The Mahabharata and Pind Daan

Image depicting th Mahabharata-The Mahabharata and Pind Daan
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Pind Daan is an important Hindu ritual performed to offer salvation to departed ancestors. It has deep roots in Hindu scriptures and finds mentions in the great Hindu epics like the Mahabharata. This article explores the connection between the Mahabharata and the concept of Pind Daan.

What is Pind Daan

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A person performing Pind daan
  • Pind Daan involves making offerings of pind (cooked rice or barley flour balls) to ancestors to satisfy their hunger and thirst
  • It is believed to help the soul achieve moksha (liberation) by cutting worldly ties
  • The ritual is usually performed by the eldest son or male member of the family
  • It is done along holy rivers like the Ganges, especially at sacred places like Gaya and Kashi

Pind Daan in the Mahabharata

Image depicting th Mahabharata-The Mahabharata and Pind Daan
The Battle of Mahabharata

The Mahabharata contains one of the most popular legends about the origins of Pind Daan:

The Story of Karna

  • After Karna died in the Mahabharata war, his soul reached heaven
  • However, he was served gold and gems instead of food and water
  • When asked why he wasn’t served food, Lord Indra replied that Karna had never offered food and water to his ancestors
  • Karna was then granted 15 days on Earth so he could perform Pind Daan for his ancestors
  • This 15 day period became the Pitru Paksha when Hindus perform Pind Daan for ancestors

This story highlights the importance of Pind Daan for Hindus.

Yudhishthira Performs Pind Daan in Gaya

Image of Devotee performing pind daan in Gaya
Devotee performing pind daan in Gaya
  • After the war, Yudhishthira visited Gaya to perform Pind Daan for all killed in the war
  • It’s believed visiting Gaya for Pind Daan brings great merits to ancestors
  • Since then, Gaya has been one of the main places to perform Pind Daan during Pitru Paksha


  • The Mahabharata established the origins and significance of Pind Daan for Hindus
  • Legends like Karna made Pind Daan indispensable for Hindus to help ancestors attain moksha
  • Places like Gaya mentioned in the epic gained eminence as sites for performing the ritual

The epic reinforced the central role of Pind Daan in the Hindu way of life.


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