Pitri Pakchya and Mahalaya Shraddha
The Krishna Pakchya of Ashwin month is called Pitri Pakchya or Mahalaya Pakchya. In this transition of the moon, deceased ancestors come to the door of their surviving children or those who perform the shraddha. Being dependent on the doer performing the shraddha in Pitri Pakchya, his forefathers are sitting at the door of the house. And all the forefathers are waiting for the time when he (the doer) will perform shraddha by making the father of the doer the main person. Forefathers are led by the father of the doer. The father of the doer is talking to all the forefathers at the door saying, “My date is Dwitiya, Panchami, Saptami, or Aunsi, he will call us on that day, and we have to go through Brahman on that day.” Therefore, Mahalaya Shraddha should be performed on the death anniversary of the father. It has been said that Mahalaya Shraddha can be performed on Ashtami, Dwadashi, Aunsi, Bharani Nakshatra, and Vyatipat Yoga for those who have Mahalaya transition on Purnima and Chaturdashi dates. But since Mahalaya Shraddha is to be observed in tithi base, Mahalaya Shraddha, if it can not be done due to Ashtami, Chaturdashi, Aunsi, and Ashoch (inappropriate occasion), it should be performed on one of the dates of Ashtami, or Dwadashi Aunsi.
Who are the Pitri (deceased ancestors)?
After one’s death, completing the Dasaha deed, Ekadashah deed, and after the completion of Uttarpatheya Shraddha on the thirteenth day by performing Sapindi Shraddha, and by completing the annual shraddha in the year, the deceased continues on the journey to the ancestral world being free from ghosts form, he can go and live with his ancestors. On the other hand, the sons also fulfill their duty and pay homage on the annual date and pay homage to all the forefathers on Mahalaya Shraddha who are dependent on the doer by taking the father’s date as an occasion. From this, the welfare of both parts is ensured and the forefathers continue their journey to Baikuntha Lok, Brahmalok, Satyalok, etc. according to their good deeds, while the sons return to the previous journey after performing the Pind-Tarpan on the given date. But in the absence of shraddha, they have to wait for two months, i.e. from the date of Ashwin Krishna pakchya’s until the Brichik Sankranti (Scorpio solstice), they wait at the door of the doer’s house, when the shraddha will be performed. This waiting also falls under the duty of forefathers.
If violated the law of this one-year deed, they do not get rid of the ghost form and do not get the patriarchal form, since the forefathers do not have the ability to have hunger, the first step in attaining patriarchy is to purify the rituals from Dashaha to the annual act. Achieving patriarchy is not possible without the retirement of ghosts form, it is unimaginable. Therefore, the forefathers (pitri) are the ones whose deeds up to the annual deeds and pinda tarpan have been completed. The relationship between the son (doer) and the deceased is interdependent.
If the different deeds of the deceased are not completed, the mythical characters like Dhundhukari are approaching the sons and inspire them like a thunderbolt to fulfill their karmas. They do not want to give suffering or harm anyone, they just remind them of the need to be rescued. In fact, the nature of the ghost and its activities seem terrifying to us. Therefore, the duty of the son is to liberate the deceased forefather from being a Phantom. The rest is the fruit of his own deeds and karmas. After a period of one year, he will experience heaven and hell himself. Only those who have attained patriarchal status can enjoy Ekoddishta (funeral ceremony having reference to an individual recently dead) and Mahalaya Shraddha Pind-Jal etc.
In the Mahalaya, these forefathers come to the courtyard of the Karta (doer), reach the Shraddha Bhoomi through the body of the invited Brahmin, and receive the Tarpan water with pinda, etc. It is mentioned very clearly in the scriptures about the context of shraddha, its importance, and the system of giving water, tarpan (offering), pinda, etc. As per scriptures, one should observe shraddha to Pitri (Forefather), Pitamaha (grandfather), Prapitamaha (great-grandfather), Mata (mother), Pitamahi (grandmother), Prapitamahi (great-grandmother), Matamaha (maternal grandmother), Pramatamaha (Maternal great-grandfather), Pramatamahi (maternal great grandmother) similarly, uncles, aunts and their children, cousins brothers, daughters-in-law, sisters, sons-in-law, great-grandparents, their husbands and children, relatives, Gayatri Guru, Diksha Guru (teacher of Initiation), Mantra Guru, Ananta Guru (direct guru), wife’s parents, kings and Bhishma Pitamaha (one of the character of Epic Mahabharat, i.e. grandfather of Pandavas) and give water tarpan and pinda to all of them. Giving gratitude to them through shraddha, the forefathers bless the doer with desired and transcendental happiness and go on their way.
