Vedas and Smritis are the roots of Sanatana Dharma. Many are the Samskaras (purificatory rituals) prescribed in Smritis for the upliftment of human being to Godhood, which is the sole purpose of the rare and invaluable human birth. Of them, Antyeshti, the last Samskara performed for the person, who has departed from his body and subsequent Shraddhas performed for his comfortable journey to the afterworld and settling down in an agreeable environment, play a very important and decisive role.
Sri Vaidyanatha Dikshitar, who lived in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu some four centuries ago, performed the extremely tough task of shifting a very large number of Smriti texts on Dharma Shastram' authored by several Rishis and presenting them clearly and analytically in the form of Nibandhana text, known as `Smritimuktaphalam'(also called Sri Vaidyanatha Deekshtiyam). He has in many places resolved the seeming contradiction among the different Smritis and covered the entire gamut of `Dharma Shastram' in six Kandas(cantos): Varnashrama Dharma,Aahnika, Aasaucham, Shraddha, Tithinirnaya and Prayashchitta. Following `Smritimuktaphalam', various abbreviated books on `Dharma Shastram' in Tamil and other languages came to be published for easy reference. As instructed by Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swamiji of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, `Smritimuktaphalam' was published by Veda Dharma Shastra Paripalana Sabha recently in seven bound volumes with original Sanskrit shlokas and Tamil translation.
`Shraddha' (faith) in Dharma Shastram laid down in such great detail by Rishis out of compassion solely for the benefit of mankind, in teachings of Guru and in good practices adopted by elders is the fundamental anchor of the rituals explained in the texts. The extent of rigorous detailing, specially while dealing with emergency situations, explored by the Rishis beats one's imagination. Fast materialistic life of modern day has contributed to erosion in this Shraddha. Unfortunately many undesirable practices have crept in.
As instructed by Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swamiji of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, in order to apprise the present generation of the various essential aspects of the rituals connected with Apara Kriyas and Shraddhas in their authoritative perspective, a brief summary in English of the same is attempted in the following pages to serve as an introductory guide. Brief sections on Aasaucha Sangraham' and 'Gaya Shraddha' have been added, in view of commonality of interest. The following are the primary reference books used in this compilation.
1. Smritimuktaphalam by Sri Vaidyanatha Dikshitar, published by Veda Dharma Shastra Paripalana Sabha, Srimatham Samsthanam, Kanchipuram - Shraddha Kandam - Purva Bhagam and Uttara Bhagam.
2. Dharma Shastram by Sri S.V.Radhakrishna Shastrigal, published by Sri Surabhi Sadguru Satabdi Publications, Chennai.
3. Garuda Puranam.
4. Sadacharam by Srivatsa V. Somadeva Sarma, published by Bhavani Book Centre, Chennai.
I place this little book reverentially in all humility at the lotus feet of Jagadguru Sri Shankaracharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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