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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Pitṛyāna literally means ‘the path of manes’.

Inference of Pitṛyāna[edit]

Literally, the word means the path by which a pitṛ or a dead ancestor goes to the Candraloka or the world of the moon. We find from the Upaniṣads and even the Bhagavadgitā[1] that the ancient people believed in two paths by which the soul of a dead person could go, either to the Brahmaloka or to the Candraloka. The former was called Devayāna or Arcirādimārga and the latter as Pitṛyāna or Dhumādimārga.

Terminals of Pitṛyāna[edit]

The various stations mentioned in the Pitṛyāna are:

  1. Dhuma - smoke
  2. Rātri - night
  3. Aparapakṣa - dark fortnight
  4. Dakṣiṇāyana - southern solstice
  5. Pitṛloka - world of manes
  6. Ākāśa - space
  7. Candramās - world of Somarāja or the king Moon

These words represent the various guides on the path.

Results of Performing Vedic Rites[edit]

Those who perform Vedic rites like Agnihotra and public utility activities like digging wells or planting trees etc., go by this path to the Candraloka[2] and return to the earth after exhausting their religious merit. The Candraloka is more like a heaven from which there is return.


  1. Bhagavadgitā 8.24-26
  2. Candraloka means the world of the Moon.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore