We have one life, and our aim should be to pass through the journey in such a way that we are truthful, respectful, and gentle and have empathy for others. How do we give respect to others? Why do we respect others? Whom should we respect? These are the questions that came to my mind when a friend of ours died. The departed soul was a respected professional, gentle, truthful and always had empathy for others. Such a person should have been reciprocated by the same thoughts and deeds by others after he departed. We should have the same philosophy for life irrespective of how others are and how they behave with you.
This person was a “non-believer”. His views, about the “after death” were obvious as he had already told his first family in clear terms about not performing “any” religious stuff after his death. After his death, things began well, with no religious stuff at the time of cremation, plain cremation. Respecting his views family followed his wishes, they respected him. Though it was very late at night, it was decided to wait for one of his siblings, who was staying far, to reach for the cremation. This was also I am sure must be one of his wishes.
I want to explain my observation of events at the time of his funeral. I have not spoken to anyone from his close family, and I am just writing the thoughts that came to mind. Our friend lived his life in a small town and was a respected professional. When his body was being taken from home to the hearse, some religious stuff was performed by his neighbours. His immediate family almost lost control over the situation; family almost became spectators.
In Hinduism, after death, religious functions are held after a certain number of days depending on age-old traditions. In this case, since he was a “non-believer” a decision was taken by close family, initially, NOT to have anything religious. So far so good. Then suddenly we came to know that there will be a religious ceremony on a certain day, not one but two of them, held one after another, believe it or not, the same ceremony. One was at their home, and the next one was at their workplace/cum old home! If this change were decided by a close family, I would respect the family’s decision. But did the close family respect the departed soul who did not want any religious events post-death? In such situations, it is incorrect to say that something is correct or wrong because everything depends on the perspective. Why did the close family take this decision? Were they pushed by other relatives into taking this decision? Were they forced to take such a decision? I came to know later that this decision of double Puja, was taken to “take care” of bad vibes, as there was a marriage in the family after 3 months. Amen!
Who should take such decisions? The close family or the next level of family or by society? Why such a decision could have been made? In Hinduism, it is suggested to perform these religious functions after death, so that evil will go away!! Is death evil? Is almost a natural death terrible? How does a loving, peaceful souls death lead to adverse events in your family or create bad vibes? How will this natural process cast a long shadow of death on your family and the events that will take place in the family in future? How do you know that performing religious Puja will ensure that everything will be hunky dory in your family? Does it guarantee that no evil thing will ever occur in your family? Will there be no deaths in the family? What is wrong about death? Yes, it is terrible and shocking if it happens to a young person, as an out of turn event.
I will share with you an example which I had noticed when I attended another cremation recently. At the cremation, many people can be present, but one can make out generally who is family. During this event, another cremation was taking place. I saw a gentleman whom I could judge that he was family. This was confirmed the next day when he was also present to collect the ashes. Generally, the first family would attend this chore. At both occasions, his cell phone was regularly ringing, and he was all the time busy attending the same!! I cannot imagine that a person from the close family is so busy, that he had to take his calls all the time during this process. Is one really so busy? You cannot be involved with the family even for a small duration when death has occurred? Can you not respect the departed soul? At least for the last journey one is expected to honour the dead person. In Hinduism dead body is treated on par with Him!! Whenever you see an unknown funeral passing by, you automatically bow!! Maybe the cell phone guy was GOD himself!!
In all this discussion we have forgotten about the wishes of the departed person. Should we not respect him? It will be polite to follow his views which do not affect anyone. What is wrong in having beliefs different than the “normal” views? Then again what is a “normal” view? My friends, I am confused. How the so-called educated persons follow things that have no scientific background? Why under the garb of religion, things are pushed on the family? Why could the close family not resist such a push? Did they do it to err on the “safe” side by following the so-called traditions? I hope my thoughts will give the few people who will read this blog, strength to resist such pushes in life. RIP Sir!!