Pitṛmedha

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Pitrmedha, PitRmedha, Pitrrimedha


Pitṛmedha literally means ‘forefather-sacrifice’.

The word actually means consigning the dead-body of a forefather to the fire of cremation which is similar to medha or sacrifice. This ancient custom comprised four stages:

  1. Cremation
  2. Collecting the charred bones
  3. Depositing them underground in an urn
  4. Expiatory rites and erection of a monument[1]

Depositing the urn at the root of a tree or casting the contents in the Gaṅgā river were also practiced. If the deceased person was an ācārya[2] or a śrotriya,[3] the rite was called brahmamedha. The special mantras known as caturhotā[4][5][6][7][8][9][10] were chanted on this occasion.


References

  1. This monument is generally a pole or a staff.
  2. Ācārya is the spiritual or Vedic preceptor.
  3. Śrotriya means a learned in the Vedas.
  4. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 2.3.11.4
  5. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 1.3.1.1
  6. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 3.12.5.1
  7. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 2.2.3.5
  8. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 2.3.1.3
  9. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 2.3.1.1
  10. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 2.2.8.2
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore