As per Paraashara Madhaveeyam, the purpose of Shraaddha is to portend Shuddhi of Ashoucha and to cleanse off all sorts of impurities especially consequent on relatives from deaths as also to prepare oneself to intiatite all types of auspicious acts.In fact, after a death in any family, the Ekoddishta Shraddha is compulsory among the ‘Chatur Varnas’ on the termination of Ashoucha after a death on the eleventh day only after ‘pinda daana’; to Brahmanas the Shuddhi is on the eleventh day after the death while it is the twelfth day to Kshatriyas, the fifteenth day of Vaishyas and the thirtieth to others. There would be however be full Shuddhi to Brahmanas and temporary Shuddhi to others on the eleventh to enable the performance of Ekoddhishta Shraddha Vidhi. The word Shraddha as explained in Brahmanda Purana is: Deshe kaalecha paatrey cha shraddha yaa vidhinaa cha yat, Pitrunuddishya Viprebhyo cha/ (Depending on the availability of a learned and deserving Brahmana and an appropriately auspicious time, one’s offering good bhojana and daana aiming at and in the pious memory of Pitru Devas is defined as Shraaddha). Such shraddhas could either be of Ekoddhishta or Parvana type, besides Nitya-Naimitthika-Kaamya nature. Ekoddhishta as explained above on the terminal periods of Ashuchi and Paarnana Shraddhaas are in favour of three generations consequent on the demise of father or mother.
Sage Vishwamitra lists twelve types of Shraddhas: Nityam naimittikam Kaamyam Vriddhi Shraadda mapindanam, Parvanam cheti vigjneyam goshthyaam Shuddhirthamashtakam/ Karmangam navamam proktam Daivikam dashamamsmrutam, Yatrtaasvedekasham proktam Pushtyartham dwadasham matam/ (Nitya Shraddha is the one performed regularly on Amavasyaadi days or coinciding with Solar and Lunar eclipses; Naimittika or the Shraddhas on sacred days coinciding with select days of one’s choice of Tithi-Vaara- Nakshatras; Kamya Shraddhas are at Upanayana- Vivaha-Janmaadi Samskaraas; Vriddhi Shraddha or for longevity, Sapindikarana Shraddha or involving fistful cooked cereals, Parvana or as explained above the Pindas offered to the departed generations, goshthi shraddha at Vidwamsa sabhas or collective shraaddha in Pitru paksha or the second fortnight of Bhadrapada month ending Amavasya; Shuddhi shraddha or the one to signify the termination of Ashuchi for various reasons like disallowed personal contacts; Karmanga or as parts of certain Karmas or actions involving inappropriate acts or when there are obsessions of extreme affection to the dear ones; Daivika Shraddha or occasions relevant to natural events like quakes, storms, fire related happenings etc.as also on dwadasi tithis; Yatra shraddhas connected with places like Gaya, Brahma kapala, etc. and Pushti Shraddha aiming at recoveries of health or warding of epidemics etc. Nitya Shradda is with cooked food or atleast with water; Namittika is the offer of cooked food to one or three numbers of Brahmana bhoktas and so on.
Yatra Shraddhas: are specifically related to visits of Punya Tirtha Kshestras like Gaya sheersha, Akshaya Vata, Brahma Kapaala, Gangaasaagara Sangama Kushaavarta, Bilva, Neela Parvata, Prayaga, Kubjaagra, Bhrugutunga, Kedara, Mahaalaya, Amarakataka Narmada, Yamuna, Ganga, Ganga dwara, Lalika, Sugandha, Shakambari, Phalguni Tirtha, Maha Ganga, Tantu vikaashrama, Kumara dharva prabhava, Saraswati, Kuru Kshetra, Naimishaaranya, Varanaasi, Agastya Ahrama, Kanvaashrama, Pushkarini, Gokarna, Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, Gomati,Vetravati, Vipasha, Vitasti, Shatadu, Chandrabhaaga, Iravati, Kaanchi, Pancha nadi teera, Kaushaki, Saryu, Shona, Jyoti ratha, Uttara Manasa, Badaba, Saoptarcha, Vishnu Paada, Swarga maga pradesha, Sindhu and so on besides Samudra Snanas. Shraddha along with Snana-Homa- Daana- Tarpana are expected to be not only of repaying Pitru Runa but for the fulfillment of personal desires too. Gaya Pinda Phala is considered as of the prize Shraddha.
Darshaada Shraaddha timings: According to Parashara Madhaveeyam, Maharshi Yangjnyavalkya opined that when there is not much of a constraint for money and material, Shraddhas be comfortably planned on Amavasyas of Margashira and three subsequent months of Pousha-Maagha-Phalguni; on Bahula Ashta tithis; Putra janma tithis; Utaarayana ad Dakshinaayana tithis, Tula Mesha Sankranti Vishuvat kalas; Surya samkramana days,Vyatipaata, Gajacchaaya, and Surya-Chandra grahana days.Vyatipata Lakshana: Amavasya coinciding with Sundays and further coinciding with the Stars of Shravana, Ashwin, Dhanishtha, Ardra, Asresha, and Mrigashira is called Vyatipata and in case that day further coincides with a ‘Punya Dina’ then that day is reckoned as a Maha Vyatipaata. Shraddha must be performed on that particular day, lest prayaschitta is to be executed. Gaja chhaaya: When Chandra coincides with Star Makha, or Surya coincides with Hasta Nakshatra on any Trayodashi Tithi that Tithi is called Gaja Chhaya and that is the appropriate and auspicious day for performing Shraddha. Surya-Chandra Grahana Shraddha: Tridashaah: Sparsha samaye trupyanti pitaraatathaa, Manushyaa Madhya kale tu moksha kale tu Rakshasaah/ (Just when the eclipse commences, Pitru Devatas are happy with the Shraaddhas, Manushyas are blessed when the Grahana is midway but it would be Rakshasas who rejoice the act of shraddha if over at the termination of the eclipse! Lord Yama is quoted to have stated that on the Pournamis of Ashadha-Kartika-Maagha months, shraddhas if performed by satisfying three or five Pandita Brahmanas with bhojana-danas would be most rewarding. Also, coincidences of Vaishakha Shukla Tritiya with Rohini Nakshatra, or Bhadrapada Krishna Trayodashi with Makha Star,Vaishakha Shukla Triteeya with Star Rohini and Kartika Shukla Navami with Shatabhisha are stated to be ideal for Gaja chaaya or Vaidhruti Shradhas. Additionally, Vishnu Purana suggests shraddhas or atleast Jala Tarpana mixes with Tilas would please Pitru Devatas on Vaishakha ShuklaTriteeya, Kartika Shukla Navami, Magha Krishna Amavasya, and Bhadrapada Krishna Trayodashi being the Yugadis. Matsya Purana also suggests Shraddhas for pleasing Pitru Devatas on Manvadis on Ashwiyuja Shukla Navami, Kartika Shukla Dwadashi, Chaitra Shukla Triteeya, Bhadrapada Shukla Triteeya, Phalguna Krishna Amavasya, Pushya Shukla Ekadashi, Ashadha Purnima, Kartika Purnima, Phalguna Purnima, Chitra Purnima, and Jyeshta Purnima.
