As the Wikipedia defines it:

Śrāddha or Shraaddha (Sanskrit: श्राद्ध) is a Sanskrit word which literally means anything or any act that is performed with all sincerity and faith (Śraddhā). In the Hindu religion, it is the ritual that one performs to pay homage to one’s 'ancestors' (Sanskrit: Pitṛs), especially to one’s dead parents. Conceptually, it is a way for people to express heartfelt gratitude and thanks towards their parents and ancestors, for having helped them to be what they are and praying for their peace. It also can be thought of as a "day of remembrance." It is performed for both the father and mother separately, on the days they became deceased.

In my view this is one of the most diluted and flexed ritual and it is so flexed to individual's convenience that no longer it is clear what is authentic and what is not.

What would be an authentic reference pramana for this topic? Of course, Garuda Purana comes close to this topic explains about the first few days, but it does not explain what has to be done as a guide for those monthly, yearly occurrences of shraaddha.


I happen to stumble upon a PDF document in one of my old hard drive. After searching the Internet, I could see it online here. While it deals with many aspects, it says (related to this question):

According to Vaishnavism, Bhagawan Sri Varaaha Murthy performed the First Sraaddham in Bhaaratha Kandam under the guidance of Sage Bodhayana Rishi (Soothrakari) in a lengthy procedure. However, after some time, Sage Aapasthamban (one of the Soothrakari) concised the lengthy procedure and this is practiced now days. Detailed Sraaddha Niyamam (nomenclature) is well explained in a grantha called ‘Smrithi Mukthaphalam”.

3 Answers 3


Shraddha karma and other karmas like sandhyavandanam etc are described in

Ghriya Sutras -: The sutras for domestic ritiuals

Ghriya Sutras are decided according to your vedic shakha if you are a dwija.

Following is the Description of Various Ghriya Sutras and the Vedas from which they are derived.


Âśvalāyana-Gṛhyasūtra [4] Kausîtaki-Gṛhyasūtra (Bāṣkala śakha) Śāṅkhāyana-Gr̥hyasūtra 1


Gobhila-Gṛhyasūtra Khādira-Gṛhyasūtra (Drāhyāyana-Gṛhyasūtra) Jaiminiya-Gṛhyasūtra Kauthuma-Gṛhyasūtra

Kṛsna Yajurveda

Baudhāyana-Gṛhyasūtra Hiraṇyakeśi-Gṛhyasūtra (Satyāsādha-Gṛhyasūtra) [2] Mānava-Gṛhyasūtra Bhāradvāja-Gṛhyasūtra Āpastamba-Gṛhyasūtra Āgniveśya-Gṛhyasūtra Vaikhānasa-Gṛhyasūtra Kāthaka-Gṛhyasūtra (Laugāksi-Gṛhyasūtra) Vārāha-Gṛhyasūtra Vādhûla-Gṛhyasūtra Kapisthala-Katha Gṛhyasūtra (unpublished)

Shukla Yajurveda

Pāraskara-Gṛhyasūtra Katyayana-Gṛhyasūtra


Kauśika Gṛhyasūtra

If you are non-dwija person these don't apply to you. So just have shraddha (respect) towards your ancestors and give them food (via a brahmin or poor person).

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    I think some of these Shakhas don't have any families associated with them any more. Like I've never heard of anyone who follows the Vadhula Grihya Sutra. I'm a descendant of Vadhula, and I don't even follow it. Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 8:28
  • But how can we decide dwija in today's flawed caste system? We have many Jatis or Kula in this age and who among them are dwija?
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 11:27
  • @AnilKumar -If you are brahmin/kshatriya or vaishya you are diwja every associated jatis with these varnas are dwija and clearly there are societies like when we recite jati in parichay sanmelan the fair of bride and grooms happening locally all over India for Hindu Marriges
    – Yogi
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 13:11
  • @KeshavSrinivasan - I agree with you there are no atharvana Veda people and many have lost their shakhas there must be a new or rejuvinated system which might allot or atleast show them their varna and shaka like some rishi or trikaaldarshi which is near to impossible in kaliyuga.
    – Yogi
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 13:13
  • @Yogi There are Atharvana Veda Brahmins, it's just that there are relatively few of them left compared to the other Vedas. In any case, I don't know if the number of people who don't know their Shakhas is that large - at least the Brahmin families in South India that I've encountered all know their Shakha. When I talk about Shakhas being lost, I mostly mean due to families dying out or somehow switching Shakhas, not people being confused about what Shakha to follow. Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 14:30

The Grihya Sutras do mention the rituals for all samskars but it is the Mahabharat that gives the original ritual that was performed for Shraadh ceremony. Mahabharat, Anushashan Parva, Section XCI mentions the original ritual to have been performed that began the practice of Shraadh:

"Bhishma said, 'Listen to me, O ruler of men (Yuddhishthira), as I tell thee how the Sraddha was introduced, the time of such introduction, the essences of the rite, and the Muni who conceived it. From the Self-born Brahman sprang Atri, O thou of Kuru's race. In Atri's race was born a Muni of the name of Dattatreya. Dattatreya got a son of the name of Nimi possessed of wealth of asceticism.

Nimi got a son named Srimat who was endued with great beauty of person. Upon the expiration of a full thousand years, Srimat, having undergone the severest austerities, succumbed to the influence of Time and departed from this world. His sire Nimi, having performed the Purificatory rites according to the ritual laid down in the ordinance, became filled with great grief, thinking continually of the loss of his son.

Thinking of that cause of sorrow the high-souled Nimi collected together various agreeable objects (of food and drink) on the fourteenth day of the moon. The next morning he rose from bed. Pained his heart was with grief, as he rose from sleep that day--he succeeded in withdrawing it from the one object upon which it had been working. His understanding succeeded in busying itself with other matters. With concentrated attention he then conceived the idea of a Sraddha.

All those articles of his own food, consisting of fruits and roots, and all those kinds of staple grains that were agreeable to him, were carefully thought of by that sage possessed of wealth of penances. On the day of the New moon he invited a number of adorable Brahmanas (to his asylum). Possessed of great wisdom, Nimi caused them to be seated on seats (of Kusa grass) and honoured them by going around their persons. Approaching seven such Brahmanas whom he had brought to his abode together, the puissant Nimi gave unto them food consisting of Syamaka rice, unmixed with salt. Towards the feet of those Brahmanas engaged in eating the food that was served unto them a number of Kusa blades was spread out on the seats they occupied, with the top ends of the blades directed towards the south. With a pure body and mind and with concentrated attention, Nimi, having placed those blades of sacred grass in the way indicated, offered cakes of rice unto his dead son, uttering his name and family.

Having done this, that foremost of Munis became filled with regret at the idea of having achieved an act that had not (to his knowledge) been laid down in any of the scriptures. Indeed, filled with regret he began to think of what he had done. 'Never done before by the Munis, alas, what have I done! How shall I (for having done an act that has not been ordained) avoid being cursed by the Brahmanas (as an introducer of strange rites)?' He then thought of the original progenitor of his race.

As soon as he was thought of, Atri endued with wealth of penances came there. Beholding him exceedingly afflicted with grief on account of the death of his son, the immortal Atri comforted him with agreeable counsels. He said unto him, 'O Muni, this rite that thou hast conceived, is a sacrifice in honour of the Pitris. Let no fear be thine, O thou that art possessed of the wealth of asceticism! The Grandsire Brahman himself, in days of old, laid it down! This rite that thou hast conceived has been ordained by the Self-born himself. Who else than the Self-born could ordain this ritual in Sraddhas? I shall presently tell thee, O son, the excellent ordinance laid down in respect of Sraddhas. Ordained by the Self-born himself, O son, do thou follow it.

Next are the instructions given by Atri Rishi to his great-grandson regarding the performance of Shraadh rituals and the paraphernalia related to it:

Having first performed the Karana on the sacred fire with the aid of Mantras, O thou that art possessed of wealth of penances, one should always pour libations next unto the deity of fire, and Soma, and Varuna.

Unto the Viswedevas also, who are always the companions of the Pitris, the Self-born then ordained a portion of the offerings. The Earth also, as the goddess that sustains the offerings made at Sraddhas, should then be praised under the names of Vaishnavi, Kasyapi, and the inexhaustible.

When water is being fetched for the Sraddha, the deity Varuna of great puissance should be praised. After this, both Agni and Soma should be invoked with reverence and gratified (with libations), O sinless one. Those deities that are called by the name of Pitris were created by the Self-born. Others also, highly blessed, viz., the Ushnapsa, were created by him. For all these shares have been ordained of the offerings made at Sraddhas.

