Wednesday, December 06, 2017




{  Special Thanks  to   Brahmasri   Srikanth  Vaadhyar)

Rules of Domestic Observances During Sraadhdhams
1. Please keep self control and celibacy for at least three days per week
in the fortnight in which the Sraadha Tithi falls.
2. Kartha is the one who is to perform the Sraadham
3. Bhoktha is the one on whom the Vishnu or Vishwedevas or Pitrus are
invoked during the ceremony and and are those who partake in the food
offerings receive Pratigraham.
4. Most of the rules of discipline are common for Kartha and Bhoktha
5. Either of the two should not stir out wander on the streets on the day of
6. Either of the two should not eat anything..the Bhoktha after the feast
and the Kartha after taking thePitrusesham (partaking on what is left
behind after feeding of the Bhokthas) on the day of the Sraaddham.
7. To expiate oneself of the sins already committed and make himself
purified before the ceremony , a person may do Kooshmanda Homam
before Sraadham.
8. Kooshmandam does not mean Ilavan or Pooshanikkai here, it is a
9. Kooshmanda homam can mitigate grave sins including the killing of a
foetus by MTP
10. The Kartha should start performing Aupaasanam at least four days
prior to Sraadham.
11. The Sraadha homam is performed in the Aupaasanaagni
12 If the Kartha is a Brahmachari, then it is Samidaadaanagni that is to be
used for oblations
13 The Sraaddham comes in the fortnight Paksham and Thithi on the
Paksham on which the parents of equivalent died.
14 If the Thithi falls on two consecutive days, Sraadha is to be performed
on the day when the Thithi is more spread in
Aparaahnam..the Aparaahnam period during the day is after 18 Nazhika
from Suryodhayam
15 If the Thithi covers two Aparahnams of consecutive days, the day
where the Thithi is having more Naazhika should be the Sraadham day.
16. If the Thithi is spread equally on consecutive days, the Sradham
should be performed on the first day.
17 If two Thithis come in one Souramaasam, the later Thithi is suitable for
18 If Samkramanam falls on the second Thithi during the day, the
Sradham should be performed in the earler thithi in the month.
19 The Aparahnam is the slice of time after 18 Nazhika 18*24 minutes
from sunrise.
20 The Aparahnam will be at about 1-30 in the afternoon.
21 The time period after 15 Naazhika (6 hours from sunrise) is
Kutupakaalam (from about 12-30 after Noon )
22. If there is dosham like Sankramasparsam for both the Thithis coming
in the same month Sraadham shoul be performed in the next month.
23 If there is only a single Thithi in a month we need not consider the
24 If by chance the Thithi does not occur at all in the Souramaasam
(Medam, Edavam etc, ) apply the Chaandramaanamaasam (Saka
maasam) to find a Shudhdha thithi
25 If even that Thithi is not Shuddham perform the Sraadham next month
26 if you are not able to do sraadham on the tithi, you should do
upavasam(starving) on that day and perform the sraadham next day
27 If you forget the Thithi perform the Sraadham on Krishna Ashtami,
Krishna Ekadasi or on Amaavasya
28 If there is an Aasaucham or Pulai, or Seethakam perform the
Sraadham on the day of release of Aasaucham etc.
29 If we divide the day from sunrise to sunset into five equal parts..(about
84 minutes apiece) we would get the forllowing Kaalams in this order
1. Praatah Kaalam
2. Sankavakaalam
3. Maadhyaahnika kaalam
4. Aparaahnam
5 Saayaahnnam
30 If we divide the Maadhyaahnika kaalam into three slices of 28
minitutes apiece, we get
1. Gandharva kaalam
2. Kuthapam
3. Rouhinakaalam.
31 The presence of Douhitra.. the daughters son, Kuthapa kaalam and
black ellu (gingely) are to be preferred.
31 Douhitra is the grandson born through daughter
32 It is beneficial to use black gingely in good quantity in Sraadham
33 The Darbha and black gingely have originated from Varahamoorthy
and hence they will prevent Raakshasaas from causing damage to
34 You should not invite as Bhoktaas two uterine brothers for the same
35 People who have no knowledge of Vedas, or who are sick, should not
be invited to be bokthaas
37 A person whose wife is in menstual periods should not be a Bhoktha
38 A person without wife or son should not be a Bhoktha..this includes
39 If a person has a son he may be invited as Bhoktha even if he has lost
his wife.
40 A person who has been a Bhoktaa in another Sraadham just within
three days prior to this Sraadham should not be invited.
41 The avaricious brahmin who canvasses himself to be recruited as a
Bhokta should never be called.
42 A Yogi, Jnaani, a follower of Samaveda or the son of a daughter are
the best and most preferred invitees.
43 If a person offers to be a Bhoktha in exchange to the promise that you
will go as a Bhokta to his house for another Sraadham it is unwelcome.
44. A brahmin's wife is pregnant for more than three months then he is
ineligible as a bhokta.
45 If a person has lost either of the parents and the Atta Sraadham of that
parent is not over, that brhamin is not to be called as Bhokta.
46 A brahmin who had a haircut or shave in the morning of the Sradham
is unwelcome as a Bhoktha.
47 A Brahmin with leprosy, deformed fingernails, decayed and discoloured
teeth etc should not be called as a bhoktha.
48 The youngest among the Bhoktas should be invoked as Pithru.
49 The elder one should be invoked as Viswedeva.
50 The eldest one as Vishnu if there is a family practice of invoking
Pratyaksha Vishnu also.
51 Those who are affluent should present the Bhoktha with white silk
52 one should present at least two or three sets of soman uthareeyam
according to the family practice.
53 The Soman Uthareeyam or Veshti should be atleast of the same
quality as we usually wear ourselves
54 If one is very poor at least a Yajnopaveetham should be presented in
the place of Veshti
55 The Kartha should start the Sraaddham with a new Poonool
56 The Manthras should be pronounced with the right Swarams
57 There should be no hurry while performing Sraadhdham
58 Generous Dakshnina should be given according to one’s own capacity
59 The most praiseworthy Dakshina is gold.
60 The brahmin in whom Vishnu, Viswedeva or Pithru is invoked should
be treated at par with god.
61 One should never get angry during the sraadhdham
62 For one month prior to Sraadhdham one should not eat cooked food
from hotels or from other houses
63 If this is not possible Paraannam food from other houses etc should
not be taken for at least on Paksham (15 days) or in the least at least for
three days prior to Sraadham
64 The kartha should not apply oil to hair while bath at least for one week
prior to Sradhaam
65 The kartha should not have sexual activity, nor he should sleep in
comfortable bed for the preceding period as above(item 64).
66. For Paraannam or food from the house of others, the house of Guru,
maternal uncle, sister and father in law are not included (the brother is not
mentioned here because brother is never an annyan..sister would include
athai and daughter also)
67 The washing of the Brahmin’s feet should not be done wearing
68 When we have to remove Pavitram, it has to be kept on the side of the
right ear (Pavitram is the round contraption made of Darbha grass and
worn on the ring finger on the right hand during important functions..the
right ear of a brahmin is supposed to contain Ganga)
69 for Visvedeva a square Kolam by water should be made on the
Paadaprakshaalana Paatram as well as the twin plantain leaves arranged
for offer of food.
70 Similar water Kolam for Pithrus is triangular (this is the reason why
elders say don’t draw kolam with water at home usually..this is reserved
for death and Sradhdha ceremonies)
71 The Paadajalam of Visvedeva and Pithrus should not be mixed. Only
Paadajalam of Visvedeva should be used for Prokshanam.
72 The entire sraaddha place should be cleaned with the dung of cow.
73 Only the ankle (kanungaal ) of the brahmins should be washed
74 The upper feet should not be washed
75 The ghee left after Homam should not be used for worshipping the feet
of brahmin, to rinse the leaf for meals or added to the cooked rice offered
as Havyam and Kavyam.
76 The cooking medium should be ghee of cow..oil should be avoided.
77 As we are using black gingely some say gingely oil is permissible for
78 Those who use coconut prefer to use coconut oil also.
79 Some do not use coconut as per the practice in their family
80 Some do not use sesame for frying...again a family tradition.
81 In the matter of cooking for Sraaddham, the practice followed in the
individual family should be strictly followed...sisters, please get notes from
elder ladies in the family on the traditions followed in the Individual family.
Some are of the view that the menu should be same as the one followed
for the Sodhakakumbha Sraddham, immediately after Sapindikaranam.
82 The fresh clothes washed in the morning and dried alone should be
worn while cooking.
83 Every material used for Sraddham should be thoroughly washed,
every utensil thoroughly cleaned before use for cooking for Pithrus
84 even salt and jaggery used should be formally sprinkled with water
85 the persons cooking should have the eligibility to chant panchaakshari
(namassivaaya) and /or astaakshari ( om namo narayanaaya )
86 the persons cooking should be a relative and definitely not a servant
86 Ladies who are expecting the start of menstrual periods should not
venture to cook for sraadham
87 Cooking should not be performed with wet clothes
88 If the wet clothes are spread and shaken in air seven times they are
considered dry
89 If the persons engaged in cooking has to visit the toilet in between she
can enter the kitchen only after a bath.
91 A pregnant or sick lady should not do the cooking for Sraadham
92 Lady should wear madisaar pudavai while cooking..
93 This is controversial..but I record.(just to be faithful to the traditions..
my personal views are of no consequence). a widow retaining her hair
should not cook for sraadham
93 The ladies should not go on talking while preparing food for
sraadham(the most difficult thing, is it not?)
94 The ladies should not cook after taking coffee etc., in exceptional
cases they may take milk of the cow,
95 It is ideal to perform sraadham in one's own house.
96 If it is performed in the house of another person, rent for the space
should be paid beforehand
97 Cook food in new vessels or in vessels which are cleaned with extra
98 No vessels containing even a little iron should ever be used
99 One should not ring a bell or sport Tilaks at the time of Sraadham
100 Some ladies and Karthas wear Vibhoothi Kumkumam etc. it can be
allowed if it is the tradition in the family.
101 While cooking the ladies should not be either laughing or crying
( not let your daughter in laws cry..and vice versa)
102 Cooking should not be done with spread out hair
103 Cooked rice should be prepared after vadikkal and this should be the
last preparation
104 When the rice is served in the plantain leaves it should emit steam
(the rice and not the plantain leaf)
105 The materials suitable for Sraadham.. I give the tamil/malyalam
names because english/botanical names are not relevant..any bilingual
dictionary will give the names in english.... ulundu, karuppu ellu,
gothambu, payaru, paavakkai(paarikkai), chakkai, mankai, mathalam
pazham, kariveppilai, cherunaarangai, vazhappazham,
vazhakkai..monthan kai is preferred, ilandhippazham, nellikkai,
munthiringai, milaku, podalangai, katthirikkai or vazhuthinangai..naadan,
then(honey), ney, vellam(chakkarai) , kadaluppu(sea salt), cows milk,
karunai kizhangu, chembu or cheppankizhangu, jeerakam, elakkai,
avaraikkai, pirandaikkai, pasumthayiru, some use vazhaithandu
106 Apart from these some use Thengai (coconut), Kadugu,
Chakravallikizhangu, Katalai, Ilavan or Pooshanikkai, Vilaampazham,
Milakai(capsicum) also according to family traditions.
107 Prohibited items.. karaamani, kollu, perunkaayam, muringakkai,
inglish kathirikkai, thuvarapparippu, chorakkai.
108 Most important and preferred... then(honey), Chakkappazham,
Ulundu, Naadan vazhuthina (the violet one)
109 For serving you can use silver thattu.. if your use Vazhai ilai in pair,
both the top and tip should be there, no clipping, the narambu behind
should not be torn away..
110 The leaf should be placed with its nuni(tip) on the left.
111. The planatain leaf with its entire contents after the brahmins have
eaten should be placed in a pit on the ground and covered with mud and
stones securely so that stray dogs do not eat the remnanants.
112 In some villages they reserve a deserted well for this purpose.
113 In town areas where there is no space to dig the leaves and remnants
of meals are given to cows. But this is not proper. The Ucchishtam should
never be given to cow. However if this is the only way left what else can
be done?
114 The leaves should be removed before Swastivaachanam.(the
conversation betwee the karta and the boktha as to whether the meals
were good, whether everything was adequate and whether the Bhoktha is
115 After Pindapradhaanam the eating space should be cleaned.
116 Very difficult..the Kartha should not clean his teeth with brushes etc
on the day of Sraadham as well as on the Orikkal day.
117 The Bhokthas or Sraaddha brahmanas should not touch one another.
118 They should not converse with another...they should eat in
silence..mounena bhokthavyam
119. They should indicate whatever they require more through indications
by fingers or gestures.
120 Ghee and Payasam which are served should be eaten in full.
121 The bhoktas should leave behind at least a little of all other things
they eat.
122 They should eat without haste ensuring that they will not get hungry
again in the night.
123 The eight Vasus, 11 Rudras, 12 Aadhityas and 12 Visvededevas are
supposed to be present protecting the sraaddhas. For each Sraadham
one should invoke two Visvedevas..they differ for various sradhas. for
annual sraddha..Puroorava aardhrava, for Mahalaya, Dhuru, Ruchi. for
Naandi, Satya Vasu, for Yagas Kratu, Daksha for Sapindeekaranam Kaala
Kaamuka, for Sannyaasaanga sraadham Saadhu, Kuru
124 The vessel containing material for Arghyam should not be kept open.
125 The Arghya paatram should not be moved from its place.
126 If the Arghya material has been fully used, the material should be
prepared again to the accompaniment of manthras.
127 If a little of the Arghyam material goes waste it can be condoned.
128 The deities of Sraadhdha are the Vasu, the Rudra and the Aaditya.
129 Our forefathers have to remain in their company during their
existence as pithrus, hence Vasu Rudra and Aditya also should be kept
130 The deceased father is in the realm of Vasu the grandfather in the
realm of Rudra and the greatgrandfather in the realm of Aditya.. the lady
counterparts also have the same status. The status may vary according to
the fathers, or the lady's in law in the hierarchy pre-deceasing the juniors..
131 While doing invocation of pithru we have to keep the Yajnopaveetham
in Idam position
132 For invoking devas it should be Valam
133 Darba should be offered to Devas straight.
134 Darba should be offerd to Pitrurs after folding together the tips.
135 Paruppu and ghee for meals should be kept in separate donnai and
kept without touching the main leaf over another piece of leaf.
136 Abhisravanam should be chanted while the brahmins are eating so
that the Rakshasaas are kept at bay..
137 The abishravana manthras are the part of Kathopanishad where
Naachiketaopaakhyanam is described, Ramayanam where the origin of
Ganga is described and other manthras from Vedas and Upanishats.
138 Some brahmins should be invited to perform this Abhisravanam
139 They should be offered Dakshina after the Sraadham
140 Ekodishtam the eleventh day death ceremony, Sapindikaranam the
12 th day ceremony, Maasikam, Anumaasikam, Naandi,
Gayasraadham...for these Abhisravanam is not there.
141 If the remnants of the food from one Bhokta falls inadvertantly on the
leaf of other the two should not touch the other leaves or continue the
meal...they should not raise from the seat.
142 The leaves should be removed, the place cleaned with the dung of
cow and new leaves should be placed and served.
143 The meals can continue after another Parishechanam
144 While brahmanas are eating the fire in the fireplace should not be put
145 If the agni is put out inadvertantly, the Kartha should fast for the day
and do Sraadham again next day.
146 The Vaayasapindam..the morsel of rice for the crow should be
protected at any cost till a crow comes and puts its beak on it.
147 If the people of the fourth caste see this Pindam or if some dogs or
other animals eat it Sraadham should be done once again.( It is
mentioned to record the tradition.. personal views may be different)
148 The repeated Sraddham should be done the next day after fasting on
the day
149 All honours and respects should be offered to Visvedevas first.
150 Washing of hands, Aachamanam, raising after Sraddha meals etc
should be done by the brahmin representing the Pithru first.
151 After Pindapradhaanam one can just put in mouth as prasdam a little
rice left over.
152 That rice is Pithrusesham,,, nothing wrong in eating it,
153 Some people just pick the rice and smell it.
154 The pindams can be left either in Agni or water, especially in a river or
155 If the sraadham is on a Theerthakkarai, the pindams should be left in
the Theertham itself.
156 For Sankalpa Sraadham, Homam, Aavaahanam, Arghyam
Vikiraanna Pinadam etc are not there.
157 Till the Sraadham is concluded the house should not be decorated
with Kolam (Rangoli)
158 Naamam(Thilakam..tiruchoornam, thirumannu), Rudhraksham etc
should not be worn during Sraadham normally. Some family traditions
permit wearing Viboothi Pundram Rudhraaksham etc.
159 The eater of the feast(Bhokta) can chew Vettilai Paakku.
160 Bhoktha should not do any other karma on that day.
161 The Bhoktaa will be eligible for the next Sandhyavandanam only if he
chants at least eleven Gayatris and drinks holy water.
162 If the bhokta is having Aupasanam he should ask someone else to do
it that evening.
163 On that night the Bhokta should not have stree sangamam, he should
not give or take any other presents on that day.
164 He should not do Veda Adhyayanam on that day.
165 Kartha is prohibited from oil bath Streesangamam, haircut receiving
Daskhina or Dhanam etc for the day of Sraaddham and next day also.(on
the earlier day.. orikkal too)
166 On the Sraadha day non dwijas should not be given alms or food.
167 If the crow takes pindam facing east, you will have prosperity.
168 If the pindam is taken by crow facing south, diseases are predicted.
169 If taken facing west, travel is predicted.
170 If taken facing north, the prognosis is danger to life.
171. The indication of directon of biting the Pindam by the crow can be
like a warning.
172 If the Bhokta vomits during sraadham , the ceremony is desecrated.
173 If the Pindam gets broken then also the Sraadham is lost.
174 The kartha can partake in Pithrusesham( the remaining food after
feeding the brahmins in sraadham) even if it is Ekadasi.
175 Doing Sraaddham itself is equivalent to performing the Vrata on
Ekadasi day.
176 The Jnaatis who are empowered to partake in Pithrusesham, should
only smell the food on the Ekadasi day.. they need not eat Pithrusesham.
177 If the Jnaatis do it they will have the blessings of the pithrus and also
the benefits of Ekadasi Vratam.
178 When people die they join the Divinity. So an eligible relative can
partake in the Pitruseham of even youngsters who have predeceased
179 The ladies go to another gothram after marriage, but they are eligible
to partake in the Pithrusesham of their father, mother and brother and
such blood relations.
180 If a lady is a widow, she should not partake in pitrusesham as
mentioned in 179.
181 Even there the pithrusesham of father-in-law, and maternal uncle are
permitted to be taken.
182 After Sraadham many material become Sesham.. but paal, thayiru,
ney, then(honey) do not become Sesham.
183 Vegetables also do not become sesham.
184 Even Jnaatis (after three generation) should not partake in the
Sesham of the Edkodishta Sraadham ( 11th day death ceremony)
185 Jnaatis with only three days of Aasaucham should not usually partake
in Pithrusesham (this will not include Maternal uncle, Athai, Athaan,
Ammanji and their spouses, and Father-in-law and Mother-in-Law for
186 Pare Ahani tarpanam should be performed on the next day of the
187 There is no such Tarpanam when the Sraadham is for the mother
while father is alive.
188 For Sapindeekaranam, Anumaasikam, Naandi, and
Aattashraadhdham there is no Pare Ahani Tarpanam.
189 The Pare Ahani Tarpanam should be performed during the Braahma
Muhurtam of the next day using the Darbhas and ellu( gingely) leftover
after the Sraadham.
190 One should have a bath after performing pare ahani tarpanam..
191 Some are of the opinion that the Kartha should be awake all the night
and in madi conditons so that he can perform the Tarpanam even before
the bath as a continuation of the earlier day's rituals.
192. Some think that the Tarpanam at brahma muhurtam can be done
after a bath.
193 If we have to perform a Tarpanam at Udayam or Saayamkaalam, the
Sandhyavandanam should be performed first and then the Tarpanam.
194 If brothers have partitioned, then the sraaddhams should be done
separately by each. If brothers are not partitioned and still are residing
separately with different cooking, then again multiple Sraadhams should
be performed.
195 Even if there are no assets to be partitioned if brothers are living
together under the same roof partaking food in common then the
sraaddham should be performed together.
196 It is not proper just to stay together on Sraadham day alone and let
the Sraadham be performed by the elder alone.
197 The claim that the younger brothers can simply keep company when
the eldest one performs sraadham would apply only when all the brothers
are living together.
198.Some feel that if they cannot join with the elder brother, the sraadham
performed by them will be ineffective... this is a debatable issue.
199 If father is gone and mother is surviving all the brothers can join
together under the mother's roof and perform Sraadham together.
200 There will not be any displeasure for the Pithrus if the individual sons
perform the sraadham separately.
201 The question raised by some that if a number of sons perform
sraadham separately, where the Pithrus would go is not relevant. The
Pithrus have attained Divinity and therefore they can be present in many
places at the same time.
202 Even in sraadhams performed on the Thithi of ladies, the Homam and
Aahuti is not given to the ladies.
203 The mothers(mother, grandmother, great-grandmother) can be
invoked and can be offered Pindams.
204 The Homam if any is performed in the names of fathers(father,
grandfather and great-grandfather).
205 For Amavasyai Tarpanam there is no invocation(varanam) only
gingely and water are offered. Some perform Darsasraadham also.
206 The ellu should not be taken using the thumb and index finger. It is
considered Raakshasam.
207..Sraadham during Mahaalaya paksham is considred great. The
pithrus who deserve our affection but not our parents(Karunya pithrus) are
offered Tarpanam in Mahalaya Paksham.
208 Such Karunya Pithrus are periyappa, chithappa, elder brother,
younger brother, athai, maternal uncle, periyammai, chithammai, akka
thangaikal, their children, deceased wife, father in law, mother in law,
athimbyaar, maattuppon, brother in law, teacher, master and friend. See
how great our traditions are sometimes..we are given opportunity even to
offer tarpanam to our departed friends and loved relatives.
209 The sraadham is not only to propitiate our pithrus. Many other deities
are also pleased.
210 Homam gives pleasure to Devas.
211 Feast to brahmns give pleasure to other inhabitants of Swargaloka.
212 Offering of pindam pleases the inhabitants of Yamalokam.
213 The annadaanam on that day gives pleasure to the inhabitants of the
214 The leftovers give satisfaction to Pisaachas
215 The vikiraannam gives satisfaction to the inhabitants of Hell.
216 The Pindam offered to the crow pleases our Ajnaatha Pithrus or
unknown relatives who have died.
217 Sraadham is a great sacrifice.
218 The Prasadam of Pithrudevas will give us wealth, further progenies in
the clan, health, knowledge, knowledge of the earlier janmaas, liberation
or mukthi etc.
219 If we do not perform sraadham the Pithrus may curse us.
220 The curse of the Pithrus is very dangerous
221 One has to be very careful not to incur the curse of the Pithrus as
also parents and elders who are alive.
222 Panchagavyam is a mixture for self purification if there is any
apprehension about the purity of the environs.
223 Panchagavyam is also an important ingredient in the Abhishekam for
shiva with Sri Rudram..
224 The sacred nature of panhagavyam is given in this sloka..
yattwagasti gatham paapam dehe thishtathi maamake praasanam
panchagavyasya dahtwagnirivendhanam....
यत् त्वगिस्थगतम् पापं देहे ितष्टित मामके
प्राशनं पञ्चगव्यस्य दह्त्विग्निरवेन्धनं--
whatever sins committed by me are holding fast even to my skin and
bones, may be removed from me on drinking panchagavyam, as though
the lighted fire is burning to ashes all the fuels.
225 The five primary ingredients of panchagavyam are
the milk of the cow,
the curd from cow's milk,
ghee from cow’s milk,
the dung of the cow
and the urine of the this, for dilution water routed through darbha
can be added.
226. The mixture is called panchagavyam because it contains five
ingredients derived from the cow.
214 Varuna resides in the urine of the cow.
227 Agni resides in the cowdung.
228 Vaayu resides in the curd
229 The moon resides in the milk
230 The Sun resides in the ghee.
Panchagavyam has to be taken on the day before Sraaddham.
231 Ladies who has the impurity after delivery should take
Panchagavyam to become free of it.
232 Panchagavyam is a potent medicine.
233 If it is taken for 41 days continuously even a patient of epilepsy will be
relieved of that ailment.
234 There are mantrams for adding each ingredient.
235 The proportion of the mixture is
1.cow's urine 100 gms(one palam)
2. cowdung of the size of a medium thumb
3. 300gms of curd
4. 700 gms of cow's milk
5. 100gms of ghee
and 100 gms of darbha jalam.
236 The milk will remove poverty, curd will provide us with children, cows
urine will remove sins, cowdung will give us health, and ghee will give us
237 All the fourteen worlds are residing in the body of the cow.
238 Mother Laksmi is residing in the cow's hind portion
239 It is a great fortune to have the darshan of a cow in the morning.
240 Gift of a cow is considered to bring the ultimate fortune to the donor.
Shubhamastu.. sree Krishno rakshathu. may Krishna bless us.
(based on Smrithi mukthaphala chandrika and local traditions recorded
and oral)

Friday, October 13, 2017



Vedic Rites to be performed during the Kashi Yatra
The purpose of a Kashi Yatra for most people is the performance of Vedic rites for their
ancestors, and it was the same for us. My in-laws were performing all the rites, and we had
nothing much to do. In fact, we weren’t allowed to accompany them to Gaya at all, as it is
apparently considered inauspicious for those whose parents were alive to see the Akshaya
Vatam and the Vishnu Padam. However, my curiosity about the rituals made me ask a
number of questions which were thankfully answered in detail by two young people- the
manager of the Kanchi Math at Kashi and the vadhyar or pundit who officiated at our rites.
Both of them were extremely helpful, and it is entirely thanks to them that I have been able
to write in such detail about Kashi as well as the surrounding places, even those we did not
visit. At my request, I was given this list of the rites that are traditionally performed during
a Kashi Yatra. I share this with all my readers in the hope that it may be of some use to
them too. I have provided contact numbers of some people there who will be able to
arrange everything for anyone who desires to perform these rituals.
The Vedic rituals are begun at Allahabad. The rituals (even the more extensive ones) take
about half a day (early morning to lunch), so those who wish can take in some sigh seeing
at Allahabad before moving on to Kashi.
Allahabad (Triveni Sangam) (Day 1)
Anugnai (Sankalpam)
Vighneshwara Puja (Prayers to Ganesha)
Prayschitta Sankalpam (atonement for sins committed, knowingly or unknowingly)
Veni Daanam (Women offer a part of their hair to the river praying for the long life of their
husbands. The husband plaits the wife’s hair, decorates it with flowers and cuts off the tip of
the plait and offers it to the river. It is an interesting fact that while hair normally floats on
water, at the Sangam; it immediately sinks to the river bed. Though almost all married
women offer their hair here, there is not a single strand found floating on the river!!!!)
Triveni Sangam Snanam (husband and wife bathe together at the confluence of the 3 rivers,
holding hands. One has to go to the confluence in a boat. A sort of platform has been
erected at the point for the convenience of pilgrims)
Hiranya Shrardham *
Pinda Pradaanam, Kshetra Pindam, Tarpanam **
The rituals at Kashi take place over two days – the first day for the Manikarnika Shrardham
and the second day for the Pancha Teertha Shrardham. Then, one goes to Gaya and
performs the rituals there, and returns to Kashi for the Ganga Puja, Dampati Puja and only
then visits the temples at Kashi.
Kashi (Varanasi)
Day 2
Anugnai (Sankalpam)
Vighneshwara Puja (Prayers to Ganesha
Poorvanga Godaanam ***
Poorvanga Dasa Daanam ***
Naandhi Shrardham *
Vaishnava Shrardham *
Punyaa Vajanam (purification ritual)
Maha Sankalpam
Prayschitta Sankalpam (atonement for sins committed, knowingly or unknowingly)
Pala Daanam ***
Uttaranga Godaanam ***
Manikarnika Teertha Shrardham (Anna roopam / Hiranya roopam)
Day 3
Pancha Teertha Yatra (One has to go in a boat to these 5 Ghats and perform the rituals)
i) Asi Ghat (Haridwar Teertham) – this is where the Asi river merges with the Ganga.
Performing the rites here is believed to give one the fruits of performing the rites at
ii) Dashashwamedha Ghat (Rudra Sarovara Teertham) – this is the place where Brahma
performed 10 Ashwamedha Yagnas, and hence it is considered sacred to perform the rites.
iii) Trilochana Ghat ( Vishnu Paada Udaka Teertham)
iv) Pancha Ganga Ghat ( Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Kirana, Doodhapappa- Sangam);
Bindu Madhava Temple
v) Manikarnika Ghat (Manikarnika Teertham, Chakra Pushkarni Teertham)
Day 5
Ganga Puja (it is a tradition to bring back small sealed containers of water from the Ganges
and distribute it among our near and dear ones. One container is kept at home as it is
considered sacred and one is taken to Rameswaram where it is used to perform Abhishekam
to the lingam. All these containers are kept and prayed to before they are distributed.)
Dampati Puja (Prayers offered to an elderly married couple, invoking them as Vishwanath
and Annapurna)
Uttaranga Dasa Daanam ***
Kala Bhairava Samaradhana (invocation and prayers to Kala Bhairav)
It is advisable to make a day trip to Gaya from Varanasi. The journey takes about 3 hours,
and the roads are extremely good. The general practice is to take a car to Gaya on the
evening of the Pancha Teertha Shrardham at Kashi and stay overnight at the Mutt at Gaya.
The rituals at Gaya are completed by lunchtime, and one can return to Kashi by evening.
Gaya Shrardham (Day 4)
Palguni (Falguni) Teertha Hiranya Shrardham (this is the traditional Shrardham performed
on the banks of any sacred river, here the Falguni.)
Vishnu Paada Hiranya Shrardham †
Akshaya Vata Anna/Hiranya Shrardham †
Akshaya Vata Pinda Pradaanam ** †
Ask Gaya Brahmans if they are satisfied (according to legend, the Brahmins at Gaya are not
easily satisfied and it is a tradition to ask them anyway in an attempt to satisfy them)
Acharya sambhavana (payment of the fees to the pundit)
* Shrardham or performing the Vedic rites to appease one’s forefathers is of two types-
Anna roopam and Hiranya roopam. Anna Shrardham is where a certain number of Brahmins
are invited, and are fed at the completion of the rituals. This is considered equivalent to
feeding one’s ancestors. However, this is quite tedious, and sometimes expensive. Hence
the second option, Hiranya Shrardham, where the Brahmins are fed only symbolically. This
is a quicker and cheaper alternative to the same rituals. At places like Kashi the pundits
offer us the option of choosing which kind of ritual we would like to perform, depending on
our time and budget.
Naandhi and Vaishnava Shrardham refer to the rites for appeasement of one’s ancestors
and the Gods, respectively.
** Pinda pradaanam is the ritual of offering food to three (in case of Gaya, more than that)
generations of our ancestors. Balls of cooked rice and Til (sesame seeds), which are thus
offered are called the pindams.
*** Daanam - Strictly meaning Charity, Daanam refers to the procedure of donating things
to the Brahmins in the name of our ancestors. There is a long list of things that need to be
given, starting from simple things like umbrellas, fans, and mats to more expensive things
made of silver and gold. Among the more auspicious ones is the donation of a cow
(Godaanam) and land, both of which are usually done in symbolic terms. Poorvanga and
Uttaranga Daanam refer to the things needed to be given at the beginning and end of the
rituals respectively, while Dasa Daanam refers to a set of 10 things that need to be
† The Akshaya Vata and the Vishnu Pada are the only two places where one can perform
the Vedic rites not only for our forefathers, but for anyone, family, friends, acquaintances,
whatever caste, religion or community they may belong to… and also for animals, our pets,
abandoned bodies, etc.. This is the uniqueness of Gaya which draws thousands of people
from all parts of India---



For a Vaishnavite the pilgrimage is considered complete with the Sraaddha and related Pitru karyams at Gaya, and it is not mandatory to cover Kasi and Prayaag. For a Smaartha however, a tour to Gaya for performing „Gaya sraaddha‟ is not complete without covering Prayaag (also known as Triveni Sangam) in Allahabad and Varanasi (also called Kasi). As a rule an Iyer therefore undertakes a package tour of all the 3 places.
Sri sarma sastrigal
Sri Sarma Sastrigal
Gaya Sraaddha
Accordingly my program – we being Smaarthas – was modelled on the following lines: Reach Varanasi at 8 am travelling by Ganga Kaveri Express from Chennai Day 1: Visit temples, tour Varanasi and participate in the Ganga Harati at night Day 2: Leave for Prayaag by Road, about 125 km. away, early morning and return to Va-ranasi the same night Day 3: Perform Ganga snana (bathe in the river Ganga) under the Mahasankalpa, do Tirtha Sraaddha etc., at Kasi, leave for Gaya (240 km. away) in the evening by Road and reach in about 7 hrs Day 4: Perform Gaya sraaddha, starting at 7 am and concluding by 5 30 pm, get back to Varanasi by midnight Day 5: Perform Pancha Ganga ghat sraaddha and Dampati puja (worship by a couple), and fly back to Chennai after lunch and reach the same evening
Pilgrims to Gaya can avail themselves of the services of purohits and guides who will help them perform pitru karma as specified. All that is required of the Karta is sincere and steadfast focus on doing the karma. You can in fact experience the awesome power of our pitrus when you under-take a Gaya trip – they make sure that you conduct the entire pilgrimage with comfort and with-out any hitch. The active participation of the karta‟s wife is absolutely essential for the success of a Gaya sraaddha. Generally for proper fulfilment of any vaidika karma the lady of the house has to be totally involved, but this is even more crucial for Gaya pilgrimage. It just won‟t do if the karta decides to undertake the tour – the wife‟s willing cooperation is a must. The benefits to the lady from actively enjoining the efforts of her husband in a Gaya sraaddha are immense: it has far-reaching favourable impact on her health and the well-being of her family. The position allot-ted to women in our Sastras is truly exalted.
Another sine qua non for a satisfactory Gaya sraaddha is total and unquestioning trust that our pitrus exist, albeit in a different form, that we can communicate with them and seek their blessings, and that they are in some respects Godlike and can give us the boons we ask for. Gaya sraad-dha is not to be done out of fear that pitrus will otherwise curse us – no! We have to learn to view them as our friends and facilitators for leading the Brahmin‟s life as ordained, to the extent feasible in today‟s world. We should know and believe that the pitrus will sense our visit to Gaya even as we are packing our bags and will be ready to receive and accept our karmas. The con-tentment of pitrus from our deeds results in an impressive basket of goodies for us – health for the karta and his family, progeny, knowledge and wisdom, and wealth and prosperity.
If my writing of this booklet gives a fresh impetus to persons who are thinking of a trip to Gaya and makes them act on it with anticipation and joy, I shall consider it a job well done.
I pray Almighty to bestow health, happiness and prosperity on everyone.
Sarma Sastrigal []
The very mention of Gaya invokes in us a sense of devotion suffused with pride and excitement. It is every son‟s duty to go to Gaya after the demise of his parents and con-duct Gaya sraaddha. Apart from delighting the pitrus his act bestows eminence on his family as well.
“Jeevator vaakya karanaat,
Pratyaabdam Bhuri bhojanaat,
Gayayaam pinda daanaat,
tribhi: putrasya putrata”
say the Sastras. “When the parents are alive, obey their commands. When they die, perform their annual sraaddha properly. And go to Gaya and offer pindas for them. You can be called a son to your parents only when you do all these three things.” Gaya is in the state of Bihar. It is located on the Kolahaala Mountain in a beautiful place called Champaka. God is ensconced here as Gadaadhara. How many sraaddhas do you have to do at Gaya? As per the sastras you will require at least six days to com-plete all the sraaddhas required of you. But over the years mandatory observances have been reduced to two Hiranya sraaddhas and one Paarvana sraaddha. This is the least one has to do at Gaya.
The modus operandi for this „minimum‟ observance is described below.
1. At Phalguni River: You should go to the Phalguni River and bring the water, and on the banks of the river itself your lady will make the havis, with help from the locals. She will then take out one part of the broth and make 17 pindam-s from it. You will do pinda pradaana of the 17 pindams with sankalpa mantras right there on the banks, and after doing „yataasthana‟ you will give the pindas to the cows there.
2. At Vishnu Paada: This is where you go next, to do pinda pradaana. You may recall that when we do sraaddha at home we chant “Vishnu paadaadi samasta paadeshu dat-tam” at the time of Brahmana bhojana. You literally do this now. You take the remain-der of the havis cooked at Phalguni River and make 64 pindas, and do pinda paradaana with sankalpa mantras. And you have the great fortune of reaching these 64 pindas directly to Vishnu paada (the feet of Mahavishnu), instead of imagining it. The satisfaction you get when you do this is indescribable.
3. Paarvana sraaddha: You may undertake the next part of your observance, the Paarvana sraaddha, in the place in which you are staying. We stayed at Karnataka Bhavan, which offers the facility. You should do a sraaddha with homa, with five Brah-mins present. At the end of the sraaddha again you have to make 64 pindas out of the havis cooked here, and take them to Akshaya Vata.
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Gaya Sraaddha
“you have the great fortune of reaching these 64 pindas directly to Vishnu Paada (the feet of Mahavishnu) instead of imagining it.. The satisfaction you get when you do this is indescribable…”
Vishnu Padam
4. Akshaya Vata: You may recollect that in the course of our annual sraad-dha we say „Akshaya Vata‟ when doing the namaskara (obeisance) at the end of Brahmana bhojana. This is the place to which you now take the pindas made out of the paarvana sraaddha havis. Akshaya Vata is a huge peepul tree and you offer the pindas in the shade of this tree. A speciality of the pinda pradaana here is that 16 of the 64 pindas you offer are for the mother and are referred to as „maatru shodasi’. You can sense an exhilarat-ing, almost supernatural vibration as you enter Akshaya Vata. Another fea-ture of Akshaya Vata is that you can offer pindas not only for your forefa-thers of your Gotra but even others and pray for their journey to pitruloka. This can include your near and distant relatives, friends, even your enemies. So it would be wise to prepare a list of people for whom you would like to do pinda pradaana, note their gotra, sarma nama (the name by which they are supposed to do their Brahmin karmas) etc. and have the particulars ready. It is a matter of great significance that in the Ramayana we are told that Rama and Sita offered pindas for King Dasaratha. You should consider it as nothing short of a divine blessing that you are doing pinda pradaana at such a sanctified spot.
5. A vegetable, a fruit and a leaf: At Akshaya Vata, you usually take a pledge to drop a vegetable, a fruit and a leaf from your diet and not to eat these for the rest of your life. You decide the names and inform a Purohit there, and he will do the sankalpa for you. At the end of the sankalpa you offer a Brahmin there the consecrated water (tirtha), which he takes, con-firming your pledge. When you finish all the foregoing observances you realize that it is far beyond your usual lunch time, and you didn‟t even feel hungry! Now that you have completed this leg of your stipulated rituals, you eat the pitru sesha bhojana (the remainder of the Sraaddha food).
The legend of Gaya:
Gayasura was a great Asura whose powers of tapas (penance) were comparable to those of Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakasipu. The Devas approached Brahma, Siva and Vishnu – in that order – to make him desist from his penance, as they feared he would ask for boons that could be their undoing. Brahma tried to convince them that Gayasura was of a noble mind and would not ask for anything deleterious to their welfare, but their fears remained. They watched with trepidation as Vishnu offered boons to Gayasura. Gayasura asked the Lord: “Make mine the most sanctified, the purest body on this earth, much purer than even those of devas, rishis, mantras and other sanyasis. And anyone who touches me should be cleansed of all his sins and become pure.” He further prayed: “All Gods, with or without form, should be consecrated at this place as long as this Universe exists. This sthala could be named as Gaya, after me. People who come here to do sraaddha and pinda pradaana should get promotion to Brahmaloka af-ter their death, in spite of any sin that they might have committed on the earth.”
Mahavishnu, who had expected Gayasura to ask for mukti (freedom from rebirth) was pleased that he had prayed for something that would benefit the world at large, and gave him the boon. He was wonderstruck at the sacrificing nature of Gayasura‟s boon-seeking. But the Devas realized that the boon would be a double-edged sword, and could do great harm. This was because one key deterrent to wrongdoing is fear of hell, fear of being condemned. If people were to be rid of this fear by the knowledge that anything they do can be absolved with a visit to Gaya, sins would escalate and the very foundation of Creation would be shaken. They approached Vishnu again. Mahavishnu conveyed their view and anxiety to Gayasura and asked him to offer his body for a yaga (penance). Gayasura was delighted to submit to the Lord‟s wishes and lay down across the Madhuban called Champaka aranya, with the Kola-hala Mountain for a pillow. This became what is Gaya today.
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Gaya Sraaddha
“Akshya Vata is a huge peepul tree, one can sense an exhilarating almost supernatural vibration as you enter Akshaya Vata
Akshaya Vata Vriksha
Buddha Gaya: If you have the time and the inclination, do visit Bud-dha Gaya and the Bodhi tree under which Gautam Buddha got his realization. You can also go to the Buddha temple in this place.
Pratyabdika sraaddha and Gaya Sraaddha: A word about this. It is absurd to think that doing Gaya sraaddha exempts you from do-ing pratyabdika sraaddha or the annual ceremonies for your de-parted parents. This is quite contrary to what the sastras say. If you have a stupendous feast at a five-star hotel one day, don‟t you need to eat the next day or for the rest of your life? Sraaddha at Gaya is a very fulfilling ritual, and one should try to do it in one‟s lifetime. But it has no correlation to the pratyabdika sraaddha that you have to do annually. The annual ceremony has to be done, and there is no exception. When you complete the Gaya sraaddha and touring around Gaya, you will find it difficult to leave Gaya, the place re-nowned as „Pitru Kshetra‟. We had to be literally wrenched away, for the second leg of our tour – Kasi, which we reached after midnight, leaving Gaya at 6:30 in the evening.
Prayaag derives its name from a magnificent Yaga conducted in this city by Brahma with three agni‟s (fires) – Aahavaneeyam in the east, Gaarhapatyam in the west and Dakshinaagni is the south. Prayaag, also called „Tretagni Prayaag‟ for this reason, is situated to the west of Ganga, north of Yamuna and south of Akshaya Vata. The Rig Veda accords Prayaag a very special place. Bhagiratha, as we all know, was responsi-ble for bringing Ganga to the earth. Thanks to his prodigious achievement, not only did the pitrus of Bhagiratha but those of countless other human beings since then have been blessed by Ganga Mata. When we read some of the Rig‟s in Rig Veda about Triveni Sangam, or the confluence of Yamuna and Ganga, which generated from the head of Lord Shiva, we can sense the greatness of Prayaag.
Normally pilgrims from south come to Prayaag first after alighting in Allahabad, com-plete the rites here and then proceed to Kasi.However we went to Kasi first and then to Prayaag from Kasi by car, a distance of 3 hours. Prayaag is the confluence or Sangam of not just Ganga and Yamuna, but the river Saraswati also. But to the human eye only Ganga and Yamuna are visible: Saraswati flows as an undercurrent and cannot be seen. Worship together by a couple, is recommended at Prayaag. The man shaves, takes a bath in the Triveni and does Hiranya Sraaddha. After this the couple perform the puja at the Triveni with the assistance of the Panda. The wife personifies her hus-band as Madhava and he accords her the status of Veni, combs and pleats her hair, cuts off an inch at the tail of the pleat and offers it to the Panda with kunkuma, chan-dana and akshata (saffron, sandal and rice pellets), which the Panda offers to the river. While all the other things float, the hair-piece alone gets sucked into the water and dis-appears.
The word Veni has the meaning of Triveni, and it also connotes the plait of hair. And just like Triveni Sangam, where one of the three merging rivers is not seen, one of the three strands of the pleat is not visible – only two strands are seen. This analogy explains the procedure described for the Dampati Puja.
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Gaya Sraaddha
“it is absurd to think that doing Gaya Sraaddha exempts you from doing pratyabdika sraaddha or the annual ceremonies for your departed parents…”
Triveni Sangam
Bathing in Triveni Sangam: This is a memorable experience. Even as we walk on the shore towards the boat we can feel the sanctity of the occasion. The Panda also gets into the boat with us, as the boat takes off in the Yamuna, and does sankalpa (pledge) for us. Vapana or shaving is also a key aspect of the rite, and so the barber travels with us as well. The boat is brought to a halt at the point of the Sangam, and while you see water all around you, the place where your boat is parked is shallow and you can see the sandy floor of the river. The boats are fastened onto wooden poles specially erected for this pur-pose. A platform is also erected on the water, on which you can stand and take bath.
Collecting Ganga Jal (water from Ganga): It is here that you collect Ganga Jal or the water of sacred Ganga and not in Kasi, as some people believe. You get containers of all shapes and sizes here itself, and the shopkeeper seals the container for you after you have filled it. To get Ganga Jal, your boatman takes you a little further into the river after you finish your bath, and you collect the sacred water of Ganga in the receptacle you may have brought. It is believed that after the bath you should discard the dhoti, saree and blouse etc. you had worn.
The legend of Prayaag:
After the 18-day war of Mahabharat Yudhishtra takes a tally of lives lost in the war on either side. When he realizes that along with his brothers he has been responsible for the deaths of countless blood relations of theirs, he is dumbstruck by the enormity of the sin that would accrue to them. He seeks from Markandeya the way for absolution of the sins.
Markandeya tells Yudhishtra that going to Prayaag is the surest – nay, the only way to ab-solve himself and his brothers of the killing of his blood relations. He explains to Yudhishtra that Prayaag is called „Tirtha Rajan‟ because it has the power to remove your ignorance and cleanse you of all your sins, and the mere setting of foot on its soil has the force equal to the conduct of an „Aswamedha Yaga‟.
Accordingly Yudhishtra goes to Prayaag and performs penance as directed, and acquires the power and glory that equip him with the ability to do great Yagas later, including the Ra-jasuya Yaga. He also gets the title of „Dharma Raja‟, or Rightful King.
The poetic beauty of Triveni Sangam:
It is said that Ganga was exuberant when she saw the earth and leapt to the ground right away and started flowing with abandon till she reached Prayaag. At that point Yamuna ac-costed Ganga and implored her to halt awhile and take her along. Ganga refused, saying “I can‟t stop. Do you know what a tremendous job Bhagiratha has had to do to bring me here? I have to finish the duty of absolving and liberating the souls of all my sons. I have no time to wait”.
Yamuna responds: “You don‟t even have to wait. Just let me flow with you”. Again Ganga de-murs, saying “if you flow with me, my name won‟t be singled out for the absolution that I‟m do-ing”. But Yamuna wins her over by saying “I don‟t want my name to be included. Let it all be to your credit. Unlike you, I have come to the earth of my own will and not after being entreated to do so by Bhagiratha. I am the daughter of Sun God, but I seek no glory – I only wish to serve for the benefit of humankind, and in the bargain realize my own life‟s purpose”. Ganga is awed by the selfless and lofty goals of Yamnua and embraces her with sisterly affection.
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Gaya Sraaddha
“it is here (Triveni Sangam) that you collect Ganga Jal or the water of sacred Ganga and not in Kasi, as some people believe..
Bathing @ Triveni Sangam
The indescribable emotional current that passes through them when they embrace is Saraswati, who emerges and tells both Ganga and Yamuna:
“I am the karta, the creator, of this fusion of soul and wit – emotion and intelligence – of you two. Your Sangam or confluence is therefore incomplete without me, and I will also be coming along. It will be Triveni Sangam, the confluence of three rivers. But I will continue to be an undercurrent and shall not be seen.”
Ganga is white in colour, and pure of heart and mind. Yamuna is black in colour being the progeny of Surya, and again of a spotless, pure mind. Saraswati is grand, impressive and colourless. Such a com-bination cannot but be stupendous – and it is no wonder Prayaag is such a holy spot.
Kumbh Mela
The Kumbh Mela is one of the most prestigious happenings at Prayaag. It occurs once in 12 years, the precise date being decided by stellar configuration, and is simultaneously held at Nasik, Hardwar and Ujjain. The legend of Kumbh Mela is interesting.
The legend of Kumbh Mela:
When the celebrated „Amrit Manthan‟ (the stirring of the Sea of Milk to get nectar) took place, the asuras fought with devas and managed to take possession of the pot. Seeing this, Brihaspati or Garuda snatched it from them and flew to Heaven, to get it back to the devas, with asuras in hot pursuit. On the way, a few drops of the nectar fell in these four places, and sanctified the spots immediately. To commemorate the occasion and to celebrate the holiness of these four spots Kumbh Mela is performed. Devout Hindus throng in their millions to take the holy dip on such occasions and seek absolution for their misdoings.
In the Mahabharata, Pulastya Maharishi expounds the beneficial value and powers of a holy dip in Triveni Sangam. Prayaag is referred to in a couple of other places as well.
If you have the time and the inclination, the following spots in Prayaag are worth a visit:
Bharadwaja Ashram Veni Madhava temple Akshaya Vata Adi Sankara temple (Kanchi mutt) Hanuman temple
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Gaya Sraaddha
“..few drops of nectar fell in these four places and sanctified the spots commemorate the occasion and to celebrate the holiness of these four spots Kumbh Mela is performed….
Kumbh Mela
The sacred river Ganga comes to our mind as soon as we say „Kasi‟ or „Varanasi‟. Though Ganga is revered as holy wherever she flows, nowhere is Ganga snana (bathing in the River Ganga) more sacred than at Kasi.
Three Vaidika karmas are preeminent at Kasi:
Ganga snana Tirtha sraaddha Darshan of Annapoorna Visalakshi sameta Viswanatha Swami and of Kala Bhairava
Ganga snana (bathing in the Ganga): There is no limit to the number of times you can take a dip in holy Ganga – and strangely, your yearning for a dip never seems to ebb, to go down: the theory of marginal utility does not work here.
The very first bath in Ganga that you take should be as directed by a priest, as a „pavitra-paani‟ (a person with the Darbha-pavitra on his hand i.e. finger). Subsequent baths can be as many as you want, and there are few rules on how. The craving for a dip in Kasi Ganga of the average devout Hindu is too well-known to need repetition. That is perhaps why, when he or she overcomes many an ordeal to land in Kasi and finally take the bath, the happiness and contentment arising from Ganga snana is incredible.
Witness the power of Ganga Mata, who unites people from all over the nation who speak dif-ferent tongues and are of varied castes and sub-castes with the one common goal of a dip at Kasi, and you get a feel for the command of Kasi as well as Ganga. No one seems to mind the crowd, the filth, the stench, the narrow lanes and by-lanes etc. They have only one thing on their minds while at Kasi – Ganga snana.
Ganga, the perennial river, sanctifies everyone who bathes in it. She absolves you of sins accu-mulated over the years, asking in return for just one thing from you: humility and unquestioning devotion. The mere sight of Ganga gives you peace and tranquillity, helps you find answers for umpteen problems you face in day-to-day life, and – most important – makes you take your first steps in spiritual awakening. Kasi, after all, means light – so here is where you „see the light‟. We took our Ganga snana at Kedar Ghat, collected Ganga water in pots and came to our place of stay to perform Tirtha Sraaddha immediately. This is the recommended routine.
Tirtha Sraaddha: This sraaddha is like any pratyabdika sraaddha (annual death ceremony that we do or deceased parents). Except for a slightly different sankalpa, the procedures are similar. Five Brahmins are invited for the bhojana (eating).
Pancha Ganga Sraaddha: This sraaddha involves pinda pradaana at five ghats while you are in motion – that is, on a boat ride, sitting in the boat itself. On the appointed dates we cook pindam‟s, take and keep them in a boat, and offer 17 pindam‟s at each of the five ghats with pinda pradaana sankalpa. Ubhaya-vamsa tila tarpana has also to be done – this is the tarpana for pitrus of the vamsa‟s of both the husband and wife. Occasionally the placid Ganga gets flooded and the authorities refuse permission for doing the pancha Ganga sraaddha in motion, from the boat. This happened to us, unfortunately. We therefore had to engage a rickshaw, go to each of the ghats and perform the pinda pradaana and tarpana on the shores.
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“your yearning for a dip never seems to ebb, to go down at Ganga, the theory of marginal utility does not work here!!!.
Boat rides on the Ganga: The predominant emotion you have when you go for a boat ride on the Ganga is devotion or bhakti. It is nothing short of a spiritual experience and involves the darshan or viewing of all the 64 ghats slowly, one by one. The boatman takes us to within 100 feet of every single ghat, and the names of all ghats are etched in his memory. It is a ride guaranteed to suffuse you with an exalted feeling. The sights are truly unforgettable – of the temples and other buildings around each ghat, of the hordes of people bathing or praying or otherwise in communion with God.
We started our ride with Asi Ghat and I remember some names: Tulsi, Riwa, Chasing, Anadamayi, Kedar, Tripura Bhairavi, Hanuman, Vijayanagar, Chowki, Kshemeswar, Mansarovar, Narada, Pandya, Munshi, Darbhanga, Ahilya-bai, Seetala, Dasaashwamedha, Prayaag, Manmandir, Mir, Lalita, Manikarnika, Durga, Brahma, Lal, Trilochan, Naya, Raj, Prahlad, Harishchandra....
Manikarnika Ghat: This is a cremation ghat, to which dead bodies are brought, presumably of people dying in Kasi. We do not hear lamentations and sorrowful crying when bodies are received here for cremation: only chants of Rama nama or salutations to Mahadeva. The body is first immersed in the Ganga, and after it dries the paanda does the cremation to the accompaniment of mantras. In a short while the body is reduced to ashes, which are then im-mersed in the Ganga.
Harishchandra Ghat is another such cremation ghat. Despite seeing death and karmas for departed souls all around you, you never feel the heaviness or trepidation that death usually evokes. Instead your mind switches to the philosophical mode, about the inevitability of death and what you can and should do in your lifetime to make sure of a safe passage for your soul after death. This is a truly defining moment in one‟s life.
As you travel across Kasi on the boat along the river, you wonder if it is Ganga that adds piety to Kasi, or it is the other way round. As you debate this within yourself, the truth dawns on you – the two are seamlessly intertwined and the sanctity is a blend that owes as much to Kasi as it does to Ganga Mata. The other striking feature of Kasi, which has been written and argued about endlessly by different people with different personal agendas, is the es-sential purity of the Ganga. The river presents a weird coexistence of the sublime and the earthy: you see scenes of Harati and pious offerings immersed in the river, and at the same time bodies being burnt and ashes immersed, people bathing and washing their dirt into Ganga, and the waste of the town merging into the river.
How can Ganga be then called „pure‟? It is not even clean, let alone pure. My wife instinc-tively asked me this question as a welter of happenings around her. I could offer only one response: with all the impurities dissolving into the waters of Ganga, do we ever hear of anyone being infected as a result of a dip in Ganga? At least I have not. Is that a clinching argument in favour of Ganga‟s chastity? I think so. I don‟t know.
Ganga Haarati: An awesome sight not to be missed by visitors to Kasi is the Ganga Harati celebrated with gaiety and splendour at Manikarnika Ghat at 7 p.m. every evening. This and the performance of Dampati Puja should be definitely on your schedule while in Kasi.
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“as you travel across Kasi on the boat along the river you wounder if it is Ganga that adds piety to Kasi or it is the other way round…”
The legend of Varanasi: River Varuna from the north of Kasi and river Asi from the south merge into the Ganga inside the city, and it is said the city got its name Varanasi as a result, right from Sat Yuga. Kasi is a renowned place of pilgrimage for all Hindus. The Sastras aver that Lord Siva created the city standing atop his Trishul. It is believed that Bhagvan Sankara still lives here, and that anyone dying in Kasi is sure to attain Sivaloka (moksha). There are many who come to Varanasi in the last stage of their lives in the hope that they will breathe their last here and their souls will be liberated for-ever from the cycle of birth and death.
Kasi Viswanatha temple: Kasi, one of the seven „Mukti sthalas‟ in India for Hindus, hosts one of the Jyotirlingas at the imposing Viswanatha temple. The darshan of the temple and Jyotirlinga is a dream come true for every devout Hindu. It is here that you get decisive proof of the unity of our nation in the backdrop of its mas-sive diversity. Young and old, male and female, poor and rich, north and south, educated and illiterate – they all mingle freely here, and are as one before God. You should see the narrow two-way lane that takes you to the temple, called Viswanath Galli. You jostle with one another, make snail‟s progress on important days and at important times, you are subjected to quite a lot of incon-venience – but it simply does not affect you. The anticipation of seeing the Linga when you are going to the temple and the exhilaration of having seen it when you return overshadow all your physical and mental tribulations.
The legend of the temple: The Viswanatha temple you see now is a small one, but the origi-nal temple was a huge edifice. It was razed to the ground and all its wealth and riches looted and taken away in 1193 AD by Qutbuddin, the lieutenant of Mohammed Gori. The Viswanatha linga alone was somehow saved and worshipped secretly for many years. Raja Todarmal built a new temple in 1585 AD and the Linga consecrated, but even this temple was destroyed by Aurangzeb and a mosque constructed in its place. So what we now have is a mosque in the location earlier occupied by the Viswanatha temple. After Aurangzeb left a small temple was built and the Linga was consecrated again, and this is now the Kasi Viswanatha temple we all go to and pray at. The Linga and the temple have lost none of their glory, though: millions of devotees offer devout prayers every day and take away de-vout memories.
Sri Annapoorani temple: Situated towards the south of Viswanatha temple, Sri Annapoorani temple is a must-see for every devotee. Naturally the beautiful Annapoornashtakam com-posed by Sri Adi Sankara comes to our mind when we enter this temple. We start chanting and singing: “Krupavalamba nagari Kasi puraadheeswari / Mata Annapoorneswari bhikshan dehi”. While Jaganmata Annapoorna is resplendent in the bright light, we also get the dar-shan of the golden Annapoorani behind the screen.
Sri Kala Bhairava temple: We have heard of Kasi kayiru (the Kasi thread, a black thread we wear around our wrist). This is sold at this place. The thread is supposed to be worn on the right wrist by men and on the left wrist by women, and is reputed to have powers of dosha-nivrutti‟ or removal of defects in our horoscopes or stellar placements. A Panda who stands there lightly pats us on the back with a peacock feather, and that is said to take care of the defects.
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“...naturally the beautiful Annapoornashtakam composed by Sri Adi Sankara comes to our mind when we enter this temple…”
Goddess Annapurna
Rameswaram visit in the first and the last leg of the tour: A typical Kasi pilgrimage begins with a visit to Rameswaram to offer prayers to the Gods for the forthcoming Kasi yatra. At Rameswaram you take a handful of sand and keep it, for dissolving in Triveni Sangam at Prayaag, in the second leg of your tour. At Prayaag you collect Ganga jal (water from the Ganga) and take it back to Rameswaram in the third and final leg of the pilgrimage for doing abhisheka of Ramanatha Swami. This ancient proc-ess has endured down the ages and is followed even today.
Recommended procedure after returning: On returning from a tour of Prayaag-Gaya-Varanasi or any of these sthala‟s, you may perform a Samaaraadhana followed by Brahmana Bhojana. The puja and archana, replete with Ashtotra chanting in praise of Ganga Mata, Kasi Viswanatha and Bhageerathi, will be a fitting finale to the pilgrim-age. It is at this function that you can also distribute Kasi Kayiru, Kasi Sombu and other memorabilia that you may have bought for your friends and relatives.
Advance planning
For a package tour of Gaya, Kasi and Prayaag, you are well-advised to keep Kasi as the centre-point or hub and decide the place of stay at Kasi well in advance. Similarly, it is important to know the cost options and match option that best fits your budgetary and other constraints. You should keep as little room as possible for on-the-spot deci-sions, because these can prove prohibitively costly.
