Pitru means ancestors and Paksha means fortnight. Pitru Paksha is the fortnight that belongs to the ancestors. It is the ideal time to worship our ancestors, do Tarpan or Shrādha ritual for them, seek their blessings and pray for their liberation. Pitru Pasha every year starts on the Full Moon (Poornima) of Bhadrapada lunar month and lasts until the following New Moon (Amavasya). This year (2022) it is from Sep 10 through Sep 25. The ancestral plane is closer to the Earth during this fortnight. Think of all your ancestors, your lineage. Offer incense to ancestors. Light a ghee lamp each of these 15 days.
Here are some powerful mantras you can chant for ancestors especially during pitru paksha:
ॐ पितृभ्यः नमः। Om Pitribhyah Namaha
ॐ देवताभ्यः पितृभ्यश्च महायोगिभ्य एव च । नमः स्वाहायै स्वधायै नित्यमेव नमो नमः ॥ Om Devatābhyah Pitribhyah Cha Mahāyogibhya Ev Cha | Namah Swāhāyei Swadhāyei Nityameva Namo Namaha ||
The day when Parashuram, the 6th incarnation of Vishnu was born. He was invincible.
The day when Pandavas received Akshay patra from Krishna. This is the vessel which never ran out of food. Pandavas survived their exile in forest thanks to this Akshay patra. The vessel was inexhaustible.
The day when Sudama visited his long lost “best friend” Krishna after so many years and his life was changed forever by Krishna. His old dilapidated hut transformed into a palace. With Krishna’s blessings, Sudama’s wealth and joy was immeasurable.
The day when Lord Ganesha started writing the epic Mahabharata as dictated by Ved Vyasa. And Ganesha wrote non-stop for three long years until he finished writing the entire Mahabharata! Ganesha was unstoppable.
The only day in the whole year when both Sun (soul) and Moon (mind) are exalted (strong).
Akshay Tritiyatimingsfor 2022: Begins May 2 @ 4:48 pm PST and ends on May 3 @ 7 pm PST.
What to do on Akshay Tritiya? You do things on Akshay Tritiya that you want to grow in your life. Give donation to the Gurus. Share knowledge, books and teachings. Start new projects, buy a new house, embark on an important journey or make plans (buy tickets) for one, start a new spiritual practice, seek blessings of the Gurus, do chanting and meditation and yoga. Plant seeds, touch the Earth, eat dosa, walk bare feet on the beach, do yagyas…Whatever makes you happy 🙂
May this Akshay Tritiya bring inexhaustible joy, health and wealth in your life.
Navrātri (9 nights): The auspicious festival of Navrātri, the 9 nights of the Goddess is celebrated 4 times a year at the junction of 4 seasons. One of those is the Gupta Navrātri. This is celebrated at the beginning of Magha lunar month in Jan-Feb.
Why the Night? Night is the time of Tamas. Tamas is needed as much as Sattva and Rajas. We need a combination and balance of all 3 Gunas. If there were no Tamas, we will have no sleep at night. We feel refreshed and rejuvenated in the morning, thanks to the restful inactive period of the night. Hence, the Navrātri, the 9 nights of the Goddess invite us to go within, be inactive, give a rest to our faculties so we can experience Mother’s nectar.
Saraswati: Saraswati is the Goddess of learning, knowledge, wisdom, arts, music, speech and intelligence. Vasant Panchami is dedicated to the worship of Mā Saraswati. Vasant Panchami also marks the beginning of Spring, as per Vedic calendar. In India, usually a child begins formal education on the day of Vasant Panchami. As per one belief, Mā Saraswati is considered the daughter of Lord Shiva and Mā Durga. As a result, Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha and Karthikeya are considered her siblings.
Gupta Navrātri2022 timings: First Navrātri begins on Jan 31 at 9:45 pm PST and the Last (9th) Navrātri ends on Feb 9 at 9:40 pm PST
Vasant Panchami (Saraswati Pujā)2022 timings: Starts on Feb 4, 2:15 pm and ends on Feb 5, 2:19 pm PST.
How to honor the Goddess? One can do following things during Navrātri: Fasting. Maun (silence) i.e. do silent meditation these days or at least refrain from talking too much. Chant Devi mantras (see the list below). Perform yagyas (Vedic fire rituals). Honor the fire principle. Durga Saptashati is especially powerful during Navrātri. See the video at the bottom of this article.
We are in the middle of 16-day period of honoring and remembering our ancestors, known as Shrādh or Pitri Paksha, There is a difference in the way we give offerings to Gods versus how we give offerings to our ancestors.
