Do you still feel connected to your ancestors, through the stories or memories of a living elderly person in the family?
Some of these stories must be about the sacrifices made by ascendants, for the betterment of the family.
Sometimes you might have even heard of the resentments, and challenges experienced by any family member, at the time when the departed soul was alive.
Plenty of time your relatives may have drawn a physical or habitual comparison, of someone in the family with an ancestor.
Suggesting that these departed souls in some way continue to remain connected with their family members.
Thus, our ancestors left the mortal world behind, with their traces inside us.
It is believed that the departed soul which is now attached to the immortal God continues to bless and support their descendants. Therefore it is important to remember them and pray for ancestors' blessings regularly.
Remembering our ancestors helps us to connect with our roots, and accepting it will only empower our life’s journey. According to the Vedas, such wisdom to acknowledge and respect one's lineage will strengthen Dharma in life.
Pure reverence for our ancestors keeps us grounded in our own Origin. It reminds us that we belong to a line of descent, who are resting in nature with the divine. All the elements in nature Sun, Moon, Air, Plants and Trees are the witness that they ever existed.
And as we built a spiritual connection with them, we may feel their blessings in all ups and downs of life.
Significance of praying to ancestors
Ancestors just leave the mortal body but their mannerisms, sense of life, features and few abilities live within us. We imbibe many things unknowingly from our forefathers and as we grow older this realisation deepens.
It can have both positive and negative implications on your life. It depends to what extent you let them live inside you. Their existence in you may not let you explore the happiness of attaining self-worth.
Not in any one culture but across the world, there is some ritual being performed when people die. So that they depart peacefully leaving behind their descendants to accomplish their own journey. It is also believed that if ancestors are not given due respect, they can have a negative influence on adolescents in the family aged between 8 to 18 years of age.
Thereby, it is important that we should thank our ancestors, seek their blessings and at the same time pray for their moksha or liberation, from any attachments on the mortal earth. This is done during Pitra paksha time.
Praying to our ancestors is a very important ritual in our culture. Pitra paksha or Shradha is one such tradition in which one performs Puja for the peace and Moksha or liberation of the ancestors. During Shradha we convey our gratitude and respect to our ancestors and God over a time period of 15 or 16 days.
It Starts with ‘Bhadrapada Purnima’ or full Moon day in the Ashwin month till ‘Sarvapitri Amavasya’. In 2022 it started on the 10th of September and is ending on September 25th.
Any crucial activity or new work is not done during these 15 or 16 days. In fact, even travel also should be avoided. The last day of Pitra Paksha is known as ‘Sarvapitri Amavasya’ or ‘Pitra Amvasaya’ or ‘Mahalaya’ it is the most important day to perform the rituals.
The significance of Shradha has been briefly mentioned in Hindu holy scriptures like Agni Purana, Vayu Purana, Garuda Purana, and Rig Veda as well.
Our scriptures tell that the souls of the ancestors reside in Pitralok and they come on the earth during these 16-days of Pitra Paksha. It is a crucial time for those who have Pitra Dosha in their Kundali or horoscope.
By performing shraddha ancestors bless our life with prosperity, health and happiness. It also helps those ancestors who have not attained moksha or liberation to move ahead to a higher realm.
Pitra paksha Rituals
The most important offering during Shraddha is the Pinda Pradaana which is boiled rice balls, mustard and water.
Tarpan ritual is also performed, wherein sesame seeds and water is taken in the palm and a mantra is chanted with the name of the ancestor.
Charity is done, especially food, donated to poor people. It is also considered auspicious to feed crows, dogs, and cows. And if the crow who represents the dead, accepts the food offered, then it indicates that ancestors are pleased. Whereas if it refuses, it means that the ancestors are not happy. It is strongly believed, that the food donated reaches our ancestors.
Pitra Gayatri Mantra can also be chanted during Shradha time for the Salvation and peace of your ancestors.
ॐ पितृगणाय विद्महे जगत धारिणी धीमहि तन्नो पितृो प्रचोदयात्।
ॐ आद्य-भूताय विद्महे सर्व-सेव्याय धीमहि। शिव-शक्ति-स्वरूपेण पितृ-देव प्रचोदयात्।
ओम् देवताभ्य: पितृभ्यश्च महायोगिभ्य एव च । नम: स्वाहायै स्वधायै नित्यमेव नमो नम:।।
Through these mantras, we pray for peace, wisdom and healing for the mortal beings on this earth and also for those who have departed. It reminds everyone to be respectful towards their roots.
Brahma Gayatri mantra can also be chanted because as per Hindu belief and scriptures Lord Brahma represents forefathers and ancestors. As per Padma Purana, Lord Bramha’s only temple in Pushkar is one of the most significant places to perform Shradha. Therefore, chanting Brahma Gayatri Mantra on Pitra Paksha is considered fruitful for both descendants and ancestors.
ओम् वेदात्मने च विद्मिहे हिरण्यगर्भा धीमहि | तन्नो: ब्रह्म: प्रचोदयात ||1||
ओम् चतुर्मुखाय विद्मिहे कमण्डलुधाराय धीमहि | तन्नो: ब्रह्म: प्रचोदयात ||2||
The Pitra Dosha can adversely affect Descendants
Pitra Dosha can be seen in the native's Kundali or horoscope. It occurs due to various planetary combinations placed in the horoscope. But largely caused by Rahu or Saturn in conjunction with other planets positioned in specific houses in the chart. It implies that the native’s ancestor departed dissatisfied or with an unfulfilled duty. It can also be due to the ascendant's untimely death or if anyone in the family did not pay proper homage at the time the deceased was departing. Pitra Dosha's effect can amplify the bad qualities and obscure the good ones.
Some of the common signs of Pitra Dosha
- When the children in the family are falling sick recurrently.
- Obstruction in pursuing higher education and success in it.
- Facing many set back in the desired career path.
- Problems in conceiving the child such as problems in pregnancy or frequent miscarriages.
- Unnecessary arguments among family members or unhappy married life.
- In spite of all the efforts unable to attain a successful prospering life. May suffer the downfall of reputation or loss of money.
- Physical or mental diseases occur more often in the family.
However, there are remedial measures which can mitigate or nullify the Pitra Dosha from your Kundali. You would need an expert to first understand which planets are causing trouble and accordingly Pitra Dosh Nivaran puja should be performed.
After performing Pitr Dosh Nivaran Puja you and your family will surely feel more peaceful and focused. And gradually as the hurdles of life will start disappearing, you will realise the benefits of the blessings of your ancestors.