Frequently asked questions on Shraddha

1. I would like to know that regarding shraddha as it is only done by offering food to bramhin in temple and giving dakshina, the bramhin does a short prayer nothing is done as per the actual ritual. Then what should be done? Does the prayer reach our pitras, please clarify

Following paragraph gives information on imporatance of praying with spiritual emotion at the time of Shraddha.

How is the benefit of the shraddha acquired merely by praying? By praying with spiritual emotion the Pitars, inferior Deities and other Deities are appeased and attracted towards the person who prays. Together with their blessings the person also acquires the benefit of the shraddha. Invoking the Deities by raising hands and praying to the Pitars is a symbol of the devotee’s spiritual emotion (Bhav) of helplessness. There are several options available for performing Shraddha. For more information:

2. What is the exact significance of child death as per Sanatan dharma? What happens to soul when dies as child. Will it take same journey as “Pitrus“? or any other gati? Is the reply yes? i.e. it is the same as other ancestors?

For children till their thread ceremony is performed, if they die before that, then their gati (further journey) depends upon thier deeds, give-and-take account etc of previous birth. Since in this birth they may not have added anything to it. Otherwise there is no other difference as compared to other pitars.

3. Please tell the procedure to be followed when the birthday falls within a period of 1 year of demise of once parents or grand parents or other near ones (whose karmas need to be done)

Birthday celebration not being any festival or Vrat there are no such restrictions.

4. Is it necessary/mandatory to perform Ekadrishti Shradha every year after duly performing Gaya Shradha of my Father?

Shraddha means faith (श्रद्घा). One has to constantly remember favours done on him by his ancestors, sages, God and society and try to repay 4 debts (debts to ancestors, society, sages and God). This has to be done through bhav (spiritual emotion). Shraddha is the means for repaying debt to deceased ancestors. If one is not able to do the ritual, at least one can stand in the water (river) and perform tarpan. Ritual is not important, but the faith and bhav is.


Prayers and types of the Shraddha Ritual



1. The prayers offered during shraddha

‘उदीरतामवर उत्‌ परास उन्‍मध्‍यमा: पितर सोम्‍यास: ।
असुं य ईयुरवृका ऋतज्ञा: ते नोऽवन्‍तु पितरो हवेषु ।।’
                             – ऋग्‍वेद, मंडल १०, सूक्‍त १५, ऋचा १

Meaning: Let the ancestors residing on Earth attain an evolved region. Let the ancestors who are in heaven, that is, at a higher plane of existence, never degrade. Let the ones who are at a medium plane of existence,  attain a higher plane. Let the ancestors who symbolise the Truth protect us.

Also, prayer is offered to the ancestors for the continuation of the lineage, ‘O Pitru-deities, give birth to a son like Ashwini Kumar, who is beautiful, healthy and who can fulfil the wishes of Deities, ancestors and all humans.

1.1 The prayers offered at the end of the shraddha ritual

A. ‘गोत्रं नो वर्धताम्‌ ।’

Meaning: Let our lineage (gotra) grow. To this the brahmins bestow blessings, ‘Let your lineage grow.”

B. ‘वीरं मे दत्त पितर: ।’

Meaning: O ancestors, give me a valiant son.

Another prayer is, ‘Since the time of the origin of the Universe to date, whoever was born in the lineage of my mother and father and all the servants from these two lineages and my past births, those supported by me, those serving me, friends, disciple, pets, the plants and trees planted and cut by me, the close relatives, those who incurred favours from me and those who bestowed favours on me, get the food offered by me.

It is evident from this prayer that the Hindu Dharma teaches us to express gratitude not only to our own but also towards our benefactors, other beings and trees and plants.

2. Regulations associated with performing shraddha when obstacles of

  • If there is impurity due to birth or death in the family on the day of the shraddha, then after its completion consume panchgavya, change the Holy thread and do shraddha. Alternatively, perform shraddha on the first no moon day after the impurity is over.
  • After commencing the ritual of shraddha if impurity due to birth or death occurs in the family but outside the house, then do not follow the regulations of impurity till the completion of the shraddha. If it happens in the house, then stop the shraddha and only after the observance of impurity is completed, do the shraddha again.
  • If the wife of the one who performs the shraddha has menses, then Mahayala can be done any time after those five days. When the lady performing the shraddha has menses then no regulations need to be followed.
  • If the shraddha falls on Ekadashi, then the person performing the shraddha should merely smell the meal of the shraddha and offer it to a cow or one should perform Hiranya-shraddha.

    Hiranya-shraddha is a shraddha done merely by offering donation (dakshina) without offering meal.

  • During eclipse, take a bath and do shraddha even if there is impurity.

Here two points become evident. One is that every ritual has been considered subtly from a worldly perspective in Sanatan Hindu Dharma. The second is that women can also perform shraddha.

3. The effects of the shraddha ritual

For the subtle body (linga deha), the interval from the time of death to the next birth is similar to that of a foetus in the womb. Due to the mantras of the shraddha, the blessings of the brahmins, the good wishes of the relatives and pinda-dan etc. the deceased ancestors acquire a protective sheath and get the momentum to progress.

Spiritual experience – During Pitrupaksha experiencing proximity of the deceased ancestors, being protected from them by chanting the Name of Lord Dattatreya and the deceased ancestors bestowing blessings upon resolving to perform shraddha: For many years shraddha was not performed in our house. During Pitrupaksha, I would see many human figures around me. They would try to touch me; but I would chant ‘Sri Gurudev Datta’, that is, the Name of Lord Dattatreya. Hence, I was protected from them. After watching the satsang series about Pitrupaksha, I learned that during this period the deceased ancestors come close to us. After that our family decided to perform shraddha on Sarvapitri Amavasya. After the shraddha ritual the ancestors blessed everyone in the family and left. – Sadhak.

4. Types of shraddha performed in Pitrupaksha

4.1 Importance of Bharani shraddha

Performing shraddha on the chaturthi or panchami on the Bharani asterism in the Pitrupaksha has a special importance. If possible doing the shraddha on the Bharani asterism in addition to the tithi of death of the person helps the subtle body of the dead to be liberated from the form of being of the dead.

Reason underlying getting fruit equivalent to doing shraddha in Gaya by doing it on the Bharani asterism: There is a subtle cover of desire-frequencies associated with the Absolute Earth and Water Principles on the gross structure of the land of Gaya. This cover is contained in a triangular structure. Hence, performing shraddha at this place is more beneficial for the deceased ancestors’ whose inferior level desires have remained unsatisfied.

    The Bharani asterism that falls in the Pitrupaksha is also made of a triangle of three stars. The Deity of this triangle is Lord Yama. The Yama frequencies active in the Universe in higher proportion on this day are associated with desire-energy. When performing shraddha on this tithi, the desire-frequencies on Earth associated with this asterism are activated. Due to this, the place of shraddha becomes akin to that in Gaya. In the ritual of shraddha performed on the Bharani asterism, the Yama frequencies are activated in higher proportion. The deceased ancestors benefit from these frequencies.

4.2 Importance of Avidhawa Navami

The woman who dies before her husband is called ‘avidhawa’. Her shraddha is performed on the tithi of Navami of Pitrupaksha. So this Navami is called ‘Avidhawa Navami’.

Method of performing the shraddha of a dead married woman on Avidhawa Navami: The shraddha of a dead married woman should be performed on the Navami of the Pitrupaksha by the son or the husband. In this shraddha married women are served a meal and ritualistically offered a coconut, sari and a blouse piece. As long as the husband is alive, both the Avidhawa Navami and yearly shraddha should be performed.

4.3 Importance of Trayodashi and Chaturdashi of Pitrupaksha

On the tithi of Trayodashi, a ritual of Kakabali is performed for the dead children. On the day of the Chaturdashi of Pitrupaksha, the shraddha of those who died in accidents is performed.

4.4 Importance of Sarvapitri Amavasya

The Amavasya that falls in the Pitrupaksha is the last tithi of Pitrupaksha. If it is not possible to perform shraddha on any day of the entire year, it is very essential that a shraddha be performed for all the dead on the tithi of Sarvapitri Amavasya. According to the Scriptures, the Amavasya of the Pitrupaksha is the most appropriate tithi for the ritual of shraddha.

Spiritual experience – By performing shraddha on the Sarvapitri Amavasya, the financial difficulties getting solved, the debts getting repaid and the obstacles in spiritual practice (sadhana) getting solved: My father expired on 3rd December 1979. On the eleventh day after the death, I had a dream. In the dream I saw a monk, Lord Datta and Maruti in the temple of Lord Dattatreya in our village. Thereafter for about 18 years we did not perform shraddha etc. On listening to the guidance on shraddha by Spiritual Sanstha, we performed the ritual of shraddha at our house on 11th October 2007 on the day of Sarvapitri Amavasya. On the same afternoon, a monk came asking for a meal. This monk was exactly like the monk I had seen in my dream 18 years back. After performing the ritual of shraddha, our financial problems reduced. Due to this spiritual experience, I understood the importance of the ritual of shraddha and my faith in it increased. – Sadhak

It is clear that by performing shraddha the difficulties are solved. Due to this the person also benefits in his after life. For this reason, shraddha has been recommended in the religious Scriptures. Instead of shraddha, on this day some people offer food to the poor or money to a school as per their mind. By doing this no spiritual benefit is gained.


How does an embodied soul get entangled in its desires after death?

life after death


1. Pitrupaksha and Mahalaya Shraddha

From a spiritual perspective the Krushnapaksha (the dark fortnight of Bhadrapad), which is also known as Pitrupaksha (a time particularly dedicated to the performance of shraddha rituals) has special importance.

1.1 Importance of Pitrupaksha

It is also known as Mahalaya in the Hindu religious Scriptures. It is necessary to perform the ritual of offering water to the departed ancestors (Pitrutarpan) during the fifteen days from full moon day (Pournima) in Bhadrapad to the no moon day (Amavasya) in Bhadrapad and on the specific tithi, the shraddha of the ancestors should be performed. By doing shraddha in Pitrupaksha the ancestors are satiated for the whole year. A quote from Mahabharat elucidates the importance of performing shraddha for the departed ancestors.

श्राद्धं कन्‍यागते भानौ यो न कुर्याद्‌ गृहाश्रमी ।
धनं पुत्रा: कुततस्‍य पित्रुकोपाग्‍निपीडनात्‌ ।।
यावच्‍च कन्‍यातुलयो: क्रमादास्‍ते दिवाकर: ।
शून्‍यं प्रेतपुरं तावद्‌ यावद्‌ वृश्‍चिकदर्शनम्‌ ।। – महाभारत

Meaning: How will a householder who does not perform shraddha while the sun is stationed in the Kanya, that is, Virgo sign and thereby invites the ire of the departed ancestors, acquire wealth, son etc.?

Similarly, till the time the sun does not enter the Vruschik, that is, Scorpio sign from the sign of Kanya, that is, Virgo and Tula, that is, Libra, till then the Pitruloka (the subtle region where the subtle bodies of the departed ancestors go) remains vacant.

The Pitruloka being vacant means that during this period all the departed ancestors of the lineage descend and come close to their descendents to bless them. They curse the descendants and leave if shraddha is not performed by the descendants.

The subtle bodies of the departed ancestors arriving during the Pitrupaksha, that is, Mahalaya for the shraddha:

  • Father, paternal grandfather and paternal great-grandfather – They are known as the Pitrutraya.
  • Mother, maternal grandmother and maternal great-grandmother – They are known as the Matrutraya.
  • Sapatna Mata, that is, step mother
  • One’s mother’s father, one’s mother’s maternal grandfather and one’s mother’s maternal great grandfather – They are known as the Matamahatraya.
  • One’s mother’s mother, one’s mother’s grandmother and one’s mother’s great grandmother
  • Wife, Sons, Daughters, Paternal uncles, Maternal uncles, Brothers, Paternal aunts, Maternal aunts, Sisters, Father-in-law, Other relatives, Guru (if one has a Guru-disciple relationship), disciple (if one has a Guru-disciple relationship).

Only the Hindu Dharma has done such profound study about the well-being and evolution of a Jiva even after death. Most of the people consider the ‘Shraddha’ to be of no use. 99 % of the people who perform shraddha do it merely as a custom. Only the shraddha done with spiritual emotion is beneficial.

The meaning of shraddha: Whatever is done faithfully for repaying what the departed ancestors have done for us is called shraddha. Swami Vidyanand says, “Only the shraddha done with faith is called ‘Shraddha’”.

1.2 What happens to the Jiva after his death?

The spiritual information about the human body: From a spiritual perspective, the human body is made up of five sheaths.

Subtle body

  • The first is Annamaya-kosha, that is, the physical body visible to us.
  • The second is Pranamaya-kosha – it has the five vital energies (Panchaprana) providing energy to the whole body.
  • The third is the Manomaya-kosha – This is the seat of emotions and desires.
  • The fourth is Vidnyanamaya-kosha – This is the seat of the intellect.
  • The fifth is Anandamaya-kosha – This is the seat of the Soul (Atma).

The Annamaya-kosha is gross while the other sheaths are subtle. After death, a Jiva’s Annamaya-kosha and Pranamaya-kosha do not remain, but Manomaya-kosha, Vidnyanamaya-kosha and Anandamaya-kosha remain with him.

After death

Hence, despite the gross body being destroyed by death, a Jiva’s existence and his desires do not end. Consequently, a Jiva gets entangled in his desires and this poses a hurdle in his further progress.

The process of an embodied soul (Jiva) getting entangled in his desires after death: After death a Jiva, that is, the subtle body constantly makes efforts for fulfilling its desires. Sometimes it enters another body forcibly. Due to desires a Jiva goes to various subtle regions (lokas) as per his actions. Despite going from one place to another, the Jiva has intense attachment to his previous place. Many a times while going from one place to another, this Jiva goes astray and keeps searching for something. The process of getting entangled in desires after death is known as hurdles in the further progress. Due to this, the responsibility of liberating the person from this process of getting entangled in desires rests with the deceased person’s family members.

1.3 Objective of performing shraddha

Some actions are expected to be performed by the relatives for an embodied soul (Jiva) to progress spiritually after death. These are:

  • Helping the embodied soul (Jiva) during his lifetime to not get trapped in desires.
  • Satiating the desires of the embodied soul (Jiva).
  • Awakening the Jiva to move ahead in his spiritual journey.

By doing the various shraddhas after the death of a person mainly this is achieved. Subtle bodies of all embodied souls (Jivas) do not do spiritual practice. Hence, by performing rituals like shraddha, they need to be encouraged to go further on the basis of external energy. Three main objects of shraddha are:

  • Helping the deceased ancestors to move from Pitruloka to further subtle regions (lokas).
  • Liberating the unsatisfied subtle bodies of one’s family trapped in the lower lokas.
  • Liberating the deceased ancestors turned into ghosts due to their own evil deeds from this form.

The sheath of desires around the subtle body of the Jiva reduces by doing shraddha. The subtle body is given momentum through the energy of mantrashakti in the shraddha rituals.

1.4 Importance of shraddha

  • 1. Abiding by Dharma: Along with repaying the debt of Deity, Sages and society, repaying the debt of deceased ancestors is important. A shloka of Mahabharat is notable in this respect.

    पुन्‍नाम्‍नो नरकाद्यस्‍मात्‍पितरं त्रायते सतु: ।
    तस्‍मात्‍पुत्र इति प्रोक्‍त: स्‍वयमेव स्‍वयंभुवा ।। – महाभारत १.७४.३९

    Meaning: Son protects his deceased ancestors from the Hell named ‘Put’. Hence, Brahmadeva Himself has called him ‘putra‘ (son).

  • 2. Purification of lineage: If religious conducts of the family (kuladharma) are not followed, maternal or paternal defects increase. Deceased ancestors (pitar) are protectors of the lineage. If kuladharma like the rituals of shraddha is followed, purity of the lineage is certain.
  • 3. Completion of give and take account: The give and take account with a person is settled by performing his shraddha.
  • 4. Repaying debt of Deities and Sages becoming easy along with repaying the debt of ancestors: Repaying the debt of deceased ancestors is quite simple and easy through the ritual of shraddha. This is possible by the unification of Vasu, that is, desire, Rudra, that is, dissolution (laya) and Aditya, that is, action.

Thus, it is clear that the ritual of shraddha is a necessary achar to evolve the worldly and spiritual life of a person.

1.5 Pitrupaksha and Mahalaya shraddha and its importance

The deceased ancestors come to reside in the house of their relatives in the Pitrupaksha. By doing shraddha once in this fortnight, the deceased ancestors are satisfied for a year.

पुत्रानायुस्‍तथाऽऽरोग्‍यमैश्‍वर्यमतुलं तथा ।
प्राप्‍नोति पंञ्‍चमे कृत्‍वा 
श्राद्धं कामांचं पुष्‍कलान्‌ ।। – महर्षि जाबालि

Meaning: Son, long life, health, unlimited prosperity and desired objects are acquired by performing shraddha in Pitrupaksha.

The deceased ancestors grace their descendants who do shraddha. But distress those who avoid performing shraddha without due cause.

वृश्‍चिके समनुप्राप्‍ते पितरो दैवतै: सह ।
नि:श्‍वस्‍य प्रतिगच्‍छन्‍ति शापं दत्‍वा सुदारुणम्‌ ।। – महर्षि कार्ष्‍णाजिनि

Meaning: If the shraddha is not performed before the sun enters the Vruschik sign, the deceased ancestors of a person puts an intense curse on him and returns back to Pitruloka.

Nowadays, nobody performs shraddha-paksha, nor do they do spiritual practice. Due to the dissatisfaction of the deceased ancestors, the Jiva has to face many hardships.

Distresses caused by the unsatisfied subtle bodies of deceased ancestors: Due to unsatiated deceased ancestors there is possibility of distress like not getting married, marital disharmony, not conceiving, abortion, giving birth to a mentally retarded or handicapped baby, getting nightmares, seeing snakes or deceased ancestors in dreams or while awake, having obstacles in spiritual practice. Even if one doesn’t have such distress at present, one can make efforts for future protection. Efforts can be taken to give momentum to one’s deceased ancestors.


When can females perform Shraddha?

Contents –

1. Importance of performing Shraddha by oneself

2. Hindu Dharma that does not give any cause for excuse for not performing shraddha due to the absence of a particular person!

3. Performance of Shraddha by females

1. Importance of performing Shraddha by oneself

‘Ideally, the host should perform the ritual of Shraddha by himself. However, since we do not know how to perform it, we get it done through the priest (Brahmin). Nowadays, it has become difficult to get priests for performing Shraddha. As a solution to this, one can procure the holy texts that describe the ritual and learn it by heart. This text is in Sanskrit. Akin to learning other languages, one should also try and learn Sanskrit, which is considered to be God’s language. Also, it is easy to learn Sanskrit.

(Although the point mentioned above is correct, considering the complexity in pronouncing certain Sanskrit words and limitation to understand the rites mentioned in the science, it may not be possible for everyone to perform the ritual as prescribed, by themselves. In such cases one can get the ritual performed through priests and if they are not available, then the ritual can be performed with the help of knowledgeable people in society. One should remember that making the ritual of shraddha is more important – Compiler).

2. Hindu Dharma that does not give any cause for excuse for not performing shraddha due to the absence of a particular person!

Son (including the one whose threading ceremony has not been done), daughter, grandson, great grandson, wife, daughter’s son (if he is one of the heirs), real brother, nephew, cousin’s son, father, mother, daughter-in-law, son of elderly and younger sisters, maternal uncle, anyone in the seven generations and from the same lineage (sapinda), anyone after the seven generations and belonging to the same family domain (samanodak), disciple, priests (upadhyay), friend, son-in-law of the deceased person can perform Shraddha in that order.

In case of a joint family, the eldest and earning male person should perform Shraddha. In case of the unit family, everyone should perform shraddha independently. (9)

Hindu Dharma has made arrangement so that for each and every dead person the shraddha can be performed so as to give momentum to that person to progress to a higher sub-plane. Holy text Dharma Sindhu mentions that, ‘If a particular dead person does not have any relative or a close person, then it is the duty of the king to perform Shraddha for that person’.

(In spite of numerous avenues being available, Hindus do not perform shraddha. Then, who will help such Hindus? – Compiler)

3. Performance of Shraddha by females

1. In point 2 it is mentioned that the daughter, wife, mother and daughter-in-law of the deceased person have the authority to perform Shraddha. In spite of this, in the current era, the priests who conduct Shraddha deny their consent for females to perform Shraddha. This could be because in the earlier days the thread ceremony was  performed for females, and in current era, this practice has been discontinued in all classes. Therefore, in accordance to that, even performing of Shraddha has been disallowed for females. In emergency conditions, however, if no one is available for performing Shraddha, then it is better for it to be performed by females instead of not performing it at all.

2. The female performing shraddha should place a clean cotton cloth on her shoulder while performing ‘Savya-Apasavya

Reference: Shraddha (importance and scientific explanation) – Volume 1


What are the presiding deities and results of Shraddha?

Contents –

1. Presiding deities of Shraddha

1.1 Pururav-Aardrav and Dhurilochan

Pururav-Aardrav and Dhurilochan are deities of ancestors’ souls. They are referenced in the ritual of Shraddha.

1.2. Vasu-Rudra-Aditya

1.‘Shraddha is associated with the benevolent deities Vasu, Rudra and Aditya of the ancestors’ souls. The mantras chanted during the Shraddha and the rites performed enables one to connect to these deities.’ (6)  

2. The deceased person for whom the ritual of Shraddha is being performed, is considered as a follower of Vasu, his parents are considered as followers of Rudra and his grand parents are considered as followers of Aditya. Therefore during Shraddha, the names of father, grandfather and great grandfather (or mother, grandmother and great grandmother) are pronounced as representatives of Vasu-Rudra-Aditya respectively.

2. Types of Shraddha

2.1 Main and commonly known type

Matsya Puran mentions ‘नित्यं नैमित्तिकं काम्यं त्रिविध श्राद्ध मुख्यते ।’, meaning, primarily there are three types of Shraddha – one performed daily, periodically and with purpose (Kamya). In addition to these, Yamasmruti defines Nandi Shraddha and Parvan Shraddha as additional main types.

2.1.1 Daily Shraddha

The ritual of Shraddha performed daily is known as Daily Shraddha. This Shraddha can be performed just by offering water or sesame seeds to deceased ancestors.

2.1.2 Periodic Shraddha

The shraddha performed for deceased ancestors with a single objective and other such types fall under periodic Shraddha.

2.1.3 Purpose oriented (Kamya) Shraddha

Shraddha performed for achieving a specific objective is termed as purpose oriented (Kamya) Shraddha.

From the point of view of deriving fruitful result, if the Shraddha is performed on a specific day, date (as per Hindu calendar) and taking into consideration the position of stars (nakshatra), then the desired result is achieved. The details are given below:

1. Day and the derived result of the Shraddha

2. Date (as per Hindu calendar) and the derived result of the Shraddha

Date of performing Shraddha Result derived from the Shraddha
First day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Gaining a good fowl and being able to give birth to a healthy baby boy.
Second day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Conceiving a baby girl.
Third day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Acquiring a horse, acquiring fame
Fourth day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Acquiring a lot of inferior animals
Fifth day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Having a lot of good looking male children
Sixth day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Conceiving bright male child, getting success in gambling.
Seventh day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Acquiring a farm or land
Eighth day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Obtaining success in business
Ninth day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Acquiring animals like horses
Tenth day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Expansion of cattle, acquiring animals with two humps
Eleventh day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Acquiring utensils, clothes and a scholar male child.
Twelfth day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Acquiring gold, silver etc.
Thirteenth day in Hindu Lunar fortnight Gaining superiority within the community
Fourteenth day in Hindu Lunar fortnight The persons, who have died due to the stroke of a weapon or on a battlefield, get momentum to attain a higher sub-plane. Gaining good citizens.
Full moon / no moon night Fulfillment of all wishes

Note 1: Except full moon night, all other dates that belong to the dark fortnight and corresponding dates in dark fortnight of the month of Bhadrapad, bestow special benefit.

1. Bhimashtami Shraddha: If one is not able to conceive or is facing problems of abortion, then for the well being of the fetus, Shraddha is performed or offering of water is made to Bhishmacharya, on the eighth day of the bright fortnight (Bhimashtami) in the Hindu calendar month of Magh.

3. Position of stars and the derived result of the Shraddha

Position of star while performing Shraddha Result derived from the Shraddha
Kruttika Acquiring a heavenly abode for oneself and ones son.
Rohini Conceiving male child
Mruga Acquiring radiance of Brahman (Brahmatej)
Aardra Providing momentum to the soul of an evildoer, action transformed into supernatural power.
Punarvasu Obtaining wealth or land
Pushya Improvement in strength
Ashlesha Conceiving a male child with brave character, fulfillment of a wish
Magha Gaining superiority within the community, a long married life
Purva Good luck, conceiving a male child, elimination of sin
Uttara Good luck, conceiving a male child, elimination of sin
Hasta Fulfillment of a wish, gaining superiority within the community
Chitra Conceiving a handsome male child, conceiving ample male children
Swati Earning profit in business, earning success.
Vishakha Conceiving ample male children, acquiring gold
Anuradha Acquiring a kingdom (attaining position of minister etc), acquiring friends
Jyeshtha Acquiring superiority, authority, wealth and self-confidence, acquiring a kingdom
Mula Obtaining good health, acquiring a farm or land
Purvashadha Achieving good fame, successful journey up to the sea limit
Uttarashada Getting relieved from grievances, fulfillment of all wishes, achieving good hearing ability
Shravan Achieving best progress in subtle plane, superiority
Ghanishtha Acquiring kingdom (attaining position of minister etc), fulfillment of all wishes
Shavataraka Achieving supernatural powers in medical practice, acquiring metal other than gold and silver.
Purvabhadrapada Acquiring a flock of sheep or lamb, acquiring metal other than gold and silver.
Uttarabhadrapada Acquiring cattle, acquiring sanctified and good premises
Revati Acquiring utensils and clothes, acquiring cattle
Ashwini Acquiring horses
Bharni Acquiring a long life

Note 1: When an evildoer dies and Shraddha is performed for him at the time of Aadra star, for imparting momentum to its soul, the desired benefit can be derived.

Special note: In the table given in point 2 and 3, multiple benefits are indicated for a single date or star position. These are specified based on references obtained from different books.

2.1.4 Nandi Shraddha

The ritual of Shraddha performed during the start of any joyous ceremony and performance of any of the 16 religious rites, and recitation of specific mantras for success of the ceremony is called Nandi Shraddha. In this ritual Satyavasu (or kratudaksha) are the vishve deities and the father-grandfather-great grandfather, mother-grandmother (mother’s mother) – great grandmother (mother’s grandmother) and mother- grandmother (mother’s mother-in-law)-great grandmother (mother-in-law of mother’s mother-in-law) are invoked.

1. Karmanga Shraddha: This Shraddha is performed during the religious ritual of Garbhadhan.

2. Vruddhi Shraddha: Shraddha performed at the time of birth of a baby.

2.1.5 Parvan Shraddha

The Pindapitruyagna (sacrificial fires related to deceased ancestors) mentioned in the Shrout lineage is to be performed by a Sagnik (one who performs the ritual of Agnihotra). Alternative to this is the Parvan Shraddha mentioned in the Gruhya sutras. Once the deceased ancestors get listed as Parvans, then this shraddha is performed for them. (Detailed information on Parvan is presented under the heading ‘Terminology of Shraddha’ and in point ‘3 B’ of volume 2.) Ekparvan (single Parvan), dviparvan (double Parvan), triparvan (triple Parvan) are the three varieties of this shraddha. Mahalay Shraddha and Tirtha Shraddha are the types of Parvan Shraddha.

1. Mahalay Shraddha (fortnightly): It is a Parvan Shraddha performed starting from the eleventh day of dark fortnight of Bhadrapad (Hindu calendar month) till the no moon night.

2. Tirtha Shraddha: The ritual of shraddha performed at Holy places like Prayag or at the banks of a sacred river is termed as Tirtha Shraddha. While performing Tirtha Shraddha, all the Parvans of Mahalay are invoked.

2.2. Other types

Apart from the main types mentioned above there are 96 types of Shraddha namely, 12 no moon nights, 4 eras, 14 manvantars, 12 sankrants, 12 vaidhruti, 12 vyatipat, 15 mahalays, 5 first, 5 ashtak and 5 anvashtake. (Detailed information about these is present in the books related to science of Dharma.)

Brief information about few of the other types of Shraddha

2.2.1. Goshthi Shraddha

The Shraddha performed by the group of priests (Brahmins) and scholars at a holy place with the intention that, ‘Deceased ancestors’ souls should get satisfied and let happiness and prosperity preside’, or while discussing the topic of Shraddha, if one gets inspired all of a sudden and performs Shraddha, then such Shraddha is termed as Goshthi Shraddha.

2.2.2 Shuddhi Shraddha

Offering food to priests (Brahmins) for acquiring purity is called as Shuddhi Shraddha. This is the ‘undergoing of punishment’ part of Shraddha.

2.3.3 Pushti Shraddha

Shraddha performed for increasing physical strength and prosperity is called as Pushti Shraddha.

2.2.4 Ghruta Shraddha (Yatra Shraddha)

Shraddha performed using ghee (clarified butter), in remembrance of deceased ancestors, before embarking on a journey to holy places with the objective of completing the journey without any obstacles is called Ghruta Shraddha.

2.2.5 Dadhi Shraddha

Shraddha performed after returning from a journey to holy places is termed as Dadhi Shraddha.

2.2.6. Ashtaka Shraddha

Shraddha performed on 8th day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu calendar mont. Ashtaka means the 8th day of bright fortnight of any Hindu calendar month. During the era of Vedas, the Ashtaka Shraddha used to be performed specifically on the 8th day of bright fortnight of Margashirsha, Poush, Magh and Falgun months. It was a practice to offer vegetables, meat, bondas, sesame seeds, honey, rice kheer, fruits and underground vegetables to deceased ancestors. Vishvedev, Fire (Agni), Sun, Prajapati, Ratri, Stars (nakshatra), season (rutu) etc. were considered as deities of Shraddha.

2.2.7. Daivik Shraddha

Shraddha performed with the objective of obtaining the grace of God is termed as Daivik Shraddha.

2.2.8. Hiranya Shraddha

This Shraddha is performed without offering food and only by offering money (dakshina) to the priests (Brahmins). If food is in scarcity, then gold, equivalent to four times the cost of the food grains, should be offered.

2.2.9. Hasta Shraddha

Shraddha performed by offering food to the priests (Brahmins) designated for Shraddha. If cooked food is not available then the Shraddha is performed by offering money or dry food grains. (7)

2.2.10. Aatma Shraddha

Those people who do not have children or whose children are atheists, they should perform Shraddha for themselves when they are alive. The rites for such Shraddha are explained in the science of spirituality.

Even though various types of Shraddha are mentioned above, based on the calendar days, the Shraddha performed for a dead person from the first day to the eleventh day, monthly shraddha, Sapindikaran Shraddha, Shraddha performed on one-year completion, Shraddha performed every year from the second year and Mahalay Shraddha are the only ones that are commonly practiced.

Reference: Shraddha (importance and scientific explanation) – Volume 1

What are three historically established phases of Shraddha?


1. Information related to the term ‘Shraddha

2. ‘Shraddha‘ means not just ‘remembering ancestors with a sense of gratitude’, but is also a ritual to be performed

3. Historical details of the ritual of Shraddha 

4. Three historically established phases of Shraddha and its nature in the current era

1. Information related to the term ‘Shraddha

A. Meaning and Scope

The term ‘Shraddha‘ has originated from ‘Shraddhaa‘ (faith). It is impossible to repay the various favors, which our deceased forefathers have done for us. The ritual performed for them with complete faith is known as Shraddha.

B: Definition

The definition of Shraddha as given in the ‘Shraddha‘ chapter within the Brahmapuran Holy text is as follows:

देशे काले च पात्रे च श्रद्धया विधिना च यत् ।
पितृनुद्दिश्य विप्रेभ्यो दत्तं श्राद्धमुदाहृत् ।। – ब्रह्मपुराण

Meaning: The offerings (food etc.) made to the brahmins (priests) with the intension being received by the deceased ancestors, after taking into account the aptness of country, time period and place and with complete faith and abiding by all the rules is known as Shraddha.

