Question: Should the anniversary of the soul's departure from the earth-plane be celebrated as well as its birthday?

Sri Chinmoy: Some family members are very attached to their parents and children, while others are not. In the same way, some souls keep a very close connection to their family members after death. They come not only to observe the anniversary of their departure but also quite a few times during the year. Some souls, not so much out of attachment as out of affection and genuine love, try to inspire their dear ones who are still on earth to become better human beings. These souls come when their dear ones are meditating. But again, some souls do not come at all because they want their dear ones to be more detached. They want their dear ones to think only of the Highest, of God, instead of thinking about their departed relatives.

If someone here on earth very sincerely invokes the soul of a departed dear one on that person's death anniversary, most of the time that soul will come unless it is on a very high plane. Highly developed souls sometimes do not want to come because they are countless miles away from us. For them, it is a difficult journey because of our lack of purity. Ordinary human beings are full of desires. They do not or cannot keep their consciousness pure even when they invoke their dear ones. The passageway between the relative's prayers and the soul's compassion is like a column of light. If the light is not pure, then it is very difficult for a high soul to travel through that passageway. Again, some souls are very brave. As soon as they hear the sincere invitation, they come, no matter how difficult it is for them. But if the person on earth is praying with pure concern and a very pure heart, then it is quite easy for them to come.

Usually, once a year on the death anniversary, people think of their dear ones and pray for them very soulfully. When they pray intensely, at that time they are likely to have purity also. When one is intensely concentrating on something, at that time one does not look around or allow outside thoughts to enter one's mind. So intensity often brings absolute purity. To invoke a soul from the soul's world, both purity and intensity are needed. With purity you go one step, and with intensity you go ten steps.

But if those on earth are seekers, they need not wait a year before invoking the souls of their dear ones. If they want to feel the presence of their dear ones, they can try any time they want. To wait for one year before invoking their dear ones or thinking of them is not advisable. Again, you have to know that after a few years of rest, most souls again take human incarnation. After ten or twenty years, if you are still observing the anniversary of someone's death, thinking that the person is still in Heaven, you are not going to get a visit from that soul. Most probably that person has already taken human birth in some other family. Once the soul has taken a human body again and entered into the ordinary world, it can no longer travel, even with difficulty, to visit those who are invoking it.