Shraadh – A commemoration for the departed souls

Jyotikar Pattni - Sunday October 10th 2006 ©

“Hands and minds that help another without a selfish motive are greater than lips and voices that pray without divine intentions. One must earn one’s true efforts. However, one must realise that sometimes, one can only give and expect nothing back in return. When one does something helpful to another everyday for which one does not get paid nor rewarded, it is that particular deed that wipes the slat of one’s collective karma. Our human karma is the reason and cause for every single suffering or happiness we encounter. To do a kind and generous deed without any expectation in return is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life because in return we have helped our own soul divine and our own hearts to attain fuller joy, the larger spiritual delight of many lights!”  - Jyotikar Pattni

The Vedic wisdom never ceases to call upon the three worlds all together in a communion of grand congress of prayer mode. Essentially when we pray in the evenings or light deepam jyott towards the night sky, we invoke the three worlds at the dusk - ‘samndhya vandana’ when two hands of the clock merge to meet at the number 6. Some of us believe that when two hands merge together on the clock on the numerical 6, we must not leave the house, or we must not be inbetween an entrance door, or we must not commence eating, or we must not begin any happy occasion. The same applies to when the two hands of the clock meet at the numerical 12. As such these are kaal yogs or times and if one observes closely one might understand why our forefathers whom we refer to as our “Pittarah” – collective ancestry always use to tell us never to part when the two hands of the clock are together on numerical 6 in particular. The ancient counsel from our forefathers hold such divine truths and such divinity in their words that we tend to follow them even today in the modern world that is filled with noise, chaos, haste, conflict, camouflage and epiphanies. We call these in variety of connotations like for example; family traditions and family values, family culture and family ethos, family ethics and family morals, and, family beliefs, rites, rituals and customs.

The month of Bhadrapad (Bhadarvo), falling around September is considered the time when the celestial world is at semi conscious sleeping mode or dream state rest and the spiritual world is wide awake and watchful. Its second half of the month the fifteen days of the dark cycle of the moon (Krishnapaksha-vad) are considered the days of giving homage to the spiritual world whereat all our departed souls have transmigrated and to give peace to the spiritual world. The spiritual world ‘param-swarga-dham’ is the space between the ether eternal sky the celestial divinity ‘eishwaar-dham’ (and the terrestrial earth - “manushya bhoomi”. Our Vedic science has boon of great divine spirituality upon the constellations of the stars and the specific conditions and circumstances resulting from the position of the planets and the cosmic sky altogether. Hence, the Vedic wisdom encapsulates science and spiritualism combined together in divine integration of cosmic astronomy.

Shraadh is a ritualistic custom unique to the Vedic religion. The ‘Sannattan-Hindu’ scriptures which include the Vedas and the Puranas (anthologies) like the Agni puran, Garud puran, Vayu puran etc. explain the significance of “shradh”, for whom it should be performed, who performs it, when and how it should be done. It is believed that when one performs the rituals of “shraadh”, the soul of the dead relative is appeased and it attains moksha. This rite should be performed for ones own parents, grand parents from either mother’s side or father’s side, great grandparents, step mother, father and also wife, son, daughter, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, parents-in-law, teachers, guru, any relative or friend who does not have any body to perform this ritual. Shraadh is a ritual performed in memory of dead near and dear ones such as mother, father, son, daughter, etc. wherein an offering is made in the form of “pind” (round balls made of either jaggery and flour or five different things) and together with water milk and “panchamrutt” and water in small quantities and these are offered to the flowing water lighting a deepam and offering flowers and reciting prayers to the DUSK SUN - SURYA-NARAYANAYAH. Gifts are given in the form of money and clothes to the pundit who helps to perform the rite and a particular type of food is prepared and offered to the “Brahman” pundit who represents the departed soul. It is believed that by fulfilling the hunger of the “Brahman” devata, the departed soul is also satiated (‘truptt’).  

Among the Hindus, the shraadh is a religious ceremony, often performed annually, in propitiation of  departed ancestors who are technically known as pitrus, the word shraadh, according to sage Pulastya, is derived as follows: "Shraadhaya deyathe yasmath sraddam ithyabhidheeyathee”: i.e., that which is performed with great faith. The faith referred to here is the faith in the Vedas, whose dictates are taken as incontrovertible and which enjoin its performance as a duty. It is interesting to note that shraadh or spiritual faith, and medha or intelligence, are actually sanctified in the Vedas.  Among the important items of a shraadh are the argya (water oblation); hommamm/ havana (fire-offering), the feeding of Brahmins - pinda dana, vikira dakshina- offering of money and tarpana – offering of mantras.

Holy Brahmins are fed in a worshipful manner, after invoking of them the souls of the departed ancestors of three generations identified with vasus, rudra and adithya, on the paternal or maternal side, as the case may be. The pitrus; who live in the pitru-loka in the form of spirits, are fetched into the shraadh venue by the vishvedevas or the universal soul. The darbha or kusa grass and til sesame are two significant materials used in the performance of shraadh. The padmapurana states that the kusa grass and black til sprang from the body of Vishnu. Aswalayana Gruhya sutra points out that the essence of waters became darbha, alluding to a Vedic story. Since Vishnu in anathema to evil spirits, the use of til prevents shraadh offering from being pilfered by them. Use of kusa, being the essence of all holy waters, makes the whole rite holy and pure in divine intentions. Silver vessels for argya and pinda in sraddaa are highly recommended because, the ancient pitrus milked svadha in a silver vessel and they are highly pleased with the sight, use and gift of such vessels. The shraadh became an important limb of Hindu religious life. Shradh is performed every year on the anniversary of the death of the person as per the Hindu Calendar (Panchang). Mahalaya shradh is performed during a fortnight called as the “Sarvah-Pitruh Bhadra-paksha” in the month of Ashwin of the Hindu Vikram samvat. This year this period falls between 8th September 2006 and 22nd September 2006. Shraadh rites and rituals can be performed on every New Moon day or “Amavassya” (this year being 22nd September 2006). According the Ved-puranas (ancient anthologies of the Vedas), it is best to observe the last five days from ekadashi to amavassya.

Shraadh ritual usually performed at the flowing river and best performed with the dusk sun albeit it may be performed at the sunrise or dawn equally. I personally recommend the dusk for the ritual:

Take flowers, akshat, black til, jav, and coins in the palm of your right hand. With your left hand pour water on the right palm, remember the deceased in whose honour you are performing this rite and then remember all the deceased relations. After chanting the following mantra put all the things on your palm into a bowl. Bring to your mind all the forms of Gods and chant the mantras:

Vishnavay swaha times three

Brahmane swaha times three

Rudraya Swaha times three

Sarva Devebhyo swaha times three

Again take flowers, akshat, black til and jav in your right hand. Request the rishis and sages to be present and then pour water over your right palm and put all the items in your palm into the bowl while saying the following mantra: Bring to your mind the rishis and the sages and chant the mantras:

Vasishtahaya swaha three times

Angiraya swaha three times

Bharadwajaya swaha three times

Sarva Rishibhyo swaha three times

Saptarishibhyo swaha three times

Again take flowers, akshat, black til and jav in your right hand. Request the Yamaraj to be present and then pour water over your right palm and put all the items in your palm into the bowl while saying the following mantra. Bring to your mind the Court of The Yamaraj and chant the mantra:

Yamarajaya swaha three times

Chitraguptaya swaha three times

Dharmarajaya swaha three times

Again take flowers, akshat, black til and jav in your right hand. Say:

Iti-deena/divasa, yog cha tithi – time, date and year etc. mama (I) pitru shraadh pujan karishyasa, iti shraadh idamnam-mama niswarth cha pavitra bhavana prarambha-sankalpa karashyasa mama kutumbh-pitru svargwasi ya nama– name of the departed soul, shree krishna arpanamastuteh.  Say “ this day (the year, month, paksha and date according to the Hindu Calendar e.g.Vikram samwat 2062, Ashwin maas, Krishna paksha, Ekam/Dwitiya....) I, (your name), son of (your father’s name and surname), gotra (your gotra), whose nakshattara is ……, do hereby undertake to perform the ritual of Shraddha for my (Father/Mother/ Grandfather/ Grandmother/ Great grandfather / mother), (Say aloud the name of the concerned person). Bring to your mind the deceased souls and forefathers and chant the mantra:

“Aum mata-pita swadhanamah”

“Aum Pitribhyah swadhayibhyah swadhanamah" (recently departed)

“Aum Pitamahebhayah swadhayibhyah swadhanamah" - grandparents

“Aum Prapitamahebhyah swadhayibhyah swadhanam" - great grand parents.

