ritualistically scattered in a line.

(Ācamana is the purificatory rite in the following cases:—When one perspires, after getting up from sleep, after urination and evacuation of bowels).

101-106.[14] When one spits, after oil bath, after, taking food, after wearing the clothes, when one touches other persons defiled by Ucchiṣṭa, after washing the feet, after talking to a person defiled by Ucchiṣṭa, after eating, when one is maintaining the physical purity for holy rites, in case of all doubts after untying the knot of the tuft of hair as well as without the sacred thread, (if one touches) aimlessly, on touching a camel or a sheep, on seeing persons who speak words that should not bespoken, touching (particles of food etc.) sticking to the teeth with the tongue producing a loud noise or by means of fingers or on seeing a fallen man.

If one performs the Ācamana rite out of delusion while remaining standing, he shall continue to be impure. He must sit on a clean spot facing the east or the north. He must be pure in mind and body. He should have washed the feet beforehand. The hands should be kept on the lap and he should touch the water. With mental concentration and great purity, he should sip water three times with pleasure.

107-109a. He should perform the rite of Mārjana (sprinkling with water) twice and the rite of Abhyukṣaṇa once. He should sprinkle water over the sense-organs, head, chest hands and feet. Whatever is desired by a person who performs Ācamana rite thus will be fulfilled. The Vedas, the Yajñas, the austerities, the charitable gifts and the observances of holy rites become fruitful.

109b-110a. If out of delusion, any one performs a holy rite without performing the Ācamana rite, he is an Atheist. Undoubtedly all sacred rites performed by him will be in vain.

11 Ob-112. Those which are sanctified by means of speech, body and intellect, that which is not touched or that which is not censured are all pure (?) The following should be understood to be pure in that case. Otherwise they are defiled and impure:—the mind, the speech, the body, the fire, the time, the engraving (?) announcement of the purificatory rites, or perpetual ignorance (?)

If any one, out of delusion, performs it otherwise and makes a mess of the whole rite of purification, the fruit undoubtedly goes to the Piśācas and Yātudhānas.

113. One who has no faith in the purificatory rite is born among the Mlecchas (barbarians).

114. A person who does not perform any Yajña, a sinner or a person born as a low animal attains liberation by performing the purificatory rite. The man becomes a dweller of the heaven.

115. Indeed, the Devas desire purity. This is declared by the Devas. The gods always avoid odious and unclean fellows.

116-117. Persons of auspicious activities perform justifiably the purificatory rites thrice.

The gods bestow, whatever is desired in the mind even if it is the most excellent thing in the three worlds, on a person strictly adhering to the Brahminical traditions, who receives guests, who is intelligent, who is pure and clean, who is devoted to the Pitṛs, who controls his sense-organs and who has sympathy.

The Pitṛs increase his glory and prosperity.

Footnotes and references:


Cf. KP.II.16.8.


For list of food, fruits, vegetables etc. recommended for Śrāddha. Cf. Viṣṇu Dh. S. 79.17.

Out of the lists of plants given here, the following are the corresponding botanical terms given in works like All India Ayurvedic Dictionary, Āyurvedīya materia medica, Kirfel's Index to his edition of Aṣṭāṅga-ḥrdaya.

Tālakanda—If = 'Tālaka (yellow arsenic)
If —Tālīsa (Abie Weffiiana)
If =Tālamūtī (Curculigo Orchioides)
Kāleya—If = Kaliyaka (Coscinium fenestratum)
= Kala (capparis sepiaria)
Grīvaka—Grewia—asiatica (?)
Madhusāhvaya—If= madhuyaṣṭi (Glycyrrhiza glabra).
If=Madhūka (Madhuca Indica)
Śṛṅgajapa—Śṛṅgavera—synonym of karkaṭaśṛṅgī = Rhus Succedanea.

I am indebted to Dr. Y. Wadhwani of the Sk. Dictionary Deptt. of the Deccan College, Pune for the above information.


Cf. Vā. P. 78.12 and 15; also Smṛti candrikā—Śrāddha, pp. 415-416.


Cf. MK. P. 29.19.


It is not known why these parts of the country like Orissa, Talangana, Northern region of Sindhu etc. are prohibited for Śrāddha; whether they were beyond the pale of Brahmanism and the majority of people were following Jainism and Buddhism when this portion of this text was written.


The explanation in VV. 35 ff below shows that the terra Nagna includes Jainas, Buddhists, Jīvakas (i.e. Ājīvakas, the followers of Maṅkhali Gosāla) and such other sects who did not follow Brahmanism. It includes also apostate Brāhmaṇas, atheists and the committers of gross sins (Mahāpātakas). Cf. Viṣṇu Dh. S. 82.3 ff, Mbh. Anuśāsana 91.43-44 Vā.P. 78 & 31, also KP II. 21-3, 234-25. The idea is that mere sight of the sacred Śrāddha food by these pollutes it.


Vṛttikalatraka is obscure.


vāsara in the text means “day” but when “the sun” is already mentioned in the compound, the word is superfluous, vastu from Vā. P. 78.42 is accepted here.


Vā. P. 78.47 reads: ayajñayatayo nāma for ayajñā yatayo of the text.


VV. 61-67 describe the various methods of purification of different articles including the ground.


VV. 70-96 below deal with the topic of purification, of man—physical, mental and ritual. The defilement due to Āśauca (whether due to birth or death) technically pertains to eligibility for ritualistic performances.


Vā. P. 78.67 reads viprakṛṣṭena kṛcchreṇa “with a protracted Kṣcchra [Kṛcchra?] expiation.”


the line: Pītvā cāpobhūtilapā gatvā cāpi yugandharam is obseure: It probably means “And even after going to the country called Yugandhara; near Kurukṣetra in Haryana and drinking water (at or of Bhutilapa?)”


VV. 101-106 state the importance of Ācamana (sipping of water) and circumstance under which this purificatory rite be performed.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: