pitrr karma / shraaddha

pitrr karma / shraaddha

General statements that we get to hear on Pitrr karma:

  1. By performing Pitrr Karma (thithi), the ancestors are helped in their after-death journey.
  2. The ancestors await their progeny’s offerings and bless them on receiving the offerings.
  3. A great sin is incurred by a person who skips making the offerings since the ancestral chain suffers.

A general observation of the above statements immediately gives rise to the following questions:

  1. Why should the ancestral chain await its progeny to support its progress? After all, in the chain, each is an individual, who experiences pain and pleasure according to his/her deeds. Why would the offspring’s making/not-making offerings affect this chain’s progress?
  2. If we note the word “bless”, how does an ancestor recognize his progeny to bless? The ancestor might have undergone metempsychosis (rebirth), where he/she is ignorant of his/her previous Janma.

The questions find answers as follows:

An individual of the ancestral chain does indeed experience pain and pleasure according to his/her deeds. He/She does not depend on progeny for support.

After death, the soul is still covered by two dehas (bodies) called Aniruddha deha and Linga deha. What is left behind on earth is called Sthoola deha. With such outer coverings, the soul performs arduous tasks. These tasks are eased or hardened, depending on the deeds of the soul and that alone (NOT because its progeny performed pitr karma).

However, it is the progeny’s duty to perform pitr karma. It might so happen that when the pitrr (ancestor) soul finds solace in undertaking arduous tasks after death, its progeny on earth offered pitrr Karma

What seems to be a coincidence is not a coincidence, as the phenomenon is governed by another factor called God! How?

Note that God is defined as all knowing (omniscient), failing which He is no God at all. Knowing everything includes knowing everything in the past, present and future. God knows if a living person, when he undertakes difficult journeys after his/her death, will deserve help (according to his papa-punya balance). If yes, then the person, when he/she is living, begets a duty-conscious child, who will perform pitr karma after the parents’ death. However, if the help is not deserved (again according to the papa-punya balance of the parent), then the difficult journey is not eased. Correspondingly, the parent, in his/her live state, would either not beget children, or beget ones who will not bother to perform pitr karma.

The above set up is NOT like the equation: parent = fnc(child), where the child is an independent variable and the parent depends on the child for help. It is more like: parent = fnc(God) and child = fnc(God), where God being the independent variable, “controls” the dependant variables (parent and child) in such a way, that there seems to be a direct relation between the child and parent.

So what is there for the progeny, who makes the offerings?

Well, the progeny gets to perform its duty as prescribed by God (which is nothing but saadhana). Performing ones duty (the syllabus for duties is set by the Vedas), eventually leads to the final emancipation, which is Moksha (salvation). Further – the roound balls of rice with til (yeLLu) are never offerings to the departed soul – but offerings to pitrr dEvataas – who work in tandem with God Almighty to handle departed souls. The children of the departed soul make these offerings to the pitrr dEvataas, fondly remembering their parent, praying to these dEvataas deliver comfort to the departed parent. In doing so, they still pray to God Almighty, since all prayers to all dEvataas finally reach Him alone.

In all, we see that, though both progeny and ancestor depend on God alone, and not on each other, God creates an apparent relationship between the two. This is done to provide each with opportunities for their own Sadhana (duties), with the final aim of emancipation.

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