By Her Holiness, Maya Tiwari
Maya Tiwari continually observes Ancestral Prayer Vigils for Ancestors and the Aggrieved
Time to Honor Ancestors
Honoring Ancestors is an extraordinarily fulfilling practice for everyday living in wellness. This practice is the most effective way for us to immediately free ourselves from the pile-up of ancestral hurt, illness and despair. In Vedic practice, there is a perfect time each year to nourish and remember the ancestors, albeit anytime is a good time to honor them. Each year Maya Tiwari hosts an Honoring Ancestors’ Conference. In remembering and nourishing our forebears, we release inured habitual patterns that impede our happiness, health and well-being. If you are striving to break seemingly impregnable blueprint of being ill and stuck and unhappy in your life, do not miss this precious occasion to re-orient your psyche and reorder your living freedom from ancestral baggage.
Keep a look out for the Ancestors Season which usually occurs with the new moon at the end of September or beginning of October: Considered the perfect junction to take pause and to remember memories we have locked up within us for lifetimes. During this exhilarating program, you breathe, chant, offer nourishment, and create an Ancestral Peace Mandala with nature’s organic food grains to release stagnated patterns that can prevent you from owning your personal freedom and ability to prosper. Honoring Ancestors helps you to unearth traumas and hurt of the past carried through family lines. Without realizing it, we often carry the ancestors on our backs. Because their memory patterns deeply embedded within our vital tissues and cells, we continually re-enact patterns that originate in the history and memory of our family lines. When we do not recognize ancestral traumas we are likely to ferry them into every aspect of our lives. But we can resolve our karmic history through honoring ancestors; we can trade in hurt and grief and illness-patterns. Come and learn the proven way to make your ancestors your guide to joy, harmony and prosperity.
Numerous Ways to Serve & Heal
There are numerous ways to serve humanity, honor the life force, and safeguard self and nature. Giving of ourselves through social service and financial resource to aid the living are ways in which we may help protect the earth’s family. However, in so doing we are asked to remember our indelible connection to the subtler fields and aspects of the universe that protect and safeguard life and with it the knowledge and practice of honoring the ancestors and souls in flight. Our lives are connected to the immutable life force that is physical and spiritual; tangible and invisible – an inner force of nature that stretches beyond the mortal coil of living into infinite celestial space. At this pivotal time in human life, the most important understanding we can offer to our humanity is neither physical/emotional, nor financial. It is the practice of seva – spiritual service that helps to restore ancestral memory so that we may heal the long ignored rift with the spirit world. Honoring ancestors not only brings an immediate sense of comfort to bereaved families but also helps to resolve the memory of shock and awe carried in the subtle body of those individuals who perished in the wake of violence. By honoring, loving, feeding, and nourishing the ancestors we may once again earn their palpable grace in both the physical and subtle fields of existence.
Ancestral Nurturance & Healing
The Vedic sages recognized that each of us exists as an inter-dependent being, and that we are all linked to the universe through our ancestry. They predicted that the collective grief of the modern world would be caused by the loss of our ancestral memory: that human memory impairment will be the most crucial cause for the breakdown of dharma –cosmic and social intelligence - that guides and safeguards our living values and purpose as they relate to self, family, community, and nature. They understood that honoring all the ancestors keeps us in living harmony with our forebears and the whole of humanity.
As evidenced by the devastation caused by the recent earthquake in Haiti, the Tsunami disaster in South East Asia that has taken more than 200,000 lives in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and wreaked havoc in many more countries on the coast of the Indian Ocean; the horrific acts and aftermath of violence, terrorism, wars and conflicts – we are in desperate need of appeasing the ancestors. The indescribable collective agony felt during this time is highly palpable and serves to remind us of the unbroken thread of compassion that links each of us in spirit. Among them the trail of thirteen hurricanes ravaging the South Eastern seaboard of USA, a typhoon followed by a lethal series of earthquakes in Japan, a deadly cyclone in India, catastrophic explosion in the coal mines of China, worsening of the wars in Iraq and the Middle East, and devastating genocide of native Africans in Sudan.
A Time for the Ancestors
Each year the time of the ancestor stretches farther into cosmic unrest. A disturbing trend is that the impact of natural and related disasters to the already vulnerable populations has increased steadily over a period of time. The number of people at risk has shown an increase of some 70 million a year during recent years. As you may recall September 11th, 2001, this terrible disaster also occurred during Pitri Paksha. The 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai occurred not too long after Pitri Paksha. We must make gentle and calm the recurring cycles churning nature within and without that have come to bode the ancestral season on earth. We can begin our personal practice of honoring and appeasing our ancestors by making small personal sacrifices on a daily basis with the ancestors in mind. Live each day in the mind of Ahimsa. Recognize that we are lviing in times of incredible feats as well as of phenomenal disasters! Each day, take to doing one simple act of kindness. In this way, when disaster strikes, you are already honed in the mind of prayer which is the greatest gift you can share with those who are suffering. Offer food to the poor and the hungry. Give your seat to an elderly or disadvantaged person on the bus or train. Devote an hour a week or month to community service. Say a prayer to alleviate suffering. Offer a pound of rice to a homeless shelter. Visit a nursing home. Fast one day a month for world peace. Make a conscious effort not to injure, pollute, or otherwise compromise the earth, her rivers, animals, plants, and environment. The highest personal sacrifice we can make is to embrace a spirit of reverence for nature and work toward healing the indescribable damage we humans bring to the planet.
With a personal sacrifice, we give something of ourselves—food, attentiveness, time, and money, and most importantly, our commitment to reclaim ancestral memory. The Vedic seers inform, “Sacrifices are the actions through which we receive sustenance from the earth and by which we return equal nourishment to her.” They tell us that giving back to nature not only pleases our ancestors but helps us develop inner consciousness. When we awaken our ancestral memories, we will remember the meaning and purpose of our lives.
Many religions and cultures have their own specific rituals in memory of loved ones and ancestors. You may want to learn more about the practices from your own cultural or religious background. You may also wish to honor your ancestors particularly during the time of Pitri Paksha when millions of people around the world are doing so, as they have for thousands of years. Uncovering and gathering information about our ancestral past is not always an easy task. Many of us have lost the connection with our ancestral lineage through adoption or migration, as my people did. You may choose to offer prayers and oblations to the ancestors at any time. Each opportunity provides an excellent chance to reconnect emotionally and spiritually to the memory and vibration of your forebears, even if you do not have specific historical details. You may begin to resonate with them through your dream state, feel their palpable grace protecting you in ways you are not always aware of, or feel drawn toward the life ways of a certain culture or tradition.
At this time of great vulnerability, I invite you to connect to the powerful energy of ancestors. May these challenging events of the day serve as a metaphor not for the eruption of nature and erosion of dharma, but for retrieval of healing ways that may restore our human dignity. You may observe the following ritual and recite the mantra at the death anniversary of a loved one, on any day of the year during any painful crises, or through any form of disasters or at the loss of loved ones. Most of all, the period of Pitri Paksha is the optimum time each year when these offerings and remembrances are imperative. On a moon calendar, find the date of the last new moon in September. (This moon generally occurs toward the end of September or beginning of October.)
1. Ancestral Ceremony - Vedic Practice
Mantra for Offering:
- Facing South in the early morning light, repeat the following Vedic mantra at each offering, staying mindful of the safe travel for the thousands of souls to the celestial sphere, and for their entry into the abode of the ancestors. Also, keep in mind the welfare of your ancestors – known and unknown
OM NAMO VAH PITRAH SAUMYAH SVADHA
(OHM NAH-MO VAFH PE-TRAS SAUM-YA HA SWA-DHA)
[SAUM pronounced as in “sour”]
(Obeisance to you, O gentle ancestors.)
Note: The rishis developed Vedic mantras – which origin is in Samskritam – the ancient cosmic language the sages gleaned from their vast knowledge of cosmic sound. Vedic mantra has been proven to possess infinite power.
2. Food Offering for Nourishing the Traveling Souls:
- Find a serene place in nature outdoors, preferably by a river or sit at your altar facing south.
- Place two handful of black sesame seeds in a brass or stainless urn or pitcher dedicated for this use. (You may also use black rice, which may be purchased at gourmet or health food stores.)
- Fill the urn or pitcher with four cups of water or organic milk
- If making the offering indoors, place the urn in a large bowl into which you will be pouring the food offering.
- Mix the rice or seeds with the water or milk in the urn.
- Use your right hand to pour the mixture slowly into the large bowl, or onto the earth, keeping in mind that you are giving nourishment to the souls of the disaster victims.
- Recite the afore-mentioned mantra while you are pouring the offering.
- After the ritual, take the offering to a place where birds and animals can partake of it. Do not discard it in the garbage.
- The food offering takes about 10-15 minutes.
- Continue to repeat the mantra after the offering.
- Sit in meditation and connect to the powerful energy of the ancestors.
- Pray for the aggrieved and the souls’ of those who have perished and keep their safe and serene travel to the celestial sphere, and for their entry into the abode of the forebears.