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The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, [1840], at

p. 325


What Brahmans are to be entertained at Śráddhas. Different prayers to be recited. Offerings of food to be presented to deceased ancestors.

AURVA proceeded.--"Hear next, oh prince, what description of Brahman should be fed at ancestral ceremonies. he should be one studied in various triplets of the Rich and Yajur Vedas 1; one who is acquainted with the six supplementary sciences of the Vedas 2; one who understands the Vedas; one who practises the duties they enjoin 3; one who exercises penance; a chanter of the principal Sáma-veda 4, an officiating priest, a sister's son, a daughter's son, a son-in-law, a father-in-law, a maternal uncle, an ascetic, a Brahman who maintains the five fires, a pupil, a kinsman; one who reverences his parents. A man should first employ the Brahmans first specified in the principal obsequial

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rite; and the others (commencing with the ministering priest) in the subsidiary ceremonies instituted to gratify his ancestors.

"A false friend, a man with ugly nails or black teeth, a ravisher, a Brahman who neglects the service of fire and sacred study, a vender of the Soma plant, a man accused of any crime, a thief, a calumniator, a Brahman who conducts religious ceremonies for the vulgar; one who instructs his servant in holy writ, or is instructed in it by his servant; the husband of a woman who has been formerly betrothed to another; a man who is undutiful to his parents; the protector of the husband of a woman of the servile caste, or the husband of a woman of the servile caste; and a Brahman who ministers to idols--are not proper persons to be invited to au ancestral offering 5. On the first day let a judicious man invite eminent teachers of the Vedas, and other Brahmans; and according to their directions determine what is to be dedicated to the gods, and what to the Pitris. Associated with the Brahmans, let the institutor of an obsequial rite abstain from anger and incontinence. He who having eaten himself in a Śráddha, and fed Brahmans, and appointed them to their sacred offices, is guilty of incontinence, thereby sentences his progenitors to shameful suffering. In the first place, the Brahmans before described are to be invited; but those holy men who come to the house without an invitation are also to be entertained. The guests are to be reverently received with water for their feet, and the like; and the entertainer, holding holy grass in his hand, is to place them, after they have rinsed their mouths, upon seats. An uneven number of Brahmans is to be invited in sacrifices to the manes; an even or uneven number in those presented to the gods; or one only on each occasion 6.

"Then let the householder, inspired by religious faith, offer oblations to the maternal grandfather, along with the worship of the Viśwadevas 7,

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or the ceremony called Vaiśwadeva, which comprehends offerings to both paternal and maternal ancestors, and to ancestors in general. Let him feed the Brahmans who are appropriated to the gods, and to maternal ancestors, with their faces to the north; and those set apart for the paternal ancestors, and ancestors in general, with their faces to the east. Some say that the viands of the Śráddha should be kept distinct for these two sets of ancestors, but others maintain that they are to be fed with the same food, at the same time. Having spread Kuśa grass for seats, and offered libations according to rule, let the sensible man invoke the deities, with the concurrence of the Brahmans who are present 8. Let the man who is acquainted with the ritual offer a libation to the gods with water and barley, having presented to them flowers, perfumes, and incense. Let him offer the same to the Pitris, placed upon his left; and with the consent of the Brahmans, having first provided seats of Kuśa grass doubled, let him invoke with the usual prayers the manes to the ceremony, offering a libation, on his left hand, of water and sesamum. He will then, with the permission of the Brahmans, give food to any guest who arrives at the time, or who is desirous of victuals, or who is passing along the road; for holy saints

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and ascetics, benefactors of mankind, are traversing this earth, disguised in various shapes 9. On this account let a prudent man welcome a person who arrives at such a season; for inattention to a guest frustrates the consequences of an ancestral offering.

"The sacrificer is then to offer food, without salt or seasoning, to fire 10, three several times, with the consent of the assistant Brahmans; exclaiming first, 'To fire, the vehicle of the oblations; to the manes Swáhá!' Next addressing the oblation to Soma, the lord of the progenitors; and giving the third to Vaivaswata. He is then to place a very little of the residue of the oblation in the dishes of the Brahmans; and next, presenting them with choice viands, well dressed and seasoned, and abundant, he is to request them civilly to partake of it at their pleasure. The Brahmans are to eat of such food attentively, in silence, with cheerful countenances, and at their ease. The sacrificer is to give it to them, not churlishly, nor hurriedly, but with devout faith.

"Having next recited the prayer for the discomfiture of malignant spirits 11, and scattered sesamum-seeds upon the ground, the Brahmans who have been fed are to be addressed, in common with the ancestors of the sacrificer, in this manner: 'May my father, grandfather, and great grandfather, in the persons of these Brahmans, receive satisfaction! May my father, grandfather, and great grandfather derive nutriment from these oblations to fire! May my father, grandfather, and great grandfather derive satisfaction from the balls of food placed by me upon the ground! May my father, grandfather, and great grandfather be pleased with what I have this day offered them in faith! May my maternal grandfather, his father, and his father, also enjoy contentment from my offerings! May all the gods experience gratification, and all evil beings perish! May the lord of sacrifice, the imperishable deity

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[paragraph continues] Hari, be the acceptor of all oblations made to the manes or the gods! and may all malignant spirits, and enemies of the deities, depart from the rite.'

"When the Brahmans have eaten sufficiently, the worshipper must scatter some of the food upon the ground, and present them individually with water to rinse their mouths; then, with their assent, he may place upon the ground balls made up of boiled rice and condiments, along with sesamum-seeds. With the part of his hand sacred to the manes he must offer sesamum-seeds, and water from his joined palms; and with the same part of his hand he must present cakes to his maternal ancestors. He should in lonely places, naturally beautiful, and by the side of sacred streams, diligently make presents (to the manes and the Brahmans) 12. Upon Kuśa grass, the tips of which are pointed to the south, and lying near the fragments of the meat, let the householder present the first ball of food, consecrated with flowers and incense, to his father; the second to his grandfather; and the third to his great grandfather; and let him satisfy those who are contented with the wipings of his hand, by wiping it with the roots of Kuśa grass 13. After presenting balls of food to his maternal ancestors in the same manner, accompanied by perfumes and incense, he is to give to the principal Brahmans water to rinse their mouths; and then, with attention and piety, he is to give the Brahmans gifts, according to his power, soliciting their benedictions, accompanied with the exclamation 'Swadhá 14!' Having made presents to the Brahmans, he is to address himself to the gods, saying, 'May they who are the Viśwadevas be pleased with this oblation!' Having thus said, and the blessings to be solicited having been granted by the Brahmans, he is to dismiss first the paternal ancestors, and then the gods. The order is the same with the maternal ancestors and the gods in respect to food, donation, and dismissal. Commencing with the

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washing of the feet, until the dismissing of the gods and Brahmans, the ceremonies are to be performed first for paternal ancestors, and then for ancestors on the mother's side. Let him dismiss the Brahmans with kindly speeches and profound respect, and attend upon them at the end of the Śráddha; until permitted by them to return. The wise man will then perform the invariable worship of the Viśwadevas, and take' his own meal along with his friends, his kinsmen, and his dependants.

"In this manner an enlightened householder will celebrate the obsequial worship of his paternal and maternal ancestors, who, satisfied by his offerings, will grant him all his desires. Three things are held pure at obsequies, a daughter's son, a Nepal blanket, and sesamum-seeds 15; and the gift, or naming, or sight of silver is also propitious 16. The person offering a Śráddha should avoid anger, walking about, and hurry; these three things are very objectionable. The Viśwadevas, and paternal and maternal ancestors, and the living members of a man's family are all nourished by the offerer of ancestral oblations.

p. 331

"The class of Pitris derives support from the moon, and the moon is sustained by acts of austere devotion. Hence the appointment of one who practises austerities is most desirable. A Yogi set before a thousand Brahmans enables the institutor of obsequial rites to enjoy all his desires 17."


325:1 The Brahmans here particularized are termed Trińáchiketa, Trimadhu, and Trisuparńa; and are so denominated, according to the commentator, from particular parts of the Vedas. The first is so called from studying or reciting three Anuvákas of the Kát́haka branch of the Yajur-veda, commencing with the term Trińáchiketa; the second, from three Anuvákas of the same Veda, beginning Madhuvátá, &c.; and the third, from a similar portion, commencing Brahmavan namámi. The first and third terms occur in Manu, III. 185; and Kullúka Bhat́t́a explains Trińáchiketa to mean a portion of the Yajur-veda, and the Brahman who studies it; and Trisuparńa, a part of the Rich, and the Brahman who is acquainted with it. The Nirńaya Sindhu explains the terms m a like manner, but calls the Trisuparńa, as well as the Trińáchiketa prayers, portions of the Yajush. The Trimadhu it assigns to the Rich. Other explanations are also given to the terms Trińáchiketa and Trisuparńa: the first being explained a Brahman who thrice performs the ceremony called Chayana; and the last, one who, after the seven ascending generations, worships the Pitris termed Somapás. These explanations are however considered less correct than the preceding, and which are thus given in the authority cited: ###.

325:2 For the six Angas, see p. 284.

325:3 So the commentator distinguishes the Vedavit, the Brahman who understands the meaning of the text of the Vedas, from the Śrotriya, who practises the rites he studies.

325:4 Portions of the Sáman contained in the Árańyaka are called the Jyesht́ha, 'elder' or 'principal' Sáman.

326:5 Manu, III. 150, &c.

326:6 As two or five at a ceremony dedicated to the gods; three at the worship of the Pitris. Nirńaya Sindhu, p. 311.

326:7 The worship of the Viśwadevas (see p. 321) forms a part of the general Śráddhas, and of the daily sacrifices of the householder. According to the Váyu this was a privilege conferred upon them by Brahmá and the Pitris, as a reward for religious austerities practised by them upon Himálaya. Their introduction as a p. 327 specific class seems to have originated in the custom of sacrificing to the gods collectively, or to all the gods, as the name Viśwadevas implies. They appear, however, as a distinct class in the Vedas, and their assumption of this character is therefore of ancient date. The daily offering to them is noticed by Manu, III. 90, 172; and offerings to 'the gods' are also enjoined at the beginning and end of a Śráddha. Kullúka Bhat́t́a understands here the Viśwadevas, and it probably is so; but in another verse different divinities are specified: "First having satisfied Agni, Soma, Yama, with clarified butter, let him proceed to satisfy the manes of his progenitors." v. 211. Manu also directs them to be worshipped first and last in order. See As. Res. VII. 265, 271, &c.

327:8 The text is 'with their assent;' but no noun occurs in the sentence with which the relative is connected. It must mean the Brahmans, however, as in this passage of Vriddha Par tiara; 'Let the sacrificer place his left hand on the Brahman's right knee, and say, "Shall I invoke the Viśwadevas?" and being desired to invoke them, let him address them with the two Mantras, "Viśwadevas, he is come! Viśwadevas, hear him!"'

328:9 This notion occurs more than once in the Váyu, in nearly the same words.

328:10 This places the initiatory oblations noticed by Manu (see note 7) subsequent to the offerings to the Viśwadevas.

328:11 The Rakshoghna Mantra: the extinguishing of a lamp, lighted to keep off evil spirits, which is accompanied by a Mantra, or prayer. As. Res. VII. 274.

329:12 Part of this passage is in the words of Manu, III. 207. It is omitted in the MSS. in the Bengali character.

329:13 Manu, III. 296.

329:14 "Then let the Brahmans address him, saying, 'Swadhá!' for in all ceremonies relating to deceased ancestors, the word Swadhá is the highest benison." Manu, III. 252.

330:15 We have here the words of Manu; III. 235. Three things are held pure at such obsequies, the daughter's son, the Nepal blanket, and sesamum-seed.' Sir Wm. Jones's translation of these terms rests upon the explanation of Kullúka Bhat́t́a of this and the verse preceding; 'Let him give his daughter's son, though a religious student, food at a Śráddha, and the blanket for a seat.' The commentator on our text says that some understand by Dauhitra, clarified butter made from the milk of a cow fed with grass gathered on the day of new moon; and some explain it a plate or dish of buffalo horn. Kutapa he interprets by Asht́ama Muhúrtta, the eighth hour of the day, or a little after noon, although he admits that some render it a blanket made of goats' wool. These explanations are also noticed in the Nirńaya Sindhu, p. 302; and, upon the authority of the Matsya P., Kutapa is said to mean eight things; which equally consume (Tapa) all sin (Ku), or noon, a vessel of rhinoceros' horn, a nepal blanket, silver, holy grass, sesamum, kine, and a daughter's son.

330:16 So the Matsya P. has 'the gift, sight, and name of silver are desired.' The notion originates with Manu, III. 202.

331:17 The same doctrine is inculcated by the Váyu P.; but it appears to be a Pauráńik innovation, for Manu places the Brahman intent on scriptural knowledge and on austere devotion on a level, and makes no mention of the Yogi. III, 134.

Next: Chapter XVI