Hindu Ritual Performed For the Souls of Ancestors
Shradh is remembering of ancestors. The idea is to remember the ancestors with gratitude. Shradh is a Sanskrit word, which literally means "anything done with sincerity and faith." "Shradh" also means “Shraddha" which means unconditional reverence. Shradh is performed every year on the death anniversary of the deceased relative as per the Panchang (The Hindu calendar) or during the period of dark fortnight called Pitra Paksha.
What is the significance of Shradhs?
The process of Shradh is not limited to the external symbolism of offering lumps of rice, but has a deeper philosophical and spiritual significance as well. Shradh is performed so that the ancestors may be satiated with our offerings made with reverence and recitation of mantras, and in turn bless us. Another advantage is that it helps in the redistribution of wealth in society. The poor are fed. Feasts, otherwise organized, have Rajasic or Tamasic food items, whereas the food, offered on the occasion of Shradh, promotes righteousness and inspires us to think of the other world, and also enhances our devotion towards God.
Brahmins are fed and given Daan-Dakshina, for it is believed that whatever is given to the Brahmins also reach the departed souls. People donate clothes and other items to Brahmins and relatives. According to Hindu tradition, people do not buy or wear new clothes and do not get a haircut during the period of Shradh. On the day of this ritual, male members of the family do not even shave and women do not wash their hair on that particular day. Auspicious ceremonies are not performed during Shradhs.
There are 12 types of Shradh
- Nitya Shradh
- Neimitik Shradh
- Kaamya Shradh
- Vriddhi Shradh
- Sapindan Shradh
- Paarvann Shradh
- Goshtth Shradh
- Shurdhyarth Shradh
- Karmaang Shradh
- Deivik Shradh
- Oupcharik Shradh
- Saanvatsarik Shradh
The next life of a Jeeva is essentially determined by its previous Samskaras. Shradh, as such, is performed with the objective that a Jeeva may attain a better life in its next birth.
How by feeding Brahmins food reaches the dead?
Anna-Daan (offerings of food) is one of the greatest Daans. Before Shradh, you do "Sankalp" which means, you are not offering this food for your own benefit but for the parents. Feeding the Brahmins is not the only way. You can feed the poor, the sick or orphans. Feeding the orphans is an excellent way to remember your ancestors. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you talk nicely and politely to someone, with his welfare in mind, he, in turn, will talk to you with affection and your welfare in mind. If you get work done by others and turn away from them, then they will also ignore you in future. Food offered in the Anna-Daan does not reach the dead, they get the good energies as a result of your good karmas like feeding the poor and helping the people in need. They, in turn send their blessings to the family.
If the soul has taken re-birth, how the food will reach him?
The food does not reach them, but the Positive energy and good karma created by you in their name reaches them. Once people die, they lose the opportunity to perform karma. What is so unique about human birth is that you can perform good or bad karma, which will take you to the destination of being one with GOD.
All souls are judged by their own deeds. The living people here have a right to do something and their good karma go in the direction of pacifying negative karma of ancestors, if any.
While performing Shradh, one should pay special attention to three things – piety, control over anger and avoiding hastiness. It is necessary that the performer of this ritual understands the importance of it. Only then, the true aim of the ritual is fulfilled. It is also believed that if shradh is performed with whole devotion, the ancestors bless that house.
If someone suffers from Pitra Dosh, it becomes imperative for that person to perform Shradh and pacify the Pitr. Due to Pitra Dosh, one can face various problems in life. It creates obstacles in both, our worldly lives as well as spiritual practice. In some cases, it may seem that the entire family in under a dark cloud and various family members are undergoing various problems despite all efforts to overcome them.
The difficulties created due to departed ancestors come in various forms as listed below:
- Inability to get married.
- Marital disharmony.
- Loss of job.
- Difficulty in conceiving a child.
- Bearing mentally challenged children or children with special care and needs.
- Death of children in their childhood etc.
Various remedies for Pitra Dosh nivaran are Pinddaan in Badrinaath, Pitra Dosh shanti pooja etc. Sampurn Badhamukti Yantra is also a very useful remedy for this purpose. This yantra is very powerful for attaining victory over enemies, winning court cases, completion of delayed work and to ward off the evil effects of bad souls. It also protects one from injury or misfortune and accidents. This yantra is made up of Matasaya Yantra, Maha Mrityunjay Yantra, Baglamukhi Yantra, Nav Durga Yantra, Nav Graha Yantra, Vashikaran Yantra, Vahan Durghatna Nashak Yantra, Shani Yantra, Rahu and Ketu Yantra, Vastu Dosh yantra, Ganpati yantra and Kalsarp yantra.