Why Should We Observe Pitra Paksh-The Shradhas

By: Vijay Kumar Verma, Editor-ICN Group

SHIMLA: A soul always yearns for a human life as it is believed that since only humans have wisdom they can  perform karma. In human life one gets the opportunity to balance the past and improve upon his bank of karma.

The human life alone is thus considered to be a karmakshetra as animals do not have the wisdom to distinguish between the good or bad. It is believed that human life is a blessing of God and must therefore be utilized to the best for performing best of karma, of course without the desire for karmphal.  

And of course for getting this human life, we all are indebted to our parents, grandparents, and all the ancestors, to have brought us in this world, for giving us this life.

An opportunity to perform, which every one is not blessed to do and what everyone aspires to do. Even gods in heaven it is said aspire to have this human life. Because the virtues of good karma too deplete in Dev Lok. And hence gods and goddesses too are not permanent. Not even Indra, the King of Dev Lok.

Now when the ancestors have given us this opportunity, we are obviously indebted to them. No one would like to remain indebted in this life or to carry forward this debt in the next life. While no one can pay the debt, one can at least lighten the burden to some extent.

When we are not aware of whom to repay, how to repay, there is an opportunity in the form of “sharadha” that one can perform. The word shardha is derived from its virtual meaning i.e. respect. Respect particularly for our elders and for all the dear ones who have departed.

The opportunity comes once every year during this period called “Pitra Paksh”- the fortnight this year is falling between 13th September and 28th September.

It is believed that after death, the soul is destined to stay without a body for a certain period of reformation. It is destined in the pitta lok or bhoot lok or dev Lok depending upon the karma.

The period during which it is given to do repentance. It is said that the souls stay in a place called pitra-lok. The good souls get the opportunity to be reborn instantly, but many others, have to remain without a body for the given time. The good souls in pitru-loka are given the guise of “yaksha” while the others are given to stay in the pitra-lok or have to stay as “bhutas” (ghosts).

The ancestors in the prison called “pitra-lok” wish to connect with their dear ones in the previous lives. The opportunity is given to them during this period of “pitra-paksh” or “shardhas”. It is believed that after the immersion of Ganapati in water every year, the period begins after the full moon. The pitra lok comes close to earth during the given period.

When the pitras come down to be near to their dear ones, they wish to know if their descendants still have any respect for them, do they remember them, or do something for their good. These pitras, waiting for an opportunity to get back to human life are in a state when they are  made to toil without any reward. Only the living ones can do something to better their plight.

And they look for the energy they can get from such activities performed by their descendants.

It is also believed that, the brahmins have the powers to receive energies on behalf of the pitras and transmit it to them. That is why it is  customary to feed the brahmins, good foods. It is also believed that the poor can also be fed for the benefit of the pitras. The pitras can draw the given energies from the poor, and certain animals like cows, dogs, crows, etc. That is why is the custom to feed the brahmins, the poor and the animals and birds.

Now imagine that someone dear to us is lodged in the prison. All the relatives of the prisoners are given an opportunity to meet them once a year, for certain specified days. The prisoner is on the lookout for his dear ones to come and meet him. He also hopes that these dear ones will take the services of a good lawyer to help them reduce their period of sentence. And when the dear ones don’t have time to do something like this, they get annoyed.

When the dear ones languishing in the pitralok expect to get some relief from their dear ones and these dear ones don’t do anything like that, these pitras curse them.

And this curse is known as “pitra-dosh”. A curse which many of us face in this life and wish to get rid of through the brahmins, but are not able to lighten it.

When to perform the “shradha”.Normally it is believed that the day of death of the dear ones or the “tithi” falling during this period of fifteen days, should   be observed as the day of shradh. But if we do not remember that day or tithi, one should perform on the first or the last day of sharadhas. Moreover, when we do not remember all those for whom we have to perform the sharadha, we may try to do it on each day of the pitra-paksh.

Pray for the relief of all the near and dear ones whom you do not know, who have departed in the past.They are the spirits who are not just expecting help from you, but are also ready to help you in distress. We do seek help from them and we do receive it.

During this period it is believed that we must shun all types of tamasic food. We must try to keep ourselves clean from within. Believe that if you are doing it for someone today, there would be someone also doing for you tomorrow.

It is a tribute in memory of all those who are not with us, they may have been our elders, may be related or not.

In Bhagavad Gita, Krishana tells Arjuna “there was no time when I was not there, or you were not there”. If not in this life someone, somewhere may have been related to us. Then why not consider this enlarged humanity, as our own family and preach to lesson of Universal Brotherhood.

But Lord Krishna has a word of advice for us all. He tells Arjun not to be too attached to such things as those who pray too much for Pitrr will be born among them, those who involve themselves with Bhootas will be born among them, but those who pray me will be ultimately United with me and will be relinquished from the cycle of life and death.

Aayshmaan Bhavah!

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