The ritual of Shraddha not only repays debts towards deceased ancestors, but also makes it easy to repay debts towards God and Sages. As debts towards ancestors need to be repaid by actions, it becomes simple and easy to repay these debts through the ritual of Shraddha. Therefore, in order to be able to repay other debts in a good manner, it is necessary that everyone relies upon debts towards ancestors that acts as link between God and Sages, satisfy them by performing these rituals and try to embark upon the progress towards attaining final liberation. By performing the ritual of Shraddha, with the help of the ancestors’ souls one can slowly progress towards reaching God and Sages and by the virtue of combined support from Vasu, Rudra and Aditya (Vasu means aspirations, Rudra means dissolution and Aditya means radiance or action), one can provide momentum to the deceased father, grandfather and great grandfather and in turn acquire blessings from God.
The term ‘Shraddha’ is completely linked with Maya (The Great Illusion) and Brahman (the Creator) through the bond of debts that need to be repaid. When the threads of the give and take relationship that binds us, dissolve, then at that time the embodied soul gets liberated and only then it can acquire momentum to progress towards attaining Final liberation. Therefore through the ritual of Shraddha one can get rid of the bonding with others and get liberated in this birth itself under observer stance of the followers of Vishnu.
Shraddha is one of the important rituals that is required to be performed, as advised by the Hindu religion. The guiding rule laid down by Dharma is that the liberation obtained by performing the rituals of Shraddha is itself the real thought (result). By following this rule of Dharma, H.H. Doctor (Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale) has compiled this book ‘Shraddha’.
- H. H. (Mrs.) Anjali Gadgil
The word ‘Shraddha’ conjures up an incorrect impression in the minds of the younger generation who belong to the modern scientific age. They see it as a case of unnecessary importance being given to a non-scientific and largely meaningless ritualistic procedure. Absence of Dharma education (which means ‘Righteousness from a spiritual perspective’) along with a lack of any inclination towards learning about spirituality, a high level of influence of foreign cultures and a continuous barrage of criticism with a strong underlying hatred for Hindu traditions and customs by unrighteous organizations, has caused this effect.
People, who lack faith in ritualistic worship or Shraddha and consider social service superior, have very naïve views. They feel that instead of performing Shraddha for deceased ancestors, they would rather donate food to the poor or provide help to schools. Of course, many of these people do not act upon their own views by actually put them into practice. In addition they are also unaware that doing this is as ludicrous as saying, ‘Instead of performing surgery to treat a particular disease, we will donate food to the poor or provide help to the schools’.
The spiritually potent mantras that are chanted during the ritual of Shraddha have the subtle power of providing momentum to the subtle bodies of deceased ancestors therefore they can progress to a higher sub-plane of existence after the ritual is performed. In view of this one can easily see the folly in maintaining the uninformed views mentioned above. Therefore the aim of this book is to eliminate the blindfold of ignorance that such people have and to change their thinking so they may develop a positive and spiritual view towards the sacred ritual of Shraddha which is prescribed by the Hindu religion.
Indian culture teaches us that we have to perform certain duties towards our parents and close relatives after their death, just as we serve them when they are alive as a part of obeying our Dharma. The ritual of Shraddha provides us with an excellent mechanism to fulfill our duties and in turn repay our debts towards ancestors. Our parents have taken the utmost care of us during our childhood. The ritual of Shraddha is necessary so that their journey after their death is full of comfort and devoid of any distress and that they acquire momentum, which allows them to progress to a higher sub-plane.
If one performs Shraddha on a particular day, date (as per the Hindu calendar) as per the position of the stars (nakshatra), then apart from one’s duty towards ancestors getting fulfilled, some specific benefit can also be derived. The importance and benefits of performing Shraddha have been elaborated through such various aspects in this book.
This book (this aticles series) also includes valuable information on various types of Shraddha like Nandi, Mahalay, Bharani and Tripindi, who should perform this ritual, the time and place for performing Shraddha, what should one do if appropriate priests are not available to perform the ritual, necessary food articles to be cooked for the ritual, do’s and don’ts for person performing Shraddha and the one consuming the food of Shraddha, process for performing Shraddha, method for offering food to ancestors and God, ways and means to remove obstacles faced while performing Shraddha etc. This book also clarifies general doubts like how does the food offered to the priests actually reach the ancestors, what is the science behind the crow touching the pinda etc.
We pray at Shri Guru’s Holy Feet that by studying this book may everyone attain a pure intellect to conserve the cultural wealth imparted to us by our great Sages in the form of ‘Shraddha’ and let Shraddha be performed with faith and the spiritual progress of ancestors and oneself be achieved.
Reference: Shraddha (importance and scientific explanation) - Volume 1