The Markandeya Purana

by Frederick Eden Pargiter | 1904 | 247,181 words | ISBN-10: 8171102237

This page relates “the ordinance of the sraddha” which forms the 32nd chapter of the English translation of the Markandeya-purana: an ancient Sanskrit text dealing with Indian history, philosophy and traditions. It consists of 137 parts narrated by sage (rishi) Markandeya: a well-known character in the ancient Puranas. Chapter 32 is included the section known as “conversation between Sumati (Jada) and his father”.

Canto XXXII - The ordinance of the Śrāddha

Madālasā explains what hinds of food please the pitṛs at śraddhas and for what periods—what hinds are to he avoided—what sites should be avoided for the ceremony—what men and animals should he excluded—and what defilements must he avoided—Yogis must have priority at the śrāddha—ancient songs are to be sung—and what benefits accrue from the performance.

Madālasā spoke:

Next hear, my son, with faith this[1] that I say,—what is to be avoided in order to please the pitṛs, or what conduces to their pleasure.

The pitṛs are satisfied with clarified butter and rice for a month. The paternal grandfathers receive satisfaction with fish-meat for two months. Venison should be known to satisfy the pitṛs for three months; and the flesh of hares nourishes the pitṛs for four months; birds’ flesh satisfies them for five months; hog’s flesh for six months; goat’s flesh for seven months; and flesh of the black antelope[2] for eight months; flesh of the rurn deer gives them satisfaction for nine months, without doubt; flesh of the gayal[3] gives them satisfaction for ten months. Moreover sheep’s flesh[4] satisfies the pitṛs for eleven months; and milk of kine or anything made of milk satisfies them a year. Flesh of the rhinoceros, flesh of the red-goat, the dark tulsi plant,[5] and honey, and flesh of the rhinoceros[6] and whatever else is given by members of their own family, and turmeric and soma juice, and a śrāddha performed at Gayā without doubt yield the pitṛs endless satisfaction. Śyāmāka[7] grain and rāja-śyāmāka[8] grain, and likewise small-grained rice,[9] wild rice,[10] and pauṣkala grain, these among grain tend to satisfy the pitṛs.

Barley, vrīhi rice[11], and sesamum-seed, and wheat, green gram,[12] and mustard, priyaṅgu[13] seed, kovidāra[14] seed, and the finest pulse,[15] markaṭaka[16] seed, rāja-māṣa[17] pulse, and aṇu[18] grain should he eschewed at a śrāddha. Viprāṣika[19] seed and lentils[20] are forbidden in a śrāddha. Garlic[21] and red garlic,[22] onions,[23] carrots,[24] asparagus,[25] and whatever other vegetables are shunned on account of their taste and colour; gāndhārikā[26] and kadus,[27] salts and salted things, and reddish juices,[28] and things that are manifestly salt—these should he indeed avoided in a śrāddha. And whatever has been obtained by talk or through bribes or other improper means is not commended, nor what has been acquired from an outcaste; and wealth that has been obtained unlawfully as the purchase-price of a bride is forbidden in this ceremony. And water that is bad-smelling and frothy, and very scanty, and water that cattle would disdain, and what has been taken by night, and what has been left after every one has cooked, and what is unfit for drinking in a tank—that water should he avoided always in the ceremony to the pitṛs. All milk from deer, sheep, camels, and from animals that have uncloven hoofs, from buffaloes, and from the yak, and cow’s milk that is not more than ten days old,[29] and what has been brought to a person who has asked for it on account of the pitṛs,—such milk must he always avoided by the good in the śrāddha ceremony.

And in this ceremony ground must he avoided that is swarming with insects, that is rough, and that has been scorched by fire, and that is hot with the words of enemies and wicked men, and that is foul-smelling.

Men who disgrace their family or who injure their family by separating themselves from the śrāddha, naked men and criminals may destroy the ceremony to the pitṛs with their glance; a eunuch, and a man repudiated by his relations, a cock, and the village hog, and a dog, each ruins śrāddhas by his look, and so also do Rākṣasas.

Hence let a man offer the ceremony being well secluded, and scattering the ground with sesamum seed. Thus may safety be secured in the śrāddha even for both, my child.

What has been touched by a corpse or by a recently-delivered woman,[30] and by those who have been long ill, by outcastes, and by filthy persons, does not nourish the pitṛs.

And the celebrant must moreover avoid the sight of a woman who is in her courses; and he must shun sitting together with baldpated men and drunken men at a śrāddha, out of respect.

And whatever is infested with hair-lice, and whatever has been gazed at by dogs, and whatever is putrid and stale, and the briñjal,[31] and ferments,[32] and whatever has been fanned by the wind from clothing, are indeed to be avoided at a śrāddha.

Whatever, in the shape of articles of food possessed by thee, is given with supreme faith to the pitṛs according to their name and family, that becomes food for them. Hence a man of faith, who desires the pitṛs’ satisfaction, must place the best that he has in the vessel and according to rule at a ceremony to the pitṛs.

And the yogis must always be fed by a wise man at a śrāddha; for the pitṛs are patrons of religious devotion; hence one should ever worship them. How if a yogi is fed first, he can save the person for whom the sacrifice is offered and those who feast, just as a boat saves in water, better than thousands of brāhmans.

At this ceremony also songs in honour of the pitṛs are sung by those who recite the Veda, songs which were[33] formerly sung by the pitṛs to king Purūravas. “When will any one of us have a son, the chief among his race, who, eating the remains of food left by the yogis, will offer the piṇḍa on earth? Or will offer the piṇḍa, buffalo-beef, the clarified butter, or the vegetable kāla[34] mixed with sesamum-seed, or khichree at Gayā for our monthly satisfaction? May we obtain[35] the offering to the Viśvadevas and the soma juice, buffalo-beef, and the finest clarified butter, and the divine food[36] by getting a young[37] rhinoceros!”

Let him duly offer the śrāddha on the thirteenth day and when the moon is in the asterism Maghā, and milk mixed with honey and clarified butter during the winter half of the year.

Let a man therefore, my son, worship his own pitṛs in faith, hoping to gain all his wishes and his own deliverance from evil. Men’s pitṛs, when delighted with śrāddhas, please the Vasus, the Rudras and the Ādityas, the constellations, the planets and the stars. The pitṛs, when delighted with śrāddhas, bestow long life, wisdom, wealth, knowledge, Svarga, final emancipation from existence, and joys and sovereignty. I have declared to thee, my son, the śrāddha ceremony as it has been expounded: hear, my child, the praise of the Voluntary Śrāddhas according to the various days on which they are performed.

Footnotes and references:


For imam read idam.


For aineyam read aiṇeyam.


For gavasyāmiṣam read gavayāmiṣam ?


For ūrabhram read aurābhram.


Kāla-śāka: Ocymum sanctum, Roxb. I do not find it in Hooker.


Dauhitra; but the rhinoceros is already mentioned.


This according to Roxburgh is Panicum frumentaceum, the Beng. śyāmā; but he says the Beng. syāmā also denotos P. colonum.


Perhaps this may be Panicum hispidulum, which Roxburgh says is called Beng. bara-śyāmā.






The āus, or rainy season crop?


Mudga; see note §§, p. 84.


Priyaṅgu, Panicum italicum, (Roxb. p. 101.)


Kovidāra, Bauhinia variegata; see-note ‖, p. 27.


Niṣpāva; see note-‖, p. 86.


Markaṭaka; this does not seem to be known.


Rāja-māṣa. Prof. Monier-Williams says this is Vigna catiang (Dolichos catjang, Linn, and Roxb.). (Hooker, vol. II, p. 205).


Panicum maliaceum, Roxb., the modern china.


Viprāṣika; not given in the Dictionary.


Masūra. Prof. Monier-Williams says this is either Ervum hirsutnm or Cicer lens (Roxb. p. 567). The former is the modern masūr chanā, and the latter masūr. Hooker appears to combine both in Vicia hirsuta, which seems to be the common Lentil (Hooker, vol II, pp. 177 and 179).










Karambha, neut. Prof. Monier-Williams does not give the neut, but says karambhā, fem., is Asparagus racemosus, which is also called śata-mūlī. (Roxb. p. 291; not in Hooker).


Gāndhārikā; not in the Dictionary. Professor Monier-Williams says gāndhārī denotes Sedysarum alhagi (Roxb., p. 574), and the Prickly Nightshade (which appears to be Solanum Jacquini, Roxb., p. 191); bnt neither seems appropriate. The text as it stands seems corrupt. For gāndhārikām road gandholikam, which might mean “ dry ginger”?


Alābu; see note * page 118.


Niryāsa; or ‘gums.’


A-nirdaśa. This seems strange.


For śava-sūtaka-saṃspṛṣṭam read sūtakā-śava-saṃṣpṛṣṭam ?


Vārtāki, the briñjal, Solanum melongena, Roxb., the modern begun. Prof. Monier- Williams calls it the egg-plant. It is a well-known and favourite vegetable. I do not find it in Hooker.


For abhiṣavāṃs read abhiṣavās ?


For āsīn read āsan.


There are many plants of this name.


For aśnuvāmahe read aśnuvāmahai?


Āsūryam in the text, bat it seems incorrect. Read āsuryam or āsuram from asura? Āsura is in the dictionary, but not āsurya.


Viṣāṇa-varjya, hornless.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: