Anand Hudli anandhudli at hotmail.com
Wed Sep 14 05:54:55 CDT 2016

On Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 3:13 AM, ravi chandrasekhara via Advaita-l
< advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:
> Pranam to all,
> As Pitru Paksha is approaching, I have some questions. Fortunately as my
parents are alive, I do not need to perform any rituals.
> Questions for Shan Nava (96) dates.
> 1.Is only Tila Tharpana performed ?
Short answer: TilatarpaNa is allowed under certain circumstances instead of
a regular shrAddha.

Long answer:

The dharmasindhu lists the 96 shrAddhas or ShaNNavati shrAddhas as follows.
amAvAsya- 12, yugAdi or kalpAdi- 4, manvAdi- 14, saMkrAnti- 12, vaidhRti
yoga- 12, vyatIpAta yoga- 12, mahAlaya- 15, aShTakA- 5, anvAShTakA- 5, and
pUrvedyu (aShTakA)- 5.

Apart from these, which are nitya shrAddhas, there would be the annual
(pratyAbdika) shrAddhas of parents. Realizing that people may not be able
to do all these shrAddhas, the shAstras have shown leniency in the form of
prAyashcittas. For instance, if one is not able to do the nitya shrAddhas,
the dharmasindhu prescribes, as a prAyashcitta, that one should recite the
Rgvedic mantra, "tvam bhuvaH pratimAnam..." 100 times while standing in

Also, among the 15 mahAlaya shrAddhas that are to be done every tithi in
the mahAlaya paksha, one may opt to skip the first few days and start from
the 5th, 6th, 8th, 10th, or 11th tithis, or even do a "sakRnmahAlaya" which
is a single shrAddha done during the pitRpakSha. This is usually the tithi
of the father, even though he may have passed away in a different month.
For instance, if the father has passed away on Dashami of JyeShTha mAsa,
then the sakRnmahAlaya is to be done on the Dashami of the mahAlaya pakSha,
etc. The exception to this rule is the Chaturdashi tithi of the pitRpakSha,
which is reserved for those who died due to unnatural causes, such as
Shastra (weapons), etc. Those who do sakRnmahAlaya shrAddha should not do
it on the Chaturdashi, but pick another tithi, such the dvAdashi. To this
exception, there is another exception which says that if the father's
annual (prativArShika) ceremony falls on the Chaturdashi of the pitRpakSha,
it has to be done exactly on the Chaturdashi, disregarding the earlier
exception.  Another exception is that if the father's annual ceremony falls
within the pitRpakSha, the sakRnmahAlaya has to be done only after the
annual shrAddha, not before. The extreme case occurs when the father passed
away on mahAlaya amAvAsya itself. In this case, the father's annual
shrAddha must be done on mahAlaya amAvAsya, followed by the sakRnmahAlaya
shrAddha on the same day. The food cooked should be separate for the two
shrAddhas. Since doing two shrAddhas on the same day is not easy for many
people, the shAstras have provided leniency here too. They say the
(sakRn)mahAlaya shrAddha can be done even up to ashvina shukla Panchami or
even up to the entry of the Sun into the VRshcika rAshi, which is
approximately November 15 of every year.

With the exception of sapiNDIkaraNa, mAsika (monthly), annual
(prativArShika),mahAlaya shrAddhas, and the three types of aShTakA
shrAddhas, other nitya shrAddhas may be done according further leniency
provided by the shAstras. Instead of a regular shrAddha, one may do an Ama
shrAddha where uncooked rice, vegetables, etc. are given away to a
brAhamaNa or brAhmaNas so that a meal may be cooked and consumed. If one is
unable to do even this he may do the hiraNyashrAddha where he gives hiraNya
(money/gold) to a Brahmana(s) to enable him to cook a meal and consume it.
Some say the money given should be a multiple (8,4, or 2 times) of the cost
of raw materials for cooking a meal, perhaps to compensate for the labor
involved in the process of buying the materials and preparing meals. Ama
shrAddha is also the preferred choice for grahaNashrAddhas (done during an
eclipse), since no Brahmana would be willing to eat during an
eclipse. There is also provision to do a sAMkalpikashrAddha, where there is
no agnaukaraNa (pANi-homa, to be explained later) and mainly
brAhmaNabhojana, ie. feeding brahmaNas. This type of shrAddha is suitable
for Sankranti, yugAdi, manvAdi, and vRddhi shrAddhas.

Further leniency/concessions/waivers: When suitable brAhmaNas are not
found, darbha grass can be used as a substitute. When both brAhmaNas and
materials for shrAddha are scarce, one may perform a homa of cooked rice
with the paitRsUkta hymn. If one is so poor that he cannot afford to do any
kind of karma, he can fast during the shrAddha day and give a pot filled
with water as dAna to a Brahmana. Or, he may even give grass, or just offer
piNDas to the pitRs. Another option is to have a bath and offer
tila-tarpaNa with darbha grass. Yet another option is to just recite the
shrAddha mantras. Obviously, this option requires the kartA to be
conversant with Vedic mantras related to the shrAddha.

Finally, if one is utterly poor and cannot afford even the basic
necessities of life, he may go to a forest or a wooded area, lift his hands
up high, and say the following simple prayer, confessing his penniless
condition and abject poverty, and effectively asking the pitRs to be
satisfied with his Bhakti rather than anything else:

na me asti vittaM na dhanaM na ca anyat shrAddhopayogi svapitRn nato asmi|
tRpyantu bhaktyA pitarau mayaitau bhujau kRtau vartmani mArutasya ||

I will address the other questions in a separate post.


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