Why most Hindus are cremated but some are buried?
Recently when Jayalalitha, a very popular leader of South Indian state Tamilnadu, died, it produced unprecedented shock waves across the country. After her demise, unlike most of the Hindus, she was buried and not cremated. It was baffling for me as well as for many others that why there are two pronged approach in same religion. Then I searched for the reason of this exception. Whatever the understanding I got, presenting it in the blog. But you are also entitled to get differed from my opinion
Why Hindus are cremated?
It is important to know that in Hinduism, saints and sages came to conclusion that Jivas (Humans are one of the Jivas) are not their body but the eternal Soul and Soul never dies. It just changes the body. This concept is known as Transmigration of the Soul.
This is substantiated in one of the most revered scripture of Hinduism,
Bhgavad Gita 2.13
dehino ‘smin yatha dehe
kaumaram yauvanam jara
dhiras tatra na muhyati
As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.
One more essential pillar of the Hindu doctrine is “Moksha”, along with “Dharma”, “Artha”and “Kaam”. Moksha in it’s literal sense means “to be free”. Now the question will be Freedom for whom and from what? So this freedom is for the Soul and from this material conditioning that is from perishable body.
According to Vedic injunction, when a person attains Moksha, then he/she doesn’t come in this material world again and either merges with Bramhan (Super Soul) or resides with the Lord in his abode which is permanent unlike this world.
So when a person dies, he has to leaves his body, but since he has spent a long time with this body, he develops attachment for it. When anyone is attached with any person or object then a desire to associate with it for longer duration of time, remains inside him. But the desire to be in this perishable body is conflicting with the real objective i.e. to be free and attain Moksha. Hence by burning the body, soul can witness and realise the temporary nature of the body and hence the will ultimately crave for Moksha.
But saints and children are cremated
There are some exceptions to it. Saints and Children, when they die, there is a Provision for them to buried. The reason for it, which I have understood after reading some text and hearing from some specialists in this subject, is as follows.
Saints and sages (I am talking about real ones which are few in number yet existing, not the bogus which has proliferated and made religion a business), in their whole life time goes through severe penances, meditations, rituals, sacrifices, association with the pious personality etc. By going through all these process they not only knows but become self realized that the body which they got is perishable and ultimate objective is to attain Moksha. Hence after this realization, the body which they got becomes purified from the material contamination such as lust, greed, anger, enviousness, attachments etc. Since they have no attachment for the body, hence they are buried.
One more consideration which I came across is that, the real Gurus, sages or the pious personality come to this material planet just to relieve the ones which are suffering in this world due to the ignorance that they are soul, not the body. So even though they appear like ordinary human beings, yet they are the direct messenger of the Lord, hence they are not having any longing for their body. They just finish their duty and leave their body.
There is also a provision to bury the children. The reason for this, which I have read is that since they die at very young age and hence they don’t develop so much longing and attachment for themselves. Hence they are buried.
Now coming to the point of why Jayalalitha is buried, I am not able to figure out the real reason other than the whims of her follower, as she was not and ascetic personality and of course, neither a child.
The uniqueness of Hinduism lies in the fact that it is a very liberal. If you are worshiping idol still you are Hindu, not worshiping it makes no difference, even if you are atheist you can accommodate in Hinduism. That’s why Indian Supreme Court termed, Hinduism as a “Way of Life”. This also very much true for the last right. When majority cremates the body, yet you will find exceptions to it.
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