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tarpaṇa mantras

I propose to give the ṛks and a few non-ṛk mantras which

are used in tarpaṇa.

As most of us are probably aware the word ‘tarpaṇa’

comes from the root “tṛp” meaning, to satisfy, to satiate,
to please. This rite, therefore, is believed to satisfy those
for whom it is addressed or performed, viz., devas, pitṛs,
ṛṣis, etc.

The mantras discussed below figure in the pitṛ tarpaṇa

which is to be done on prescribed days/occasions.

आयात िपतरः सॊमया गमभीरैः पिथिभः पूवयैः ।

पजा असमभयम् ददतो रियं च दीघायुतवं च शतशारदं च ॥
ஆயாத பிதரஃ ோஸாமயா கமபீைரஃ பதிபிஃ பரவையஃ |
பரஜாம அஸமபயம ததோதா ரயிம ச தீரகாயதவம ச
சத சாரதம் ச ||

āyāta pitaraḥ somyā gambhīraiḥ pathibhiḥ pūrvyaiḥ |

prajāṃ asmabhyam dadato rayiṃ ca dīrghāyutvaṃ ca
śataśāradaṃ ca ||

This mantra is taken from atharva veda, where it appears

(in the paipālāda saṃhitā) with slight differences as
shown below:

अथवा ऋिषः (यमो मनतोकताश)* ।भुिरगासतार पिङकत: छनदः ।

आ यात िपतरः सोमयासो गंभररैः पिथिभः िपतृयाणैः ।

आयुरसमभयं दधतः पजा च रायश पोषैरिभ नः सचधवम् ॥ अथवर वेद १८.४.६२
அதர்வா ருஷிஃ (யோமா மந்த்ோராக்தாஸ்ச)* | புரிகாஸ்தார பங்க்தி:
சந்தஃ |

ஆ யாத பிதரஃ ோஸாம்யாோஸா கம்பீைரஃ பதிபிஃ பித்ருயாைணஃ |

ஆயுரஸ்மப்யம் தததஃ ப்ரஜாம் ச ராயஸ்ச ோபாைஷரபி நஃ ஸசத்வம் ||
அதர்வ ோவத ௧௮.௪.௬௨

atharvā ṛṣiḥ (yamo mantroktāśca)* |bhurigāstāra paṅkti:

chandaḥ |

ā yāta pitaraḥ somyāso gaṃbhrrraiḥ pathibhiḥ pitṛyāṇaiḥ

āyurasmabhyaṃ dadhataḥ prajāṃ ca rāyaśca poṣairabhi
naḥ sacadhvam || atharva veda 18.4.62

* yama is the devataa also.

This verse also, reportedly appears in some other texts

such as the hiraṇyakeśin gyhyasūtra,mantra brāhmaṇa,
kauśika sūtra etc., also partly or with differences;
anyway, it is not a ṛk in the correct sense of the term.
{a yata pitarah somyasah (HG. somyah) AV. 18.4.62";

Hiranyakesi Grihyasutra.2.10.5". P: a yata Kau9.S3.27.

See eta pitarah,

and cf. para yata.}

Come Ye ! O soma-loving pitṛs ! by unfathomed

(profound) paths which the manes of yore (also) trod, and
give us wealth, long life and progeny.

“Long life” is one of the boons asked for from the pitṛs.
But the actual words used are “dīrghāyutvam ca
śataśāradam ca” meaning a ‘long life of a hundred
autumns’. Prayers for long life of a hundred autumns are
frequent in the vedic texts as compared to the later ones.
There is evidence to show that people in the ṛgvedic
times generally might have had long lives. Even then one
hundred years was something to be aspired for. When we
hear stories of ṛṣis doing penance (tapas) for hundreds or
thousands of years from later purāṇas, we must
remember that these are all mere flights of fancy and
untrue. In the case of this verse also, it is the ṛṣi who is
himself asking for a life span of one hundred years, not
any ordinary man in the jungle (if we suppose there were
no streets in those times). Hence the wrong notion that
the ṛṣis are some superhuman beings or divine beings, is
entirely false and is one of the inputs given by the
orthodoxy to bewilder and thus beguile the gullible

सकृद् आिचछनं बि‌हररणामृदु ।

सयोनं िपतृभयसतवाभरामयहम् ।
अिसमन् सीदनतु मे िपतरः सोमयाः ।
िपतामहैः पिपतामहैशानुगैः सह ॥ तै. बा.३.७.४.१०

ஸகரத ஆசசிநநம பர‍ஹிரரணாமரத |

ஸோயாநம பிதரபயஸதவாபராமயஹம |
அ ஸ்ம ிந ் ஸீத ந த ் ாஃ |
் ுோம பித ர ஃோஸாம ய
பிதாமைஹஃ பரபிதாமைஹஸசாநைகஃ ஸஹ || ைத.

sakṛd ācchinnaṃ bar–hirūrṇāmṛdu |

syonaṃ pitṛbhyastvābharāmyaham |
asmin sīdantu me pitaraḥ somyāḥ |
pitāmahaiḥ prapitāmahaiścānugaiḥ saha || tai.

Note : This mantra is recited for offering āsana for the

pitṝ s. It, again, is not a ṛk and found only in the
āpastamba śrauta sūtra
And taittirīya brāhmaṇa.

Come at once, my manes (pitṝ s), accompanied by the

grand fathers and great grandfathers), be seated before
on this soft couch of sacrificial grass that I keep for you
(meaning the two darbha grasses* placed during tarpaṇa
as seat for the pitṝ s) (which is) unbroken (and) soft as

* Please see the extent to which the import of the words

uttered as mantra and our actual action are at variance.
Here, we keep two blades of coarse “darbha” grass, most
probably in a brass plate with rim, large enough to hold
the poured water, but tell the pitṝ s, in a rather straight-
faced way that we have “placed a soft couch of sacrificial
grass, unbroken ( not torn, in this context) and soft as
wool”. Now, if we put ourselves as guests of someone
else and he offers some rough and abrasive seat and
describes it, nevertheless, as ‘woolly soft’ how will we

ऋिषः - यामायनशशङः । छनदः - ितषुप् । देवता - िपतरः ।

उदीरता अवर उद् परास उनमधयमाः िपतरः सॊमयासः ।

असुं य ईयुरवृका ऋतजासतॆनॊऽवनतु िपतरो हवेषु ॥ ऋ. वॆ. १०.१४.६

ருஷிஃ - யாமாயநஃ சங்கஃ | சந்தஃ - த்ரிஷ்டுப் | ோதவதா - பிதரஃ |

உதீரதாம் அவர உத் பராஸ உந்மத்யமாஃ பிதரஃ ோஸாம்யாஸஃ |

அஸும் ய ஈயுரவ்ருகா ருதஜ்ஞாஸ்ெதெநாऽவந்து பிதோரா ஹோவஷு ||
ரிகோவதம ௧0.௧௪.௬

ṛṣiḥ - yāmāyanaśśaṅkhaḥ | chandaḥ - triṣṭup | devatā -

pitaraḥ |

udīratāṃ avara ud parāsa unmadhyamāḥ pitaraḥ

somyāsaḥ |
asuṃ ya īyuravṛkā ṛtajñāsteno:'vantu pitaro haveṣu ||
R.V. 10.14.6

May my pitṝs, the low, mean ones, the middle ones and
the noble ones, obtain the havis of the highest quality.
Let all of them who know this rite (tarpana) become
inoffensive, non-hurting and protect me, hearing this
appeal from me.

Notes :

1. Please observe the adjective “avṛkā”; it means, in

the vedic context, ‘not hurting, inoffensive, safe,
etc.’. Here, the pitṝs are entreated to become avṛkā
which means that, if unpropitiated, they would cause
hurt or harm.

2. The word “vṛkā” means ‘wolf’ in present day Sanskrit

different meanings like jackal, owl, crow, thief,
kshatriya, dog,
etc., have been given as meaning by Indian
It, therefore, appears as though the ṛgvedic people,
including the “ṛṣis” who composed this (and other
verses in which the word ‘avṛkā’ is used in this
sense), lived in fear of wolves, dogs, thieves, owls
and what not. Hence, it should be evident that these
ṛṣis were mere human beings, not possessing any
supernatural abilities, etc., (contrary to the
indoctrination of orthodox religion). Consequently
the oft-heard refrain that the vedas are
“apauruṣeya”, that the ṛṣis, due to their superhuman
abilities, captured the ethereal vibrations of the
highest mystical and esoteric import etc., etc.

3. The pitṝs are classified in different ways. One view is

that they get ranked in accordance with the merits or
“puṇya” earned by performing the various sacrificial
rituals while on this earth.

Essentially, the ṛgvedic people, had not come to

believe in transmigration of souls or rebirth. Their
belief was that the people who die, go to another
world and exist there for ever as pitṝs.

The belief in rebirth was a later import into Hinduism. In

the present context when Hindus believe in rebirth, the
following extract from the book “History of the
Dharmasastras, Vol IV” by Bharat Ratna,
Mahamahopadhyaya, Pandurang Vaman Kane, on the
topic of śrāddha(which will apply also to tarpaṇa) seems

“A firm believer in the doctrine of karma, punarjanma (re-

incarnation) and karma-vipaka (explained above) may
find it difficult to reconcile that doctrine with the belief
that by offering balls of rice to his three deceased
paternal ancestors a man brings gratification to the souls
of the latter. According to the
doctrine of punarjanma (as very clearly and succinctly
put in Br. Up IV. 4.4 and Bhagavad-gita 2.22) the spirit
leaving one body enters into another and a new one. But
the doctrine of offering balls of rice to three ancestors
requires that the spirits of the three ancestors even after
the lapse of 50 or 100 years are still capable of enjoying
in an ethereal body the flavour or essence of the rice
balls wafted by the wind. Further, Yaj. I. 269 (which is the
same as Mark. 29. 38, Matsya- purāṇa 19.11-12, Agni
purāṇa 163. 41-42) provides that the grand-
fathers (i. e. pitrs) being themselves gratified (by the
offerings of food in śrāddha) bestow on men (their
descendants) long life, progeny, wealth, learning,
heaven, mokṣa (final beatitude), all happiness and
kingdom. In the Matsya-purāṇa (chap 19 verse a) a
question is asked by the sages how food which a
brahmana (invited at a sraddha) eats or which is offered
fire is enjoyed by departed spirits that might have
assumed (after death) good or evil forms of bodies. The
answer given (verses 3-9) is that fathers, grand-fathers
and great-grand- fathers are identified with Vasus,
Rudras and Ādityas
respectively according to Vedic passages, that the name
and gotra (mentioned at the time of śrāddha), the
mantras uttered and faith carry to the pitṝs the offerings
made, that if one's father has become a god (by his good
deeds) the food offered in śrāddha becomes nectar and
follows him in his state of godhood, if he has become a
daitya (an asura) then (the food) reaches him in the form
of various enjoyments, if he has become a beast then it
becomes grass for him and if he has become a snake the
sraddha food waits on him as wind (serpents are
supposed to subsist on wind) and so on. Verses 5-9 of the
Matsya, chap, 19 are quoted as from Markandeyapurāṇa
by the śrāddha-kalpalata p. 5. viśvarūpa on Yaj. I 265 (p.
171 of Tri. ed.) also raises the same objection and gives
several replies. One is that this is a matter entirely based
on śāstra and so when śāstra says that pitrs are gratified
and the performer gets desired objects no objection
should be raised. Another reply is that the gods Vasus
and others that have access everywhere have the power
to gratify pitrs wherever they may be situated. He does
not call the questioners( nāstika) as some other and later
writers do.

The śrāddhakalpalatā of Nandapandita (about 1600 A.

D.) enters upon an elaborate reply to these persons
(whom he dubs atheists) that aver that the performance
of sraddhas for departed fathers and the rest, who
according to the particular actions of each go to heaven
or hell or to other forms of exist-
ence serves no purpose. He asks: why is śrāddha
useless? Is it because there is no prescriptive text laying
down an obligation to perform it or is it because śrāddha
produces no consequences or is it that it is not proved
that pitṝs and the rest are gratified by śrāddha? To the
first he replies that there are such passages as 'therefore
a wise man must perform śrāddha with all his
efforts’ that lay down the obligation; nor is the 2nd
objection proper, since Yaj. I 269 does declare the
rewards ( of śrāddha ) viz. long life etc. Nor is the third
alternative acceptable. In the śrāddha rites it is not that
the mere ancestors named Devadatta and the like are
the recipients and that they are denoted
by the words pitr, pitāmaha and prapitāmaha, but that
those words denote them, as accompanied by the
superintending deities viz. Vasus, Rudras and Adityas.
Just as by the words Devadatta and the like what is
denoted is not merely the bodies ( so named ) nor merely
the souls, but what is denoted by the words is individual
souls as particularised by the bodies; in the same way
the words pitṝ and the like denote Devadatta and others
together with the superintending deities (viz. Vasus,
Rudras and Ādityas ). Therefore, the superintending
deities viz, the Vasus and the rest, being gratified by the
food and drink offered by the sons and the rest, gratify
those also viz. Devadatta and the rest and endow the
performers (of sraddha ) with such rewards as male
progeny and the rest. Just as a woman expecting to be a
mother becomes gratified by partaking of the food and
drink for which she has a longing in pregnancy and which
is given to her by another person for the sustenance
of the child in the womb, she satiates also the child in her
womb and endows those that offer her the food and drink
for which she has longings by bestowing on them some
reward in return. Thus the pitrs denoted by the words
father, grand-father and great-grand-father are the
deities Vasus, Rudras and
Ādityas, and not merely (human beings called )
Devadatta and the rest.
Hence these deities of śrāddha become the recipients (of
gifts) in the śrāddha
rite, are gratified by the śrāddha and gratify in their turn
the ancestors of human beings. The śrāddha-kalpalatā
then quotes 18 verses from the mārkaṇḍeya purāṇa
many of which are found in chap. 28 (verses 3 ff) of the
printed text. It is said that just as a calf finds its own
mother from among many cows that are scattered about,
so the mantras repeated in śrāddha carry the food to the
The explanation offered by the śrāddhakalpalatā relying
on passages of the mārkaṇḍeya purāṇa is not
satisfactory and is rather far-fetched. The mārkaṇḍeya
and the Matsya appear to agree with the doctrine of
vedānta that immediately on leaving one body the
soul has recourse to another body, either as a god
or a man or a beast or a snake &c . The hypothesis
propounded is that the food and drink offered in śrāddhas
becomes transformed into various substances for the use
of the ancestors (Matsya 141. 74-75). But the great
difficulty in accepting this explanation is that the
ancestors might die at different places, while śrāddha
may very often be performed at one place far
away from those places. It is difficult to believe that the
grass growing in one place where the ancestor has been
transformed into a beast as a result of his
evil actions is the same that might have been produced
from the substances offered in śrāddha at a place
hundreds of miles away. Further, if one or all the three
ancestors have been transformed into beasts or the like
how can they recognise their offspring- and bestow on
them long life, wealth &c ?

If the Vasus, Rudras and Ādityas bestow these, it is

better to say so directly and affirm that pitṝs cannot
bestow any thing on their progeny. It appears very
probable that the worship of ancestors by means
of śrāddhas was a very ancient institution and that
the doctrines of punarjanma and karmavipaka
were comparatively later ones and that Hinduism
being all-embracing retained the institution of śrāddhas
while adopting also the doctrine of metempsychosis. The
institution of śrāddha is from one point of view an
excellent one. It provides an occasion for remembrance
of one's ancestors and relatives that were dear and near
when living. The Āryasamāja objects to the institution of
śrāddha and interprets pitṝs in the Řgveda as meaning
living men in the Vānaprastha stage.
It may be noted that the texts support both views. The
Śat. Br. expressly says that food is offered to the father of
the sacrificer in the words 'this is for thee.' Visnu Dh. S.
75. 4 "He whose father is dead may put down a pinda for
his father
&c. On the other hand Manu III. 384 states that fathers
are spoken of as Vasus, grandfathers as Rudras &c and
Yaj. I. 269 provides that Vasus, Rudras and Ādityas are
the pitṝs and the devatas of śrāddha. These latter are to
be explained as con-taining an injunction to contemplate
upon the pitrs as Vasus,
Rudras &c.

As stated below (p. 347) with regard to the

Rgvedic passages, it was on account of the
supposed power of pitṝs to benefit or harm the
living that the cult of the dead became a
prominent feature in primitive societies. Offerings
and ceremonies which may have in most ancient times
been prompted in part at least by the desire to placate
the ancestors are continued as tokens of pure affection
and remembrance. Various beliefs about pitrs are
mentioned in post-Vedic Literature. The Baud Dh S II 8 14
summarizes a brāhmaṇa text stating that pitṝs 'move'
about in the form of birds. The Auśanasa-smŗti and
quoted by the Kalpataru say the same thing. In the Vāyu
purāṇa - it is stated that at the time of śrāddha the
ancestors enter the brahmanas (invited ) after assuming
an aerial form and that when the best of brahmanas are
honoured with clothes, foods, gifts, eatables, liquids,
cows, horses and villages, pitṝs become pleased. Manu
Dh 189 and the Auśanasa-smŗti also support this notion
that pitṝs enter the invited brahmanas. The
Matsyapurāṇa (18. 5-7) enjoins: pindas should be offered
to the departed for twelve days after death, since they
serve him as food on his journey and give him great
satisfaction. Therefore, the soul leaving the dead body is
not taken to the abode of the departed for twelve days
(after death), the departed spirit hovers near his house,
his sons, his wife for twelve days. Therefore for ten days
after death milk ( and water ) should be placed (hung
up ) in space for ten nights for reducing all torments (or
troubles of the departed ) and for the removal of the
fatigue of the journey (that the departed spirit has to
make ). The Visnudharmasutra 76 ( 20. 34-36 ) provides
"the departed spirit enjoys in the world of pitṝs the food
offered in śrāddha with the utterance of the word
'svadha'; whether the departed is in the state of a god or
in the place of torments ( Hell ) or in the form of a lower
animal or a human being, the śrāddha food offered by his
relatives reaches him; when śrāddha is performed, the
performer and the departed soul both certainly secure
vigour ( or prosperity )."
(emphasis mine)

It will be observed that according to Dr. Kane, the tenets

of vedānta, postulate that the departed soul takes a new
birth immediately. I feel it is, therefore, necessary for all
the people who swear by advaita vedānta to re-examine
their position and decide whether the performance of
rituals for satisfying the pitṝs is not in contradiction to the
doctrine of vedanta, or, whether vedānta itself has
contradicted the vedas.
The next mantra is the second of three ṛks recited while
giving the oblation (sesamum and water) to the father;

ऋिषः - यमः वैवसवतः । छनदः - ितषुप् । दॆवता - अिङरः िपतथवरभृगुसोमाः

अिङरसो नः िपतरो नवगवा अथवाणो भृगवः सोमयासः ।

तेषा वयँ सुमतौ यिजयानामिप भदे सौमनसे सयाम ॥ ऋ. वॆ. १०.१४.६

ருஷிஃ - யமஃ ைவவஸ்வதஃ | சந்தஃ - த்ரிஷ்டுப் | ெதவதா - அங்கிரஃ


அங்கிரோஸா நஃ பிதோரா நவக்வா அதர்வாோணா ப்ருகவஃ ோஸாம்யாஸஃ |

ோதஷாம் வயம் ஸுமெதௌ யஜ்ஞியாநாமபி பத்ோர ெஸௌமநோஸ ஸ்யாம || ரு.
ெவ. ௧0.௧௪.௬

ṛṣiḥ - yamaḥ vaivasvataḥ | chandaḥ - triṣṭup | devatā -

aṅgiraḥ pitratharvabhṛgusomāḥ

aṅgiraso naḥ pitaro navagvā atharvāṇo bhṛgavaḥ

somyāsaḥ |
teṣāṃ vayam̐ sumatau yajñiyānāmapi bhadre saumanase
syāma || ṛ. ve. 10.14.6

May we receive the blessings of our pitṝs - navagvā

aṅgirases, atharvas, and bhṛgus – and its beneficial
results, who deserve soma drink, and are worthy of being
invited for the sacrificial rite (yajna).

Note :

The word “navagvā” is often used in association with

aṅgirases. Two other epithets used in conjunction with
aṅgirases as pitṝs in relation to yama, are daśagvā and
virūpa. The last word may mean one with many-coloured,
variegated, etc., as also deformed, misshapen, horrible-
looking, etc. But the latter set of meanings are of later
origin and here we can safely take the virūpa aṅgirases
as many-coloured, or of various categories ( a sort of
miscellaneous, other than the navagvās & daśagvās).

In regard to navagvā and daśagvā, there are many

interpretations given by scholars. sāyaṇa gives, in
respect of the above ṛk, its meaning as nava + gvā, अअअअअ
अअअअअअअअअअ अअअअअअअ अअअअअअअअअअअ, i.e., those who come
newly and induce fresh happiness (in us). But navagvās
are mentioned more times and appear the most
prominent. sāyaṇa refers to a story of how the aṅgirases
performed a very grand yāga in which some of them
attained the fruits of the said yāga in nine months while
the others took one more month to achieve their aim and
thus the two groups came to be called navagvās and
daśagvās. In RV 6.22.2 there is reference to seven wise
men (vipra) who were “our ancestors” and navagvās.
From these and various other circumstances the
navagvās seem to be the most important of the
aṅgirases and not as described by sāyaṇa.

The third mantra recited for oblation to the vasus (father)

is, again, not a ṛk but a yajus, from the vājasaneyi
saṃhitā ; in the mādhyandina version which I have there
is a slight difference – “asmin yajñe svadhayā
mādayantu” as now recited, is changed to “asmin yajñe
svadhayā madanto”, but the meaning does not change

आयनतु नः िपतरः सोमयासोऽिगनषवाताः पिथिभदेवयानैः ।

अिसमन् यजॆ सवधया मादयनतु अिध बुवनतु तॆ अवनतु असमान् ॥वा. सं. (माधयिनदन)१९.५८

ஆயநத நஃ பிதரஃ ோஸாமயாோஸாகநிஷவாததாஃ பதிபிரோதவயாைநஃ |

அஸ ்ம ிந ் ய ஜ்ெஞ ஸ ்வ த யா மாத யந த
் ுஅத ி ப்ர ு
வந த
் ுெத அவந த
் ுஅஸ்ம ாந ்||வா.
ஸம. (மாதயநதிந)௧௯.௫௮

āyantu naḥ pitaraḥ somyāso:'gniṣvāttāḥ

pathibhirdevayānaiḥ |
asmin yajñe svadhayā mādayantu* adhi bruvantu te
avantu asmān ||vā. saṃ. (mādhyandina)19.58

May our agniṣvāttāḥ pitṝs, worthy of being offered soma,

come through the path of the devas (devayāna) (and) to
this rite (yajña) along with svadhā and gladden us, speak
for us and protect us.

* “mādayantu” means ‘gladden us’; “madanto” means

‘rejoice’, addressed to the pitṝs themselves.

Note :

“agniṣvāttāḥ”, agniṣu + āttāḥ = eaten by agni, i.e., those

who have been cremated (after death), and thus pitṝs in
general, seems to have been the sense in which the
samhitas used this term. But later, in Mahabharata, etc.,
the agniṣvāttāḥ are a class of pitṝs who neglected the
maintenance of the sacrificial fire. Manu gives an
altogether different picture as may be seen from the
following extracts of Ch. III thereof:-
(I have included some extra verses relating to Manu’s
dicta regarding śrāddha also.)
187. On the day before the Sraddha-rite is performed, or on the
day when it takes place, let him invite with due respect at least
three Brahmanas, such as have been mentioned above.

188. A Brahmana who has been invited to a (rite) in honour of the

manes shall always control himself and not recite the Veda, and
he who performs the Sraddha (must act in the same manner).
189. For the manes attend the invited Brahmanas, follow them
(when they walk) like the wind, and sit near them when they are

190. But a Brahmana who, being duly invited to a rite in honour of

the gods or of the manes, in any way breaks (the appointment),
becomes guilty (of a crime), and (in his next birth) a hog.

191. But he who, being invited to a Sraddha, dallies with a Sudra

woman, takes upon himself all the sins which the giver (of the
feast) committed.

192. The manes are primeval deities, free from anger, careful of
purity, ever chaste, averse from strife, and endowed with great

193. Now learn fully from whom all these (manes derive) their
origin, and with what ceremonies they ought to be worshipped.

194. The (various) classes of the manes are declared to be the

sons of all those sages, Marici and the rest, who are children of
Manu, the son of Hiranyagarbha.

195. The Somasads, the sons of Virag, are stated to be the manes
of the Sadhyas, and the Agnishvattas, the children of Marici, are
famous in the world (as the manes) of the gods.

