“Our forefathers have done well to keep intact the shradh rituals,” said Swami Maheshvarananda, Spiritual Head of the Radhay Govind Society headquartered in New York, USA. “Without books our ancestors have preserved these traditions.” Swamiji was speaking at the Bamboo No 1 Mandir, Valsayn last Thursdays (Sept. 22, 2022). Several media houses were present to record this lecture including ICDN, Bhakti TV and IETV.
Reading from the Garud Puraan, a text written in Sanskrit, Swami Maheshvaranandaji confirmed that several of the rituals and practices that are done following a death in a family are prescribed by Lord Vishnu through a conversation with Garud, a divine bird that was eager to know what happens to the soul after death.
Practices such as no cooking of food during the first 10 days after the funeral, that the food eaten must be bland -without oil and salt- were disclosed to an attentive audience. It was also pointed out that during the ten days before the purification rites, it is not good to eat food at the home of the dead. Also, families of the deceased, more so the one who is doing the rites, must sleep on the floor and should have no physical contact with his wife.
These are practices that Hindu families observe when there is a death but scriptural authentication of such rites and rituals have not been taught to the average Hindu family, hence the tendency to view these rites and rituals with skepticism and a necessary burden to get over with.
The practice of offering a pinda comprising of rice, milk, honey etc. aids in the building of a body to accept the food that are offered on the 10th, 11th and 12th day. Listening to Swamiji made it clear to me that the offering of slippers, umbrella and other paraphernalia during the shaving or cleansing rites is relevant to help the soul in its journey to reach Pitri Lok, the Abode of the Ancestors.
“Our ancestors have done well to preserve these rites despite not having the blessing of the knowledge of the Garud Puraan,” said Swamiji. Why this knowledge in the Garud Puraan has not been expounded to authenticate the rites that are performed? This question I posed to Swamiji and his response was that the Garud Puraan is written in Sanskrit and not many are versed in this language.
Congratulations must be extended to the Bamboo No 1 Mandir for providing a forum to Swamiji to enlighten the devotees on these rites that affects every Hindu family when there is death in the family.
Swami Maheshvarananda is the head of the Radha Govind Society with its head office in New York, USA and branches in Florida, USA and Trinidad. An affiliate of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishad (JKP) founded by Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Maharaj of Varanasi, India, the Radha Govind Society has its focus on love of the divine and service to humanity.
The several services provided by the JKP include health clinics, distribution of food and clothing and the provision of education. The local branch of the Radha Govind Society has distributed schoolbooks to orphans and other needy children.
Devotees of the Radha Govind Society have found peace and happiness in this organization. Sharda Mahadeo joined the JKP eight (8) years ago and she is now rooted in the organization where she feels fulfilled.
Swami Maheshvarananda is a storehouse of knowledge. Like his guru Shree Kripalu Maharaj, Swami Maheshvarananda quotes generously from the Srimad Bhagavatam, Ramayan, Bhagavad Gita and others Hindu scriptures including the Puranas.
Born at Welcome Village, Enterprise, Mahendra Maharaj (Swamiji) was employed as a teacher at the San Fernando Technical Institute and engaged in social and cultural work with the Hindu Seva Sangh when he took no-pay leave in 1988 to study Sanskrit at the Sampuranand Sanskrit University in Varanasi, India. Meeting Shree Kripalu Maharaj, Mahendra felt that he had reached his destination. Today he is assigned the duty to spread the message of divine love and service of the JKP in the Americas through the Radha Govind Society.