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Question: Acharya Ji, what is the importance of rituals that we follow after death? How to cremate the dead in today’s age? How to adopt eco-friendly measures while cremating the dead?
Acharya Prashant(AP): Obviously, electric crematoriums are there now. It’s not even a relevant question. It has been recognized since decades now, that the wooden pyre was not meant for an age where there are eight billion people, and more than a billion Hindus, and Sikhs, and Jains, and Buddhists, and others who want to cremate their dead by burning their bodies.
The method of burning the dead body on wooden pyre was not conceived for today’s age. When that practice took shape and form, the world was full of trees. Trees were numerous and men were few, so it was alright to cut down trees and use them as fuel to burn something.
Now trees are few, and men are numerous. And it’s obviously, both stupidity and criminality to cut down living trees for the sake of dead people.
And what I am talking of is not a revolutionary thought either. I suppose many sensible people already choose the electric crematorium. It’s hassle-free, and obviously eco-friendly.
One of the best methods of disposing-off the dead bodies is one of the Parsis – they have their towers of Silence. The dead body is put there, and vultures and other birds come over and feast themselves over the dead body. Obviously with changing times, such rituals have to adapt.
Truth is unchangeable, rituals are not.
The mark of a living religion is that, it stoutly defends it’s core, and remains very flexible about everything else.
And dead religions, who have lost their core, become stiff externally.
Do you get this?
The living religion will be very-very flexible; it will have a certain elasticity. And dead religions, because they are dead, will become outwardly very stiff. They will not allow any changes to come with time, because they are afraid. Being dead, they are afraid. They think that if changes are allowed to come, then religion itself would die. No!
A great religion is very-very dynamic.
It responds to the demands of the time.
And what renders it it’s dynamism?
The Truth that is at the core of the religion.
Where there is Truth, there is dynamism.
Where there is falseness, there is stubbornness, rigidity, orthodoxy, and resistance to change.
Truth gives you a certain confidence.
Being inexorably with the Truth gives you the confidence that you can play around with everything else. You know that you are not going to lose the Truth, so you become very free in playing with this, putting that up, putting that down, changing things; changing arrangements, changing forms, shapes, colours, names.
“All those things can change, you know, because the unchangeable is with me” – that’s what you say.
It does not require much to comment on various other rituals that you might have observed in Varanasi or Gaya. They are not the essence of the Sanatan Religion. Do not give too much value to them.
When you go to Varanasi, go for Shiva, not for the men of religion sitting by the Ganga. The banks of Ganga are all polluted. Go right to the Source of Ganga.
Varanasi is a great city, provided you know what you are really looking for. Otherwise, you will get lost.
Watch the session video: How to cremate the dead in today’s age? || Acharya Prashant (2018) The transcription has been edited for clarity.
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