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Vayu Purana – Uttara Kandha 10-18

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The Sraddha Ritual: Purificatory Rites

1Brihaspati Said: Henceforth, I shall recount the various types of Danas (religious gifts) and the benefits thereof. I shall also mention the pure things to be used in the Sraddha rite and those that should be avoided.
2It should be performed on snow-capped precipice (?) or he should also bring snow from there (?). Hence Agnihotra is laid down (in the scriptures) as the greatest and holiest.
3One shall avoid Sraddha-performance during the naight. On other occasions also, since Rahu is seen, one should quickly perform Sraddha as soon as Rahu is seen even by spending one’s entire possession.
4He who does not perform Sraddha at the time of eclipse becomes distressed like the cow (stuck up) in mire. He who performs it, uplifts sinners like a boat in the ocean that saves those who are drowning.
5During the sacrifice to Visvedevas and Saumyas, the Havis can contain plenty of meat. But one should avoid the horn of the rhinoceros to mitigate the malice (of Pitris) (?)
6-8Formerly while Tvastri was being prevented by the noble-souled Lord of Devas from drinking the Soma juice meant for Indra, the consort of Saci, it (some part or drops of Soma) fell on the ground. Syamakas (a variety of rice) grew up that way (from drops of Soma). They are honoured for (the propitiation of) Pitris. The spray (of Soma juice) sticking to (and coming out of) his nostrils fell from them (and became iksu— sugarcane). Hence sugarcanes are phlegmatic, cool, pleasing and sweet. One should perform all the Pitri-rites with Syamaka rice and sugarcane for the fulfilment of all desires. He who performs Agrayana i.e. the first Soma libation at the Agni stoma sacrifice (or of fruits after the rainy season) (with Syamaka and sugarcanes) attains the fulfilment of his desires quickly.
9Syamaka (rice), Hastinaman (?), Pa tola (fruit of Trichosanthes Diaoeca), fruits of Brhati (Brinjals) and the crest of Agastya—all are very astringent.
10-11aSuch other excellent and sweet things as Naara(?), Dirghamulaka (a kind of radish) should be offered (at
Sraddha). So also tender shoots of a bamboo, surasa, sarjaka (juicy parts of the Sala tree) and Bhustrna (andropogen schoenanthus).
11b-14I shall now mention those things that should always be avoided in Sraddha. Garlic, carrots, onions, globular radish and Karambha (groats or flour mixed with curds) and other articles devoid of smell and with no taste should be avoided in Sraddha. The reason is also mentioned (as follows): Formerly in the fight between Devas and Asuras, Bali was defeated by Suras. From his wounds drops of blood gushed out and from them these articles grew up« Hence they are avoided in the Sraddha rite.
15The exudations mentioned in the Vedas, the salts found in arid lands are to be avoided in the Sraddha rites. Women in their monthly course shall not take part in Sraddhas.
16Foul-smelling water, water having froth and foams, water from puddles, water where cows are disinclined to drink and the water stored in vessels the previous night shall not be used in Sraddha.
17The milk of ewes, deer, camel, single-horned animals, buffalo and the Camari deer should be avoided by a wise man.
18Henceforth I shall mention the places that should be avoided assiduously. I shall also mention, by whom Sraddha should not be seen. I shall also recount what is pure and impure in a Sraddha.
19With great faith one should perform a Sraddha by means of fruits, roots and foodstuffs available in forests. Thereby he attains desirable country, heaven and liberation (from Samsara) as well as fame.
20Places full of noise-pollution and teeming with insects and a place with foul smell shall be avoided for the performance of Sraddha.
21A place within a distance of twelve Yojanas from all the rivers joining the sea (i.e. so far from their confluence with the sea), a door at the south-east as well as the land of Trisanku, should be avoided.
22The land to the north of Mahanadi and to the south of Kaikata is the land of Trisanku. It is forbidden for the rite of Sraddha.
23The lands of Karankara (Karkal in south Kanara Dist.), Kalinga, the land to the north of Sindhu and those lands wherein the practice of the pious rites of different stages of life and castes are not in vogue, should be avoided scrupulously.
24The naked and similar (apostates and non-Vedic sects) people should not see the Sraddha rite.5 This is the rule. Such Sraddhas as are seen by these, do not reach Pitris or Pitamahas.
25Samyu said: O holy lord, O leader of important Brahmanas, please recount in detail and precisely to me who ask about the naked and similar people.
26Thus requested, Brihaspati of great brilliance said to him: The Trayi (the three Vedas) is remembered as the protective covering unto all living beings.
27Those who discard it out of delusion are the naked, O excellent Brahmana. If a man forsakes that protection, he becomes support less and is ruined.
28If a man discards Dharma and seeks liberation (Moksa) elsewhere, his labour therein is in vain. For he has not the correct perspective.
29-30Formerly, all the Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras were made heretics and placed in a deformed state by Asuras who were defeated in the battle between Devas and Asuras. This is not the creation of the self-born Brahma. Nor are these.
31Those who do not practise piety come under the category of “the naked and similar people” (Nagnadayah). A Brahmana who keeps matted hair without any specific aim, who shaves off his hair for nothing and who goes about naked purposelessly is also called so.
32He who observes holy rites in vain, he who performs Japas in vain is also called “Naked etc.” So also those who blow off their homes, the hunters and those who destroy property (are considered so).
33They are denounced as men of evil ways finding fault with every action committed. The Sraddha performed or witnessed by these, goes to men (and not to Pitris).
34The Brahmana-slayer, the ungrateful, the atheists, the defilers of the preceptor’s bed, robbers and wicked men are shunned at the very sight.
35One shall avoid all those who commit sins and particularly those who indulge in slandering Devas and the divine sages.
36-40Whatever is witnessed by these, Asuras and Yatudhanas. Krtayuga is said to be the age of Brahmanas. Tretayuga is remembered as the age of Ksatriyas. They say that Dvaparayuga is the age of Vaisyas and Kaliyuga is remembered as the age of Sudras. Pitris said: The Vedas are to be worshipped in Krtayuga. Similarly Suras are to be worshipped in Tretayuga. Wars are always to be worshipped in Dvapara and the heretics in Kaliyuga. There is no doubt in this that these spoil a Sraddha by their mere sight: the dishonoured, the unholy, fowl, domestic pig and dog. The Sraddha materials touched by calves and the people having pollution and chronic ailments are defiled. Cooked food should never be seen by dirty or fallen persons. If they see, it cannot be used as Havya and Kavya (offerings to gods and Pitris).
41The chief materials touched by them become desecrated. Solidified ghee shall be avoided at the very outset. Sprinkling with water mixed with clay is laid down (for the consecration of materials of Sraddha).
42Scattering of yellow mustard and black gingelly seeds should be done. The articles should be assiduously shown to the preceptor, the sun and the fire.
43-47The following should be avoided in Sraddha: that which is trodden upon by people while climbing on to their seats; that which is seen by the mobile beings that are defiled; dried up and stale things; partly eaten things, defiled objects; that which is licked at the tip; that which is defiled by gravel, pebbles and hair or worm-eaten; cooked rice and other foodstuffs in which salt has been added; gingelly seeds and barley ground and powdered like oilcake; and things shaken off from garments. There are certain people who profess to be very wise by showing their opposition to the Vedas. They are to be termed ‘Ayajnapatis’ (non-masters of sacrifice). They are as though the dusts of Sraddha. Forbidden vegetables mixed with curds, as well as sour gruel or fomented liquids are avoided in a Sraddha.
48One should avoid (the eggplant) and all distilled liquors. The salt extracted from the ocean (water) and from the (waters of the) Manasa (lake) (is holy).
49-50This is extremely holy. It is visible directly. It is put into the fire and then taken in the hands and carefully pressed. It is to be applied to the forehead. This is remembered as Brahmatirtha. All the articles for Sraddha should be sprinkled and offered in the sacrifice.
51Arista (soap-berry), Tumula, Bilva, Inguda and Sva- dana should be soaked in water and (water be) sprinkled (out of them).
52All sorts of baskets (wicker-work) should be purified according to the conventional practice. Vessels made of tooth (ivory)-bone, wood and horns should be scrubbed and scraped.
53-54All earthen pots should be burnt again (for purification). Gems, diamonds, corals, pearls and conchs are to be purified by (brushing with) the residues of powdered yellow mustard or gingelly seeds. The same can be used to purify sheep wool and all types of hair.
55All kinds of sheep’s wool can be purified with clay and water, (but) at the beginning and end of all purificatory processes washing with water is recommended.
56Purification of cotton cloth is effected with sacred ashes. Flowers, fruits, pins and rods should be dipped in water.
57-58Purification of the earth (ground) is by sweeping, sprinkling and smearing (with cow dung). Outside the village the ground (earth) is purified by the wind. Purification (cleansing) of bow and arrows is effected by (brushing) it with clay. Thus the excellent modes of purification have been mentioned. Henceforth I shall mention further modes of purification. Listen to it even as I recount.
59One should evacuate the bowels early in the morning at a distance of an arrow-shot from the house in the south-western direction and within the view of the house. He should cover the head (with a cloth). He shall not touch the head with the hands.
60-61(Before evacuating) the ground should be covered with dry grass, wooden sticks or leaves, bamboo chips or broken mud pots. He should take water in a pot and hold clay also in the hand in complete silence. He should sit facing the north during the day and the south during the night.
62He should hold the water-pot with the right hand and wash the anus with the left-hand applying clay three times.
63He should scrub the left hand with clay ten times and then each of the two hands five times.
64Washing the feet after applying clay, he should duly perform Acamana (sipping of water). He should then pour water down three times with (invocation of) the sun, fire and water.
65A sensible man should always keep a water-pot handy. Subsidiary actions and washing of the feet shall be done by means of this pot.
66The performance of Acamana and divine duties shall be done by means of a second (vessel). If such actions are performed with a defiled hand, one should observe fast for three nights.
67In protracted cases of default, the rite of Kricchra is prescribed for expiation. After touching a dog or a Candala one should perform Taptakricchra rite.
68If human bones are touched, fasting is the purification (for it). It is prescribed that if (the bones are) touched deliberately, the fast is to be observed for three nights, and for one night, if touched unintentionally.
69-71By going to unholy places, one acquires all sorts of sins. These unholy places are—Karaskaras, Pulindas, Andhras, Sabaras and others, the land of Bhutilaya (if one drinks water there), the land of Yugandhara, up to the northern borderlands of Sindhu, the land of Divyantarasata, sinful countries occupied by sinners and lands devoid of good men such as Brahmanas who have mastered the Vedas.
72-73Clarity of mind, fire, timely whitewashing—these things indicate purity. But one is always ignorant. If one makes default in the purificatory rites—except out of ignorance, undoubtedly the benefit goes to Pisacas and Yatudhanas.
74-75One who has no faith in purificatory rites is born among Mlecchas. Those who do not perform Yajnas and sinners are born among the lower strata of animals. A man gets released from sins through purificatory rites and attains heaven. Devas indeed desire purity. This has been declared by Devas themselves.
76Suras always forsake the hideous and the unclean. Men of auspicious rites perform three types of purificatory rites justifiably.
77-78Pitris delighted with them for their pure rites, increase the Yogic power and bestow all cherished things available in the three worlds, on these people, viz. a man who reveres Brahmanas, one who receives guests, an intelligent man who adheres to purity, one devotedly attached to parents, one who possesses self-control and one who is sympathetic, O Brahmanas.

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