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Sootak and Paatak

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Sootak and Paatak
See also    Agni Puraan, 14

Uncleanliness. There are some periods when this unclean period attaches to a man or a woman or a family. Sootak is of two types - Jaat Sootak and Mrit Sootak or Paatak. Jaat Sootak is the period when a child is born in a family, and Mrit Sootak is when somebody dies in a family. There are some other unclean days also, such as, at the time of menstruation, a woman is in Sootak for four days. She doesn't touch anything. Nobody touches her. She does not worship or go to temple, or cook food. After four days she becomes clean after taking bath.

(1) Jaat Sootak - When a baby is born, the mother and the child are in Sootak. They are kept separate for seven days. After seven days they are given bath and the Sootak is cleared. In this Sootak, no Braahman takes food in that house, no auspicious Karm is done, everything is just in sleep state.

(2) Mrit Sootak or Paatak applies when a person dies in a house. People do not worship and go to their work for three days. To cook certain kinds of food is also prohibited for 10 days. Auspicious Karm are prohibited for 13 days, Braahman also do not take food in that house for 13 days. No worship takes place in that house. On 13th day after taking bath, Braahman are fed and the Sootak is cleared, and normal work is resumed.
(Naarad Puraan, p 432)

If there is any miscarriage, or if the child dies immediately after the birth, or if a child dies after the birth, then the period of uncleanliness is to be reckoned according to the custom of the family. The period of uncleanliness is 10 days in case of a Braahman, 12 days in case a Kshatriya and 15 days in case of Vaishya. For Shoodra it is 30 days.

On the death of an Agnate who is not a Sa-Pind, the period of uncleanliess is 3 days and on the death of a Sa-Pind, if the information arrives after the prescribed period, one becomes unclean for 3 days. The unclean man is not entitled to perform any rite relating to the Devtaa and the Pitri except Kul worship and that also which has already been commenced.
[Mahaanirvaan Tantra, p 240-245]

Some Dos and Don'ts

(1) The Garud Puraan, 11.19 states, "A father should neither light the pyre, nor himself perform the Antyeshti Sanskaar (Funeral rites) or any ceremony related to the death of his son."

(2) Brahm Vaivart Puraan says that "If one performs the Shraaddh ceremony or oblations to the forefathers on the Ekaadashee Tithi, then the performer, the forefathers for whom the Shraaddh is observed, and the Purohit, or the family priest who encourages the ceremony, all go to Hell. The Shraaddh ceremony should be held not on Ekaadashee but on the next day, or Dwaadashee" In the same way a funeral should never be performed on Ekaadashee. Any Shraaddh Poojaa, for example a funeral, or the 10th day Poojaa, the 12/13th day Poojaa, the 6th and the 11 and 12 month Poojaa should also never be performed on these holy days. These Poojaa are then normally be performed on the following day. Ekaadashe comes two times in a month and people do not eat grains or cereals on this day.

(3) In Garud Puraan, Pret Khand, chapter 13 verses 20-21, Vishnu said - "To bless somebody, Deity worship, direct contact with the public, giving of Daan (charity/gifts) , Havan (Hom), Tarpan, Fasts, and Braahman Bhojan (feedings Braahman) all are forbidden in this period".
When do we start counting the days for the rituals?

(4) According to the Garud Puraan 10.21, "From the time when the Pind is placed in the hand of the corpse, the departed soul assumes the name of Pret, till the Sa-Pindee Poojaa is concluded". So one should count the days since when the last Pind is placed in the right hand the calculation of the number of days for the rituals are thus determined.

(5) One should never offer any non-Saatwik food (meat etc) on the 10th 0r 13th day. Because
first one offers the food to Vishnu which then becomes Vishnu's Prasaad and then a portion of that food is offered to one's ancestors, that is why one should offer only those food which one could offer to Vishnu. Bhaagvat 7.15.7 says in this regard - "It's not Dharm that one should offer meat or should eat meat in the Shraaddh feast. Only vegetarian food must be offered because meat is obtained by killing". Matsya Puraan 17.30 says - "Vegetarian food prepared with pure butter, milk, sugar and curd, etc. are most pleasing to the Pitri (Ancestors)." Matsya Puraan 17.36 says - "Cow's milk, honey and the sweet pudding made of milk and rice and sugar with dry nuts satisfies the Pitri (Ancestors)."

(6) There is a extremely importance laid down in Puraan etc for Gau Daan (donation of cow) to a Braahman. It is believed that the soul crosses the Vaitaranee River easily by holding the tail of the cow he has given in donation in his life time. One must do it, if he can. Many people do this when they are sick or on death bed, but it is not so. One should do it when he is young and healthy.
Garud Puraan, Pret Khand Chapter 47 verses 37-38 in this regard - "When one performs this prayer when one is fit and healthy then its efficacy is increased 1000 fold, if a sick man makes the gift its efficacy is only a 100 fold. If his son gifts something on behalf of the dead, the gift is indirect and its efficacy is rendered as normal."

Garud Puraan, Pret Khand, Chapter 4, verses 7-8 and 14 further say - "A Gau Daan consists of sesame seed, iron, gold, cotton, salt, seven types of grains, earth and a cow. The dying person should give these 8 precious gifts to a Braahman. The wise have prescribed the gift of salt to be given freely and it opens the doorway to the other world."

(7) Vishnu said to Shree Garud Jee - In all cases of abnormal deaths - means death by fasting, one who is killed by animals, death by arson, death by a curse, death by cholera or any disease or great ailment, death by committing suicide, fall from a mountain, tree or any height, committing suicide by hanging, who are drowned in a tank, river or ocean, death by muggers or robbers, by snake bite, struck by lightning, murder and persons who are great sinners, the Naaraayan Bali rites should be performed in all such cases."

(8) After the cremation / burial, the performer of the last rites offers three Anjalee (handfuls) of water mixed with Til (sesame seeds) on a Kush grass planted in the ground. This act is called Tilaanjali. It marks and emphasizes the complete severance of bodily relationships between the deceased and the relatives. Henceforth the departed one exists in the memory; and is remembered by the appropriate memorial services, performed during Pitri Paksha.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 12/07/11