The Skanda Purana

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

This page describes Brahmanas Unfit for Shraddha which is chapter 205 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 fifth chapter of the Prabhasa-kshetra-mahatmya of the Prabhasa Khanda of the Skanda Purana.

Chapter 205 - Brāhmaṇas Unfit for Śrāddha

[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]

The Devī said:

1-3. O holy Lord, O Lord of the Chiefs of Devas, O redeamer from the ocean of worldly existence, O Lord of the worlds, do tell me the highly meritorious procedure of Śrāddha in detail.

At which part of the day should a performer of Śrāddha perform the rite in this Sarasvatī Tīrtha in the excellent Prabhāsa Kṣetra?

At which Tīrtha should a Śrāddha be performed so that it may yield abundant merit? O Mahādeva, it behoves you to expound all this truthfully.

Īśvara said:

4. Three Muhūrtas in the morning constitute Prātaḥkāla, the second unit of three Muhūrtas constitutes Saṅgava. The unit of next three Muhūrtas constitutes Madhyāhna (midday). Then (next) three Muhūrtas constitute Aparāhna.

5. The last three Muhūrtas of a day constitute Sāyāhna. Śrāddha should not be performed at this time. This period is called Rākṣasī Velā. It is despised in the case of all holy rites.

6. There are fifteen well-known Muhūrtas in a day. The eighth Muhūrta is remembered as Kutapa period.

7. Since in Madhyāhna (midday) the sun becomes Manda (mild, less fierce), Śrāddha should be begun then. The benefit thereof is immense.

8.[1] The following are the eight meanings of the Muhūrta called Kutapa: Madhyāhna (midday), Khaḍga-pātra (vessel of the horn of rhinoceros), Kālakaṃbala (black blanket for a seat—Smṛticandrikā), Rūpya (silver), Darbha grass, Tilas (gingelly seeds), Gaus (cows) and the eighth is remembered as Dauhitra (white sesamum).

9. The derivation of the term Kutapa: Ku means ‘a sin’; Tapa means that ‘which burns’. The above eight Kutapas are regarded as ‘burners’. Hence these are called Kutapas.

10. Together with the four Muhūrtas after Kutapa (i.e. to the end of Rauhiṇeya Muhūrta) there are five Muhūrtas. These are recommended as Svadhā-bhavana (the abode of Svadhā i.e. good for Śrāddha).

11. Kuśa grass and black gingelly seeds took their origin from the physical body of Viṣṇu for the purpose of safeguarding Śrāddha. Heaven-dwellers said so.

12. Libation with gingelly seeds should be offered by the residents of the Tīrtha while standing in water. Resorting to Śrāddha is recommended with Darbha grass held in one hand.

13. Three things are pure in regard to a Śrāddha: Dauhitra (white sesamum), Kutapa period and Tilas (black gingelly seeds). Three qualities are praised here: Purity, abstinence from anger and want of haste.

14. The meaning of Dauhitra is rhinoceros which has a horn on the forehead; the vessel made of that horn is remembered as Dauhitra.

15. Another meaning of Dauhitra is the ghee taken out of a milch cow of variegated colour. It is called Dauhitra in regard to the rites pertaining to gods and Pitṛs.

16. The tip of Darbha is called Daiva (pertaining to gods); that with the root and tip is Paitṛka (pertaining to Pitṛs). The Kuśas hanging therefrom are remembered as Kutapas.

17. Purity, particularly at the time of Śrāddha should be ascertained in these seven things: Śarīra (body), Dravya (article, money), Dārā (wife), Bhū (ground), Manas (mind), Mantra and the Brāhmaṇas invited.

18. The seven types of purity in Dravya (money) can be further divided as Uttama (excellent), Madhyama (mediocre) and Adhama (low).

19. Dhana is of seven types: Śruta (learning), Śaurya (heroism), Tapas (penance), Kanyā (daughter), Śiṣya etc. (disciple), Anvayāgata (inheritance in the family), Śukla (white). The means thereof is also similar.

20. Money from agriculture and trade is Kutsita (despicable). Śukla (white) is that got through arts, crafts, and hereditarily acquired. That which is received from one who has previously been helped is Śambala (viaticum or provision for journey).

21. What is acquired as bribe, what is acquired through force (coercion), what is earned by deception: all these are called Kṛṣṇa (black).

22. The Śrāddha that is performed by a man through the money earned by illegal means can only satisfy Cāṇḍālas and persons born of Pulkasa and other (low) castes.

23. Those who have attained the state of Piśācas (spirits, ghosts) get satisfied through the scattered pieces of cooked rice that men drop on the ground.

24. Satisfaction to those who have attained the state of trees, is brought about, O son, through the drops of water dripping on the ground from the clothes worn at the time of bath.

25. The propitiation of those who have attained the state of Devas is through the drops of scented water that drop down on the ground.

26. When the rice-balls are raised up some pieces of the cooked rice may be left on the ground. Those of the members of the family who have attained the state of Tiryaks (lower creatures, animals etc.) are rendered strong and robust and propitiated through them.

27. Those members of the family who have not been cremated and those children and women who have not been consecrated after calamitous death are eager to sweep up (eat) the scattered grains of cooked rice.

28-29. Those who have attained the state of Piśācas or the state of worms and insects attain satisfaction through the food served to Brāhmaṇas and also because they (Brāhmaṇas) may be circumambulating after meal and drink water in the course of the day.

Now I shall mention the times (for Śrāddha). Know it from me as I narrate it.

30-34. A Śrāddha should be performed on the New-Moon day, every month when the Moon wanes, during Aṣṭakas when a good Brāhmaṇa is available, during solar and lunar eclipses, during the Ayanas (Transit of the Sun to the North or South) the two Viṣuvas (equinoxes), ordinary transit of the Sun from one Zodiac to another, particularly on the Amāvāsyā and Aṣṭakas[2] in dark half, during the constellations of Ārdrā, Maghā and Rohiṇī when money and deserving Brāhmaṇa are available, and during Gajacchāyā[3], Vyatīpāta, Viṣṭi and Vaidhṛti days and Yugādi days.

The Yugādis are remembered as follows: third lunar day in Vaiśākha, ninth lunar day in Kārttika, fifteenth in Māgha and thirteenth in Nabhasya (i.e. Bhādrapada). These Yugādi days render what is offered one of everlasting benefit.

35. Ratha Saptamī falls on the seventh lunar day of Māgha when, for the first time in the beginning of the Manvantara, the Sun got into his chariot.

36-37. The following days are the beginning of the Manvantaras: Whatever is offered thereon shall be rendered as of everlasting benefit: The first days of the Manvantaras are as follows: The third lunar day in the month of Vaiśākha in the dark half, the fifth lunar day in Phālguna, the fifth day in the month of Cakra, the last day of the same month, the thirteenth day in the bright half of Māgha, the seventh of Kārttika, the Kārttikī (Full-Moon in Kārttika), Phālgunī (Full-Moon day of Phālguna), Full-Moon of Caitra and Jyeṣṭha;

38-39. the eighth day in the dark half of the month of Śrāvaṇa, the Full-Moon day in the month of Āṣāḍha, the full-Moon days of Kārttika, Phālguna, Caitra and Jyeṣṭha, so also the ninth of Mārgaśīrṣa. I remember very well.

40. O goddess, these are the days (of the beginning) of the Kalpas. Whatever is offered on these becomes everlasting in benefit. O lady of excellent countenance, there are twelve Śrāddhas in the beginning of the Manvantaras.

41-42. (Classification of some twelve kinds of Śrāddha) They are: Nitya, Naimittika, Kāmya, Vṛddhi Śrāddha, Sapiṇḍaka Śrāddha, Pārvaṇa Śrāddha, Ativijñāna, Goṣṭha the excellent one for the sake of purity. Karmāṅga is the ninth Śrāddha; Daivaka is remembered as the tenth. Kṣāyaha is the eleventh and the twelfth one is remembered as one for nourishment (Puṣṭi-Śrāddha).

43. The Saṃvatsara (Annual or Anniversary) Śrāddha is remembered as the most excellent one of all Śrāddhas. The Śrāddha performed everyday is glorified as Nitya.

44. The Śrāddha with one in view is called Naimittika. It is devoid of Vaiśvadeva and in the case of inability (i.e. when one is unable to spend money), is offered through water.

