The rules of good behaviour for Tamil Smartha Brahmins
Collected , retold and partly classified
(These have been taken from a series of articles on Sadacharam by Sri K. ShankaraSastrigal published as articles in the journal Vaidheeka Dharma Vardhini. He himself collected them and published as a book called Sadacharam , in Tamil. This book was published by Giri Traders. )
Some dos and don’ts
Sun should not be seen at the time of sun rise, sun set, and noon and during eclipse
Fire should not be put out by blowing air by the mouth. Fire should not be crossed by the leg. Fire should not be kept on earth. Fire should not be put out by dousing it with water. Feet should not be dried by showing it in the fire. Dirty things should not be put in fire. Two fires should not be merged.
When you go near sacred rivers, first you should sprinkle its water on your head and then only keep your feet on it. You should not spit in the river. You should not put a stone in a pond. You should not ease yourself in river or pond.
Cooking for our eating only , is a sin. It should be given to a guest first.
You have to wash your feet before going to bed. You should not sleep with your head facing north. You should not sleep in a broken cot. You should not sleep in a dilapidated house. You should not wake up some one who is sleeping.
All gods live inside a cow. Serving and feeding a cow is a great deed. Kicking or beating it is a great sin
We should not use the cloth, slippers, garland, water pot, seat and bed which were used by others.
You should not see whether water is hot by introducing your fingers in to the water. Instead water should be poured in to our hand and tested.
The Banana meant for offering to God should not be clipped by nail. The sandal paste meant for worshipping God should not be taken by nails.
Without any reason we should not powder mud.
The smoke from the corpse, early sun light, shadow of a lamp and the shadow of a debased man should not fall on us. This will reduce our wealth, health and longevity.
We should never travel in a cart drawn by a single bullock but we can travel in a cart drawn by a single horse.
We should always enter our village or our home through the front entrance and never by the back entrance.
At night we should never sleep below a tree.
We should never gamble
Crossing a river by swimming with hands and legs is a sin. A river should be crossed only by a boat. If it is shallow, we can cross it by walking. Once we cross we have to do Aachamana
Without a proper request we should not tell about Dharma (duties) or Vrutha (penance) to others. Especially it should not be done to those who are lower to us in birth.
You should not tread on the shadow of idols of God, teacher, father, mother, elders and cow. We should also not tread on the shadow of base people.
We should always tell the truth. If that truth would cause hurt to others, it should not be told but we should not tell a lie.
We should never call any body as a sinner. If he had not committed any sin, we would be sinning but if he had committed any sin, half his sin would be transferred to us.
We should never question God, result of fate, other world, next birth, heaven and hell.
We should not close our front door in the morning or evening thinking that a beggar
May come and trouble us.
We should not find fault with Gods, Vedas and elders
We should not put out a lamp by blowing with our mouth. A male should never put out a lamp.
We should not see our shadow in water or oil.
We should gnash our teeth producing sound.
When we yawn, we have to cover our mouth by our hand.
The shade of a lamp, shadow of a man, water from wet cloth, Water from hair, dust raised by walking of ladies. Dust raised by sheep or donkey, the air raised by a winnow, the dust raised while sweeping should not fall on us.
You should not sleep during day time. Love making should also be not done during day time.
Going round the Aswatha (Banyan) tree should not be done in the after noon.
People who have either their father or elder brother alive should not wear a silver ring called Tharjanee (worn on the pointing finger). The eldest son can wear it but it should be removed while doing rituals. This ring is normally worn to take away the sin of the pointing finger joining with other fingers.
People, who go to the rest room at night, should wash their hands and legs. It is not necessary for them to do Aachamana.
You should not take bath after bidding farewell to your friends or relatives. You should not take bath after a Puja, or after marriage ceremony or after Sacred thread ceremony.
When new water comes in the river, we should not take bath in it for ten days. In the month of Adi, in the new tide we should not take bath in river for the first three days. It is considered as days of periods period of the river.
During eclipse and Upakarma in spite of the above rule, we can take bath in river.
The moon should not be seen on Chathurthi days.
You should not sweep at night and throw the dirt outside. You should not cut the earth during night time. You should not take anything that is considered as secret during night time
Milk, sandal paste and flowers should not be kept in copper vessel.
In Sandhya Vandhana after water offering (Arghya) we do Pradakshina of ourselves. Near a banyan tree or near a river, this should not be done.
Keeping flowers tucked in ears and applying sandal paste only on chest and keeping the Thulasi leaf in the hear are sins. Men should wear flower in the hair, Thulai in ears and apply sandal paste in the chest and hands.,. Women can apply sandal paste on their neck and two hands.
We have to keep as secret our age, our wealth, quarrels in the home, The mantra which helps us, our live life, the charity that we give, the presents that we got, the insults heaped on us and the loan we have taken But these can be told to teacher and very close friend.
No body should be troubled. Specially Brahmins in whose body all the devas live should never be troubled.
You should not stand in the junction of two roads at midnight, At noon, At Dawn, At dusk or after eating food at the Sradham.
If the householder does not wear any cloth or does no wear Pancha Kacham or wears only loin cloth, his house would be occupied by Jyeshta Devi.
You should not stand within 7.5 feet of the place where a cart comes, 15 feet where a horse comes and1500 feet of the place where an elephant comes.
A father who dies with loans outstanding to be paid by his son is his enemy.
For a fire sacrifice we have to go with samith. When we go to our field you have to take cow dung, for elders we have to take some thing useful to their house for the temple you have to take fruits and flowers and to the teacher we have to take some eatable and to the king a suitable offering. We should not go bare handed to any of them.
Giving charity to very poor man, arranging for worship in a temple which cannot afford it and cremating an orphans body is like performing Aswamedha Sacrifice.
For washing teeth or toungue you should use the centre finger and not the pointer finger. If done you would go to hell.
Till our daughter gets a son, we should not eat in her house.
When you take meals you should sit on a peetam (a raised wooden seat preferably without nails.) and never face north.
We should not eat food with one cloth, wet cloths, with silk cloth, without meditating and without Caste mark in the forehead , with our hair untied or with a shirt.
We have to keep tuft, Pundra (mark in the forehead) , Suthra and Achara vary according to our family traditions and we should not change it. If we change it according to our wish , we would go to hell.
Wearing white silk Dhoti or giving it as Dhana to the Brahmin is a blessed deed.
Actions that increases our wealth
You should not keep sandal paste on the stone or on wood. This would remove our wealth.
If the dust raised by sheep’s hooves or those raised by hooves of a donkey or the dust when the floor is being swept by a broom or the dust from a woman’s feet falls on us then our wealth will be destroyed.
Increasing our life span
The following five things reduce the span of our life viz morning sun light falling on our body, the smoke from corpse touching us, love making with older woman, drinking turbid water without filtering it, and drinking curd at night.
The following things increase our life span viz Evening sun light falling on our body, The smoke from Homa touching our body, love making with woman younger to us, Drinking pure water and eating rice mixed with milk at night.
Also helping a sick person, regularity in taking food, performing of Oupasana and doing Namaskarams to elders increases our life span.
If an animal falls in a well and dies, it is all right , if we remove 10 pots of water from the well and then use the water but if a man dies, the entire water has to be removed. Later we have to put Pancha Gavya and Punyaham (sanctified holy water) in to the well. Then only it will become clean.
The feet of a Brahmin is very holy. The house where his feet touches is a pure house. It seems Moodhevi (Jyeshta) lives on their back side. So they should not be made to sit on the floor but only on a mat or a piece of wood without nails.
The behind of a cow is holy and its front part is not. Goddess Lakshmi lives there . You can worship the back part of a cow and put Thilaka there . Worship to cow, serving the cow , giving grass to the cow , caressing the cow , giving grazing land to the cow are great holy acts.
Women in periods
When a woman is in her periods
1. For three days we should not go near her
2. We should not talk with her,
3. We should not hear her voice while we are taking food.
3. We should not take food or even drink water which is left over after she eats or drinks them.
4. She is supposed to cook only after 8.30 Am on the fifth day after purificatory bath.
Cutting of nail and hairs
Nails and hairs can be considered as things without life. These have to be cut by the householder every month. He should not cut them himself. They should not be cut on Prathama, Chathurthi, Sashti, Ashtami, Navami, Ekadasi, Dwadasi, Chaturdasi , Amavasya and Pournami among thithis and on Tuesdays , Fridays and Saturdays among days.
Nails should not be clipped by ourselves. If we clip it, we have to immediately take a bath. The clipped nail should be thrown outside our house. Nails should not be bitten.
Twigs , Durba grass and flowers should not be clipped by nails.
Hair, beard and nails should not be grown by a house holder for more than a month. But if wife becomes pregnant or if the father or mother die, then they should not be cut for one year.
Moodevi (Jyeshta, the harbinger of bad luck) comes and attacks those who do not wear cloths or one who does not wear Pancha Kacha (Dhoti which is tucked in 5 places) or one who wears only a loin cloth. It has become a practice in South India , to do most of the rituals without Pancha Kacham. It should be worn in such a way that the end of the cloth should not be visible.
The dhoti should not be washed at night.
Rules for walking
You should not go in between two cows or between two Brahmins or between fire and a Brahmin or between two brothers or between two sisters or between mother and child, or between cow and its calf or between Shiva and Nandi or between Shiva and Parvathi, or between Lakshmi and Vishnu. If we do it, the benefit of all the good deeds done till that time would go away.
If we knock our feet against some thing while walking out side, we should take small soil from there and put a mark in our forehead with it.
When you meet Brahmins, Sumangalis(Married woman with husband alive) , temple, God, Banyan tree and cow you have to go round them only clock wise (Pradakshina)
Day to day rituals and rules.
Some people do evening Sandhya Vandhana facing the west. Only the Japa and Arghya pradana has to be done facing the west. Aachamana, Prokshanam, Agnischa Aadhithyadhi Tharpana should be done facing north.
On Amavasya, Pournami and Prathama you have to chant Gayathri mantra 36 times. On Thryodasi and Vishu, it should be chanted 28 times .On all days it should be chanted 108 times in the morning. It should always be chanted standing and with keeping the closed hand straight. When you are under taint, it should be chanted 10 times.
The sacred thread (Yagnopavitha) should be changed every four months. It should be changed, if one thread breaks, or after the period of the taint or if we happen to touch a sinner, bad man, barber, corpse or women in her periods.
All people above the age of 8 and below 80 should not take meals on Ekadasi days. Sick or weak people can take fruits and milk once. If they are not able to manage with that , they can simply boil rice as Havis and take it once .Even when you are in the tainted period Ekadasi should be observed.
Except on eclipse days, you should not take bath at midnight. If there is an urgent need then a lamp has to be lighted and you can take bath in front of the lamp.
Rules for taking food.
Only by taking clean food, our mind would be clean. The food, those who make it, the one who eats it, the one who eats along with you should all be clean.
Men should not take food along with ladies or children. He should never take food along with his wife. But during feast after Vedic functions, this need not be followed.
Tender coconut water should not be taken in a bell metal vessel(It is equivalent to alcohol.)but you should use silver vessel.
You should not take Nellikkai (Goose berry) on Sundays and Sapthami days. It should not be taken at night. But if Dwadasi falls on a Sunday, Nellikkai can be taken on that day.
Ellurundai (Jaggery –sesame balls) and sesame rice should be only prepared for offering to manes and devas.
Tender coconut water should not be taken in a bell metal vessel(It is equivalent to alcohol.) You should use silver vessel.
Water in which nail has been dipped , water drunk with left hand when you are not taking food, water drunk while you are standing, water which is left over by somebody, tender coconut water kept in brass vessel and hot water or milk kept in copper vessel are equal to alcohol and should not be drunk.
At night we should not take nellikkai (goose berry) , ginger, curd and fried flour.
Upavasa means complete fasting. If we suffer too much , then by consuming water, roots, ghee, milk , boiled rice, medicine and fruits, Upavasa is not affected.
Normally cooked or prepared food should not be purchased and eaten. But for Turmeric, Ghee, Salt , Parboiled rice, medicines, areca nut even when prepared by others can be consumed. That is these things even when prepared can be bought.
