Scroll Down for Quotes from Yoga Vashishtha, Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Ramayan, Manu Smriti, Upanishads, and Puranas.
“Death carries off a man who is gathering flowers and whose mind is distracted, as a flood carries off a sleeping village.”
- Dhammapada, Verse 47; F. Max Müller, translator
“One who knows the deathless nature of the Self is not afraid of death.”
- Rishi Vashishtha to Ram, Yoga Vashishtha
In the Mahabharata, when the Pandava brothers were in exile, all except Yudhisthira were poisoned. Yudhisthira restored life to his brothers by answering a question about "the greatest mystery in life.”
When asked, Yudhisthira said, "The greatest mystery in life is that day after day, countless creatures die; we see that everyone eventually dies, yet we ignore this, and live as if we are immortal. This is the greatest mystery of life!"
Before the Great War of Kurukshetra Arjuna is disheartened by the immanent destruction of his relatives in both armies. Arjuna tells Krishna that "Destruction of Family Dharma leads only to hell, both for the family and its destroyers. Their forefathers fall as well, when the offerings of the Pindodaka cease." 1.42 "Men whose family dharmas have lapsed, so we have heard, O Janardana (Lord Krishna), necessarily live in hell." 1.44
- Srimad Bhagavad Gita
One’s ancestors can become restless and cause trouble without proper Antyeshti and Shraddh rites.
- Aditya Purana
“Substances offered as homa on Purnima become food of the Devas and those offered on Amavasya become food of the Pitrs.”
- Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Chapter 7
“Blessed is human birth. Even the dwellers in heaven desire this birth, for true wisdom and pure love may be attained only by man. Rare indeed is this human birth. The human body is like a boat, the first and foremost use of which is to carry us across the ocean of life and death to the shore of immortality. The Guru is the skilled helmsman; divine grace is the favorable wind. If, with such means as these, man does not strive to cross the ocean of life and death, he is indeed spiritually dead.”
- Lord Krishna
“Place me in that deathless, undecaying world, where the light of heaven shines in everlasting luster . . . Make me immortal in that realm . . . where the worlds are filled with light; in that realm of bliss let me realize my immortality.”
- Rig Ved Samhita
“From Bliss all Beings emerge.
In Bliss all Beings are sustained.
Into Bliss all Beings merge.”
- Taittiriya Upanisad
“May we always cherish the desire for doing virtuous deeds,
for acquiring strength, for longevity,
and eternal absorption in the Almighty.”
- Yajurveda 2.54
“May we always cherish the desire for doing virtuous deeds,
for acquiring strength, for longevity,
and eternal absorption in the Almighty.”
- Yajurveda 2.54
When Ram, Lakshman and Sita reached the River Ganga Ji, the Nishada village chief, Guha, washed Ram’s feet and ushered Him across the river. In gratitude Ram offered Guha his ring. Guha replied, “Lord, keep this ring, and when the time comes, row me across the river flowing between this life and the next.”
From Yoga Vashishtha, Nirvana Prakarana:
"Yama (death) will not trouble those whose minds have cast off the pearls of sin - strung on the string of pain. Yama will not trouble those wise persons who do not nourish in themselves the hissing serpent of desire with its hood of anxiety, which twines itself round the tree of the perishable body. Yama will not trouble those realized souls who are not bitten by the serpent of greed living in the hole which is their mind, emitting the venom of attachment and hatred. Yama will not trouble those who are not burnt up by anger, which is like the Vaadava fire in the ocean of the body making the waters of discrimination dry up. Yama will not trouble those whose minds are not afflicted by Kama (passion), like sesame seeds crushed by a hard oil-press. Yama will not trouble those who attain quiescence in the imperishable and immaculate Nirvanic state, without any pain, through deep meditation."
- Yogi's reply to Vashishtha's inquiries
In Garuda Purana the Enlightened Sage Suta says to Garuda: “I shall tell you a great secret as well as the decisive method of how to unravel its mystery, by knowing which one becomes omniscient.
“Those who have been devoid of greed while alive in the world proceed along that path (through death) peacefully. The various gifts that people make in the world stand them in good stead in the region of Yama. The gifts go before the person and make everything comfortable. . ..
“Yama knows virtue, He practices virtue, and is benevolent to those who are virtuous. He is terrifying to the sinner and sweet to the virtuous.
“In the center of (Yama’s) city, just near the palace entrance is Chitragupta's palace . . .. There, seated on his wonderful throne, he calculates the age of human beings and others. He never makes any mistake in the matter of merit or demerit. Chitragupta records whatever the man has acquired in his various births, good or bad . . ..
“. . . . O Garuda, there is no need to describe all the different tortures (of hell) in detail. By giving gifts, the person accrues benefits, whereby he feels pleasure even in hell; whatever he gives, he will receive. If while alive, he provides comfort to someone else, then after death, the good karma of his gift goes ahead of him and makes his way comfortable. Likewise with all gifts - as you sow, so shall you reap. Therefore, be generous and virtuous while alive.”
- Garuda Purana
On his deathbed Bhishma gives Raja Yudhishthira the most profound wisdom of life - the need to realize the Atman, the Pure Self, the Transcendent, where the mind and senses are most naturally settled in peace and contentment. The following verses are from Mahabharata, Mokshadharma Parva:
MP 322 Vyasa extols the importance of Moksha to his son, Shukadev:
“Your body is as transitory as the froth on the surface of water. The Jiva is sitting unattached in the body, as a bird on a tree. The companionship of all agreeable objects is exceedingly short-lived. Why then, O Son, do you sleep in such forgetfulness? Your foes are heedful, awake, and ever ready to spring on you. As the days are going one after another, the period of your life is being steadily decreased . . .. Death snatches away one who is still engaged in earning wealth and still unsatisfied in the indulgence of his pleasures . . .. Very soon, the wind of Yama (Death) will blow before thee. Very soon will you be taken to Death’s dread presence all alone. Achieve now what will be for your good there then . . ..
“Seek to attain the only true treasure, so that you may not have to grieve at the recollection of your former deeds – good and bad – all of which are characterized by error . . .! Earn that wealth which has no fear from either kings or thieves, and which one need not abandon even at Death.
“Each enjoys that wealth which one has earned for oneself. O Son, give that to others by which they may be able to live in the next world. Do you also set thyself to the acquisition of that wealth which is Indestructible and Durable. Do not think that you should first enjoy all kinds of pleasures and then turn your heart towards Moksha (liberation), for before you are satiated with enjoyment, you may be overtaken by Death.
“Even here, Agni, Surya, and Vayu, these three reside in the body. These, beholding as they do all the events of one’s life become one’s witnesses . . .. Having acquired the status of humanity, so difficult of acquisition, that is the stepping-stone to heaven, one should fix one’s soul on Brahman (Supreme Unity of Life), so that one may not fall away once more.”
MP 323 “The sins act when the doer acts, and in fact, follow the doer like his shadow. Whatever acts one does, by whatever means and under whatever circumstances, are sure to be enjoyed and endured by the doer in his next life . . .. As the calf recognizes its mother even when the latter may stand among thousands of her species, similarly the acts done by one in one’s past life come to one in one’s next life. As a piece of dirty cloth is whitened by being washed in water, similarly the righteous, cleansed by continuous exposure unto the fire of fasts and tapas, at last attains to unending happiness . . ..
“There is no need of speaking ill of others or of reciting the instances in which others have tripped. On the other hand, one should always do what is delightful, agreeable, and beneficial to one’s own Self.”
MP 329 “Without doubt, one incurs fault by giving one’s senses free rein. It is only by restraining the senses that one succeeds in earning success. The merit that attaches to a thousand horse sacrifices or of a hundred Vajapeyas (yagyas) cannot come up to even a sixteenth portion of the merit that arises from Yoga.”
MP 330 Narada teaches Suka: “Compassion is the highest virtue. Forgiveness is the greatest strength. The knowledge of the Immortal Self (Atma) is the highest knowledge.”
MP 330 “One attains to the status of the Devatas by means of good acts, to the status of humanity by means of acts that are good and bad; while by acts that are purely wicked, one helplessly falls down among the lower animals . . .. Like a silkworm that ensconces itself in its own cocoon, you are continually ensconcing yourself in a cocoon made of your own innumerable acts . . ..
“Only acts, good and bad, that one does, follow one to the other world. When it is certain that you shall have to go helplessly to the other world, leaving behind all these things, why do you then suffer yourself to be attached to such unsubstantial things of no value, without attending to that which constitutes your real and durable wealth?”
MP 331 “When things have past, one should not grieve, thinking of their merits. He that thinks of such past things with affection can never emancipate himself.
“One should always seek to find the faults of those things to which one begins to become attached. One should always regard such things to be fraught with much evil. By doing so, one will soon free oneself. The man who grieves for what is past fails to acquire either wealth or religious merit or fame . . ..
MP 221 “Induced by the desire for wealth and children, they ascend to heaven, but fall down on the exhaustion of their merits.”
Mahabharata, Chapters from Anushasana Parva:
The Mahabharata war was fought more than 5000 years ago on the battle field of Kurukshetra. Most of the great warriors of that time died in that battle. Raja Yudhisthira, the victor, wanted to ensure heaven for all the fallen warriors - on both sides. Yudhisthira approached his Great Grandfather, Bhishma, who had been defeated in battle and was preparing to depart from the world. Sri Krishna blessed Bhishma to give Yudhishthira the following essential advice about Shraddh offerings.
AP 7 “The fruits of actions done with the mind are enjoyed at the time of dreams, and those actions performed physically are enjoyed in the waking state. In whatever states creatures perform good or evil deeds, they reap the fruits thereof in similar states of succeeding lives. No act done with the aid of the five senses is ever lost.”
AP 23: Make offerings to Devas in the morning, Men at Midday, Pitris in the Afternoon. Otherwise gifts are appropriated by Rakshasas. Also Rakshasas steal offerings that are: walked over, licked, sucked, given in restlessness, seen by a women during her monthly period, bragged about, shared first with others, seen by dogs, mixed with hair, worm-ridden, spit on, tear drops fallen in, not first offered to Devas or Pitris. Gifts to poor, pious, destitute Brahmins yield greatest fruits.
AP 86: Include gold with Shraddh offerings. “Gold is the puissant energy of Agni and was born with Kartikeya (from the same seed). Hence gold is highly auspicious and endued with inexhaustible merit.”
AP 87: Shukla Paksha (waxing moon) is good for Shraddh, except for 14th tithi, which brings ruin. Krishna Paksha (waning moon) 10th to 13th tithis are even better. But Never 14th tithi! Amavasya (new moon) is best day of all. Afternoon Shraddh is always better than morning.
AP 88: “Manu has said that if a Shraddh is performed with a copious measure of sesame, (the benefits of) such Shraddh becomes inexhaustible. Of all kinds of foods (for the deceased), sesame seeds are regarded as the best.” Also, payasa mixed with ghee is good. “Flesh of rhinoceros, offered to the Pitris on the anniversaries of the lunar days on which they died, becomes inexhaustible. The potherb called Kalasaka, the petals of the Kanchana flower, and meat of the goat also, thus offered, prove inexhaustible . . ..
“Many sons should be coveted so that even one may go to Gaya (for Shraddh) where stands the banyan tree that is celebrated over all the worlds and which makes all offerings made under its branches inexhaustible. Even a little water, roots, fruits, meat, and rice mixed with honey become inexhaustible when offered on the anniversary of the day of death.”
AP 89: Avoid Ardra nakshatra for Shraddh. It is a fierce, unpeaceful constellation.
AP 90: “Verily the man who converts the Shraddh into an occasion for partying with his friends becomes dissociated from heaven even like a bird dissociated from the perch when the chain holding it is broken. Therefore he that performs a Shraddh should not invite his friends. He may entertain them on other occasions. The Havi and the Kavi offered at Shraddhs should be served unto them that are neither friends nor foes, but are only indifferent or neutral . . . a gift that is made to a dancer or a singer, or Dakshina that is presented to a lying or deceitful person, destroys both the giver and the receiver without benefiting them in any respect. Such Dakshina is destructive and highly censurable. The Pitris of the person making it have to fall down from the path of the Devas. Those Brahmins who are devoted to Vedic study, to knowledge, to tapas, and to yagya should be known as Rishis. The offerings made at Shraddh should be given unto those that are devoted to knowledge . . . Those men who speak ill of Brahmins should never be fed on occasions of Shraddh. If Brahmins were calumniated, they would destroy three generations of the calumniator."
AP 91: Don't wear yellow clothes at Shraddh.
AP 92: First offer food to Agni at Shraddh. “Indeed when one comes upon a river one should gratify one’s Pitris with oblations of water.” Tarpana is auspicious at the confluence of rivers. Make offerings to Pitris on new moon (amavasya).
AP 104: Shraddh – Not at night, not on one’s own nakshatra, or Ardra, Bhadrapad, Krittika, Ashlesh, or other fierce nakshatras. First dip head in water.
AP 126: Brahmacharya (celibacy) is necessary during Shraddh performance. Devas and Pitris always prefer copper vessels for offerings; other vessels yield meager results.
AP 128: Women and shudras (servants) should not make offerings at Shraddh rites.
AP 129: Offer water, sesame seeds and honey to Pitris.
“Brihaspati said, 'One is born alone, O Raja, and one dies alone. Alone one faces whatever difficulties one encounters. One has really no companion in these acts. The father, the mother, the brother, the son, the preceptor, kinsmen, relatives, and friends, leaving the dead body as if it were a piece of wood or a clod of earth, after having mourned for only a moment, all turn away from it and proceed to their own concerns.
“Only Righteousness follows the body that is thus abandoned by them all. Hence, it is plain, that Righteousness is the only friend. Righteousness only should be sought by all. One endued with Righteousness would attain to that high end which is constituted by heaven. If endued with unrighteousness, he goes to Hell. Hence, the man of intelligence should always seek to acquire religious merit through wealth won by lawful means.
“Piety is the only friend which creatures have in the world hereafter. Led by lust, or distraction, or compassion, or fear, one destitute of much knowledge is seen to do improper acts, for the sake of even another, his judgment thus stupefied by lust.’ 
“Yudhishthira, said, ‘I have carefully heard the words spoken by thy illustrious self - these words that are fraught with righteousness, and that are highly beneficial. I wish now to know of the existence of the body (after death). The dead body of man becomes subtle and unmanifest. It becomes invisible. How is it possible for piety to follow it?’ 
“Brihaspati said, ‘Earth, Wind, Ether, Water, Light, Mind, Yama (Death), Understanding, the Soul, as also Day and Night, all together behold as witnesses the merits (and demerits) of all living creatures. With these, Righteousness follows the creature (when dead). 
“When the body becomes bereft of life, then skin, bones, flesh, the vital seed, and blood, leave it at the same time, O thou of great intelligence. Endued with merit (and demerit) the soul (after the destruction of this body) attains to another body. After the attainment of that body, the presiding deities of the five elements once more behold as witnesses all his acts good and bad. What else dost thou wish to hear? If endued with righteousness, Jiva enjoys happiness.”
On Confession and Expiation. Section 112
“Yudhishthira said, ‘Thou hast told me, O regenerate one, what the end is of unrighteousness or sin. I desire now to hear, O foremost of speakers, of what the end is of Righteousness. Having committed diverse acts of sin, by what acts do people succeed in attaining to an auspicious end in this world? By what acts also do people attain to an auspicious end in heaven?’
“Brihaspati said, ‘By committing sinful acts with perverted mind, one yields to the sway of unrighteousness and as a consequence goeth to hell. That man who, having perpetrated sinful acts through stupefaction of mind, feels the pangs of repentance and sets his heart on contemplation (of the deity), has not to endure the consequences of his sins. One becomes freed from one's sins in proportion as one repents for them. If one having committed a sin, O king, proclaims it in the presence of Brahmanas conversant with duties, one becomes quickly cleansed from the obloquy arising from one's sin.’
“Avert the danger that has not yet arrived.”
(Heyam Dukham Anaagatam)
- Yog Sutra 2.16
“The cause of suffering to be averted is the attachment between seer and seen.” (Drashtri Drishyayoh Samyogo Heya Hetuh.)
- Yog Sutra 2.17
Bhishma’s Mahasamadhi. Section 168
Bhishma, the son of Santanu, remained silent for sometime, O chastiser of foes He then held forth his life-breaths successively in those parts of his body which are indicated in Yoga. The life-breaths of that high-souled one, restrained duly, then rose up. Those parts of the body of Santanu's son (Bhisma), in consequence of the adoption of Yoga, from which the life-breaths went up, became calm one after another. In the midst of those high-souled persons, including those great Rishis with Vyasa at their head, the sight seemed to be a strange one, O Raja. Within a short time, the entire body of Bhishma became easy and peaceful. Beholding it, all those distinguished persons with Vasudeva at their head, and all the ascetics with Vyasa, became filled with wonder. The life-breaths, restrained and unable to escape through any of the outlets, at last pierced through the crown of the head and proceeded upwards to heaven. The celestial kettle-drums began to play and floral showers were rained down. The Siddhas and Rishis, filled with delight, exclaimed, ‘Excellent, Excellent!’ 'The life-breaths of Bhishma, piercing through the crown of his head, shot up through the welkin like a large meteor and soon became invisible. Even thus, O great king, Santanu's son, the pillar of Bharata's race, united himself with eternity. Then the high-souled Pandavas and Vidura, taking a large quantity of wood and diverse kinds of fragrant scents, made a funeral pyre. Yuyutsu and others stood as spectators of the preparations. Then Raja Yudhishthira and the high-souled Vidura wrapped Bhishma's body with silken cloth and floral garlands. Yuyutsu held an excellent umbrella, over it Bhimasena and Arjuna both held in their hands a couple of yak-tails of pure white. The two sons of Madri held two head-gears in their hands. Yudhishthira and Dhritarashtra standing at the feet of the lord of the Kurus, took up palmyra fans and began to fan the body softly. The Pitri sacrifice of the high-souled Bhishma was then duly performed. Many libations were poured upon the sacred fire. The singers of Samans sang many Samans. Then covering the body of Ganga's son (Bhishma) with sandal wood and black aloe and the bark wood, other fragrant fuel, and setting fire to the same, the Kurus with Dhritarashtra and others, stood on the right sight of the funeral pyre. Those foremost ones of Kuru's race, having thus cremated the body of the son of Ganga, proceeded to the sacred Bhagirathi, accompanied by the Rishis. They were followed by Vyasa, by Narada, by Asita, by Krishna, by the ladies of the Bharata race, as also by such of the citizens of Hastinapore as had come to the place. All of them, arrived at the sacred river, duly offered oblation of water unto the high-souled son of Ganga.”
- MahaBharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa,
Ashwamedha Parva, Book 14, Section 1.
Padma Purana declares that Ghrita Shraddh (Shraddh performed with Ghee) at holy tirthas multiplies the benefits of ordinary Shraddh performances.
Shiva Sahasranam (1000 names of Shiva).