In Yagyavalkya Smriti it is written as follows:–
आयुः प्रजां धनं विद्यां स्वर्गं मोक्षं सुखानि च ।
प्रयच्छन्ति तथा राज्यं प्रीताः नृणां पितामहाः ।। आचार २७०।।
Importance of Shraddha – (Pitri Pakchya and Mahalaya Shraddha)
योऽनेन विधिना श्राद्धं कुर्याद्वै शान्तमानसः ।
व्यपेतकल्मषो नित्यं याति नावर्तते पुनः ॥
The one who performs shraddha of his forefathers in a methodical manner, without any biases, in a calm manner is freed from all kinds of sins by the blessings of his forefathers, and in the end, attains salvation. He will not have to go through the cycle of birth and death again. Proper shraddha makes the forefathers happy and they return to the fatherland blessing the doer.
There is no deed more virtuous than the shraddha. Therefore, patriarchal work should be performed with special importance than devotional or religious deeds. Shraddha and Pinda dan are performed on the death dates of the fathers who have a real relationship. The blood relationship and partial relationship of forefathers exist in the son, grandson, uncle, nephew, wife, daughter, etc. In order to be freed from the debt of this blood relationship, and partial relationship, so as to receive the blessing of lineage continuity from them, shraddha is performed in the memory and honor of the fathers and forefathers.
Parents are responsible for giving birth, nurturing, and making their siblings capable. Therefore, parents are the real God of men. We can see sometimes that even a little lack of immediate parental care of a child could create life-threatening situations. What could be more ironic for parents, if their own siblings, to whom they gave their life hardship to make their body strong, healthy, and capable through so many hardships, and when necessary they are not ready to serve, support, assist and fulfill the wishes of those parents who are in their old age?
We, the followers of Sanatan Dharma, are followers of Vedas and Dharmashastras. The religion-rites prescribed by the scriptures and followed by our ancestors are the basis of our eternal culture. According to the scriptures, the place of parents and teachers is paramount. There is no material thing in the world that can repay the virtue of parents’ hardship. Therefore, it is the highest duty of the siblings to respect, obey, serve and fulfill the wishes of their parents throughout their life, whereas, after their death, one should perform the acts of patriarchal salvation according to the scriptural method.
Whoever neglects his duty to perform the 13-day ritual of patriarchal salvation is doomed to hell, and even a person who talks about such an immoral person is a partaker of hell. Such a son who considers material and worldly affairs to be of more importance or supreme is called a bad son in the scriptures. There are those who make many excuses for not performing the shraddha of their forefathers on the annual date of one’s father/forefathers, to avoid performing the same shraddha, some even change and go to another religion thus following the path of hell forever. Without realizing the importance of his own religion and culture, without understanding his own importance, he is deceived by his own mistakes in this way. In fact, it is only his smart-aleck or craziness. It only does harm, no gain of any kind. This is stated in the scriptures as follows:-
न सन्ति पितरश्चेति कृत्वा मनसि यो नरः।
श्राद्धं न कुरुते तत्र तस्य रक्तं पिबन्ति ते ॥
That is, those who do not perform shraddha, thinking there are no pitri (forefathers), others who have done shraddha in vain and do not perform it, their own forefathers will drink his blood.
Types of shraddha and its meritorious fruits.
Shraddhas are considered to be of 5 types namely Nitya (daily or constant), Naimittik (shraddha of the special funeral rite), Kamya (done from a desire of benefit or from interested motives, optional), Vriddhi ( offering to progenitors on any prosperous occasion) and Parvan (ceremony in honor of ancestors performed at the conjunction of sun and moon i.e. at new moon and at other periods of the moon’s transition). The shraddha performed on a daily basis is a Nitya shraddha, while the shraddha of the 16th day of death and Ausi plus Ashwin Krishna Pakchya is a Naimittik shraddha. Magha Shraddha is also a Kamya shraddha as it is said to be performed in Tithi (date), Nakchyatra (constellation), a special day for the fulfillment of one’s desires as wealth, virtuous son, etc.
It is said that many kinds of fruitful merits are obtained when shraddha is performed in every Nakchyatra / Nakshatra (constellation) from Krittika to Bharani. Similarly, shraddha performed during the Magha Nakshatra (constellation) is said to be the best as it brings wealth, virtue, modesty, virtuous son, etc Thus shraddha is performed in Magha constellation. But the shraddha of Magha Nakshatra is Kamya and it becomes Apindak i.e without pindadan. That is to say, those who do shraddha only of Magha Nakshatra should not perform shraddha by giving pinda, so they should do shraddha without pinda. But since the shraddha we perform of Mahalaya Pakchya with the Tithi as the predominant day, the shraddha of Sakrinmahalaya (shraddha of father performed on the death taking a date, tithi as an occasion,) is performed by the date, tithi, as it is not done taking Nakshatra as a reference, even if Magha Nakshatra falls on any of the Ekadashi, Dwadashi and Trayodashi dates in the Mahalaya Pakchya, one should feel free to do Mahalaya Shraddha on the same day, there is no doubt about it.
Tithi shraddha of Mahalaya falls on the Naimittik shraddha. Therefore, shraddha performed on every tithi, constellation, or day with a special wish is Kamya. Shraddha performed in connection with the birth of a son, marriage, bratabandha, chuda karma, etc., and special auspicious deeds such as reading Puran, going on pilgrimage, entering a house, performing Bastu rite, etc., is Vriddhi Shraddha. It is also called Naandi shraddha or Naandimukhi shraddha.
Shraddha performed on every new moon, Amavasya, or on special occasions, and during the Mahalaya transition is called Parvan Shraddha. The Mahalaya faction/ transition is known as Mahalaya, Parvan, Sora Shraddha, etc. It is also called the patriarchal transition/ faction.
Some decisions regarding the Mahalaya Transition
- Mahalaya Shraddha should be performed on the same date as the father’s date. It cannot be done on the date of grandfather, great-grandfather, etc.
- Mahalaya Shraddha of Purnima and Chaturdashi dates should be performed on one of the dates of Ashtami, Dwadashi, and Aunsi.
- During Matri Navami
Maternal side– Mother, Parental Grandmother, Parental Great Grandmother– First faction
Forefathers– Father, Grandfather, and Great-GrandFather – Second faction
Maternal grandfather side– grandfather of wife, grandmother, Great grandparents – third faction
Like this, following the above list, shraddha of three factions should be done.
- Those whose mother died while their father was still alive, should perform shraddha of their mother, grandfather, great-grandmothers and if there are married women dead before their husband, their shraddha should be performed on Navami.
- Shraddha should be performed on one of the days of Ashtami, Dwadashi, Aunsi, and Bharani, Vyatipat if the wife of the doer is under the menstruation period during the Mahalaya. Due to the similarity of the date, a Tithi reference should be taken.
- Even if it is said to perform mahalaya after the Sun enters Virgo, it should be done from the fifth faction/transition of the month of Ashadh. That is, Mahalaya Shraddha should be performed on Ashwin Krishna Pakchya.
Another thing is that, even if the Sun has not moved into Virgo, the transition of Mahalaya Shraddha can be done. However, it is said that you can do it during the beginning, middle, or end of this transition, so it is not an obligation or a necessity for the Sun to be in Virgo.
- As Magha is a constellation, therefore the shraddha we perform during the patriarchal transition is Tithi shraddha. Therefore, it is unscientific to say that one should not do shraddha or give pinda if the constellation of Magha falls on the transition of Mahalaya. The person who performs Magha shraddha for the sake (or giving it the importance) of Magha Constellation (not tithi) that person does not need to give a pinda in Magha, should perform Magha Shraddha without a pinda. Magha shraddha is not Naimattik shraddha, in fact, it is a Kamya shraddha. Since the Mahalaya transition is Tithi shraddha, Tithi Shraddha has no connection and nothing to do with Magha. The date of the father tithi of Mahalaya transition should not be left out if Magha occurs.
- If there is no mahalaya in the entire patriarchy duration, as Ashwin Shukla Panchami is considered as a secondary period, shraddha can be done till Panchami. After that, it can be done in Ashtami, Dwadashi, Aunsi, Bharani, and Vyatipat.
- If shraddha could not be performed till Gaitihare Aunsi (Kartik Krishna Aunsi) and Margashirsha Sankranti have not yet taken place, then in this kind of case Mahalaya Shraddha can be performed by taking into consideration Nishis’, Tithi, day, etc. This is the last chance. After this, i.e, after Margashirsha Sankranti, if there is no Mahalaya this year, chanting the mantra ‘दुरो अश्वस्य व्यो…’ for 10 months is the only way to get atonement for not doing Mahalaya Shraddha. And during the meantime (within 10 months) during Ekoddishta or Ekahparvan etc. tithi shraddha should be done to pay homage to the forefathers during their tithi.
Mantra to recite for 10 months– ॐ दुरो अश्वस्य दुर इन्द्र गोरसि दुरो यवस्य वसुन इनस्पतिः। शिक्षानरः प्रदिवो अकामकर्शनः सखासखिभ्यस्तमिदं गृणीमसि।। (From Rig Veda 1.153.2 Venimadhav Dhakal page No. 297)
- Shraddha period of Mahalaya – The day should be divided into five parts and the fourth part i.e afternoon period should be taken.
Shraddha karma is a very useful deed/karma for forefathers and sons. Pitri Tarpan, Pindadan, food for Brahman, etc. are its main deeds. Since this karma is considered to be tithi-oriented, one should not hesitate to perform Ekodista or Ekparvan shraddha on the date of death of one’s father, forefathers, etc., and during the Mahalaya transition if possible shraddha should be done on all 16 days. If it is not possible, then the mahalaya shraddha of all the forefathers should be performed on the same date taking into consideration one’s father’s tithi as an occasion.
Since shraddha is performed on the basis of classical verses, shraddha should be performed by a well-versed, educated Brahmin with pure pronunciation. The purity also should also be strictly taken care of in Shraddha. Similarly, as noises, crowds, etc. are indecent in shraddha, shraddha should be performed without making noise with purity. To Read this article in the Nepali Language please click here.