Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 11 Aug 2019

     

Why is the position of Vishnu not given importance in the various specific death rituals?

Surya asked: Could You please clarify the significance of the rituals namely Aharnikālu, Ṣoḍaśam, Vṛṣossarjanam, the immersion of the piṇḍās and Sapiṇḍīkraṇam? What is the relevance of Gayāsura and the priest’s statement “Gayā śrāddha sadṛṣaḥ….”? Why is proper importance not given to the Viṣṇu sthāna and how can it be rectified? The priest also says that Nityāgnihotram needs to be performed. What does it mean?

Swami replied: The essence of all these death rituals is just the worship of God involving prayers to protect the departed soul. If you catch the essence, which is strong devotion to God, the total purpose of the ritual is served. All the procedures involved in the various parts of any ritual are the practical expression of your devotion, which is called practical devotion. They mainly include honoring the priest, feeding him and finally offering money (dakṣiṇā) to him. All the other formalities are of negligible importance as long as the host performs the sacrifice of work (service) and the sacrifice of the fruit of his work (donation). All the other steps in the ritual are only theoretical, even though they appear to be practical. In the absence of the two practical steps, the theoretical steps alone are of no use. Theory without the practical steps is useless. But conversely, practical sacrifice without the proper theory is also fruitless. This is especially true when the priest is the human form of God. Your service and donation must be the practical expression of your theoretical devotion, which in turn is caused by your theoretical knowledge.

You need not worry about the various theoretical steps in the rituals provided you have grasped the essence of the theoretical steps, which is devotion. The reality of that devotion (theory) is proved by the practical steps. The root problem is that people do not understand the meaning of the Vedic verses recited. The Veda includes the spiritual knowledge necessary to understand the Divine Personality and to develop real devotion towards Him. It also includes information about the various steps of practical devotion. Once you understand the knowledge contained in all the recited Vedic verses, you will perform the ritual by yourself, without the help of any priest. The priest is required only so that he can be worshiped as a representative of God. Today, the priest is invited to blindly recite the Veda, whereas it is the performer of the ritual himself, who is actually supposed to recite the Veda.

Vishnu Aharmikaalu Shodasham Dakshnia Sraddha Sraddha