Eleventh Day Rites

Brief Summary

In this chapter is detailed the procedure of performance and the observation of rites on the eleventh day for the welfare of the departed one in the other world. This is the day when a bull is dedicated. This rite is called ‘Vrishotsarjana’. After having performed the dasaratra vidhi the ten-days rites, on the eleventh day the bull-dedication needs to be done. The procedures laid down for the tarpans and the ‘daan’ called Shayyadaan, giving away in charity a cot and bed are explained here by Sri Hari to his mount and the Lord of Birds, Garuda.

Shlok 1

Garuda entreated his Lord to tell him in detail about the eleventh-day rites also. Sri Hari told him that the one performing the rite should go to a water body, bathe and then only start the rites with devoutness and purity. Brahmins and scholars well versed in the Scriptures and shastras bowing their heads should recite prayers for the release of the departed. Along with the dead man’s son the one who conducts the ceremonies and the preceptor also should bathe and perform and complete his morning observances like sandhya and gayatri japa first. On the tenth-day Shraaddha should be performed with the family name (gotra) without mantras. On the eleventh day a rice-ball (pinda) should be offered to the departed one along with the chanting of the mantras.

Shlok 6-20

The images of Vishnu in gold, of Brahma in silver of Rudra in copper and of Yama in iron are to be made. A pot filled with Gangajal, water of the Holy Ganges should be placed to the west. On this water Vishnu’s icon robed in yellow has to be placed. To the east should be placed a pot of milk and water and on it the icon of Brahma robed in white has to be placed. Rudra’s icon robed in red should be placed on a pot of honey and ghee (clarified butter) to the north. Yama’s icon robed in black should be placed on a pot containing rain water. This is to be placed to the south. The son should place Kusha grass in a circle made in the middle facing south with the sacred thread over the right shoulder (this is called apasavya) and offer the water with Vedic mantras to Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva and Yama and make a fire offering on the eleventh-day shraaddha. Then should follow his goudaan, charity of a cow, for the well-being of his forefathers with a prayer to Madhava. The eight gifts (of brass vessel filled with ghee and the seven grains) need to be offered at this stage. A Brahmin should be fed and honoured with new clothes etc. with fitting devotion. Then the son who is performing the rites should place the golden icon of Vishnu on the bed after worshipping it; the bed has to be given away to the Brahmin uttering the prescribed words for this rite of shayya daan. By the two rites of vrushotsarjana and shayya daan, (gift of bull and bed) the departed would attain the highest condition.

Shlok 21-56

One should seek many sons while in prayers so that at least one may offer on his death Gaya shraaddha or dedicate a bull and perform rites in a fitting manner. Only the one who performs these rites for the dead is considered a dutiful son. By Vrushotsarjana, the ancestors who suffer the hell of Raurava (even upto twenty-one earlier generations) are redeemed. Even those forefathers who are in heaven would be eagerly waiting for one in their lineage who performs the Vrushotsarjana. This charity releases or pleases forefathers too. After worshipping the plaints, the man who has been laid up with sickness should perform the fire-ritual. He should bring a young bull and a young cow and first perform the wedding of the two as per a procedure laid down. The two, the bull and the cow should be marked with the insignia of Vishnu and thereafter the pair should be given away. The man who does not have a son too can do this to attain the elevated state. Certain months and occasions are appropriate for this daan, ‘charity’. For example the month of Kartik-during eclipses, at sacred places and the equinoctial and solstical points are highly suitable. When the Sun enters an auspicious “lagna” or constellation, a Brahmin well-versed and with auspicious signs should be chosen to be honoured with this act of charity. The body should be sanctified by the recitation of prescribed texts, by making fire offerings and gifts. Vaishnava Shraaddha should be performed first with a salagrama and later perform Shraaddha for himself. By this and giving away the bull, whether one has a son or not, one would have his desires fulfilled. The bull-offering is the best and no amount of other rites or offerings ever equal this. Vrushotsarjana releases man from all his sins, those committed in childhood, youth, manhood or old age. Many other sins like betrayal of friends, being ungrateful, alcoholism, killing a Brahmin would be expiated by the bull- charity. For this reason one must perform the bull-sacrifice with all devotion and piety. If a woman who has her husband and son dies, this bull-charity should not be performed. She should give a milk- giving cow in charity to a deserving Brahmin. There are certain prohibitions. Burdening a bull gets punishment in hell for a long time, till pralaya, the extinction of the world.

Shlok 57-72

After the bull-dedication, the son or the karta (the one who performs the rite) should perform the prescribed sixteen shraaddhas. Before the sapindeerkarana ceremony. In the ten days, one pinda is to be given at each of these six places:

1. at the spot where the person breathed his last;
2. at the threshold, entrance of the place;
3. at a spot half-way to the road;
4. at the pyre;
5. in the hand of the dead body;
6. at the collection of bones.

These six and the ten pindas given one each day are the sixteen pindas. These are not pure. Sri Hari tells Garuda about the second or the middle sixteen pindas. The first rice-ball (pinda) is offered to Vishnu, the second to Shiva and the third to Yama. The fourth is to be given to Soma.The bearer of the oblations should be given the fifth. The sixth is to be given to the one who takes these to the forefathers and the seventh to death. Rudra should be offered the eighth, Purusha (Shiva) should be offered the ninth. The tenth is offered to the departed and the eleventh, in reverance, to Vishnu.

The twelfth pinda is to be given to Brahma, the thirteenth to Vishnu, the fourteenth to Shiva and the fifteenth to Yama. The sixteenth rice-ball (pinda) should be offered to Purusha. These sixteen are called the middle. The third sixteen are one each for the twelve months, one for the first fortnight, the third fortnight, before the six months and also before the first year. These are cooked food pindas. These forty-eight destroy the condition of preta. After these the preta becomes a member of the group of forefathers (of the performer). If these forty eight are not duly performed the departed one remains a preta (like the one of Sudeva the Vysya, whom King Bhabhruvahana rescued in the tale mentioned in an earlier chapter). These pinda pradaans or offerings of rice-balls (pindas) have to be performed either by the son or by someone else. But, the performance is a must. If the son, or if there is no son, if the rites are performed by the wife, there is akhanda saubhagya, endless affluence. The wife who performs these is revered and called “pati vrata” ‘The faithful’. Her life is fruitful and a fulfilled one.

For one killed by fire, water or carelessness, the rites prescribed above must be performed. If one is murdered, or killed because of a snake-bite the man offering obsequies should worship a serpent on the fifth day of each fortnight. The procedure of the worship is as follows: With rice powder the picture of a hooded snake has to be drawn on the ground and the picture is to be worshipped with white flowers of fragrance, and sandalwood paste. The serpent drawn on the ground should be offered lamps and incense also. A serpent made of gold and (as per one’s own capacity) and a cow needs to be given away. While giving away the daan or charity of the serpent one should pray “May the serpent be propitiated and pleased.” Thereafter the rite of Narayana bali too should be performed. This performance absolves the dead one of all sins he had committed and he attains the world of bliss, heaven. After this performance rice-balls (pindas) with water should be given regularly. On the eleventh day rice-balls (pindas) should be offered for all forefathers. When the person who performs is free from the ‘sullied’ state (asaucha condition) he should perform shayya daan, (charity of the bed) and the other charities.


More by :  Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.

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