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The Pitru Paksha starts after the Full Moon day, and this day marks the beginning of the waning phase of the Lunar cycle. This event is roughly of 15-day period, and is of great significance. From this day, rituals like Tarpan or Tarpanam and Shradh are carried out to pay respects to dead relatives and ancestors.
It is believed that from the very first day till the last day, the unhappy souls of the deceased return to the Earth to see their family members. So, in order to ensure that the dead attain Moksha, i.e. to get liberation, family members of these souls quench their thirst and satisfy their hunger by performing the Pind Daan, which includes offering food consisting of cooked rice and black sesame seeds. The literal meaning of Pind Daan is the act of satisfying those who no longer exist physically.
For fifteen days, prayers are offered in temples and rituals are performed to help the souls get free from the cycle of birth, life, and death, and attain salvation.
At the same time, the Pitru Paksha is also an important period for people with Pitru Dosha, which means the curse imposed by the ancestors. Hence, in order to ask forgiveness, people perform Shradh rituals and offer food to the crows, who are considered as living beings that represent the dead. It is believed, if the crow eats the offered food, the ancestors are happy and pleased. But, if the crow doesn't eat the offered food and flies away, the ancestors are not happy.
The event of Pitru Paksha is widely observed by Hindus from all over the world, and they perform prayers and rituals in order to gain their ancestors blessings.
By Devakinanda Ji
Pāpam means any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
Ashtottaram 57 OṀ PĀPAVINĀŚABHŨMYAI NAMAH: OṀ (AUM)-PAA-PA-VI-NAA-ŚA-BHOO-MYAI—NA-MA-HA ॐ पापविनाशभूम्यै नमः
(Pāpam: Bad fortune, kārmic bad credit; Vināśa: Destruction, absorption without return)
Belief in a Supernatural Being or Power-generally called God is ingrained in the human psyche. The words of scripture and/or of the men of God, are considered sacrosanct and hence, inviolable. Not following them or going against them has always been regarded as pāpam (a sin) resulting in grave consequences. The Hindu scriptures have designated such sins by various names pāpa, pāpman, vrujina, durita, and so on...The concept of pāpam is as old as Ṛigveda wherein prayers have been offered to deities like Āditya, Mitra and Varuṇa for redemption.
The question as to what causes sin and how it is committed has been discussed in the dharma śhāstrās. Some of the earliest like those of Gautama and Yājnavalkya and the Gīta declares that kāma (lust), krodha (anger) and lobha (greed) are responsible for a person perpetrating evil deeds, thereby accumulating sins.
In the course of time, the list has grown to include many more like himsa (violence), speaking untruth, neglect of prescribed duties, committing deeds declared as evil by the shāstrās. But the dharma śhāstrās offer remedies to the consequences of these sins. They are pāpanivedana (confession), paśchāttāpa (repentance), prāṇāyāma (restraint of breath), tapas (austerity), homa (sacrifice into a duly consecrated fire), japa (repetition of Vedic passages or prayers), dāna (giving gifts), upavāsa (fasting), and tīrṭhayātra (pilgrimage). We are not told repeatedly that we are 'sinners' and God's son was crucified and died for our sins. We are not cursed with eternal damnation.
On the contrary, we are taught the opposite. In Hinduism, people worship gods and goddesses at their homes on a daily basis to get rid off their sins and perform expiatory rituals. Ultimately, it can be safely declared that the following disciplines are the best means of overcoming or attenuating the evil effects of sin on one's life: repentance, resolving not to repeat the sinful deeds, repetition of God's name, earnest prayer and the company of holy persons.
For the pāpa vināśanam, our ancient sages have prescribed various means and because of that, we have temples, puṇya tīrṭhās, and so on. The famous place in South India is Tirumala Sri Venkateswara swami temple and nearby waterfalls known as pāpanāśanam. On a daily basis, thousands and thousands of devotees attend these places.
During auspicious days and festivals, the number of attendees is in the millions. During Kumbhameḷa, over 40 million people take bath in the holy river on a given day. Our land does not condemn sinners and offers expiatory rituals to amend a wrong either of commission or omission and is 'Pāpavināśa Bhūmi'.
- No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
- Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
- 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
- 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”
Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.
Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.
The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.
It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.
Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:
In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.
Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.
As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.
While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.
According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.
-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. She can be reached @tweet_bhavana
Ram and Ravana Have More In Common Than You Think : 5 Traits of the Anti-Hero Ravana That You Must Learn | Dussehra Special
New Delhi, September 30, 2017 : Happy Dussehra or Vijaydashmi – the day we all rejoice the defeat of the evil Lanka Naresh Ravana by Shri Ram. But the essence of the festival is much more than plain revenge. We have been told since times immemorial that the festival symbolizes the triumph of truth over deception and good over evil; the victory of Lord Ram (who we must aspire to be) over the evil Ravana (who should be despised). But is that all there is to devour from the epic?
— Iskcon (@IskconInc) September 30, 2017
Lord Ram is held in reverence across the country and is seen as the ultimate role model. Popularly addressed as ‘Maryada Purushottam’, we have all, at a point, aimed to inculcate similar traits in our life. But do we truly aspire to live a Ram-like life? If your answer to that question is in the affirmation, what are you doing to lead a life defined with such high morale and ideals?
We Have More In Common With Ravana Than Ram
‘Respect your parents’, ‘One must not steal’, ‘Do not lie’, ‘Honesty is the best policy’.
Despite being repeatedly exposed to these virtues, we are still dishonest.
Lord Ram, who we aspire to be, supposedly never lied.
The veneration with which the Raghuvansham looked up to his parents is not only impossible to trace in the present day, but also hard to emulate.
An epitome of ethical demeanor and exemplary disciple, are we as devoted as Ram?
This brings me to a larger question.
Have you ever noticed how we have more in common with Ravana than Lord Ram?
Maybe because it is easy to be a Ravana today, than be the ideal Ram.
So, this Dussehra, as people from all across India burn effigies of Ravana as part of the popular ritual, let us dig a little deeper and introspect what makes the anti-hero, Ravana so special and traits we can learn from his life,
What Can We Learn From Ravana
Undying Faith and Devotion
Ravana performed an extreme repentance (or tapasya) to appease Shiva that lasted for tens of thousands years.
During his atonement, Ravana sacrificed his head for the sake of Shiva and chopped it off 10 different times. Each time he cut his head off, another head emerged, hence empowering him to proceed with his repentance. Finally, satisfied with his severity, Shiva showed up after his tenth beheading and rewarded him a boon of heavenly nectar of eternality.
Ravana additionally requested for supremacy over divine beings, heavenly spirits, different rakshas, and serpents which was granted by Shiva along with his 10 severed heads and an incredible knowledge of heavenly weapons and magic.
Ravana was the grandson of Brahma, the creator of the universe, the son of sage Vishrava and a sibling of Kubera, the god of riches.
He himself was an exceptional researcher and was learned in Ayurveda, political science and the ways of the Kshatriyas (warriors). His ten heads are known to speak of his insight into the Shastras and the four Vedas A great Veena player, he additionally wrote several books and verses on medicine and composed the Ravana Samhita, a book on Hindu astrology and the Arka Prakasham.
This highlights that despite your ill-deeds, knowledge can win you laurels, even from your staunchest rivals.
Valmiki recognized Ravana as an exceptionally proficient and just ruler.
Ravana emerged victorious in the battle against the demon king Sumali and assumed control and administration over Lanka, thus gaining the title of ‘Lanka Naresh’. Under his reign, the kingdom came to be known as ‘Sone ki Lanka’ (kingdom of gold) and witnessed the most prosperous and magnanimous period in its history.
Ravana was a minding ruler, who cared for his subjects well. It was only under his rule and guidance that the kingdom, constricted by Vishwakarma, the best of all architects, flourished.
Ambition and Belief in Self
After his penance to Lord Shiva, Ravana had wished for supremacy over divine beings, heavenly spirits, different rakshas, and serpents. Maintaining conviction in himself and his abilities, he wanted to emerge victorious and preside over all three worlds. He also fought a series of wars and lost only four times. Ravana also defeated Sumali, the demon king and established control over Lanka.
This tells us that ambition is the key to progress. Without ambition, men would have not discovered wheels, horse carts or chariots, magnificent cities, temples and palaces, or majestic sailing ships. Absence of ambition means an absence of growth.
Staying True to Oneself
Ravana wanted to emerge as the greatest ruler, however, he did not aspire to become ‘God’ or attain moksha.
In response to the great king Mahabali who advised Ravana to shun malice and greed, the Lanka Naresh told him that he would never strive to be a God and shall live like a man and die as one too. Ravana lived exactly as his emotions guided him and did not aim to be a role model for the generations to follow.
This brings forth Ravana’s conviction to live our life to its full and die as a man should, staying true to one’s character and never once aiming to be godly.
Ram And Ravana Had More In Common Than You Think
Most of us believe Ravana to be an evil rakshas. However, a deeper understanding of the Hindu mythology and its characters reveal that both Ram and Ravana had traits that one must aspire to imbibe.
Throughout the epic, both Ram and Ravana demonstrated outrageous determination in following their convictions, regardless of what they were to face thereafter. Yet, we only address Ram as the Lord while look at Ravana as an evil force, despite recognizing (however not truly accepting) his traits.
Ram battled with valor against all dangers, until the point he delivered justice for all the wrong that was done to him. Similarly, Ravana remained loyal to his choices (abduction of Sita) and its consequences till his final breath.
In his quest to bring his wife back, Ram fought battles, meandered for miles, and even clashed with the gods of the oceans. Despite all intricacies, what guided Lord Ram to ultimate victory was his determination. Similarly, Ravana (and Shiva) proliferated the best hypothesis of modern humanism “Atma so paramatma” which says there is no more noteworthy power than human fortitude.
Ram touched the hearts of many upon his chance meeting with Shabri and preached lessons of equality and moving beyond barriers of caste upon consumption of her half-consumed berries. In the same manner, the Raksh tribe also proposed faith in nature-worship and universal identity with no predisposition for caste, creed or gender. In fact, Ravan also propagated the ‘Raksh neeti’ which implied equality for all.
The world largely celebrates Ramayana as a battle the Raghuvansham fought in wife Sita’s esteem. Tales of Lord Ram’s reverence towards his mothers and the female clan in general have been cited across generations that earned him the title of the ‘Maryada Purushottam’.
In a similar manner, Ravan avenged the disrespect given to his sister Shurpanka by abducting Sita. However, he did not ill-treat her, and instead kept her with dignity in the Ashok Vatika.
These instances draw attention to one of the traits of human sociology – an individual who questions principles, assumptions and values is always painted dark. I believe Ravan was one of them.
Maybe over the years, Ramayana has been over-simplified, and consequently, a little misinterpreted. I believe a lot can be learnt from both, the hero and the anti-hero of the epic.