Offerings to Gods through SWĀHĀ: When we chant vedic mantras and then make an offering to the fire God (Agni dev), we say “Swāhā” at the end and then give offering. Why do we say Swāhā and what does that mean? The word Swāhā comes from ‘Su’ and ‘Āhve’. Su means good and Āhve is an invitation. Hence, through Swāhā we invite the Gods who are embodiment of goodness and Dharma and request them to accept our offerings. According to Shiv Purāna, Daksha prajāpati (progenitor) had many daughters. One of them was Swāhā and she was married to Agni dev (fire God). It is said that Agni dev accepts food only from his wife Swāhā. And according to another legend, all the Gods have appointed Agni dev as their provider of food. In other words, all the Gods will accept food only from Agni dev. So this means if we want to offer anything to the Gods, a) we offer it to Swāhā, b) then Swāhā accepts from us and gives it to Agni dev and then c) Agni dev accepts that offering from Swāhā and gives it to the respective Gods.
Offerings to Ancestors (Pitris) through SWADHĀ: Daksha prajāpati (progenitor) had another daughter named Swadhā who was married to the Pitri dev (lord of ancestors). The Pitris or ancestors accept offerings only through their wife Swadhā. Hence, we use the word Swadhā instead of Swāhā when we offer anything to the ancestors. Another legend says that Swadhā devi is manas putri (mind-born daughter) of Brahmā.
Merely by chanting the word Swadhā 3 times, we can connect with that shakti, with that power who is so close to our ancestors and will clear out our karmic debt to the ancestors. One can also chant the Swadhā stotram that I have given below.
All days during this fortnight of Pitri Paksha are important for honoring ancestors but especially Ashtami (8th lunar day), Trayodashi (13th lunar day), or when Moon is in Magha Nakshatra and most importantly Amavasya (New Moon) – these days are even more potent and our offerings will reach our ancestors and we will receive their blessings.
Appearance day of Lord Narasimha : 14th Lunar day of the waxing phase of Vaisakha lunar month is celebrated as the appearance day of Lord Narasimha.
Starts: 9:53 am PDT (California time), Thursday, May 19, 2016 Ends: 12:12 pm PDT (California time), Friday, May 20, 2016
SIGNIFICANCE: Lord Vishnu’s 4th incarnation was in the form of half-lion/half-man, known as Narasimha (Nara means man and Simha means lion). In this particular incarnation, he saved the life of his devotee Prahalād from his father who was a demon king Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu was dead against his son’s devotion to lord Vishnu. He challenged his son that if his Vishnu is real, he should appear in front of him and save him. Lord Vishnu did. Hiranyakashipu had received a boon that he cannot be killed by a man or an animal, he cannot be killed during day or night time, he cannot be killed inside or outside, he cannot be killed on the earth or in the sky and he cannot be killed by any weapon. So lord Narasimha (who was neither a man nor an animal) killed Hiranyakashipu at dusk (neither day nor night time) at the doorway (neither inside, nor outside), on his lap (neither on the earth nor in the skies) by piercing his chest with his nails (without any weapon). Lord Vishnu always answers the prayers of his sincere devotees.
Lord Rām was already exhausted in the battle fighting the demons. And now he was faced with the all-powerful Rāvana who was well prepared for the ensuing battle. Lord Rām was in deep thought while looking at Rāvana with full concentration. Sage Agastya and all other Gods had come to witness this epic battle. Seeing the worry and tiredness on Lord Rām’s face, sage Agastya came to Lord Rām and gave him the secret wisdom of Sun worship through Āditya Hridayam.
There are 31 verses in Āditya Hridayam and the following 2 are my favorite.
राम राम महाबाहो शृणु गुह्यं सनातनम् |
येन् सर्वानरीन वत्स समरे विजयिष्यसि ||
MEANING: ‘O Rama’, ‘O Mighty armed elegant Rama’, listen carefully to the eternal secret by which, ‘O my child’, you shall conquer all your enemies on the battle field and win against your adversaries.
MEANING: This supreme prayer is the best amongst auspicious verses, it will destroy all sins, dispel all doubts, alleviate worry and sorrow, anxiety and anguish, and will give longevity and complete prosperity.
I will be teaching a short course on how to read Sanskrit / Hindi. Below is a sample of Flash cards that the participants will receive. I create these flash cards from scratch, you will not find these in any Sanskrit / Hindi books. Why learn reading Sanskrit? So that you are able to pronounce mantras or any Vedic texts correctly.
Course starts Dec 10 (Wednesday), we will meet 5 pm-6:30 pm PST each Wednesday and possibly on a weekend also depending on availability of students. Fees is $75. Sessions will be recorded. Please send an email to email@example.com if you are interested.