If we do not give food to our guests, our progeny and wealth would be destroyed. If you make a guest wait out side and take meals in side, it is equivalent to eating beef.
Brahmins should do Parishechana (pouring little water round the meals plate or leaf three times with Mantras), taking Abochana (drinking very little quantity of water with Mantra) , taking small quantities of rice seven times with mantra, touch the heart with the finger wash with water poured on the left side of the leaf, take meals and then take quantity of water with mantra.
Many people take some quantity of water in hand, pour it three times round the leaf, pour little drop on the left side and take the remaining water as Abochana. This is extremely wrong.
For each of the actions , we have take water afresh. When we are taking meals with others , it is important that we take the Abochana water together. When little of this water on the meals in day time it is considered as equivalent to honey drops and when done at night it is equivalent o drinking alcohol. Half the Abochana water should be taken in and the other half poured on left side of the leaf with the mantra
“Rourave apunya nilaye padmarpuda nivasinam,
Artheenaam Udhakam datham Akshayyam upathishtathu.”
If we do not get pure water do Aachamana , recite Pranava (Om) touch the right ear by hands three times. This is called Srothra Aachamana. If we have water we should not do like this.
That rice which is not offered to Gods or that where Vaiswa deva* is not performed should not be eaten , even if it is our own teachers house.
* VaiswadEvasthu karthavya: panchasoonApanutthayE "
There are 5 ways of placing the Bali .ChakrakAram is considered
the best way . There are manthrams for receiving the annam for
VaisvadEvam from the hands of Pathni(wife). There are specific anna vibhAga (division)
kramams and directions to invoke vaisva DevA: ( Sarva DevA: , whose antharyAmi is
the Lord ).There are 22 Balis to be invoked. and parishEcahnams .
Pathni has to remove Pithru Bali and Rudra Bhali. Pancha Yajjnam follows.
Vaayasa Bali and SvAna Bali are the last of the Balis .BhOjanam after athithi
sathkAram follows .
Before eating food , You have to keep some cooked rice separately for Vaisva deva and offering it to God and then Pranagni hothram* to the remaining rice.
*The initial rituals before starting eating of food.
Till Pranagni hothram is done we should not eat any thing. As soon as the rice is served, we have to hold the leaf.
The Aabhochana (The drinking of a drop of water with mantra “Amruthopastharanamsi”) should be done with water served by others. When you are eating in a group, all people should do it together. The sound of our swallowing the water should not be heard by anybody.
From the time rice is placed on the leaf, till Pranagni hothram is done, we should not speak with any body. The six times we take rice with mantra should be swallowed and not eaten.
When eating , every time we should take rice which can be held comfortably by mouth using the five fingers. Trying to swallow more and taking it back and keeping it on the leaf is a sin.
We should not take food with a group of people . We should not eat in front of others also. If we are compelled to sit in a group, we have to either chant the Trisuparna mantras or the names of God.
Before eating every hand full of food, we have to say , “Govinda, Govinda”
After we take food our stomach should contain 2 parts of food, one part of water and one part air.
We should always keep the water pot to our right. The water kept on the left, the water taken by the left hand ,water drunk while standing, water remaining in the glass after some body else or our self have drunk it are equivalent to Alcohol.
Except fried items and fruit , if others are served by hand or if served by an iron ladle or served by left hand is equivalent to beef.
When we are taking food in a group, if one man gets up , then the food in all the leaves get tainted( taint of spit) If there is urgent need to get up, we have to draw a line with water on both sides and then get up. In this case we are separating our selves from the group.
The Uthara Abochanam (The water we take at end of eating with mantra “Amruthabhi danamasi”) should also be served by others. Half of this water has to be taken and the other half left below the right side of the leaf through the place between thumb and pointer finger. This would quench the thirst of people who are thirsty in hell.
When Rice is being brought we have to say “Asmakam nithyam asthu yethath (Let this be available to me daily)” and when we get up , we have to say “Anna Datha Sukhee Bhava”(let the giver of food get all pleasures.)
Till we wash our hand and do Aachamana, if we touch somebody else , both of us have to take bath. We should not take water from a pot while the right hand is not washed. We have to wash our hand do Aachamana and then only give water for others to wash their hand. Then we have to gargle and spit 16 times.
After doing Aachamanam if we recite
Charyathi, sukanyamcha , chyvanam , chakram, aswinou
Bhuktha mathre smareth yasthu Chakshu thasya na heeyathe
and rub both our eyes with water, our eye sight will never suffer.
Then we have to chant
“ Aagasthi Agni badapanalascha buktham maya annam jayanthu asesham , Sukam chame thath parinamam sambhavam yachanthu arogam mama cha asthu dehe”
(let Agni , Agasthya , and then rub our stomach with water . Badavagni help me to digest all the food that I have eaten. Let me be healthy and without disease.)
And then rub the stomach with water.
It is told that after meals, we have to walk at least one hundred steps. If you sit or lie down immediately after taking food . there will be indigestion. If we walk or run fast , life span will reduce and fear of death will be there within us.
Just before Uthara Abochanam (taking water with “Amruthabhi dana masi”), we have to bring rice and ask whether they need some more rice. If we do not do it, the good effect of serving food will be lost and we will also accrue sin.
After the guest takes food, we have to give him some monetary gift (Dakshina) along with Thamboola. Other wise there will be no effect of Annadhana.
Rules for Gargling
After meals we have to gargle and spit 12 times. We have to wash our hand and legs and then do Aachamana.
We have to gargle 4 times after urinating, 8 times after going to stools and 16 times after washing our teeth
We have to take food before 4 Yamas before the solar eclipse. In case of Moon eclipse , food should be taken before 3 Yamas.
In case of lunar eclipse , if the moon sets before the end of eclipse, (Grahana asthamana) we should not take food during day time and take food only after seeing the moon. In case of Solar eclipse, we should not take any food during night and take food only in the next morning.
When the eclipse commences , we can take bath in the sea but the purification bath after eclipse should not be taken in sea.
Bathing in the sea is permitted only on amavasya and Pournavasya except in Rameshwaram.
A women in periods should take the eclipse bath from water which is poured on her by others.
