By Swami Harshananda
Caturthavisarga literally means ‘giving up the fourth’.
Honoring the dead ancestors through appropriate rituals is a phenomenon common to many cultures. Such a ceremony among the people is called ‘śrāddha’. Riceballs called ‘piṇḍas’ are offered to the ancestors with suitable mantras during these ceremonies.
In one of these śrāddhas called ‘pārvaṇaśrāddha,’ the offerings are made to the dead ancestors up to three generations (father, grandfather and great-grandfather) only. In this śrāddha the fourth one is omitted (visarga = omitting). This is called ‘caturthavisarga’.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore