As most people know when a Hindu takes up sannyāsa, he no longer performs the daily and other rituals like the śrāddha that normal householders do.

Swami Chandrasekarendra Saraswati in the book Hindu Dharma: The Universal Way of Life § explains as below.

The Brahmin is born with three debts: he owes a debts to the sages, to the celestials and to the fathers. He repays the first by learning the Vedas as a student-bachelor; the second by taking a wife and performing sacrifices; and the third by begetting a son. So without marriage he cannot repay the second and third debts.

Sons are primarily intended for the repayment of the debts to the fathers. Performing the sraddha ceremony is not enough. Forefathers of the past three generations are to be made to ascend from the manes. So even after a man dies, for two generations the daily libations must be offered to him. That is why the birth of a son is considered important. (The case of the naisthika brahmacarin and the sannyasin is different. Because of their inner purity and enlightenment, they can liberate, not just two generations, but twenty-one generations of fathers without performing any sraddha ceremony).

[Hindu Dharma » Grhasthasrama » Grhastha and Grhini]

I'm specifically interested in the line marked in bold above.

Which Hindu scripture says that (naiṣṭhika) brahmacārīs and sannyāsīs can liberate souls of deceased parents and 21 generations of their ancestors without performing the śrāddha?

§ An older and copyright-free version of this book is available for free here.

  • Different minor scriptures give a different number of generations - but it is not by becoming sannyas that they are liberated, it is by the sannyasin attaining his own liberation that they are liberated. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 13:54
  • @SwamiVishwananda "Different minor scriptures give a different number of generations" - ok, please post an answer. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


The book Dharma Bindu(Essence of all Dharma Shastras) quotes Daksha Prajapati,in the context of discussing "Sannyasa Dharma":

Dakshan Prajapati affirms:

Trimshatparaamstrim shadaparaan trimshacchhapara –tah paraan, Sadyassannyasanaa deva narakaattraayete pitraan.

On account of Sanyasa of a person in a vamsha, Pitru Devatas of thirty generations before and another thirty generations ahead would be saved from narakas!

So,first of all it talks about 30 generations and not 21 and secondly i'm not sure which scripture is the source of that verse.It is natural to look in the Daksha Smriti first and i did too but apparently it does not contain the verse.

Will try to update on the source soon.


The Sannyasopanishad(Chapter 2,Verse 10) (related to Samaveda) talks about 60 generations:

  1. Seeing a Brahmana who has renounced the world t he sun moves from his place (thinking), ‘This person will reach Brahman breaking through my disc’.

  2. That wise man who says ‘I have renounced’ raises to glory sixty generations of his family before him and sixty generations after him.

  • So it looks like those #'s are not to be taken literally? Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 1:15
  • @sv Not sure but as u can see different Texts are giving different years..
    – Rickross
    Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 5:45
  • @Rickross I think there is differing opinion of being a sanyasi before having a child. As in Mbh there is a story of one Jaratkaru who was an ascetic and once he saw his ancestors falling from heaven to hell because he was their only descendant on earth and since he had decided to remain unmarried , his ancestors had to fall from heaven to hell.
    – river
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 5:26
  • Yes many scriptures say the renouncing should be done only after having son. But minor Upanishads say that one can renounce whenever the desire of renouncement arises in mind. Plus Naisthika Brahmachari are not required to marry at all. They remain celibate all throughout their lives. @river
    – Rickross
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 7:26
  • 1
    Ok thanks @Bingming
    – Rickross
    Commented Nov 6, 2023 at 4:35

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