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Devas and Pitrs


Not As Much Fun As I Look
Staff member
Premium Member
Reading the Mahabharata(Adi Parva, Canto 7), it makes a statement that the Devas and Pitrs are identical beings, worshipped at different times(Pitrs at the Amavasya, Devas at the Purnima).

If anyone could, I'd like more elaboration on this. :)


Well-Known Member
Pitr means ancestor or forefather, and Sarva Pitru Amavasya is a day set aside to honour all ancestors whose passing date (tithi) may have been forgotten or is unknown. Ancestor worship is also a feature of chinese culture.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has also elaborated on this ritual...

Human beings have eight units of life, and are known as, ashtavasu.

Superhuman blossomed beings, who do extraordinary work, whether it be very good or very bad, have in nine units of life.

Furthermore, humans can develop up to sixteen units of life. When we die we become more powerful in some way. We go between nine and ten units of life.This is strange, but true.That is why ancestors are worshiped. The moment this body drops, the spirit has become free, without boundaries, and nothing can stop it. The spirit moves around freely. If it is bound in the body, you have only eight units of life, you can only reach out to some.When you have nine units, you have a little more power, but if you die, then you have access to the ninth and tenth units, so you gain much more access to the planet. That is why ancestors have the capacity to bless you. They have more ‘life’ than you, because their spirit, freed from the limited body, can know; can cognize; can bless you. You can feel their presence. So when you pray to them, they can grant you certain boons. They are able to bestow unto you to whatever extent they are powerful. Ancestral worship can be found from China to Latin American countries.

In the Christian tradition, there is All Soul’s day, where you respect the souls and ask for their blessings. This is one of the reasons why bodies are buried behind a church; to make that place more powerful. Ancestors have got one more unit of power, and are called Pitras.


Be your own guru
I do not think so. I would like to read the exact verse. Of course, both are to be worshiped, both are venerable, both are helpful to us. They are similar in that respect, but otherwise they are different. You are correct that Devayana is the road of Devas - in later times, Uttaryana. Ptriyana (in North India) and Pitruyana (in South India, difference in pronunciation) is the road of Pitri (includes both male and female ancestors) - in later times Dakshinayana.

Amavasya for Pitras and Purnima for Devas is not always true. Haryali Amavasya (July 17, 2023) is an example.
"Hariyali Amavasya, an auspicious day in Hindu religion, holds great religious significance. Falling during the rainy season, it is celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm across the country. This day is dedicated to worshipping Lord Shiva and seeking blessings."

Furthermore, My family belongs to the 'Malmasa' tradition. For us, the month begins and ends in Amavasya and not in Purnima.
Moral: Generalization is not recommended when you talk of Hinduism. :D


Not As Much Fun As I Look
Staff member
Premium Member
Moral: Generalization is not recommended when you talk of Hinduism. :D
No, it seldom works out when that happens...

What is written in my translation is as follows(and I understand mine is a translation, and sometimes things don't all translate the same):

(It is Agni who is speaking:)

"...The Devas are the sacral waters; the Pitrs are also the waters. The Devas and Pitrs have equal rights to the Yagnas, Darshas, and Purnamasas. The Devas are the itrs, and the Pitrs the Devas. They are identical beings worshipped together and separately, too, during the different phases of the Moon. ..."


Be your own guru
See (Adi Parva, Chapter 7, Verse 8-9):
Mahabharata Chapter 7 [Sanskrit text] and

āpo devagaṇāḥ sarve āpaḥ pitṛgaṇāstathā |
darśaśca paurṇamāsaśca devānāṃ pitṛbhiḥ saha || 8 ||
devatāḥ pitarastasmātpitaraścāpi devatāḥ |
ekībhūtāśca pūjyante pṛthaktvena ca parvasu || 9 ||

The point is that they are mentioned separately, both to be worshiped together on the day of Purnima (devānāṃ pitṛbhiḥ saha).
Saha: together.
They are of the same level but still different. My Pitris are not Indra, Agni, Soma, etc. They are those in whose lineage I am born.
Indra, Agni, Soma, etc. are not the Pitris of my neighbor too, nor are my Pitris his Pitris, because his lineage is different.
We all have our own particular ancestors who are different from the ancestors of other people. Devas, however. are for all people.
For example, my ancestor was Sage Upamanyu. Others may have Atri or Bhrigu as their ancestors.

Again, the great festival of Deepavali is on an amavasya.
Note: A small correction in the first line of the post. Third line of the Verse - Devas are ancestors and ancestors are devas.
Meaning, they are equivalent. None greater or lesser than the other. Worship ancestors like one worships Devas.
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