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A Query about Brmha Yagnam

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Dear Sirs,
Some people advise that the Pithru tharpanam part of Bramha Yagnam should only be done by people who have lost their father. Is this true? The reason I ask is, we not only give tharpanam to father but also grand father, grand mother,great grand father and other pithrus. So shouldn't everyboduy do the Pithru Tharpanam?


Active member
Look at the Brahma yagna mantra carefully.
The tharpanam part begins with"Brahmadaya ye devaha thaan devan thapayami: It means, "I gratify those devas such as Brahma etc."

After the deva group, we come to the rishi group. Here we say "Krishnadvaipayanadayaha ye rishayaha thaan rishin tharpayami."
It means, "I gratify those rishis such as Krishnadvaipayana (Vyasa)etc.."

In the next part, we say, "Soma Pitruman Yamo Angirasvan Agni Havyavahanadayaha thaan pitrun tharpayami."
It means, I gratify those pitrus such as Soma etc.

Where does your individual pitrus come here? It is for the Pitrus in general, that is, all our ancestors who are dead now.

By the way Yama is said to be the first migrant to the pitru-world. Since then many of our ancestors have followed him. Our genes contain traces of thousands of generations. We owe our existence to them.


Dear Shri Vikrama,
While thanking you for your response, my question regarding who can do the pithru tharpanam part remains unanswered.
Can a person whose father is still alive perform the Pithru tharpanam part of the Brahma Yagnam?
Thanks in advance.


Active member
The Brahma Yagnam is not for your particular pitrus but for the entire inhabitants of pitruloka. So one having his father alive should also do it.


Well-known member
In tamilnadu state for aapasthamba sutram yajur vedam while doing upakarma Brahma yagyam has to be done. At that time sastrigals will say First for devas upqavethi deva theertham then niveethi rishi theertham each tharpanam twice on upakarma days and on other daily once. Then praacheenaveedham for pithru devadaigal pithru theertham.

Here the sastrigal says those who are having father do upaveethi and aachamanam. and those who are doing amavasai tharpanam must do in praacheenaveedhi pithru tharpanam for pithru devadas .

Srivatsa somadeva sarma in his amavasya tharpanam book has written in page no.43 as these fellows are pithru devadaigal persons who are having parents alive also can do this pithru tharpanam. But some sastrigals say oorjam vahanthee-----only denotes your pithrukkal and so members who are doing amavasai tharpanam must do this.

In yajur veda bharatwaja sutra brahma yagnam deva tharpanam 28 nos; rishi tharpanam 55 nos; then 16 pithru tharpanam must be done by all, and other 12 tharpanam only by the people who are not having their father. In bodhaayana suthra brahma yagyam 130 deva tharpanam; 39 rishi tharpanam and 24 pithru tharpanam are there. This can be done by all as it starts pithrun swadha namas tharpayami; this is only for swadha devi who is looking after these pithrus.

After upanayanam one must do sandhya vandhanam and brahma yagyam daily.In kaaladarshae book deva rishi pithru tharpana brahma yayam should be done after madyannikam and before vaiswa devam time.AApasthambar says one must chant their vedam which is brahma yagnam. chant purusha sooktham with vishnu dhyanam.


Well-known member
Dear Shri Vikrama,
While thanking you for your response, my question regarding who can do the pithru tharpanam part remains unanswered.
Can a person whose father is still alive perform the Pithru tharpanam part of the Brahma Yagnam?
Thanks in advance.

Shri Suma,

This is with reference to your OP as also the above doubt. In the olden days - about 50 or 55 years ago - the purohits asked those with their father alive, to refrain from the pitṛ tarpaṇaṃ part of brahmayajñaṃ. Their view was that the conduit to pitṛs was opened (and a brahmin male became an “adhikaari”) for doing tarpanam of any kind to the manes, only after one has performed the antyeṣṭi of one’s father (not even mother). But somewhere down the line a new "fashion" developed and some vaadhyaars started advocating the line that these offerings of sesamum and water are not for one's father, grandfather and great grandfather but for the earliest (or early)pitṛs and so every boy with a poonal proper can do these tarpaṇams.

If you take the effort to read the dharma śāstras which form the authority for these rituals in Hinduism, you will find that the notion about what constituted the term "pitṛ" varied from one authority to another in very many imaginative forms. I reproduce below extracts from the monumental work "History of Dharma Sastras" by Dr. P.V. Kane; but some of the orthodox members here may not agree with Kane's observations.

