Saturday 27 July 2019

The Significance of Pitṛ Tarpaṇa And Why You Should Perform It

 When Amavasya or pitṛ Paksha arrives, 'tarpaṇa' get expressed in the vocab of many. 

Reference of tarpaṇa from Vedas.

Shri Suktam, Rig Veda

 “आर्द्रां ज्वलंतीम् तृप्ताम् तर्पयन्तीम् “ 

Ārdrāṁ jvalantīm tr̥ptām tarpayantīm

Meaning :  

Who is eternally Satisfied and Satisfies all those who offer Her ( Shri Devi ) tarpaNa

Video : My Whatsapp Video Learner Shravanti reciting Shri Suktam

Tarpaṇa simply refers to the act of offering done to divine entities. What we colloquially refer to as tarpaṇa today is pitṛ tarpaṇa - Offering to pitṛBeing more specific, today, it is an act of ritualistic offering done to our deceased during new moon day.

So what happens when we offer libations?

There is another dimension to tarpaṇa, besides serving as an offering to the deceased.

Relatives in many ways play a crucial part in our temporary role in our current body. We physically, mentally and subtly associate with them for long. As such, their influence persists on us even after their death.

Now, despite them leaving, their elements in the form of karma and memory is still within us. In some way, they are 'alive' in us.

Their face, voice, interests and deeds still play memories within us. We might have wanted to convey something in their physical proximity, which is now no longer possible. These residue creates turbulence in our system.

Analogy :

You took bath in the sea. Once done, you walk out. Your association with the sea is done. It is 'gone'. However, droplets of salt is allover your body. Now, you need a towel or wind - some form of gadget or source to completely dry you off.

Having these droplets undried ain't good because the dead should be left dead. Once they leave their mortal coil, their physical association with us is done. They journey according to their maturity of consciousness and karma.

Even 'ghosts' act according to karma. Dead who do not seem to 'rest' are those who left the body in an unpleasant state. Perhaps they worried about their family too much and that worry manifests as crude memory which affects their consciousness. And once they leave the body, that takes form of karma to entrap them. This is what wanders as 'ghost'

The dead do not visit us as 'ghosts' because they 'miss' us. It does not work that way. They do not possess human nature anymore. They just act according to tendencies and karma. Their attachment makes them get entangled by it. This is why ghosts have a form. That form is the residual karma and they are stuck to it. This is why they sometimes reborn as a child back to the family.

 Let me give another example :

 If a foodie dies, his karma will move him in the direction where he can enjoy food - his attachment. Perhaps, he could be born as a pig who simply gobbles everything. The pig body is apt for a foodie who lives to eat. See, a pig can even relish its own faeces. Not all bodies are capable of transforming waste into protein. It's a perfect body for one who loves to eat - anything and everything.

Bhagavad Gita : At the time of death,the consciousness created by the living being carries him to his next body.

This is not about punishment or judgement. Our destiny is decided by none other than us. It is only us. Our karma, memory and attachment (  they refer to the same thing ) pushes us in the direction of our momentum. If we plant a coconut seed, we should expect a coconut tree and not that of a mango.

So the next time you learn that your grandpa or dad has reborn as your grandson, there is no need to rejoice. They are not coming because they miss you or to reminiscence a family get-together. It is simply their attachment which has rocketed them back as a chance to get done with it - which paves path to liberation. The baby body in your family is like the pig body for the foodie. Both are just assuming the best machine (body) and situation for them to overcome their attachment and karma which has been verily created by them. It's a vicious cycle.

This is why they say, should a dying one focus on God alone, he is bound to attain liberation. Because that subtle moment of touch with the divine when he is leaving the body will build up the necessary momentum to break through all karmic holds and to be completely free ( liberated ). It is the escape velocity needed to break free from the cycle and project in a tangent.

Point C is liberation.We need an escape velocity to off-shoot the circle in a tangent to reach point C

Vice versa, we too possess karmic relations with the dead, as when they were alive. Tarpaṇa is to clear the sediments you have moulded with them.

In the ritual, you should notice how the priests clearly describe your relation with the deceased. Gotra, name, kula and other details are mentioned. This is to simply announce your blueprint and genetical identity.

 It is simply letting your inner self know :

'' Hey you, in this body as Mr XXX, you have had proximity with Mr YYY who was your ( eg. uncle ) in this body. Just know that this consciousness who played role as your uncle is now no more in his physical frame and has journeyed according to his spiritual maturity and karma. The play is over. Both of you have played the drama of life well and his time is over. You no longer have the need to play alone onstage. All your bondage, memory and karmic associations with him is to be cleared off your system. The sea water in which you played has dried. It is time for you to wipe off its residue from your body "

Video above: My student reciting the Pitara Sukta of Rig Veda, which speaks about the pitṛ.

Instead of letting those karmic residues trouble you later, you are using the help of 5 elements :

Aakasha    : Mantras recited
Water      : River , ritualistic water
Earth      : The Dravyas ( Grains, sesame etc )
Fire       : Ritualistic flame 
Wind    : The agent which carries the offerings in water

Look at the priests as engineers. They are using the 5 elements which make up the world and sound energy to fix some faulty circuit in your system.

Even in Malaysia, many psychics, past life regressionists, and those spiritually elevated forego rituals because they are capable of self-clearance.

The offerings are not just for your pitṛ. They work for you too ! The mantras, the ritual which constitute the 5 elements are used in a way our ancients formulated so that it can help you.

New moon day is chosen because your body,mind and energies are more receptive on that day.

So the dead can never benefit ? 

They definitely do. We are all pure consciousness. We are just playing parts in different bodies with varying awareness. Ultimately, we are all one. We are just beads connected by a common string of consciousness.

If one bead gets pulled off, all other beads are affected. Our actions do not only affect our relatives, but the entire cosmos. The pain of others is ours, so is the joy. This is why dharma says , 'do unto others as you would have them done unto you'

You may even have visions or dreams about the dead expressing joy upon completing your tarpaṇa - this is just how your mind is trying to convey the clearance of karma in you. Because you strongly 'think' and 'believe' that the deceased receive your offerings, your mind projects that hologram to convey a truth. Dreams are mostly symbolic. This is why the deceased appear in dreams as a person, in body - because in your mind, you still associate them with the body, which would have in reality, already incinerated with cremation or decomposed with burial.

See, make it simple. After the ritual of tarpaṇa, the doer expresses his joy. He says , ' I feel so good now.. so light'. That means something happened from within. A huge luggage has been cleared from within.

The universe is constantly pushing us to realise our true self as atmic consciousness- the universal consciousness. In this state, there is no individuality, one just experiences himself as the entire universe. This is termed mukti, enlightenment, nirvana etc

This is also why we take so many  births according to karma. We are just trying to clear as much luggage possible so that we realise the ultimate truth.

Why love 10 people who constitute your 'relative' when the whole universe is one ? This is what we should strive for - realisation. With the highest truth being realised, love is the natural expression.

This is why the great masters say - When one person gets enlightened,the whole universe is affected.

If you get enlightened, your whole generation and genetical lineage is transformed. This is the best thing anyone can do to their family - to raise their consciousness. To strive for self-realisation.

 In a nutshell,

Stop being a pig drooling after food and other equivalents that take form as materialistic possessions, fame etc. Salivate, don't drool.

These are very cheap. Strive to earn the universe. You are absolute consciousness. Strive to realise that. That is the best help you can render to not just the dead, but everyone else.

 You are a diamond ( god - consciousness ) going around letting people ( ignorance ) use you to cut vegetables ( pleasure from petty things - attachment ) when you can simply clear some dust off you ( realisation ) and let your shine engulf the universe to become one with it ( merging with God ; realising your self ) 

In other dimensions,this ritual is a way of honouring your relatives , if we look from a social view.Science seen as science can be dull.It is more colourful with culture and sentiments added.

Also,there are other dimensions to this ritual but I find what I have expressed most significant.

Our rituals are multi-dimensional. They work in many ways together.


  1. thank you vinnith.So much learnt today.

    made me look from different angle.

    finally got the answers to my question :

    Do dead people eat offerings we give ?

    What if the dead people already taken other birth ? Do our prayers still help them ?

    before this i never believe in the ritual.My parents only silence me by saying it is pavam if we don't do...

    i request all those elder people who always mock my generation to read such articles.. written by a youth.. no elder person has given such a making sense explanation to me..

    tq once again keep writing

  2. Great post Vinnith. My father just passed away and as I am going through the rites I am also trying to acquire a basic understanding of the purpose behind these rituals. Correct explanations, such as what you have offered here, are difficult to find.