Alternate Simple Tharpanam: agasthiyar method
If you follow the traditional way of doing tharpanam continue with your traditional practices. Here Agasthiar's easy and simple tarpanam method that anyone, anywhere can follow is presented. There is no restrictions whatsoever (applicable to any religion, race, culture and gender).

The easy tharpanam method is made up of 2 parts. The first part is Pitru Tarpanam (Pitru = one's ancestors & Tharpanam = to satisfy, to please). The second part is known as Karunya Tharpanam.

Requirements:

  1. A mat, made of sacred Darbha grass (also known as Kusa grass) / wooden plank or clean cloth made of natural fibers such as cotton or wool, to sit on.
  2. A clean plate made of wood, copper, brass or silver.
  3. Clean water in a wood, copper, brass or silver cup that is convenient to hold in your left hand.
  4. Black sesame seeds (ellu in Tamil, til in Hindi). If you are male, use black sesame seeds. If you are female, use white sesame seeds.
  5. Dharba (also known as kusa grass and as dharbai) or any dry grass
  6. Pavitram made of darbha grass (f available) to be worn on the ring finger of the right hand.

Ancestor Table: Three departed male/female ancestors on the father's/mother's side

1. Paternal male ancestors, i.e., the male ancestors on father's side
F (father)
FF (father's father)
FFF (father's father's father)
FFFF (father's father's father's father)
FFFFF (father's father's father's father's father)
2. Paternal female ancestors, i.e., the female ancestors on father's side
M (mother)
FM (father's mother)
FFM (father's father's mother)
FFFM (father's father's father's mother)
FFFFM (father's father's father's father's mother)
3. Maternal male ancestors, i.e., the male ancestors on mother's side
MF (mother's father)
MFF (mother's father's father)
MFFF (mother's father's father's father)
MFFFF (mother's father's father's father's father)
MFFFFF (mother's father's father's father's father's father)
4. Maternal female ancestors, i.e., the female ancestors on mother's side
MM (mother's mother)
MFM (mother's father's mother)
MFFM (mother's father's father's mother)
MFFFM (mother's father's father's father's mother)
MFFFFM (mother's father's father's father's father's mother)
tarpanam_01.gif
Here are the steps for doing tharpanam:
  1. Light one or two oil lamps or ghee lamps.
  2. Spread the mat and sit facing east.
  3. Pray to Lord Ganesh first and then to Lord Surya Narayana who is the Lord of the pitru ancestral beings. Request them to bless the tarpanam pooja that you are about to perform.
  4. Place the plate in front of you and arrange the tharpanam grid (First place the 3 vertical strips of darbha or grass and then the 3 horizontal strips. Each line shown above should have about 3 grass strips. Since there are 6 lines in total, 6 x 3 = 18 grass strips. There are 12 tips in total, 3 at the top, 3 at the bottom, 3 on the right and 3 on the left. The top 3 tips represent the 3 most recently departed male ancestors on the father's side. The bottom 3 tips represent the 3 most recently departed female ancestors on the father's side. The 3 tips on the right represent the 3 most recently departed male ancestors on the mother's side. The 3 tips on the left represent the 3 most recently departed female ancestors on the mother's side.
  5. With all your heart, request exalted pitru ancestral beings to be present in this tharpanam grid and accept the humble offerings that you are about to give.
  6. This is the step where we actually offer tharpanam for the first departed ancestor on the tip marked 1 in the above diagram. For example, the first departed ancestor is FFF (father's father's father, i.e., great grandfather). Place a pinch of sesame seeds on your right palm and chant the pitru tarpana mantra given above (meyyil vilangum jothi) and the name of the departed ancestor as follows: "meyyil vilangum jothi... kulirveeré Great Grandfather [name of FFF] svadhaa namas tharpayami [3 times] As you are chanting the mantra, pour water on the sesame seeds (that are in the palm of your hand) slowly while tilting your hand to the right so that the water and sesame seeds fall on the appropriate tip. The water should flow down through the gap between your right thumb and right index finger as shown in the figure above. We do this 3 times per ancestor on the appropriate tip. If you don't know the name of an ancestor, that is fine. Just state the relationship alone and offer tharpanam for that ancestor. If you know the gotra lineage of a person, say it just before you mention the relationship, e.g., Sri Vatsa Gotra great grandfather Murugan or Vadhoola Gotra friend Suresh in the examples above.

