QUESTIONS ABOUT BALI ANSWERED BY PARAM POOJYA SWAMI KRISHNANANDA SARASWATHI
Q. What is Bali?
A. Bali is the prayer by which we make our parents as gods. After death our parents enter the world called Pretaloka which is defined as ‘Prakarshyena Gatam Gatam’. Here they roam about in their subtle bodies afflicted by desires like hunger and thirst even though the gross body is not there. When we offer the symbolic ball of rice and fresh water we are relieving them of these desires. Then the freed souls move from Pretaloka to Pitrloka, which is a portion of the world of Devas. Adi Shankaracharya has said that the ordinary soul in Pitrloka has 100 times greater spiritual power than an emperor on earth.
Q. How does doing Bali help us?
A. During our lifetime our parents have always protected us with all the power they had. After death they do not simply vanish. They remain in a different world in their subtle bodies. When we raise them to the level of gods through Bali they will use their heightened spiritual power to continue to protect us like guardian angels.
Q. Is it really possible for us to make our parents gods?
A. If we can make a stone as god then why not our parents? What matters is the powerful Sankalpa carried forward with the correct rituals.
Q. What should be our Sankalpa at the time of Bali?
A. For nine months your mother carried you in her womb and throughout your life your father cared for your food, clothing, education and protection. There is a great and unrepayable debt on your head, towards them. With tears of gratitude in your eyes say, “I cannot give you as much as you gave me but please accept these balls of rice and pure water as a symbol of our love for you and protect us throughout our lives as you protected us throughout yours.” One of the names of the Divine Mother is Bhaavanamaatra-Santushta-Hridayaaye-Namonamah. So your feelings will pierce the barrier of death and reach your parents in the other world just as the low of a calf attracts its mother-cow no matter where she may be.
Q. What is the importance of rituals and Mantras for Bali?
A. The Sankalpa of our great and ancient Rishi-Munis who have devised the rituals and Mantras is the powerful force contained in the Bali Kriya. Just as water has to be brought in a glass even though the glass itself is not water, your Sankalpa has to be carried by a powerful engine that can piece through the barrier of death. This engine is the rituals of Bali that contains the penance force of ancient Rishis who created them for us. Mantras are like passwords in a computer. When the correct Mantra is spoken it opens up the channel to the other world.
Q. Can a daughter do Bali for her parents?
A. Why not? Putra, the Sanskrit word for son, means one who saves his parents from the hell called Pum by performing their last rights. It is with the same meaning that the word Putri, meaning daughter, has been formed. Parvati Devi was an unmarried girl, but she performed the strictest penance and achieved Eeshvar Saakshaatkaar in the form of Mahadev Shiva. So what can be restricted for ladies? Restrictions apply only during the menses period which is a time of physical and mental impurity.
Q. How ancient is the Bali custom?
A. In the Ramayana it is written that over 17 lakh years ago, in the Treta Yuga, Sree Ram offered Bali for His father. Many centuries before that, in the Satyuga, the ancestor of Sree Ram, the Rishi Bhageerath, performed penance for thousands of years to bring the holy Ganga from heaven to earth and the netherworld. Why? To do Bali for his dead uncles and free their souls from a curse so that they could go to Pitrloka. Even the great river Ganga was brought to earth for Bali. So the age of this custom is as old as the Ganga and even before that. Sree Rama offered Bali in Nasik in the Mandakini river. Now there is a black Moorti of Sree Ram over there. Here too is a black Moorti of Sree Ram and Bali is done in the clear waters of the Barvi river with the Ram concept.
Q. What is the qualification for doing Bali? For example, if there is no child, who will do the Bali?
A. Rishi Bhageerath did Bali for his uncles. When Jatayu died his last rights were performed by Sree Ram who was his friend’s Son. When Sampati came to know that his younger brother Jatayu had been killed by Ravana, he did Bali for Jatayu. So the relation is not a bar. Any relation, younger or elder, or even a friend can do Bali.
Q. What is the significance of Vaav Bali?
A. The dimensions of earth and the Pitr Devas is connected through the moon. One lunar month on earth is equivalent to one day in Pitrloka. During Amavasya there is no-moon for us but for the Pitr Devas it is bright day time. At this time they are most active and hence receptive to our offerings.
Q. Why is there a Shiva temple situated at the Bali sight here in Ramagiri?
A. When my Gurudeva, Jagadguru Swami Sathyananda Saraswathiji Maharaj, completed His historical Sankalpa of a mass Archana of Divine Mother’s names 100 crore times, we all went and did Abhavrita Snaanam at Rameshwaram. That gave me an inspiration to install Rameshwara Shiva here as a symbol of that great event. Lord Shiva roams about the burning ghats of Kashi whispering the name of Rama in the ears of the departed souls and this gives them salvation. It is with the same Rameswara Shiva concept that the Shiva Linga has been installed here to give salvation to all the souls whose ashes are immersed at Ramagiri.
Jai Sita Ram