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Shraaddha: A Ceremony of Sanatana Dharma
Ashram India
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Shraaddha: A Ceremony of Sanatana Dharma

Shraaddha: A Ceremony of Sanatana Dharma


The ‘Shraaddha’ ceremony is performed with shraddha (faith). The one performing it develops faith in the existence of soul after death. The Almighty Lord (Ishwara) is the giver of the fruit of karma. Hence offerings made out of faith go to the Lord and then to the departed soul and give him satisfaction. If the soul has attained Moksha, the merit of the gift will come back to the one performing ‘Shraaddha’. It comes not in the form of the things offered but in the form of happiness and good fortune. Offering of foods etc. is a process of sending the faith. Faith is a deity and it requires a vehicle in the form of a gift or an action. Even by simply folding one’s hands in veneration or offering a couple of flowers, the god of faith certainly reaches the departed soul to whom it has been sent. The ceremony of ‘Shraaddha’ ordained by scriptures is not unscientific. It is based on a great scientific proposition.

The jiva casts off his physical body in the process called death. This physical mortal sheath is made up of 27 elements. Even after departing this life, when the jiva leaves five gross elements (earth, fire, water, air and ether) and five organs of action (hands, feet, larynx, organs of reproduction and the anus), a subtle body composed of 17 elements still exists. The jiva hovers round the dead body on account of attachment to the relations. There is a ceremony performed so that the jiva gets rid of this attachment and goes away to the celestial region. On that day his relatives say things like, ‘Mr. so and so is not with us. May God grant peace to his departed soul! The physical body is insentient whereas the soul is immortal and eternal. It is free from bondage and is bliss personified.’

The jiva having a subtle body longs for sense pleasures enjoyed in this world. But he cannot enjoy the same in the other world because of the absence of gross body. Consequently he remains distressed and discontented. The performance of ‘Shraaddha’ is meant to bring satisfaction and comfort to the jiva.

The Scientific basis of ‘Shraaddha’

As compared to other months, the Moon comes nearer to the earth during ‘Shraaddha’ days. Accordingly, there is more gravitational pull of the Moon on the earth and the animals. At this time the jivas with subtle bodies eagerly waiting for going to the abode of the Pitris (manes) are satiated with the offerings given by their relatives and are sent to the abode of the Pitris.

At the time of ‘Shraaddha,’ Kusha (a kind of grass) is placed on the earth and upon them barley, sesame seeds, milk, honey and Tulsi leaves are placed on ‘Pinda’ (balls made of flour or rice). Rice and Barley possess electric energy cold in effect, Sesame and milk possess electric energy hot in effect and Tulsi leaves possess both kinds of electric energy. The electric energy present in the honey unifies all energies with the power of Vedic Mantras. The dry blades of Kusha grass, a non-conductor of electricity, check the conduction of this electric energy to the earth. The special electric energy produced by honey reaches the Supreme Lord and Pitris by the power of will of the one performing ‘Shraaddha’. Thus the performance of Shraaddha relieves the hunger of the Pitris.

‘Shraaddha’ is a sweet remembrance of the deceased person and this is a unique feature of Sanatana Dharma. The Pitra-Paksha (the dark fortnight of the month of Ashwin is specially sanctified for offering oblations to the departed souls) like other social festivals is a collective festival of our Pitris. During this period all the Pitris reach their kith and kin’s place without any invocation. They feel satiated through the oblation offered to them. They in turn nurture them through their blessings.

- Rishi Prasad Issue- 237

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