giving birth

S. V. Subrahmanian svsubrahmanian at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jan 17 17:47:16 CST 2002

Sri Jaldhar Vyas wrote:

The pitrs are our ancestors who have ascended to the chandraloka.  Just as
the Devas are maintained in svarga by our offerings, the pitras are
maintained by tarpana, and shraddha offered by their descendents...


Long ago, I had raised this issue and you had educated me much on the same
lines as above.  Subsequently I heard the following from a Swami.  He was
talking about Arjuna's lament about the fear of not being able to offer piNDa
etc (I may not be accurate here, but I am just giving the context in which I
heard).  The Swami digressed from B.Gita and spoke a little on pitrs.  Here is
what he said:

There is an incident in matsya purANam.  bhIshma is on the banks of Ganga and
is about to offer piNDa to his departed father SAnthanu.  Just as he is about
to offer, SAntanu appears in front of him and asks him to give the piNDa in his
hands, so that he can consume it.  bhIshma thinks for a moment and then offers
the piNDa on the leaf (or the appropriate place as mentioned in the Sruti), but
does not give it to SAntanu.  SAntanu departs.  All the R^shis nearby come over
to bhIshma and appreciate his act and conclude that he has understood the Sruti
in its right intent.

Swami used this incident above to prove his point.  He point being that the
piNDa offered to the pitR^s is not intended to nourish them.  They transmigrate
purely based on the karma that they have done.  That the piNDas are somehow
transmitted to them is not correct.  But at the same time one should avoid
doing tarpaNam and SrArdham because of that because, these are mandates (vidhi)
in the Sruti.  A vidhi has to be followed in toto.  The impeccable performance
of the vidhi leads to chitta shuddi and that is the only purpose of SrArdham
and tarpaNam.  It is because of this that bhIshma offered it on the leaf as
that is how the Sruti dictates and vaidika karma has to be performed in
accordance with Sruti and not take them in our own hands.

He continued that the kartA of a SrArdham is glorified in a much more elaborate
way than even the yajamana of a yajna.  All the explanation that the offering
would reach the pitR^s are also there in Sruit.  But they should be treated as
inducements (I am not sure here if he used the word arthavAda - one of the six
lingas) and not to be taken literally.  That being the case, he concluded that
having a progeny is not a must.

I am not writing this based on my study, but have faithfully paraphrased what I
heard.  This seems to be an alternative point of view to what you have
explained below and which you have explained before too.  The Swami is a great
scholar and is also a PhD in Sanskrit.  I don't mean to say he is right because
of this, but his thoughts are worth thinking about.

I have written everything I know on this topic.  Comments are welcome.


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