Jyotishacharya Shastri Pundit Roshan Singh – Rohininandan das
Importance of Aadi Amavasa to deliver our ancestors and remind us of how to serve our parents now and always. Serving our parents is for our own good and it leads to great rewards. Conversely, not caring for them is bad Karma. No prayer, japa or sadhana yields any fruit for the person who does not serve his parents.
The month of Aadi is considered auspicious when the divine forces bless the earth gracefully and answer their prayers. Offering tarpan rituals for their ancestors on Aadi Amavasya Day helps their souls to obtain Moksha (salvation) and also grants them their blessings.
Astrologically, any day of Amavasa, the Sun and the Moon reside in the same sign. The sun signifies your father and your soul; while the moon means your mother and your spirit. Aadi Amavasa assumes greater importance because the Sun and the Moon inhabit the sign of the Moon that is Cancer.
It is believed that in Aadi Amavasa, spirits are more willing to accept their offerings and are satiated when their successors perform tarpan for them. Also every year in the month of Aadi, the sun moves to the south, which is called ‘Dakshinayanam’. Since this is the first day of the New Moon of the period, it is considered the most powerful day to perform tarpan to our ancestors.
नरकायैव कुलघ्नानां कुलस्य च ।
पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रियाः ॥ ४१ ॥
kula-ghnānāṁ kulasya ca
patanti pitaro hy eṣāṁ
saṅkaraḥ — such unwanted children; narakāya — make for hellish life; eva — certainly; kula–ghnānām — for those who are killers of the family; kulasya — for the family; ca — also; patanti — fall down; pitaraḥ — forefathers; hi — certainly; eṣām — of them; lupta — stopped; piṇḍa — of offerings of food; udaka — and water; kriyāḥ — performances.
An increase of unwanted population certainly causes hellish life both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. The ancestors of such corrupt families fall down, because the performances for offering them food and water are entirely stopped.
According to the rules and regulations of fruitive activities, there is a need to offer periodical food and water to the forefathers of the family. This offering is performed by worship of Viṣṇu, because eating the remnants of food offered to Viṣṇu can deliver one from all kinds of sinful reactions. Sometimes the forefathers may be suffering from various types of sinful reactions, and sometimes some of them cannot even acquire a gross material body and are forced to remain in subtle bodies as ghosts. Thus, when remnants of prasādam food are offered to forefathers by descendants, the forefathers are released from ghostly or other kinds of miserable life. Such help rendered to forefathers is a family tradition, and those who are not in devotional life are required to perform such rituals. One who is engaged in the devotional life is not required to perform such actions. Simply by performing devotional service, one can deliver hundreds and thousands of forefathers from all kinds of misery. It is stated in the Bhāgavatam (11.5.41):
na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
gato mukundaṁ parihṛtya kartam
“Anyone who has taken shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, the giver of liberation, giving up all kinds of obligation, and has taken to the path in all seriousness, owes neither duties nor obligations to the demigods, sages, general living entities, family members, humankind or forefathers.” Such obligations are automatically fulfilled by performance of devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Parents are the Most Important People in Your Life
Before you get married, your parents should be the most important people in your life. As children, we should obey our parents, grandparents, teachers and other people older to us. We should listen to them. We should serve them and help them. We should make them proud with our good behavior. The scriptures say:
The father, mother, teacher, elder brother and one’s provider- these five are considered as one’s superiors. He who desires prosperity should revere these superiors at all times by all means, even if he loses his life. The son should be devoted to them and make their care his first priority.
In the scripture entitled Taittiriya Upanisad, it is said that when the students are graduating from their college, their teacher gives them the following parting message:
“May you be one for whom his mother is a Deva.
May you be one for whom his father is a Deva.
May you be one for whom a guest is a Deva.
May you be one for whom his teacher is a Deva.”
The idea is that we should respect, serve and worship our parents, guests as well as our teachers even before we worship Bhagavān. This is a very unique teaching of our tradition. The western religions always place God before parents. Note that in our tradition, the mother is listed first, because she is the most respectable of all, more than even the father.
Why Must we Respect our Parents and Grandparents?
To Repay our Debt to Them
Because they give birth to us, endure great pains to raise us, educate us and get us settled in our lives. It is a lot due to their love and efforts that we become great in our lives. When we have our own children, our parents then play an important role in giving good values to our children as well. Therefore, when our parents are old and cannot take care of themselves, it is our duty to pay back their love, effort and blessings by serving them and honoring them in every way possible, even at the cost of great personal sacrifice.
No Deva can equal the mother and no superior can equal one’s father. Hence, no son can get relieved of the debt he owes to them. No person can repay his parents even in 100 years for all the troubles that they go through to give birth to him and raise him to adulthood. Therefore, always try to do whatever pleases your parents and your teacher, because only then does any religious worship done by you will bear any fruit.
Serving them is a most Pious Act
Serving our parents is for our own good and it leads to great rewards. Conversely, not caring for them is bad Karma. No prayer yields any fruit for the person who does not serve his parents and teachers. In the Mahabharata there is a story of a Brahmaṇa boy who leaves behind his elderly parents to advance spiritually. He acquires several spiritual powers, but discovers that even a butcher who had merely served his aged parents diligently was more advanced than him. The Brahmaṇa boy learned the lesson that serving one’s parents yields a much greater reward than abandoning them and pursuing your own selfish goals. Again, in contrast to our scripture’s teachings, Jesus Christ in the Bible says that one must leave behind his parents and loved ones and not worry about them to demonstrate his love for God.
The lifespan, knowledge, glory and strength of him increase who pays respects to his elders regularly and serves them. He who serves his parents and teachers truly respects all the teachings of the scriptures. And the person who disrespects them will never get the fruit of any worship.
Therefore, as long as they are alive, no one should devote himself to any other religious undertaking. Rather, he should continue to serve them with full diligence and do whatever pleases them and is beneficial to them. In fact, by serving one’s parents and teachers, a person fulfills all his major religious duties. Other religious acts like worshiping are minor, compared to serving these elders.
The son who pleases his parents by his good qualities acquires the fruit of all good virtues. Service to one’s parents is the only essence of Dharma and it leads one to Moksha upon death.
It is the Divine Command to us
Bhagavān wants us to serve our parents, because they are His direct representatives for us on this earth. Bhagavān has taught us that by serving our parents, we actually worship Him.
Bhagavān Vishnu aid to Ṛṣi Mārkandeya- “They who serve their parents, thinking of their father as the Lord of the Universe, and Mother as the holy River Ganga they indeed are My best Bhaktās.”
Bhagavān Himself has set an Example of Devotion to Parents
In his various Avatāras, Bhagavān has Himself set an example for us on how we should respect our teachers and our parents. As Lord Rama, He went to the forest for 14 years, so that his father could keep up a promise given to step-mother. And even though Rama had to undergo 14 years of hardship due to the machinations of his step-mother, he never became angry with her and forgave her always.
Saints have set an example for us of Devotion to Parents
Our saints have demonstrated their devotion to their parents in the lives.
How Can we Serve our Parents?
Cultural Norms in Treating our Parents and Grandparents:
There are many rules of etiquette that we follow for honoring and serving our parents:
We never address our parents by their names.
We never shout at them, even when we have an argument with them. We try not to talk back to them.
We never sit with our feet facing them. If we sit on a chair with our legs crossed, the foot on the top should face away from them.
We serve them food before filling our own plate.
When there are insufficient chairs in a room, we give the seat to them and stand ourselves.
We greet them with respect in the morning, and before going to bed.
We try to fulfill their requests and wishes to the best possible extent.
We do not smoke or drink in their presence and better, not even in their absence.
We obey their wishes cheerfully and act on them.
We defer to their opinion because they are wiser and more knowledgeable, if we are not sure of our own judgment and wisdom.
Serving Parents in their Old Age
In traditional homes, elderly parents live with their children and grandchildren (or in their close proximity) till their very end. As a result, they pass their last days happily, playing with their grand-children, and being served lovingly by their children whom they had raised with great effort and pain in their own younger years. In modern times however, many young couples do not want to take care of their old parents.
The excuse of these young couples is that they do not have enough money to take care of their kids as well as their own parents. Sometimes, both the husband and wife are working and therefore they arrange to have their aged parents housed in an old age home where a full-time staff takes care of them. Unfortunately, some people do not want to have their elderly parents around because they do not want to see them or do not want their own little kids to see them suffering of illness of old age.
Story of Aadi
According to the great epic Mahabharata, every human soul is indebted to the Trinity: Lord Brahma, Lord Maha Vishnu and Lord Shiva with three important debts. ‘Pitru Rin’ is one of them that is offered to Lord Brahma and is carried out by children to their ancestors. The first ‘Rin’ or debt is to our ancestors, the second is to one’s spiritual master and the third is to our parents.
Rituals on Aadi
It is always ideal to perform these rituals on the natural shores (sea, pond, river or lake). If this is not possible it can be done in a dish at home.
Taking a sacred dip in sacred water sources is considered a prerequisite to cleanse you of impurities, before starting the tarpanam ritual. You may do this by taking a shower before the pooja. You can observe a full or partial fast with one meal today to mark your devotion to your ancestors.
Aadi Amavasa Benefits:
Relieving negative karma
Gift with prosperity and happiness in life
Bless your generation with good health, wealth and prosperity
The execution of tarpanam in Aadi Amavasai can free the souls of your deceased ancestors
According to Garuda Purana, offering your ancestors (sesame seeds) and water in this day pleases them and can ensure you longevity, success, debt relief, destruction of enemies and offspring.
Amavasya denotes the onset of the new Moon, which gradually goes on to evolve into the full Moon. The dark side of the Moon is considered the Pitru Loka (world dedicated to ancestors), and this portion gets exposed to the Sun on the New Moon Days. Performing the Tarpanam ritual on Amavasya day can help us obtain the blessings of the departed souls. It can also drive away curses and other evil effects, which bog us down. According to the Vishnu Dharma Shastra, it is auspicious to perform the ritual to three ancestral generations on this day. This symbolic act of feeding our ancestors on the New Moon Day appeases their appetite, while they, in turn, shower good health and happiness on us.
Unique Traits of Amavasya Tarpan
According to legend, the mentally conceived daughter of Agnishvattas, one of the seven classes of the divine Pitrus, yearned for a mortal father. This weakened her Yogic powers and sent her hurtling down from Heaven. While descending, she passed the Pitru Loka (world dedicated to ancestors) and appealed to them to save her. The Pitrus advised her to be born to King Amavasya. In due course, she regained her powers and conducted a ceremony to the Pitrus to express her gratitude. Thus performing Amavasya Tarpan ritual on the New Moon Day can feed the souls of your departed forefathers, who can, in turn, shower their blessings on you.
Description of Amavasya Tarpanam
Paying obeisance to our ancestors on Amavasya day is said to be highly propitious and can bring about manifold benefits. We express our gratitude by performing the ceremony and seek the blessings of our ancestors for long lives, radiance, superior intellect, wealth, and success in endeavors. Conducting “Poorna Kriya,” which is generally associated with the birth of twins on Amavasyas, can bring peace and contentment in their lives.