The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,142,515 words

This page describes Shraddha: Proper Time, Eligible Brahmana etc. which is chapter 217 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the two hundred seventeenth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 217 - Śrāddha: Proper Time, Eligible Brāhmaṇa etc.

Ānarta said:

1. O great sage, tell me entirely the procedure whereby all Śrāddha should be performed. I have great faith therein.

Bhartṛyajña said:

2-3. Listen, O king, I shall explain the excellent procedure of Śrāddha which always accords satisfaction to Pitṛs and which bestows the cherished desires on men.

All the rites connected with Śrāddha should be performed by means of the money earned through one’s own labour and not appropriated through deception etc., or stealth or fraudulent means or by cheating others.

4. One should gather together the requisites for Śrāddha through money earned by means of one’s own avocation. In the case of Brāhmaṇas, money and articles received in the course of excellent Prātigrahas (religious gifts) are worthy of approval.

5. Śrāddha can be properly performed by a king through the sum raised by him in the course of his pursuits for defence (of the realm and the people), by a Vaiśya through the products of his field and by a Śūdra through what is obtained by means of trade and services.

6-7. After all the materials and money have been rendered available at home through faultless means on the previous day itself, a householder should be scrupulously clean and bereft of lust and anger. He should then go to the house of Brāhmaṇas worthy of Śrāddha and invite them. The order of priority is as follows: Yatis. (ascetics), then Snātakas (initiated ones who have completed their studies), and then Brahmakarmins (those who regularly perform Brāhmaṇical rites).

8-9. If they are not available, the following may be invited: householders devoted to the knowledge of Brahman, Brāhmaṇas engaged in Agnihotra, those who are experts in the Vedic lore, those who can chant Vedic passages, elderly people engaged always in the Ṣaṭkarmas (six duties of Brāhmaṇas), those who have a large circle of kinsmen and servants and poor people with good qualities.

10. They should not be deficient in limbs. They should be free from ailments. They must have control over their diet. They must be clean in habits. O king, it is proclaimed that these will be the Brāhmaṇas worthy of Śrāddha.

11. Listen. I shall tell you, who they are who have been proclaimed as unworthy: Those who are deficient in or have surplus limbs: gluttons who eat everything. Nirākṛtis[1] (those who neglect their Brāhmaṇical duties);

12. black-toothed ones; those whose teeth are not fit to work properly; those who sell the Vedas; those who disparage the Vedas; those who are devoid of Vedic and Śāstraic knowledge;

13. those with defective nails; sickly ones; doubly nude ones (i.e. those who have circumcised the prepuce); those who injure others; those indulging in scandals; atheists; liers;

14. those who maintain themselves by usury; those engaged in misdeeds; those who never care for pure and clean habits; too tall ones; lean ones, stout men; hirsute and shaggy ones.

15. Those who have no hair (on the body) should be excluded in Śrāddha rite if a householder desires to honour the Pitṛs. Similarly those who are devoted to other men’s wives and he who is the husband of a Vṛṣalī should be avoided.

16. A Vandhyā (barren women) is also said to be Vṛṣalī. So also one whose child is dead. Another Vṛṣalī is a virgin in the menses.

17. (These are avoided:) a eunuch; a robber; a hypocrite; those whose profession is indulging in scandalising kings; a son of one through a Sagotrā (wife of the same family); and a son of Ekapravarā (of the same lineage).

18. Younger brother who performs the Ādhāna rite (Agnihotra) before (the elder brother), who marries before him and who becomes initiated before him, should be avoided, if he is associated with his house (or along with his house) (gṛhasaṃyuta [gṛhasaṃyutaḥ]).

19-20. One should avoid these for a Śrāddha: a person who abandons his father and mother; one who defiles the preceptor’s bed; one who abandons an innocent wife; and one who is ungrateful and is always eager to seize and drag (valuable things); one who sustains himself by craftsmanship; one who bungles; one whose avocation is trading and one who manufactures weapons. All those should be avoided if their antecedents are not known.

21. Henceforth, I shall enumerate those who are recommended for the Śrāddha rite: Brāhmaṇas who have been proclaimed earlier as Paṅktipāvanas (those who purify the rows of people at meals);

22. those who mastered the set of three Madhu and Suparṇa Mantras and maintain three Nacīketa fires; one who is conversant with the six Aṅgas; one who has taken the valedictory bath after concluding Vedic study; one who regularly reads Dharmaśāstras;

23. one who is conversant with the Purāṇas; a learned one who knows Jyeṣṭhasāman, who should be known as a wise man; so also a knower of Atharvaśiras; those who visit Kratus and perform excellent rites;

24. one who washes immediately (after being soiled); one with bright fame; son of a daughter; son-in law; nephew; and one who is engaged in helping others;

25. one who eats sweet food (prepared in Śrāddha); one of sweet speech; one who is always engaged in Japa—all these Brāhmaṇas are to be known as entirely sanctifiers of rows (of learned men).

26. Those despicable Brāhmaṇas who mingle with these should not be excluded, if they are born of a noble family. They too cause satisfaction to the Pitṛs by taking food in Śrāddha.

27. Hence, by all means, the nobility of the Brāhmaṇas should be traced and found out at the outset and the conduct, age and name, matrimonial alliance (should be known) after enquiring about these.

28. A man who offers right of performing Śrāddha rite to a man bereft of learning and good conduct in spite of his being conversant with Dharmaśāstra or offers his daughter in marriage, blunders. It is as though he has performed Homa without fire (i.e. in ashes).

29. It is as though he had sown seeds in an arid land or threshed the chaff. So one should engage only persons of good family endowed with good conduct, in the performance of Śrāddha.

30. O tiger among kings, one should engage such Brāhmaṇas even if they are endowed only with inadequate learning. After realising this, their feet should be grasped.

31-33. With the left hand (first) and then with the right hand and then with both the hands, the feet should be grasped. They should be repeatedly bowed down to in accordance with one’s (physical) ability.

While stroking the right knee, the devotee should utter the following Mantra: “May the extremely powerful and highly esteemed Viśvedevas invoked devoutly by me come over here. (O Brāhmaṇa,) you too shall observe the Vrata (such as eschewing anger, observing celibacy etc.). After inviting the pair (of Brāhmaṇas) thus for the sake of Viśvedevas (they should proceed ahead thus).

34-35. After wearing the sacred thread (Yajñopavīta) on the right shoulder, one should invoke three Brāhmaṇas (as representing three Pitṛs) according to one’s capacity, one Brāhmaṇa separately representing the father, the grandfather and the great-grandfather or one may invoke one for three.

This very procedure is prescribed for invoking Brāhmaṇas for the Pitṛs on mother’s side (i.e. mother’s father, grandfather, great-grandfather).

36-37. The person then touches the feet of the Brāhmaṇa and utters this with the mind sanctified with faith. He should be endowed with devotion to his Pitṛs: “Let my father and his father accompanied by his own father come over to this physical body of yours. You, do observe the Vrata.”

38. After invoking the Pitṛs and Mātāmahas (maternal grandfather etc.) the Brāhmaṇas invited remain with their selves duly controlled.

39. The Yajamāna (householder) should observe celibacy and remain quiescent in his mind. After passing the night, the man should get up early in the morning.

40. On that day (Śrāddha-day) he need not recite the Vedic portion. He shall avoid anger and despised activities, oil bath, physical fatigue, journey and going far in vehicles.

41. At the hour named Kutapa when the Sun reaches the middle of the sky, the person takes his holy bath and wears white clothes. He should propitiate the Pitṛs and Devas as well as the invited Brāhmaṇas. Then he performs the Srāddha.

42. The place should be isolated, charming in a central place in the house (the floor) sloping to the South. It shall be protected from the view of sinners and persons of cruel activities.

43. A Śrāddha viewed by a woman in the menses, a fallen man, a hog or a dog shall be fruitless.

44. A Śrāddha in which stale cooked rice, flour cake etc. smeared with oil (instead of ghee) or foodstuffs defiled by hair or other articles of despicable nature etc. are given shall be fruitless.

45. A Śrāddha in which the performer has no faith or devotion, in which silence is not observed and wherein requisite Dakṣinā is not offered becomes futile.

46. A Śrāddha wherein the sounds of grinding stone, mortar and winnowing basket are heard shall become futile.

47. If, when Śrāddha is being performed, some sort of quarrel breaks out and the seating arrangement in rows (of Brāhmaṇas) is disturbed that Śrāddha becomes futile.

48. If a Śrāddha is performed early in the forenoon, during dusk or dawn or at night or under the open sky (with no roof or cover) or in an uncovered place that Śrāddha becomes futile.

49. O king, if, in a Śrāḍdha the householder offers food without observing rules of celibacy, or the Brāhmaṇa partakes of the food without being celibate, that Śrāddha becomes worthless.

50. If the following is offered in a Śrāddha it shall be futile: grain along with the husk; legume offered after making it Ucchiṣṭa (partly chewed: sipped etc.), ghee or milk left over in vessel etc.

51. O king, listen with attention, I shall enumerate the periods and occasions in which, if Śrāddha is offered it becomes everlasting in its benefit.

52. I shall mention the Manvādi Tithis (lunar days marking the beginning or anniversaries of Manvantaras etc.). Listen to them. They are always endearing to Pitṛs. They are conducive to destruction of all sins.

53. During the Manvādi days, even if mere water mixed with gingelly seeds is offered to Pitṛs and poured on the ground with mind sanctified with faith, it has everlasting benefit.

54-57 The Manvādis are the following:

  Tithi (Lunar days) Fortnight (Pakṣa) Month
1. 9th   Bright Āśvina
2. 12th   Bright Kārttika
3. 3rd   Bright Caitra
4, 3rd   Bright Bhādrapada
5. 15th (New-Moon day) Dark Phālguna
6. 11th   Bright Pauṣa
7. 10th   Bright Āṣāḍha
8. 7th   Bright Māgha
9. 8th   Dark Śrāvaṇa
10. 15th Full-Moon day Dark Āṣāḍha
n. 15th Full-Moon day Dark Kārttika
12. 15th Full-Moon day Dark Phālguna
13. 15th Full-Moon day Dark Caitra
14. 15th Full-Moon day Dark Jyeṣṭha

I have enumerated the Manvādi Tithis. O king.[2]

58. If a devotee takes bath and offers even water mixed with Darbha and gingelly seeds with the Pitṭs in view on these days, he attains the greatest goal.

59. He attains the goal in this world as well as in the other world, with the favour of the Pitṛs. All the more so if they offer different kinds of gems, juices, garments and monetary gifts.

60. Now, O great king, listen to the Yugādis (days marking the beginning of the Yugas). They are dear to Pitṛs. By the mere mentioning of these, series of sins becomes dispelled.

61-62. The Navamī of the bright half of Kārttika is the first day of Tretā; the Tṛtīyā of the bright half of Vaiśākha is the first day of Kṛtayuga; the Amāvāsyā of Māgha is the first day of Kali and the Trayodaśī of Bhādrapada is the first day of Dvāpara. They are excellent for holy ablution, Dāna, Japa, Homa and libation to Pitṛs.

63-65. They give everlasting benefit to the rite performed and great benefit to the holy performance:

When the Sun is in the zodiac Mesa (Aries) or Tulā (Libra) it is called Viṣuva (equinox). This period causes everlasting benefit.

O king, when the Sun is in the zodiac Capricorn and Cancer it is called Ayana (Transit). Viṣuva is more excellent. The movement of the Sun in the zodiac is called Saṃkrānti.

66-67. They accord great benefits through holy ablution, Dāna, Japa, Śrāddha, Homa etc. Now the periods of the beginning of Tretā etc. and the Saṃkrāntis, have been mentioned. Whatever is gifted on these occasions is free from obstacles. That is everlasting in benefit.

Even if anything is given away carelessly to undeserving persons, during inopportune moments, it yield everlasting benefit.

Footnotes and references:


Cf. Smṛti-candrikā: Śrāddha-kalpa, pp. 396-402.


Skandapurāṇa VII.i.205.36-39 differs slightly in the above order.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: