I was checking out the legends associated with the Pitri Paksh or Shraadh rituals and it led me to the story of Karna which goes like this:

When the legendary donor Karna died in the epic Mahabharata war, his soul transcended to heaven, where he was offered gold and jewels as food. However, Karna needed real food to eat and asked Indra, the lord of heaven, the reason for serving gold as food. Indra told Karna that he had donated gold all his life, but had never donated food to his ancestors in Shraddha. Karna said that since he was unaware of his ancestors, he never donated anything in their memory. To make amends, Karna was permitted to return to earth for a 15–day period, so that he could perform Shraddha and donate food and water in their memory. This period is now known as Pitru Paksha.In some legends, Yama replaces Indra.

First of all, does that imply there were no Shraads performed before the Mahabharat times?

And secondly, being the son of Surya, which ancestors would Karna perform Shraadh for - if it is Kunti's ancestors, wouldn't other Pandavs perform ceremony for them anyways?

  • 1
    Where did you hear this story? Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 19:38
  • Its there on all portals including wikipedia with the references of two books. Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 19:51
  • OK, I looked at the Wikipedia article and neither of the references seemed particularly credible. Maybe you should add one more point to your question, namely "Does this story have any basis in Hindu scripture?". Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 20:01
  • In any case, the Shraddha ritual is far older than Mahabharata times. It's mentioned in the Vedas, the Valmiki Ramayana, etc. Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 20:04
  • So that means this story that is doing the rounds is not correct. Can you share the origin story or the earliest reference as an answer? Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 5:50

1 Answer 1


First of all, does that imply there were no Shraads performed before the Mahabharat times?

Now, that can not be true.

The ParAshara Smriti, for example, says that the Manu Smriti is the Smriti to be followed in Krita (or Satya) Yuga.

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Krite tu mAnavA dharmAs tretAyAm gautamAh smritAhA |
DwApare shAnkhalikhitAh kalau parAshArah smritAhA ||


For the Krita are suited the laws of Manu ; for the Treta, those by Gautama (are) prescribed ; for the Dvapara those by Shank and Likhita ; for the Kali, those by Parasara are prescribed.

ParAshara Smriti 1.24

So, obviously, Manu Smriti existed during Krita Yuga. And in Manu Smtiti itself, ShrAddha has been prescribed as shown by the following verses:

Manu Smriti 3.81. Let him worship, according to the rule, the sages by the private recitation of the Veda, the gods by burnt oblations, the manes by funeral offerings (Sraddha), men by (gifts of) food, and the Bhutas by the Bali offering.

Manu Smriti 3.82. Let him daily perform a funeral sacrifice with food, or with water, or also with milk, roots, and fruits, and (thus) please the manes.

[Note-Here, the original Sanskrit verses has words like Pitrna shrAddhesha and ShrAddham]

And, the MahAbhArata happened during the end of DwApara only. So, how can it be true that some ritual which originated with MahAbhArata was already prescribed for people who used to live in Krita Yuga?

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    Exactly.. I had my doubts too that's why posted this question but all the news channel portals like ndtv and freepressjournal are running this wrong version along with Wikipedia. Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 15:22

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