Kaamya Shraddhas are fruitful as per Vaara-Tithi- Nakshatras. As regards Vaaras, Kurma Purana states: Aditya vaaret vaarogyam Chandre sowbhagyamevacha, Kuje sarvatra Vijayam sarvaan kaamaan Budhasyatu/ Vidyaam vishishtaancha Gurou dhanam vai Bhargave punah, Shanaischare bhavedaayuraarogyancha sudurlabham/ (Shraaddha Phala on Sundays provides health, Mondays Sowbhagyam or Auspiciousness, Tuesdays all round victory, Wednesdays fulfillment of desires, Thursdays Vidyaa Laabha or success in Studies, Fridays profits and wealth, and Saturdays longevity). As per Manu, the Tithi phalas of performing Kamya Shraddhas are as follows: Kurvan Pratipadi Shraaddham rupaan vindite sutaan Kanyakaantu dwiteeyaayaam tritteyaantu sampadah/ Pashun kshudraan chaturthantu Panchamaam shobhanaan sutaan, Shashthaam dyute krishischaiva saptamyaam labhate narah/ Ashtamyaamapi vanijyam labhate shraaddham sadaa, Swaannavamyaam ekakhuram dashamyaam dwikhuram Pashum/ Ekadashyaam tathaa rupyam brahma varchaswinah sutaam, Dwadashyaam jaatarupantu rajatam rupamevacha/ Jnaati shreshtham trayodashyaam Chaturtha -shyaantu suprajaah, Shraaddhadaamaavaasyam sarvaan kaamaan samashruye/ ( Shraaddhas on Pratipadi Tithi would bestow handsome sons, on Dwiteeya pretty daughters, prosperity on Triteeya, cattle on Chaturthi, illustrious sons on Panchami, success in gambling on Shasthi, Agricultural profits on Saptami, Business profits on Ashtami, Horse based profits on Navami, Vrishabha Laabha on Dashami, Gain of Silver on Ekadashi, Golden jewellery on Dwadashi, Superiority and Pride to Swajana or close relatives on Chaturdashi; Yogya Santana or well deserved progeny doing the parents proud, and all round fulfillment on any Amavasya). Similarly, Shraddhas performed during the various Nakshatras from Krittika to Bharani provide following results: Kritthika Shraddha would result in Swarga, Rohini good progeny, Mrigashia Brahma Varchas, Ardra Karma Siddhi, Punarvasu Bhu laabha, Pushtya Deha Pushti, Asresha Sampada, Makha fulfillment of desires, Purva phalguni Sowbhagya, Uttara Phalguni Dhana Prapti, Hasta Swajaati Shreshthatwa, Chitta Soundara Tanaya or handsome sons, SwatiVanijya laabha or commercial profits, Vishakha Suvarna Laabha, Anuradha Mitra laabha, Jyeshtha Rajya prapti, Moola Krishi laabha, Purvashadha Desire fulfillment, Abhijit Sreshthatwa or Superiority, Shravana samasta Vaanchaa siddhi or realization of all kinds of desires, Dhanishtha bala, Shatabhisha Arogya, Purvabhadra Samudra yaana, Uttaraabhadra Bharyagriha laabha, Uttaraashadha Pashu laabha, Revati Go laabha, Ashwini Ashwa laabha, and Bharani provides longevity. Such would be the results of Shradhas oriented to Kamyaartha.
Ekoddishta Prakaara Shraaddhas: Apastamaba Sutraas prescribe that in case of brothers or sisters without children pass away then Ekoddishta vidhana on Mahalayaadi Tithis without paarana vidhana be followed. Anyway after Sapindeekarana, the demised body would become rid of ‘pretatwa’ and join Pitru varga ranks. In other words, only after Sapindikarana, the departed Soul would join Pitru Varga and then only the validity of Ekoddhishta mehod. Otherwise whoever takes upon the responsibility to perform the ‘Antya kriyas’ of the departed brother or sister, should be cautioned of the need to execute the Parvana vidhana. In case this is not so executed, the Karta is stated to have committed Brahma hatya! In case, there is any difficulty in taking up the responsibility, Sutakaantara or after the Ashuchi days in the next month on the Mrita Tithi of either Shuka paksha or even Krishna Paksha would be in order.Sutakantara Maasika is required to be executed with all the components including Agnoukarana, Pindapradaana, Brahmana bhojanaadi Pitru puja. Amashraaddha: In case there is any limitation of performing Shraddhas on Amavasyaadi Tithis afore mentioned due to the non presence of wife for reasons, then Anna Shraddha might not be essential and Amashraddha would suffice.
Mahalaya Paksha Shraddha Phalas: The fortnights following Ashadha Shuddha Purnima or that of Bhadrapada Krishna are stated to be of Punya Tithis which are of significance to Pitru Devas and those fifteen days are called Pitru Pakshas. The fruits of performing Shraddhas on each of the Tithis are as follows: Prathama Tithi-Dhana Laabha; Dwiteeya: Santaana Prapti; Triteeteeya: Vishesha Laabha; Chaturthi: Shatru naashana; Panchama Tithis: Sampada; Shashthi: Pujyata; Saptami: Senadhipatya; Ashtami: Budhi; Navami: Putrika pradaana; Dashami: Ichhaa Purnata or fulfillment of desires; Ekaadasha: Vedabhyaasa; Dwadashi: Suvarna Laabha, Pushti, Pashu laabha, Vriddhi sheshtata; Trayodashi: Deerghaayu and Ishwarya; Chaturdashi : Mukti of those who died young or during accidents; Amavasya: Swarga phala.
Mahalaya Pakshas are also stated to refer to the fortnight when Surya enters Kanya Raashi during Bhadrapada Krishna Praapitada to Amavasya and this fortnight is called Gajacchhaaya. During these days, it is stated that parvana shraddhas would be effective. Also, on Aswiyuja Prathama Tithi and the following fortnight too is good for Shraddhas. There is also a view that from Bharapada Krishna Paksha to Ashadha Purnima even if Surya has not entered Kanya Raashi, shraddha prakriya would be beneficial to sons for their good health, longevity and prosperity, as stated by Jaabaali. On the entry of Surya and during Bhadrapada Krishna Paksha, Pitru Devas would be awaiting atleast Jala tarpana as pointed by Brihanmanu. In fact Adi Purana emphasizes that during this period when Surya enters Kanya rashi, Shraddhas would yield definite and positive results. In fact Gautama Maharshi stressed that on this specific day, Shraddhas have far reaching phala tantamount to Yagjna karya. Even as Bhadrapada Krishna p aksha is terminated and as Surya enters Vrischika Raashi, Pitrus in the state of pretatwa are stated to be badly affected by thirst and hunger and shraddhas with payasaadi padarthas would gratify them fully. Now, till Surya leaves Kanya raashi and Tula Raashi and enters Vrischika Raashi, Pitri devatas would be waiting for the Shraddas and once disappointed without relief, then they would have to transport to Yama Loka while cursing the progeny. Once satisfied with ‘bhakshya bhojyas’ during the shraddhas, they attain mukti and bless the progeny responsible for the Shraddhas for Dhana Dhanya Arogyaadi fulfillments. In case Shraddhas are not performed daily but on certain days only, then the avoidable days are Janma Tithi-Vaara- Nakshatras, Fridays, Tayodashi, and Rohini-Makha-Revati nakshatras. Also, in this context, Shraddhas are required to be performed to Pitru varga and Matamaha varga too. Another precaution would be that Mahalaya Shraddhas in favour sister/ brother, son, maternal uncle, Guru or one’s own Master are required being as per Ekoddishta Vidhana.
Now, some do’s and don’ts before performing shraddhas: The Brahmanas to be appointed as ‘bhoktas’are to be well versed in Veda Vedangas, well behaved, healthy with no physical disabilities, coming of good family background, infallible, and trained well in performing Parvana shraddha and /or ekoddishta as well. Such ideal bhoktas be invited in advance by the Karta or his brother or son or disciple. The ‘nimantrana’ or invitation should be done with ‘Apasavya’of ‘yagnopaveeta’ in respect of ‘Pitru sthaana bhokta’ and ‘savya’position to Vaishwanara bhokta. The prescribed number of Pitru Sthana and Vaishwadeva Sthaana is three and four but as per Desha-Kaala-Parishithis or convenience and availability a minimum of one each would be a must. Vaishwa Deva Brahmanas are to be seated Purva Mukha or east facing and Pitru Deva brahmanas are Uttara mukha or facing north. The respective Brahmanas of Pitru and Vaishwadevas are not mingled nor even touch each others.
