The Mahabharata Home
"Yudhishthira said, 'O thou of great puissance, tell me what that object is which, if dedicated to the Pitris, becomes inexhaustible! What Havi, again, (if offered) lasts for all time? What, indeed, is that which (if presented) becomes eternal?'"
"Bhishma said, 'Listen to me, O Yudhishthira, what those Havis are which persons conversant with the ritual of the Sraddha regard as suitable in view of the Sraddha and what the fruits are that attach to each. With sesame seeds and rice and barley and Masha and water and roots and fruits, if given at Sraddhas, the Pitris, O king, remain gratified for the period of a month. 1 Manu has said that if a Sraddha is performed with a copious measure of sesame, such Sraddha becomes inexhaustible. Of all kinds of food, sesame seeds are regarded as the best. With fishes offered at Sraddhas, the Pitris remain gratified for a period of two months. With mutton they remain gratified for three months and with the flesh of the hare for four. With the flesh of the goat, O king, they remain gratified for five months, with bacon for six months, and with the flesh of birds for seven. With venison obtained from those deer that are called Prishata, they remain gratified for eight months, and with that obtained from the Ruru for nine months, and with the meat of the Gavaya for ten months.
[paragraph continues] With the meat of the buffalo their gratification lasts for eleven months. With beef presented at the Sraddha, their gratification, it is said, lasts for a full year. Payasa mixed with ghee is as much acceptable to the Pitris as beef. With the meat of the Vadhrinasa the gratification of the Pitris lasts for twelve years. 1 The flesh of the rhinoceros, offered to the Pitris on the anniversaries of the lunar days on which they died, becomes inexhaustible. The potherb called Kalasaka, the petals of the Kanchana flower, and meat of the goat also, thus offered, prove inexhaustible. 2 In this connection, O Yudhishthira, there are some verses, originally sung by the Pitris, that are sung (in the world). They were communicated to me in former days by Sanatkumara.--He that has taken birth in our race should give us Payasa mixed with ghee on the thirteenth day (of the dark fortnight), under the constellation Magha, during the Sun's southward course. One born in our race should, under the constellation Magha, as if in the observance of a vow, offer the meat of goat or the petals of the Kanchana flower. One should also offer us, with due rites, Payasa mixed with ghee, dedicating it on a spot covered by the shadow of an elephant.--Many sons should be coveted so that even one may go to Gaya (for performing the Sraddha of his ancestors), where stands the banian that is celebrated over all the worlds and that makes all offerings made under its branches inexhaustible. 3 Even a little of water, roots, fruits, meat, and rice, mixed with honey, if offered on the anniversary of the day of death becomes inexhaustible.'"
144:1 Masha, is the Phascolus Roxburghii.
145:1 It is difficult to understand what is meant by Vadhrinasa here. It means either a large bull, or a kind of bird, or a variety of the goat. Probably the bull is intended.
145:2 Pitrikshaye is mrita-tithau. Kalasaka is explained by Nilakantha as identical with the common potherb called Shuka or the country sorrel (Rumex visicarius, Linn). Some hold that it is something like the sorrel, Lauham is the petals of the Kanchana flower (Bauhinia acuminata, Linn).
145:3 To this day the sanctity of Gaya is universally recognised by all Hindus. Sraddhas are performed there under the banian called the Akshaya or inexhaustible banian.
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