Friends, you will have to pardon me! This is a major modification of a blog I had published four years back. This is a very important subject for me, hence I want to share my thoughts with you again; I have gained more insights on the subject in last four years. I have a new title ending with question mark; why the question mark you will ask me! In the matters like rituals, I think like a trained engineer, always challenging the hypothesis, if I am not convinced! When we communicate in writing about death, we say “Rest in Peace”! Ok, I am a non believer, but still I will go with the theory, that after death the soul goes on its journey! But do we allow the soul peace it deserves?
We have one life and our aim should be to pass through the life’s journey in such a way that we are truthful, respectful, 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 same philosophy in life and death, irrespective of how others are and how they behave with you.
This person was a “non-believer”. His views, about the “after death” were very clear 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. 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 tell you my observations 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 come to my 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 neighbors. His immediate family almost lost control over the situation; family became spectators. So much for peace of mind!
But let us not forget and look at the other side. Some people and their families believe totally in rituals. Others should give respect to their feelings. Recently, I attended death rituals of someone close to me. Their family totally believes in rituals and on 13th day, there was a full blown religious stuff. Next day one of the siblings said to me, “You had to sit through a lot of things, in which you don’t believe in.” I said with humility, “please don’t embarrass me; your family believes in these things so it was my duty and wish to participate in everything, to respect the departed soul on final journey”.
In Hinduism, after death religious functions are held after a certain number of days based on age old traditions. In this case, since the person who died 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 religious ceremony on a certain day, not one but two of them, held one after another, believe it or not, the same ceremony was to be repeated. One was at their home and the other one was at their work place cum old home! If this change was decided by first family, I respect the family’s decision.
In such situations it is incorrect to say that something is correct or wrong because everything depends on the perspective. Why did the first 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 that might be generated because of death, as there was a marriage in the family after 3 months. The decision was pushed by the other family members on the first family. Amen! If there is God then, why are people scared of Him! He brings you to this world and then takes you back when the time is up! Then why the fear of “bad vibes”?
Who should take such decisions? The first family or the next level of family? Why such decision could have been taken? 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, due to old age, bad? How does a loving peaceful souls death lead to bad 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 family in future? How do you know that performing religious Puja will ensure that everything will be hunky dory in your family, post puja? Does it ensure that no bad thing will ever occur in your family? Will there be no deaths in the family, ever? What is bad about death? Yes it is bad and shocking if it happens to a young person, as an out of turn event.
I will share with you another example which I had noticed when I attended one more cremation recently. At the cremation, many people are present but one can make out who is from the first family. During this event another cremation was taking place. I saw a gentlemen, whom I could judge that he was first family. This was confirmed next day when he was also present to collect the ashes, generally first family attends to this chore. On 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 first family is so busy, that he had to take his calls all the time during this process.
Is one really so busy? Can you not 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 happens if there are no rituals? What is wrong in having views 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 read this blog, strength to resist such pushes in life. RIP Sir!!