Prayers and types of the Shradh Ritual



1. The prayers offered during shradh ritual

‘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 shradh 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

shradh when obstacles of purity-impurity are faced

  • If there is impurity due to birth or death in the family on the day of the shradh, then after its completion consumepanchgavya, change the Holy thread and do shradh. Alternatively, perform shradh ritual on the first no moon day after the impurity is over.
  • After commencing the shradh ritual 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 shradh. If it happens in the house, then stop the shradh and only after the observance of impurity is completed, do the shradh again.
  • If the wife of the one who performs the shradh ritual has menses, then Mahayala can be done any time after those five days. When the lady performing the shradh ritual has menses then no regulations need to be followed.
  • If the shradh falls on Ekadashi, then the person performing the shradh should merely smell the meal of the shradh 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 HinduDharma. The second is that women can also perform shradh.

3. The effects of the shradh 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 shradh ritual, the blessings of the brahmins, the good wishes of the relatives and pindadan 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 performshraddha: For many years shradh ritual 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. – Master Advait Menon, Goa.

4. Types of shradh performed in Pitrupaksha

4.1 Importance of Bharani shradh

        Performing shradh on the chaturthi or panchami on the Bharani asterism in the Pitrupaksha has a special importance. If possible doing the shradh ritual 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 shradh 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 shradh on this tithi, the desire-frequencies on Earth associated with this asterism are activated. Due to this, the place of shradh becomes akin to that in Gaya. In the ritual of shradh 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 shradh is performed on the tithi of Navami ofPitrupaksha. So this Navami is called ‘Avidhawa Navami’.

Method of performing the shradh ritual of a dead married woman on Avidhawa Navami: The shradh 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 ofPitrupaksha, the shradh 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 shradh on any day of the entire year, it is very essential that a shradh 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 shradh ritual 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 3rdDecember 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 shradh by Sanatan Sanstha, we performed the shradh ritual at our house on 11th October 2007 on the day ofSarvapitri 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 shradh ritual, our financial problems reduced. Due to this spiritual experience, I understood the importance of the shradh ritual and my faith in it increased. – Mr. Anil Korgaokar, Maharashtra

It is clear that by performing shradh the difficulties are solved. Due to this the person also benefits in his after life. For this reason,shradh has been recommended in the religious Scriptures. Instead of shradh, 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.

Source: Hindu Janajagruti Samiti