Should Krishna devotee perform rituals for deceased ancestors? Who need not do?
Moli Ghosh Suresh asked like this:
“Hare Krishna prabhu.. in ur last post u told abt darpan rituals n it’s relation to crows… Plz now u tell us who can avoid doing this as a devotee of krsna….”
It is advised by Krishna Himself (In Narayana Form) that one should perform the rituals for the deceased ancestors to help them attain good status after death.
He also says that if such rituals are not done, the deceased person will be subject to punishments after his / her death by Yama’s servants and also a certain period of hellish term.
Since many acharyas have quoted from Garuda Purana and it is the major source for our knowledge about life after death, we have to take the advices in Garuda Purana as reference to explain.
Hence I explain this based on Garuda Purana.
WHY SUCH RITUALS ARE DONE?
In all these rituals, the important aspect is giving donation to brahmanas.
In many places in Garuda Purana, such donations to qualified brahmanas is recommended. Lord Narayana has not said that the people in kaliyuga need not do them.
So, it is observed that the people in kaliyuga too have to do them.
The main purpose of these rituals is to make the brahmaanas happy.
What will happen if we keep the brahmanas happy?
They are depending only on the donations (dhaan) given for the vedic rituals they do for us. As per the vedic texts, performing rituals and getting the donation is the only profession of brahmanas.
It is advised that other varnas should offer dhaan to the brahmanas by allowing them to perform many rituals in their homes.
There is a secret in this donation. When we gift to the brahmanas, they accept part of our karma. When we offer donations in the name of the deceased ancestor, some karma of the deceased person are forgiven and he/ she becomes pure.
The brahmanas take serious risk by accepting the donation from others because they accept the karma of the deceased person.
So, the brahmans too have been recommended to chant Gayathri manthra thousands of times every day to get rid of the karma accepted from others. If he does not chant Gayathri properly every day, they will feel the heat of karma and they face many difficulties in their families.
Thus, being a Brahmana is not easy. They bear the heat of karma of others by performing rituals for them and receiving donations for the same.
So, we should not think that brahmanas are getting money from us just by reciting some verses from vedas.
They suffer because of that profession. They have to be very sincere in chanting Gayathri Manthra to get rid of this acquisition of karma.
Since they purify the deceased person from his/ her karma, the family of the deceased person should treat the brahmanas with honour and mercy. We should not ill treat them or we should not consider them getting donation from us just by reciting manthras.
Since the deceased person’s part of the karma is purified by the brahmanas, the deceased person receive sufficient honour in higher planets. They even get a heavenly life.
So, in a nutshell, the performance of vedic rituals for deceased person is to purify him/ her from a part of karma. More satisfaction of brahmanas, more purification.
SHOULD KRISHNA DEVOTEES DO RITUALS FOR ANCESTORS?
There are three categories of devotees in this case:
(1) Those who are trying to follow the devotion to Krishna and also have desires to fulfil their material needs. Eg: Adding wealth to the children, adding comforts for the family, showing his status in the society, etc. Those who spend even a little for his comforts also come in this category. These devotees will have the difficulty to forgive the offences of others and praying for others because they have some expectation of honour.
(2) Those who are following devotion sincerely and also accepted a guru, but, still have material attachments come in the second category. If these devotees have material attachments like saving wealth, being comfortable, being unable to bear the loss of people or materials, etc, they too come under this category. These devotees too will have the difficulty to forgive the offences of others and praying for others. This is the symptom of having some attachments and expectations of honour.
(3) Those who have successfully deserted their material attachments and have no desires to develop their status, but, deserted everything, and is serving the Lord Krishna from his heart and having no other personal needs come under this category. These devotees see Krishna in everything and everyone and sees everyone with mercy. They do not pray for themselves to Krishna. They do not get angry for anything and forgive others. They do not get affected even if they are not honoured or they are dishonoured. They just live as an instrument in the hands of Krishna. They have entrusted themselves to Krishna.
Out of these three categories, the first two categories will have rebirth in a good family since they had some needs in this material world. The third category of devotees will not take birth and all his karma would have been burnt in the power of selfless devotion.
Because of this selfless devotion, this third ccategory of devotee will be taken by Krishna to His kingdom. Since he goes back to Krishna, he is given some bonus also. The power of the devotion of this devotee will purify the karma of his previous and next seven generations and hence they get liberated from the material planets.
Even if the previous generations had already taken birth, they will take liberation at the end of their current births.
The future seven generations will remain seriously unattached in the material affairs and hence they too will be liberated.
This does not mean they too will go to Krishna. They are just liberated by getting salvation (Mukthi). However, if any of these 14 generations is a serious devotee of Krishna, he gets a life in Krishna’s kingdom.
The point is: Serious and selfless devotion to Krishna by a single devotee purifies 7+7=14 generations from their karma.
This is like the water on ground gets evaporated with the power of sun. The power of devotion to Krishna is also like that. It will purify 14 generations.
Though the previous generations had lived a sinful life, the fortune of getting a single devotee in their family purifies and liberates even those sinners.
This can be compared to the demons too get liberation when they are killed by Krishna/ Rama. They do not go to Vaikunta, but, get liberated JUST BECAUSE they had the fortune of getting killed by the Lord Himself. This is the power of even the negative association with the Lord. Krishna’s power purifies everyone.
So, the ancestors of this serious and self less third category of devotee would have been liberated. So, there will be no neeed for any rituals for ancestors.
Only if such a selfless devotee exists in our family and these ancestors got liberation, these rituals are unnecessary.
If we are still in the first or second category having some attachments in our own welfare also, we should do these rituals since we ourselves will get rebirth and our ancestors will also be remaining in the higher worlds expecting rebirth or leading a difficult life after rebirth.
When we do such rituals for them, they will get good status in higher planets. In case they had already taken birth, their difficulties will come down drastically.
So, if we fall under the first and second category, on the safer side, it is good to perform rituals after death and every year for our ancestors.
This can be done atleast as a thankgiving to them since we were developed by them amidst difficulties.
This is just a mark of gratitude.
If you believe that you fall under the third category, just skip the rituals because you are on the way to Goloka at the end of this birth itself.
Note: Even Lord Rama did as a son all the rituals for the ancestors including Dasaratha. Where we are?
So, my recommendation is: Just spend some money for donating to brahmanas and vaishnavas. This will do good for your ancestors.
Because of donating, we will never come down in our status. Instead, we will get freed from our karma.
I have taken much pain to explain these difficult concepts. I hope that you have got my points.