And please remember the sequence: Prayaag, Gaya and Kasi is the right order in which you should undertake the pilgrimage. And without including the travel days, the minimum time you should set aside for the entire program is five days, preferably six.
Dana materials including Veshti
For the Paarvana Sraaddha at Gaya and Prayaag you may take the dhotis (9x5 ve-shti) to offer to vidhikaas there instead of buying them there, as it could save you quite a penny. You may require 12 dhotis in all. You may also buy and take dana materials like tirtha patra etc. from home if you so wish. For the Dampati Puja at Kasi again, you may want to take the required items – sari and related clothing, metti (ornament for the toes), tirumangalyam (ornament around the neck) and other mangala dravya‟s (pristine articles for good augury) – from home after buying them locally where you live, instead of buying them in Kasi. Some people pay money in lieu of the materials.
Importance of local Purohits
Some devotees take their own Vadhyar (Family sastrigal) along with them for the entire tour, and offer them Acharya Sambhavana on return. This is perfectly in order; but at different places on the tour the karmas have to be carried out only with the local pan-dits/vadhyars at the respective places.
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Gaya Sraaddha
“at Prayaag you collect Ganga Jal and take it back to Rameshwaram in the third and final leg of the pilgrimage for doing Abhiseka of Ramanatha Swami
Ganga Jal
Can be done on any day
Unlike in the case of the Pratyabdika Sraaddha (annual ceremony), tithi or paksha need not be taken into consideration for performing sraaddha at Gaya. We can perform the Pitru karma at Gaya on any day.
Our attitude
As far as possible you should take the rough with the smooth on a typical Gaya-Kasi pilgrimage. There will be plenty of things you will need to outsource to the locals, be it karmas to be done by the Kasi Pandas or Gaya purohits, or tours to be organized by your local contact. And quite possibly some of these may not be turn out as you would have liked. On such occasions, you should take it in your stride and be satisfied with what you got, instead of making a song-and-dance. After all you have travelled all the way for cleansing your dosha‟s, and for attaining the mature wisdom that man proposes and God disposes, and it is His supreme will that shall prevail. So it would be sensible not to add to your dosha‟s by criticising someone or hurting others in the process of yatra.
Less luggage makes travel a pleasure
This dictum is particularly worth emulating for a Gaya tour.
Madi, Aacharam and Kaalam
Like tithi and paksha, which do not matter here, you may have to make exceptions in regard to kala (time), madi (personal sanctity) and aahara (food) as well. None of these are entirely in your control during the trip and so it would be best not to be too finicky. You may end up eating at all kinds of times, or doing pinda pradaana after madhyahni-kam, which you would normally not do.
Remembering and constantly practising two things will make your Gaya-Kasi trip won-derfully satisfying: first, you are in an alien place and so learning and adopting their rules and regulations; and second, where you are not sure of the process, go with your guide‟s directions and in the absence of these, simply listen to your heart and do its bid-ding.
Mangalani Bhavanthu
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Gaya Sraaddha
“you should take it in your stride and be satisfied with what you got, instead of making a son and dance...
CHENNAI 600 024
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S Swaminatha Sarma is now known as Sarma Sastrigal and affectionately ad-dressed as Sarmaji by his friends. He hails from Kumbakonam.
He learnt Veda from his father Brahmasri Srinivasa Sastrigal. Later Sriman Sankarji, his spiritual Guru, guided him to understand our age-old tradition and the fundamentals of our Dharma Sastras.
He considers it his Janmantra Sukrtam, that he had the privilege of having the darshan of all the three Acharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt - Sri Sri Maha Swa-migal, Sri Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal and Sri Sri Vijayendra Saraswati Swamigal - on several occasions and receiving their blessings. He also had the privilege of having the blessings of HH 44th Jeeyar and HH 46th Jeeyar of Sri Ahobila Mutt.
Sarma Sastrigal, now 63, devotes his full time in the noble pursuit of disseminat-ing the knowledge of our scripts. He teaches several groups of interested peo-ple the philosophical, conceptual as well as practical aspects of our scriptures.
He is also a performing Sastrigal and conducts all types of Vaidika Karmas.
“The Great Hindu Tradition” written by this author is a veritable encyclopedia on our Sanatana Dharma. The book, released and blessed by Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati, guides the reader on the what, why and how of our Sastras. Well written, the book demystifies Hindu Philosophies and rituals and presents them in a simple, easy to understand manner.
“Brahmashri Sarma Sastrigal, an ardent devotee of our Srimatam, has written many books in Tamil on the performance of Vedic rituals. His latest book, „The Great Hindu Traidtion‟ in English seems to be an encyclopedia on the rituals of our Sanatana Dharma.
It is observed that he has taken great strain in bringing out this book only to make the younger generation of the Hindu community to realize the intricacies of the Vedic way of life. This book will certainly help us know about our hoary heritage”
- Excerpts from the Srimukham, Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt

Friday, December 02, 2016


List of  0ld  Agraharams  in  Palakkad 

  1. Adityapuram
  1. Alampallam
  1. Ambikapuram
  1. Anicode
  1. Avinjipadam
  1. Ayakaad
  1. Ayalur
  1. Ayilam
  1. Ayilur
  1. Ayyapankavu
 11.  Chandrasekharapuram
12.  Chathapuram
13.  Chembai
14.  Chittoor (Lankeswaram)
15.  Chittoor (Thekke Gramam)
16.  Chittoor (Vadakke Gramam)
17.  Chokkanathapuram
 18.  Elamblassery
19.  Elappulli
20.  Ennappadam
21.  Erumayur
 22.  Govindarajapuram
 23.  Kalpathi (Old)
24.  Kalpathi (New)
25.  Kallur
26.  Kannambra  ?
27.  Kanniampuram
28.  Karimpuzha
29.  Karimassery
30.  Kavassery Mullakkal Gramam
31.  Kavassery Nellithara Gramam
32.  Kavassery Iswara Pattar Gramam
33.  Kavassery Ottupuari Gramam
34.  Kavassery  Kongalakode Gramam
35.  Kavassery  Nanu Pattar Gramam
36.  Kizhakkancheri
37.  Kodumbu
38.  Koduvayur
  1. Kollancode Perumalkoil gramam
  1. Kollancode Pudugramam
  1. Kollancode  Kizhakkegramam
  1. Kongad
  1. Koottalai
  1. Kottayi near Chembai
  1. Kozhimuttam
  1. Kozhindirapalli
  1. Koodallur
  1. Kumarapuram
  1. Kunnisseri
  1. Kuzhalmannam
  1. Lakshminarayanapuram
  1. Manappadam
  1. Manjapra Periya Gramam
  1. Manjapra Chinna Gramam
  1. Mathur (Vadakke gramam)
  1. Mathur (Thekke gramam)
  1. Mangalam (Thekke Gramam)
  1. Mangalam (Vadakke Gramam)
  1. Manjeri
  1. Mekanamkulam
  1. Melarcode Thekke gramam
  1. Melarcode Vadakke gramam
  1. Melarcode  Chathacode
  1. Nelleppalli
  1. Nellisseri
  1. Nemmara (Kannimangalam)
  1. Nemmara (Krishnapuram)
  1. Nemmara (puthugramam)
  1. Nemmara (pazhayagramam)
  1. Nochur
  1. Nurani
  1. Padur Thekke Gramam
  1. Padur Patinjare Gramam
  1. Pallassana (Kizhakke gramam)
  1. Pallassana (Merke gramam)
  1. Pallavur
  1. Pallipuram
  1. Pallanchathanur
  1. Panamgattiri
  1. Parakulam (Kizhakke Gramam)
  1. Parakulam (Patinjare Gramam)
  1. Payyalur
  1. Pazhampalacode
  1. Perumkulam Thekke Gramam
  1. Perumkulam Varadarajapermal Theru
  1. Peruvamba Kizhakke Gramam
  1. Peruvamba Valeswaram Gramam
  1. Pirayiri
  1. Puducode (Kizhakke Gramam)
  1. Puducode (Thekke Gramam)
  1. Puthucode (Merke Gramam)
  1. Puducode (Vadakke Gramam
  1. Ramanathapuram
  1. Rishinaradamangalam
  1. Sekharipuram
  1. Tharakad
  1. Thathamangalam (Kizhakke gramam)
  1. Thathamangalam (Merke gramam)
  1. Thathamangalam (Thekke gramam)
100.   Thenkurissi
101.   Thennilapuram
102.   Thirunellai
103.   Thondukulam
104.   Thrithamarai
 105.   Vadakkanthara
106.   Vadakkancheri
107.   Vadavannur
108.   Vandazhi
109.   Vellinezhi
110.   Vengasseri
111.   Venkateswarapuram
112.   Vettaikkorumakankavu
113.   Vilayannur
114.   Vydianathapuram


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