Shasti-Abtha-poorthi -The Tradition & Significance  (61st birth day)

The term Shasti in numerology denotes sixty (60). In an individual’s life, the completion of sixty years is referred to as Shastipoorthi. This term is derived from Sanskrit.Which means Shasti–Sixty; abda–completion. The sixtieth year in everyone’s life is a significant milestone. A memorable turning point. A touching reminder of the rich, mellowed life that would unfold in the years to come.

The sages and the Rishis of lore have acknowledged the sanctity of the sixtieth year in one’s life and have drawn out elaborate rituals to mark this special event. They looked at it as rebirth and suggested the repetition of those rituals performed at one’s birth. Hence this celebration at this point of life is a sacred part of the hallowed Vedic culture. The rituals in the former go by the norms prescribed in the shastras, while the latter is purely conventional in nature.

60th birth day (ugraratha Shanthy)

The rituals carved out as part of Shanti are also referred to as Ugraradha Shanti. Ugraradha is nothing but the harsh natured time. In a hundred-year time scale of man’s life, pre-sixty is a period of materialistic pursuit while the post–sixty span is slated for spiritual endeavor. The Ugraradha Shanti is a prayer sent to the heavens to make the post–sixty span a spiritually fulfilling experience.

Three different ways are chiseled to carry out the Shanti aspect. They are

  1. Shounakoktam

  2. Bodhaayanoktam

  3. Shaivaagamoktam

The basic elements of these three ways remain the same, though the contents vary marginally. Of all, Shaivaagamokta Santi is very elaborate and ritual–laden. Given its exhaustive scope of rituals, only a limited few like the kings and the emperors can follow it in Toto, though it is not entirely ruled out for devout householders.

Janmatah Shastime Varshe is the Shaunakokthi. Going by this, Shanti has to be performed in the Sixtieth year and we have the following quote to substantiate it.

Janmaabde, Janmamaasecha Swajanmadivase tathaa
Janmarshe chaiva kartavyaa shanti rugrarathaahvayaa
Devaalaye nadeeteere swagruhe vaa shubhasthale

The Shanti should be performed in the same year, month and on the same day of the birth according to the Indian Zodiac.This is considered to be the best option. This is considered to be the best option.In case it is not possible to time it exactly on the same day, allowance is given to perform it on a convenient day during and before the completion of sixtieth year. The choice of the place to carry out this programmed could be a pilgrim town, a temple, a river bank or even a householder’s residence.

Mrityinjayadevata Kalasa sthapana, pratima sthapana and archana form a very important part of the programme. Similarly the deities of ganapathi Durga and vishnu are to be worshipped.This consitutes Paratpara Puja.

The seas, the rivers, the presiding deities of the Directions (Dikpalakas), navagrahas are involved into the Holy Kalasas and the respective gods are worshipped. Through this worhsip is offered to God who presides over every element in nature.

Similarly all the gods who govern each year of the Telugu Calendar (60 years) each Ayana (Uttara, Dakshina), each season, (six rithis) each month (12 months), each fortnight, (Shukla and Krishna) each tithi (15) each day of the week (seven) each star (27 stars). Each, yoga, each karana and each raasi are duly worshipped.

Through it, a humble prayer is sent to the mighty god who weaves every moment in the vast tapestry of time.

The almighty who is omnipresent in the celestial universe ranging from Dwadasa Adityas, Ekadasa Rudraas, Dasha Dishaas, Astavasus, Sapta Vayus, to Pancha brahmas are soulfully worshipped. The powerful presence of the paramaatma who lords over the whole universe is fervently acknowledged in this method.

All these deities who preside over every speak of the universe are to be duly worshipped by means of Kalasha Aaraadhana, Pratima Puja, Japa Tapas etc. All this is to be culminated by Homa. Acharyas and ritviks take the sanctified water and perform Abhisheka to the householder.

Here, the householder fulfils his social obligation of offering warm thanks to each and every particle in the universe, which contributed to his sixty year successful span on this earth. As a humble token of gratitude, he participates in alms giving much to the satisfaction of everyone in the society.

The Acharyas and ritviks who conducted the Shanti Yagna should be given "Dasha Daanaas" "Navagraha daanaas", "Godaana", to mention a few of all the "daanaas", ‘Annadaana’ ranks supreme and the host should take care that people belonging to all walks of life are properly and sumptuously fed. Here the accent is laid on feeding the poor and the destitute, thus infusing the whole programme with social and democratic temper. The householder is said to relieved of his social – secular – spiritual obligations when he successfully participates in this Shanti programme. He is thus blessed with a long and blissful life.

Thus the Shanti  aspects, which run through the "Shastipoorthi" celebrations provide a fusion of spiritual and social obligations which are the very bed rock the Indian culture.

61st Birth day (shashtyabtha poorthy)

'Sashtyabthapurthi' means completion of sixty years.  This 'shanti' is performed for oneself on completion of 60 years and beginning of 61st year (61st birthday).  Everyone including ladies can and should perform this 'shanti' to alleviate the sins committed so far and to re-charge our life.

As per Vedic scriptures, Human life is for 120 Years.  Completion of sixty years means completing half-of-our full life.  Tamil / Sanskrit years also have sixty year cycle.

In this function,  poojas, japa and homams are done to numerous gods.  Prominent amongst them are....Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, mruthyunjaya parameswara, laxmy-narayana, navagrahas and naksatra devathas

As per our scriptures,  The following seven holy souls are called 'chiranjeevees', i.e. immortal souls.  Remembering them brings good life.  Prayer is offered for them during this occasion.

1.Aswaththama; 2.Mahabali; 3.Veda vyasa; 4.Hanuman; 5.Vibheshana; 6.Krupacharya; 7.Parasurama

Samvathsara devatas (60)  i.e. Gods personifying all the sixty tamil / sanskrit years.

Nakshathra devatha (28) i.e. Gods personifying all the stars under the planet. Please note that veda mentions 28 stars, but in present day astrology we use only 27 stars.

Thithy devatha (15) i.e. Gods personifying the days of phase of the moon.

Navagrahas (9).  Nine planets who rule and prescribe results for our karmas.

Dikpalakas (10) etc. i.e. Gods for ten directions.

We worship all the above gods at the completion of one's 60th birthday and the beginning of 61st birthday.

Generally, Ekadasa Rudra japam known as 'rudra-ekadasinee' (Eleven Rudra Prayer cum Homam) is also performed with  Mahanyasa, Rudrabhishekam, kramarchana is also performed on the previous day of Shashtiyabtha Poorthi.   This 'shaanthi' is the ultimate maha-prayashchitham and invokes the blessing of Lord Shiva.

In South India, During this occasion,  We also recite the selected sacred mantras of marriage and the aged-couple re-take their marriage oath and invoke blessings for a long, happy and matured married life.  This is an occasion when sons and daughters 'perform' the marriage of their parents!

All the dhramas of life are poised on Grihastha dharma. One should celebrate Bheemaradha Shanthi at 70th year, Vijayaradha Shanti at 78th year and perform Shataabhisheka Shanti during the hundredth year. May lord Srinivasa along with his consort Alimelu Manga bestow on the Choicest blessings.

Rajagopala Ghanapatigal
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