    மெய்யில் விளங்கும் ஜோதி மெய்யுணர்ந்த மேல் நீத்தார், மனங்குளிர வார்த்த எள் நீர் ஏற்று, மனங்குளிர்வீர் மனங்குளிர்வீர் மனங்குளிர்வீரே
    [Gotra Name] [Relationship] [Name] தர்ப்பயாமி |

  7. Now move on to the 2-nd tip and do the tharpanam 3 times on that tip. In this way, repeat this process for all 12 ancestors, i.e., on all 12 tips. 3 times per tip and a total of 12 tips would mean that you make a minimum of 36 tharpanam offerings for your pitru ancestors each time you do tharpanam.
  8. Next, do karunya tharpanam for relatives, friends, people you respect, strangers, pets, plants, trees, animals, birds, creatures and insects. Before you do this, pray to Lord Varadaraja and request His blessings for the beings you are doing karunya tarpanam for. Then chant the karunya tharpana mantra given above and the name of the person as follows: "neethaar nedungolam... tharpanamé Friend [name] svadhaa namas Tarpayami [3 times] As you are chanting the mantra, pour water on the sesame seeds (that are in the palm of your hand) slowly while tilting your hand to the right so that the water and sesame seeds fall in the middle of the grid. Do this 3 times for each person or plant or animal you are doing karunya tharpanam for. Here too, the water should flow down through the gap between your right thumb and right index finger as shown in the figure above.

    நீத்தார் நெடுங்கோளம் நின்ற வளி நீள்தாயம், ஏத்தார் எங்கோளம் எங்குலத்தார் எம்பூரம், காத்தார் காரணத்தார் கரமேவி எள் புலமே, கூத்தார் குடப்பெருமாள் கொண்டாங்கே ஏகிடவே, மூத்தார் முதம் வேதம் முற்றாய் மலர்ந்திடவே, பூத்தார் புனல் எம்பும் பூமறையாய் பூணட்டும்
    [Gotra Name] [Relationship] [Name] தர்ப்பயாமி |

  9. When your tharpanam is complete, remove the pavitram from your ring finger, unroll it and place it on top of the darbha grass used in the tharpanam.
  10. Pray to Lord Narayana and the exalted pitrus and prostrate yourself (full body namaskar) towards the southern direction 12 times.
  11. Dispose off the sesame seeds, water and darbha grass used in the ceremony respectfully by depositing them into a flowing river or ocean or a large pond or well. An alternate method is to separate the sesame seeds from the water, pour the water alone at the base of sacred trees and feed the sesame seeds to birds.
Additional Notes:
  1. Tharpanam is done only for departed beings, that is, those who have passed on. Tharpanam is not done for those who are alive. Any one can do tharpanam for departed beings. For those who wear the sacred thread, change it to your right shoulder at the beginning of the tharpanam ceremony and back to the left shoulder at the end of the ceremony. There are special mantras for this step.
  2. One can do tharpanam for more than 12 departed ancestors. Refer to his Siddha writings for this information.
  3. According to Maha Guru Agasthiar, tharpanam should be done at sunrise. There is a tradition that says that tharpanam should be done at noon. If this is your tradition, please do follow that.
  4. You can do tharpanam right in the comfort of your home. But it is that much more effective to do it in temples and on the banks of sacred rivers. If you can do tharpanam in the Pitru Moksha temples and sacred spots, that would be the best.
  5. The most serious misconception regarding tharpanam is the idea that if the father is alive, the son should not do tharpanam. The son has a pitru debt just as the father does. So it is important to shed this misconception. Women can do pitru tharpanam just as well as men. If there are no sons in a family, daughters can certainly do tharpanam.
  6. If the husband does not do tharpanam, the wife can make up for it by doing tharpanam. Women who have lost their husbands or who are separated from their husbands can do tharpanam. Women can do karunya tharpanam for those departed souls who cared for them.
REF: Neethaar Kadan Padalam (The Debt to Departed Ancestors Section) of the Agasthiar Moola Naadi.

கண்டவர் விண்டிலர் விண்டவர் கண்டிலர் இறப்புக்கு பின்னர் என்ன ? (ஒரு ஜென் தத்துவ விளக்கம்-ஆங்கிலத்தில் )
(On the wasteful discussions on life after death.)
The Japanese Emperor asked the Zen Master, Bosho:
"What happens to a man of enlightenment after death?"
Bosho replied: " How should I know?"
The Emperor continued: " But you are a Master!"
Bosho replied: " Yes, Sir. But I am not dead yet."

No one knows what exactly happens after death. There are many conflicting theories. Let us keep them aside. Let us pay our respects to ancestors, to whom we owe our existance!