“Even during his last moments, if someone recites or hears Shiva Sahasranam, one succeeds in attaining to the highest end. This is holy. This is auspicious. This is fraught with every kind of benefit. This is the best of all things. Brahma, the Grandsire of the entire universe, having in days of old composed it, assigned to it the foremost place among all excellent hymns. From that time this hymn to the greatness and glory of the high-souled Mahadeva, which is held in the highest esteem by all the Devas, has come to be regarded as the king of all hymns. This king of all hymns was first conveyed from the region of Brahman to heaven, the region of the celestials. Tandi then obtained it from heaven. Hence, it is known as ‘The Hymn Composed By Tandi.’ From heaven Tandi brought it down on Earth. It is the most auspicious of all auspicious things, and is capable of cleansing the heart from all sins however heinous.”
- Bhishma tells Yudhishthira in Mahabharata, Anushasana Parva, Chapter 17
From The Shraddh – Hindu Book of the Dead:
When death is immanent, head should face north. “Before the last summons comes and the man on the death-bed is felt to be collapsing, his head should be turned to the north and feet to the south. Drop a little ghee into the eyes and ears of the dead and cover with a cloth.”
Antyeshti Sanskar is technical and requires skilled pandits. Pindas made of barley flour (jhao), sesame seeds (til), clarified butter (ghee) and juggary (gur) are very good to offer to the deceased. Finish with a meal and gifts to Brahmins.
The Shraddh rituals are described elaborately in Agni Purana, Garuda Purana, Kurma Purana, Padma Purana, Vishnu Purana, Manu Smriti, Grhya Sutras, and Srauta Sutras.
Garuda Purana declares: “By offering gifts of wealth to Brahmins, the sons prepare for their own salvation along with their sons, grandsons and great grandsons. What is given to the father will be requited a hundredfold, to a mother a thousand fold, to a sister a hundred thousand fold, and to a brother manifold.”
“Either the mother or a kinsman can perform the expiatory rite on behalf of a boy less than twelve but above four years of age. Boys of less than four years in age can never be guilty or sinful. Even the king cannot punish them. There is no expiatory rite prescribed for such boys in the shastras.”
- Garuda Purana, Chapter 43, “On Performing Shraddh”
Traditionally the sons of the departed make the Shraddh offerings. In Chapter II, Book 7 of Devi Purana describes nine types of sons. All are entitled to inherit the wealth of the father, but the sons, enumerated successively are more and more inferior. “The pandits declare that the first sons are 1) born of the father’s semen. 2) Next are the sons born of their daughters. 3) Next are the offspring of the wife by a kinsman appointed to procreate issue to the husband. 4) Next is a bastard child of the widow. 5) Next is a child born of adultery. 6) Next is the son of a woman pregnant at the time of marriage. 7) Next is the son born of a young and unmarried woman. 8) Next is a son that has been adopted. 9) Next is one found abandoned or offered by another father who is unable to support the son.”
Shraddh Gifts Elaborated
Narada Purana gives the most thorough account of those who are disqualified from receiving Shraddh gifts. “One who is physically deformed, wanting in a limb or by having a superfluous limb, a miser, a sick person, a leper, one with deformed nails, a person with long suspended ears, one who has broken his religious vows, professional jyotishis, one who burns corpses, one who argues against the Vedas, a younger brother who marries before his elder brother, a temple priest, a rogue, a caviler, an angry person, a knave, one who dabbles in unholy scriptures, one who is dependent on another man’s food, one related to servants (shudras), adulterers, one who performs yagyas for those who are ineligible, one of fraudulent conduct, one who shaves his head for no reason, one who covets others property, one not devoted to Shiva, one who sells the Vedas or vratas or smritis or mantras or intoxicants, professional musicians, poets, doctors by trade, arsonists, overly passionate persons, deceitful arguers. All these should be excluded scrupulously from the Shraddh. One should invite the honored brahmin the day before or on the same day. The brahmin who is invited should maintain celibacy and conquer his sense organs.” The presence, sight or gift of black antelope skin enables Pitris to cross over hells.
In Vayu Purana Sage Suta explains the value of Shraddh gifts:
“Those who desirous of nourishment, perform Shraddhs are always granted development and progeny. Those pitris to whom three balls of rice are offered mentioning their names and gotra up to great grandfather strengthen and develop their descendants by that offering of Shraddh . . .. It is by their grace that dhan (gifts), adhyaya (Vedic Study), and tapas fructify. There is no doubt in this that pitrs are devas and devas are pitrs.”
Also in Vayu Purana, Brihaspati recommends using and gifting silver (vessels, etc.) for Shraddh as “conducive to crossing over hell and the attainment of infinite and everlasting heavens.” Also auspicious: vessels of gold, silver, copper. Gingelly (sesame) seeds, garments, kusa grass, tridandi-yoga (unity of mind, speech and body), Kutapa (eighth muhurta of the day – 5 hours 40 minutes after sunrise (around noon time) is of everlasting benefit).
When performing Shraddh face south and kneel on ground with left knee touching ground. Invited Brahmins face north (or east). Sprinkle rice balls with water from right to left in counterclockwise direction. Press pinda balls with thumb indentation to enhance nourishment. Offer pindas with both hands between the knees. Offer with left hand over the right with the mantra: Namo Vah Pitarah Saumyah. “Obeisance to you, Gentle Pitris.” First pinda in southern quarter. Offer new, unwoven thread of silk, cotton or jute, not thread pulled from any woven cloth. Oil of black sesame, sandlewood, aloe wood, lotus, excellent incense, white flowers, and fragrant flowers are excellent. Essential items include: leaves of kusa grass, which pindas are offered upon with darbha grass tips pointing to southeast. Complete concentration is required. No distractions. “Svadhaa” is used for Pitri offerings. “Svaahaa” is for Deva offerings.
Brhaspati continued: “He who performs Shraddh at the time of eclipse uplifts sinners like a boat tin the ocean that saves those who are drowning.” Shyamaka rice, sugarcane, bamboo shoots, and brinjals are excellent for Pitri rites, not garlic, onions, carrots, radish, and other unpleasant smelling or odorless foods. (These articles grew from the drops of Bali’s bloodshed in fight with Devas. No milk of buffalo, deer, ewes, or single horned animals. Shraddh is spoiled by onlookers who are dishonored, unholy, birds, pigs, or dogs, and by materials touched by calves or sick people. Havya and Kavya (offerings to Devas and Pitris) are spoiled thereby. Ghee should be liquid, not solidified.
Sprinkling water mixed with clay consecrates ingredients. Also, scatter yellow mustard seed and black gingelly seeds. Do not add ordinary salt to rice balls! Sea salt alone is good. Also water of Manasa Lake. Wash thoroughly before Shraddh. Keep one pot for washing and one for achamana. Do not touch bones, dogs or chandalas.
- From The Shraddh: The Hindu Book of the Dead, A Treatise on the Shraddh Ceremonies by R.C. Prasad, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. Also see: Religious Thought and Life in India (Brahmanism and Hinduism) by Monier Williams
The Laws of Manu, Chapter 3
Grihaprashta Rules of Observances
145. Let him (take) pains (to) feed at a Shraddha an adherent of the Rig-veda who has studied one entire Veda, or a follower of the Yajur-veda who has finished one Sakha, or a singer of Samans who (likewise) has completed (the study of an entire recension).
146. If one of these three duly honored persons dines at a funeral sacrifice, the ancestors of him (who gives the feast), as far as the seventh person, will be satisfied for a very long time.
266. I will now fully declare what kind of sacrificial food, given to the manes according to the rule, will serve for a long time or for eternity.
