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Kashi Yatra

royalrajesh1978

New member
Dear All,

I am planning to take my parents for Kashi Yatra in June 2019. Your input on good vadhyar and accommodation etc will be highly appreciated.
 

kgopalan

Well-known member
upto 15802. In rituals ceremonies and poojas in sticky thread i have given in this forum . now they have deleted as useless.
 
Dear Sri Royalrajesh1978

The link in Tamil given by Sri K Gopalan's seems to dwell only on how to prepare vettilai-paakku to take to Rameswaram, Kaasi, Prayaga and Gaya (use Kliplok bags) and how to pack akshathai to take home to grandchildren (use plastic sachets). Surprisingly he and it say nothing about good vaadhyar and accommodation at Kaashi which is what you wanted advice on.

I have been to Kaashi more than once, the last time in September 2014, when I visited also Prayaaga triveni sangam (a rewarding experience).

You can book accommodation in Kaashi online, after surfing the web and choosing what suits you and your parents. To avoid being ripped off, pay only a deposit initially, and pay he balance after inspecting what is offered. Ashrams are much cheaper than hotels and "residences" but amenities are minimal, and location not very near attractionas. Managers of ashrams are very helpful in advising where to go and what to do, and in arranging transport to places of interest, at reasonable prices.

Vaadyaars at all four places are rip-off specialists, especially the North Indian Hindi-speaking "paandaas". Daanams, dakshinas, extra dakshinas for unnecessary sankalppams, bringing in shishyas as assistants and demanding you pay them, rejecting veshti and paathrams and demanding money instead, are all parts of the game. Giving you "re-cycled" paathrams and vasthrams, and demanding prices for them as for new ones, is a popular racket.

Since you have another five months or so to go, have you considerfed reading up on the sankalppam and pithru shraaddham manthrams you will be performing/chanting at these four places? They are rather repetitive and easy to master. Same with pinda pradaanam. Practice makes perfect. Rehearse several times before you leave for Kaashi. You will be surprised how easy it really is. Take your note-book with you, and refer to it boldly. (As I did.)

The details of samvathsaram, ayanam, rithu, masya, paksham, thithi, and nakshathram will change. You can check your panjaangam and record them before you leave home, once you are sure of your actual dates in Kaashi and other places. You can also ask your local vaadhyaar to help you to do this.

Pre-determine what you intend to give the Braahmanas and vaadhyaars. Procure these at home and carry them with you. It will be far more expensive there. Stand firm if the Braahmanas and vaadhyar insist on money instead of daanam-items, or if they demand more items or more expensive items (e.g. silver pancha-paathram instead of brass). You are the kartha, the donor: they are the yaachakaas. Do not be deceived by any talk of "That is the custom." It is you who determine the custom, according to your family practice.

Allow your parents time to rest. Do not rush your activities.

Aasheervaathams and good luck.

S Narayanaswamy Uyer
 

drtpk

Member
@ S Narayanaswamy Uyer
Sir, Excellent detailing, useful to all those who read it.
My pranayams to you.
 
Dear Sri drtpk and Sri Royalrajesh1978

My humble gratitude to Sri drtpk for his kind words of appreciation.

If I may elaborate further, in the absence of Sri K Gopalan's keenly-awaited reaction -- the Kaashi Yaathra really begins at Raamesvaram. It is normal to first collect a small chombu of koti-theertham from the Raamanaatha-svaami temple there (Rs.25 per 2-litre plastic bottle or smaller container which you bring along) or a small amount of ocean mud from Dhanushkoti (free) and pour on the jyothir-lingam of Sri Kaashi Vishvanatha-svaami at Benares as abhishegam, chanting first slokams of Rudram and Chamakam if you know them. Otherwise, do it silently, muttering inaudibly "Om namah-shshivaaya." They will allow you to do this if you are properly dressed as a Brahmin and are barefooted. Wear rudraaksha-maalai if you can.

Even before that, it is advisable to invite a Brahmin (whether gruhastha or brahmachaari does not matter) home for lunch. When he is done, together with thamboolam offer a kudumi-coconut (representing cow-with-calf) and a nominal amount of dakshina. This is called Kaashi-yaathra gau-daanam. Your father should do this as kartha (yajamaanan in Sanskrit), but you can do it on your father's behalf.

In the whole pilgrimmage venture, your father should be the lead performer, but you can substitute for him with his aajnya from time to time.

There are four shraaddams that you should normally do -- two at Kaashi itself and two at Prayaaga (triveni sangam) -- at the Ganga river-bank. One each is without pindam, one each with.

To make pindam you do not have to travel to Gaya to collect and boil Phalguni water from pools in the dry bed of that accursed former water-source and cook havis-rice with it on tin-lined brass pots.

As I did, take Ganga-theertham at Kaashi or Prayaaga, bring it to near boiling point on the river-bank (I brought a large flask of boiling Ganga-water from my room), mix thoroughly with powdered rice (pachcha-arisi podi) and while hot mould the dough into as many pindam pieces as you require. (Some say 64 - 32 for father's mother, 32 for others, including friends and distant relatives who are not covered during normal annual shraaddams/thevashams). Bring along from home some "vaadina vaazhai-elai" (banana leaves held over fire and softened). You can spread out the pindam on them. They won't tear easily. Bring also from home if you can some folded thin cardboard or thick file-covers to spread under the banana leaves.

Pindam-offering manthram is very simple. You need only say for each of the departed aathma: (gothram) gothrasya for males, gothraaya for females , (thithi), (name) and "pindam dadaami". If you do not know other particulars, just say the name only. The departed souls will eagerly receive your pious offering with delight and bless you.

After you return from your Kaashi yaathra, and before re-visiting Raamesvaram, invite at least four Brahmins to your home for lunch. Eight or even eighteen if you can afford it. Ignore any wrong advice given in Kaashi or elsewhere that you should feed 101 or 108 Brahmins. Wash their feet with ordinary water, smear with chandanam, sprinkle akshadai and flower-petals, and ask them to be seated (preferably on palakais, else on individual small mats).

If you know how, chant aloud abhishravanam while they consume their food. If not, chant in their hearing chathur-veda prathama slokams, rudram, chamakam, purusha-sooktham, durga-sooktham, shree-sooktham navagra-sooktham, and shaanthi-panchakam. Or as many as you know by heart. Or get someone else to do the chanting (a brahmachari boy will do). This multiplies several-fold the punyam you get by performing the Kaashi-yaathra and by offering bhojanam to the Brahmins.

After or with thamboolam, give each of them vasthram (shawl or set of veshti-uttareeyam), walking stick, umbrella, small brass or copper chombu or brass or copper pancha-paathram with uddarani, small mat or plank or mini-carpet for sitting on, a pair of sandals or slippers. Plus a token amount of dakshina.

When re-visiting Ramesvaram, tell the priest you are bringing Ganga-theertham from Kaashi. Use a medium or small chombu because the priest will not return it to you after abhishegam. Tell him the gothram, nakshathram, raasi and names of all returnees from Kaashi so that he can pronounce them during abhishegam.

Aasheervaathams and the best of luck.

S Narayanaswamy Iyer
 
Dear Sri Royalrajesh1978

(1) Samkalppams at Rameshvaram, Dhanushkoti, Kaashi, Prayaaga, Gaya

You might have noticed that some savants have copied and reproduced huge and formidable chunks of material from other sources which could amaze and intimidate intending pilgrims by giving the impression that the Kaashi yaathra, far from being a labour of devotion and spiritual satisfaction, is mired in laborious, long-winded, complicated, confusing, costly rituals everywhere you go.

The truth is, there is no need to be overwhelmed. The savants can be ignored.

If you have taken part in annual upaakarmams (aavani-avittam celebrations), you will know that an essential part is chanting the Mahaa-Samkalppam immediately before manthra-snaanam. Most of the officiating priests do not know the manthrams by heart, and bring along a book from which they quote.

So, please take along with you to Rameshvaram, Dhanushkoti, Kaashi, Prayaaga, Gaya the upakarma-prayogam book of your veda shaaka, and chant the mahaa-samkalppa manthram from it.

Substitute the end part which says:-

shraavanyaam paurnamaasyaam addhyaay-opa karma karishye. Tad-angam shraavanee paurnamaasee punya-kaale mahaa nadyaam shiva-gangaa-snaanam aham karishye

with the following:-

at Rameshvaram -

upaya-saagara madhye gantha-maadhana parvathe bhaaskara kshethre maho dadhi dheere shree rameshvara kshethre shree sethu-maadhava svaami sannithe vaaraanasi yathra praaramba punya kaale agni-theertha mahaa praaschiththa snaanam aham karishye

at Dhanushkoti

Continue as for Rameshvaram samkalppam till "vaaraanasi yathra praaramba punya kaale", then chant:-

sethu-punyasthala snaanam aham karishye

at Prayaaga (now called Allahabad by Muslims)

Continue as for Rameshvaram samkalppam till "vaaraanasi yathra praaramba punya kaale", then chant:-

vindhya-parvathasya uththare aaryaa-vartha anthargatha brahma-vivarththaka deshe bhageerathayaaha paschame dheere vaaraanasi yathra punya kaala madhye ganga-yamuna-sarasvathi thriveni mahanadi-sanga punyasthale mahaa praaschiththa snaanam aham karishye

at Kaashi

recite exactly as in the upakarma-prayogam book.

at Gaya

Continue as for Rameshvaram samkalppam till "vaaraanasi yathra praaramba punya kaale", then chant:-

vindhya-parvathasya uththare aaryaa-vartha anthargatha brahma-vivarththaka deshe gathaadhara kshethre jambakaaranye phalguni-ganga sanga punyasthale mahaa praaschiththa snaanam aham karishye

(2) Shraaddham at Rameshvaram, Kaashi, Prayaaga, Gaya

Strictly speaking, there is no need for elaborate shraaddhams to ancestors (and others) with homam, dhanam and bhojanam at these places.

According to the highest authority on the subject on this Earth, i.e. late revered Brahmashri Vaidyanaatha Deekshithar's Smruthi Mukthaa-Phalam, an aama-shraaddham will suffice in many instances.

This involves inviting two Braahmanas, one representing the pithrus and the other the puroorava-aardrava-samknjakebhya vishva-devaas.

After washing gftheir feet4 when gthey arrive and decoratibng their feet with akshathai, chadanam and flowerf petals, seat them comfortably. Then obtain fromn them anuknya to perform the shraaddham. Holding the pancha-pathram in both hands, you circle them thrice reciting the devathaabhya pithubyischa manthram and prostrate before them.

Then you invoke on them formally the pithrus/devathaas, offer them aasanam, paadyam, ameevo gantham, punar gantham, maalya or thulasi dalam in lieu, uncooked rice, a vegetable such as unripe bananas, betel-nut and betel-leaf, and dakshinai. You prostrate yourself before them again, and let fthem take their .leave. Then you perform the aavahanam of, and thilaa-tharppanam to, you ancestors and do upasthaanam at the end. Ending with brahmmaarppanam. That completes the aama-shraadham.

This is what I did during my own Kaashi yaathra.

On returning home and before re-visiting Rameshvarm with ganga-theetham, I invited four brahmachaaris and four gruhasthas for a full samaaraathana bhojanam home-cooked as per shaasthram and served by self and family under our roof. While they were dining, instead of the full Abhishravanam, I chanted chathur-vedam, purusha-sooktham, rudram, chamakam, durgaa-sooktham, sree sooktham and shaanthi panchakam.

Before they left, I presented them my danams, and served them thaamboolam.

S Narayanaswamy Iyer
 

mkrishna100

Well-known member
True . Heard of the same . Better to go well prepared and not be disappointed later

Dear Sri Royalrajesh1978

The link in Tamil given by Sri K Gopalan's seems to dwell only on how to prepare vettilai-paakku to take to Rameswaram, Kaasi, Prayaga and Gaya (use Kliplok bags) and how to pack akshathai to take home to grandchildren (use plastic sachets). Surprisingly he and it say nothing about good vaadhyar and accommodation at Kaashi which is what you wanted advice on.

I have been to Kaashi more than once, the last time in September 2014, when I visited also Prayaaga triveni sangam (a rewarding experience).

You can book accommodation in Kaashi online, after surfing the web and choosing what suits you and your parents. To avoid being ripped off, pay only a deposit initially, and pay he balance after inspecting what is offered. Ashrams are much cheaper than hotels and "residences" but amenities are minimal, and location not very near attractionas. Managers of ashrams are very helpful in advising where to go and what to do, and in arranging transport to places of interest, at reasonable prices.

Vaadyaars at all four places are rip-off specialists, especially the North Indian Hindi-speaking "paandaas". Daanams, dakshinas, extra dakshinas for unnecessary sankalppams, bringing in shishyas as assistants and demanding you pay them, rejecting veshti and paathrams and demanding money instead, are all parts of the game. Giving you "re-cycled" paathrams and vasthrams, and demanding prices for them as for new ones, is a popular racket.

Since you have another five months or so to go, have you considerfed reading up on the sankalppam and pithru shraaddham manthrams you will be performing/chanting at these four places? They are rather repetitive and easy to master. Same with pinda pradaanam. Practice makes perfect. Rehearse several times before you leave for Kaashi. You will be surprised how easy it really is. Take your note-book with you, and refer to it boldly. (As I did.)

The details of samvathsaram, ayanam, rithu, masya, paksham, thithi, and nakshathram will change. You can check your panjaangam and record them before you leave home, once you are sure of your actual dates in Kaashi and other places. You can also ask your local vaadhyaar to help you to do this.

Pre-determine what you intend to give the Braahmanas and vaadhyaars. Procure these at home and carry them with you. It will be far more expensive there. Stand firm if the Braahmanas and vaadhyar insist on money instead of daanam-items, or if they demand more items or more expensive items (e.g. silver pancha-paathram instead of brass). You are the kartha, the donor: they are the yaachakaas. Do not be deceived by any talk of "That is the custom." It is you who determine the custom, according to your family practice.

Allow your parents time to rest. Do not rush your activities.

Aasheervaathams and good luck.

S Narayanaswamy Uyer
 
Dear Sri M Krishna

Many thanks for your kind acknowledgement.

Perfhaps I should sound a word of caution to Sri Royalrajesh1978 based upon my own experience of some notorious vaadhyars.

First, from the sthala puraanam of Gaya one would nave noticed that when Seetha, dharma-pathni of Sree Raama, called upon several eye-witnesses including the Brahmins at Gaya, to confirm that she had served pindam in the form of balls of riiver sand to former Ayodhya Emperor Dasharatha (who appeared suddenly before her when Sree Raama and Lakshmana were still at the Phalguni river), she cursed the Brahmins that their avarice would have no bounds.

Other vaadhyaars in other parts of India seem to have succumbed to the same avarice. And even advanced it to theft. Please let me illustrate.

A few decades ago, when I was performing the upanayanam of my two elder sons at Karur (near Trichy), my younger brother Krishnan doing the honours for the younger boy, we stayed at the house of a relative of my wife's. It was this relative who arranged for the various vaadhyaars to atttend and do the rites.

Among other costly items, we had bought a dozen large-sized brand-new silver tumblers to hold various items. At the point when both boys were to perform their "surya-darishanam" as part of Maadhyaahnikam, all of us went outside the house to gaze at the near-midday sun.

When we returned to the house, two of the gleaming new tumblers were missing. Our searches failed to reveal their whereabouts.

Our host immediately caught hold of the chief vaadhyaar and asked him to disgorge the tumblers. The latter vehemently denied stealing them. He tried to impute the crime to one of the invited female guests. Our host thereupon asked me and Krishnan to stand guard over the suspect chief vaadhyaar, and went to the phone and said he was calling the Police.

The chief vaadhyaar quickly produced one tumbler from his utthareeyam where it was knotted tight and handed it over.

Our host ordered him to produce the other tumbler and reminded him that it was normal for Tamil Nadu Police to torture the suspect before questioning him and extracting a confession. நல்ல ஒதை
கொடுப்பாள். And the culprit produced the other tumbler from his bundle of clothes.

Another theft (a petty one) by another chief priest occurred this morning when I was taking part in an Athi-Rudram at a Sivan temple some distance away from home.

The weather being very warm and no electric fans installed in the large canvas tent, we rithviks could hardly endure the intense heat, not only of the Sun, but the warmth and smoke coming from the eleven huge agni-kundaams nearby where rudra-homams were being done by others.

The organisers, seeing our plight, came around and distributed small bamboo hand-fans to the rithviks and to the priests. The priest in our group of ten rithviks, quietly hid his own fan under his right thigh, and used mine to fan himself. I was sitting to his left.

I let him be for one aavarthi, then recovered my fan when he was doing dhoopa-deepam to the kumbham before us, and put it under some manthra-books of mine. The nonplussed man groped under his thigh and found his own fan, with a deprecating grin.

Another memorable incident occurred some years ago when I was enlisted as assistant priest for an Upanayanam held at night because the vadu's father, in transit from London, was flying off to Hongkong the following morning. I did not accept any fees, but the boy's family insisted on presenting me with a 9 x 5 broad-bordered cotton veshti set and a large new copper panchapaathra-uddarani set.

Imagine my surprise (and the family's) when my pancha-paathram/uddarani set was missing when I was taking my leave. The family wanted to give me a replacement set on the spot. But I waved them aside, saying that I would make a Police report immediately if they would let me access their phone. I reminded them that I was a practising senior advocate, known to the Police.

The main priest, who was all ready to step outside the house, uttered a cry, literally fell at my feet and asked for மன்னிப்பு -- தப்பு செஞ்சிட்டேன், and produced the stolen items from his bag.

Can recount several such examples. Such as vaadhyaars using only one betel leaf for neiveihyam and hoarding other betel leaves to sell for money, refusing to accept daanam items bought by the kartha (yajamaanan) and demanding cash in lieu, and so on. But let me rest here.

Just beware. Not all the vaadhyaars can be trusted, leaving aside all their boasted learning. With assiduous study, persistence, and sacrifice (and honesty) we too can achieve their status if we want.

S Narayanaswamy Iyer
 

mkrishna100

Well-known member
Dear Sri Narayanaswamy Iyer

Many thanks for your detailed inputs .I feel we TBs are to be blamed for being totally ignorant of our own samskaras and lack of knowing basic sanskrit and basic mantras that we totally depend on these priests who take advantage of the same and loot us . I have sympathy for these priests and is fortunate to have a good family priest ( he is bit expensive but well read and well informed and I respect that and I give him more ) but in the end I feel if we take responsibility to do the basic homework then we can avoid being cheated by the priests and middle men .
 

naithru

Active member
well known member shri mkrishna writes... Many thanks for your detailed inputs .I feel we TBs are to be blamed for being totally ignorant of our own samskaras and lack of knowing basic sanskrit and basic mantras
true you know this story ,, a guru while doing homam, saw a cat was running here and there. The guru got annoyed and tied the cat in the nearby pole, so that he can continue with his work. a sishya saw this , and later he was to lead , so he also caught a cat tied to nearby pole, thinking that should be the norms.
hence what we learn from this story is blindly following is disastrous , leave alone rites, even லௌகீகா we don't follow properly.
 
Our beloved Naithru, I suspect, is just trying to make cheap fun of our guru-sishya system of religious education.

No, I do NOT "know" Naithru's story as I do not read yellow literature. I suspect it is concocted to raise from hearers a cheap "loud laugh" which only betrays a vacant mind.

Let me tell you another story. A true one from our Puraanas which might irritate some partisans.

An ignorant and uneducated barefoot wayfarer on his way home from market carrying among other things some dried-cowdung ashes to cleanse his brass vessels was caught by a terrible thunder-storm. Night was fast approaching, and the area was hunting-ground for wild beasts. He was far from home or any human habitation. So he climbed a tree and hid in a fork high up from the ground.

Thunder and lightning were his companions. Then it started to rain heavily. He climbed deeper into the tree, and tried to build a shelter from its twigs and leaves, many of which fell to the ground. His purchases were not only soaked through by rain-water, but slipped away and also fell to the ground. He had brought no food or drink, and was parched and starved. All night he was plagued by mosquitoes and other stinging and crawling insects. He could not rest or sleep for even a second. He cursed the unjust God that made him suffer and made his night dreadful.

When he descended, bleary-eyed, exhausted and angry, at first light the following morning, he heard approaching drums, pipes, cymbals, flutes -- தவில் நாதஸ்வரம் கிண்ணாராம் புல்லாங்குழல் and bhajan songs. He immediately feared that the owner of fhe tree had come with guards to arrest him, torture him, and imprison him for trespassing and vandalism. So he quickly ran and hid in some tall grass nearby.

The musical procession did not pass by, but stopped and surrounded the tree and its environs.. The leader sent out his searchers. Soon the soaked and shivering wayfarer was found and brought before the leader who had dismounted from his elephant. They had brought along fine clothes, excellent food, footwear, headgear, umbrellas, walking sticks, cushions, gold coins.

The leader explained that he had a dream in which Lord Shiva appeared and said his bhaktha had observed Shiva-raathri exactly as prescribed. The bhaktha had fasted, kept vigil the whole night with eyes open, had called upon Siva, had dropped vibhoothi and vilvam leaves on Shiva's head, and bathed him with pure rain-water abhishegam.

Unknown to the wayfarer, there was a lingam at the foot of the tree, and Lord Shiva was very pleased with the unintended puja done by the ignorant wayfarer. The Lord had therefore commanded the leader to succour and reward the wayfarer suitably. The wayfarer rode to the leader's mansion, mounted on the elephant, with a silken parasol held over his head.

S Narayanaswamy Iyer
 

naithru

Active member
Dear sir,
please excuse me for hurting you. not all வாத்தியார் are learned, just for head count. to say ததாஸ்து.
my intention was not testing your knowledge. It was zen story and i was in anguish to narrate such kind of vathiyar do come for functions. sometimes I felt that these are real brahmins, do they know the procedure, et all. The story I read when I was in schools. one of the Zen story
source ; http://users.rider.edu/~suler/zenstory/ritualcat.html
When the spiritual teacher and his disciples began their evening meditation, the cat who lived in the monastery made such noise that it distracted them. So the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up during the evening practice. Years later, when the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up during the meditation session. And when the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the monastery and tied up. Centuries later, learned descendants of the spiritual teacher wrote scholarly treatises about the religious significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice.
again I tell you it was posted more in anguish than anything else. to explain மூடநம்பிக்கை nothing else . Please do not mistake me.
 

naithru

Active member
dear sir, I enjoy reading your posts earnestly, and nothing in fun . in all seriousness I wrote it, I want all should be learned and well versed like you. But unfortunately we get people just for money and playing second fiddle to பண்ணி வைக்கிறவர். not in fun I repeat not in fun, please do not belittle me. more of anguish than anything else.
 

a-TB

Active member
I heard that some people do Shraddham for themselves so that their they do not have to count on their sons to do after they pass away. Is there such a procedure or it is just a hearsay? Thanks
 
Dear Sri Naithru

A quick surfing the Internet yielded he following:-

"The term Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word 禪 (Chan) which traces its roots to the Indian practice of Dhyana meditation. Zen emphasizes rigorous self-control, meditation-practice, insight into Buddha-nature, and the personal expression of this insight in daily life, especially for the benefit of others. As such, it de-emphasises mere knowledge of sutras and doctrine and favors direct understanding through "razen" and interaction with an accomplished teacher.

"The teachings of Zen include self-controllude various sources of Mahayana thought, especially Yogachara, the Tathagatha grbha-sutras and theHuayin school, with their emphasis on Buddha-nature, totally, and the Bodhisattva-ideal The Prajnaa-paaramitaa literature and, to a lesser extent, Madhyamaka have also been influential in the shaping of the "paradoxical language" of the Zen-tradition."

Rreverting to your story, I have lived among Chinese Buddhists for some 8 decades now, have visited their various monasteries, shrines, temples and other places of worship, of meditation and of education, not only in China, Japan and elsewhere where the Chinese diaspora has spread and settled.

A Hindu Brahmin guru solemnly imparting upadesham and a Buddhist monk (you say teacher) beginning evening meditation with his disciples have nothing in common, with due respect to you.

Except, perhaps that the Laws of Dharma and of Compassion for other sentient beings, prohibit and prevent absolutely their torturing a defenceless domesticated animal like a cat.

Perhaps what they would most likely have done instead is to enquire what is troubling the poor animal and relieve its distress.

Though no cat-doctor nor cat-specialist, I would have thought that if it is a tom-cat wailing away, then it is seeking a mate, i.e. a she-cat (tabby) on heat. The humane and merciful thing to do would be to cage it, take it far away from the place of meditation, and release it.

தர்மம் தலை காற்க்கும்.

With due respect, your modified "story" is nor even fiction, much less fact. It is pure fantasy, meant to libel and discredit noble professions and callings.

S Narayanaswamy Iyer
 
Dear Sri a-TB

There is no procedure in the shaasthrams or in the prayogams whereby folk can "do Shraddham for themselves so that they do not have to count on their sons to do after they pass away." Any such nonsense is like offering aahuthi to a pile of ashes, instead of to a blazing homa-kundam.

What I know a lot of well-off people have done (especially those settled overseas) is collect a bunch of willing Brahmins and a couple of priests (and Brahmin vegetarian cooks) from their native villages in India, charter a train carriage or a fleet of buses, and visit as pilgrims all the holy places in India such as temples, rivers, hills, caves, lakes, and perform religious rites there.

Their idea is to store up plenty of "punyam" in this life so that even if their shraaddham is neglected after they die, they have accummulated enough merit to get past Yama Dharma-raaja and Chitra-gupta the celestial record-keeper up yonder. And go to Vaikuntam, Shivalokam, Sathya-lokam or wherever else they want to go.

S Narayanaswamy Iyer
 

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