Criticism or inappropriate views on Shraddha rites and their refutation
During pitrupaksha (fortnight of deceased ancestors) devout Hindus perform the rite of shraddha. Many try to continue this tradition. Yet so-called secularists try to pollute the minds of Hindus in this regard just as they do about other festivals and take them away from Dharma. Sometimes customs are not followed out of ignorance. The following article is meant to explain the Hindu Scriptural basis of pitrupaksha and shraddha and how the objections raised by secularists are wrong.
Critical comment 1 : In this month (especially during the fortnight of pitrupaksha) many do not undertake important tasks. Those who do not wish to return someone’s money or want to postpone some task use this as a pretext
Clarification : Considering pitrupaksha fortnight or mahalay as it is called as prohibitory or inauspicious is going a bit too far. Leave aside making preparations for marriage, seeing prospective matches, fixing a marriage etc. even the word marriage is taboo during this period. The truth is that pitrupaksha is not an obstacle for basic preparations. (Reference : Sanatan’s Holy text ‘Festivals, Religious festivities and vowed religious observances’.)
The second point is that today prevalent customs are stronger than the underlying science. But the custom of not undertaking any auspicious task during this period has no Scriptural basis. (Reference : Sanatan’s Holy text : Holy Festivals , Festivities and Vowed Religious Observances.)
Critical comment 2 : When you offer food to a crow as your father and he pecks on it, it is acceptable but when 10 to 12 crows peck on it then what to conclude from it ? Also what does the same crow pecking someone else’s pinda (offering of boiled rice and black sesame seeds) signify? All this is a farce, cheating, fooling, we are doing all this to please ourselves.
Clarification : In the ritual of shraddha deceased ancestors are invoked through offering of a pinda and their unfulfilled desires are fulfilled. The desires in an average individual are high because of which Raja and Tama predominant dispersing frequencies are emitted from the subtle body. The crow is a bird which has the maximum capacity to attract odd frequencies; hence it perceives these frequencies. When the subtle body of an ancestor gets attracted to a pinda, it gets charged with unequal frequencies. The crow gets attracted to these frequencies. The crow pecking at the pinda is an indicator that the ancestor has come to the venue of the shraddha and has been satiated. Thus the crow serves as a medium to connect subtle bodies with desires and human beings. (Reference : Sanatan’s Holy text ‘Shraddha : Importance and scientific analysis)
If the science underlying this is comprehended then many crows pecking at the pinda simultaneously depicts the presence of several deceased ancestors there during the rite of shraddha. In this ritual the crow is a mere medium, it is important to understand that. In fact debt unto ancestors is one of the four debts to be repaid in life as per the Hindu Dharma. The crow has been endowed with special vision. This fortnight is not merely for deceased fathers but for deceased ancestors. That is why questioning why many crows peck at the same pinda simultaneously or the same crow pecks at different pindas is ridiculous. This is like asking how the same teacher can teach students from different classes.
Critical comment 3 : Instead of performing rites on the 10th and 13th day for deceased ancestors care for them when they are alive, that is true seva.
Clarification : When relatives are alive take good care of them. That is the duty of every Hindu according to Hindu Scriptures. So that the journey after death is happy and conflict-free and to enable ancestors to travel to further regions, the Hindu Dharma has advised the rite of shraddha. It never says harass your relatives when they are alive and perform shraddha for them after they die. Those who follow the Path of Action (Karmayoga) and those who do not believe in rebirth, may be doing such propaganda.
Critical comment 4 : If you have to serve your ancestors then trace your family tree and in their remembrance print small booklets. Undertake some constructive task in their memory. Help schools, libraries, hospitals and social organisations. Stop all old customs and start new ones in society.
Clarification : There is no objection to printing booklets or rendering social service but is that the alternative to performing shraddha ? Advising social service instead of shraddha is indeed ridiculous and akin to saying ‘use the money you would to get an operation done on a patient to do social service’. Spirituality is a science of experience and to get a spiritual experience the respective ritual has to be done or the advice given has to be followed with faith. Instead of doing this diverting from it is like asking that the taste of sugar be explained instead of tasting and experiencing it. So-called secularists from society by criticising customs and traditions of the Hindu Dharma all the time with hate are trying to create doubts about ‘shraddha’ in the common Hindu. Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone had come to Bharat to perform shraddha of his son. In fact every year innumerable foreigners visit Bharat to perform the ritual of shraddha. This year too people from Nigeria, Russia, United Kingdom etc visited Gaya to perform the rite of shraddha. The call to stop all old customs and start new ones. Those who want to ape the West should see how many foreigners visit places of pilgrimage here and perform shraddha. In fact some of them are even performing research on it.
Instead of falling prey to the anti-Dharma attitude of so-called secularists, Hindus should look at the rite of shraddha from the Hindu Dharma positively and with a spiritual perspective.
Reference : Sanatan’s Holy Text ‘Importance of Shraddha and its underlying science’
Critical comment 5 : It is said that the shraddha rites are a plot of the Brahmans to earn a livelihood !
Inappropriate view : The shraddha rites are a plot of the Brahmans. They have created a means of livelihood for themselves.
A. Shraddha is being performed in every village, household and every nook and corner of the country since times immemorial. The rites too are identical everywhere. There is a famous quote – ‘You cannot fool all the people all the time !’
Accordingly, if the shraddha rites were a ‘plot’ of the Brahmans, could they have fooled society for thousands of years ? Even today, shraddha is performed at Holy places such as Gaya, Tryambakeshwar, Ramtek, Prayag, etc.
B. We are in Kaliyug when people are very selfish. They arrange lavish liquor parties for their friends and family, and squander money unnecessarily. They find happiness in such activities. However, it is surprising that they are not willing to serve a meal to the Brahmans (who represent their ancestors) to liberate themselves from the debt unto their departed parents. The fact is that the debt unto our parents is so enormous, that it cannot be repaid even if we serve them throughout our life. Irrespective of how rich an individual is, the main shraddha rite requires just two Brahmans.
C. The Puranas say that serving meals to guests during shraddha rites amounts to appeasing ancestors; the Yogis (Ascetics), evolved souls and Deities keep going around the earth to watch the rites of shraddha.
D. It is said that a utterly helpless individual should go into a forest, raise his arms and cry out with bhav – ‘I am penniless and without food. Liberate me from the debt unto the ancestors’. This will beget the merit of performing a shraddha.
E. To cry facing the south in a given circumstance is also a kind of shraddha rite.
Given these facts, can the shraddha rites ever be a plot of the Brahmans to create a means of livelihood ?
Critical comment 6 : It is said that shraddha is an uncivilized act; it is better to donate to social organisations
Inappropriate view : The shraddha rites are an uncivilized act. On death anniversaries of the parents, it is appropriate to place their photos, offer floral tributes, light frank-incense, oil lamp, and donate grains, etc. to social organisations, orphanages, etc.
A. If we assume that mere donations are sufficient to meet the needs of the shraddha rites, this will mean that ‘the disease is one and the remedy is on another’. Shraddha is a rite performed as per the Scriptures amidst the recitation of mantras and with full faith. Instead of performing shraddha, if donations are made under the influence of emotion, the ancestors are not pleased; because, the fruit of the donation does not reach them.
B. The ancestors whose shraddha is not performed, affect the blood of those who do not perform it. The presiding Deity of blood is the pitar. If shraddha is not performed as per the Scriptures, they create very subtle defects in blood. Deficiency in blood brings about abnormality of semen, and the progeny becomes weak, handicapped and is riddled with various diseases.
C. The subtle body in the form of air gains energy due to performance of karmas advised by the Scriptures. After death, the jiva assumes another form and proceeds to another subtle region. It is in a corpse-like state without a physical body. The shraddha and such worldly rites are necessary for it to assume a new body.
From these points, it will be clear how inappropriate it is to donate instead of performing shraddha rites.
Critical comment 7 : It is said that honouring and gifting something to the father, grandfather, etc. while they are alive also amounts to a shraddha
Inappropriate view : ‘Honouring, respect-ing and gifting something to the father, grand-father, etc. while they are alive itself amounts to a shraddha.’ – Swami Dayanand Saraswati (Founder of Arya Samaj)
A. Shraddha is performed only for the dead : A shloka of Sage Manu, which Swami Dayanand has quoted to emphasise his understanding, is quite the opposite. When the father is alive, the shraddha rites cannot be performed. Shraddha is performed only for the dead.
B. Benefits of shraddha : When 3 pindas are offered on the earth (A portion of land in the southern direction is dug up, darbha are spread and 3 pindas are placed on them), the ancestors in Narak (Hell region) are liberated. A son must make every effort to perform the shraddha of his departed father. When his name and gotra are pronounced in a ritualistic manner accompanied by rites such as offering of the pindas, they attain the next region. Since their desires are fulfilled in this manner, they do not harass the family. They also gain momentum and go to the next subtle region. It has been proved through experiments that performing shraddha begets good results.
Thus, it is observed that the statements of Swami Dayanand and other contemporary individuals are incorrect. If their statements had been true, what would have been the need for the numerous rites in shraddha ?
– Gurudev (Dr) Kateswamiji (Ghangarjit, Dec. 2008 and Jan. 2009)
Instead of performing shraddha, if donations are made under the influence of emotion, the ancestors are not pleased !