Forums Chat Annouce Calender Remote

Hindu Practice of Cremation

>From: Mr RV Anamalay <rvana1@mdw039.cc.monash.edu.au>

	-This may seem like a silly question, but what seems to be the
	-basis of the hindu practice of cremation?  Also, what are the
	-reasons for deviating from the general practice of cremation?

-Many Thanks,

I wrote this article in response to someone who was criticizing
cremation and was in favor of burial. I have edited it somewhat
to post it here .	

	To me, the Hindu cremation is the most sensible way to dispose 
	of the matter; with an overcrowded planet, we need space for the 
	living, without competing with the dead for it. In crowded cities 
	like Bombay and Hong Kong, it is most galling, though I am sure 
	other places have the same problem as well. It is not surprising 
	that crematoriums are increasing greatly in number in the U.S 
	and other countries. 

	Also, in the case of an epidemic, I'd feel more comfortable 
	knowing that all the infected bodies have been reduced to 
	ashes. Seems safer and more hygienic.

	Cremation follows logically from the basic doctrine of the
	Hindus which says that the body is like a garment, to be 
	discarded when worn out. After death, the body has no
	further significance, and should be disposed off so the
	elements can mingle with the earth and disappear. No further
	revelling-in-death fetishes are possible once this is done - this
	is to reinforce the idea that material existence is 
	transient and will turn to dust - philosophy searches for
	the Real and the True in this confusing, constantly changing
	universe - human existence is like a bubble
	in the ocean, present here and now, leaving without a
	trace tomorrow. The soul (Jiva) that has departed is 
	commemorated in Vedic utterances which have the character of 
	Eternity, and no further ado is made of their earthly remains which
	are now destroyed with finality as they have joined the realm
	of the Unreal. Whatever is real has departed, and the unreal
	substance has no significance which would demand preservation.

	I love the philosophical consistency of this line of thought;
	it shows the clarity of thinking of the ancient Hindus. It is
	also a refreshing contrast to the various morbid death cults
	which expend more money and energy on the dead than on the
	living; the massive tombs, the sepulchres, awful dirges 
	calculated to make the mourner sink deeper into melancholia, and 
	other gaudy productions are in strong contrast with the demands of
	the event; dignity, simplicity, cleansing expression of grief,
	and reflection on the profound philosphical issues that death 
	must bring to the surface...


	Having said that, it is a fact that Sannyasins and little 
	infants are not cremated but buried. If anyone knows why,
	please post. 

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