Chapter 1: Observing the Armies on the Battlefield of Kuruksetra
kula-ghnanam kulasya ca
patanti pitaro hy esam
sankarah—such unwanted children; narakaya—for hellish life; eva—certainly; kula-ghnanam—of those who are killers of the family; kulasya—of the family; ca—also; patanti—fall down; pitarah—forefathers; hi—certainly; esam—of them; lupta—stopped; pinda—offerings; udaka—water; kriyah—performance.
When there is increase of unwanted population, a hellish situation is created both for the family and for those who destroy the family tradition. In such corrupt families, there is no offering of oblations of food and water to the ancestors.
According to the rules and regulations of fruitive activities, there is a need to offer periodical food and water to the forefathers of the family. This offering is performed by worship of Visnu, because eating the remnants of food offered to Visnu can deliver one from all kinds of sinful actions. Sometimes the forefathers may be suffering from various types of sinful reactions, and sometimes some of them cannot even acquire a gross material body and are forced to remain in subtle bodies as ghosts. Thus, when remnants of prasadam food are offered to forefathers by descendants, the forefathers are released from ghostly or other kinds of miserable life. Such help rendered to forefathers is a family tradition, and those who are not in devotional life are required to perform such rituals. One who is engaged in the devotional life is not required to perform such actions. Simply by performing devotional service, one can deliver hundreds and thousands of forefathers from all kinds of misery. It is stated in the Bhagavatam:
na kinkaro nayamrni ca rajan
sarvatmana yah saranam saranyam
gato mukundam parihrtya kartam
"Anyone who has taken shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, the giver of liberation, giving up all kinds of obligation, and has taken to the path in all seriousness, owes neither duties nor obligations to the demigods, sages, general living entities, family members, humankind or forefathers." (Bhag. 11.5.41) Such obligations are automatically fulfilled by performance of devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.