Sage Maarkandeya was a great Shiv Bhakt and Shiv saved him from impending
death at the age of 16. Once sage Maarkandeya arrived at Naimish Aaranya to
see sage Gaurmukh. Sage Gaurmukh requested him to shed some light on the
venerability of ancestors and the significance of Shraadah rituals.
1a. First Shraaddh by Children of Saptarshi
Sage Maarkandeya replied to him - "Brahmaa Jee, after having created the
Sapt Rishi instructed them to worship him (Brahmaa) but they became arrogant
and started to worship themselves. Brahmaa felt insulted about it and he cursed
them of becoming bereft of all the knowledge. In course of time, all the Saptarshi
had number of sons from their wives. After the death of the Saptarshi, all these
sons performed their father's Shraaddh so that their souls could rest in peace.
Sage Gaurmukh was listening to Maarkandeya's words with rapt attention. He asked
about the most appropriate time for performing Shraadh and also about the number
of Gan each of the Pitri was supposed to have. Sage Maarkandeya replied - "Pitri
living in the Heaven are known as Somap Pitri and are believed to be the most
privileged ones among all the Pitri. They enjoy the most delicious beverage - Som
Ras. Their life span extends for the full period of Kalp, and they worship Marut
Devtaa. Sage Mareechi belongs to this category of Pitrt."
Pitri belonging to the category of Vairaaj are revered even by the Marut Gan. Sanak
comes under this category of Pitri. Each of these Pitri has seven Gan.
Similarly, Pitri known as Bhaswar have their abode in the world called Santaanak.
These Pitri are revered even by the deities as all of them are Brahm Vaadee (one
who has realized Brahm). They are manifest themselves after every 100 Yug.
People belonging to any caste can worship the revered Pitri with appropriately
modified rituals and obviously with the permission of the Braahman. Some of the
prominent Pitri are Vasu, Kashyap, Mareechi, Sanak etc.
My Note - Out of this Vasu we refer to day for our Pitri in Shraaddh. Others
we refer to as Rudra for grand father and Aaditya for great grand father.
Appropriate Time for Performing Shraaddh
Describing the auspicious time for performing the rituals of Shraaddh, Maarkandeya Jee
told Gaurmukh - "A person desirous of performing the rituals of Kaamya Shraaddh
can do so on any of the following days -
(a) At the commencement of Uttaraayan or Dakshinaayan
(b) During both the solar and lunar eclipses
(c) If troubled by the evil influences of a constellation or a planet
(f) If troubled by nightmares
(g) At the time when the Sun changes its position from one zodiac to another -
Shraaddh can be performed if there is a nightmare or bad period also as
per astrology. So as per this Tithi is least important of the death of the
person to whom Shraaddh is performed. Many people ask if Shraaddh could not
be performed on this particular Tithi. Varaah Puraan gives the answer here
which need not require any clarification.
Appropriate Stars to Perform Shraaddh
The various Nakshatra like Anuraadhaa, Vishaakhaa and Swaati are considered to
be very auspicious for performing Shraaddh - especially, if the day happens
to be Amaavasyaa. Shraddh performed on such a day pacifies the ancestor's soul
for eight years.
Similarly the combination of Amaavasyaa with either Pushya Nakshatra or Punarvasu
Nakshatra is believed to pacify the ancestors soul for 12 years.
Some other days which are considered to be very auspicious for performing
Shraaddh are - the 3rd day of the Shukla Paksh of the Lunar month Vaishaakh,
the 9th day of the Shukla of the Hindu month Kaarttik, the 13th day of the
Krishn Paksh of the Lunar month Bhaadrapad and Amaavasyaa falling in the
Lunar month of Maagh.
A man desirous of performing Shraaddh can do so on any of the above
mentioned days. He should take bath in a holy river and offer Tarpan
(libation) to his ancestors.
Good stars to perform along with combination of Tithi has been preferred.
When Tithi and star join the anvestor's soul get pacified for 8-12 years
as per Varaah Puraan.
So why should we get upset for not able to perform on a particular month
and Tithi or star Shraaddh for the deceased. Knowingly or unknowingly our
Shraaddh may fall on such occasions as told.
Eligibility of Braahman to Participate and Perform in Shraaddh
Describing the types of Braahman, considered to be eligible to preside over
the rituals of Shraaddh, Maarkandeya told sage Gaurmukh - "The following
types of Braahman are eligible to perform Shraaddh - "Trinachiket",
"Trimadhu", "Trisuparn" and the Braahman who are well versed
in all the Ved. The Shraaddh rituals can be performed by any of the following
relatives of the deceased, apart from his son - maternal nephew, grandson
(daughter's son), father-in-law, son-in-law, maternal uncle, etc.
Braahman Not to be Invited as Shraaddh Braahman
The following types of Braahman should never be invited at the Shraaddh at
the Shraaddh ceremony -
--A deceitful or a wicked Braahman, a Braahman who is a habitual backbiter or
who is accused of theft, a Braahman who has married a Shoodra woman and a
Braahman who earns his livelihood by working as a priest.
How to Invite Brahmins to Shraddh Ceremony
Invitation should be given to the all the Brahmins one day in advance. if
an uninvited Braahman arrives to attend the Shraaddh ceremony they should
be treated with respected. The Braahman who is supposed to perform the rituals
should wash the feet of other Braahman to show his respect towards them. He
should then help them perform Aachaman (rinsing of mouth). Finally, the invited
Braahman should be fed after the rituals have been completed.
As far as the number of invited Braahman to the Shraaddh ceremony is concerned,
the scriptures have strictly put it to odd numbers-one, three, five, etc Similarly,
the number of invited Braahman for the Shraaddh of the deities is concerned the
number has been put to even number - two, four, etc. But, if the person finds it
difficult to invite the above number of Braahman then he can invite only one Braahman
for both the types of Shraaddh.
In the Shraaddh ceremony related with the deities the Brahmins should always have
their food facing East. On the contrary, in the Shraaddh ceremony of the ancestors
the Braahman should have their food facing North.
Method of Performing Shraaddh
A person performing the Shraaddh rituals should have his seat made of Kush grass. Then
he should invoke the deities and make offerings of Arghya to them. While offering Arghya
to the deities water and barley are commonly used along with other articles like sandalwood,
incense, etc. During the entire course of Shraaddh rituals Yagyopaveet (sacred thread)
should be worn in an inverse position - across the right shoulder, and not across the left
shoulder as it is normally worn, for Pitri. While performing the Shraaddh of ancestors
offerings of articles like sesame seeds, water and Kush grass are normally made. It is
customary to scatter sesame seeds near the place where Braahman are having food in the
Shraaddh ceremony. The performer of the Shraaddh rituals should imagine that the food
partaken by them are actually satiating the ancestors. The chanting of Rakshodhan Mantra
is a must. One important characteristic of the rituals connected with Pind Daan is the
offerings made to manes in the form of sesame seeds and water. Another important aspect
is that Pind is offered on the Kush grass which are kept facing south-first in the name
of one's dead father and then in the name of one's grandfather and other ancestors.
Balivaishwa Dev Ritual
The performance of Balivaishwa Dev rituals marks the end of the Shraaddh ceremony after
which the person should sit down along with all the invited guests to have his food.
Ancestors become satisfied if Shraaddh is performed in their names and thus all the
desires of such a man are fulfilled. Three things have great importance in Shraaddh
rituals - black sesame seeds, the auspicious Muhoort named 'Kutup' and the grandson
(daughter' s son). Donating silver is considered to be extremely auspicious. A person
performing the Shraaddh rituals should not venture out of his house till the completion
of the entire ceremony.