"Aum Akshanna pitaro meemdantah pitaroti tripant pitarah shundh-dhwam, Aum Sarvah-Pitarebhyah swadhayibhyah namah"

Take in five small plates, small portions of all the food that has been made and offer one portion each to the fire (agni devata), cow, dog, creatures of the water (fish) and creatures with wings (birds- crows in particular).

The person/persons whom you have invited to represent the deceased should now be asked to partake of the meal and his/their hunger should be satiated completely.

Then recite the following mantra three times:


Aum sarvah pittarih swadha swadha swadha

Aum shantih shantih shantih

Tarpana should be performed facing the Southern western direction, reciting the following mantras and offering water panchamrutt and water after the words Swadhaa:









(Yajur Veda Ch:39 V .10-13)

Aum shree krishna sharannam mama (11 times)

Muktee-shanti-sarvah pitarih mama dehih. Aum Pita swargah – pita dharmah – pitahi paramam tapah pitari pritiimapanney priyantey sarva debatah.

Aum shree Ram sharannam mama (11 times)

Aum yaam medham devganah pitarasche upasate, taya mamadya medhayagne medhavinam kuru. Aum shantih shantih shantih. Aum pitaribhyah sadhayibhyah swadha namah; Pita-mahebhyah swadha namah----Prapitamahebhyah swadhayibhyah namah. "Aum Akshanna pitaro meemdantah pitaroti tripant pitarah shundh-dhwam, Aum Sarvah-Pitarebhyah swadhayibhyah namah"

Aum sarvah pitarih shantih shantih shantih.

Aum sarve pitaribhyoh swadhayibhyah swadha

Aum shree krishnaye arpanaam, Aum shree Brahman arpanaam

Aum bhur bhuvah svah Aum Tat Savitur Varenyam Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi Dhiyo Yo Naha Prachodaya. Aum Tat Sat swaha.

Aum Tat Sat.<!--mstheme-->


“Let us all together realise that we are different rivers, with different names, dissolving in time, elapsing in time, to loose our names, forms, and identities to merge in all together grand ocean of seven seas. Our destiny is one therefore and no other divine truth can supersede this truth. If this being so, how could our mother and our father be different? How did we manage to create so much conflict and confusion over time that we even have lack of religion in religion itself. All said and done, truth is one. Truth does not have two meanings. If truth is being interpreted in more than one meaning, than that is no more truth, it is dualism and in dualism GOD cannot manifest. Sattyam ekam – Eishwaar Ekam – Ekam Aum- only one truth and only one god – the grand cosmic spirit of Purusha-Param_Atman_Jagadish_Hari – the supreme divine God who resides in every soul divine alike. If we remove the so called institutional religions and the so called political religions and just for one moment all together congress to worship the cosmic religion for the purpose of creating a divine vibration of universal divine delight of many lights put together, we will realise beyond the shadow of the doubts that the real truth is one – that which is HUMANITY. Satt-Dharma is essentially righteousness of intent, righteousness of speech, righteousness of karma, righteousness of reflections, righteousness of chitt (vichaar) and righteousness of livelihood – ie.; to live a life of honesty, truthfulness, sincerity, humanity, compassion, love, and above all righteous self-respect. When we condemn or even deliberate the integrity, self-respect and purity of another with a selfish personal purpose of building up empirical empire if “ISM” or missions, we fail to firstly be honest to our own soul divine and secondly we fail to generate truth to the others because to our own soul divine we have cheated! Dada, Bapu, and all great Indian forefathers used to say the same thing.

Who is right? Who is wrong? We constantly make divisions and segregations out of the truth – universal righteousness - “SATT-DHARMAH”. In dividing ‘satt-dharma’ the one religion of mankind (manushya-jati) that was based upon the cosmic laws of karma and cosmological science and cosmic astrology, we have, as mankind collectively over the history created so many man made religions, cults and so many sects. We continue to create more missions, more umbrellas and more individualism out of manas and budhi (mind and intellect), aham (ego), ichas (desires), yet hypocritically condemn the ways of one another by enacting and giving birth to man made rules and regulations to build monumental religious institutions all of which render political policies. Each of the individually created religious institutions embodied with the highest commercial propagandas and the most sophisticated charity formulations have geared to render us with more confusion, more chaos and more conflicts. These major man made religious institutions operate upon highest political hierarchies and run worldwide projects all of which are commercial. People become followers of one religious institution and condemn others. For example ISKCON will hypocritically dissect the Swami-Narayana mission, Chinmaya Mission and vice versa.

