Namaste, my name is Krishang Bhardwaj and I am going to talk about Pitra Paksha.
So first, what is Pitra Paksha?
Pitra Paksh (also known as Shraddh) is a 16 day period of remembrance. In this period, Hindus pay homage to their ancestors, especially through food offerings
When is Pitra Paksha?
Pitra Paksha usually starts during august or september, this year (2020) it starts on 1 september (tuesday) and ends on 17 september (thursday).
Hinduism follows the lunar calendar, which means they have different months. Pitra paksha falls on the first day of the month Bhadrapada in the Hindu calendar. Pitra paksha lasts 16 days and starts on Bhadrapada Purnima (full moon) and ends on Sarva Pitru Amavasya (no moon).
Pitra Paksha comes in the second half of the year because this half is more negative than the first, this is because the nights are getting longer and colder. And doing or completing shraddha will help remove guilt and grief.
What’s the story behind it lasting 16 days?
The story behind it lasting 16 days starts during the Mahabharat era.
When Kunti was given a boon in a form of a mantra, from which she can call any demi-god to give her a child.
After she was given this boon she wanted to test if it worked or not, so she used the mantra and called upon the sun god who gave her a son. After she was given a son, she realised that she would have to explain how she has a child before her marriage. So, she put her son in a basket and put him to float down a river.
And then Kunti’s son was found by Dhritraashtra’s chariot driver, Adhirath who brought him home to his wife Radha and took care of him as their own son. When the child was older, he became extremely good at archery. Later guru Dron gave him the name Karna instead of Radhe.
Duryodhan (Dhritraashtra son) gave Karna a kingdom and made him king of it. He did this so Karna would be in debt to him, which means he could use his good archery skills against the Pandavas.
Karna always gave money to everyone in his kingdom and was a good and righteous king.
When he died during the war and went to heaven, he lived there for a while before he noticed how he was treated differently than everyone. He wasn’t given any food or water, he was only given gold coins instead of food and water.
So, he went and found the king of the demi gods, Indra. He talked with him and found out why he wasn’t given food or water. It was because he didn’t give prayers, respects or food to his ancestors (he didn’t complete his Pitri Rin). So, he asked Indra if he could help him complete his prayers, and Indra gave him 16 days to fulfil it.
Since he was given 16 days to complete it, we now use those 16 days as Pitri Paksha.
The second story I’m going to tell you is about Jhoge and Bhoge.
The story starts with 2 brothers who love each other very much, but when they grew up, they had very different lifestyles one was very rich and the other was very poor.
The poor brother Bhoge, married to someone who was selfless and a good cook, and Jhoge married to someone who wanted to show off all her riches to everyone and was very selfish.
0ne day during Pitra Paksha Jhoge’s wife told Jhoge that they should have a big party, so people know that they are doing prayers. Jhoge then said if we do have a party you will be cooking all day and she replied with we can call Bhoge’s wife to come and cook for us. Jhoge agreed and started preparing for the party.
The next day Bhoge’s wife came over early to start cooking. When she finished neither Jhoge or his wife stopped her from leaving and joining the party.
When she got home, she quickly went to cook food and lit a fire, but then she noticed that she had no food to cook.
when the ancestors came for the food, they first went to Jhoge’s home and found out that they already ate everything during their party, so they went to Bhoge’s home and saw that they were going to cook but didn’t have any food. The ancestors realised if they had food they would cook for them, so they blessed them.
The next day they found a pot full of gold. Now Bhoge became as rich as his brother Jhoge. Next year during Pitra Paksha they made lots of food for the ancestors.
The moral of this story is it doesn’t matter how much you give to your ancestors, it’s the thought that counts.
What debts do humans have, and how to fulfill it?
The purpose of Purushartha is to ensure that people would not neglect their obligatory duties by becoming obsessed with particular desires that may lead to moral and social degeneration and destruction of values. To further ensure a stable social framework, Hinduism introduces the concept of debts. According to the Taittiriya Sanhita (184.108.40.206), a child is born with three debts to repay in his (or her) lifetime. These debts or Rin (ऋण); are called Deva Rin, Pitri Rin, and Rishi Rin.
Deva Rin (देव ऋण) is the debt to the demi gods and the environment, some people say that the environment, plants and animals have their own rin called Bhuta Rin (भूत ऋण), but this is usually included in deva rin. To complete this rin, you must appreciate and be grateful all the things that let you live/survive, for example the sun, water, the weather etc. And you must try improve the world and environment, not for yourself just for the betterment of the world.
Pitri Rin (पितृ ऋण) is the second debt. This rin is a debt to your ancestors and parents, you’re in debt to them because without them how would you be alive now. This rin is fulfilled by paying respects to your ancestors, which is what Pitra paksha is all about. If you think of the story about Karna, he wasn’t able to live happily in heaven because he did not fulfil his Pitri Rin.
Rishi Rin (ऋषि ऋण) is the third and final rin. This rin is about appreciating everything we have and the people who made it, for an example if someone didn’t invent the bed we would be sleeping on the floor, or if someone didn’t find electricity, we wouldn’t have it. So, rishi rin is about being grateful about the scientists and inventors, rishi rin also includes what is called Nri Rin (नारी ऋण) or Manushya Rin. Nri rin is the debt to everybody, which can be repaid by treating others with respect and helping them.
We can see that the concept of “Service” or “Sewa” is deep rooted in the ancient Hindu Traditions. It generates awareness of one's duties and responsibilities, provides moral and ethical direction to life, encourages family values, and helps one to organize life for individual accomplishments.