Shradh has begun from September 24 and will continue till September 25. Shradh refers to that ritual which is performed in memory of the long-dead ancestors. The Pitra Paksha days are chosen for this ritual. The fifteen days from the Purnima of the Bhadrapad month to the Amavasya of the Ashvin month are dedicated to the ancestors. Hindus have to perform these rituals as a duty towards their ancestors.
One of these rituals is the Pind Daan ceremony. While it is generally performed within a few days after the death of a person, it can also be performed during the Pitra Paksha. A holy place such as a holy river is selected for the ritual. The most popular site considered to be ideally the most sacred for Pind Daan is Gaya. In this article we will discuss why Gaya is chosen as a site for this ceremony.
The Story Of Gayasura
Hindu Shastras explain that the place Gaya was named after the demon named Gayasura. He was a successor of the demon Bhasmasura. Gayasura performed a hard penance in order to please Lord Brahma. When Lord Brahma got pleased, the demon asked for a boon that his body should also become as pure as that of the gods and even the sight of his body should liberate people from the past sins of their lives. Thus, the place gradually gained prominence as the place of liberation.
People started visiting this place seeking liberation. Thus, the number of spirits going to Yam Loka after death, went on decreasing. Seeing this, Yamraja went to Lord Brahma saying that a demon becoming a reason for liberation was wrong. And that this would distract the devotees of the gods. Thus, the matter was discussed with the gods and a remedy was found out.
A Yagna Performed On The Back Of Gayasura
As a remedy all the gods decided that they would ask the demon for a Yagna to be performed on his back. They were surprised that the demon agreed. Thereafter, all the gods performed the Yagna after which Lord Vishnu further gave a boon to the demon.
He said that the place where the Yagna would be performed on his back would be known by the name Gaya, and would be referred to as the place of salvation. He further said that performing a Pind Daan here will get a person fulfilment and virtue; besides this, all the ancestors of the person will achieve salvation as well.
King Dasharatha’s Pind Daan Was Performed In Gaya
King Dasharatha was the father of Lord Rama. He was the ruler of Ayodhya, which is located in present day Uttar Pradesh. His son Lord Rama was known for his righteousness. When King Dasharatha died, his Pind Daan was performed by Lord Rama and daughter-in-law Goddess Sita at this place. Following him, there is a practice of choosing this place for Pind Daan.
Lord Vishnu Is Present There As A Pitra Dev
Lord Vishnu is the one who can liberate the soul from the cycle of life and death. The aim behind liberation is the freedom from the pains and sufferings of life. The ancestors who become Pitras after death are offered prayers just as we do offer to the gods. (However, the images are not to be placed with those of the gods). In fact, it is said that Lord Vishnu has established himself as a Pitra Dev at this place.
Sacred Place For Those Who Want To Go To Heaven After Death
While the ancestors cannot feed themselves in the Pitra Loka, it is said that their children should feed them on their own. There is a belief according to which, the karmas or the deeds done in the entire life, determine whether the person will go to heaven or hell after death. But another belief also exists according to which performing a Pind Daan in Gaya also gets the ancestors a place in heaven.
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