pitru tharpanam

Vidyasankar vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 8 04:36:46 CDT 2002

> But a few questions arise - What happens when the heir whos doing
tarpanam dies ? Will the heir's heir's providing pinda during tarpanam
also would reach his Father's(whos no more) Father (whos also no more) ?
If so, will this process ever stop ? Will the pitru whos the most ancient
ever be released from taking the pinda provided during tarpanam ?

I'll give a brief response. In doing tarpaNa for departed ancestors, one
considers the three immediately past generations, on each of the maternal
and paternal lines, as equivalent to the vasu - rudra - Aditya classes of
devatAs. So, a tarpaNa is not offered only to the father or mother - it
includes the relevant grandparents and great-grandparents. The generations
prior to the three are not completely forgotten, as the one doing the
ritual also has to invoke the devatA class of the viSvedeva (the all-
gods), equivalent to the previous generations put together. When a death
occurs, there are specific rituals to mark the passing on of the members
of the fourth generation into the viSvedeva class.

Also, the pitR-tarpaNa ritual is primarily meant as the duty of the person
doing it. There is no contradiction between a belief in rebirth and the
performance of rituals for the departed. Whether the departed ancestor has
been reborn or not is immaterial. We can never know who is reborn as what
and where, and we can never know whether a departed person is reborn
immediately in "earth-time" or if there is a variably large number of
earth years between births. I am deliberately using the word earth here,
because time as we ordinarily measure it in hours, days and years is a
purely relative construct, specifically meant for planet earth. It bears
no intrinsic meaning elsewhere in this vast universe.


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