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By Swami Harshananda

nārāyanabali (‘offering to [please] Nārāyaṇa’)

The Hindus believe that performing obsequial rites with proper offerings will help the souls or spirits of dead persons

in relieving their sufferings and guiding them to the next destination. This becomes all the more necessary if a person has met with an unnatural death by suicide or accidents.

Nārāyaṇabali is a rite connected with this. It is performed generally on the eleventh day of the bright half of a month, and involves the worship of Viṣṇu and Yama (the god of death). Ten piṇḍas (rice-balls) are placed on the darbha (grass—Saccharum cylindricum or Poa cynosuroides), laved with honey. The details of the rite are similar to the ekoddiṣṭa-śrāddha.

According to some other works like the Antyestipaddhati of Nārāyaṇabhaṭṭa (A. D. 1513-1570?) five kalaśas (pitchers of water) are to be placed on a quantity of rice spread over a leaf on which five images of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva, Yama and that of the dead person are to be drawn. Worship is to be offered through certain mantras of the Rgveda (e.g., 10.90). Ten piṇḍas are to be offered and then cast in a river.

See also ŚRĀDDHA.


  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore