For pitars to be satisfied and to get their blessings for performing sadhana, we should perform Mahalaya Shraddha !
The period from Bhadrapad Krushna Pratipada to Bhadrapad Amavasya according to Hindu Almanac is the period of Pitru Paksha. This year it is from 21st September to 6th October. For all pitars (Departed ancestors) to be satisfied and to get their blessings for performing spiritual practice, each of us should perform Mahalaya Shraddha.
1. Importance of performing Mahalay Shraddha during the Pitru Paksha : During the Pitru Paksha all departed ancestors in the family come close to their heirs with the expectation of food and water. During this period, Pitrulok (Region of pitars) is closest to Pruthvilok (Region of living beings); hence, the food and water offered to them reaches them easily. Hence, they get satisfied and bless their family members. Performing the Shraddha ritual eliminates the obstacles in spiritual practice arising out of Pitrudosha (Obstacles associated with pitars), and thus, is beneficial to spiritual practice.
2. On the backdrop of Corona pandemic, what should be done if it is not possible to perform Shraddha ritualistically ? Scriptures say that the following should be done under such circumstances.
2A. Performing Amashraddha : Katyana (A famous Vedic priest from 2nd century BC) has said, ‘During adverse times, absence of the wife, Amashraddha should be performed at a pilgrimage centre and on the day of Sankranti. If for some reason, it is not possible to perform the Shraddha ritual, perform Amashraddha after making a resolve. Keep rice grains, oil, ghee, sugar, potatoes, coconuts, one betel nut, two betel leaves, one coin, etc. as per your capacity in a large platter. Recite -‘आमान्नस्थित श्री महाविष्णवे नमः । (Amannasthita Shri Mahavishnave Namaha)’ and offer these with the offerings in the platter sandalwood paste, akshata (Unbroken rice grains), a flower and a Basil leaf. Offer all this to a priest. If a priest is not available, donate it to a Purohit Pathashala or a Gaushala or a temple.
2B. Performing Hiranya Shraddha : If it is not possible to perform Amashraddha, perform Hiranya Shraddha after making a resolve. Place some money in a plate as per your capacity. Recite – ‘हिरण्यस्थित श्री महाविष्णवे नमः । (Hiranyasthita Shri Mahavishnave Namaha)’ or ‘द्रव्यस्थित श्री महाविष्णवे नमः । (Dravyasthita Shri Mahavishnave Namaha)’ and with the money in the plate, offer sandalwood paste, akshata, a flower and a Basil leaf. Offer the money to a priest. If a priest is not available, donate it to a Purohit Pathashala or a Gaushala or a temple.
2C. Offering Gaugrass (Cattle feed) : If it is not possible to perform even Hiranya Shraddha for some people, they should offer Gaugrass. If this also not possible, contact a nearby Gaushala and donate some money for Gaugrass.
After performing Amashraddha, Hiranya Shraddha or offering Gaugrass, perform til-tarpan (Offering sesame seeds and water). Take water in a panchapatri (Vessel used in worship). Place some sesame seeds in it. This mixture is called ‘tilodak’. Pronounce the names of departed ancestors, take a spoonful of tilodak and allow it to flow into a copper plate through the space between the thumb and the fore finger. If you do not remember the name of a departed ancestor but you know him/her, offer tilodak by merely remembering him/her. Normally, all this is performed by us while a priest recites mantras and guides us. If a priest is available, invite him and do the needful. If he is not available, have bhav (Spiritual emotion) as mentioned here and perform the ritual.
If it is not possible for you to perform any of these rituals, you should at least do tiltarpan.
2D. If it is not possible for you to perform any of these rituals, donate money to a spiritual organisation devoted for the cause of serving Dharma.
3. Prayer to be made during the Shraddha ritual : Pray unto the Holy feet of Deity Datta – ‘Under the prevailing circumstances, I have performed Amashraddha, Hiranya Shraddha or tiltarpan(mention which you have performed) as advised in our Scriptures. May the pitars get food and water through this medium. May all the pitars be satisfied with this donation. May they grace us. May we obtain their blessings for our spiritual progress. By the blessings of Deity Datta, may they obtain further momentum’.
If this situation (due to corona pandemic) changes and comes back to normal, perform Shraddha ritualistically along with by pindadan.
– Shri. Damodar Vaze Guruji (Chief Guide, Sanatan Purohit Pathashala, Sanatan Ashram, Ramnathi, Goa. (27.8.2020)