Today, on bhakti budhivāra–day of devotion–I want to write a bit about honoring our ancestors.

Last week I happened to have a massage client who just had her mother pass away earlier that morning. I did some energy healing with her, and as you can expect, she was pretty emotional. But I was surprised at how calmly & clearly she was speaking. She had already made peace with her mother’s passing, and had expressed her thanks and appreciation to her mother for all the guidance and care that she had imparted to her herself and her siblings.

There is a specific sanskrit ceremony, or ritual, called Tarpaṇam that communicates that same message. Tarpaṇam is a small ritual where we can say Thank You to our ancestors for creating an environment most conducive for us to become what it is that God intended. This ritual demonstrates our respect and appreciation by asking for blessings from the preceding generations.

If you’d like to perform a tarpaṇam for your ancestors, here’s what you can do:

Create a small sacred space for placing the following items together–light a candle, light some incense, and put a teaspoon of sea salt in a glass of water. Then, place a few black sesame seeds (or a few grains of rice or a cut flower if you don’t have black sesame seeds) in your right hand as you listen and chant the prayer below.

to listen to the chant, click here:


oṃ kurukṣetra gayā gaṅgā prabhāse puṣkarāṇi ca
ye tīrthatāni puṇyāṇi tārpaṇakāle bhavānti ca
Oṃ Kurukṣetra, Gayā, Gaṅgā, Prabhāsa and Puṣkara: these are the meritorious places of pilgrimage that are to be remembered at the time of offering to ancestors.

yamāya dharmarājāya mṛtyave cāntakāya ca
vaivasvatāya kālāya sarvabhūtakṣayāya ca

I bow to Yamā, to the King of Dharma, to Death, to the Inner Being; to He who is the Universe, to Time, to He who causes the destruction of all existence.

oṃ pitā svargaḥ pitā dharmaḥ pitā hi paramaṃ tapaḥ
pitari prītimāpanne prīyante sarvadevatāḥ

Oṃ My ancestors are my heaven. My ancestors are my Dharma. My ancestors are my highest Tapas. If my ancestors are satisfied, all the Gods will be satisfied.

oṃ āśiṣo me pradīyantāṃ pitaraḥ karuṇāmayāḥ
vadāḥ santatayo nityaṃ
varddhantāṃ bāndhavā mama

Oṃ Oh compassionate ancestors, bless me. Always speak words of peace to me and release me from all bondage.

shanti shanti shanti