The Jains and Buddhists will disown all forms of sectarianism idolism and cultism, and sub divisions of religions and believe that our own atman is our own param guru and the homage to our forefathers render us with much comfort to follow our righteous guru. Guru like Buddha and Maha-Veer are rare to find as both teach us to stop identifying our spirituality to religious institutions and man made ideologies of institutional missions. The main purport of abolishing differences and differentiations those which collectively create such humongous cultural differences between one Indian and another Indian is to begin afresh a clean slat with a clean purpose – “SATT-DHARMA”. Let us therefore learn all together from the history and our forefathers that our ancient wisdom and our ancient wise counsel emanating from our forefathers are not just antique words of wisdom but divine truth that we have somehow forgotten to remember and to cherish! Gandhiji use to say that it is better to be doing something in kindness, something in love, something to make earth happy and someone to smile than to be praying with mind wondering in million directions. This beautiful truth is so divine.

We are all journeying in the passage of time and each of our footsteps manifest only once. No one progressive journey in the passage of time can ever be repeated. If therefore, there be any kindness, any humanity, then let us show it now and here. For any good thing, any good deed, any good thought we can do for another here and now, let us offer it now for this time shall not come back to us, this time shall not repeat itself. If someone listens, or stretches out a hand or whispers a word of encouragement or attempts to understand a lonely person, then extra ordinary things do happen – this is dharma- this is param-dharma or eternally supreme religion. Not the strategies and management filled propagandas that sell packages to companies and make money at the expense of the mass poor, the mass ignorant and the mass confused. Compared to what we ought to be, we are considerably only half awake. We are making use of only a small part of our physical and mental resources. We habitually fail to utilise our true divine faculties and no matter what the level of our abilities we have more potential greater hope and much much greater divinity in each one of us to develop in a lifetime. Only we need take the first step towards our own soul divine. There is only one corner of the universe whereat one can be certain of improving and illuminating in fullest and that is one’s own soul divine spirit of life. Our greatest obligation is towards our own soul. If we deprive our own souls of the truth, by ushering and intellectually bringing ideological infrastructures of institutional religions, we have not only cheated others but we have cheated our own souls! Our biggest dilemma is that we constantly compare ourselves with others and in doing so create inferiority and superiority and yet we continue to form strategies, life coaching packages, and game plans and maps to manage human sorrow, human success, humanity and much more. We give various names and when one becomes successful; we give them brand names and patent rights and make them more important. Truly, one’s success is not in comparison to another but to one’s own divine accomplishments and one’s own divine capabilities. Each soul divine can give the best one can with all one has to the best of one’s divine capabilities and divine intentions.

From all the departed souls, each one of whom have given a ray of light to this earth upon their departure; let us altogether learn divine lessons from all those whom we have lost to the spiritual world.

The grief of hurt cannot be understood by strategies or management and if one tells another that there are management techniques and strategies to manage the grief of sorrow then firstly this person is the grandest hypocrite and secondly it is the grandest lie or false or untruth.

Grief of hurt can only be self-realised in time through one’s own divine experiences and one’s one divinity.

One does not need strategies to be simple and to laugh and to be lovingly compassionate and to be humane. One does not need game plans to plan when to respect others and when to win or earn the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of spontaneous children. One does not need powerful institutional umbrellas and powerful religious institutions to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. One does not need strategies to appreciate beauty, to become beautiful, and to envision divine beauty. One does not need rules to find the best in others and to infer the best in others. One does not need guidelines to leave the world a little bit better place of habitation, whether a healthier child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition. One does not require missions and mission statements to know that one life breathed easier because another better human being lived to create hope, light and happiness. To give happiness and wish for happiness upon others as if one is part of all is to have become truthful, honest and sincerely successful in all. So, the bridge between the spiritual world and the terrestrial world albeit unseen is a very short distance. We need only remember our forefathers and our great forefathers who upheld righteously our family traditions, our family values and our family culture and customs. Freedom entails total fearlessness and total fearlessness manifests in a social environment that is happy, with happy families and happy homes. Our homes therefore are the places of worship, traditions and family values.

This article is dedicated to all the departed souls. May everyone’s soul divine whom we dearly and divinely loved; and; whom we cherish in our hearts innately in spirit, rest in eternal peace. AUM SHANTIH SHANTIH SHANTIH

Jaya Shree Rama                                                                            

Jyotikar Pattni © September 10th 2006.