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Friday, May 13, 2016

NOT TO DO APARA KARMA of any kind.' Then what to do?

His father had specifically told his wife and children NOT TO DO APARA KARMA of any kind.' Then what to do?
(Excerpts from  Sarma Sastrigal book on APARA KARMA to be launched soon)
Q: A friend of mine lost his father last year. His father had specifically told his wife and children NOT TO DO APARA KARMA of any kind. So he told me he had to respect his wishes and therefore abstained from the 13-day ritual as well as the monthly and annual rituals thereafter. Did my friend do the right thing? If not, what could/should he have done?
A: The first thing you have to ascertain from your friend is whether he personally believes in his karmas. This is irrespective of what his father believed and asked him to do. If he himself has no belief he is merely shifting the onus for his inaction to the father and citing his father’s words as the ‘reason’ for his abstention. Such a person is also unlikely to be moved by advice to the contrary, since he now has a convenient excuse.
The answer to your question is simple: if a person believes in the Sastras and vaidika dharma he should be doing the apara karma as laid down, even his father had specifically asked him not to. Of course if he himself does not believe, what he should do does not matter – he won’t do it anyway.
The Sastras make it abundantly clear that the duty of a son is to follow what his father advises him to do and not to do, during the lifetime of his father but not later. After his father’s demise the son should undertake and sincerely complete all the karmas laid down for antyeshti and pitru pijanam, during the 13 days after the death and subsequently every year as prescribed – that is, monthly rituals for the first year and pratyabdika sraaddha every year, besides going to Gaya at least once in his lifetime and doing pinda pradaanam. The rules are clear in this regard and there is no room for divergence.
The lack of belief and therefore the non-observance of a person’s father in achara-anushtana’s do not exempt him from doing apara karma. Missing out on the rituals can prove to be a bane to him and his family. The Brahmin corpse (preta) has to be given the complete ritualistic send-off, and without this the soul of the departed person cannot have an easy passage to pitruloka. The Sastras aver that all future generations of the person could be subjected to many ills by such behaviour.
The vaidika karmas have been expounded to us by great rishis with the immense power of their penances, and we have no option but to faithfully fulfil the karmas. Arguing against this is silly and of no use.
I would like to quote Lord Krishna’s words from the Bhagwad Gita on this subject:
“tasmat sastram pramanam te karya akarya vyavasthitou gyatvaa sastra karma kartum ihaarmasi”. This means “the prime source of knowledge, to learn what you should and should not do are the Sastras. Doing what has been prescribed in the Sastras and obeying the dharma as per the text is your duty”.
Sri Krishna goes on to say (in the same chapter) that a person who does not bother about the sastra dharma and acts on his own will and whim can never attain perfection and will not be happy in this world or in the next.

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