Vishwedevas are stated to be ten in number: Kraturdaksho Vasuh Satyah Kaalah Kaamasthaivacha, Dhunischa Rochanaiva tathaa chaiva Pururavaah/ Ardraaascha darshete tu Vishwadavaah prakourtitaah/ (Kratu, Daksha, Vasu, Satya, Kaala, Kaama, Dhuri, Vilochana, Pururava and Ardrava are the Vaishwadevas). Daksha and Kratu are engaged in Ishti Shraddhas, Satya and Vasu are into Naandi Shraddas, Dhuri and Vilochana into Kamya Shraddhas, Pururava and Ardra in ParvanaShraddhas, Naimittika Shraddas are to be invoked in Kaala and Kaama. Daksha and Kratu devas are invoked in Ishti Shraddhas, Satya and Vasus in Naandi Shraddha, Dhuri and Vilochana in Kamya Shraddhaas, Pururava and Ardras are invoked in Parana Shraddhaas, Kaama anad Kaala in Naimittika Shraddhas. Ishti Shradhas are a part of Samskaras like Seemanta, Pumsavana, Soma and so on. Naandi Shraddha is relevant to Putra Janma Vivahas, Anna Praashana, Chooda Karma and so on.
In the present context, two ‘Arghya patras’ or water vessel with ‘gandha-akshata-darbhas’ are placed at the seat of of the Vishwa Devas and are to be handed over with reverence to the representative Brahmanas and perform a pradakshibna around him. The arghya paatras / vessels could be of bronze or copper or palaasha leaves. Similarly at the Pitru sthaana Brahmana too has to be circubambulated but in an ‘apradikshina’ manner or the reverse manner changing the yajgnopaveeta in the ‘praachhenaaveeti’ manner. All the tasks concerning the puja of the Brahamana representing Pitru Devatas need to be done including that of his puja with black tila to be ornamented on his head downward to his feet, while puja to similarly be done tp the Vaishwe deva with akshata white rice grains from head to feet. After puja to both the Viashwanara and Pitru Devata representative- Brahmanas with gandha-pushpa-dhupa- deepas, the next task would be Agnoukarana with the concurrence of the Brahmanas.
This task is to make two homas after keeping Agni in the homa kunda twice reciting: Saannidhyamupaasa Somaaya pitru matey Sadhaanamah/ Agnaye kavyavaahanaaya swahaananamah/ These homa kriyas need to be performed as of Pitru yagna vidhaana homa and since Pindapitru yagna is of two fold nature of Daivikatwa and Paitrukatwa the yagopaveeta might either be in Savya or Apasavya manners as per one’s own shakha manner. In any case, the remaining ‘anna’ needs to be disposed off in Agni itself and no remainder of it be retained.
The next step is Pariveshana or purification of the cooked bhojana or bhakshya-bhojya-shaaka-soopanaadi padarthas with right hand wearing darbha followed by ‘ghritaabhikarana, then holding the right hand thumbs of the Brahmanas representing the Vaishwa Deva and Pitru Devas of three generations with naama-gotras , taking care of savya-praacheenaaveti precautions, showing them around the padarhas placed in circles – in savya or apasavya manner respectively- and request them to commence the bhojana after performing ‘Aaposhana’ making the bhoktas feel completely comfortable discarding what ever they do not like. The karta would address the bhokas saying: Anna heenam kriyaaheenam mantra heenam yadbhavet, Sarvamacchidramiyutkaa tato yatnena bhojayet/ Even as the bhojana starts, there should be Swaadhyaaya: Swaadhyaayam shraavayet Pitrye Dharma shastraani chaiva hi/ Anna Suktaadi Shravana is to be taken up during the Bhojana kaala. Also before the bhojana itself, the remainder of anna at Agnoukarana is to be placed as three small pindas along with ghee and tilas.
