By Swami Harshananda
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:
- Collecting the charred bones
- Depositing them underground in an urn
- Expiatory rites and erection of a monument
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 or a śrotriya, the rite was called brahmamedha. The special mantras known as caturhotā were chanted on this occasion.
- This monument is generally a pole or a staff.
- Ācārya is the spiritual or Vedic preceptor.
- Śrotriya means a learned in the Vedas.
- Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 22.214.171.124
- Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 126.96.36.199
- Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 188.8.131.52
- Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 184.108.40.206
- Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 220.127.116.11
- Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 18.104.22.168
- Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa 22.214.171.124
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore