Sunday, June 20, 2010

dear father, thank you - अन्नदाता भयत्राता

During my long stay in the US, I learned one thing. You don't have to take any 'nonsense' from anyone, even if they appear elder to you by a margin. You could simply say 'You are not my dad!' and yet there was a time when it took a village to bring up a child.

Now, the whole responsibility of raising a kid is on the dad, maybe even a single dad! How times change. and if you have a same-gender relationship, ahem, then who is dad?

It has always been maintained, that karma कर्म, deeds, are all important. So, even if one contributes the genetic code for you, that is only one aspect of being a father, the biological father. But what about the roles and duties of a father? Can we define a father based on that?

chANakya चाणक्य says there are five types of father, yet another source, the brahmavaivarta purANa ब्रह्मवैवर्त पुराण says there are seven types of father. Some of their types are common. Yet other sources say thirty one types. We will just see the seven types for brevity and simplicity sake.

All of them have the basis of birth common to them, but what type of birth?

Giver of food (anna-dAtA अन्नदाता)
Food is life. Without food, no one can survive. Mother gives food in early years, but after that it is the father's role to provide the proverbial bread on the table. And even in early months, father provides for the mother. Anyone who provides for you, maybe in times of need, or a foster father, is like a father. Give him the respect a father deserves.

Remover of fear (bhaya-trAtA भयत्राता)
Fear is like death, you die every moment of fear. And if the fear is real, then the danger is real. One who removes the fear or the cause of fear has given you a new birth, another chance to live on. Such a caring person is also like a father and deserves all the perks of being a father, for being a protector.

Giver of daughter (kanyA-dAtA कन्यादाता)
There is a saying, 'child is the father of man.' What it means is that child comes first, father next. It is the child that makes a man into father. So, the child gave the title 'father' to a man. In that sense the child gave birth to the (concept of) father (for a man).

Man is reborn in the child. And how does one get a child? The most sacred of the 16 ceremonies of life is the marriage. This is the institution, bond that brings forth new life, and provides a home, prepares the new generation, gives new citizens to a nation, ... and what joy of this mortal world to have a beautiful, wise, skilled wife for a life partner to take care and share in the material and spiritual joys and sorrows? It is like a new life!

And how is this possible? By the man who gave his daughter to you. In giving you a good woman, he has given you the best of all charities you will ever get. Hence, kanyA-dAna कन्या-दान, or giving of a daughter in wedding is considered the highest of dAna दान, for it is the basis of someone else's home.

Such a giver of a second life, the father-in-law is also worthy of being respected as a father.

Giver of birth (janitA जनिता , janmadaH जन्मदः )
And of course, the literal sense of the meaning, the biological father, one who gives half his genetic code, and enables this biological, actual life on this planet. He sure has done the most important or the most initial of duties and is the father.

Giver of mantra मन्त्र (mantra-dAtA मन्त्र-दाता)
This applies on the spiritual growth path. mananam trAyate iti mantram मननं त्रायते इति मन्त्रम् - that which when meditated upon liberates, rescues is mantra. And the rescuer is already considered as father (remover of fear). mantra मन्त्र is a secret 'weapon', and giver of such important aide in life is a guru, and is also considered as a father.

Giver of knowledge (j~nAna-dAtA ज्ञानदाता)
The teacher, preceptor, guru, guide one who gives knowledge is also like a father, for knowledge enables all other things. Knowledge esoteric or worldly - both are important. knowledge is power, the power of knowing the right from wrong, good from bad, success from failure, friend from foe, ... giver of knowledge, wisdom has given you a very precious thing, that can change your life.

Giver of education (upanetA उपनेता)
upnetA उपनेता is one who does the sacred thread ceremony. The thread ceremony is considered the start of education, brahmacharya ब्रह्मचर्य, scholarship, student life and is one of the important 16 ceremonies of a person. It is considered second birth, a spiritual birth, the first one being a physical birth. One who has had the thread ceremony is called dwija द्विज (twice born). A similar but rudimentary ritual is that of 'born again' in Christianity.

Elder brother (jyeShTha-bhrAtA ज्येष्ठ-भ्राता)
Elder brother is considered like a father. And manusmRiti मनुस्मृति adds that an elder brother who performs the duties of a father, should be treated like a father.

In this post, I have kept the Sanskrit shloka part at the end. It seems there were those who get intimidated by the shloka at the front. and if it seemed the script was unreadable, who knows how hard the post maybe. so, let us see if it is less frightening this time. please let me know how you like the new format.

and now for the shloka-s -

anna-dātā bhaya-trātā, yasya kanyā vivāhitā ।
janitā copanetā ca, pañcaite pitaraḥ smṛtāḥ ॥

अन्नदाता भयत्राता, यस्य कन्या विवाहिता ।
जनिता चोपनेता च, पञ्चैते पितरः स्मृताः ॥

anna-dAtA bhaya-trAtA, yasya kanyA vivAhitA ।
janitA chopanetA cha, pa~nchaite pitaraH smRRitAH ॥


kanyādātānnadātā ca jñānadātābhayapradaḥ ।
janmado mantrado jyeṣṭha-bhrātā ca pitaraḥ smṛtaḥ ॥

कन्यादातान्नदाता च ज्ञानदाताभयप्रदः ।
जन्मदो मन्त्रदो ज्येष्ठभ्राता च पितरः स्मृतः ॥

kanyAdAtAnnadAtA cha j~nAnadAtAbhayapradaH ।
janmado mantrado jyeShTh-abhrAtA cha pitaraH smRRitaH ॥

[Last edit: 19 Jun 2011]

like it? then become a fan of the blog. please rate the post as well.
how can this site be made more interesting, useful? share your comments, use the comment link or the comment box below

and now the language aspects of the shloka -

anna-dAtA = giver of food
anna = food, cereal, grain
dAtA = giver (dad root, to give)

bhaya-trAtA = rescuer from fear
bhaya = fear
trAtA = rescuer, savior

yasya = that whose (yaH = that who)
kanyA = daughter

vivAhitA (adj) = (one has) married
vivAha = marriage

janitA = giver of birth (mother is jananI)

chopanetA = and doer of sacred thread ceremony
cha + upanetA = and + doer of upanayan ceremony, preceptor, guru

cha = and
pa~nchaite = these five
pa~ncha + ete = five, these

pitaraH = fathers

smRRitAH = said, remembered


kanyAdAtAnnadAtA = kanyA-dAtA + anna-dAtA
giver of daughter (and) giver of food

j~nAnadAtAbhayapradaH = j~nAna-dAtA + abhaya-pradaH
giver of knowledge (and) giver of fearlessness)

janmado = janma-daH = giver of birth

mantrado = mantra-daH = giver of mantra

jyeShTha-bhrAtA = elder-brother

like it? then become a fan of the blog. please rate the post as well.
how can this site be made more interesting, useful? share your comments, use the comment link or the comment box below

(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved. Check us on Facebook


  1. This is amazingly lovely. Thank you. More wonderous words to help the mind accept that which already is! sarah, new york

  2. dhanyavAda, sarah for taking the time to read and comment.

  3. Nice one.....thank u so much for this information....specially from the Purana's..Aanchal India

  4. beautiful shloka and lovely pictures to go with it! very well explained. thank you, shashikanth. i am posting a link on my FB page.

  5. Thanks for your effort to spread these vedic thoughts to masses.

    I didn't fins a way to send these valuable info via email to others .. Is it available? possible?

    1. i just did on my FB , and whatsapp...pls do it this way...cut paste...

      अन्नदाता भयत्राता, यस्य कन्या विवाहिता ।
      जनिता चोपनेता च, पञ्चैते पितरः स्मृताः ॥

      कन्यादातान्नदाता च ज्ञानदाताभयप्रदः ।
      जन्मदो मन्त्रदो ज्येष्ठभ्राता च पितरः स्मृतः ॥

      The roles and duties of a father
      Beautifully Explained : A Must read

  6. to send these via email,
    - please click on the title of the post.
    - the URL (site address) in the address bar is what you should send to people in email.

    or RIGHT CLICK on the title of the post (e.g. "dear father, thank you"
    - then select "Copy Link Location"
    - now you can PASTE the post address in email that you are sending.


  7. Good work. Please put the word by word translation first and then the interpretation. It would be easier to catch the meaning that way. Also you could summarize the thoughts at the end.
    A. Raman, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

  8. dhanyavAda raman, for your comments.
    here is the reason for the _changed_ format from this post onwards, as i mentioned in the above post towards the end -
    "in this post, i have kept the sanskrit shloka part at the end. it seems there were those who got intimidated by the shloka at the front. and if it seemed the script was unreadable, who knows how hard the post maybe."

    since this blog is meant not only for those who know sanskrit reading/writing, but also for those who may not know it. the emphasis is on the meaning, interpretation, wisdom of the shloka. so grab a cup of tea or your favorite drink and enjoy the reading. then, know the source and then the word by word meaning, when you already understand the interpretation.

    this hopefully will be less intimidating for new comers to sanskrit.

  9. Dear Shashi,

    I agree with the new format. It works for me.



  10. Thanks for spreading this great knowledge.


  11. Thankyou sir today is good day after 1992 we found a good sanskrit teacher thro net...This is NAHARANI, CHENNAI

  12. Thankyou sir for the real meaning for this sloga that we learnt by 1992 at chithambaram TN...Thanks God for this day to got this net page today.. the work done by sir is so great.


  13. why not रोगत्राता included along with the above categories?

  14. "पितृत्व" को परिभाषित करने का अद्भुत शोक और उससे भी अद्भुत उसका इतना विस्तृत एवं सटीक वर्णन। ढेरों साधुवाद |

  15. धन्यवाद, अभिषेक !

  16. awesome is the least i can say about this :) what amindblowing collection :)


Please do add your name and place, after the comment.