'Sraddha' (death anniversary) is performed every year by Hindu. if the departed soul takes rebirth as believed, it is in some physical form . Then how does those rituals reach to ancestors? So some or other is performing those rituals for our souls at present even though we exist?

I found some answers in this link, but felt it was all opinion based.

I Was looking something from the scriptural point of view. Like how does it explain the whole rebirth concept behind the ritual?

  • It is sraddham nor srardham.
    – user1195
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 9:50

5 Answers 5


First, there is no guarantee that one will take birth right after one dies. There is usually an undefined time lapse between births because the next upadhi may not yet be ready.

Secondly, The offerings you offer to ancestors reach them in a form suitable to their current upadhi. For example, if the person has taken birth as a snake, your offering gets transformed into air and reaches the manes. So on and so forth. If they are in swarga, it will reach them as amRta. The accompanying mantra has this power. It is similar to money being deposited in one city and being withdrawn in another city and even in another country in that country's currency. This analogy is given by Sringeri Jagadguru Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswami.

One must never shirk one's responsibility towards one's pitR's

  • What work by the Sringeri Shankaracharya is this given in? Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 2:57
  • In verbal discourses which are aplenty on YouTube etc. One must remember that content delivery and storage happens in various forms in tune with technological advances. Hinduism. Se must keep abreast of these too
    – user1195
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 2:58
  • You should add a link to one of the YouTube videos then, if you can find it. Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 3:01
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    @moonstar2001: Your answer makes some sense. Is there any scriptural evidence to justify your answer? Or is it just an opinion. Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 9:10
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    And that is what the beauty of our Sanatana Dharma is. We can question just about anything or any scriptures, and certainly not like those who say 'one book' and you should follow it or else you are dead!. That is why we have wide range of concepts, belifes ect,. and still live in harmony. Madhvacharya challenged Shankaracharya we got the 'Dvaita'. Nachiketa questioned Yama we got the 'Katha upanishad'. Swami Vivekananda doubted his guru even on his death bed 'is this guy really an incarnation of GOD?'. And last, Arjuna questioned God himself, we got our holy book "Bhagavad gita". Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 10:54

Yes! It will be very much confusing. Even I used to get confused initially with mutually contradictory statements.

After reading Srimad Ramayana of Valmiki, who described Vedic way of Life in his EPIC, I thought I got the answer.

After hearing the news of his father - Dasaratha -, Sri Rama gets fainted and after recovering he alongwith his wife Sita and Lakhmana offers Water oblation and rolls of Indgudi Pulp to the departed soul of his father.

एतत्ते राजशार्दूल विमलं तोयमक्षयम् | पितृलोकगतस्याद्य मद्दत्तमुपतिष्ठतु || २-१०३-२७

O, Tiger among men! May this water without taint and incorruptible at the moment that I offer it to you, reach you in the region of your ancestors where you are."

ऐङ्गुदम् बदरीमिश्रम् पिण्याकम् दर्भसंस्तरे | न्यस्य रामस्स दुःखार्तो रुदन्वचनमब्रवीत् || २-१०३-२९

Rama placed the pulp of the Ingudi tree mixed with the pulp of plums on a mat of Kusa grass and overcome with sadness, weeping, spoke the following words:

So one must perform SHRADH first time - after hearing the news of his departed elders.

इदम्भुङ्क्ष्व महाराज प्रीतो यदशना वयम् | यदन्नः पुरुषो भवति तदन्ना स्तस्य देवताः || २-१०३-३०

"O, Great King! Be pleased to partake of this, which we eat for, that which man eats, is also consumed by his gods."

However, we will not come across the ritual of performing of SHRADH every year - (or) death anniversary to the departed souls of our elders, in the entire Ramayana.

Hence, my inference is the ritual of performing of yearly SHRADH - (or) death anniversary is recent origin, but not laid down in SANAATANA DHARMA.

  • So you are saying that the sraddha and other 11 days rituals(tithi) done at the time of the death is enough. And there is no necessity to do the yearly sraddha done at mahalaya amavasya(pitru paksha)? Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 18:27
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    The mere fact that the Ramayana doesn't mention Rama performing the ritual is subsequent years doesn't mean that he didn't do it. In any case, there are plenty of Vedic descriptions of the annual Shraddha ritual, so it's definitely not of recent origin. Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 4:13
  • If it is a mandatory to perform Shradha Karma every year, why Sage Valmiki did not mention about this? Some where along the line, this additional Karma kanda, I think , was introduced. And, these explanations were offered to substantiate this Karma Kanda. Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 4:13
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    This is completely wrong. Did Valmiki describe the act of how Lava and Kusa were conceived? Does it mean that their birth is an interpolation or addition at a later time? Did Valmiki describe Rama's etc. bathing and other rituals every day of their life? He did mention it a few times, does it mean they performed these actions only on those specified occasions? He mentioned that Rama hunted for a deer for their grihapravesam in the forest. Does it mean they starved on all other days during their vanavasa?
    – user1195
    Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 9:55
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    1. The purpose of this site is not to debate but to share religious facts and knowledge 2. The answer does not non comittally state that yearly sraddha is not mentioned in the ramayana. Rather it stretches an incorrect extrapolation that yearly sraddha is not necessary. This is completely against scripture. And scripture is not up for debate.3. Even opinions in debates must have some defensible logic.
    – user1195
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 5:51

As pointed out in the link (in question), we are not aware if our ancestors are in Swarga (Heaven) or Naraka (Hell) or have taken Rebirth. I remember hearing during one of speeches, of Sri Changanti Koteswar Rao Garu (website), that your rebirth is solely dependent on your last thought during death. If you remember God, you will reach him, if you remember worldly things, you will have a life form associated with them. So my assumption is in our re-birth cycle at some time early or later you will have to spend time in Naraka or Swarga according to your Karma. Our good and bad deeds don't cancel them self out. we will have to spend time accordingly in other worlds for them.

Now thought to ponder is, One day in Naraka or Swarga loka is one year for us. So if our ancestors have 10 years in Swarga, thats 3650 years for us. So even if 3 generations have offerings, its just a year offerings from us to them


I am quoting here from an article I wrote, hope this helps.

Who is the Pitr?

Pitr basically refers to departed forefathers. Hinduism does not accept the theory of permanent heaven or hell. The Hindu scriptures speak about how Karma determines the journey of a particular individual after the death of his body and how the individual will eventually take a re-birth in a new body.

The scriptures speak about three paths a departed soul may take based on its actions when it was alive. Some who have lived life according to dharma and have practiced extensive devotion and meditation, then by the merit of such actions, he or she will attain Devaloka (the realm of the gods) through the northern path.

Some people who have practiced various duties and rites alone without devotion or meditation, may have to take a southern path to “Pitrloka” (the realm of ancestors/manes). On the other hand, those who live life selfishly and perform adharmic actions, may have to enter realms of hells called Naraka and suffer there for their unrighteous actions.

But, ultimately, all of them, according to their actions and its fruits, will again take birth as humans in the physical universe.

Without going into further details, it is suffice to say that, once a person dies, he discards his gross body and travels to Pitrloka in his subtle body and stays there until his karmic fruits that took him there get exhausted.

Manu Smriti (3.192) describes the Pitr as “free from anger, careful of purity, ever chaste, averse from strife, and endowed with great virtues.” Our forefathers who managed to reach there did so based on the merits of their own actions as well as due to the efforts of their offsprings’ who performed proper funeral rituals.

But, Pitrs, similar to humans, have unfulfilled desires. Many people when they die, die in misery and frustration. Most of them have strong, unfulfilled desires. These unfulfilled desires get carried even after one discards the physical body, as the desires belong to the mind, which is associated with the subtle body.

Therefore, Pitrs refer to our immediate parents who have departed, to our forefathers with whom we share a blood relationship, and in general to all ancestors who have come before us.

Why observe Pitr-Paksha?

As noted above, Pitrs refers to our ancestors. No person can take birth in this physical universe without being given birth by his/her parents. Therefore, each person owes to a debt to his parents for giving him/her an opportunity to enter this Universe. Then, the parents support their children, give them education, and help them grow up. Even though all these are done out of love by the parents, a Karmic bond and a debt is formed that the children owe to their parents.

This Karmic debt is called as “Rina” and such a bond of debt between two individuals is called as “Rina Bandha.” Now, it is not just parents who are responsible for the birth of an individual. The parents themselves were given birth by their parents. Hence, a person has a Rina Bandha with the whole family and lineage into which he or she is born.

The famous King Bhagiratha did practice severe Tapasya (austerity) to bring River Ganga on earth so that he could free his ancestors from Sage Kapila’s curse. This was his way of paying the debt to his ancestors.

In modern scientific language, a person derives his genes that are the basis of his existence from his ancestors. Therefore, there is a debt even on that count.

It is said that during the period of Pitr-Paksha, the Pitrs come down from their abodes in Pitrloka and reside near their descendants. If, one were to offer food and water and worship the Pitrs during this time, they will be very pleased and they will in-turn bless the descendants.

Manu Smriti (3.259) says that after performing Shraddha (a ritual to satiate Pitrs), the performer must pray for the blessings of Pitrs thus: “May liberal men abound with us! May (our knowledge of) the Vedas and (our) progeny increase! May faith not forsake us! May we have much to give (to the needy).”

P V R Narasimha who has prepared simple manuals for worshipping Pitrs says: “By thinking of the deceased ancestors with gratitude and trying to give them an emancipation, one is actually trying to free oneself from various Karmic predispositions that one has as a result of the Rina (Karmik debt) with several people. One can view this as an external event of satisfying and emancipating an external entity (a Pitr). Alternatively, one can view this as an internal event of satisfying and releasing an internal Karmik predisposition.”

Thus, the worship of Pitrs during Pitr-Paksha, will not only help a person to pay back his Karmic debts to his ancestors by satiating their desires, but also helps to gain their blessings that will give rise to both material and spiritual welfare. Most importantly, the worship of Pitrs will help one to purify one’s mind by reducing the internal Karmic burden.

For full article- http://www.newsgram.com/pitru-paksha-its-time-to-worship-ancestors/

For more about Narakas/ Hells- Srimad Bhagavtham 5.26- http://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/5/26

  • That means we are paying out our debts (rina) of our ancestor year by year? But my question is, who is there to receive all my debts year by year, when they have already taken an another birth? How would I know if at all they are still residing in the pitru loka or not? Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 18:20
  • You neither know that they have taken re-birth, nor know whether they are still in Pitr loka. But, you know that they exist. Shraaddha is from the root word that means 'faith'. Because, you cannot see them, you do not know what exactly is happening to them. So, by faith and conviction in words of Shastras, you perform Shraddha and Tarpana, so that your ancestors find fulfillment. Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 2:19
  • @NithinSridhar: I think we cannot quote King Bhagiratha's story here, as the Shradha Karma was not completed for 60,000 sons of King Sagara. Here, the question is for continuance of Shradha Karma every year. Were the people of Srimad Ramayana era did not know this? Why did not they perform Sharadha Karma for ancestors every year? Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 3:56
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    @srimannarayanakv The people of the Ramayana era certainly knew this, and there's nothing in the Ramayana that says that they didn't perform it. Valmiki doesn't mention every ritual that people performed. As far as I know he doesn't even mention that Agnihotra, despite the fact that the Agnihotra was the central Vedic ritual that Dvijas are supposed to perform. Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 4:17
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    @srimannarayanakv OK, I'll take your word for it. But why doesn't he mention everyone performing Agnihotras? Why doesn't he ever describe Rama performing the Agnihotra? I think the simple answer is that Valmiki is not trying to document every single ritual that was done by the characters of the Ramayana. Commented Oct 18, 2015 at 4:25

A soul is born immediately in some OR the other form among the 84lakh species as per his Karmas attached to him. If he is on path of gaining punya he becomes a better being than now and steps towards next level in his next bitrth. This ritual of Shradhaa to be performed every year is only to make the minds of the people confused and to keep them connected to it. The only thing hardly every person should do is remember every year and pray for their well being in the birth they have taken Performing upto one year has some sence as the process of taking birth again takes nearly 9-10 months for which we help them by prayers continously for better birth.

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    You should cite sources.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 4:26

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