By adoring all these deities at Sraddhas, the ancestors of the persons performing them become freed from all sins. The Pitris referred to above as those created by the Self-born number seven. The Viswedevas having Agni for their mouth (for it is through Agni that they feed), have been mentioned before. I shall now mention the names of those high-souled deities who deserve shares of the offerings made at Sraddhas. Those names at Vala, Dhriti, Vipapa, Punyakrit, Pavana, Parshni, Kshemak, Divysanu, Vivaswat, Viryavat, Hrimat, Kirtimat, Krita, Jitatman, Munivirya, Diptaroman, Bhayankara, Anukarman, Pratia, Pradatri, Ansumat, Sailabha, Parama krodhi, Dhiroshni, Bhupati, Sraja, Vajrin, and Vari,--these are the eternal Viswedevas. There are others also whose names are Vidyutvarchas, Somavarchas, and Suryasri. Others also are numbered amongst them, viz., Somapa, Suryasavitra, Dattatman, Pundariyaka, Ushninabha, Nabhoda, Viswayu, Dipti, Chamuhara, Suresa, Vyomari, Sankara Bhava, Isa, Kartri, Kriti, Daksha, Bhuvana, Divya, Karmakrit, Ganita Panchavirya, Aditya, Rasmimat, Saptakrit, Somavachas, Viswakrit, Kavi, Anugoptri, Sugoptri, Naptri, and Iswara:--these highly blessed ones are numbered as the Viswedevas. They are eternal and conversant with all that occurs in Time.

The species of paddy which should not be offered at Sraddhas are those called Kodrava, and Pulka. Assafoetida also, among articles used in cooking, should not be offered, as also onions and garlic, the produce of the Moringa pterygosperma, Bauhinia Variegata, the meat of animals slain with envenomed shafts all varieties of Sucuribita Pepo, Sucuribita lagenaria, and black salt.

The other articles that should not be offered at Sraddhas are the flesh of the domesticated hog, the meat of all animals not slaughtered at sacrifices, Nigella sativa, salt of the variety called Vid, the potherb that is called Sitapaki, all sprouts (like those of the bamboo), and also the Trapa bispinosa.

All kinds of salt should be excluded from the offerings made at Sraddhas, and also the fruits of the Eugenia Jamblana. All articles, again, upon which any one has spat or upon which tears have fallen should not be offered at Sraddhas. Among offerings made to the Pitris or with the Havya and Kavya offered to the deities, the potherb called Sudarsana (Menispermum tomentosum, Rox) should not be included. Havi mixed with this is not acceptable to Pitris.

From the place where the Sraddha is being performed, the Chandala and the Swapacha should be excluded, as also all who wear clothes steeped in yellow, and persons affected with leprosy, or one who has been excasted (for transgressions), or one who is guilty of Brahmanicide, or a Brahmana of mixed descent or one who is the relative of an excasted man. These all should be excluded by persons possessed of wisdom from the place where a Sraddha is being performed.'

Having said these words in days of old unto the Rishi Nimi of his own race, the illustrious Atri possessed of wealth of penances then went back to the Grandsire's assembly in Heaven.'"


I think it's Garuda Maha Puraanam. Which has 315 units not just 19 units of pretha kalpa. I couldn't find any other better source of Hindu knowledge which is related to jeevathama's travel after the death and explanation of Yamaloka and Pitru devatha knowledge, and the rites during after the death of a man, explanation of different narakas than this. Infact everything related to funaral rites.

It has knowledge of most of Hindu practices not just funaral rites, but everything from instructions for simple fasting (Upavaasa) to pithru devatha rituals and intricate vrathas. One western translater of puranaas called it as encyclopedia of Hinduism. It also talks about various things like Ayurveda, Jyothish, Palmistry, Gemology and so on. It also explains Karma Vipaka the study of results of the Karmas. Unlike most of the Puranas it discusses Shanmathas. The six major paths of Hinduism. Namely Soura, Ganapatya, Scanda, Shaktheya, Vaishnava, Shaiva. Source

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    The Garuda Purana does discuss it, but the main Hindu scriptures that focus on it are the Grihya Sutras. Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 11:07

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