From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Patitasavitrika, PatitasAvitrIka, Patitasaavitrika

Patitasāvitrīka literally means ‘one who has fallen from the sacrament of being taught the Sāvitrī mantra’.

Patitasāvitrīka Definition

In the ancient days, for a dvija[1] class, viz., a brāhmaṇa, a kṣattriya and a vaiśya, to be initiated into the Sāvitrī or the Gāyatrī mantra was considered to be an absolute necessity. This initiation gave him the right to study the Vedas, perform Vedic sacrifices and attain some status in the society. Sometimes, due to some unknown or extraordinary reasons, a person might have missed this sacrament even after the proper or the permitted age is past.[2] Such persons came to be known as ‘patitasāvitrīkas’.

Expiations for Patitasāvitrīka

They were deprived of the right to Vedic studies and were treated almost as out-castes. In case such persons wanted the upanayāna sacrament along with the teaching of the performance of Sāvitrīmantra, they had to undergo some prāyaścittas or expiations. Different writers of dharmaśāstras prescribed different kinds of expiations such as:

In case the father or both the father and grandfather of the patitasāvitrīka were also patitasāvitrīka, the penances were harsher.


  1. Dvija means the ‘twice-born’.
  2. This age is 8 to 16 years in the case of brāhmaṇas, 11 to 22 years for kṣattriyas and 12 to 24 for vaiśyas.
  3. Uddālakavrata means subsisting on barley gruel for two months and so on.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore