Importance of Shradham in Hindu Dharma

published on August 5, 2013
In view of Karkidaka vavu…

SHRADHAM – AN IMPORTANT RITUAL IN HINDU DHARMA !

Today out of ignorance, many people consider Shradham as an ‘unscientific and baseless ritual’. Some even feel that instead of doing shradha rituals for ancestors, it is better to use that money for providing food to poor people or giving donations to schools. This is similar to saying that ‘it is good to offer food to the needy or giving donation to a school, instead of conducting surgery on the needy patient’. Performing shradham is a part of dharmacharanam, ie., following Dharma. When Lord Sreeram heard the news of His father’s death, He performed shradham for him, although He was in jungle at the time. In the mantras that are chanted during shradha rituals, there is a subtle energy which is capable of providing momentum to the ancestors, so that they move ahead.

This article is published so as to remove the ignorance and misconcepts about shradham, and to spread the scientific basis behind the same.

OBJECTIVES OF PERFORMING SHRADDHA

A. Providing momentum to the deceased ancestors present in the Pitru region so that they can progress to a higher sub-plane of existence, through the means of Shraddham.

B. Satisfying the wishes and desires of the souls of the deceased ancestors of one’s family who are trapped in the negative regions due to unfulfilled desires. This also helps in providing momentum for their further progress.

C. Some deceased ancestors, due to their evil deeds, become ghosts and reside in hell instead of nether region. Through the medium of ritual of Shraddham, one can relieve them from being trapped in this form.

IMPORTANCE AND NEED OF PERFORMING SHRADDHA

A. Repaying the debt to ancestors is as important as repaying the debt to God, Sages and the society. It is the duty of descendants to respect their ancestors, make donations in their name and to undertake activities that will please them. Performing Shraddha is a part of obeying Dharma, as per science of Dharma.

B. Ancestors’ soul becomes satisfied only after receiving pinda and water from their son. In relation to this, following is a verse in the holy text Mahabharat which means :

– The son protects his ancestors souls from the Hell named ‘Puta’. Therefore Lord Brahma himself has named him as ‘Putra’.

As per the above verse, to enable the deceased ancestors to progress to a higher sub-plane, to relieve them from experiencing severe and everlasting distress and to initiate them to bestow grace on their descendants, every son should perform ritual of Shraddha. It is amply clear in the verse that the one who is believed to be a son, he should perform these duties.

The Scriptures have also delineated what a person should do who is incapable of doing any of the above stated options. They are as follows:

•    Give a pitcher filled with water to a brahmin.
•    Give some food to a brahmin.
•    Give sesame seeds to a brahmin.
•    Give some money to a brahmin.
•    Give food grains as per capacity to a brahmin.
•    Feed grass to a cow.
•    Forgoing rituals etc. merely do pinda-dan.
•    After bathing release water containing sesame seeds (Pitru-tarpan).
•    Observe a fast on the tithi of the shraddha.
•    On the day of the shraddha, recite the shraddha ritual.

If even this is not possible, then go to a forest and exposing your armpits by putting both the hands up, wave a blade of grass towards the Deities of the regions (Lokapal) like Sun etc. and pray, “I do not possess anything useful for shraddha like wealth etc. I pay obeisance to all my Pitars. Let all my Pitars be appeased with my devotion. I am helpless.”

Alternatively, go to a secluded forest and pray in a loud voice raising your hands, I am penniless and without food. Liberate me from the debt of my Pitars. If even this is not possible, then lament facing the south direction.
This shows how inevitable it is for everyone to perform shraddha.

HOW IS THE BENEFIT OF THE SHRADDHA ACQUIRED MERELY BY PRAYING ?

By praying with spiritual emotion the Pitars (ancestors), inferior Deities and other Deities are appeased and attracted towards the person who prays. Together with their blessings the person also acquires the benefit of the shraddham. Invoking the Deities by raising hands and praying to the Pitars is a symbol of the devotee’s spiritual emotion (Bhav) of helplessness.

IMPORTANCE OF CHANTING ‘SRI GURUDEVA DATTA’

Due to the unsatisfied Pitars (ancestors), there is a risk of distresses like – not getting married, financial difficulties, seeing cobra or Pitars in a dream or in waking state. For overcoming such distress, it is important to chant the Name of Lord Dattatreya along with the ritual of shraddha.

Deity Dattatreya is the Principle created from the combination of the Principles of the three main Deities, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. One of His functions is to give momentum to the journey of our deceased ancestors (Pitars) to the next region. Hence, once should chant ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’.

Benefit of chanting ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’ :

•    Many desires of the person attached to materialistic life remain unfulfilled after death. Such unsatisfied subtle bodies get trapped in the region of the dead (Mrutyuloka). Such subtle bodies cannot go to the next region because of their unfulfilled desires. By chanting ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’ the ancestors trapped in the Mrutyuloka gain momentum.

•    Creation of a protective sheath : By chanting ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’ a protective sheath is created around the body of the person. Keeping in mind this benefit of chanting ‘Sri Gurudeva Datta’, one should do maximum chanting during Pitrupaksha. To avoid the risks of future distress due to unsatisfied Pitars and as spiritual healing for mild distress, chant for one to two hours daily. If the distress is medium, chant for two to four hours daily and if it is severe chant for four to six hours daily.

On Karkidaka vavu day (6th August 2013), chant ‘Sri Gurudev Datta’ as much as possible, to remove all obstacles in performing Shradham. Also, pray to Lord Dattatreya thus, ‘Let all the obstacles in Shradham be removed and let the rituals being performed, reach my ancestors.’

Source : H.H. Dr. Jayant Athavle (Founder, Sanatan Sanstha)

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