Have you ever tried visiting Smashana to think about life and contemplate a little? I tried it today and want to share my experience with you all.
The crematorium is not so far from where I live so without any plan when I just came out for a stroll after my lunch in the afternoon, I got this idea. I saw a corpse burning and people sitting and watching it. I took my seat at some distance and started looking everything carefully. Prior to this I have attended only one funeral in my life. As I sat there I could see there were couple of helpers who were helping with all the wood and other things to make things easier for the people who have come there to say the final goodbye to their loved one. Off course the helpers charge but still they were doing a job which most of the people would avoid to do. Seeing dead bodies every single day, you can imagine.
After few minutes, a new set of people arrived with an another corpse. I could see the stiff body and thin limbs of an old man. After few rituals they made the corpse sleep on the bed made out of pieces of wood. The son (I presume) of the old man was maybe in late 20’s or early 30’s. He was guided by the other elder people. He applied some paste (sandalwood I suppose) on the body of the corpse and then the body was inverted and covered with wood and other combustible materials. The young man kept the pot on his shoulder and did circumambulations. And finally again after doing three circumambulations with holding lit firewood he gave the fire to his father’s body.
People accompanying him seemed to be very casual, some were talking. I could hear two people criticizing the Sati-pratha (the practice in which a widow sacrifices herself by sitting atop her deceased husband’s funeral pyre) performed in the past. Certainly they were terrified with the mighty avatar of the Agni Devta (Fire God). One person was recording the incident on his cellphone. Most of them seemed as if they want to get back to their home as early as possible.
Generally, we tend to shy away in discussing this topic in our day to day life or even we dislike thinking of the death to oneself or to our loved ones. But it is a reality which we could have to face anytime and no one can escape it. Then why shouldn’t we try to understand it and see if we can remove the fear of the death? I understand it’s not completely possible unless a person reaches a certain spiritual height but atleast we can try to understand this aspect of Bhagwan’s grand scheme of things.
No matter in which culture we are born we have these concepts of heaven and hell or rebirth or birth cycle in 84 lakh species etc. Not only this we also say that the soul has departed or the person has left the body and so on. Where is it leading to us? It certainly means that leaving this body is not the end, there is someone whose journey is still on and it is the end only of the body. That means we are certainly more than the body or we are not the body at all. We have just taken ourself to be this body which is nothing but our temporary abode. We do talk about past lives then how can we take our present life as a complete truth?
As a kid my father gave a very nice analogy to me regarding this. He said like we change our clothes everyday, in the same way we change our body once it is not fit to stay in. He further said sometimes we take a body of a bird, sometimes of an elephant etc. so all these different looking creatures are just different clothes which we must have definitely tried in the past. This teaching also brought the empathy towards all other living beings.
Then what exactly is this body you may ask? Let’s see if we can arrive somewhere.
The body is only a modification of the food (Annamaya Kosha – as said in ancient texts). If we keep on overeating for a period of time, we certainly gain weight and opposite is also true. But how did it arrive at first place? From another body we may say. If we dig little deeper then we know that semen and ovum together formed a zygote (fertilized egg). Semen is one of the finest product of the food eaten by a man and so is ovum by a women. After the zygote formation the female body nourishes this newly formed flesh until the life enters. This life is the same soul which departed from some other body.
Now all this may not sound very interesting but I’m sure there will be few minds who may be thinking on the same lines. Mysteries are mysteries only until we know them. Coming back to our topic.
The body is under continuous modification, right from the birth till the final breath. But have you noticed your sense of ‘I’ changing. It was the same as a child or as a young person or as an old man. It never changes because it is not the body my friends. Body is our closest friend. It is a place where we reside for a limited time. But it is definitely not us. Off course we should care for it but thinking it to be oneself is the foundation of many wrong notions in my opinion.
Objectifying body and creating a distance between I and the body is a way which has helped me upto an extend and it will help you too. In the society we are constantly judged by the body. We hear the comments – you are fat, or thin or beautiful or ugly and so on. Only if we could be mindful that these are all the attributes of the body, doesn’t matter how good or bad they are, they are temporary. I should not identify with the temporary attributes of the body. Most desirable men and women on international magazines who are judged mostly by their looks keep changing every year. Why? Have you ever thought about it?
Taking our analogy of clothes again, suppose you get so attached to your clothes and you don’t want to change them, you cry, you want to hold on to it eternally. But is it possible? How many days you will succeed in keeping the same clothes on. One day they are bound to come off and so is this (our) body and of our loved one’s too. Accepting this fact and respecting the universal laws surely brings peace to one’s mind.
When the divine soul leaves the body, it starts to decay. The last rites cannot be delayed very much, it becomes difficult to be around the same body which we were fond of when it was occupied by the the divine.
The love and care we show towards each other goes beyond our physical existence. The divine energy which dwells in us is the one with a true fragrance and it cannot die. May we all touch it as per our capacities with the grace of the same divine. Our journey was not started when we took our present body but it can certainly end before leaving it. How? You ask me. Discover your own truth. I am discovering mine.
What do you think about this topic? Let me know your thoughts. I am open to your suggestions and further discussions.
As the master says,
Live. Love. Laugh. Give
P.S – I am not a writer and this was my first post so please excuse me for my errors.
This was my personal opinion after some contemplation and studying few ancient texts.