[Advaita-l] Shraaddha for Sannyasis

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Sep 30 02:30:30 CDT 2011

On the topic of 'Shraaddha for Sannyasin-s' here are some inputs:

On the eve of taking formal sannyasa the person performs what is known as
'Atma-shrAddha'.  This marks his complete disassociating from any familial
relationships absolving any kith and kin from the duty to later perform
shrAddha for him.

Yet, upon the person's death, the 'duty-bound' son or brother may,
optionally, perform a shrAddha for the departed sannyasi with an optional
'ArAdhana' function.  This is the practice that is seen in the South Indian
smArta sampradaya at present.

When HH the Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha SwaminaH shed His mortal coil
in Sept.1989, the Sringeri Mutt invited His pUrvaashrama brother Sri
Ramanatha Sastry to Sringeri to take part in the obsequies ceremonies.
Later, Sri Sastry would perform a shrAddha for his own satisfaction at his
residence.  The Mutt, as its practice is, performs a three-day ArAdhana to
mark the occasion every year.  Sixteen brahmins are commissioned to
officiate, naming each of them with 12 nAma-s of Lord VishNu and four of
them will be 'nominated' the guru, paramaguru, parameShThi guru and parApara
guru.  These sixteen will be formally honoured with pAda prakShAlanam and
pUja and given vastrams and fed a ceremonial bhojanam.  Later they are
'worshipped' by pradakShiNa and all the assembled devotees take tirtham,
akshata and prasadam from them.

Such ArAdhana is performed in any number of locations for the same
sannyasi.  Even private functions take place in houses devoted to the
respective sannyasi.  Just last week a person peformed this aradhana for
Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati SwaminaH at her residence.  I am told
that she has been doing this for over 30 years.

A close friend of mine whose father took sannyasa performs the
shraaddha-aaradhana dual ceremony at the samadhi site in a distant village
in Tamilnadu.  The first day is a regular shrAddha like it is done for
anyone else.  The second day is an aradhana on the lines explained above,
with the number of officiating brahmins varying: 4 or 6 or 8.

Another person whose unmarried brother was a sannyasi performs just the
aradhana annually, yathAshakti.

>From these and many other instances we conclude that though the shraaddha is
not imperative for a sannyasi, out of their own feeling of
devotion/gratitude the pUrvaashrama relatives/disciples/devotees may perform
some or the other ritual commemorating the life and death of the departed

As an aside, even with respect to non-sannyasins, the shrAddha is a ceremony
behooving upon the kartA to express his devotion/gratitude to the departed
soul.  Here is an excerpt from the book 'Crest Jewel of Yogis' Part 1, p.60:

// ParamacharyaL (Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekhara Bharati SwaminaH) explained
(to the celibate Sri Srinivasa Sastry as He was known before sannyasa after
which He was christened Sri Abhinava VidyAteertha SwaminaH):

Shraaddham is an obligatory duty which yields mental purification to the
performer.  He emphasised that the ancestors do not sustain themselves
exclusively on the Pindam that is offered during the shraaddham ceremony.
He went on to add that many of the stories, encountered in texts like the
Mahabharata, about the essentiality of offspring are not meant for advanced
spiritual aspirants who have strong dispassion.  //

Om Tat Sat

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