Question: What does Gita say about Shraadh and worship of deceased ancestors
Answer: In Gita Chapter 9 Verse 25, it has been clarified that those who worship ghosts will go to ghosts. Carrying out shraadhs and performing Pind-daan is worship of ghosts. This is a useless religious practice.
In Markandey Puran, there is a story of “(Rachya Rishi ke Janm) Birth of Sage Rauchya”. There was a Sage Ruchi. Practising celibacy, he used to worship according to the Vedas. He was a bachelor. Sage Ruchi’s father, grandfather, great grandfather and great-great grandfather, all were wandering hungry and thirsty in the lives of Pitras/manes (ghosts). One day all four of them appeared before sage Ruchi and said, “Son! Why did you not get married? Get married and carry out our Shraadhs.” Sage Ruchi said, “Oh Pitamaho (grandfathers)! In Vedas, these shraadhs etc have been called Avidya (ignorance); acts of fools. Then why are you asking me to perform this act?”
Pitras said, “It is true that in Vedas, acts like Shraadhs etc have been called Avidya (ignorance), that is, acts of fools.” Then those Pitras imparting knowledge contrary to the Vedas misled Sage Ruchi because affection is also a root of ignorance. It has been proved from the account of Markandey Puran that in Vedas and in Gita, the summary of Vedas, Shraadh and Pind-daan etc worship of ghosts have been prohibited. They should not be done. Those foolish sages even compelled their son to perform shraadhs. He got married. From that, Sage Rauchya was born. They made their son also a partner in sin.
Like, you chant the Gayatri Mantra; it is Yajurved’s Chapter 36 Mantra 3. It doesn’t have word “Om” in front of it. If the word “Om” is added to this Ved mantra, then it is an insult to God because the word “Om” is for worship of Brahm. In Yajurved Chapter 36 Mantra 3, there is glory of Param Akshar Brahm. If an ignorant person is writing a letter to the Prime Minister and is writing – To, “The Chief Minister”, then he is insulting the Prime Minister. Then as far as repeated recitation of this mantra of Yajurved Chapter 36 Mantra 3 is concerned, this act does not lead to salvation. The original text of the mantra is as follows: -
BhoorbhavH swaH tat savitu vareniyam bhrigo devasya dheemahi dheeyo yonH prachodyaat ||
Translation: - (BhooH) Self-existent God (bhavH) creates Earth and Golok etc structures with word (swaH) Heaven etc are places of comforts. (Tat) He (SavituH) is the Father God of all. (Vareniyam) He is worthy of being selected by all the worshippers, that is, He is worthy of being worshipped by the virtuous souls. (Bhrigo) Effulgent i.e. bright (devasya) of God (dheemahi) with high opinion i.e. with great wisdom (Dhee yo naH prachodyaat) who analyses like intellects, that prudent person becomes eligible for salvation.
Translation: - Self-existent God creates Earth and Golok etc structures with word. Heaven etc are places of comforts. He is the Father God of all. He is worthy of being selected by all the worshippers, that is, He is worthy of being worshipped by the virtuous souls. One who analyses the effulgent God with wisdom like intellects, that prudent person becomes eligible for salvation.
Meaning: - Self-existent God is the Creator of all, worlds of earth, Golok etc and Heaven. Supreme devotees must worship that effulgent God with this thing in mind that we should worship Him who is (Purushottam) the Greatest God, who is superior to all the gods, who is giver of the abode of happiness, that is, all the happiness.
This is the Hindi translation and meaning of the abovementioned mantra. Salvation is not possible by only reading its Sanskrit or Hindi translation because it is only a part of the magnificence of God, that is, this Yajurved Chapter 36 Mantra 3 is just one mantra out of thousands of Ved mantras. If someone even keeps reading all the four Vedas, then also salvation is not possible. Salvation will be attained by doing bhakti according to the knowledge given in the Vedas.
Example: - The magnificence of electricity is that electricity converts darkness into light; electricity runs a tubewell by which a crop is irrigated; electricity grinds flour etc – there are many merits of electricity that are written. If someone keeps reading the merits of electricity every day, he will not gain the benefits of electricity. Benefit will be obtained by taking the connection of electricity. How can the connection be obtained? By obtaining that method, one can then benefit from the qualities of electricity, not by merely singing its glory.
Similarly, by acting according to the knowledge given in the Ved mantras and in Shrimad Bhagavat Gita (which is a summary of all the four Vedas) for the attainment of salvation, one attains salvation i.e. God.