The Corona pandemic, shraddha rites and the opportunist atheists

Current times are highly favorable to atheists. Using the pretext of Corona pandemic, the atheists are not leaving a single opportunity to target Hindu Dharma. Recently a devout Hindu brought to our notice a Whatsapp message being circulated by atheists to defame shraddha rites. The purpose of this article therefore is to remove doubts that would have aroused in the minds of many people who easily get confused.

– Mr. Chetan Rajhans, National Spokesperson, Sanatan Sanstha


1. Incorrect thoughts of atheists targeting shraddha rites

The contents of the Whatsapp message and Facebook post being circulated in the social media is given below –
“Currently, none of the rites of pindadan, thirteenth day rites, Garud parayan, donation, immersion of ashes at Nasik, Alandi, Panchaganga, Kashi, Omkareshwar, Paithan etc. are being conducted after the death of Corona victims, yet the departed souls are going wherever they are meant to go! So what Saint Tukaram, Prabodhankar Thakre, Tukdoji Maharaj, Gadgebaba preached us was accurate. Instead of wasting money in following useless customs and traditions spend it on health, education etc.”


2. Baseless conclusions made
by rationalists due to lack of spiritual knowledge

Had these atheists acquired knowledge on why the post death rites, the 13th day rites are performed and why the Garud Puran is recited, then they would never have dared to send these messages. This example of putting forth their views without a proper study makes the limitations of modern rationalists obvious. Such baseless conclusions are formed are a result of not studying Spirituality adequately.

2A. Shraddha rituals are essential to provide good momentum to the subtle body

The Sanatan Dharma advocates principle of rebirth and scriptures state that based on its deeds, an individual attains momentum after its death. If an individual has performed benevolent actions all his life then it will attain a good momentum post death, however if the actions are sinful, malevolent, immoral etc., then the fruits of these actions take it towards abasement after death. The individual is then reborn as an insect, ant, dog, tree etc. from the 84 lakh species.

Due to unrighteous actions performed in life and unfulfilled desires and expectations at the time of death, the subtle body after being detached from physical body post death remains trapped in the Bhuvarlok (Nether region) above the earth. To prevent this and to facilitate its further movement so that it attains higher regions such as heaven etc., the rituals of shraddha have been advocated. Hence the tradition of performing the rites such as thirteen-day rites, recitation of Garud Puran etc. Important aspect to note here is that, these are performed to release souls trapped in the nether region. Those who are righteous and have performed benevolent actions all their life, attain a superior momentum based on their merits. It does not make any difference whether the shraddha rites are performed for such souls or not. Those who have made spiritual progress, they are not reborn on earth. Instead, they move ahead in the seven regions.

Corona victims Relatives not recevied the bodies

The question now arises ‘have you really been performing righteous actions all your life and following Dharma ?’ If the answer is ‘no’ then our descendants have to perform Shraddha rituals for us post our death.
Though there are restrictions on performing shraddha and funeral rites during the Corona pandemic Dharma has made alternative arrangements for that as well.
Only those interested in Spirituality are deserving of this knowledge, hence not elaborating on this.

Read this : Performing ‘Palashvidhi’ as prescribed by the scriptures in the current situation wherein it is impossible to perform funeral rites on the dead body of a person who has died due to Corona virus infection.

2B. Understanding the importance of Garud Puran

The king of birds, Garud (the eagle), is the vehicle of Shri Vishnu. Once Garud asked Bhagwan Vishnu a number of questions pertaining to what happens after death of living creatures, such as which state they enter after death, the journey of the souls through Yamalok (Region of Deity Yama), experiencing hell due to various unrighteous acts performed, 84 lakh species, dire state of sinners and various other complex aspects. This Puran is an assimilation of knowledge-filled advice given by Bhagwan Vishnu.
The purpose of reciting this Puran by family of the deceased person is that, the family members should make a resolve to follow the righteous path in their life and attain a good momentum after their death.
As atheists do not want to be bound to perform righteous actions, they oppose listening to the Garud Puran.

2C. There is not a single abhang (devotional song) of
Saint Tukaram Maharaj  advocating not to perform shraddha rites !

Saint Tukaram Maharaj has never advised against performing final rites or shraddha rituals in any of His abhangs. That is precisely why the authors of these messages have mentioned only the name of the Saint and have not given any reference of the abhang! They need to back their statements by giving reference of at least one abhang.

On the contrary Saint Tukaram Maharaj has said, ‘Shraddha has to be performed’ in one of the abhangs from His gatha (Holy text) as quoted below

। पिंड पदावरी । दिला आपुलिया करी ।
। माझे झाले गयावर्जन । फिटले पितरांचे ऋण ।
। केले कर्मातर । बोंब मारली हरिहर ।
। तुका म्हणे माझे । भार उतरले ओझे ।

In the above devotional song Saint Tukaram Maharaj says ‘When I held pinda (Rice ball) in my hands in the name of my ancestors and prayed for good momentum for their souls, I felt as if I had performed pindadan in Gaya and due to this offering, ancestors from my 21 generations will be uplifted spiritually’.

Further in this abhang He writes, ‘When performing these rituals, I also prayed to Shri Vitthal. Hence with His blessings and the meritorious actions of my ancestors the burden on me has reduced and I am content about performing the shraddha rituals thereby reducing the burden of their bondage.

Therefore, we can conclude that Saint Tukaram would have performed shraddha to pay respect to His ancestors and then would have penned this abhang.

2D. Social workers are not authorities in Dharma !

Prabodhankar Thakre and Gadgebaba were great social workers, they were not authorities in Dharma. Hence there is no need to mention any remarks made by them on Dharma related matters as a testimonial. There is a saying ‘Preach as per your authority in that sphere’. Saint Tukdoji worked towards national welfare and performed social service following the path of devotion but was not an authority in Dharma. That is why He opposed rituals, but how many people put have His teachings into practice? On the contrary after His death they constructed a samadhi (Mausoleum) and performed ritualistic worship of the samadhi!.

2E. Divine consciousness enriched tradition of shraddha which has stood the test of time

Even the Incarnations like Shriram and Shrikrushna performed shraddha rituals. This tradition of performing shraddha is continuing for lakhs of years only because it is enriched with Divine consciousness. Even after the death of Prabodhankar Thakre did the tradition of not performing shraddha stop? Certainly not. The funeral rites of Honourable Balasaheb Thakre were performed by his son Uddhav Thakre. When the very next generation could not implement Prabodhankar Thakre’s philosophy where is the Divine consciousness in it?

2F. Advising not to spend on deceased ancestors is lack of gratitude unto them !

Atheists advising to spend on health and education instead of unwarranted expenditure on shraddha rituals is all baseless talk because they themselves do not spend on health and education of the society. They neither run educational institutes nor hospitals. They never spend a penny from their pockets for social service, only misguide believers and do social service on the funds extracted from them. On the contrary, believers run education and health institutes through charitable organizations on a large scale. Do such atheists ungrateful towards their own ancestors have the moral right to preach this?


3. An appeal to the believers in society

Such atheists try to divert believers from the path of Dharma by sending such Whatsapp messages. They neither believe in Shriramkrushna nor in Tukaram Maharaj. Hence an appeal to you all to remain vigilant from such people. Maharaj Bhagirath and his ancestors from the royal family performed penance for thousands of years so that their ancestors could get liberated. That is why today we have the Divine River Ganga amidst us. The outcome of performing shraddha is always beneficial hence perform it with wholehearted devotion !

– Mr. Chetan Rajhans, National Spokesperson, Sanatan Sanstha

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