Shraadh, Pay­ing Homage To An­ces­tors

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - Sat­sang: Swami Te­jo­mayananda

Hin­dus per­form shraadh – homage to an­ces­tors – an­nu­ally. Does the re­sult reach the de­parted ones? Is it a nec­es­sary duty?

The answer to this ques­tion de­pends on var­i­ous fac­tors. First, do you have faith in and rev­er­ence for the Vedas and value what they say? If the answer is ‘yes’, then you must fol­low their in­junc­tions. Those who do not be­lieve in the Vedas, would not obey the com­mands therein. There is a third cat­e­gory of peo­ple who say, “I have faith, but also have ques­tions.” Ac­tu­ally, such ques­tions and doubts would not arise in the mind of one who has to­tal faith, com­plete shrad­dha.

Every jiva is born with his karma, but the jiva is not in iso­la­tion. A part of the whole, he lives with other mem­bers of so­ci­ety. Af­ter death, the jiva will con­tinue its jour­ney, in ac­cor­dance with its karma – even if the af­ter-death rites are not prop­erly per­formed. How­ever, it is nat­u­ral to wish that the de­parted soul of a dear one, finds peace, a noble des­ti­na­tion, and free­dom from suf­fer­ing. This com­pas­sion is felt more in­tensely for a per­son we have lived with, and were bound to by a re­la­tion­ship. Any ac­tion done with such in­ten­sity is cer­tain to bear fruit. Ac­cord­ing to the law of karma, every ac­tion pro­duces a re­sult. So, any karma per­formed with the in­ten­tion of it ben­e­fit­ing the de­parted, will def­i­nitely do so.

The whole uni­verse is one, and the power of thought is great. No thought dies with­out any ef­fect. So, any karma backed by a pow­er­ful thought, ac­cord­ing to scrip­tural in­junc­tions, in­vok­ing the de­ity’s power to help the jiva, will cer­tainly bear fruit.

Any ob­sta­cle on the path of the jiva can be neu­tralised, min­imised and over­come, by God’s grace, by the power of a mantra and good thoughts. The jiva will surely be ben­e­fited by the com­bined strength of all these. Fur­ther, whether or not the re­sult reaches the jiva, the one who per­forms the puja feels very happy. This is a di­rect re­sult of hav­ing done some­thing with sin­cer­ity for the other jiva,and this can be ex­pe­ri­enced im­me­di­ately.

Scrip­tures tell us to per­form shraadh for our an­ces­tors, only up to a par­tic­u­lar gen­er­a­tion. For those who are un­able to do the cer­e­mony every year, cer­tain spe­cial rites can be per­formed in Gaya. Af­ter this, we do not have to do the rit­ual every year. The scrip­tures give us many such op­tions!

You will be as­ton­ished to know that a per­son is per­mit­ted to do his own shraadh dur­ing his life­time. For those who have faith in rit­u­als and who doubt if their chil­dren will per­form them in the fu­ture, here is a way out! When some­one takes san­nyasa, they do their own atmapin­dam, their own shraadh.So deep and com­plete are the shas­tras that they take care of all con­tin­gen­cies.

The answer is very clear. Every ac­tion pro­duces a re­sult. Hence the re­sult of the karma will cer­tainly help the par­tic­u­lar jiva, wher­ever the jiva may be. Peo­ple be­long­ing to other cul­tures may not per­form these rit­u­als, but they do, in some way, re­mem­ber their loved ones on their death an­niver­saries, in their own way, ac­cord­ing to their tra­di­tions.

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