By Swami Harshananda
Pitṛyāna literally means ‘the path of manes’.
Inference of Pitṛyāna
Literally, the word means the path by which a pitṛ or a dead ancestor goes to the Candraloka or the world of the moon. We find from the Upaniṣads and even the Bhagavadgitā that the ancient people believed in two paths by which the soul of a dead person could go, either to the Brahmaloka or to the Candraloka. The former was called Devayāna or Arcirādimārga and the latter as Pitṛyāna or Dhumādimārga.
Terminals of Pitṛyāna
The various stations mentioned in the Pitṛyāna are:
- Dhuma - smoke
- Rātri - night
- Aparapakṣa - dark fortnight
- Dakṣiṇāyana - southern solstice
- Pitṛloka - world of manes
- Ākāśa - space
- Candramās - world of Somarāja or the king Moon
These words represent the various guides on the path.
Results of Performing Vedic Rites
Those who perform Vedic rites like Agnihotra and public utility activities like digging wells or planting trees etc., go by this path to the Candraloka and return to the earth after exhausting their religious merit. The Candraloka is more like a heaven from which there is return.
- Bhagavadgitā 8.24-26
- Candraloka means the world of the Moon.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore