The Brahmanda Purana

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

This page describes qualifications of a brahmana for shraddha gifts which is Chapter 19 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 19 - Qualifications of a Brāhmaṇa for Śrāddha gifts

Summary: Qualifications of A Brāhmaṇa for Śrāddha Gifts: Merits of Śrāddha performance at Sacred Places.

Śamyu said:

1. “What, O excellent one among the eloquent persons, when offered to the Pitṛs, yields satisfaction (unto them)? What shall be beneficent for a long time? What is conducive to infinite bliss?”

Bṛhaspati explained:

2. Listen from me to all those offerings which those who are conversant with the ritualistic details of Śrāddha know. Listen to their due benefits as well.

3. If gingelly seeds, grains of rice, barleys, pulses, water libations, roots and fruits were offered in Śrāddha the grandfathers are pleased for the period of a month.[1]

4. They are satisfied for two months, if Śrāddha is offered with different kinds of fish. They are satisfied for three months, if the Śrāddha is offered with venison (deer’s flesh).

They are contented for four months, if rabbit’s flesh is offered in the Śrāddha.

They are pleased for five months, if bird’s flesh is offered in the Śrāddha.

5. They are pleased for six months if Śrāddha is performed with boar’s flesh.

The flesh of a goat yields satisfaction to Pitṛs for seven months.

The flesh of a mountain goat is said to yield satisfaction for eight months.

6. The grandfathers are delighted For nine months with the flesh of Ruru variety of deer.

The satisfaction of the Pitṛs lasts for ten months if Śrāddha is offered with the flesh of Gavaya (a type of ox).

7. The satisfaction lasts for eleven months if sheep’s flesh is offered in the Śrāddha. O Brāhmaṇas, cow’s milk offered in the Śrāddha, yields satisfaction (to the Pitṛs) for a year.

8. The flesh of the rhinoceros shall be conducive to infinite bliss in the abode of the Pitṛs. Milk pudding offered along with honey and ghee at the time of Gajacchāyā[2] yields perpetual satisfaction.

9-11. There is perpetual satisfaction if the flesh of a black goat is offered. In this connection there are certain gāthās (traditional verses) sung by the Pitṛs as recounted by those conversant with the ancient lore.

I shall mention them to you factually; understand them from me:

“Will there not be such a one (descendant coming to our family as would offer Śrāddha on the thirteenth day?

Will there not be such a one in our family as would offer Śrāddha during the rainy season or under Maghā constellation with the flesh of a goat wholly reddish in colour?

Many sons should be sought so that at least one would go to Gayā, one shall marry a girl of the Gaurī type (i.e. of eight years or one who is a virgin) or one shall discharge a Nala[3] (? lean like a red) bull.”

Śamyu said:

12. “O dear father, recount to me who ask, the fruit of Gayā etc; mention fully the merits to the donors”.

Bṛhaspati said:

13. “The Śrāddha at Gayā is of everlasting benefit. So also the Japas, Homas, the penances. It is in the abode of the Pitṛs, O son, and therefore the Śrāddha there is remembered as yielding an everlasting benefit.

14. The son begot of a Gaurī type of a girl after she had completed her twenty-first year shall perform great sacrifices. (?) This is remembered as its fruit.

I shall mention the benefit of discharging a bull. Even as I mention it, understand it.[4]

15-19. The discharger of the bull sanctifies ten preceding and ten succeeding generations.

After discharging the bull and getting down into the river water whatever portion of water he touches, is cited as yielding an everlasting benefit unto the Pitṛs.

There is no doubt that it will yield an everlasting benefit unto the Pitṛs if the bull touches the water with any of its limbs, tail etc.

If the bull scratches or scrapes a part of the ground with its horns or hoofs continuously it shall constitute a channel of honey unto the Pitṛs.

By discharging a bull it is said to accomplish such a satisfaction to the Pitṛs as is obtained by digging a lake with sides of a thousand Nalvas (one Nalva = 400 cubits) according to the Śruti (Vedas).

20. If a person gives during the Śrāddha rite gingelly seeds mixed with jaggery, honey, or something mixed with honey—everything becomes everlasting in yielding benefits.

21. (Charitable gifts) should always be given by men. One should not test the Brāhmaṇa, It is heard (i.e. it is laid down in the Vedas) that a Brāhmaṇa is to be tested in rites pertaining to the Pitṛs and gods.[5]

22-26. The Brāhmaṇas who have performed ablutions after observing the holy, rites prescribed in the Vedas are those who sanctify the row (of Brāhmaṇa diners).

Those who know different languages, those who are engaged in (the study of) grammar, those who study the Purāṇas and sacred scriptures, one who maintains five sacred fires, one who possesses Sauparṇa Mantras, one who knows the six Aṅgas (ancillary subjects), the son of Brahmā Deva (one who has Brahman as his deity), one who has understood Vedic prosody, one who habitually sings the Jyeṣṭhasāman[6] hymns, one who has taken a holy dip in the sacred waters, one who has observed holy rites, those who have taken Avabhṛtha (i.e. Valedictory) baths after all sacrifices, those who are devoid of anger and those who have no greed at all one shall invite all such Brāhmaṇas for the Śrāddha rite. What is given to these, yields never-ending benefit; these are indeed the sanctifiers of rows of diners.

27. If a person honours those who are well established in yogic rites and Brāhmaṇas worthy of being invited for Śrāddha rites, the three deities Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara are thereby worshipped by him.

28-29. The man who worships these Brāhmaṇas attains the same world as that of the Pitṛs.

The Yoga Dharma is mentioned as the first and foremost among all Dharmas. It is the most sacred of all sacred things and most auspicious of all auspicious things.

I shall mention those who are not worthy of (being in) the row (of diners)[7]. Understand them even as I recount them.

30. A rogue, one who drinks liquor, one who keeps animals, one who has been banished, one who works as the common servant of all the villagers, one whose profession is usury, one who does business in the bazar.

31. One who burns houses, one who gives poison, a Śūdra, a common priest of the village performing a Yajña (on behalf of anyone and everyone), a Kāṇḍapṛṣṭha (a Brāhmaṇa who lives by making arrows and other weapons), a Kuṇḍāśin (a pander, a pimp), one who imbibes liquor, one who sells Soma juice.

32. One who has gone overseas, a person who works as a servant, a back-biter, one guilty of perjury, one who argues with his father, one who keeps his wife’s paramour in his own house.

33. An Abhiśasta (a wicked and cursed fellow), a thief, one who maintains himself by means of arts and crafts, a panegyrist, a cook and one who deceives friends.

34. A one-eyed fellow, a lame man, an atheist, one who has discarded the study of the Vedas, a mad fellow, a eunuch, one who has killed a child in the womb, a person who defiles the preceptor’s bed.

35. One who maintains himself with the help of a physician, a glutton, one who commits adultery, one who sells Brahminical holy rites and observances—all these are the defilers of rows.

36. What is offered to an atheist shall become lost. What is handed over to one who spoils holy rites and what is offered to a trader shall not be (beneficial) here or hereafter (in the other world).[8]

37-38. What is given to the following shall be of no avail here and hereafter viz one who misappropriates a deposit, one who is ungrateful, one who is devoid of the Vedas, one who plays on the musical instrument Paṇava, a craftsman and a person who is devoid of piety. (The same is the case) with one who buys or sells those commodities the buying or selling of which is prohibited as well as one who encourages such activities by praising them. A trader may have mental peace elsewhere but he does not deserve (invitation to) a Śrāddha.

39-43. What is given to the son of a widowed woman, who remarries is futile like the Homa performed on the ashes, O Brāhmaṇa. A one-eyed man (if invited for Śrāddha) destroys sixty merits of the donors; a eunuch destroys a hundred merits; a man suffering from white leprosy destroys five hundred merits; one who suffers from sinful ailments destroys a thousand merits of the donors. The donor who is childish falls off from the benefit thereof.

If one takes food with his head covered (with a cloth), if one takes food facing south, if one takes food with shoes on, if one makes a charitable gift without due honour—Brahmā has ordained that the benefit in all these cases shall go to the chief of Asuras.

A dog or the slayer of a Brāhmaṇa should never see (the materials of Śrāddha). Hence, one should offer Śrāddha after scattering cooked rice surrounded by gingelly seeds. The gingelly seeds and cooked rice surrounded by them are said to ward off demons and dogs.[9]

44. A pig destroys (Śrāddha) merely by seeing it; a cock destroys it with the wind from its wings. The Śrāddha is destroyed by the touch of a woman in her menses. It is also destroyed if the person offers it in angry mood.

45. The grandfathers are pleased with what is given on the beautiful banks of rivers, on lakes and in secluded places.

46-47. One should not allow the right knee to touch the ground; a person practising Yoga should not utter words. Hence one should propitiate the parents after duly wearing the Darbha grass round the ring finger and after being surrounded (? by gingelly seeds.). Thus he pleases the Pitṛs. After getting the consent of the Brāhmaṇas at the outset, one should duly perform rites in the sacred fire Called Agnau-Karaṇa.

48. One should make offerings unto the Pitṛs on the ground or in the open sunshine or on Darbha grasses spread like a bed.

One should duly perform Śrāddha in the forenoon during the bright fortnight of the Lunar month.

49-50. One must not transgress (? pass beyond) the ninth muhūrta of the day (called Rauhiṇeya) in the afternoon during the dark fortnight of the Lunar month, for Śrāddha performance.

Thus, these noble-souled Pitṛs of great Yogic Power and great potentiality should always be worshipped when the place and time is propitious.

It is only through devotion unto the Pitṛs that a man achieves the Yogic power which is very difficult to achieve.

51-53. (Defective text) One shall attain Mokṣa (liberation from Saṃsāra) through meditation after discarding (the merits and demerits) of the acts both auspicious and non auspicious.

But for the sake of sacrifices (being performed) and by-deluding the world that way, Brahman was (as if) taken over and kept concealed in the cavity (of the heart). Then by the great-souled Kaśyapa, that immortal or nectarine esoteric principle was drawn up (and made explicit). This Yoga, the superior one among the Yogas, was expounded by Sanatkumāra. It is the region of the highest Brahman which is the top-most secret doctrine of the Devas and the highest goal of the sages.

54-55. Through devotion to the Pitṛs and personal efforts this yoga is achieved by learned men. In brief, one who is devoted to the Pitṛs, one who keeps the Pitṛs before and after, shall definitely attain all these things without effort.

Bṛhaspati said:

56-5 7a. All these have been mentioned to you along with a brief resume (summary) viz. to whom are the śrāddhas to be offered, which one, if offered yields great benefit, the holy centres and the caves wherein the Śrāddha becomes everlasting in its benefits and the places where one attains heaven (after performing Śrāddha).

57b-58a. After hearing these rules and regulations regarding Śrāddha, if any man does not perform it, he is an atheist and he shall fall into the terrible hell enveloped in darkness.

58b-59a. Slandering and reviling should not be indulged in especially in the case of Yogins.[10]

By indulging in such reviling one becomes a worm and whirls and whirls there itself (in the hell).

59b-60. One who censures and reviles at yogins, meditators and those who desire Mokṣa, shall fall into a terrible hell. There is no doubt that even. he who listens to the same falls into the hell of terrible appearance and is enveloped in darkness all round.

By reviling at leading Yogins a man never goes to heaven.

61. One who listens to the abuse of leading Yogins who are self-controlled, will become immersed in hell for a long time. There is no doubt in this matter. They will be roasted in the hell Kumbhīpāka again and again. Their tongues shall be cut again and again.

62. Those men will undergo disaster like a lump of clay thrown into the sea. One should avoid all types of hatred towards yogins, mentally, verbally and physically. He enjoys infinite bliss here in this world.

63. A person who has mastered (various subjects) does not gain mastery over himself. Due to his own actions, he wanders within the three worlds. Even one who has mastered the Ṛg Mantras, Yajus Mantras, Sāman Mantras and their various ancillary subject does not attain the Brahman devoid of changes and aberrations and therefore becomes distressed.

64. One who has mastered all created things, the products of Prakṛti (the nature known as Avidyā), one who has mastered the good features in the three Vedas, one who has mastered the three Guṇas (Sattva etc.) and one who has mastered the twenty-four principles is the person who has crossed the saṃsāra to the other shore and is the master of academic studies.[11]

65. One who is devoted to the Brahman duly and wholly attains it. Similarly, he comprehends the state where everything is merged into the soul.

The Brāhmaṇa who does not take to the path of Yoga cannot become the master of everything that comes under the purview of order by knowledge.

66. The knower of Yoga obtains i.e. comprehends everything that has to be comprehended in the Vedas and that which has to be realized i.e. the Brahman. Those who have known Vedas call him master of the Vedas.

67. One who has understood the Vedas and everything that has to be understood remains in the normal state, (i.e. the state of Brahman, realized by those who are the real knowers of the Vedas. The others have simply gone to the end of the Vedas (verbally).

68. There is no doubt that the devotee of the Pitṛs obtains Yajñas, Vedas, other desirable things, different sorts of penance, longevity and progeny.

69. He who regularly studies this Śrāddha Kalpa with faith achieves all these as well as the benefits of visiting holy centres and offering charitable gifts.

70. He is the sanctifier of the rows of diners. He shall partake of the feast at the head of Brāhmaṇas. One who is obedient to the Brāhmaṇas and who serves them shall attain all desires.

