From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

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:

  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.


  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
  5. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa
  6. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa
  7. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa
  8. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa
  9. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa
  10. Taittirīya Brāhmaṇa
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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