[Advaita-l] Pitru Paksha Questions

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Wed Sep 28 11:56:29 CDT 2011

> >The kid is born to those parents very much by choice!! The prior births
> have
> >caused sancita karma, out of which a particular prArabdha karma results in
> >this birth. Its not by random or by choice of the parents. In fact, the
> >parents have choice only for union, without knowing if it would result in
> >birth of the child, how could it be their choice? Also read some other
> >response in this very thread (sorry I forgot who wrote it) mentioning a
> >story that the parents are the kids and kids are the parents in various
> >births.
> In this day and age where abortions and invitro are so common, it is hard to
> believe this theory.

I fail to see why. Abortions involve a choice on the part of the parents-to-be
(or at least mother-to-be), while invitro fertilizations have their own chances
of success. The regular biological process of bringing a child into the world
also has its own probability of success. There is a moral dimension to abortion,
which needs to be carefully discussed properly within what is called Hinduism,
but this is not the place for that. As for invitro, it is merely a substitute for the
biological process. In any case, how does mere availability of medical technology
surrounding childbirth nullify the core philosophical/religious considerations?
> This does not make any sense. "Child is the father of the man" concept I can
> understand and appreciate. This again proved that child is not indebted but
> the parent is for the child to bring Jnana to the parent. The child's debt
> is only
> for the good care and upbringing to their parents. we need not force them in
> the garb of tradition to do shrAddha after
> death.

Rather than your children, don't you mean that you don't want tradition to force
you? And pray what do you mean by "garb of tradition" in this context? It presumes
that something that is not intrinsically part of tradition is masquerading as if it were.
Kindly prove to us that the concept of performing a SrAddha belongs to this category.
> >> We also know that acts of karma are done by an individual
> >> for his/her own
> >> selfish happiness, so this debt that your talking about is mithya, infact
> >> imho the parents are
> >> indebted to their kids for bringing them in to this bondage.
> >>
> >This is an error, there being no shAstra evidence and, if I may add with
> >apologies, sounds like a modern irresponsible thankless argument of
> >children. If anything, as said in my earlier mail, the debt is to parents
> >for having provided an opportunity of another life for the kid to
> >realize/enlighten oneself in!
> That is probably less than 1% of the whole population in India (for that
> matter any where in the world) that a parent actually approaches having a
> kid with spirituality in mind that they are providing an opportunity for
> another life. If that was the actual case we will not have this population
> explotion. It was pure selfish happiness. . How come usually large hindu
> families are now becoming one or two kid only families now, It is thanks to
> Birth control.

Again, you are digressing and you are deliberately(?) missing the core point.
Current population levels in the world have nothing to do with the question
ritual acts and their performance. By the very act of procreating, no matter 
what be the reason behind it, one has contributed to a cycle of karmA. The
parents need not have come together with any notion of "spirituality" in mind.
The fact that they have borne a child is sufficient to create the next link in the
kArmika chain. That act has created a mutual responsibility on both parent
and child, which is what is meant by "debt" or RNa. The act of deliberately
taking oneself completely out of this interdependence, i.e. saMnyAsa, wipes
out the debt (or think of it as debt forgiveness, if you will), nothing else.
> This is again as I explined above out of context. I can see my kids, where
> as I do not see my Pitrs. They live in memory
> which as per my spiritual understanding is mithya. I do miss them and do
> prayers and charity in their name which I deem

Kindly explain this. If your memory of your parents is mithyA, is your memory
of your schooling and getting a job mithyA too? You don't see yourself today
going to school; all you have is your memory for it. Whether your ancestors
or your school-going self, you can physically see neither, both belong to a past
time that is never going to come back. How then do you distinguish the quality
of one memory from another? If your reply is only that the ancestors are dead
whereas you are still alive, kindly let me know why you should not be considered
a dehAtmavAdin.
But if your argument is really that your memory of your pitR-s is mithyA, why
do you feel the need to pray and donate to charity in their name? Is it not due
to some instinctive feeling which is the same as what the tradition calls pitR-RNa?
In that case, is the traditional SrAddha ritual not a prayer in itself and is the ritual
feeding not a charitable donation, in your mind? When you donate to charity, do
you look for guarantees that your end recipients are "worthy" of your charity?
e.g. do you perform a character check on every homeless person you may feed
or if you donate to a hospital, do you bother to audit their billing practices and
check if their overhead costs are "reasonable" or do you check backgrounds of
every patient who may receive your charity?
> more appropriate than shrAddha. or what I do is shrAddha in my mind. Some
> one in our past started this ritual which was great for that time. We got to
> evolve with the time also IMHO.

Ah, so here comes the crux. What counts as SrAddha in your mind does not
count as SrAddha in another's. What you deem as "more appropriate" does
not even begin to count as anywhere near appropriate for another person. 
When did "that time" cease to be and how does "this time" take away from
the "great for" nature of the ritual? Does "evolving with time" necessarily entail
that each person merely does what he or she thinks is right, with no regard
for the centuries of tradition (if nothing else) behind "this ritual"? And are you
absolutely certain that your "evolution" is not a regress instead?
Given that you are on this particular mailing list, discussing this topic, you may
want to read the 16th and 17th chapters of the gItA and any one of its numerous
commentaries. There is a lot of material there for why SAstra should be taken
as pramANa and also about the SraddhA of those who do actions outside of the
SAstra ordained/sancioned action.

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