After the bhojana follow the tasks of Sapindeekarana and Pinda pradana- puja karmas. As regards, ‘Madhyama Pinda viniyoga Vidhana’ or the matter related to be disposal of the middle pinda of the three pindas, it is customary that the wife of the Kartha if childless receives it with reverence in her hold with both palms from her husband as the Mantra is recited: Apaamtvoushashadhonaagum rasam praashayaami bhutakrutam garbham dhatswa/ As the house wife eats the Madhya Pinda, the Mantra is to be recited: Adhatta Pitaro garbhamanta santaana vardhanam/ Manu states: Pativrataa dharma patnou pitrupujamnatparaa, Madhumantu tatah pindamadhyaatsamyak sutaarthinou/ Ayushmantam sutam vindet yasho medhaa samanvitam, Dhanavantam prajaavantam dhaarmikam saatwikam tathaa, iti/ In the event of wife not consuming the Madhyama Pinda, or even otherwise, the Tri Pindas be eaten by a Brahmana, or Agnihotra or cow or running water. In case a Karta cannot perform Parvana Shraddha for any reason of inability due to any reason he could perform the same as Sankalpa Shraddha. In case a person whose wife is diseased cannot perform Agnihotra, he could be a Vidhuraagnihotra yet parvana vidhaana is acceptable. If otherwise unable and would wish to perform Sankalpa Vidhana, then Aavahana, Agnoukarana, Vikira pinda, panda pradana, Patra poorana, Swadhaaninayaa etc. are not necessary. In Ekoddishta Vidhana, Vaishwa deava nayama is not applicable, nor Avaaana and Agnoukarana/
Maatru/Pitru saapindya gotra niyama: In the event of sons not being born or available, then the husband himself can perform the sapinda shraddha. Similarly if the husband dies without sons, and no other relative like his brothers, their sons are available; nor any other members of his sagotras, then wife’s father if alive could do the needful; in case that too is not possible, the next resort could be the douhitra or her daughter’s sons are allowed; but even that possibility is unavailable then the dead husband’s own wife could herself perform the Antya kriya herself without mantras but with parvana vidhana: Putraabhaave sapindastu tadbhaave sahodakaah, Maatruh sapindaaye vaa syurye vaa Maatrusahodakaah/ Kuryenam vidhim samyak aputrauya Shrutaah Smritaah/ KuryaanMaataamahaayaiva putrikaa tanayaastathaa, Sarvaabhavey Striyah kuryah swabhatrunaam amantrakam/ Parashara Madhaveeyam states: when women and men die without sons, one view is that Ashoucha nivaarana would take place when the Antya kriyas are to be performed only on Ekoddhishta basis, that is after Udaka Pindodaka-Daanaadi kriyas only, without resorting to Sapindeekarana; but indeed that is not ‘perhaps’ the justified view but the basic idea is that sons should have taken up this task! Incidentally, in respect of all Dwijas, even when sons are indeed qualified to perform the full obsequies of their parents even if their Upanayana and Gayatri ‘Vanadanaadhikaara’ has not been accomplished; Manu emphasised that a boy among dwijas without Upanayana would have attained the status of dwija or twice born. But Sumantu Rishi clarified that once the Samskaraas Chooda Karma would have been performed by a boy of three years and above, he would as such be certainly eligible to perform the shraddhaa karmas with mantras in a fullfledged manner! [More details on the coverage of Shradhas are available in the Essence of Dharma Sindhu by the same author released by kamakoti.org/news as also Vipra yuva.org/books.