The new moon day is considered something special in almost all
civilisations for one reason or the other. While some civilisations
ascribe demonic qualities to this day, others consider this day as
auspicious and benevolent.
In Tamil society, the two new moon days which matter most in a
calendar year are the Thai Amavasai and Aadi Amavasai. Aadi Amavasai
comes in Utharayanam period (generally from middle of January to middle
of July) and the Thai Amavasai comes in Dhakshanayanam period (from
middle of July to middle of January) The Aadi Amavasai day is specially
marked for offering prayers and food to the dead forefathers.
Hindus pray for their forefathers while carrying out religious
Hindus believe that the offerings they make during this period of 15
days starting from this new moon day would reach their forefathers and
appease them quickly.
So the Hindus are expected to perform “Tharpanam” on this day, which
is a recitation of certain mantras along with some rituals that would
appease the dead forefathers and protect the offsprings of the performer
of the Tharpanam.
Taking a holy dip in a river is considered a pre-requisite for
performing a Tharpanam, as it is believed that one’s physical as well as
mental impurities are washed away by doing so.
This year Aadi Amavasai is observed today on August 01. Keerimala in
Jaffna is popular spot for Aadi Amavasai. A special vegetable called “Kaaththottikaai”,
which has a bitter taste, is consumed on this day. This is specially
sold on this day in Jaffna.
Hindus gather at a sea shore in particular an estuary to pray for
their forefathers while carrying out religious rites. These religious
rites are performed by the Kurukkal who perform funeral rites. Some
people offer vegetables and rice to these Kurukkal.
Those who wish to perform their rites arrive at the sea at dawn to
take a holy dip after which they go to the kovil to pray for their
forefathers. There they light ghee lamps and do a Motchcha Archcanai, a
pooja performed for the dead ones a belief that enable the souls to rest
in peace. On this day devotees throng the temples in great numbers.
Young unmarried girls and married women usually do not take part in
these rites. Elderly women who have lost their husbands participate in
these religious rites.
All living objects have souls
The process of purification according to the Hindu theory, is not
confined to the human form alone, but extends to every form of life that
is found on earth and elsewhere. A soul may be said to take any form of
life in accordance with its previous Karma, after it has exhausted the
major portion of such Karma either in any of the heavens above or hells
A soul may take the form of a man, a beast, a vegetable or any other
living object according to the nature and gravity of its previous Karma,
and so exhaust its inherent original Mala along with its acquired Karma
These different forms of life are rendered necessary, because the
Karmas done by the souls are themselves different in their nature, and
the different phases of the original Mala itself require different
methods of exhaustion.
The great God, therefore, in His sublime wisdom, planned the scheme
of submitting the souls to different kinds of life at different stages,
in order to exhaust their Mala power.
But the materialistic tendency of modern religions has prompted their
adherents to put the question whether creatures other than human beings
have souls. They might as well espouse the cause of their first cousins
the open materialists, and ask the question if man has a soul.
If man should be considered to be possessed of soul, we fail to see
any reason why an exception should be taken in the case of other living
It is true that there is not as much of intelligence in other beings
as there is in man, but I do not think that this is a reason to conclude
that living beings other than man have no souls. The intellectual
capacity of man is not the same all over, and this will not go to show
that there is less quantity of soul in the case of men who are poor in
intellect than in the case of others.
And again it cannot be said that living beings other than men are
possessed of no intelligence at all, as there is a good deal of it in
several creatures, some of which disclose quite startling proofs of
The sagacity of elephants, dogs, cats and several birds is at times
greatly admired, and it would compare very favourably with the
intelligence observed in some of our barbarous brethren. Such a state of
things is an undoubted proof of the existence of souls in those animals.
Modern science has disclosed the fact that intelligence is found even in
plants and creepers, but our
Hindu idea of God
friends who try to deprive them of their souls will argue that such
an intelligence is only an instinctive power. This is only a play in
What is instinct after all? It is itself intelligence as found in the
lower order of living beings.
Instinct is not possible without intelligence and intelligence is not
possible without spirit or soul. Because it is found in the lower order,
we will not be justified in calling instinct a mere effect of matter
with no influence at all of soul. If this be possible, we may call the
intelligence found in man also an instinct, and argue that it is itself
an effect of matter.
But as intelligence cannot proceed from matter, it is evident that
where there is intelligence, there is the spiritual form of soul; and as
this intelligence is found in some form or other in all living objects,
the conclusion is inevitable that there is soul in such living beings.
There are, of course, different degrees of intelligence in the
different living beings, and this is due to the difference in the
development attained by the different souls and in the instrumental
causes such as the physical feature and mental faculties with which the
intelligence is stirred up.
It must be observed that in taking different bodies, the intellectual
capacity of the soul is stimulated to the extent of the sense, organs
and mental faculties appertaining to such bodies, according to the Hindu
philosophy the soul, as it is, is clouded by the thick mist of Anava
Mala and in this state it has no sign of intelligence in it, but lies
fully dormant or stupefied as a block of stone or a log of wood.
The Lord, therefore, gives it the Sthula and Sukshma bodies out of
the Maya Mala and stimulates its inherent intelligence whereby it is
enabled to exercise its intellectual faculty, and it betakes itself to
action according to the degree of the Mala bondage it is subject to. We
have again to observe that life is not possible without souls.
Take the life of man; when the soul departs from the body, the life
itself is extinct; and this is a strong testimony in favour of the
assumption that life is only possible when there is a union of body and
soul; and as such, it readily follows that all living beings or beings
in which there is life must have a soul that is subject to
transmigration in the various bodies that it takes in succession.