Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Pitri included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Pitṛ

Pitṛs are a set of demigods. From Manuprajāpati, son of Brahmā, were born the Saptarṣis like Marīci and they in turn created the Pitṛs. Besides Marīci and his set many others like Virāṭ Puruṣa and Brahmā have created Pitṛs. Some Purāṇas state that Pitṛs are of daily creation. Brahmā in the beginning created three sets of Pitṛs with form and four with brightness making thus seven sets. The three sets of bodied pitṛs are Agniṣvāttas, Barhiṣadas and Somapās and the four bright ones are Yama, Anala, Soma and Aryaman (10th Skandha, Devī Bhāgavata).

"manor hairaṇyagarbhasya ye marīcyādayaḥ sutāḥ / teṣāmṛṣīṇāṃ sarveṣām putrāḥ pitṛgaṇāḥ smṛtāḥ" // (śloka 194, chapter 8, manusmṛti). Pitṛs (manes) are classified into two types: The Agniṣvāttas and Barhiṣadas. Of these the Agniṣvāttas do not perform Yāgas and the Barhiṣadas are those who perform yāgas. Besides these two major divisions they are classified into many other groups as follows:

Somasadasya (s).

Virāṭ Puruṣa is the creator of these Pitṛs. Somasadasyas are the Pitṛs of Sādhyadevas.

Agniṣvātta (s).

They are the pitṛs of devas.

Barhiṣadas.

These Pitṛs are the creation of the sage Atri. They are the manes of daityas, dānavas, yakṣas, gandharvas, uragas (serpents), rākṣasas (demons), suvarṇas and kinnaras.

Somapā (s).

They are the sons of the sage Bhṛgu and are the manes of brahmins.

Havirbhuk (s).

The sage Aṅgiras is the father of these Pitṛs who are the manes of Kṣatriyas.

Ājyapā (s).

These are the sons of the sage Pulastya and are the manes of Vaiśyas.

Sukālika (s).

Sons of the sage Vasiṣṭha, these Pitṛs are the manes of the Śūdras.

To the seven sages like Marīci were born the pitṛs and to the pitṛs were born the devāsuras (devas and asuras) and to the devāsuras were born everything else in this universe, animate and inanimate. (Chapter 3, Manusmṛti).

Performing a Śrāddha (offering obsequial oblations to the departed) is just like a yajña. The oblations should be offered in either silver or silver cum copper pots. Viśvadevas are the guardians of the pitṛs. Therefore the oblations should be offered after worshipping the Viśvadevas first and then the pitṛs and then Viṣṇu. (See under Śrāddha).

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