C: Associated words

Shraddhattva Pinda, Pitru Puja (ritualistic worship of deceased ancestors), Pitru Yagna (sacrificial fires performed for deceased ancestors)

2. ‘Shraddha‘ means not just ‘remembering ancestors with a sense of gratitude’, but is also a ritual to be performed.

3. Historical details of the ritual of Shraddha

A. The original concept of performing the ritual of Shraddha was concieved by Sage Atri, the son of Lord Brahma. Sage Atri narrated the ritual of Shraddha as laid down by Lord Brahma to Nimi from his lineage. This established ritual has continued even today.

B. Manu was the first one to perform the ritual of Shraddha. Hence he is called the deity of Shraddha (2).

C. After Lord Ram, Goddess Sita and Lakshman left for their stay in forest, Bharat met them in the forest and apprised them about the death of their father. The epic Ramayana has a mention that Lord Rama later performed the ritual of Shraddha for His deceased father at an appropriate time.

4. Three historically established phases of Shraddha and its nature in the current era

A. Agnoukaran

During the era of Rugveda, deceased ancestors were worshipped by offering Samidha (a kind of wooden stick) and Pinda (a rice bowl) to the sacrificial fire.

B. Pindadaan (worship of Pinda)

The process for Pindadaan is mentioned in the holy scripts of Yajurveda, Bramhane, Shrout and Gruhya sutra. The ritual of Pindadaan was put into practice during the period of Guhya sutra.

The information regarding the time period when the worship of Pinda started is documented in the holy text Mahabharata (Shantiparva 12.3.345) – God Varaha, incarnation of Lord Vishnu, introduced Shraddha to the entire world. He created three Pindas from His molar tooth and placed it on a Darbha (dried grass twig) towards the southern direction. Lord Varaha advised ‘Let the 3 Pindas be considered as a representation of the father, grandfather and great grandfather’ and then He vanished after performing the ritualistic worship of the Pindas using sesame seeds in a scientific manner. Thus began the worship of Pinda for deceased ancestors as per the guidance of Lord Varaha.

C. Offering food to priests (Brahmins)

During the post Gruhya sutra and Shruti-Smruti period, offering food to priests (Brahmins) was considered mandatory and became an important part of the ritual of Shraddha.

D. All the three phases together

In the current era, all the three phases mentioned above are included within the ‘ParvanShraddha. The science of Dharma prescribes that householders should perform the ritual of Shraddha as their duty.

Reference: Shraddha (importance and scientific explanation) – Volume 1


Importance of the substances used in Shraddha


The important and requisite components for the shraddha ritual are Darbha, Bhrungaraj leaf, Tulasi, black sesame, white rice, barley, honey, black gram, white fragrant flowers etc. Red coloured flowers are forbidden in the shraddha ritual as destroyer frequencies are emitted from them. Fruits like the Indian gooseberry (amla), pomegranate, musk melon (kharbuja) are specially used in the shraddha ritual.

1. Darbha


Darbha is a very important component in the shraddha ritual. Darbha generates radiance (Tej). When Darbha is used in the shraddha ritual, by the influence of the frequencies of Tej emitted by Darbha, the interference of raja-tama particles in each ritual of the shraddha is reduced. The deceased ancestors (Pitars) absorb the energy of a specific level from the ritual.

1.1 Effect of the use of Darbha in the shraddha ritual

The subtle air associated with the Tej particles in the Darbha is activated by the recitation of mantras of the shraddha ritual. This air attains momentum in the upward direction with the help of the Absolute Air Principle of the external atmosphere. With this the resolve made in the shraddha ritual becomes efficacious in lesser time.

1.2 How should the Darbha be selected ?

Do not use the Darbha fallen on the path, kept on the funeral pyre, laid on the ground of sacrificial fire, used as a seat or cover and used for pinda in a shraddha ritual, used in the Brahmayadnya or for the purpose of tarpan. Pluck only green Darbha which is grown on a clean ground. A shloka delineates about the selection of Darbha:

‘समूलस्‍तु भवेत्‌ दर्भ: पितृणां श्राद्धकर्मणि ।’

Meaning: For the purpose of shraddha of the Pitars, pluck the Darbha along with its root. The reason for this is that we can gain victory over the Pitruloka with the help of the root of the Darbha.

1.3 Reason underlying the use of Darbha with roots in the shraddha

The Water Principle-dominant particles of Tej in the Darbha with roots are conducive for disintegration of raja-tama particles. The energy emanating from the actions done with the Darbha with roots touches the subtle sheath of the Pitars in a shorter time. In addition to gaining victory on the Pitruloka, that is, causing disintegration of raja-tama particles at each level of Martyaloka (the subtle region of the dead), the Pitars also get the strength of Tej.

1.4 The reason underlying not plucking Darbha by hitting many times on it or cutting with the nails

The raja-tama-dominant sound frequencies generated by hitting many times on the Darbha or cutting it with the nails are spread in the Darbha, which reduces the sensitivity associated with sattva of the Darbha. The ability of the Tej Principle-dominant air emitted by the Darbha to move in the upward direction is also reduced. Hence, the proportion of benefit accrued from the shraddha ritual is reduced.

Following mantra is recited at the time of plucking the Darbha for shraddha

विरिञ्‍चिना सहोत्‍पन्‍न परमेष्‍ठि निसर्गज ।
नुद सर्वाणि पापानि दर्भ स्‍वस्‍तिकरो भव ।।

Reciting this mantra, face the north-east direction on the Amavasya of Bhadrapad as per Shaka Samvat or of Ashwin as per Vikram Samvat and say ‘Hum Phat’ and pluck the Darbha.

1.5 The reason underlying placing Darbha if a brahmin is not available for the seat of Deity or the Pitars

Darbha represents all the components of inferior or superior level. Hence, in the absence of any specific component, Darbha can be installed at that place. The inherent Tej particles in the Darbha attract the superior frequencies of the Deities and the inferior frequencies of the Pitars as per requirement and invite them at the venue of the shraddha. The inherent air associated with the Tej Principle in the Darbha is activated by the with-resolve recitation of mantras of the shraddha. This activated Tej Principle is emitted by the Darbha. The negative energies are prohibited by the emitted Tej Principle from coming to the venue of the shraddha and the Pitars are attracted to that venue.

Due to the ability of the Darbha to attract the Principles of superior Deities, it is used as the smallest particles of Divine Consciousness (pavitrak) in each ritual of worship.

2. Black sesame seeds

Black Sesame

Using black sesame seeds in the shraddha means invoking the deceased ancestors (Pitars) trapped in the Martyaloka with the help of the raja-tama frequencies emitted from the black sesame seeds. The recitation of mantras in the shraddha has an effect on the black sesame seeds. The dormant raja-tama energy in black sesame seeds is awakened as a result of the sound energy generated by the recitation of mantra. This energy is emitted into the environment in the spiral form of raja-tama vibrations.

At that time, according to the invocation made in the shraddha, subtle bodies of particular Pitars are attracted towards these vibrations and enter Earth’s environment. In this process, with help of the raja-tama frequencies emitted from the black sesame seeds, reaching the place of shraddha ritual becomes easier for the subtle bodies of Pitars.

Black sesame seeds are showered at the place of the shraddha by the host. Due to the frequencies of Pitars getting attracted towards the black sesame seeds, the place of the shraddha becomes charged with the Pitar frequencies.

The Desire sheath present around the subtle bodies gets activated due to the frequencies emitted from the black sesame seeds and the Pitars get satiated by partaking their portion of shraddha in air form. In shraddha, water containing black sesame seeds charged with mantras (Tilodaka) has special spiritual importance.

The copper platter contains charged Tilodaka. Money to be offered to the Brahmin, leaf of Bhrungaraj, Sandalwood, flower and beetle nut are placed in it. The momentum of subtle Pitar frequencies increases due to the black sesame seeds in the Tilodaka. As a result, a whirlpool with attraction energy is generated. The subtle body is attracted towards this whirlpool. Thus, the subtle body attracted towards the whirlpool with attraction energy formed from the Pitar frequencies having momentum enters the Earth region. The change occurring at spiritual level during performance of ritual is a feature of spiritual practice of rites, rituals and observances performed at the physical level (Karmakand) prescribed by Hindu Dharma.

3. Akshat

After the host pays obeisance to the Dev-brahman and Pitrubrahman, the brahmins bless the host by showering unbroken rice (akshat) on him. Unbroken rice should be used as akshat. In the shraddha ritual barley is also used. White unbroken rice is used if barley is not available.

4. Maka (leaf of

Bhrungaraj and Tulasi


At the time of shraddha some of the Pitars coming to Earth are not satiated. Due to the unsatisfied desires of these Pitars, polluted air or speed of emission of subtle frequencies generated from tamasic object increases. Due to the speed of these frequencies, tamasic energy is generated. Movement of rajatama particles gains momentum. To restrain this momentum, these two substances, maka, that is, leaf of Bhrungaraj and Tulasi are used.

Features of maka:

Usage Benefit
Bhrungaraj leaf Worship of Pitars Endowing Tej
Tulasi Worship of Deities Endowing vital energy

The Tej frequencies emitted into the atmosphere by Bhrungaraj leaf restrain the momentum of raja-tama particles generated from the unsatisfied desires of the Pitars. The frequencies of Chaitanya of Sri Krushna principle emitted from the Tulasi leaves easily destroy raja-tama particles. Thus Bhrungaraj leaf and Tulasi complement each other in purifying the atmosphere. Due to this purity, entering the place of shraddha becomes easy for the Pitars.

Steps in the restriction of the momentum of the raja-tama particles by Bhrungaraj leaf

  • Slowing of momentum of raja-tama particles. The energy of attraction generated in the raja-tama particles disintegrates due to the Tej frequencies emitted from the Bhrungaraj leaf.
  • Division of raja-tama particles. Due to the Tej frequencies emitted from the Bhrungaraj leaf, the ability of the raja-tama particles to function collectively reduces.

Shraddha ritual and chanting of the name of Lord Dattatreya


Lord Dattatreya

1. Importance of doing the shraddha ritual ardently

During the shraddha rites and the meal, one should not entertain anger and meaningless thoughts. The vibrations generated due to the meaningless thoughts adversely affect the Vishvedev and the deceased ancestors (Pitars) coming to that place. That is why one should completely avoid the meaningless thoughts and the meaningless conversation with others while performing the ritual.

Spiritual experience – Experiencing the smell of Puranpoli, an Indian sweet delicacy, for five minutes; the next day a friend saying that, ‘I wanted to give you Puranpoli‘ and then having the realisation of his subtle-body getting the Puranpoli due to the intense desire of his friend: One day I got the smell of Puranpoli. Then I started getting hiccups. I felt that ‘My friend is remembering me.’ The next day my friend said, “We had made Puranpoli last night and I really wanted you to have it.” My subtle-body (ling-deha) had got the Puranpoli due to his intense desire.

This spiritual experience confirms that the holy sacrament (naivedya) offered ardently to Deities and the Pitars reaches them. Through this spiritual experience we understand that the Pitars are satiated by performing shraddha ardently.

2. Options for the shraddha ritual

  • If brahmins are not available for performing the shraddha ritual of one’s mother, then one can invite married women and perform the shraddha.
  • If two brahmins are not available then seat the brahmin on the seat for Pitars (Pitrusthan), place an idol of Shaligram or baby Krushna on the seat of the Deity (Devasthan) and make a resolve to perform the shraddha.
  • If due to some reason one is unable to perform shraddha, then he can get the shraddha performed through his son, disciple or a brahmin.
  • Invite a brahmin, after he has washed his hands and feet, offer him a seat and after worship with five substances offer him a meal.
  • In case of unavailability of money and brahmin, do a shraddha with sacrificial fire (Homa-shraddha).

The Scriptures have also delineated what a person should do who is incapable of doing any of the above stated options. They are as follows:

  • Give a pitcher filled with water to a brahmin.
  • Give some food to a brahmin.
  • Give sesame seeds to a brahmin.
  • Give some money to a brahmin.
  • Give food grains as per capacity to a brahmin.
  • Feed grass to a cow.
  • Forgoing rituals etc. merely do pinda-dan.
  • After bathing release water containing sesame seeds (Pitru-tarpan).
  • Observe a fast on the tithi of the shraddha.
  • On the day of the shraddha, recite the shraddha ritual.

If even this is not possible, then go to a forest and exposing your armpits by putting both the hands up, wave a blade of grass towards the Deities of the regions (Lokapal) like Sun etc. and pray, “I do not possess anything useful for shraddha like wealth etc. I pay obeisance to all my Pitars. Let all my Pitars be appeased with my devotion. I am helpless.”

Alternatively, go to a secluded forest and pray in a loud voice raising your hands, I am penniless and without food. Liberate me from the debt of my Pitars. If even this is not possible, then lament facing the south direction.

This shows how inevitable it is for everyone to perform shraddha.

3. How is the benefit of the shraddha acquired merely by praying ?

By praying with spiritual emotion the Pitars, inferior Deities and other Deities are appeased and attracted towards the person who prays. Together with their blessings the person also acquires the benefit of the shraddha. Invoking the Deities by raising hands and praying to the Pitars is a symbol of the devotee’s spiritual emotion (Bhav) of helplessness.

4. Spiritual experiences about shraddha

The pindas prepared for the shraddha of my father were appearing very radiant. After the brahman-bhojana was concluded, I felt that my deceased father and other deceased ancestors (Pitars) were satiated. – Mr. Nitin Sahakari, Goa

At the time of the shraddha of my father-in-law, I experienced the existence of only – my father-in-law, his father and his grandfather. A light yellow colour was visible around the three pindas. I felt the three were satiated and were bestowing blessings. – Mrs. Shruti Nitin Sahakari.

In Hindu Dharma, at the time of shraddha of the father, pinda is offered in the name of the grandfather and the great grandfather also. This seeker had the practical spiritual experience of the theoretical part explained by Hindu Dharma.

One can understand from this type of spiritual experiences whether the Pitars have been satisfied or not. Contrary to this, when they are not satisfied with the shraddha, their subtle bodies keep wandering in the atmosphere. Then various distresses are felt at the place associated with the Pitars like heaviness of head, giddiness, reduction of vital energy etc.

5. Importance of chanting ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’

Due to the unsatisfied Pitars there is a risk of distresses like not getting married, financial difficulties, seeing cobra or Pitars in a dream or in waking state. For overcoming such distress, it is important to chant the Name of Lord Dattatreya along with the ritual of shraddha.

Spiritual experience – By chanting ‘Sri Gurudev Datta’ in Pitrupaksha, the dairy on the verge of closure being revived: My husband was working in a dairy for many years. For the last few months the dairy was on the verge of closure. I began to chant ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’ during Pitrupaksha. Thereafter, suddenly the supply of milk increased manifold in the dairy. Before this incident, people had said that the dairy would be closed; but by the Grace of Lord Dattatreya this danger was avoided. – Mrs. Rajashri Mahadeva Vandare, Miraj, Maharashtra

Deity Dattatreya is the Principle created from the combination of the Principles of the three main Deities, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. One of His functions is to give momentum to the journey of our deceased ancestors (Pitars) to the next region. Hence, once should chant ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’.

Benefit of chanting ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’:

  • The Pitars getting momentum in their onward journey and reduction in the distress due to them: Many desires of the person attached to materialistic life remain unfulfilled after death. Such unsatisfied subtle bodies get trapped in the region of the dead (Mrutyuloka). Such subtle bodies cannot go to the next region because of their unfulfilled desires. By chanting ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’ Pitars trapped in the Mrutyuloka gain momentum.
  • Creation of a protective sheath: By chanting ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’ a protective sheath is created around the body of the person. Keeping in mind this benefit of chanting ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’, one should do maximum chanting during Pitrupaksha. To avoid the risks of future distress due to unsatisfied Pitars and as spiritual healing for mild distress, chant for one to two hours daily. If the distress is medium, chant for two to four hours daily and if it is severe chant for four to six hours daily.

Similarly to perform the shraddha with Bhav:

  • Put up the Name-strips of ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’ in the room where shraddha ritual is done.
  • Play the audio of the chant ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’ in low volume.
  • Before the shraddha, worship the sattvik picture of Lord Dattatreya and offer arati.

With these actions the obstacles of the negative energies in the ritual of shraddha are removed. The Energy and Chaitanya of Lord Dattatreya is emitted in the venue of the shraddha and the family gets its benefit.

Brahman Bhojan, Agnoukaran & Pindapujan Ritual


1. Preparation for serving the meal at the time of shraddha

The brahmin invited for the place of the deceased ancestors (pitars) in the ritual is seated facing the north. He is called the pitarbrahman. The brahmin invited for the place of Deity in the ritual is seated facing the east. He is called dev-brahman. A small square is marked with water on the ground in front of the Dev-brahman from the northwest to the northeast and the banana leaf is placed on it to offer the meal to him. A circle is marked on the ground with water in front of the pitar-brahman in the same way. Thereafter the meal is served on leaves to the Family Deity, Deities worshipped traditionally in the house, cow, for pindbhojan etc. A sheath of Holy ash (bhasma) is drawn around the leaf to prevent negative energies from creating obstacles in the meal.

The three main aspects of the ritual of shraddha are:

  • Offering oblation in the fire (Agnoukaran). In the Rugved period, pitrupuja was performed by offering the pinda as oblation in the sacrificial fire.
  • Offering meal to the brahmins (Brahman-bhojan)
  • Pindpujan, that is, offering the pinda.

2. Ritual of Agnoukaran in the Mahalaya shraddha

In agnoukaran ritual, ghee is first smeared on the leaves to purify them. The person performing shraddha sits in front of the pitar-brahman, places cooked rice on a small leaf, and puts ghee on it. This heap of rice is parted in two with the help of a darbha. Fire in the form of darbha is installed on the hand. After making two parts of the rice, the person performing shraddha picks up some rice from the center of the rice on the north side in his right hand. He smears it with ghee by his left hand and places it in the hand of the pitar-brahman. This action means, oblation to pitars in the form of Soma, that is, Deity and to fire.

A rule laid down by the Vedas is, The entire world is in the form of fire (Agni) and Soma. In the agnoukaran ritual, by offering oblation of rice in the form of Soma Principle in the fire which is in the form of darbha, the pitars get the essence of food.

3. Serving meal to the brahmins in the Mahalaya shraddha

For this meal, food items are served on a banana leaf in a specific manner. The person performing the shraddha sits in front of the Dev-brahman by placing his folded right knee on the ground and offers the leaf to Vishvedev. Then by holding the right hand of the Dev-brahman, meal is offered to Vishvedev. A prayer is made, ‘Let this food be partaken’ and also, ‘Let the fruit of offering food close to Vishnupad at Gaya ji be acquired.

In the ritual of shraddha, reference to Gaya ji appears many times. The place, Gaya ji is charged with subtle, inferior desire vibrations. Hence, shraddha performed there is more fruitful.

  • The banana leaf is offered to the pitars by placing the bent left knee on the ground in front of the pitar-brahman.
  • The food is offered by holding the hand of the pitar-brahman in a reverse manner.
  • Now the person performing the shraddha says, ‘I have offered you the meal considering you in place of my pitars of this particular lineage (gotra). Please partake it. Let me acquire the fruit similar to food offered at Gaya.
  • Now both the brahmans offer pranahuti.
  • Shlokas should be recited during the meal of brahmans (brahman bhojan).
  • After the meal is over, the person performing the shraddha stands up and asks, ‘Are you satiated?’
  • Brahmans express their agreement. The person performing the shraddha asks, ‘What should be done with the remaining food?’ Brahmins say, ‘Let the family members have it as Holy sacrament (prasad).’

The Moon channel gets activated by sitting with the right knee on the ground. Hence, the person performing the shraddha can easily receive the frequencies of Deities. The Sun channel gets activated by sitting with the left knee on the ground. Sun channel is associated with raja guna. It becomes easier to invoke the pitars with the help of this raja guna. In a way, brahman bhojan is an oblation given in the fire present in the stomachs of the pitars and Deities.

4. How are the pitars in various forms of existence satisfied by the food offered in the ritual of the shraddha ?

For the nourishment of the physical body, gross food is necessary. Deceased ancestors do not have the sheath of the physical body (annamaya-kosh) but have the mental sheath (manomaya-kosh) containing desires. Stomach getting full and becoming satiated are two different things. As per the Science of Spirituality, getting satisfied is associated with the subtle body. The necessary subtle essence of food is carried to the deceased ancestors, in the form of Divine nectar if they are in Deity form of existence, as edibles if they are in the celestial being form of existence and as meat if they are in the form of demons.

5. If a person (Jiva) is already reborn, what is the use of taking his name?

To give the portion offered to the deceased ancestors in the shraddha to the particular subtle body is the responsibility of the Deities of Pitruloka. The mental sheath, that is, the baggage of previous birth accompanies a person. The action addressed to this baggage definitely reaches there. If without any reason we suddenly feel satiated on some day, we can surmise that somewhere our son from the previous birth has performed our shraddha.

6. The Pindapujan of Mahalaya Shraddha

The Pindapujan has been mentioned in the Yajurveda, Brahman, Shrutis and the Gruhya Scriptures. According to Mahabharat, Varahadeva, the incarnation of Sri Vishnu, gave complete information about shraddha to the world. He took out three pindas from His molar tooth and kept in the south direction on a darbha. Proclaiming that ‘these three pindas should be considered as the forms of the father, grandfather and great grandfather’, He performed ritualistic worship of the pindas with sesame seeds.

The remaining portion of the rice meant for Agnaukaran is added along with Tilodak, black sesame seeds, curd, honey and ghee to the rice. Four big pindas and other small pindas are made as per requirement. The big pindas should be of the size of a Bel fruit. The venue is purified with the Tilodak and darbha is spread on it. Darbha is purified. While placing every pinda, the person performing the shraddha says, ‘I am offering the pinda in the name of so-and-so relative of so-and-so name in the form of Vasu or Rudra or Aditya of so-and-so lineage, that is, gotra. It is my faith that I am offering the pinda in Gaya.’

After offering a pinda for those about whom one has definite information, a Dharmapinda is offered. This Dharmapinda is given to the deceased ancestors who are in the Hell region of Asipatravan and Kumbhipak, those whose family lineage has ended and others. Kajal is made by mixing ghee with burnt darbha. The deceased ancestors in the form the pinda are offered kajal, a thread of wool, a flower, a Tulasi leaf, maize, incense, lamp etc. They are then offered Holy sacrament (naivedya), water for drinking, washing hands and cleaning the mouth and a betel leaf for mouth freshness. Now the person performing the shraddha stands, offers barley and black sesame seeds and says, “O my deceased ancestors! I Pray for food and strength for my family and that all should progress. O deceased ancestors! Grace us with wellbeing.’ Thereafter the Pitru-brahman is given Tilodak and the Dev-brahmin Yavodak and water is released on the pinda.

Tilodak is offered on a special pinda made for those deceased ancestors who had died by burning in fire or who died in the womb. The person performing the shraddha asks, ‘Are the Vishvedev appeased ?’ ‘Are the deceased ancestors appeased ?’ After saying, ‘Let all the Deities be appeased and the karma of shraddha be done as per the Scriptures’, the person performing the shraddha pays obeisance. The priests say, ‘’Let the desire of the person performing the shraddha be fulfilled by the grace of Deities and the deceased ancestors’’. Thereafter, the other members of the family pay obeisance to the pindas.

After this, the person performing the Shraddha remembers the seven places that bestow Final Liberation; Ayodhya, Mathura, Gaya, Kashi, Avantika, Dwaraka and Jagannathapuri and places the pindas in a big vessel.

The person performing the shraddha pays obeisance after the conclusion of the ritual. The pindas are immersed in clean flowing water before sunset. Food is served on a leaf outside the house for the crow. In the ritual of tarpan, first tarpan is done for the Vishvedev and thereafter for the deceased ancestors. The person performing the shraddha says, ‘I am offering water, I am offering water, I am offering water in the name of so-and-so relative of so-and-so name in the form of Vasu or Rudra or Aditya of so-and-so lineage, that is, gotra.’ Thereafter for the sake of those born in the family lineage (gotra) who had no sons, a corner of a cloth is dipped in the Tilodak, the cloth is squeezed and water is released.

Subtle experience of the subtle at the time of the pindapujan in a ritual of shraddha: Some pindas are placed at the center of the darbha. Four Dharmapindas are placed in the four corners. Red rays are emitting from the dharmapindas, a symbol of dharmashakti. Yellow spirals of Chaitanya are seen around the pindas of pitars.

7. Options available if one is unable to perform the ritual

If a person is unable to perform this ritual, many options are open to him. If brahmin is not available for brahman bhojan, darbha is used. If performing the ritual is not possible, then merely reciting the ritual with faith is also useful. The person can choose any option. The main objective in clarifying all this is that shraddha must be performed in pitru-paksha. The importance of faith in the ritual of shraddha has been explained in Brahmapurana as:

तस्‍माच्‍छ्राद्धं नरो भवत्‍या

शाकैरपि यथाविधि ।

कुर्वीत श्रद्ध्‌या तस्‍य

कुले कश्‍चिन्‍न सीदति ।।

Meaning: If a person performs shraddha using mere grass but with faith and devotion, then nobody in his family becomes unhappy.

Preparation and the method of Mahalay Shraddha


1. Deities of Shraddha

Our deceased ancestors could be in various forms of being and they need food according to that form of being. Except in the Earth region, food is unavailable in any other subtle region. In the ritual of Mahalaya Shraddha, Vasu, Rudra and Aditya are the presiding Deities of the deceased ancestors. Vasu means desire, Rudra means dissolution and Aditya means Absolute Fire Principle and action. With the combination of the three, the father, grandfather and great grandfather respectively can be liberated.

The mission associated with the presiding Deities of the departed ancestors

Presiding Deity of
the departed ancestors
Associated mission
Vasu Desire
Rudra Dissolution
Aditya Action

During the ritual of Shraddha the Vishvedevs called Pururav-Ardrav and Dhurilochan are also invoked. Vishvedev means the ‘group of Deities which represents the Deities during a sacrificial fire’.

2. When should one perform Mahalaya Shraddha during the Pitrupaksha?

The Mahalay Shraddha is performed on the tithi of the death of the father of the person doing Shraddha during the Pitrupaksha. If the tithi is not known, perform the Shraddha on the no moon day (Amavasya) of the month of Bhadrapad according to the Shaka Samvat and according to Vikram Samvat on the Amavasya of the month of Ashwin.

3. Preparation for the ritual of Mahalaya Shraddha

The person performing the Shraddha and the person invited for the meal to be offered to brahmin should not take meals and avoid physical relations with a woman on the previous night of the day of Shraddha. As far as possible the Shraddha should be performed on the ground floor of the residence. The venue of the Shraddha ritual should be clean.

3.1 Substances required for the Mahalaya Shraddha

First collect the list of substances required for the Mahalaya Shraddha from the ritual booklets or the priest invited for the ritual. As far as possible collect all the instruments one day in advance. The substances essential for this ritual other than the normal substances required for a ritualistic worship are – barley, black sesame seeds, maize and basil leaves. Nowadays, two priests are invited for the ritual. One priest sits facing the north which is the place of the ancestors. The other priest sits facing the east which is the place of Gods. The person performing the Shraddha sits facing the south-east. One more place is made for the priest narrating the ritual.

3.2 Preparation for the person performing Shraddha

Due to various incidents taking place during daily life a black covering is created on our body. From the viewpoint of gaining benefits from the ritual, some religious actions are done before commencing the ritual of Shraddha like wearing the Holy thread, applying the Holy ash, partaking of the five substances, that is, panchagavya, sipping of water, that is, achaman etc.

3.3 Religious actions to be performed before the main ritual

It is essential for the person performing the Shraddha to perform some important religious actions before the actual ritual of Shraddha.

  • The person performing the Shraddha should wear a white dhoti and an upavastra for the ritual.
  • He should commence the ritual with sipping of water, that is, achaman.
  • After this, he should apply Holy ash on the various parts of the body.
  • Thereafter he should hold darbha, that is, a specific type of grass in hand and on various parts of the body.
  • Now he should make a ritualistic narration to God about the time period and the time of the ritual.
  • After this he should make a resolve for the ritual. In Mahalaya he should make a resolve for the Vishvedev called Dhurilochan.
  • After this he should make apasavya, that is, hold the Holy thread on the right shoulder and make a resolve for the ancestors.In this, the person performing the Shraddha says, “I am performing the Shraddha of my father, grandfather and great grandfather who are in the form of Vasu, Rudra and Aditya who are born in so-and-so lineage”. In addition to the three paternal ancestors, in Mahalaya Shraddha a resolve is made for the three maternal ancestors, that is, mother, her father and grandfather as also grandmother and great grand mother, wife, sons on whom the sanskar of Holy thread was performed, daughters, paternal uncles, maternal uncles, brothers, paternal aunts, maternal aunts, sister, father-in-law, mother-in-law, Guru, the one who imparts knowledge, guide and those who are born in the same lineage but have no closer relatives in the world, who are dead.
  • After this, invoke the Holy rivers of Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati etc. and prepare Yavodak, that is, the water mixed with sandalwood paste, flower, Basil leaf, that is, Tulasi, coins, a betel nut and darbha.
  • Similarly prepare Tilodak, that is, the water mixed with black sesame seeds and maize and charge it by reciting mantras.
  • Now he should purify himself by sprinkling the charged water first on himself and thereafter purify the venue of the ritual.

Spiritual importance of ‘Tilodak’: There is charged Tilodak in the copper vessel. Due to it, the momentum of the subtle deceased ancestor-frequencies is increased. Due to this momentum, a whirlpool charged with attraction-energy is created. The subtle body is attracted towards the whirlpool.

To make the Karmakanda of Shraddha ritual successful, the person performing the Shraddha (host) and the venue of the Shraddha are purified with the charged Tilodak. The various religious rituals in Hindu Dharma are spiritual experiments in themselves. Science originated from the science of Spirituality. Hence, this same process happens in science too.

3.4 The welcome of the priest and Annaprokshan

The host of the Shraddha holds in hand a spoon, water pot, darbha and sesame seeds and does circumambulation around the priest. He pays obeisance by prostrating on the ground in the south-east direction. Then placing the Holy thread on the right shoulder he says, “We will keep aside anger, observe celibacy even at the mental level and perform the Shraddha”.
The host says, ‘Let me get the authority today to perform the Shraddha of my father and grandfather’. Thereafter he hands over the darbha to the God-priest. This action is called ‘giving kshan’. Then he gives kshan to the Pitru-priest. Now, in front of the God-priest, the darbha of Yavodak is moved in this manner and a line is drawn with barley. In front of the Pitru-priest, the Tilodak is used first and then black sesame seeds are used. Now circumambulation is done in reverse direction around oneself, that is, from his right to left and the sesame seeds are showered in the eight directions. Then one goes in the kitchen and the charged water is sprinkled on the food. By showering of sesame seeds in the four directions by the host, round circles of frequencies of deceased ancestors are created in the premise. The subtle bodies of the deceased ancestors situated in the premise are attracted to these circles. By doing this ritual the premise gets the form of the region of Pitar.

3.5 Invocation and worship of Vishvedev

Now the Holy thread is placed on the left shoulder and sitting in front of the God-priest a prayer is said, ‘O Vishvedev, the most powerful one ! Please come here and get this ritual done attentively. Now the Holy thread is placed on the right shoulder and sitting in front of the Pitru-priest a prayer is said. Then barley and darbha are placed below the God-priest and a seat is offered to Vishvedev. Two vessels for giving ‘arghya’ are kept in the front and Yavodak and barley are put in it. These vessels are charged with mantra. Now transferring the barley from left hand to right hand, he puts it on the body of the priest, from the feet to the head. The remaining barley he keeps on the ground and gives ‘arghya’ with the right hand. He performs worship with sandalwood paste, flowers, incense stick and a lamp.

3.6 Invocation and worship of the ancestors

  • The host takes the Holy thread on his right shoulder and hands over the sandalwood, maize and a flower to the Pitru-priest. He waves incense stick in an anti-clockwise direction and performs arati with a lamp.
  • The betel nut, darbha and sesame seeds are placed in the hands of the Pitru-priest and with this the rituals of this worship are complete.
  • The host says, “If there is any mistake on my part in the worship, please forgive me.”
  • Water, flower and sesame seeds are put in the vessel kept in front of the Pitru-priest.
  • Placing a hand on the vessel, it is charged with mantra.
  • Now the sesame seeds are put on the body of the Pitru-priest right from the feet to the head.
  • Now ‘arghya’ is offered to the deceased ancestors. After this the host stands in one place and does circumambulation around himself.