Pitru Paksha, a tribute to our forefathers

Pitru Paksha, a tribute to our forefathers

There are six types of tarpan - offerings

On entering heaven after his death, Karna was offered a lot of gold for his good deeds on earth. However, his hungry soul pined for food. Lord Indra expressed regret, reminding him that he had donated a lot of gold but never food in his lifetime in memory of his ancestors.

Karna confessed to not having done so, simply because he had no knowledge of who they were. To make amends, he was permitted to return to earth for 16 days and donate food and water in their memory.

The Brahmapuran dedicates the dark fortnight of the waning moon during the month of Ashvin (7th in the Hindu lunar calendar) to pitru paksh or homage to our ancestors. Yama frees all souls to visit their children and accept food they offer at the shraadh ceremony.

In the Atharva Veda, another way of food reaching the forefathers is explained:
Tvamagna iditho jaathavedo Vaaidyani surbheenikritva/ Praada: pitrubhya//
Meaning, “O admirable God of fire, you know how and in what condition my father resides. Whatever food we present as an offering, please reach it to him with your beneficence.”

In Garudapuran it is said:

Aayu: putraan yash: swarg kirti pushtim balam shriyam /
Pashun soukhyam, dhanam praapnuyaat pitrupujanaat//

This means that when shraadh is performed to their satisfaction, the deceased bless their successors with longevity, progeny, fame, salvation, heaven, glory, stability, strength, prosperity, cattle, happiness, money, growth and eternal blessings.

There are six types of tarpan - offerings. Devtarpan makes an offering to water, air, Surya, Agni, Moon, energy and the gods that work selflessly for the welfare of mankind. Rishitarpan makes an offering to Narad, Charak, Vyas, Dadhichi, Sushrut, Vashisht, Vishwamitra, Panini and other rishis for their influences. Divyamanavtarpan is to thank all those who made sacrifices for the welfare of mankind such as the Pandavas, Raja Harishchandra, Janak and all historical heroes through the ages. Divyapitratarpan is for offerings to those forefathers who left behind great values and wealth for successors. Yamtarpan is for remembering the God of Death and to accept the principle of birth and death. Manushyapitratarpan is to thank all those connected to the family as relatives, teachers, friends and others.

Having received so much from our chain of ancestry, a ceremony to offer gratitude is a small act indeed!

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