267. The ancestors of men are satisfied for one month with sesamum grains, rice, barley, masha beans, water, roots, and fruits, which have been given according to the prescribed rule,
268. Two months with fish, three months with the meat of gazelles, four with mutton, and five indeed with the flesh of birds,
269. Six months with the flesh of kids, seven with that of spotted deer, eight with that of the black antelope, but nine with
that of the (deer called) Ruru,
270. Ten months they are satisfied with the meat of boars and buffaloes, but eleven months indeed with that of hares and tortoises,
271. One year with cow-milk and milk-rice; from the flesh of a long-eared white he-goat their satisfaction endures twelve years.
272. The (vegetable called) Kalasaka, (the fish called) Mahasalka, the flesh of a rhinoceros and that of a red goat, and all kinds of food eaten by hermits in the forest serve for an endless time.
273. Whatever (food), mixed with honey, one gives on the thirteenth lunar day in the rainy season under the asterism of Magha, that also procures endless (satisfaction).
274. May such a man (the manes say) be born in our family who will give us milk-rice, with honey and clarified butter, on the thirteenth lunar day (of the month of Bhadrapada) and (in the afternoon) when the shadow of an elephant falls towards the east.
275. Whatever (a man), full of faith, duly gives according to the prescribed rule, that becomes in the other world a perpetual and imperishable (gratification) for the manes.
276. The days of the dark half of the lunar month, beginning with the tenth, but excepting the fourteenth, (10,11,12,13, and amavasya) are recommended for a funeral sacrifice; (it is) not thus (with) the others.
277. He who performs it on the even (lunar) days and under the even constellations, gains (the fulfillment of) all his wishes; he who honors the manes on odd (lunar days) and under odd (constellations), obtains distinguished offspring.
278. As the second half of the month is preferable to the first half, even so the afternoon is better for (the performance of) a funeral sacrifice than the forenoon.
283. Even when a Brahmin, after bathing, satisfies the manes with water, he obtains thereby the whole reward for the performance of the (daily) Shraddh.
Ganga Mahatmayam extolling Gangotri Dham
“Man is liberated from all the sins and attains immortality when he bathes in the waters of Sri Ganga at Gangotri and devotedly offers prayers to the Jahnavi.” (52) (After pilgrims bathe at the ghats in front of Bhagirathi Shila, pandits perform puja and havan to the Ganga, and then escort the pilgrims to the Ganga Mandir for darshan of the deity in the temple.)
"For offering pinda dhan and tarpana to the pitris, that pious and virtuous tirtha is the best among all tirthas. (53) One need not consider proper muhurthas or nakshatras when offering Pinda dhan and tarpana to the pitris there. Whether it is day time or night, a man can perform the sacred Shraddh. (54) At this place whosoever performs the Shraddh by proclaiming his name and gotra, even his most sinful ancestors go to heaven. (55) At this place, whatever offerings through Havan (fire) a man offers to the Devas, he is given special fruitful rewards. (56) Whatever gold, silver, cows, grains, and lands are given to brahmins in charity, that bears immediate results at this place. (57) There is no doubt that at that place the charity are thousand times more fruitful than in tirthas like Kashi, Gaya, Haridwar, etc. (58) Great tirthas like Kashi and Gaya adopt divine forms and they reside continuously - day and night - in this holy area for their own purification." (60)
- Ganga Mahatmayam
“One’s possessions are left behind at home and relatives left behind
on the cremation ground. The body is consumed in the funeral pyre;
only one's deeds accompany the departed one.”
on the cremation ground. The body is consumed in the funeral pyre;
only one's deeds accompany the departed one.”
- Quoted in Hindu Antyeshti Samskar
“Individual’s existence should be like a river - small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past boulders and over waterfalls. Gradually, as the river grows wider the banks recede, the water flows more quietly and in the end, without any visible break, it becomes merged in the sea and painlessly loses its individual form.”
“Ye shall never endure pains of death, when I come in My Glory. Ye shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye from mortality to immortality.