Do you know the significance of Gaya shraddh in Hindu death rituals?
The town of Gaya has great historical and religious significance. It is considered one of the major tourist attractions of the state of Bihar. Gaya is 100 kilometers from south of Patna, the capital of Bihar. It is considered to be one of the most ideal places to perform the shraddh. (A shraddh is the Hindu ritual that one performs to pay homage to one’s ‘ancestors’, especially to one’s dead parents).
The significance of Gaya shraddh in Hindu death rituals:
- The ultimate goal of human life is to attain salvation. As said by Lord Krishna in the Gita, the body is mortal but the soul is eternal.
- In Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Gaya is mentioned. According to the Mahabharata, the place has been described as Gayapuri. It is believed that there was a demon called Gayasura in ancient times. Along with humans, deities were also terrified of this demon. One day all the deities requested Lord Vishnu, the supreme deity of Hinduism to help them get rid of Gayasura. Lord Vishnu killed Gayasura by trampling him under his feet. Footprints of Lord Vishnu are still present in Vishnu pad temple in Gaya, Bihar.
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- As per Hindu belief system, it is believed that a person goes to hell if he dies in the following circumstances- if he meets an accidental death, if he dies without his consecrations being performed, or if he is killed by a wild animal. But, if ‘Shraddh rituals’ of that person are performed at ‘Gaya’ then the soul of such a man will get rid of the tortures of the hell and will go to heaven.
- Performing ‘Shraddh rituals’ here is of great importance as it helps one to get rid of ‘pitra rinna’ i.e. debts towards one’s ancestors (male forefathers).
- Offering ‘Pinda Daan’ (Pind Daan is a ritual which is performed post-death) to ancestors at this place help them attain salvation.
- It is believed that this place has been sanctified by rigorous praying and other penance undertaken by the devotees visiting this place. People flock to Gaya to perform ‘shraddh’ sacrifices to exonerate the sins of their ancestors.
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