In Srimad Bhagvatam, it is mentioned that
na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan
sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ
gato mukundaṁ parihṛtya kartam” (SB 11.5.41)
Every human being is obliged and has an obligation? We are under whose obligation? Demigods – Sun God, He gives us heat and light; moon nourishes our eatables and like that Indra, Chandra, Surya, Brihaspati, they all are demigods and are supplying. They are supplying and they don’t send bill for what they are supplying so we are indebted to them.
We are obliged to cow and ox. Ox is tilting the ground and cow is giving us milk, butter, butter milk, ghee, etc. Mother Cow is nurturing us so we are under obligation to cow and ox.
We are indebted to our forefathers also. Why? because they not only brought us to this human form of life which is very rare and valuable but also nourished us, nurtured us. They provided us food, clothing and education so we are indebted to them.
Those who are cent percent surrendered and are serving Krishna, they are not under any obligation of “devarṣi-bhūtāpta-nṛṇāṁ pitṝṇāṁ na kiṅkaro nāyam ṛṇī ca rājan”. Why? Because they are surrendered and are serving Krishna. “Sarvātmanā”, the king is dependent on Krishna, demigods are dependent on Krishna and everybody else. Just by supplying food to the stomach, we automatically nourish our hands, nose, ear, whole body so simultaneously, serving Krishna, “sarvātmanā yaḥ śaraṇaṁ śaraṇyaṁ”, by surrendering to Krishna we pay up our debt.
Why perform Shradh Ceremony?
So that we can relieve our ancestors from the hellish conditions, suffering condition.
If we are not cent percent surrendered to Krishna then we must perform Shradh. Lord Ramchandra did, he performed for Dashrath Maharaj, pinda daan. There was no question of Dashrath Maharaj going to hellish conditions because Lord Ramchandra was his direct son. It is the greatest fortune to have Krishna as your son, God as your son, Dashrath Maharaj will never suffer from hellish conditions, go to hell, even then Lord Ramchandra performed shradh. Lord Chaitanya is God himself, he also went to Gaya to perform Shradh Ceremony for his departed father, Jagannath Misra. So if we are not cent percent surrendered then we must perform Shradh Ceremony to pay up our debt to our forefathers, to relieve them from their hellish conditions.
How to perform Shradh?
It is stated in Srimad Bhagvatam that one must call pure brahman and perform the ceremony. One must cook sumptuous, beautiful, tasty, rich prasadam and that one has to offer to Lord Vishnu. This is written in Srimad Bhagvatam that first one must offer it Krishna, Vishnu, Ram, Narayan, Laxman and then one must offer to the Brahmans. When Advaita Acharya performed Shradh Ceremony of his father, first, he offered to a vaishnava, not even brahmans and Srila Haridasa Thakur was the most exalted vaishnava present there; He was a Muslim, he was not within varnashrama even, not even a brahman but a pure vaishnava. After offering to the Lord, one must offer to the vaishnavas, then one must offer to brahmans and then to one’s relatives, after that one is supposed to offer to people in general, beggars and after everything is over, one is supposed to honour that prasadam and give dakshina to brahmans, vaishnavas, the best donation is to vaishnavas. One should do it with faith and that will relieve one’s ancestors from the pangs of maya, suffering.