During eclipse all waters are equivalent to Ganges water and all Brahmins are equivalent to Vasishta.
Till the end of eclipse we should not sleep but keep on chanting mantras.
Pregnant women should not come out during eclipse.
If any left over food is there prepared before eclipse, it should not be eaten. Food should be freshly prepared after eclipse is over.
In case of curd or pickles , we have to put cut Durbha grass in them ,After the purificatory bath, this Durbha should be removed.
The charity given and meditation done, during the eclipse would give us huge benefits.
Tharpana should be done once the eclipse starts in Solar eclipse and when it is leaving in case of lunar eclipse. Both Tharpanas should be done only in Krishna Paksha.
Tharpana can be done in sea water but Aachamana should not be done . Water taken from home after bath should be used for Aachamana.
Those in whose Nakshatra or Anu Janma Nakshatra , the eclipse occurs, should write the following sloka in a palm leaf and tie it to their forehead. After the eclipse this palm leaf should be removed. Then they should give in charity one Ash gourd, coconut and coin to a Brahmin.
For Lunar eclipse:-
Indro analo Yamo , riksho, varuno vayurevacham, Kubhera, eeso knandu Indu uparaga udhavyathaam mama
For Solar eclipse:-
Indro analo Yamo , riksho, varuno vayurevacham, Kubhera, eeso knandu Arka uparaga udhavyathaam mama
(let Indra, Agni, Yama, Niryathi , Vayu, Khbhera , Eesana remove the ill effects of lunar (solar) eclipse.
Milk, sandal paste and flowers should not be kept in copper vessel.
Ekadasi and Dwadasi
Dwadasi which occurs on Thiruonam day (Sravana) is doubly holy. Observing fast on Sravana Dwadasi day is more effective than fast on Ekadasi.
Madyahneekam can be performed before non on Dwadasi days as Paranai has to be done. This is not applicable to Sradha.
If Dwadasi is only for a very less time in the morning, we have to do all day rituals in the early morning and do Paranai. If it is extremely less, then Paranai can be done by taking a Thulasi leaf in water.
Whatever taint falls on us, Ekadasi fast has to be observed. Fast should not be observed often whenever we want. Similarly you should not eat for more than necessary and often.
If people are not able to observe fast, they can take milk and fruits (This is called Palahara). If people are not able to observe fast on all Ekadasi days, at least on Bheema Ekadasi you should observe complete fast.
After taking food on Dwadasi day, it would be great if we take one Thulasi leaf in little water. It would be great , if we can do it daily.
On fast days,
1. Do not drink water frequently.
2. You should only wash your mouth and not brush your teeth vigorously.
3. You should not sleep during day time.
4. You should not eat betel leaf.
5. You should not walk , run, fight or shout.
6. You should not make love.
On Dwadasi day we should break fast by eating Nellikkai , Chundaikai and Agathi keerai, If not all the three, at least one should be taken.
On Dwadasi days you should not eat snake gourd, brinjal , onion, honey and food supplied by others. You should not sleep during day time, do not eat dinner and avoid love making.
In our house we have to observe all Aacharas. If we go outside our village, it is enough if we observe half the aacharas. If we go to a town, it is enough if we observe quarter of the aacharas. And while traveling, it would be all right if we observe aacharas as much as it is possible.
If we see any elders we have to salute them. If the elder is a male, we have to chant
“Abhivadaye…” before doing saluting by falling on the ground and then they say
“Chatu sagara paryantham Gobrahmanebhya shubham bhavathu ‘ ( Till the four oceans let good come to cow and Brahmins.)
In some families Abhivadaye is told and Namaskarams is done later, In some other families , first Namaskarams is done and then Abhivadaye is chanted. We have to follow our family traditions.
If we have to touch the feet of the elders after telling Abhivadaye, we have to keep our hands as a cross and touch their right feet with our right hand and their left feet with left hand. If we are not able to touch, we have to touch the ground before them.
When we tell Abhivadaye we mention our pravara rishis.(Great Rishis of our clan ) Depend on the Gothra , it could be one or two, or three or five or even seven pravara rishis. These pravara rishis are great sages belonging to our Gothra.
Initially all gothras started with nine rishis. Over time there are nearly hundred gothras. People of our Gothra are called Sagothrar and people belonging to our pravara are called Sapravarar. Marriages should not take place within the same Gothra and within same pravara.
In Abhivadaye mantra we tell Our Pravara, our Gothra , Out Suthra, our Veda and then tell our name with a suffix of Sharma and then say Asmi bho. (Asmi means ”I” and Bho is a form of address of the elders.)
. There are several Sutras, Aswalayana, Kousheedhaka, Bodhayana, Apasthambha , Bharadwaja , Sathyashada , Vaikanasa , Kathyaana , Dragyayana and Jaimineeya are some of them. Aswalayana is for Rig veda, Bodhayana for Krishna Yajur veda , Apasthambha, Bharadwaja , sathyashada , Vaikanasa , Agnivysya are Sutras for Shukla Yajur Veda. These sages have written in detail how the Karmas from birth to death should be conducted. Poorva prayoga are the rituals up to death and Apara Prayoga is rituals after death. We have to do our rituals according to our Suthra that our forefathers have adopted.
If we do not get priests who know our Suthra , it is not proper to get it done in another Suthra. If we are forced to do it, later we have to do the same function in our own Suthra.
Later we have to tell our Veda .Yajur/Rik /Sama Shaka Adhyayi . Unless your name itself is only Sharma you should not say only “Sharmanam aham”. Others should add the name given to them on Nama Karana day(day of naming ceremony) and Sharma.
Cleaning the place of Delivery
The room where the delivery has taken place should be cleaned as follows. We have to bring some straw and burn it and put it in the room. Later we have to bring a cow to this room. And also sprinkle the sanctified Punyaham.
On the day when Woman after delivery are allowed to touch the vessels , they should tie a new Mangalyam and eat Pancha Gavya before entering the house.
Taint due to different causes
If an untouchable man (Panchaman-fifth caste) enters our house, all pots made of mud should be thrown away, others washed using cow dung water and cleaned with Punyaham. Cooked food should be thrown out. A cow should be brought in and then only house will become pure.
Ponds where cows take their bath are pure, even if touched by a Panchaman.
If a woman in periods or a Chandala comes near us, we have to take bath along with the dress that we are wearing.
If a Shudra , Brahmin with taint, Brahmin who has cropped his head, Dog or crow touches us, we have to take bath in the river along with cloths that we are wearing. If we do not do it, the religious act( ritual) will not have any effect.
If woman in periods or Chandalas touch us or if we happen to touch a corpse , we should take bath. Unless the men wear a new sacred thread they are not fit to do any rituals.
If our stool , urine or those of others fall upon us , we have to immediately take bath with the cloths that we are wearing.
Though silk is made by a killing an insect, learned people say that it does not have taint. If it is washed or given to the washer man, then this property is not there for silk. It then will have regular taint. But if is washed with the watery gruel of green gram on Amavasya or Dwadasi , then its purity is maintained.
Similarly the milk we get is taken after the calf drinks milk from the cow’s udder. The touching of the saliva on its udder does not make the milk unclean. Similar is the case for honey. Even though it is tainted by the saliva of the bee, it is considered as pure enough to be used for anointing the God. Similarly the banyan tree comes out of the crow after it has eaten its seed. It does not make it tainted.
The taint due to delivery of a woman goes only if they take Pancha Gavya after the prescribed period of taint. This is made as a mixture of five products of a cow. (Cow’s urine one part, half thumb size of cow dung , seven parts milk , 3 parts curd , one part Ghee, one part Durbha grass and water should be mixed to prepare Pancha Gavya. The following manthra has to be chanted while taking Pancha Gavyam:-
“ Yath thwack asthigatham papam , dehe thishtathi mamage,
Prasanam Pancha gavyasya dahathu agneeriva indhanam.”
(Meaning: the sin that is accumulated in my skin and bones, is burned by Pancha Gavya like a fire burning dry wood.)
On the day when birth or death taint leaves , early morning the men should take their bath and do Sandhya Vandana. The ritualistic cleaning bath should again be taken after 8.30 AM Then the old sacred thread should be changed and a new one worn.
Rules to be observed when wife is in a family way
Once a Brahmin knows that his wife is in the family way, he has to observe some disciplines. He should not shave or cut his hair till the birth of the child. He should not eat as a Brahmin in Sradha. He should not take bath in the sea. He should not travel. He should not go to cremation ground. He should not carry a corpse. If he does any of this, he would go to hell and the health of the baby would get affected.
Redemptive acts for sins/mistakes committed
Kruchram is a compensation one does ,for not performing any ritual or unknowingly doing a sin. This consists of torturing one self by fasting and expressing remorse. If one is not able to do a Kruchram the following is prescribed.
Instead of a Prajapathya Kruchram, one can chant Gayathri 10000 times. If this is not possible they can do pranayama 200 times. If this is not possible they have to do Thila Homam 1000 times If even this is not possible they have to read Vedas 30 times. If even that is not possible should feed 60 or 24 or 12 Brahmins. If even this is not possible they should do Godhana. If this also is not possible, They should give the price of a cow to a Brahmin.
If we have to get entitlement to do a ritual we have to give rupees 12.50 to seven persons or six persons or three persons.
After death rituals
When a person dies two stones are kept , one in the river bank (thadaga kundam) and one inside our house(Graha Kundam) . The pretha (the spirit that left the body) of the dead men are made to enter these stones. So till the Sapindeekaranam (Ceremony in which the Pretha is made into Pithru ) is over, the entire house is tainted. If the Graha Kundam is kept in some other house, if we sprinkle cow dung water and later do Punyaha vachanam, that house would become clean. People living for rent in that house can do their ritualistic worship.
Agnihothra can be done even when we are under taint after taking bath. But Oupasana and Worship should be got done by others.
Except Sandhya Vandana, nothing should be done when we are having taint. But Grahana snana Tharpana , Ekadasi , Sravana Dwadasi and Shiva Rathri can be observed.
After a person dies, the body should be taken only after one yamam, (this is for giving a chance to God of death to return a wrong soul , if he has taken it). It should not be kept for more than 3 yamams. If it I kept for more than 3 yamams, it leads to Payushitha Dosham (becoming old)
If a person dies in day time , the body should be cremated within three yamas. But if the person dies at night, he can be cremated within 9 nazhigai. After 9 Nazhigai of night, the body should not be cremated but kept till day break.
If Pryushitha dosham (getting old) happens to the body, three Kruchram should be given , the body Should be first washed with Pancha Gavya and later with water and then only cremated.
The concept of cremation is that we are doing Homam with the dead body. Since this is difficult we arrange a pyre, keep the body on it and light the pyre.
It is bad to die in Dakshinayana, in the Krishna Paksha(waning moon) , at night and on a cot. If each of this happens for each we have to give three Kruchrams and then only cremate the dead body.
It is also not proper to cremate the body immediately on death. It is believed the Kinkaras of Yama take the soul to Yama. Suppose they had done a mistake , Yama asks them to take back the soul and put it back in the body.
When we know that some person is going to die, we should do some ritual prayachitham so that sins committed by him are removed. This is an important ritual. If the person who is going do die can do it, he should take bath and give Dhana to the Brahmins himself. If he cannot , his son or the one who is going to the after death rites should do it. If after doing this the person does not die for three full days, then these rites should be repeated. This is because , he would be further committing sins during this time. For example , sins by not doing rituals like Sandhya Vandhana. If a person recovers after doing Prayaschitha it does not matter.
If we cannot afford to give this Dhana, we can show Thulasi and great Brahmins to the dying person. We can say in his ears “Rama, Rama”. We can sprinkle Ganges water on his body and give it to him to drink.
If we realize that the person is going to die soon, He should be removed from the cot and made to lie down on Durba in the passage room to the house(Nezhi).
On the tenth day of death of Dhayadhis (Paternal clan members) cutting of hair should be done for all married men who does not have father alive. If this falls on a Friday, cutting can be done on Thursday itself. After the 10 day taint and before Sradha hair and nail cutting should be done. The mantra for this is
Meru Manthara thulyani paapani , vividhaani cha,
Kesaan asrithya thishtanthi , thsmad Kesaan vapaamyaham.
