Sri Maha Ganapathaye Namaha!
Sri Gurubhyoh Namaha!
Om Sarva Pitru Devaaya Namaha!
Mahalaya Paksha (Pitru-Paksha or Srardh days) – 29th September to 14th October 2023
What our Ancestors (Pitrs) can do speedily for us even Gods/ Deities cannot do. Have you ever felt that for no apparent reason, you are constantly suffering? You are a pious, God-fearing person, you do not indulge in unwholesome deeds or back-biting or wrong doing consciously, yet you or your family members are always undergoing trials, tribulations and one or the other type of problems such as son or daughter not getting married in time or not getting progeny, premature or untimely deaths, diseases and so on. Astrology has a perfect explanation to this problem. It is due to the fact that the souls of our ancestors & departed forefathers do not get peace (Shanti). If knowingly or unknowingly our ancestors have done some mistakes, they are reflected in our Horoscope as Pitra Dosh or Pitra Rina and being their off springs we and our children are destined to suffer from their bad effects. Because of the malefic effect of the inflicted planets, beneficial planets also stop giving favorable results.
Remember Persons are not reborn but personalities are reborn. Absence of Proof is not a Proof for Absence. You may also view Guruji’s detailed presentation on ‘Pitru Dosha’ from the following video:
The performance of Shraddha by a son during Pitru Paksha is regarded as compulsory by Hindus, to ensure that the soul of the ancestor goes to heaven. The scriptures preach that a householder should propitiate ancestors (Pitris), along with the gods (devas), ghosts (bhutas) and guests.The scripture Markandeya Purana says that if the ancestors are content with the shraddhas, they will bestow health, wealth, knowledge and longevity, and ultimately heaven and salvation (moksha) upon the performer. Some families also conduct ritual recitals of scriptures such the Bhagavata Purana and the Bhagavad Gita.Others may be charitable and present gifts to the priests or pay them to recite prayers for the ancestor’s well-being.
Sage Agastya on Pitru – Paksha Rituals (Mahalaaya Shraadh)
Sage Agastya says that not only the sons but everyone must pay respects to their ancestors. The Hindu tradition believes that 15 days in a year our ancestors visit us every day from sunrise to sunset in hope of receiving offerings from us. Offerings of water & sesame seeds, quenches their hunger & thirst and in return for this, they shower multitude blessings on us. Also the doors of Vishnu-Lok remain open for all Pitrus for 15 days in a year during Pitru-Paksh.
It is said that the Pitrus can enter Vishnu-Lok either based on their individual good karma or from a request by their descendants. By doing the Shraadh ritual the descendants send a request to allow their ancestors to enter Vishnu-Lok. In case our ancestors have already attained Vishnu-Lok owing to their own good karma then our prayers for them will take them to higher realms. It is precisely for this reason that our ancestors line up in hope & expectation during the 15 day phase of Pitru-Paksh.
So if you deem ancestors to be unimportant and go about your daily jobs unconcerned, they leave in disappointment & dejection after waiting for you for 15 days. This dejection & disappointment of ancestors translates into “curses” which manifests as obstacles & hurdles in daily life leading to suffering. On the other hand if you choose to welcome, honor & bid them farewell with your offerings then it translates into “blessings”. “Ancestors’ blessings” is to be thought as help & luck that you receive everyday.
I – Recommended Austerities and observations as per Scriptural Directives during Pitr Paksha for Both Male and Female and for all Communities (29th September to 14th October 2023), For those who have lost at least one parent) include:
1) Avoid eating onion, garlic, outside food, processed foods, drumstick, etc (for Pure Vegetarians).
2) Avoid eating non-veg and if possible all items in (1) above (in case of Non-Vegetarians).
3) Avoiding shaving for the entire fortnight till Mahalaya Amavasai is more beneficial; obviously it may not be possible for everyone due to current secular life restrictions (like office policy requiring an executive placed in a cutting-edge responsibility to be clean shaved). Even in these cases, shaving should be avoided at least on the thithis of one’s ancestors.
4) Performing obsequies (shradh) on the thithi of the ancestor’s death to the extent possible or at least offering “anna dhaanam”(offering food) to poor persons/ priests as per one’s convenience.(On this day, you should not shave as already stated)
5) Abstaining from sexual acts / pleasures and other entertainments during the fortnight as a mark of respect to Pitrs.
6) Doing recitals like Garuda Puraanam and/ or at least offering “anna dhaanam”(offering food) to poor persons/ priests as per one’s convenience.(On this day, you should not shave as already stated)
7) Doing recitals like Garuda Puraanam (depicting passage of soul), Nachiketa story from Upanishads (where Yama Gitaa is there -it contains Lord Yamaa’s elucidation of the journey of a soul which was first revealed to the devoted Nachiketaa), and Gangaa Avatarana chapter from Shrimad Vaalmiiki Raamaayan. These recitals are stated to grant satisfaction of Pitrs and thereby ensure their blessings upon us. In fact these recitals can be done even by those who have parents alive! (The other rituals like Tarpanam should not be observed by those who have parents living). These are auspicious and do not come under the category of shraardha – but at the same time have the potency to give peace and happiness to the souls of ancestors of one’s dynasty when they are recited.
8) You may recite Pitru Gayatri:
“Om Pitru Ganaaya Vidmahe Jagat Dhaariney Dheemahi Thanno Pitro Prachodayaat.”
II – Some important days during the pitru paksha
The following are auspicious days to perform shraardha to pitrus – irrespective of the thithi of their demise. Those who cannot observe the ritual procedures/ restrictions outlined above throughout the pitru paksha may at least observe the ritual guidelines on these auspicious days in honor of their pitrus.
1) Mahaa Bharani – This falls on 2nd October 2023, Monday
2) Madhyaashtami – This falls on 6th October 2023, Friday
3) Mahaalaya Amaavasya – This should be observed on – 14th October 2023, Saturday.
Noon time is considered auspicious for performing Shraddh rituals during Pitru Paksha i.e. during the time of 11:30 a.m. to 1.15 p.m. For Tarpan ceremony, morning time is considered auspicious that is during the time of 8.30 a.m to 12 p.m during Pitru Paksha.
On Mahalaya Amavasya
The dark fortnight of Aswayuja (September-October) is known as the Mahalaya Paksha or the fortnight specially sacred for offering oblations to the departed ancestors. The last day of this period, the new moon day, is considered as the most important day in the year for performing obsequies and rites.
The renowned hero of the Mahabharata, Karna, when he left the mortal coil, ascended to the higher worlds and the great charity he had done here was returned to him hundredfold. But, it was all gold and silver; there was no food, as he had not done any food-charity! He prayed to the god of death. So, he was sent back to earth for fourteen days, to make up for this deficiency.
For fourteen days, he fed Brahmins and the poor, and offered oblations of water. On his return to the higher regions, he had food in plenty. It is these fourteen days that are commemorated in the Mahalaya Paksha. Due to the grace of the god of death, it has been ordained that offerings made during this period benefit all the departed souls, whether they are connected to you or not.
Charity in the form of food is important during this observance. Life depends upon food. You cannot preach religion to empty stomachs. This human body is the most important vehicle for realising God. How precious must food be which keeps the body fit for Yoga! The gift of food is the greatest gift. Therefore, give food in plenty, not only during the Mahalaya fortnight but all through the year.
Shradh Dates (2023) that you should follow through the days:
29 September (Fri) Purnima Shraddha
30 September (Sat) Pratipada & Dwitiya Shraddha
1 October (Sun) Tritiya Shraddha
2 October (Mon) Chaturthi Shraddha, Maha Bharani
3 October (Tue) , Panchami Shraddha
4 October (Wed) Shasti Shraddha
5 October (Thu) Sapthami Shraddha
6 October (Fri) Madhyashtami Shraddha
7 October (Sat) Navami Shraddha
8 October (Sun) Dashami Shraddha
9 October (Mon) Dashami Shraddha
10 October (Tue) Ekadashi Shraddha,
11 October (Wed) Dwadashi Shraddha
12 October (Thu) Trayodashi Shraddha
13 October (Fri) Chaturdashi Shraddha
14 October (Sat) Sarva Pitru Amavasya
Om Tat Sat Brahmaparnamastu