Frequently asked questions on Shraddha and What is the method of performing Tarpan and Pitru tarpan?

(The Blog  is reverently for all the seekers of truth, lovers of wisdom and   to share the Hindu Dharma with others on the spiritual path and also this is purely  a non-commercial blog)

Frequently asked questions on Shraddha

1. I would like to know that regarding shraddha as it is only done by offering food to bramhin in temple and giving dakshina, the bramhin does a short prayer nothing is done as per the actual ritual. Then what should be done? Does the prayer reach our pitras, please clarify

Following paragraph gives information on imporatance of praying with spiritual emotion at the time of Shraddha.
How is the benefit of the shraddha acquired merely by praying? By praying with spiritual emotion the Pitars, inferior Deities and other Deities are appeased and attracted towards the person who prays. Together with their blessings the person also acquires the benefit of the shraddha. Invoking the Deities by raising hands and praying to the Pitars is a symbol of the devotee’s spiritual emotion (Bhav) of helplessness. There are several options available for performing Shraddha. 

2. What is the exact significance of child death as per Sanatan dharma? What happens to soul when dies as child. Will it take same journey as "Pitrus"? or any other gati? Is the reply yes? i.e. is it the same as other ancestors?

For children till their thread ceremony is performed, if they die before that, then their gati (further journey) depends upon thier deeds, give-and-take account etc of previous birth. Since in this birth they may not have added anything to it. Otherwise there is no other difference as compared to other pitars.

3. Please tell the procedure to be followed when the birthday falls within a period of 1 year of demise of once parents or grand parents or other near ones (whose karmas need to be done)

Birthday celebration not being any festival or Vrat there are no such restrictions.

4. Is it necessary/mandatory to perform Ekadrishti Shradha every year after duly performing Gaya Shradha of my Father?

Shraddha means faith (श्रद्घा). One has to constantly remember favours done on him by his ancestors, sages, God and society and try to repay 4 debts (debts to ancestors, society, sages and God). This has to be done through bhav (spiritual emotion). Shraddha is the means for repaying debt to deceased ancestors. If one is not able to do the ritual, at least one can stand in the water (river) and perform tarpan. Ritual is not important, but the faith and bhav is.

5. At what age can Aatma Shraddha be performed?

This shraddha can be done once by the person any time during his life time.

6. A Jivatpitruk is not allowed to perform Pitrutarpan, therefore, I want to know the difference between 'Tarpan' & 'Pitru Tarpan' as both types are done for ancestors’ souls (pitar) and on which ocassions it is performed? My father is alive and I am the eldest son. Can I do the 'Tarpan' for my grandfather and where should I do it?

You cannot do Tarpan for your grandfather. Offering of water to deceased ancestors’ souls (pitar) is called as Pitru tarpan. 

7. As per the article on 'Problems due to ancestor's soul', 'having all female progeny' is a 'problem' in life. Is it valid in today's world when the birth rate of female is lesser than male? If single gender progeny is a problem, then 'all male progeny' should also be mentioned as a problem.

The implication of having only female progeny is that further continuation of propagation of family of that person is stopped.

8. The priests performing the Shraddha rituals are sometimes illiterate and have poor pronunciation of Sanskrit language. I had a Shraddha ceremony performed at the banks of mother Ganga and was not satisfied by what the priest was chanting. I wonder if the Pitars are pleased and satisfied?

Nowadays since most people do not perform rites for the departed (shraddhas), etc. as in the olden days nor undertake spiritual practice, most suffer due to the subtle bodies of ancestors. Only saints can tell whether one is suffering or will suffer due to ancestors. If one is not fortunate enough to meet such a saint then considering that certain suffering is inflicted due to ancestors' subtle souls one can do spiritual practice as given below. Inability to get married, marital disharmony, difficulty in conceiving a child, miscarriages, mentally retarded or handicapped child or all female progeny, death during childhood, etc. are some of the indications of suffering due to ancestors' subtle bodies. Poverty, physical illness, etc. can be some other indicators.
·         If one has no problems at all, to avoid suffering in the future or if one has a minor problem, one should chant three malas (rosaries) of ‘Shri Gurudev Datta’ everyday. Apart from this to avoid suffering due to destiny as well as to make spiritual progress one should do maximum amount of chanting of the Name of the family deity.
·         If the problem is moderate, then along with chanting of the Name of the family deity one should chant atleast six malas of ‘Shri Gurudev Datta’. In addition every Thursday one should visit Shri Datta’s temple and perform five circumambulations and chant one or two malas of ‘Shri Gurudev Datta’ in the temple, for atleast a year. Thereafter one should continue to chant three malas.
·         If the problem is severe, a minimum of nine should be chanted everyday. Rituals like Narayanbali, Nagbali, Tripindi shraddha, Kalasarpashanti, etc. should be performed at places where jyotirlingas (the divine phallus as a symbol of Lord Shiva) are situated. In addition to this one should undertake spiritual practice at the seat of worship of Lord Datta or render service unto a saint and acquire His blessings. (REFERENCE FROM SCRIPTURES?)
·         Shri Datta Jayanti (Birthday of Shri Datta): Devotees of Lord Datta celebrate His birthday on the full moon day (pournima) of the Hindu lunar month of Margashirsha.

8. I use sesame seeds and water for tarpana ritual and offer the oblations into a pot. I have observed that seeds have started to germinate. I have heard that seeds should not germinate. If so, what should I do with the germinated seeds? What is the best way to dispose the seeds and water?

The oblations of sesame seeds should be disposed off in the root of the tulsi plant or any other tree or immersed in flowing water (river or sea). Once immersed, later, even if the seeds germinate, one is not affected by it as they are already immersed. The oblation of sesame seeds should be disposed off as early as possible.

9. Please guide whether shraddha in Gaya is performed once in a life of a person or it can be done any number of times?

The shraddha at Gaya can be performed any number of times.

What is the method of performing Tarpan and Pitru tarpan?

1. Terminology of Shraddha

A. Pitar: When a human being dies, its subtle body gets freed from the dead body after performing the ritual of Shraddha and it gets position in the subtle plane meant for souls of dead persons. At that moment it assumes the designation of Pitar.
B. Parvan: After performing Sapindikaran Shraddha (Shraddha performed one day prior to one-year completion after the death of the person is called Sapindikaran Shraddha), the soul that has assumed the designation of Pitar now joins other Pitars and then gets further categorised as Parvan. Also, it gains authority so as to allow its descendants to perform Parvan Shraddha for it.
(Detailed information on Pitar and Parvan is under point 3 B in volume 2)
C. Pitrutrayi (Trio in Pitars): Generally son of the dead person has authority to perform Shraddha for the dead person. In his absence, other options are explored. The terminology of Shraddha has been prepared assuming the son as being the person who performs the shraddha. Therefore the soul of dead person for whom the Shraddha is being performed, is invoked as ‘father’ (father of the son performing Shraddha). One generation before, i.e. the father of dead person is referenced as ‘Pitamaha’ (grandfather of the son performing Shraddha). The grandfather of the dead person is referred to as ‘Prapitamaha’ (great grandfather of the son performing Shraddha). The earlier generations than these are not counted in trios of Pitars (Pitrutrayi), because it is assumed that they are liberated.
D. JivatpitrukWhen there is a male person whose father is alive, then such a person does not have authority to perform Shraddha. But he has right to perform Shraddha for his mother and grandfather (mother’s father). Also, generally, he even does not have the right to perform rituals of Narayannagbali,Ttripindi etc; however if these rituals are performed with the objective of conceiving a child, then the jivatpitruk can do so. In order to perform ‘Apasavya’, a jivatpitruk can only hold the thread in the thumb of the left hand and cannot hold it completely in his left hand.
E. Three ways of wearing the thread (janve) are Savya, Apasavya and Nivit: The thread should always be worn on the left shoulder. This style of wearing the thread is known as ‘savya’. When it is worn on the right shoulder it is known as ‘Apasavya’. When worn as a necklace, it is known as ‘Nivit’.
F. Offering ‘kshan’: During the ritual of shraddha, the deity and the deceased ancestors’ soul are invited by offering grass twigs (darbha) to them. This is called the offering ‘kshan’.
G. Pishangi: Rangoli drawn using ash and with chanting of mantras, around the meal plate arranged for the priest (Brahmin) is called as pishangi. (Offering food to priest (Brahmin) is considered as an important part of Shraddha. Rangoli is drawn in a clockwise direction (similar to circumambulation) around the food offering plate arranged for the deity and in the reverse direction around the plate arranged for the ancestors’ soul. Pishangi is one of the aspects of the ritual of shraddha. Nowadays, Pishangi is drawn only in case of offering of Pinda (Pinda daan). However, Pishangi should be drawn during all types of shraddha.
H. Vikir: During Shraddha, after finishing offering of Pinda (Pinda daan) and worship of Pinda, ‘Savya’ is performed and a morsel of rice is kept in front of the plate with the food offering arranged for the deity. This is termed as Vikir.
I: Prakir: After performing Vikir, ‘Apasavya’ is done and a morsel of rice is kept in front of the plate which has the meal arranged for deceased ancestors’ soul. This is called as Prakir.
J: Ucchista Pinda: After performing Prakir, pinda is kept for the ones who have died by getting burnt in a fire or due to partial burning or for the dead fetus, near the plate of food arranged for the deceased ancestors’ soul or close to other offerings of pinda.
K: Shraddha Sampat: If two shraddhas occur on the same date (as per Hindu calendar) then it is termed as Shraddha Sampat.

2. Tarpan and Pitru tarpan

2.1 Tarpan

1. Significance and meaning:Trup’ means satisfying others. The word ‘Tarpan’ has been formed from the root word ‘Trup’. Offering water to God, Sages, ancestors’ soul and human beings and satisfying them through it is called tarpan.
2. Objective: The objective of performing tarpan is that God, deceased ancestors’ souls etc whose names are pronounced while performing Tarpan, should bestow happiness on us.
3. Types: Brahmayadnyang (performed during sacrificial fires), snanang (performed daily after bath), shraddhang (performed during Shraddha) are the various types of Tarpans that are part of the various rituals and should be performed during the respective occasions.
4. Method of performing Tarpan
·         Bodhayan has mentioned that ‘Tarpan should be performed at the riverside’. While performing Tarpan at the riverside, one should stand in the river so that the water level touches the belly button or one should perform tarpan by sitting on the banks of the river.
·         Tarpan for God and Sages should be performed by facing East and that for deceased ancestors’ souls it should be performed by facing South.
·         As per science, tarpan for God should be performed after doing ‘Savya’, that for Sages should be performed after doing ‘Nivit’ and for deceased ancestors’ souls after doing ‘Apasavya’.
·         A dried grass twig (darbha) is necessary for performing tarpan. Tarpan for God is performed from the tip of the darbha, tarpan for Sages should be performed by folding the darbha in the middle, and tarpan for deceased ancestors’ souls should be performed from the tip and root of the two darbhas.
·         Offering of water (tarpan) to deities should be done using the finger tips, while offering of water to Sages should be done from the base of the little finger and the third finger and that to the deceased ancestors’ souls should be done through the mid of the thumb and the first finger of the hand.
·         Tarpan should be performed taking one handful (anjali) of water for each deity, two handful of water for Sages and three handful of water for deceased ancestors’ souls. In case of matrutrayi (mother-grandmother and great grandmother) three handful of water should be used and for other females ancestors’ souls one handful of water should be used for tarpan.(8)
(Original meaning of word ‘anjali’ is handful (‘onjal’). In this context, however, ‘giving one handful (anjali) of water for tarpan’ is to indicate that the tarpan should be given only once – compiler)

2.2. Pitru tarpan

1. Meaning: Offering of water to deceased ancestors’ souls (pitar) is called as Pitru tarpan. A Jivatpitruk is not allowed to perform Pitrutarpan.
2. Why should it be done? Apart from expectation of Pinda and offering of food to priests (Brahmins) from its descendants, the deceased ancestors’ souls also expect offering of water (udak) from them.
3. Importance: By performing tarpan, the deceased ancestors’ souls not only get satisfied and leave us, but they also bestow long life, radiance, superior intellect (brahmavarchaswa), wealth, success and foodstuff (ability to digest the food consumed) on the host performing the tarpan and satisfies him too.
4. Pitrutirtha: When should it be done?
·         Tarpan for God, Sages and deceased ancestors’ souls should be performed regularly (daily). The daily ritual of tarpan should be accomplished in the early morning after having bath. If it is not possible to perform Shraddha for deceased ancestors’ souls daily, then one should at least perform tarpan.
·         Pitru tarpan should be performed on the day following the day on which Parvan Shraddha is performed.
5. Tarpan of sesame seeds (tila tarpan): Sesame seeds should be used in the ritual of Pitru tarpan. Sesame seeds are available in two varieties, black and white. Black sesame seeds should be used for Shraddha. If sesame seeds are not available then gold or silver should be used.
·         Tila tarpan means offering sesame seeds mixed in water to the deceased ancestors’ souls.
·         Tila tarpan (as a part of Shraddha) should be offered to the same number of ancestors’ souls for whom the shraddha has been performed.
·         Tila tarpan is performed before Darsha shraddha and in case of annual shraddha; tila tarpan is performed on the following day of the shraddha. In case of any other shraddha, tila tarpan is performed just after performing the shraddha.
·         Tila tarpan is not performed during Nandi Shraddha, Sapindi Shraddha etc. (9)
6. Importance of performing tila tarpan
·         Sesame seeds are the favorites of deceased ancestors’ souls.
·         By usage of sesame seeds, the demons do not obstruct the ritual of Shraddha.
  • On the day of Shraddha, sesame seeds should be sprinkled all over the house, sesame seeds mixed in water should be given to the invited priests (Brahmins) and sesame seeds should be donated. - Jaiminiya Ghruya sutra (2.1), Boudhayan Dharmasutra (2.8.8) and Boudhayan Ghruya sutra

Om Tat Sat

(My humble salutations to Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Jagruti for the collection)

(The Blog  is reverently for all the seekers of truth, lovers of wisdom and   to share the Hindu Dharma with others on the spiritual path and also this is purely  a non-commercial blog)


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