(The sins equal to Meru and Mandhara mountains get attached to our hair and so I am cutting them off.)
Rules regarding Sradha(annual death ceremonies)
Sradha is firm faith plus total discipline. Sradha is called like that because it has to be done with faith and devotion. This also is called Thithi(phase of moon) or Thevasam(day). This has to be done every year in the month, phase of moon and the thithi in which the person expired.
The thithi should be in the Aparahna on the day of the sradham.(That is after 19 Nazhigai(Nazhigai is 24 minutes) after sun rise .i.e approximately seven hours after sun rise). If the thithi occurs in Aparahna of two days, that day in which the thithi is there for more time should be chosen.
If the thithi comes twice in a month, generally sradham should be generally performed on the later day. But if the later day occurs on the day with Sankramana dosha , it should be done on the first Thithi. If both days of thithi have connection with this dosha only later day should be chosen. This dosha occurs when the month starts in the Madhyahneeka period (13 to 18 Nazhigai from Sun rise) in the months of Chithirai (Mesha-April-May) , Vaikasi (Vrushabha –May-june), Aadi (Karkidaga-July-August) , Aavani(Simha-August-september) , Iyppasi(Thula, October-November) , Karthigai(Vruschigam-November-December) and Masi (Kumbha-February-march) months In other months this dosha is not there.
But if the thithi occurs only once in a month, this dosha need not be considered. If Sankramana occurs after 15 Nazhigai at night, then this dosha is not there.
If the thithi is not sufficiently there on both the days , then the Sradha should be done in the Kudhabha kala next day. Kudhabha kala is the middle one third period (six Nazhigais) of Aparahna.
If a month does not have the thithi at all, the Sradha could be done in the previous Chandramana month(The month system which is of 30 days from Prathama to Prathama)
If thidi is not there in Chadramana month also , it should be done in the next month.
If the Sradha of mother and father comes on the same day or if due to the stoppage of one of the Sradhas we are forced to perform it together, then first Sradha of father should be done and later Sradha of mother. Cooking can be same for both Sradhams.
If death taint of birth taint comes on the Sradha Day of mother or father , The Sradha should be done only after the taint period is completed.
If the eclipse falls on the Sradha day , we have to observe fast on that day and Sradha should be performed next day only.
If due to circumstances beyond our control , we are not able to perform Sradha on the appointed day, as far as possible we should observe fast for one day, give Kruchrams and perform Sradha on the next day. Some people believe that it should be done only on Ashtami or Ekadasi of the next Krishna Paksha.
During Upavasa, if some one has to stop Sradha due to non availability of Brahmins, you can represent there and take food. Even this does not affect Upavasa.
Some rules to be observed to perform Sradha.
The people who do Sradha should not take food outside their homes (Parannam) , get haircutting or shaving done , take oil bath , and engage in make love from 15 days prior to Sradham till the next day of Sradham. Taking food in the house of Guru, Friend , Father in law and sister is not considered as taking food outside our home.
In exceptional cases where this cannot be observed it should be observed from three days prior to the Sradham. In any case it should not be done the day previous to the Sradham,. If done, The pithrus(manes) will curse us.
One week before Sradha we have to get shaved.
The householder (Grahastha) has to do Sradham in the Oupasana Agni maintained by him. You can get Oupasana Agni ., if wife is in the same house. So Sradham should be done only in a place where one’s wife is there. In case if one is a widower, A Vidhoo Oupasanam is prescribed. Agnipurana talks about a sage who did Sradham without his wife because she had gone to her house for delivery. It seems he had to suffer a long time in hell because of this.
The Oupasana Agni , if it is not maintained in the house should be lit in the beginning of the moon phase when the Sradham occurs. If this is not possible, it should be done early in the morning on the Sradha day. Doing it at the time of Sradha is Adharma(Not Dharma)
It is desirable to do Koosmanda Homam before the Sradha ceremony. This would remove all our sins, like Broona hathya(killing of a foetus), taking meals in improper places and so on. If this is done the manes(Pithru) will bless us.
If it is not possible to Koosmanda Homam, at least we should take Pancha Gavya along with bathing in the sea or sacred river.
The day before Sradha, On the day of Sradha and the next day , we should not clean our teeth with a stick or brush and should not rub the teeth in such a way that the water from the gums comes out. However Teeth can be gently massaged and the mouth washed by gargling.
Before Sradha worship of Gods(deva Puja) , worship of guests (adhithi Puja) , special baths and special Dhanam(charity) should not be done. Before Sradha on that day morning bath, Sandhya Vandana and Oupasana only should be performed. These should be done in the early morning.
The shastras says that the man who does the Sradha should himself personally invite the Brahmins (for representing Pithrus and Devas) after they take their dinner at night .Normally one Brahmin is invited to represent the Viswe devas, One to represent the Pithrus and one to represent Vishnu. In some families they do not invite any one to represent Vishnu but simply put an extra leaf. (Swami ilai)
Those who have read Veda or Philosopher or Yogi or People who have done fire sacrifice are the best qualified for such an invitation. If these are not available Sama Vedi, Shukla Yajur Vedi , people who follow rituals , people who are experts in Dharma Sasthras, people who are peaceful, People who know Veda even though they have not learnt Veda are the people qualified for being invited.
If such people are not available father-in-law , uncle, Son in law , Maternal grand father , Teacher , Daughter’s son and the priest can be invited to this role. Some rishis say that daughter’s son is the best suited among them.
People who do not know Veda , People who do not have wife or son, People who work for the lower castes, People who work for the government , people who go as priests in the house of Shudras, People who do not follow rituals , people affected by leprosy or leuco derma, people who have dilapidated nails , people who have tooth problems , People who are thieves, People who do not believe in God, eunuchs, Drunkards , people who have music as the profession , people who have more limbs than normal, handicapped people , people who have neglected their parents , People who have treacherously behaved with their Gurus, People who request to invite them, People who hate Devas and Vedas, People who are not doing Sradha for their parents, People who have gone abroad, People who have represented in another Sradham in the previous day and people who take sinful charities should not be invited for the Sradha as Brahmins. If we invite such people, our Sradha would not reach the Pithrus.
First all upacharas should be done to Viswe devas and then to Pithrus. But after the sradha when we bid fare well, we have to first send Pithrus and then the Viswe Devas.
For washing the leg of Viswe devas , in the north side a 12 inches square(kunda) should be drawn by using cow dung. For Pithrus it should be a 12 inch circle in the southern side. Between the two of them, there should be at least six inches difference to avoid the washed water of one person touching the other Brahmin. Some people put a wet cloth or paddy husk in between the two Kundas, You should sprinkle Gingelly(Yellu) on both Deva as well Pithru Kundas wearing the pavithra. But when we are washing the feet of the Brahmins, the Pavithra should be removed and kept on our ears. In the deva kunda, the tip of the Dharbha should face east and in Pithru Kunda it should face south.
First saying “Shukramasi” we should apply ghee thumb and tough the feet of the Brahmins,. Then we should wash our hands and apply cow dung on their feet accompanied with the mantra starting with “Gandhadwaaram”. The Brahmins should sit facing east. The one who does Sradha (Kartha) should face west. With the wife pouring water , with both hands , starting from the southern direction we should wash the feet with chanting of mantras. (the three slokas in essence mean-“Let the dust of the feet of Brahmin which is capable of giving me salvation purify me. I salute the lotus like feet of the Brahmins so that my diseases of the body and mind or cured and I would get health, wealth and fame. I know that as soon a Brahmin is seen by us sins will fly away.”)
After washing the feet of Viswe devas, we should sprinkle Akshathai on the feet starting from the right side. When we address the Viswe deva our Sacred thread should be worn in the normal way. When we address the Pithrus it should be worn on the opposite shoulder .In the case of Pithrus we should sprinkle Yellu(Gingelly) starting from the left side.
People who can afford should give the Brahmins every year Dhoti of white silk. If we cannot afford it, we should at least give Dhoti with Jari border. Giving Dhoti without border is not considered good. If we are not able to get the cloth, we can give its cost. People who cannot afford should give one new sacred thread. Since it is given representing cloth, that Brahmin, should remove that sacred thread in the next day morning.
By the time Sradha starts we have to give oil for bathing to the Brahmins Only after they take bath and wear untainted (Madi) cloth should the Sradha begin. Some people give Gingelly sweet (Yellu urundai) and betel leaf immediately after that. It is better to follow the custom followed by our elders.
Aachamana or washing of the feet should not be done wearing the Pavithra.
The feet should be washed only up to the ankle.
All cooking for Sradha should be done only in ghee, Some saints are of the opinion that Gingelly oil or coconut oil should not be used. But since pure cow’s ghee is difficult to get most of the people use pure Gingelly oil.
In some families they use coconut and coconut oil. We have to follow what our elders did.
The rice and other preparations after it is offered to Pithrus can be taken by the clan people having taint for ten full days. Others should not eat it. But they should not take the remaining food after it is offered to the Pithrus in Yekodishta.
Black gram, Black Gingelly , wheat , green gram dhal , Jaggery , Khandasari sugar , Jeera, pepper , and paddy can be used for cooking in the Sradha. Some people use coconut , Mustard , snake gourd, wood apple and cucumber for cooking. This should be done as per our normal custom.
Ash gourd , chillies and asafetida should never be used.
Perandai, curry leaf , bitter gourd, plantain , mango , Jamun fruit , Lemon , yams , lime , Sweet potato , cluster beans , lab-lab beans(Avarai kai) and jack fruit are the best for use in Sradham. Black gram, Jack fruit and honey are liked by the Pithrus.
Cowpea , horse gram , Bengal gram , thur dhal , ash gourd, bottle gourd, drum stick, Buffalo milk , curd, asafetida, Pomegranate are the banned for being used in Sradha.
On the day of Sradha, none except our own caste people should be given food in our house.
On the day of Sradham, we should use only vessels cleaned by us, the house should also be only cleaned by us , we should wear cloths washed and left for drying by us, we should not take any food or drink including Coffee till the Sradham is over. Unless these are done the Sradha is not properly done.
Maternal grand father , uncle, disciple , Son of our daughter, nephew and son in law should not sit as Brahmins in the Sradha.
On the day before the Sradha and on the day of Sradha, we should not wash our teeth with stick or brush. We should not carry any burden. Once a Brahmin is called , we should not say no to him and call another Brahmin. We should not keep Sandal wood paste in a mud plate or vessel.
Dhal, Payasam and Ghee should be served on the right side of the leaf. Dhal and ghee should be served in a separate leaf made cup(Dhonnai) All preparations with salt should be served only on the second leaf and not on the central leaf.
In the Parvana Sradha(Annual Sradha) Viswe devas should be worshipped as Pururuva Ardhrava. In the Mahalaya Sradha they should be worshipped as Duru ruchi, in Nandi as Sathyavasu and in Sapindeekarana as Kala Kam.
In the Yekodishta, Masika , Sapindeekarana , Anu Masika , Nandhee Apthika and Gaya Sradha we should not chant Abisravana Mantras.
If the eaten portion of one Brahmin falls on the leaf of the other Brahmin, they should not touch the leaf. Both leaves should be removed and new leaf should be put and the food served again.
If by the time we offer food and send away the Brahmins, the home fire is extinguished, we should observe fast on that day and The Sradha should be done again next day.
If the pinda(rice ball) offered to the crow is either seen by Shudras or is eaten by other animals before the crow touches them, then we should observe fast on that day and the Sradha should be done again next day.
There should not be any discrimination in serving food between the Brahmins. But the cash Dakshina can differ depending on their ability.
After the Pindas are offered the remaining rice can be eaten( before other aspects of Sradha or done )or smelled according to family custom.
People who do not have children can make their wife eat the central Pinda. Then she would be blessed with a child.
The vessels used for cooking on Sradha day should not be cleaned by servants belonging to other castes. The leaf etc used to eat food etc should be buried in a deep pit. If these leafs are touched by Shudras or is touched by dog , we have to the Sradha again.
The leaf which is used by the Brahmins for eating should be removed before they start blessing us. After Pinda pradana the place should be cleaned.
The Brahmins till the end of Sradha should not touch each other. They should not appreciate the cooking. If they do this the Pithrus will not eat that food and would go back.
In front of the leaf of the Brahmin who acted as Viswe Deva , a line of water should be poured and cooked rice kept on this line(vikrannam). This is offered to the Devas who do not have share in the Yaga.
Similar thing should be done in front of the leaf of the Brahmin who represents the Pithrus. This is the offering to those Pithrus who did not have any death rites.
After keeping Vikrannam as above, keeping the pavithra in the ears, two Aachamana should be done. Then after putting the Sacred thread on the right shoulder, you have to keep Dharbha with its tip pointing to the south. On that we have to keep Vayasa Pindam (Rice ball to the crow) , praying to all your ancestors who are cremated and buried(children below a particular age are buried) to get satisfied with the Pindam that you are keeping on earth.
This has to be kept in a place where a dog does not come and where people of lower castes do not see. Then we have to wear the sacred thread properly and call the crow. Since the Manthra says nothing about crow but says that we are keeping it on earth, some people believe that crow need not eat it.
If the crow takes the rice from east, we would get wealth, if it takes it from south, we would get sick, if it takes from west, we would go to a new place and if it takes from North, we would have a long life.
Later we would ask the Pithrus, “what should we do with remaining portion of food that has been offered to you?” and they would reply “eat it with those who are dear to you.” Some people interpret this as “The food can be eaten along with any of our friends.” This is wrong. Only our clan members who have ten day taint can eat it.
If the Sradha falls on an Ekadasi , the man who does Sradha m, his wife and children , should eat the food remaining after offering it to the Pithrus. Even the widows who observe Ekadasi should take food if her husband’s Sradha falls on Ekadasi. She should not partake if it is the Sradha of some one else.
The Son in law/nephew can eat the Sradha food of their in laws/uncle and aunt. But they should not eat if it is Ekadasi or the Pithru Paksha (lunar fortnight in which Sradha falls) in their house.
For fruit, milk, curd , butter milk , ghee , honey , uncooked vegetables do not have Pithru Sesha. i.e they cannot have fault due to being left over after eating by Pithrus.
The Brahmin who officiates as Pithru or Viswedevas in a Sradha should do Aachamana and chant Gayathri ten times as soon as he eats the food. Otherwise he does not have right to do that evenings Sandhyavandanam .Even if he does that he cannot perform Oupasana He has to get it through his wife or disciple. He also is not eligible to visit a temple that day.
After giving Dakshina, we pray to the Pithrus,” Let the people who give me wealth, the Vedas and my progeny become better. Let me be attentive in what I am doing. Let me get sufficient money to give Dhana. Let me get lot of food that can be eaten. Let my house be visited by lot of guests. Let beggars come to me. Let me not be put in a position to beg from some body,”
To this prayer the Brahmins say “So be it.”
After means while they are going away we have to tell them some hospitable comments in our mother toungue and then say the sloka meaning , “ You are fit to be treated extremely well but I have troubled you by giving leafy vegetables, Please pardon me for that.”
This is a Tharpana which should be performed the day after Sradha in the early morning. This called Paraheni Tharpana.
Most of the people do it after Sradha ceremonies , in the same day. This is not at all correct. Actually this is like offering water for drinking , when they get thirsty after a little while after a heavy meals. So it should be done only in the next day.
In case of Some Sradhas Paraheni Tharpana is not necessary. These are
1. When the son performs Sradha to mother when his father is alive.
2. Sapindeekarana Sradham
3. Anu Masika Sradham
4. Nandi Sradham
In all sradhas except the Sradha performed to ones parents and Mahalaya Sradham , Paraheni Tharpana should be done immediately. This should be done immediately as soon as we get up in the morning after bath. After this again should take bath.
In case of Tharpana done during Amavasya, Tharpana is done to three previous generations of mother also. But this is not done for Paraheni Tharpana.
Sasthras prescribe that we have to do Tharpana during 96 occasions. This includes the 12 Amavasyas, 12 month beginnings, the sixteen Mahalaya Paksha days and solar/lunar eclipse and so on. Since we are not supposed to do two Tharpanas on the same day, if one of them is Amavasya, the other Tharpana should be done..
When the brothers have divided the parental property, they have to do the Sradha to their parents separately. The practice of all of them joining in the eldest son’s house is not correct. If father is no more and mother lives separately from the sons, then she should feed two Brahmins on that day, Even if the property is not divided, if the sons live in separate houses, then they should do Sradha separately. If they happen to be in the same house on the Sradha day, then they should keep separate Brahmins but can manage with same cooked food.
Tharpana also has to be done by all the brothers separately.
Naandhee sradham should be done when we are performing Samskara
Special aacharas for ladies
Without Thilaka , a lady should not be there even for minute.
She should not scratch her head with two hands.
Pregnanyt women should not break a coconut or ash gourd. They also should not be there in the same room , where they are broken.
To separate husband and wife is a great sin .If a lady does that , she would be a widow for 21 generations.
The house should not be swept by broom at night. Even if done, the dirt collected should not be put outside the house. In the day time the dirt collected should be collected in the house and kept. If a lady does like that she will not be able to participate in functions of her house.
The courtyard should be cleaned with cow Dung and Kolam should be put there early in the morning. If this is not done by her , she would become very poor.
No vegetable or rice should be served with bare hand .If done it is equivalent to beef.
She should not do charity without permission of her husband. Similarly she should not undertake fasting without his permission. If she does this the life span of the husband would be reduced by one day.
She should never say to the husband that a particular thing is not there in the house but tell him that he should purchase a particular item. She should not cry for anything. The home will loose all its wealth if she does that.
After people eat rice and butter milk , she should ask once more every body whether they want some more rice.
She should not sit or walk without tying her hair.
She should never use bad words or words with bad omens.
If children and adults eat together, first food should be served to all children.
She should sleep after the husband at night and get up before him in the morning.
She should not decorate her hair with the flower that has not been offered to God. When flower in worn in the hair, it should not be visible out side the hair. Flowers without scent like Kanakambara, Bougainville should not be worn on the hair by married ladies. Even old flowers should not be trodden by the feet.