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Monday, September 20, 2010

Pitr Paksha (Mahaalaya Pakshaa ) is about to begin from September 24, 2010 (This holds good throughout the world except for those living in American continent; those living in American continents - all countries in North America and South America, should begin observing pitru paksha from September 23, 2010 itself). It is a powerful period for propitiation of manes(ancestors). Pitrus are said to Grace the households of their descendants with Divine Permission from the other Planes of Existence and are waiting to Bless any descendant who is willing to Honour them in whatever little way they can.

Austerities during Pitr Paksha (applicable to those who have lost atleast one parent) include:

1) Not eating non-veg (in case of non-vegetarians).

2) Not eating onion, garlic, outside food, processed foods,drumstick, etc (for pure vegetarians).

3) If possible avoiding shaving for the entire fortnight till Mahalaya Amavasai; obviously it may not be possible for everyone due to current secular life restrictions (like office policy requiring an executive placed in a cutting-edge responsibility to be clean shaved). Even in these cases, shaving should be avoided at least on the thithis of one's ancestors.

4) Performing obesquities (shradh) on the thithi of the ancestor'sdeath to the extent possible or at least offering "anna dhaanam"(offering food) to poor persons/ priests as per one's convenience.(On this day, you should not shave as already stated)

5) Abstaining from carnal intercourse with members of opposite gender during the fortnight as a mark of respect to Pitrs.

6) Doing recitals like Garuda Puraanam (depicting passage of asoul), Nachiketa story from Upanishads (where Yama Gitaa is there -it contains Lord Yamaa's elucidation of the journey of a soul whichwas first revealed to the devoted Nachiketaa), and Gangaa Avatarana chapter from Shrimad Vaalmiiki Raamaayan. These recitals are stated to grant satisfaction of Pitrs and thereby ensure their blessings upon us. In fact these recitals can be done even by those who have parents alive! (The other rituals like tarpanam should not be observed by those who have parents living). These are auspicious and do not come under the category of shraardha - but at the same time have the potency to give peace and happiness to the souls of ancestors of one's dynasty when they are recited. Those who cannot recite them personally may organize such recitals in honour of their ancestors with the help of vedic/ puranic experts.

Some important days during the pitru paksha

The following are auspicious days to perform shraardha to pitrus - irrespective of the thithi of their demise. Those who cannot observe the ritual procedures/ restrictions outlined above through the pitru paksha may at least observe the ritual guidelines on these auspicious days in honour of their pitrus.

1) Mahaa Bharani - This falls on September 26, 2010 for those living in USA, Canada, and other countries of the American continents. Persons living in other parts of the world should observe this on September 27, 2010.

2) Madhyaashtami - This is to be observed on October 1, 2010 throughout the world.

3) Mahaalaya Amaavasya - This should be observed on October 7, 2010 by persons throughout the world except those living in New zealand and Fiji islands; those living in New Zealand and Fiji islands should observe this on October 8, 2010.

Some controversial issues regarding the observance of pitru paksha rituals/ shraardham and dharma shastraic clarification for the same

1) There are many persons who feel that Mahaalaya paksha rituals need not be done in honour of step mother (called Sapatnii maataa - by shaastraas); doing it for just one's mother and father is enough. There are some who feel that only the eldest son of the second wife of one's father needs to do the shraardha if the first wife of the father died without issues.

Clarification: Though the eldest son is the first Adhikaari for rituals, when property has been divided among the brothers or when they have started living apart from each other as separate families, shraardha and other pitru rituals need to be done by each brother individually. The same holds true for honoring the Sapatnii maataa (Step mother who has died without issues also). Just think....will that Honourable Mother have taken care of just the eldest son and left the other sons in the lurch if she had been alive and the biological mother had been dead? Please use this logic for your clarity in this regard. Just as the step-mother cannot ignore the other children (nor should she!), the children also should not be partial towards performing rituals in Her Honour for Her Soul - especially if she had died without issues. This applies more sternly in cases where the eldest brother of the family is not alive. Unfortunately many families do this mistake of leaving the poor step-mother (the first wife of one's father who died without issues) after the eldest brother is dead. As long as at least one brother is alive, the sapatnii maataa should be honoured during pitru paksha on the day when you do the shraardha of your father (you can invoke one Brahman priest to represent the step-mother's lineage just as you do for your own mother's lineage). Please note that this guideline does not apply in cases where the other woman has voluntarily left one's father (say divorce), or has been indicted by a dharma parishad for undesirable behaviour and hence denied karma benefits in accordance with dharma shastraic principles after giving ample opportunity to exonerate herself. In cases where the father has done an injustice to another woman (who is no more) and has married one's mother, the son who performs rituals in honour of that wronged woman (father's first wife - who is deemed one's saptnii maataa) redeems himself from that dosha. A righteous son should try to do what he can to set right the wrongs done by his deceased parents - as and when he comes to know of that possibility. Though each person is answerable to his/ her own karma and sins, family doshas do arise out of adharmic activities of one's ancestors and these doshas do affect the family for many generations to come (usually seen as Stree saapa in the horoscope of many members of a family). Such doshas are cleared when that wronged soul is honoured appropriately in consultation with dharma shastraic experts in this regard.

2) Some think that if the annual shraardh is done properly, Mahaalaya paksha (pitru paksha) shraardha/ tarpanam need not be done!

Clarification: If you get double-increment will you say "I already got one; so please ignore me for this increment!" No one does that. Yet, when it comes to accumulating spiritual merit, we often tend to say "I have done that and so I need not do this." This attitude of excusing ourserlves from dharmic duties should be overcome consciously. Rather, we should think that the Mahaalaya paksha is a God -Given opportunity for us to honour our pitrs yet again. In fact, Mahaayalaya Paksha shraardh is mandatory, and there is no way out of it, and the benefits accruing out of Mahaalaya paksha shraardha/ tarpanam are actually more than what can accrue out of annual shraardha. The pitru paksha observance gladens our pitrus and we should not miss it for any reason. If we are unable to offer the shraardha/ tarpan on the thithi of our father, we should at least do it on the other special days like Mahaa Bharani, Madhyaashtami, or Mahaalaya Amaavasya (any one of these days). We should not miss it giving any excuse - because no such excuse exists!

3) There are some who think that if Gaya Shraardha has been done, there is no need for Mahaalaya paksha shraardha/ tarpanam.

Clarification: Gaya Shraardha is definitely a wonderful ritual for satisfaction of pitrs. But, having done that is no excuse for exempting oneself from Mahaalaya paksha tarpanam/ shraardha and annual shraardha. These should be continued as long as one is alive (or at least till one is healthy enough to carry on the rituals). Only those who are bed-ridden are exempt this due to obvious reasons! It is a sin to skip these rituals in mistaken sense of having attained a level where these are not necessary - no human being living an ordinary life is exempt these karmas. Even great rishis who were highly spiritually evolved and avatars like Shri Raama, Shri Krishna, have observed these, and obviously we are not above all of them in our spiritual standing! Only sanyaasins are exempt these because they don't have karmaa adhikaara (ritual right to perform a karma). Everyone else who has karmaadhikaara (due to death of one's parents) should observe this - even if they have done the Gaya Shraardha and Akshaya vata pinda daan.

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I hope these clarifications help our members to get this matter in the right perspective.

May our members observe these dharmic guidelines in connection with Mahaalaya paksha (Pitr paksha) and become recipients of the Grace of pitrus - our Benevolent Ancestors who have the capacity to shield us from the dangers of existence and improve our luck with their Blessings.

Blessed be.

Pandit R.DAKSHINAMOORTHI
Astrological and Remedial consultant
dakshinastrologer@yahoo.co.in

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

My grand father passed away on a tritiya. So we do shraddha on tritiya in pitru paksha and pay respect to other ancestors like great grand father, siblings of grand-father who are no more, etc . So, do we need to do seperate puja on Mahalaya amavasya again or just one puja on tritiya is enough ?

Pandit R. DAKSHINA MOORTHI said...

Dear Member (who has asked the doubt above):

It is always best to address a vedic pandit respectfully with a "Namaste" before shooting the query...because otherwise, without the basic courtesy, it seems as if the vedic pandit is a servant obliged to answer every query flung at his face.....Hope you understand that traditional people are used to certain respectful protocols of interaction and would prefer to maintain those as these protocols are auspicious for everyone.

I appreciate your committment to the goal of satisfying pitrs during the Mahalaya paksha period.

An elaborate shraddha is not needed on Mahalaya Amaavasya day,but the male progeny of the deceased ancestors should still perform the "tarpan" part of the ritual again on Mahalaya Amavasya day also (the shraddha need not be done in full again on Mahalaya Amavasya).

Hope this helps.

Blessed be.
Pandit R. DAKSHINAMOORTHI.

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