Pitru Tarpan in Shradh Paksha

Gayasura was a great devotee of Bhagwan Vishnu. He worshiped Vishnu for a long time and got a boon that ‘his body should become so pious that any person who sees him attains Mukti (salvation) immediately.’

Gayasura started to grow his body to an enormous size with the help of Yoga Shakti. His wish was to show himself to all so that everybody on the earth attains Mukti. This made Indra (the king of Heaven) fearful and he prayed to the Trimurthis- Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara – to give a solution for this.

The Trimurthis approached Gayasura in the form of three Brahmins. They told Gayasura that they are going to do a very sacred Yagna and for that requested land from him. Gayasura happily agreed to it. But, they said that all the places on earth have witnessed bad incidents in their history and so they are unfit for their sacred Yagna.

Gayasura asked them to tell the solution. They suggested that since he got the boon from Vishnu that whoever sees his body gets salvation, that makes his body the best place for the Yagna. Gayasura accepted and offered his body as the surface on which the seven days Yagna could be performed.

He expanded his body with his power and slept on the earth. His head was in Gaya of Bihar (Siro Gaya), his Navel was in Jajpur of Odisha (Nabhi Gaya) and his foot were in Pithapuram of Andhra Pradesh state (Pada Gaya). The Trimurthis, disguised as Brahmins, started doing Yagna.

On the final day of the Yagna, Bhagwan Shiva took a form of the cock and made a doodle doo sound at midnight. Considering it as the sign of morning Gayasura woke up and the Yagna was disturbed. The Brahmins felt very sad. They questioned him that if he couldn’t control himself for just seven days then how is he willing to bear the sins of the entire humanity for the eternity?

Gayasura realised his mistake. Trimurthis appeared before him and assured that his body will remain as it is and the entire land in those three places will become sacred because of him. These three important places are also three of the 18 Shakti Peethas, namely,

  • Mangala gauri at Gaya (Bihar)
  • Girija (Bhiraja) at Jajpur (Orissa)
  • Puruhutika at Pithapuram (Andhra Pradesh)

Pitru Tarpan

These three Shakthi Peethas have become famous for performing Pitru Tarpan (shradh puja) because of Gayasura. Vayu Purana and Agni Purana have a reference of Gayasura and the three Shakti Peethas as mentioned above.

Pitru Tarpan is a ritual performed to the deceased ancestors to satisfy their souls and free their souls from any unfulfilled desires and seek their blessings.

In Mahabharat, Yudhisthira performs pitru tarpan to his deceased relatives in the war. After coming to know from his mother Kunti that Karna was his eldest brother, Yudhirsthira performs pitru tarpan to Karna also. Dhritarashtra too performs tarpan to Karna while performing tarpan to his deceased sons, Kauravas.

Karna is known as ‘Daan-Veer‘ Karna since he used to donate his wealth to the poor and needy. However, after his death when he enters the heaven, he is advised by Indra to go back to the earth and perform pitru tarpan to his ancestors as he had not performed the same when he was alive because he did not know his antecedents.

Karna comes back to the earth, performs pitru tarpan and returns to heaven in fifteen days. These fifteen days period is known as ‘Mahalaya Paksha.’ Mahalaya paksha, as per the Hindu calendar falls in the month of Bhadrapada in Krishna Paksha.

Krishna Paksha is the second fortnight of the lunar month when the moon is in descending phase. Mahalaya Paksha is very significant in Sanatana Dharma and during this period, on any day, one can offer tarpan to his ancestors.

The three peethas mentioned above- Gaya (Bihar), Jajpur (Odisha) and Pithapuram (Andhra Pradesh) are considered to be the most sacred places and the pitru tarpan is performed during the Mahalaya paksha at these places by the people to their deceased ancestors. Sanatana Dharma believes in the concept of rebirth and karmic theory and therefore, pitru tarpan assumes an important role in its rituals.

How to reach?

Gaya– 120 kms away from Patna and well connected by road (NH-83) and train services. Gaya has an international airport.

Jajpur– 120 kms from Bhubaneshwar on NH-5. Nearest railway station is Jajpur road railway station 35 kms. Nearest airport is Bhubaneshwar.

Pithapuram– 20 kms from Kakinada town. Nearest railway station is Samalkot 10 kms. Nearest airport is Kakinada.

(Featured image source: Patrika)


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About the Author

Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Ex- Senior Banker, Financial and Management Consultant and Visiting faculty at premier B Schools and Universities. Areas of Specialization & Teaching interests - Banking, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Global Business & Behavioural Sciences. Qualification- M.Com., M.B.A., A.I.I.B.F., PhD. Experience- 25 years of banking and 14 years of teaching, research and consulting. 100 plus national and international publications on various topics like- banking, global trade, economy, public finance, public policy and spirituality. One book in English “In Search of Eternal Truth”, two books in Telugu and 20 short stories and 27 articles published in Telugu. Email id: [email protected]