PITRIS – The ancestors

The pitris were first a class of demigods (not quite full devas, gods), as well as the “fathers” or “ancestor spirits.” As a class of demigods they were connected with the ritualistic offerings to the spirits of the dead. One of the earliest con­cepts of an afterlife spoke of the way of the fathers (putri-yana) as distinguished from the way of the gods (deva-yana). Pitri-yana was associated with the moon, while deva-yana was the solar way.
Their origin had several explanations. In one version the pitris were created by the seven sages (Sapta-Rishis) who were created by Brahma. Another version stated that Brahma himself created the pitris, including three classes of embod­ied and four classes of disembodied spirits. The embodied pitris were called Agnishvattas, Barhishads, and So Mapas. The disembodied pitris were the indi­vidual deities Yama, Anala, Soma, and Aryaman.
In both household (grihatya) and public (srauta) rituals, the lineage, even today, is mentioned back three generations—father, grandfather, and great grandfather. The pitris are offered water and rice balls (pandas).

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