Sep 29, 2023
Sep 29, 2023
In this chapter the ceremonies to be performed for the ten days after a person’s death are detailed. Sri Hari continues to answer the questions asked by His mount, the devout Lord of Birds, Garuda. Garuda wants to know as to what good consequences would follow the performance of the ten-days rituals and ceremonies. He also asks Sri Hari as to who is entitled and required to perform these rites in case there is no son for the dead man. The reading of these things with understanding and faith would make any thoughtful person, illumined and knowledgeable in the areas not very widely known to the common people.
Garuda questioned Vishnu his Lord again to tell him of the results of the faithful performance of the ten-day’s rites. He also asked the Lord as to who can undertake performing these when the dead man does not leave behind a son of his own. Sri Hari told Garuda that He would gladly answer his question. The most important benefit for the one who performs the rites for his dead father is the redemption of the filial debt he owes to the father. The son is indebted to the father for siring him. This debt would stand discharged when the son performs this rite after his father’s demise. The son should not shed tears. He should offer rice-balls (pindas) with devotion. The relatives also should not weep for if they do, the dead m6a6n has to drink those tears. However much one weeps it is of no avail, for the dead one never comes back. Death is certain and therefore the wise never grieve for something inevitable. Then, the dead one would be born again. If only it were possible to bring the dead back, several great ones like Rama or Yudhishtir could have done it. There is no sense in having an excessive attachment to one’s body and this world too. Man lives in this world, like a traveller resting under a tree, for a while only. Things good eaten in the morning are destroyed in a few hours. The body too is transient. The good son keeps all this in mind and resists tears and goes ahead performing his pious obligation. In a situation where there is no son, the wife, if there no wife, a Brahmin or a relative can perform these rites. The law-giver Manu said that of all the brothers, if any one has a son, all the brothers are considered to have a son. In case the dead man has more than one wife, and only one of them has a son, all his wives are considered to have sons. For those who have no sons at all, a friend may offer rice-balls (pindas) and perform the rites, which should never be neglected. If it comes to that even a family priest can perform the rites. Anyone who performs the rites for a friend, man or woman would get the fruit (phal) of ten million sacrifices for he or she has performed a very good deed, a sacrament.
The son has the pious obligation of performing the ten- day’s ceremony. the father should not perform it for his son. When there are many sons, only one should perform the rites, offer rice-balls (pindas) and perform the sixteen shraaddhas. If there has been a partition of property among the sons, each should perform the shraaddha separately. The one who performs (the eldest son) should observe austerities on the day like eating one meal, sleeping on the ground and staying off from consorting with his wife. The son acquires the merit equal to that obtained by seven parambulations round the shrines. The son who observes the rites for a year gets the fruit of performing Gayashraaddha.
The one performing the rites should bathe reciting some mantras. He should sit facing south under a tree and put up an altar or platform and get it a cow-dung wash. Over that an image of a Brahmin strewing leaves and darbhas on it first and then worship it in form. The rice-ball (pinda) has to be offered uttering the name of the gotra. He should worship the rice-ball (pinda) first. A small ball of rice is offered to a crow also. He should say “May his (the departed one’s) name, stay long” offering crow-food, milk, water, and a few handfuls of caster-oil in a small pot.
As one rice-ball (pinda) is given on the first day, so should the nine-balls be given one each successive days. On the ninth day, all near relatives should lave their bodies with oil while wishing the dead man stay in heaven. Then bathing in the open taking with them sacred-grass and dry grain should proceed to the place of the dead one, their women folk drawing the rear. They should utter these words, “May his family grow like this grass and shine like the dry grain”. The grass and grain should be left behind.
On the tenth day a ball of black grain should be given at the ceremony of forefathers.
The son who performs the rites must have a shave on the tenth day as so should the other relatives. During the ten days when rites are performed a twice- born should be fed well with rich foods. Meditating upon Maha Vishnu with joined palms the son should pray Him for the release of the departed one. For those who bow and make obeisance to Sri Hari or Govind, the supreme Being, there could be no fear. The son should send up a prayer: “O the One without beginning or end! O the One with the discus and the mace and the One with a conch shell, the Lotus-eyed One, the Indestructible, May You give release to the departed!” On all the ten days the ceremonies and rites must be concluded with this prayer. After this, returning home, the son should give food to the cow and then only take his meal.
More by : Dr. Rama Rao Vadapalli V.B.