45. That which is performed on being urged by some desire is called Kāmya. It is for the fulfilment of an objective intended. That Śrāddha which is performed at the time of Vṛddhi (some joyous occasion of prosperity) is called Vṛddhi Śrāddha.

46. The Sapiṇḍaka Śrāddha is performed uttering the two Ṛks beginning with ‘ye samānā’. The Śrāddha performed on the New-Moon day is cited as Pārvaṇa Śrāddha.

47. The Śrāddha that is performed in a Goṣṭhī[4] (with the cooperation of many) is called Goṣṭhī Śrāddha. The Śrāddha that is performed for atonement of sins is called Śuddhi Śrāddha.

48. The Śrāddha performed at the time of Niṣeka (impregnation), Soma extraction, Sīmantonnayana and Puṃsavana as a part of these rites is called Karmāṅga Śrāddha.

49-51. The Śrāddha that is performed with the deify in view is called Daivaka. This is performed by one who is about to go to another Deśa (country) and it is done by means of ghee. That the purpose of this is nourishment should be noted. The twelfth Śrāddha (see verse 42 above) is remembered as Kṣayāha. If anyone does not respectfully perform Śrāddha on the day of the death of his father or that of his mother at the close of a year after the date of death, O great goddess of excellent beauty, I will not accept his Pūjā nor will Hari do it.

52. If a man does not know the day of death he must perform the Śrāddha on the New-Moon day in the month of Māgha or Mārgaśīrṣa.

53-57. Henceforth, I shall enumerate the Brāhmaṇas competent to perform Śrāddha ceremony[5] (and hence invitable). He should be a well-qualified Brāhmaṇa well-versed in the Vedas, a Yogin, one endowed with Vedic learning. He must know the sacrifices etc., such as Triṇāciketas[6], Trisuparṇa[7], Trimadhu etc. and also one well versed in the six Aṅgas or ancillary subjects.

The following persons should not be overlooked, O lady of excellent countenance, even if they are fools. They are: daughter’s son, son-in-law, sister’s, sons, father-in-law, one maintaining five sacred fires and the rites therein, Taponiṣṭha (one doing penance), maternal uncle, one devoted to father and mother, disciple, kinsmen, relative, one who knows the meanings of the Veda, one who expounds it, a celibate student, one who gifts thousands (of coins), a good man, a daughter’s son, daughter’s husband, sister’s son, and kinsmen.

58. There is no need to test Brāhmaṇas and their qualification in regard to the rites pertaining to gods, but in regard to Pitṛ-rites they should be tested scrupulously.

59. Manu said that these people do not deserve to be invited as Brāhmaṇas in the rites of Havya and Kavya: fallen ones, thieves, eunuchs and those of atheistic proclivities.

60. One should not honour in Śrāddha one who wears matted hairs, who has not learned the Vedas, who is weak, who is a cheat and those who preside over the worship on behalf of a Śūdra.

61. Physicians, idol-attendants, meat-sellers and those who maintain themselves by trade are prohibited in ceremonies connected with Havya and Kavya.

62-72. The following should be excluded from Śrāddha[8]: a rustic, a messenger, a royal messenger, one having bad nails, one with black teeth, one who obstructs the preceptor, one who does not maintain sacred fires, a usurer, one suffering from Yakṣman (Phthisis), one who breeds cattle, a younger brother who marries before the elder, hater of Brāhmaṇas, an elder brother who allows a younger brother to marry before him, a Gaṇābhyantara (a leader of a religious association), one of very bad habits, one-eyed, the husband of a Vṛṣalī, one born to a widow, virgin’s son, gambler, liquor addict, one having fell disease, accursed one, arrogant, one who sells spirituous juice or liquors, one who makes bows and arrows, husband of a window, one who hates friends, one whose avocation is carrying messages, one who learns from one’s son, one suffering from vertigo, one who regularly drinks gruel, one of variegated limbs, tale-bearer, mad one, blind, deaf, censurer of the Vedas, one who trains horses, cows, dogs and camels, one whose maintenance is through stars (Astrology), one who nurses birds, a preceptor of military science, one who breaks the currents of water, one engaged in encouraging prostitutes (brothel-manager), Gṛhasaṃveśaka (coloniser, builder), a messenger, one engaged in cultivation, a hunter, one who lives upon falcons, a defiler of a virgin, one indulging in injury, a Śūdra’s son, a Jana-Yājaka (one who presides over mass worship), one devoid of good conduct, an impotent one, one who presides over other’s worship everyday, an agriculturist by profession, a club-footed one, one censured by good people, one who rears sheep, one who breeds buffaloes, one who marries a woman already married and professional hearse bearers. These are to be scrupulously avoided. These are persons of despised conduct and base Brāhmaṇas. They are not fit to be in the same row as good Brāhmaṇas. They should be excluded if other Brāhmaṇas are available and even if they are not available.

73. One who is blind or single-eyed, leper, husband of a Śūdra woman, one infested by fell disease: all destroy the merit of even one who donates thousands (of gifts).

74. If a Śrāddha is offered on behalf of a Śūdra Yājaka, then after death the performer will not get the benefit of the Paitṛka in those limbs where the Yājaka has touched him.

75. The Pitṛs become disappointed and get away after seeing a buffalo-breeder in the beginning, a husband of a Śūdra woman in the middle and a usurer in the end.

76. (The word Māhiṣika is otherwise explained here:) Wife is called Mahiṣī. In widowhood if she indulges in adultery and one spends a night with her that person is remembered as Māhiṣika.

77. A Śūdra woman is called Vṛṣalī. Someone becomes her husband. Having contact with the saliva of her lips the fellow becomes fallen. Hence Vṛṣalīpati is excluded.

78. The Vṛṣalī referred to here is not merely a Śūdra woman. Any woman who forsakes her duty and indulges in carnal unions with another man is called Vṛṣalī.

79. A Cāṇḍāla woman, an unchaste woman, a prostitute, a virgin, a girl in the monthly course, a crooked girl, and one of the same Gotra—these seven are proclaimed as Vṛṣalīs.

80. If a girl, before being consecrated by marriage rites, has her menses in the house of her father, her Pitṛs become fallen and that girl is called Vṛṣalī.

81. If a Brāhmaṇa knowingly marries that girl, they say, he is not fit for a Śrāddha. He cannot be in the same row as others. He is a Vṛṣalīpati.

82. Gaurī virgin is the best and most important. Rohiṇī is considered as Madhyama (middling). Rajasvalā should be known as the basest though equal to her (Rohiṇī) image.

83. When there is no menstrual flow, she is Gaurī. When there is the flow she is Rohiṇī. If the girlhood has not fully developed she is Kanyā. One without breasts is Nagnikā.

84. A seven-year old girl is Gaurī; nine year old is Nagnikā. Ten year old shall be Kanyā; above that she is Rajasvalā.

85. Through Vyañjana (manifestation) the girl kills her father’s sons. Through breasts she spoils the family of her father and through menstrual flow, she spoils the desirable goal (salvation) and pleasures of the other worlds of her father.

86. He who marries one with menstrual flow should be known as Vṛṣalīpati.

87. If a Brāhmaṇa spends a single night resorting to a Vṛṣalī, the sin thereof can be wiped off if he eats what is got by alms and performs Japa everyday for three years.

Footnotes and references:


Prajāpati Smṛti (w. 158-159) states: There are fifteen Muhūrtas (divisions) of a day. Kutapa is the eighth Muhūrta. Śrāddha should be started on Kutapa and the time-limit of beginning a Śrāddha is upto Rauhiṇeya Muhūrta.

For this list of synonyms, Kutapa and other details, vide Smṛticandrikā 433. The blanket should be from wool from Nepal. This Purāṇa explains the use of articles mentioned.


The 8th day in the dark half of Mārgaśīrṣa, Pauṣa, Māgha and Phālguna: Āśvalāyana Gṛhya Sūtra II.4.1.


Gajacchāyā—The conjunction when the Moon is in Maghā (constellation) and the Sun is in Hasta Nakṣatra; the lunar day is 13th in rainy season. (HD IV, 371)


Śrāddha on a cooperative basis (HD IV 381-82)


Vide Āpastamba Dharma-Sūtra II.7.17-22.


Triṇācīketas: three Naciketa fires.


Trisuparṇa: three Anuvākas of Tait. Ar. beginning with Brahmametu māṃ. (Tait. Ar. X.48-50).


Cf. The list of unworthies in Manu III. 150-166, Manu gives a list of 94 unfits.

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