“The word ’pitṛ’ means 'father', but the word 'pitarah' is
used in two senses, viz.,(1)a man's three immediate deceased
ancestors, (2) the early or ancient ancestors of the human race that were supposed to inhabit a separate world (loka)
by themselves. 762 For this second meaning, vide Rg. X 14. 2 and 7, X.15.2 (translated above pp. 191-33, 194) and Rg. IX.97.39
'That Soma which becomes stronger and stronger and makes
others strong, that is strained through a strainer, that flows in a
stream, protected us by means of the luminary (the Sun) - that
Soma with whose help our ancestors knowing the place ( where
the cows were kept concealed) and the higher regions, harassed
the mountain for (the sake of recovering) the cows,' In Rg.
X. 15 1 the pitrs are said to be of three grades, lower, middling
or higher. They are also said to be earlier and later
ones ( Rg. X. 15 2 ). They are all known to Agni, though
all pitrs are not known to their descendants ( Rg. X. 15 13 ).
The pitrs are divided into several groups such as Angirasas,
Vairupas, Atharvans, Bhrgus, Navagvas and Dasagvas (Rg.
X. 14. 5-6 ), the Angirasas being particularly associated with
Yama who is invoked to come to the sacrifice along with the
Angirasas (Rg. X. 14. 3-5). In Rg. I . 62. 2 it is said:
'through whose (Indra's) help our ancient ancestors (pitarah),
the Angirasas, who sang his praises and who knew the place,
found out the cows.' The pitrs called Angiras were, it appears,
again subdivided into two classes viz. Navagva and Dasagva
both of which words occur in Rg. I. 62 4, V. 39. 12 and X.
62. 6. In several passages the ancient fathers are identified
with the seven sages as in Rg. IV. 42.8 and VI 22. 2 and
sometimes the Navagvas and Dasagvas also are said to be the
seven sages ( Rg I. 62 4 ). Angirasas are said to be the sons
of Agni (Rg. X. 62. 5) and also of Heaven (Rg. IV. 2. 15). Tho
pitrs are often said to regale themselves in the company of gods,
particularly of Yama. The pitṛs are said to be fond of Soma drink
(Rg.X.15.1 and 5, IX.97.39),they lie down on kusa grass (Rg. X.15.5),
they come with Agni and Indra to partake of the offerings (Rg.X.
15 10 and X 16. 12) and Agni is also said to carry the offerings
to the pitṛs (Rg X. 15. 12 ). Fire is supposed to take the spirit
of a cremated person to the pitrs (Bg. X 16, 1-2, 5= A V 18
2 .10 ,Rg X. 17. 3 ). In later works also (e. g. in Mark." chap,'
45) , Brahma is supposed to have created in the beginning
four classes viz. gods, asuras, pitrs and human beings Vide also
Brahmandapurana, Prakriya, chap. 8, and upodghata chap. 9.
35 (ityete pitaro deva devasca pitarah punah anyonyapitaro
hyete ). "

There are different classifications of pitṛs. One is pitaraḥ somavantaḥ, pitaraḥ barhiṣadaḥ and pitaraḥ agniṣvāttāḥ. The śatapatha brāhmaṇa defines these as, "those that performed a soma sacrifice are pitarah somavantaḥ; those that
offered cooked oblations (like caru and puroḍāśa) and secured a
world are pitarah barhiṣadaḥ ; those that did none of these (two
actions) and whom fire consumes when burning them are
'pitarah agniṣvāttāḥ.

The reference to “soma pitṛmān” in the brahmayajña mantras is, IMO, to the somavantaḥ pitaraḥ. "yamo aṅgirasvān" similarly refers to the aṅirasa pitṛs who are invoked in the tarpaṇa as
aṅgiraso nah pitaro navagvāḥ atharvāṇo bhṛgavaḥ somyāsaḥ. The third term, viz., agniḥ kavyavāhanādayaḥ (not havyavāhana; kavya refers to offerings to the manes and havya is offerings to the devas) refers to all the rest of the pitṛs whom agni is supposed to know.

"Later writers introduced certain changes in the meanings of the words for the different classes of pitṛs and also increased the number of the classes of pitrs.
For example, the Nandipurana q. by Hemadri states : the pitrs of brahmanas are called 'agniṣvāttāḥ', those of ksatriyas” ’barhiṣadaḥ’ those of vaisyas'kāvyas", those of sudras 'sukālin' and those of mlechas and untouchables are called 'vyāma’."

I feel our theist friends in this forum will see how, either deliberately, or due to ignorance, the Nandipurana writer/s have degraded the manes of Brahmins to the lowest category as per the śatapatha brāhmaṇa !

Manu gives the four classes of pitṛs as somapās, havirbhujaḥ, ājyapās and sukālins. He further classifies the pitṛs of brahmanas under agnidagdha, anagnidagdha, kāvya, barhiṣad, agniṣvātta and saumya. The śātātapa smṛti gives a twelve-fold classifications or division as piṇḍabhājaḥ, lepabhājaḥ, nāndīmukhaḥ, and aśrumukhaḥ vith three sub-groups under each.

There are other and different classifications also. After listing those Dr. Kane observes,
"The lndian mind often revels in divisions, sub-divisions and classifications without much basis therefor and this is probably an illustration of that tendency."

These words coming from a renowned authority will be sufficient to show to any ordinary person that our ancient seers/sages and law-givers did not have any cogent reasoning in regard to their notion of pitṛs. Probably all that was known for sure were death, the cessation of life in this world and the need to dispose of the corpse. The rest was always left to the imagination of the writers of the various scriptures.

In the light of the above, I suggest that any decision about the pitṛ tarpaṇaṃ in brahmayajñam will be right and no
mistake will be committed whether you permit your son to do it or prevent him from doing that. My interactions with orthodox Brahmins shows that people subscribe to either view even today and many do not attach any great relevance or significance to the
upākarma ritual except the social gathering aspect of it.
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