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  ‼  Aum, Asato maa sadgamaya, Tamaso maa jyotirgamaya  ‼  
     

 

RITUALS CONNECTED WITH DEATH

After the child returned from the formal education he would take over the family’s means of livelihood and he would take a wife who would take over the reins of the household.

Hence the elder couple of the house would now have more time to devote to their spiritual pursuits; until finally, when they were ready, they would take “sanyas” which meant that they would literally renounce the world. They would proceed for the forest and meditate upon the deeper values of life until their breath ceased.

In Hindu philosophy, death has been compared to the ‘shedding off’ of an old garment for a new one.

Amongst the Hindus, when a person dies he is immediately laid on the floor and a small flame is lit near the body. The body is laid out on the floor so that the germs that emanate from the corpse do not spread on the mattress. The Hindus believe that when a man dies his spirit comes out from the body and, because of his attachment to his family and material possessions, continues to inhabit his home. Since the spirit does not possess a physical form any more, the Hindus believe that it rests on the flame that has been lit near the dead body.

The Hindus cremate the body, symbolizing that all elements present in the body return to the elements present in the Cosmos. Then there is a period of prayers in the home of the deceased. In the case of the Sindhis, it normally lasts for a period of 12 days.

Psychologists and philosophers claim that time is the greatest healer; and prayer is our greatest help in times of sorrow.

During the twelve days of prayer after the death of a person there is frenzied activity in the house. The priests have to be fed. Prayers have to be performed. Guests drop in for condolence. In other words there is not much time to think.

After the formal period of prayer is over, the sorrow and a feeling of loss strike the bereaved person but by then, he has had time to accept the loss to a certain degree and he knows that he has to somehow go on with the business of living. On the 10th day after the persons death the diya (flame) which had been lit in the house is carried to the sea, after night-long prayers.

The immersion of the diya into the sea is to inform the spirit that now he should truly break attachment with the former life, and start his progress in the world beyond. It is however difficult to forget the loved one who has departed.

So, once a year, the devout Hindu feeds a pandit (priest), what the departed soul liked to eat during his lifetime, believing that by feeding a priest the departed soul would get satisfaction. This system is called “Shradh” and is derived from the word ‘Shradha” which means faith and devotion.

Whether the cooked food fed to the Brahmin reaches the departed soul is debatable: however we know that love and devotion have no barriers.

By offering food to the cow, one feeds the Devtas, celestial beings.

Ants and crow are offered food, they represent all birds. Their dark colour is believed to absorb negative energies.

Among the Christians it is common to offer a Mass for the dead and take flowers to the grave on the death anniversary of the departed soul.

From the various customs we have covered we see that even though the ritual of the customs differ to a certain degree in different creeds the underlying motive is the same.

After all, even though we may be belonging to different religions, we all belong to one big family of Human­ity and as such our aspirations, needs, joys and sorrows cannot differ very much from one another.

We tend to fight with each other to prove which religion is truer but we forget that the message of all religions has been the same; and If we go down to the roots of all creeds the underlying message does not differ. After all, it has to be so, as Truth is always unchanging and eternal. It is my belief that it is the followers who interpret the same truth in different ways and come out with different conclu­sions.

Also, different practices and beliefs may have also emanated depending upon the cultural and geographic environment from where they sprouted.

After all, all religions believe in one God, who is omnipresent, omniscient and all-powerful. We all believe that God is Truth and God is Love.

All religions believe In the Power of Prayer. Muslims and Christians believe in Heaven and Hell that souls inherit after death depending upon their deeds here on earth; whereas Hindus believe that Heaven and Hell are on this plane itself, depending again upon the good or evil deeds committed. Thus we believe that when a soul enjoys joy and sense of contentment, he is in Heaven, whereas when he has no peace of mind, then he is in his own custom-made Hell.

The Upanishads claim that the Atman (God within us) cannot be reached through much learning or much use of the intellect. Jesus Christ proclaims: “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The Katha Upanishad proclaims “The path is narrow as the edge of a razor.”

Jesus said : “Narrow Is the way which leads unto life.”

Hindus believe that we are a small part (atman ) of the whole (Paramatma). In other words we are the same children of God and enjoy the same inherent qualities.

Christians also believe that man is made in the likeness of God, and the Kingdom of God is within each one of us. Jesus Christ claimed; “I and my Father are one”.

We Hindus believe In a trinity:

Brahma    Vishnu       Mahesh
(Creator) (Preserver) (Destroyer)

Christians believe in

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

The occultists believe in

Light, Love and Power

and

Humanity at large believes in 

Mind, Body and Soul.

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