A reader posed an interesting question, which I am reproducing below.
‘a SMALL DOUBT sOUL IS NOT PERISHABLE. THERE IS REBIRTH AFTER DEATH. THEN WHY THESE SHARDHAMS AND PINDAS FOR THE EXISTING ONES. CURIOSITY OF VEDIC REFERENCES. WE ARE MOULD OF FLESH AND BONES AND WE HAVE NO REACH ON IMMORTALITY. CAN YOU DISCUSS. THANKS’
I remember having written on this , in the passing, while on another article.
As the issues involved are complex and many have the same doubt, I would like to clarify.
True, the Atman is Imperishable, Immortal , timeless
The Vedas and the Upanishads stress this point and the entire Indian Philosophy revolves on this concept of Atman
The Bhagavad Gita states thus.
Bhagavad Gita Verse Chapter 2.Sloka 20. on the Nature of Atman.
The body is the instrument through which the fruits of actions, the Karmaphalas are worn out.
Body , being made of the five elements, earth,water, fire,air and ether returns to the respective elements after death.
All things done or being done during the course of one’s life are directed towards this body, excepting the urge to realize Brahman, the Reality.
Once the body dies a Hindu performs Sraddha , ceremonies for the dead by offering food .
This concept of offering to the departed is present in all Religions.
Names might differ.
If the body is perishable and the Soul is Immortal , what is the point in performing these rituals, like Tharpana, offering Pindas,and Sraddha?
Though the body ceases to exist, the remnants of actions performed, Desired do not cease even after death.
The thoughts remain as energy once created can not be destroyed and Thoughts and Thought processes are Energy.
They have to be expended.
Till such time the Subtle body remains.
The Subtle Body is called as Sukshma Sareera.
The Sukshma sareera exists even after death and is nourished by the essenceFood, Water.
This is applicable in both Stages, Life and afer Death
The physical frame is sustained by the essence of Food(Anna Rasa) and so is the suskshma sareera.
This is one of the reasons for some foods contributing to unidentified anxiety, despondence, fear etc.
Also Food determines one’s disposition .
For more on this Googe Food ramanan50.
Now after the Physical frame ceases ,the Sukshma Sareera needs nourishment.
And this is what we do by performing Sraddha and offering food to the departed,
Now to the question.
The dead are reborn.
They have taken a new body and they eat.
Would this not be enough to nourish the Physical body and the sukshma Sareera?
The remnants of the earlier birth’s needs are not wholly met in the current birth.
The bonds one had established during the earlier birth still linger and those are met only by the offerings from the people with whom we had bonded in the earlier birth.
This non compliance of the Sraddha results in Pitru Dosha.
Pitru Dosha does not merely indicate the anguish of the ancestors but also the needs of the Sukshma Sareera of the earlier birth( which forms a pat of the Sukshma Sareera of theis birth).
When such needs have not been met, one faces unaccountable problems.
These do not apply to realized souls or Brahma Gnanis.