196. The Barhishads, born of Atri, are recorded to be (the manes)

of the Daityas, Danavas, Yakshas, Gandharvas, Snake-deities,
Rakshasas, Suparnas, and a Kimnaras,

197. The Somapas those of the Brahmanas, the Havirbhugs those

of the Kshatriyas, the Agyapas those of the Vaisyas, but the
Sukalins those of the Sudras.

198. The Somapas are the sons of Kavi (Bhrigu), the Havishmats
the children of Angiras, the Agyapas the offspring of Pulastya, but
the Sukalins (the issue) of Vasishtha.
199. One should know that (other classes), the Agnidagdhas, the
Anagnidagdhas, the Kavyas, the Barhishads, the Agnishvattas,
and the Saumyas, are (the manes) of the Brahmanas alone.

200. But know also that there exist in this (world) countless sons
and grandsons of those chief classes of manes which have been

201. From the sages sprang the manes, from the manes the gods
and the Danavas, but from the gods the whole world, both the
movable and the immovable in due order.

202. Even water offered with faith (to the manes) in vessels made
of silver or adorned with silver, produces endless (bliss).

203. For twice-born men the rite in honour of the manes is more
important than the rite in honour of the gods; for the offering to
the gods which precedes (the Sraddhas), has been declared to be
a means of fortifying (the latter).

204. Let him first invite a (Brahmana) in honour of the gods as a

protection for the (offering to the manes); for the Rakshasas
destroy a funeral sacrifice which is left without such a protection.

205. Let him make (the Sraddha) begin and end with (a rite) in
honour of the gods; it shall not begin and end with a (rite) to the
manes; for he who makes it begin and end with a (rite) in honour
of the manes, soon perishes together with his progeny.

Sufficient inputs for deciding (or getting confused with)

the meaning of the term agniṣvāttāḥ, I think!!

Now we come to the mantra recited fir giving the first

oblation to the rudras (grandfathers). This is also from the
vājasaneyi saṃhitā, not from the ṛgveda.

ऊजरम् वहनतीरमृतम् घृतम् पयः कीलालं पिरसुतम् ।

सवधासथ तपरयत मे िपतॄन् ॥ वाज. सं. २.३४
ஊ ர ்ஜம ் வஹந த
் ீர ம ர் த
ு ம ் க ர் த ு ம்|
ு ம ் பய ஃ க ீலா லம ் பரிஸர் த
ஸவதாஸத தரபயத ோம பிதரந || வாஜ. ஸம. ௨.௩௪

ūrjam vahantīramṛtam ghṛtam payaḥ kīlālaṃ parisrutam |

svadhāstha tarpayata me pitṝn || vāja. saṃ. 2.34
ऊजरः - strong, powerful, eminent, vigorous
वह - to carry, transport, convey
पिर - round, around, about, fully, abundantly, richly
पिरसुत् - a kind of intoxicating liquor prepared from herbs;
flowing around or over, foaming, fermenting
कीलाल - water, a sweet beverage, also a heavenly drink
similar to amrita, the food of the gods, (VS)blood, flesh
सथ - standing, staying, abiding, being situated in
सवधािवन् - containing refreshment, owning svadha

May (this offering of) nectar, ghee, milk (water) (and)

kīlālam* and parisrut convey strength, power, vigour, to
my pitṝs who are abiding (situated in) svadhā, and satisfy

* The word "kīlālam" has several meanings as shown

above. But, in the earliest usages, it reportedly meant
only a sweet beverage prepared from herbs, the details
of which are probably not known now.

The second mantra for the grandfathers

(pitāmahās) :
िपतृभयः सवधािवभयः सवधा नमः ।
िपतामहॆभयः सवधािवभयः सवधा नमः ।
पिपतामहेभयः सवधािवभयः सवधा नमः । वाज. सं. १९.३६

பிதரபயஃ ஸவதாவிபயஃ ஸவதா நமஃ |

பிதாமெஹபயஃ ஸவதாவிபயஃ ஸவதா நமஃ |
பரபிதாமோஹபயஃ ஸவதாவிபயஃ ஸவதா நமஃ | வாஜ. ஸம. ௧௯.௩௬
pitṛbhyaḥ svadhāvibhyaḥ svadhā namaḥ |
pitāmahebhyaḥ svadhāvibhyaḥ svadhā namaḥ |
prapitāmahebhyaḥ svadhāvibhyaḥ svadhā namaḥ | vāja.
saṃ. 19.36

This originally is from the vājasaneyi saṃhitā; but there

the word “svadhāyibhyaḥ” is used in the place of
“svadhāvibhya:”, the latter being found in the āpastamba
śrauta sūtra. This is what is adopted now for the tarpaṇa

pitṛbhyaḥ = to the pitṛs

svadhāvin (svadhāyin) = containing refreshment (owning
the svadhā)
svadhāvibhyaḥ = owning the svadhā
svadhā namaḥ = prostration, svadhā
pitāmahebhyaḥ = to the grandfathers
prapitāmahebhyaḥ =to the great grandfathers

Prostrations unto the fathers who own (are abiding in)

svadhā, svadhā;
Prostrations unto the grandfathers who own (are abiding
in) svadhā, svadhā;
Prostrations unto the great grandfathers who own (are
abiding in) svadhā, svadhā.

Note :

Here the last "svadhā" is a mandatory utterance of the

name of svadhā which alone will convey (transport) the
offerings to the pitṝs according to the smṛtis.
The third mantra for the tarpaṇa for pitāmahās is
as under:

यॆ चॆह िपतरो येच नॆह याश िवद या उ च न पिवद ।

अगने तान् वेतथ यिद ते जातवेदसतया पतँ ँँ
ँसवधया मदनतु ॥ आप . गृ. ८.२१.३

ெய ோசஹ பிதோரா ோயச ோநஹ யாமஸச விதம யாம உ ச ந

பரவிதம |
அக்ோன தான் ோவத்த யதி ோத ஜாதோவதஸ்தயா ப்ரத்தँँம
ஸவதயா மதநத || ஆப. கிரஹ. ௮.௨௧.௩

ye ceha pitaro yeca neha yām̐śca vidma yām̐ u ca na

pravidma |
agne tān vettha yadi te jātavedastayā prattam̐ m̐
svadhayā madantu || āpa. gṛ. 8.21.3

This is ṛgveda with slight change, adapted into the

āpastamba gṛhyasūtra. In both the the ṛgveda and
vājasaneyi samhitā versions, the second line is different
as shown below :

तवं वॆतथयित तॆ जातवॆदससवधािभयरजं सुकृतं जुषसव । ऋ. वॆ. १०.१५.१३

தவம ோவததயதி ெத ஜாதெவதஸஸவதாபிரயகஞம

ஸுகரதம ஜுஷஸவ | ர. ோவ. ௧0.௧௫.௧௩

tvaṃ vetthayati te jātavedassvadhābhiryajñaṃ sukṛtaṃ

juṣasva | ṛ. ve. 10.15.13
[The ṛṣiḥ chanda: & devatā for this mantra are śaṅkhaḥ
yāmāyanaḥ, triṣṭup and pitaraḥ respectively. (ऋिषः, छनद:,
देवता - शङः यामायनः, ितषुप् , िपतरः)]

तवं वॆतथयित तॆ जातवॆदँ सवधािभयरजँ सुकृतम् जुषसव । वाज. सं. १९.६७

த்வம் ோவத்தயதி ெத ஜாதெவதம் ஸ்வதாபிர்யக்ஞம் ஸுக்ருதம்
ஜுஷஸ்வ | வாஜ. ஸம். ௧௯.௬௭

tvaṃ vetthayati te jātavedam̐ svadhābhiryajñam̐ sukṛtam

juṣasva | vāja. saṃ. 19.67

I feel this difference (whether intentional or because of

error made by scribes when writing the palm leaf
manuscripts) makes a significant change in the "import of
this mantra" as explained below:

The ṛ. ve. and vāja. saṃ. versions say to agni, jātavedaḥ,

"you know (them - our pitṝs); you, alongwith svadhā be
propitiated with this yajña".

I do not have a copy of the āpastamba śrauta sūtra to

verify. But the tarpaṇamantra as we recite it today, (I
have referred to both a 1999 book by R.S. Vadhyar &
Sons, Palghat and an 1899 grantha lipi book published by
one prabhākara mudrākṣara śālā of cindādriśākhā nagara
(?) and find the same words in both) seems to say "O agni
! if you know (them - our pitṝs), you, alongwith svadhā be
propitiated with this yajña". This happens because of the
change of "vetthayati te" to "vettha yadi te". We have a
few Sanskrit scholars among our members and I request
them to say if my doubt is valid and throw further light on

So much for the accuracy of transmission/adaptation etc.,

of vedic verses. The complete mantra as we recite it
now means:-

Those pitṝs who are (present) here, those who are not,
those whom we know because of their nearness to us in
time and those whom we don't know due to the efflux of
time, all the pitṝs if known to you O agni ! you be
(ஏ அக்னிோய உனக்கு என் பித்ருக்கைளத் ெெெெெெெெெெெெ
ஜாதோவதஸ் ஆன நீ ஸ்வதாவுடன் வந்து த்ருப்தியைடயவும். )

The original verse, as appearing in the vājasaneyisaṃhitā

and ṛgveda give a different meaning which is more
acceptable, I feel. They say, "O, jātaveda ! you know
them all; please partake of these offerings with
satisfaction in this properly conducted yajña."
The three ṛks given below constitute the mantras for the
(three) offerings (tarpaṇa) for the prapitāmaha or great
grandfathers. These are continuous ṛks and form part of a
sūkta in praise of viśvedevas.

"viśvedevas" is a special category among the ṛgvedic

deities. Unlike agni, indra, rudra, viṣṇu etc., it is not
possible to fix their identity or the exact import of that
term. It will take a separate post and, may be, I shall
attempt it in future sometime. For the present let us be
satisfied with the fact that our scriptures state that the
pitṛs can come - in forms invisible to human eyes, of
course - only if they are accompanied by the three
viśvedevas called purūrava, ārdraka and saṃjñaka.

In ṛgveda the word purūru means far and wide. purūravaḥ

means crying much or loudly. There is also the famous
king purūravas. Which of these is the inspiration for
naming one of the viśvedevas in this way is not clear.

ārdraka means, wet, moist, born under the constellation

of ārdrā(திரவாதிைர), the name of a particular king in
viṣṇupurāṇa, and, ginger in its undried state (according
to āyurveda). May be that is the reason that raw ginger
(இஞ ச் ி) is considered an essential requirement for any
śrāddha cooking!

"saṃjñaka" is a word which does not seem to have any

meaning; the closest one can say is "one with a name",
that is all.

That apart, the verses under consideration appear to me

as some of the most appealing verses of the ṛgveda, and
can very well be part of one's daily prayers; these can
certainly be adopted as the motto by environmentalists,
the green peace foundation, etc., as well.

ऋिषः - गॊतमः राहूगणः । छनदः - गायती । देवता - िवशॆदेवाः ।

मधु वाता ऋतायतॆ मधुकरिनत िसनधवः ।
माधवीः नः सनतु ओषधीः ॥ ऋ. वे. १.९०.६

ரஷிஃ - ோகாதமஃ ராஹூகணஃ | சநதஃ - காயதரீ |

ோதவதா - விச்ோவோதவாஃ |

மத வாதா ரதாயெத மதகஷரநதி ஸிநதவஃ |

மாதவீஃ நஃ ஸநத ஓஷதீஃ || ர. ோவ. ௧.௯ 0.௬

ṛṣiḥ - gotamaḥ rāhūgaṇaḥ | chandaḥ - gāyatrī | devatā -

viśvedevāḥ |

madhu vātā ṛtāyate madhukṣaranti sindhavaḥ |

mādhvīḥ naḥ santu oṣadhīḥ || ṛ. ve. 1.90.6

मधु = sweet, delicious, charming, delightful (in R.V., T.S.)

ऋताय = to wish for sacrifice (सायण), to wish for speech
ऋतय = to observe the sacred law, be regular or proper
वाता = the winds
कर् = to flow, to stream
माधवीः = sweet (R.V.)
ऒषधीः = herbs, plants

May the winds flow sweet according to the sacred law

and be regular; may the rivers flow with sweet waters;
may the herbs and plants become sweet (tasteful,
promoting health) to us.

ऋिषः - गॊतमः राहग

ू णः । छनदः - गायती । देवता - िवशॆदेवाः ।

मधु नकतं उतॊषसो मधुमत् पािथरवँरजः ।

मधु दौरसतु नः िपता ॥ ऋ. वे. १.९०.७

ரஷிஃ - ோகாதமஃ ராஹூகணஃ | சநதஃ - காயதரீ |

ோதவதா - விச்ோவோதவாஃ |

மத நகதம உெதாஷோஸா மதமத பாரதிவமரஜஃ |

மத தெயௌரஸத நஃ பிதா || ர. ோவ. ௧.௯ 0.௭

ṛṣiḥ - gotamaḥ rāhūgaṇaḥ | chandaḥ - gāyatrī | devatā -

viśvedevāḥ |
madhu naktaṃ utoṣaso madhumat pārthivam̐rajaḥ |
madhu dyaurastu naḥ pitā || ṛ. ve. 1.90.7

तपरण मनत book shows उषिस instead of उषसॊ as seen in the ऋगवेद

नकतः = night/s
उत = and
उषस् = mornings
मधुमत् =sweet, honeyed, pleasant, agreeable
पािथरव = earthly, terrestrial
रजः = dust, sand
दौ = sky
िपत् = in ṛgveda this means juice, drink, nourishment,
food, but the usage of pitā indicates that the reference is
to pitṛ, father.

Make the night(s) sweet (providing good sleep) and the

mornings sweet (bringing good days); may the dust of the
earth (soil) be sweet (productive, rich); may the sky be
sweet (favourable, by giving abundant rains - according
to sāyaṇa) to us as father.

ऋिषः - गॊतमः राहूगणः । छनदः - गायती । देवता - िवशॆदेवाः ।

मधुमानो वनसपितः मधुमा असतु सूयरः ।

माधवीगावो भवनतु नः ॥ ऋ. वे. १.९०.८

ரஷிஃ - ோகாதமஃராஹூகணஃ | சநதஃ - காயதரீ |

ோதவதா - விச்ோவோதவாஃ |

மதமாநோநா வநஸபதிஃ மதமாகம அஸத ஸூரயஃ |

மாதவீரகாோவா பவநத நஃ || ர. ோவ. ௧.௯ 0.௮

ṛṣiḥ - gotamaḥ rāhūgaṇaḥ | chandaḥ - gāyatrī | devatā -

viśvedevāḥ |
madhumānno vanaspatiḥ madhumām̐ astu sūryaḥ |
mādhvīrgāvo bhavantu naḥ || ṛ. ve. 1.90.8

मधुमान् (मधुमत्) = containing, possessing, sweetness :

pleasant : agreeable
वनसपितः = forest trees
असतु = let it be, be it so
माधवीः = sweet
गावः (plural nominative of गो) = cows
भवनतु = become
नः = to us

May the trees of the jungle be sweet (useful) to us; may

the sun be sweet to us; may the cows become sweet to