|Canto 3: The Status Quo||Chapter 20: Conversation Between Maitreya and Vidura|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 3.20.43
ta ātma-sargaḿ taḿ kāyaḿ
sādhyebhyaś ca pitṛbhyaś ca
kavayo yad vitanvate
te — they; ātma-sargam — source of their existence; tam — that; kāyam — body; pitaraḥ — the Pitās; pratipedire — accepted; sādhyebhyaḥ — to the Sādhyas; ca — and; pitṛbhyaḥ — to the Pitās; ca — also; kavayaḥ — those well versed in rituals; yat — through which; vitanvate — offer oblations.
The Pitās themselves took possession of the invisible body, the source of their existence. It is through the medium of this invisible body that those well versed in the rituals offer oblations to the Sādhyas and Pitās [in the form of their departed ancestors] on the occasion of śrāddha.
Śrāddha is a ritualistic performance observed by the followers of the Vedas. There is a yearly occasion of fifteen days when ritualistic religionists follow the principle of offering oblations to departed souls. Thus those fathers and ancestors who, by freaks of nature, might not have a gross body for material enjoyment can again gain such bodies due to the offering of śrāddha oblations by their descendants. The performance of śrāddha, or offering oblations with prasāda, is still current in India, especially at Gayā, where oblations are offered at the lotus feet of Viṣṇu in a celebrated temple. Because the Lord is thus pleased with the devotional service of the descendants, by His grace He liberates the condemned souls of forefathers who do not have gross bodies, and He favors them to again receive a gross body for development of spiritual advancement.
Unfortunately, by the influence of māyā, the conditioned soul employs the body he gets for sense gratification, forgetting that such an occupation may lead him to return to an invisible body. The devotee of the Lord, or one who is in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, however, does not need to perform such ritualistic ceremonies as śrāddha because he is always pleasing the Supreme Lord; therefore his fathers and ancestors who might have been in difficulty are automatically relieved. The vivid example is Prahlāda Mahārāja. Prahlāda Mahārāja requested Lord Nṛsiḿhadeva to deliver his sinful father, who had so many times offended the lotus feet of the Lord. The Lord replied that in a family where a Vaiṣṇava like Prahlāda is born, not only his father but his father's father and their fathers — up to the fourteenth father back — are all automatically delivered. The conclusion, therefore, is that Kṛṣṇa consciousness is the sum total of all good work for the family, for society and for all living entities. In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta the author says that a person fully conversant with Kṛṣṇa consciousness does not perform any rituals because he knows that simply by serving Kṛṣṇa in full Kṛṣṇa consciousness, all rituals are automatically performed.
Copyright © The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness