By Swami Harshananda
Pitā literally means ‘one who protects’.
Pitā as per Taittiriya Upaniṣad
Pitā as per Smṛtis
According to the smṛtis, the father performs the upanayāna sacrament and imparts the sacred Gāyatrī-mantra to his sons. Whether the father has a sense of ownership over his sons has been a debatable point.
Pitā as per Dharmaśāstra
According some dharmaśāstra works, the following are pitās or ‘fathers’:
- Annadātā - one who gives food
- Bhayatrātā - one who protects from dangers
- Śvaśura - father-in-law
- Janitā - father
- Upanetā - one who performs upanayāna
Division of Assets of Pitā
With regards to the division of the ancestral property, he could unequally distribute it among his sons in the ancient days though in later days it became mandatory to distribute it equally. If he dies before clearing all his debts, his sons and grandsons were obliged to clear the same.
- Taittiriya Upaniṣad 1.11
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore