The Mahalaya Paksha that falls during the Tamil month of Purattasi (the Sanskrit month of Bhadrapada) begins on September 17 through October 1, 2016. The dark lunar phase of this month is called Pitru Paksha and this fortnight is considered auspicious for chanting mantras, making prayers and offerings that bring the departed souls of our beloved ancestors down to Earth. After they visit the Earth plane, they continue their journey as “soul energy” towards a location in the cosmos that is mentioned in Vedic texts as Pitri Loka, the heavenly abode for the deceased ancestors.
Why do we worship Pitris?
The word Pitris is referred to as fathers who have passed away, and are also considered ancestors, or spirits, who are invisible heavenly beings. They are the energy that strengthens the Moon (also known as Soma).
The Vedas mention that the departed souls are equal to the Gods and some category of Pitris should be worshiped before worshiping any God. These texts also mention that Shraddha, or tarpan, should be performed to please the Pitris. If we fail to please the Pitris, then the rites for all Gods and Goddesses will become fruitless.
The Shraddha ceremony should be made with flowers, darba grass, sesame seeds, and Tulasi leaves. Quoted from Mahanirvana Tantra: “Lighting an incense-stick and a light, the wise one should, with closed eyes, think of the Pitris in their celestial forms partaking of their allotted Pindas, each his own, and should then bow to them…” This ritual should be followed by a mantra that would mean, “Give me your blessings, O Merciful Pitris. May my knowledge, progeny, and kinsmen always increase. May my benefactors prosper. May I have food in profusion. May many always beg for me, and may I not have to beg of any.”
Markadeya Purana elaborates on the categories of Pitris that exist in Pitru Loka
Old ancestors, including sages, are held very close to gods who stay in the abode of Yama, the king of the departed souls. They also belong to different categories. For example, Sage Markandeya states that Pitris living in heaven are known as “somap pitras” who are the most privileged souls, and they worship marut ganas (storm deities) and the great Sage Marich belongs to this category of pitras. “Vairaj pitras” are revered even by the marutganas; Sage Sanak comes under this category. “Bhaswar pitras” are pitras are revered by the deities who manifest themselves after every hundred yugas. All these pitris can be worshiped by humans through specific rituals with the help of special priests.
Why the practice of tarpan for our ancestors is important?
The Rig Veda refers to ancestral worship as one of the important rituals and also mentions hymns by which ancestors were invoked to protect the living mortal and bless them with health and wealth. Practices such as shaddh and trapan/tarpanam are rites that were developed later. The practice of tarpan/tarpanam, which includes simple acts of offering balls of rice, sesame seeds, and water to keep the departed well-fed and spiritually nourished, assists us in connecting spiritually to our ancestors.
How appeasing our ancestors can change our Karma and Soul DNA?
Deeds of our dead ancestors and their mental make-up keep influencing us in the present day. If we have Pitri Dosha (a yoga that keeps you bringing the same problem repeatedly), placement of the Sun, Rahu, Ketu and Saturn in our birth-chart can give us clarity about the rites we should perform.
The practice of tarpan has been found to have scientific grounds; it can alter Soul DNA by cleansing the karma of our soul, including the desires, tendencies, physical and mental deficiencies, or problems we have inherited from our ancestral lineage. It helps in seeking spiritual energies for strengthening our seed energies to address specific problems of our life.
“Now, I have talked many times about the Tarpanam, and how the Tarpanam can change your destiny. But, it’s important that you have the specialist priest to do this ceremony for you, your ancestors on the father’s side as well as on the mother’s side. So, make use of that, and I have AstroVed finding the right people and right places where these offerings can be done by qualified priests.” – Dr. Pillai