‘Pitra Paksh’ or ‘Shraadh’ holds a great significance in the Hindu culture. As per the ancient texts, Pitras or Pitrus refer to ancestors and paksha means a particular time period. Thus, the term pitra paksha refers to a 16 day period when Hindus offer their respects and gratitude to their ancestors or forefathers who have left for their heavenly abodes. Millions of Hindus around the globe flock to certain important destinations (mostly shores of famous lakes and rivers) and offer prayers to their ancestors, with the help of rituals explained by a priest.
As a part of the rituals, they offer prayers and food to the ancestors. It is believed that performing these rituals within the specified time period makes the departed souls happy. As a result, they grant their blessing and prosperity to their younger generations.
Significance of Pitra Paksh
A common terminology as per the scriptures is ‘Pitra Dosha’. It is believed that this dosha or curse is nothing but the sufferings that we are subjected to in our present lives because we fail to offer our gratitude and respects to our ancestors. It is a common belief that whatever we want to achieve in life, God only shows the way. The blessings to actually achieve everything we desire are given by the Pitras.
In the modern context, it would be difficult for some people to believe all this. They would doubt as to how the efforts of a person in this world influence the conditions and experiences of the ancestors in the other world? This doubt arises on account of a lack of belief and knowledge.
To explain it scientifically, we all know that the universe is an organic whole. It is vibrating with energy, life and consciousness. We are also what the universe is – a collective intelligence vibrating at a frequency. If anything happens to any part of our body, the whole body feels it. So is the case with everything in this universe. Every single atom of this universe is connected with every other atom in the universe. Thus an act, a thought or a feeling which is originating at any particular part of the universe influences others also. This happens with the same degree of intensity with which it is generated. If the prayer is intense in this world, it will be felt in the Pitra loka (world of the ancestors) with a corresponding degree of intensity. The universal intelligence causes a corresponding action and feeling to take place. The same is the case with shraadh. It is the symbol of an internal feeling, a bhava. Shraadh is something more than a mechanical action. It is an act of prayer with bhava or feeling. Our thoughts are omnipresent and omnipotent and therefore we must never underestimate them. Every thought will fructify, today or tomorrow, in one form or another form. It depends on the intensity with which it is broadcasted in the universe.
When we do charity in the name of a departed soul, this intelligence is conveyed to him or her through the planes of consciousness. The pitras receive there what we give here. This is because we transmit intelligence to those who are in charge of the person concerned. A selfless act of sacrifice in the name of the departed soul gives wonderful benefits to him/her. This is possible on account of the divine unity of the universe.
Our prayers are capable of producing an effect immediately. They are the expressions of our soul’s consciousness and thus should be absolutely selfless. We must offer prayers for all departed souls with an impartial attitude. Only then will they be extremely powerful and bring the desired results.