Episode # 459 – Is “Gaya Shraadham” a ticket to skip our regular “Tarpanam” / Annual “Shraadham” procedures? A discussion!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed the significance of the “Gaya-Kshetra” and subsequently of the “Gaya-Shraadham” that we do for our ancestors (“Pitru Devatas”), including our parents after they depart from this world. This is something that all of us, as ardent followers of our “Sanaatana Dharma” should perform once in a lifetime, and it is mandatory as per the Vedas. We’ve witnessed how the “Pinda-Pradhaanam” procedure that we perform as part of the “Shraadha Karma” is very important. We perform the “Pinda-Pradhaanam” under the auspicious “Akshaya-Vatam” tree on the banks of River Phalguni. The “Pindams” are offered mainly to our mother, and subsequently to our father and the people of our previous three generations in our family. Apart from this, the “Pindams” can also be offered to those people who have had an unforeseen death due to medical conditions, accidents, suicides, etc. at an early age itself. Finally, the offerings can also be made for animals (“Bhoota-Pindam”) and also for our own self, if at all our subsequent generations might not offer for us when we pass away. Subsequently, after this “Pinda-Pradhaanam” procedure, we’ve to feed Brahmin Pandits (Gaya-Vaalis) who are present there, with a nice and a sumptuous meal. This would conclude the entire “Shraadham” exercise and with this, our “Pitru Devatas” would become extremely happy with our dedication and devotion. 

Of course, performing the “Shraadha Kaaryam” is quite strenuous and is quite expensive as well. One trip to Varanasi / Bhadreenaatha Kshetra and Gaya would cost us more than INR 1.5 to 2 Lakhs with all the procedures that we’ve to perform. We’ve to somehow allocate this funds for our own spiritual growth and do it, just like how we allocate our money for various other activities that we like to do. Many of us wouldn’t realize the significance of the “Gaya-Shraadham” and hence, we wouldn’t give much preference to this, and thus, we would conveniently say that we do not have the financial strength to perform the ‘Gaya-Shraadham”. The point here is that, this “Gaya-Shraadham” should be in our priority list. Just like how we give importance with regards to time and money for our personal and professional development, we should also give the same importance for our spiritual development and upliftment, isn’t it? As a human being born in this world, and as a son to our parents, Bhagawan has drafted a set of duties that we should perform towards our parents, and one of the most important duties is performing the “Gaya-Shraadham”. We should never miss this duty in our lifetime by giving some lame excuses. Some of us might complain that we have underlying health issues and because of this, we’re not able to travel all the way to Gaya to perform the “Shraadham”. All these are mere excuses. Where there is a will, there is a way. Gone are those days when transportation and connectivity were a challenge in our Bhaarata Desha. Now, we have excellent connectivity to Gaya and Varanasi and such things can never be an excuse. Moreover, if we have the willpower and the right intent, nothing in this world can be a hurdle. Hence, readers should think about all these points and do the needful. 

Having said thus, there are certain myths that we also need to understand and overcome. Many people say that if we perform the “Shraadha-Karma” in Gaya, it is implied that we do not need to perform the “Tarpanam” on Amaavaashya days, or the “Tarpanam” that we perform during the beginning of every month, or the annual “Shraadha-Karma” that we do every year on the date when our parents attained “Moksha”. All these are wrong. Even though we perform the “Gaya-Shraadham” once in a lifetime, it is imperative that we perform all the other “Karma” like “Tarpanam”, annual “Shraadham”, etc. as per the rules and regulations. Nowhere in the Vedas it is mentioned that if we perform the “Gaya-Shraadham” once, we needn’t perform any other thing after that. All these are just mere methods of escapism from our duties. Thus, the bottomline here is that, irrespective of whether we perform the “Gaya-Shraadham” or not, we’ve to continue doing our routine “Karma” without fail. We should never miss out on our “Nitya-Karma” which includes our basic “Sandhyavandanam”, etc. and our “Naimitthika Karma” which includes all these “Shraadham” procedures. We should continue performing our regular “Tarpanam” on the “Amaavashya” (No Moon days), every starting day of the month as per our regional calendars, on the days when there is a “Grahanam” (Solar / Lunar eclipse), etc. We should also perform our “Samvatsara-Shraadham” for our parents without fail every year. 

Also, there is another myth that our parents, irrespective of whether we perform the “Shraadham”, “Tarpanam”, etc. would or wouldn’t reach the “Moksha”, depending upon their “Paapa” and “Punya” accounts. If such is the case, who are we in the middle to “send” our parents to “Moksha” or to the “Pitru Lokha”? Of course, every “Atman” travels either to the “Naraka Lokha” or “Svarga Lokha” or “Pitru Lokha” or to the “Vaikuntam”, depending upon our “Karma” records. There is no denying that. Never in any “Shaastra” it is said that our parents ascend to the “Vaikunta” or wherever, only with the “Shraadham” that we perform. However, we perform all these “Karma” because, tomorrow we too should ascend to “Vaikuntam” isn’t it? These are rules and regulations given to us by Bhagawan. If we perform all these “Karma” properly, Bhagawan’s heart is going to melt in happiness that we’re obeying Bhagawan’s orders correctly. It is only with this happiness, is Bhagawan going to give us the ultimate “Moksha”. We should understand this point very clearly. Thus, it is obvious that our ancestors aren’t going to attain “Moksha” with the “Tarpanam” and “Shraaadham” that we perform. All these are performed because we should go to “Moksha” tomorrow after our demise from this world. 

So for today, let us understand and introspect these points very clearly, and let us wait till the next episode to continue this discussion further! Stay tuned! 🙂 

Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, India A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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