The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Procedure of Shraddha which is chapter 224 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 twenty-fourth chapter of the Tirtha-mahatmya of the Nagara-khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 224 - Procedure of Śrāddha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

Ānarta said:

1-2. O highly esteemed one, I have now heard who those Brāhmaṇas are who are fit for performing Śrāddha and who are to be rejected. I have also heard about the many kinds of sons, O sage of excellent vows.

Now tell us the procedure to be followed always by a householder in order to propitiate the Pitṛs. Describe this along with the Mantras.

Bhartṛyajña said:

3. The excellent Brāhmaṇas who are invited for performing a Śrāddha after due obeisance, should be brought (home) at the time of Kutapa. The householder then requests them all thus:

4. “May the highly esteemed and very powerful Viśvedevas be pleased to come in.” Let them give due attention to their respective duties which they have been assigned.

5. After adoring them all thus, he should circumambulate them and placing the knees on the ground he should offer the Arghya.

6. O eminent king, this Arghya along with flowers, rice-grains and sandal-paste is to be offered with the following Mantra: “May excellent Brāhmaṇas accept this Arghya offered by me for the purpose of washing the feet. Let them do what is pleasing to me.”

7. After uttering this, he should strew raw rice grains and Darbha grass on the ground which is well cleaned and smeared duly. He should then glorify Viśvedevas.

8. Wearing the sacred thread anticlockwise, he should strew twice the number of Darbhas and gingelly seeds on the ground with his own Pitṛs in view.

9. In this manner all the rites of the deities should be performed with the sacred thread worn clockwise (from left shoulder to the right) and all the rites pertaining to the Pitṛs except the Nāndīmukha Pitṛs, with it worn anticlockwise (from right shoulder to the left).

10. O king, within one’s capacity all the pairs of Pitṛs should be placed Pūrvamukhas (with faces turned to the east). The Pitṛs of the mother’s side should be placed Udaṅmukhas (with faces turned to the north).

11. Each of them can be placed severally or all in a circle for the satisfaction of the Pitṛs.

12. Using the genitive case, Āsanas (seats) should be offered to them. The Āsana is to consist of straight Darbha grass mixed with rice-grain and water. The seats should be to the right side.

13. To the left side, twice the number of the Darbhas of unequal lengths should be offered along with gingelly seeds. They should be offered after sprinkling water on the hand (palms) with Darbha grasses. They are not to be handed over at all (?).

14. If an ignorant person offers seat with the Darbha grass in the hand, the Pitṛs do not accept the seat.

15. The Āvāhana (invocation) rite should be performed with the use of the accusative case (e.g. amukam āvāhayāmi). They should be severally invoked and all of them arrive accordingly.

16. The highly esteemed Pitṛs never come if the devotee invokes them with the use of any other case-ending (e.g. amukāya āvāhayāmi) even if they are hungry.

17. O king, with the Mantra beginning with viśvedevāsa āgatā their invocation should be made with raw rice-grains near the head.

18. Then one should invoke the Pitṛs dropping gingelly seeds and uttering the Mantra uśantastva etc. Thereafter, O excellent king, he should utter the Mantra āyantu naḥ etc.

19. He shall pour water in the Arghyapātras of the Pitṛs uttering the mantra “Śanno devi” etc. along with the word “svāhā”.

20. He should drop rice-grains there, uttering the Mantra yavosi yavayāsmadva etc. He should then duly offer sandal-paste, sweet scents, flowers and incense. With great concentration he shall offer Arghya unto the hands adorned with Pavitras. (Rings of Darbha grass).

21. Similarly he should pour water into the Arghya vessels of the Pitṛs uttering the Mantra divyā etc. along with Svāhākāra.

22. He shall scatter Tila (gingelly seeds) uttering the Mantra beginning with tilosi meaning ‘You are gingelly seeds’ with Soma as the presiding deity. ‘You have been created by the Lord during Gosava sacrifice. You have been mixed with Svadhā by the traditionalists. Delight these Pitṛs, worlds and all of us; Svadhā unto you.’

23-24. Then the Arghya is to be offered by uttering the Mantra yādivyā. The devotee then takes all the Arghya Pātras in the Pitṛpātra and places that Pātra with face down uttering the said Mantra. If the devotee desires longevity, he should not look at it with his eyes.

25. Then he should offer everything beginning with Candana (sandal-paste) and ending with Dīpa (light). Then he holds the cooked food and asks the excellent Brāhmaṇas:

26. “I shall consign to the (sacred) fire the Homa pertaining to the Pitṛs. Oh! May the permission be given to me who have resorted to Apasavya (i.e. the sacred thread worn from the right shoulder to the left).

27. When they say “Do so”, the performer of the Śrāddha goes to the fire-sanctuary and performs the first Āhuti uttering “Svāhā unto the Agni, the transporter of the Kavya.”

28. Thereafter, he utters “Svadhā unto Soma comprising the Pitṛs.” The cooked rice is consigned to the fire and the remainder is offered to those who deserve Śrāddha.

29. The thumb of the Brāhmaṇa is held and placed in the centre of the food cooked. After serving the desired food, the devotee utters, holding the vessel:

30. “Pṛthivī (the Earth) is thy utensil.” Then the Vaiṣṇavī Ṛk is recited. Salt should not be handed over to him directly with own hand.

31. If salt is given directly, with the hand, O king, that Śrāddha becomes futile. When half of the food is consumed, ghee is offered (again). After knowing (making it sure) that the Brāhmaṇas are satisfied the devotee (performer of Śrāddha) should serve cooked rice, and serve the food in front.

32. (The Mantra is uttered) “Those souls in my family who have been cremated in fire or who have not been so cremated should be satisfied with this food offered on the ground. Let them attain the greatest goal.”

33. After offering water at intervals, the devotee repeats the Gāyatrī Mantra three times. Then he recites the passage beginning with madhu vātā and asks the excellent Brāhmaṇas:

34. “Are you fully satisfied?” O eminent king, he should then with great devotion request them for permission to give the remaining food to the kinsmen.

35. Afterwards, the altar of the Pitṛs is made by the side of the Ucchiṣṭa (leavings of food). In the case of the Brāhmaṇas seated in the place of the Pitṛs there is no Ucchiṣṭa as near the Brāhmaṇas.

56. After arranging the altar pertaining to the Pitṛs sloping to the south, the devotee scatters Darbha grass over it. He shall then sprinkle water over them ritualistically.

37. Thereafter, he should offer the rice-balls in due order with due utterance of the case endings as before. He should then offer water with Pītṛ-Tīrtha, O king. Among those rice-balls he should offer sacred thread for each of the Piṇḍas.

38. If the devotee offers only a single sacred thread covering all the Piṇḍas, he will be acting against them. The snapping of the thread may cause mutual discord.

39. Then, he should adore all the rice-balls as though they were the excellent Brāhmaṇas themselves. Then, O king, he performs Ācamana and washes his own hands and feet.

40. The Pitṛs are then bowed to. Water is sprinkled. This is called Suprokṣita (well-sprinkled). This is done with the sacred thread in the savya position, O leading king. He should then request for excellent blessings.

41. Then Akṣayya salila (water conducive to everlasting benefit) is offered uttering the genitive case ending. The Pavitras are held up and he utters “Svadhā”. When they say “Let there be Svadhā”, he shall drop them on the Piṇḍas.

42. Then he collects together honey, milk-pudding and water mixed with gingelly seeds. Then he utters the Mantra ūrjasva etc. and drops them on the Pitṛs.

43. The Arghya utensil is held erect and the monetary gift is placed therein—gold in the case of the deities and silver in the case of Pitṛs.

44-45. Then with the sacred thread in the savya position the water conducive to welfare (Svastyudaka) is offered to the Pitṛs. The utensil of the Brāhmaṇas who were fed at the Śrāddha should not be taken away by women, boys or any one else. The devotee (performer of the Śrāddha) himself removes it.

46-49. Then, O excellent king, the devotee stands with palms joined in reverence: “May the Pitṛs be devoid of ferocious qualities. May our family flourish. May those who give us prosper. May the Vedas prosper. May our progeny prosper. Let not our faith disappear. Let us have much to spare. Let cooked rice be abundant. Let us get guests. We may have persons requesting us for things. Let there not be an occasion when we shall have to request others for anything. Let these be the blessings. May the Viśvedevas be pleased.”

Water is to be offered for the sake of Svasti (welfare) with the sacred thread in Savya position.

50. Uttering the Ṛk Mantra vāje vāje, the Brāhmaṇas are to be bidden farewell. They are to be seated and circumambulated uttering the Mantra amā vājasya etc.

51-52. The feet should be massaged and the Brāhmaṇas are to be followed till the boundary line of the village. The oblation is deposited (in a pond), then the devotee takes food silently, O king, as long as the Sun is visible.

53. If a man performing Śrāddha takes food after the Sun has set, that Śrāddha becomes useless. Hence he should not take food at night.

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