71-72. If a person listens to this always, if a Brāhmaṇa expounds this to others, if he is free from jealousy, if he has conquered anger and if he has rid himself of greed and delusion he attains ṭhe benefit of visiting holy centres etc. as well as giving charitable gifts etc and the excellent means of heaven and Mokṣa undoubtedly. Here, he attains the greatest nourishment. Hence, one shall always perform Śrāddha.

73. If a person reads this procedure (of Śrāddha) with alertness, concentration and mental purity in the assembly (of scholars) during the junctions of festive occasions, he shall obtain children. With the greatest refulgence he attains the same world as the heaven-dwellers.

74. Obeisance to that selfborn Lord by whom this treatise has been recounted. I bow down always to the great leaders of the Yoga cult.

Footnotes and references:


VV 3-11 give the vegetarian and non-vegetarian articles of food liked by and therefore recommended to serve to Brahmins while dining at a Śrāddha. The Āpastamba Dh.S. (600 B.C.) prescribes flesh-eating as obligatory at Śrāddha and enumerates the animals the flesh of which gratifies Pitṛs for what period e.g. the flesh of a cow offered in Śrāddha gratifies the Pitṛs for a year (Saṃvatsaraṃ gavayena prītiḥ) and for other animals etc. see Āpastamba Dh. S.II.7.16.25; II.7-17.3. A refusal to accept non-vegetarian food at Śrāddha is punished by going to hell (Viṣṇudharmottam I.140.49-50, also Manu V 35; KP.II. 17.40).

Manu III 267-272, Yājñavalkya I, 258-60, Mbh. Anuśāsana ch.88, Kātyāyana’s Śrāddha-Sūtra (Kaṇḍikā 7-8), KP. 11.20.40-42, Mt.P. 17.31-35, Vā.P. 83.3.9, VP. III.16.1-3 and such other Purāṇas specify the length of the periods of time for which Pitṛs are gratified by the flesh of certain animals served at a Śrāddha. There are differences in the period of gratification, but as Hemādri notes the greater the period, the greater thee satisfaction (iha sanatra prītya-tiśayo vivakṣitaḥ / śrāddha, p. 590).

In southern India, strict vegetarianism in Śrāddha meals is observed though neither Mitākṣarā nor Kalpataru state that flesh diet is totally prohibited at Śrāddha.


Gajacchāyā or Kuñjaracchāyā is the conjunction that occurs when the Moon is in the Maghā constellation, the Sun is in Hasta and the Tithi is the 13th in the rainy season.


Misprint for Nīla vide Vā. P. 83.12.


VV. 14-19 describe the reward one gets by discharging a bull on the occasion of Śrāddha.


VV. 21-28 mention the qualifications of Brāhmaṇas to whom gifts may be given. The Yogadharma was regarded as the foremost among Dharmas and hence naturally Yogis got a preference.


Jyeṣṭha-Sāman is interpreted differently according to the Śākhās of the Sāma-Veda:

(i) Talavakāra Śākhā: Sāma sung on udu tvam (Ṛ.V. I.50.1), citraṃ devānām (ṚV.I.115.1)

(ii) Cāndoga Śākhā: The Sāmans sung on Mūrdhānaṃ divo (ṚV.VI.7.1)


VV. 29-35 give the list of persons unfit for invitation to Śrāddha Cf. KP.II.21.25-43.


VV. 36-42 enumerate persons who are unworthy of receiving dāna (religious gift at the time of Śrāddha).


Since very early times—since the period of Dharma Sutras (600 A.D.)—food for Śrāddha and other sacred purposes was not allowed to be polluted even by sight by certain animals and classes of persons such as dogs, Cāṇḍālas, the committers of Mahāpātakas, women in menses or sonless women or by a person suffering from white leprosy. When our author gives a list of such unworthies in VV. 43-44, he is echoing Gautama Dh.S. (15.25-28), Manu 115,239-242, and Purāṇas like KP. 11.22.34-35, Vā. P.78. 26-40 and VP. III.16-12-14 to mention a few.


Since the times of Vasiṣṭha Dh.S. (XI.17), Yatis (recluses), Yogis had a special place of honour among the invitees to Śrāddha. During the Purāṇa period the honour became a blind faith. As stated in Supra 9.70, feeding a yogi came to be regarded as more meritorious than feeding thousands of Brāhmaṇas. Hence, here in VV.58b-64 even speaking ill of Yogins is prohibited as a sin.


The belief in the omniscience of Yogins is still found all over India.

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