Monday, July 20, 2009

"Religious rituals after death"

For a long time, a question about "Religious rituals after death" is bothering me. It's a purely personal question related to me
If I put my views before some Priest (Purohit), he may reply to his advantage and may say a big 'NO' to what I think just because I am a Brahmin! I don't know what stand any spiritual leader will take. That is why I am putting across my personal views on to my blog to elicit your opinion /views in the matter. Let me make it clear first that I do believe in God as a supreme power but am not a blind follower of several religious rituals.

(1)- After attending umpteen number of religious function of some body's death i.e. 9th day to 13th day and thereafter Monthly & Yearly shradh rituals, I have started thinking in a different perspective.
No body knows where one goes after death i.e. to hell or heaven. In my opinion, we experience all the miseries of life i.e. hell or comforts of heaven in our life time before death. We should not expect to go there after death. May be these rituals are conducted to appease God to send the departed soul to Heaven or to make his/her soul rest in peace. It may happen that during his/her life time, we may not have bothered to look after them or always blaming or fighting with them but suddenly after their death we start performing pooja for resting their soul in peace! Fine, but why to make the function of pomp and show by calling all & sundry? Why to accept costly gifts from all of them on 13th day?

People attend these functions for various reasons. Some are compelled because of family bondage even if they do not see eye to eye with the deceased or his family, some for the fear of back lash by God if not attending the function but as per my observation, majority of people come for chit chat, meeting each other and to enjoy the sumptuous food items prepared on the occasions .

What is the need for such show off and formalities? So many people have to waste their leave just to come and go back after eating! So many people have to come from far off places. All these are not for a day but for continuously for 4-5 days and even full 13 days. Is it not a colossal waste of other's time and money?

If at all we have to follow rituals of feeding people, why not to do away with the rituals followed from 9th day to 13th day/monthly/yearly just by visiting temple by family members and pray for the soul to rest in peace followed by arranging food for the needy like those staying in orphanages, old age homes, destitute homes & likes and get their blessings for doing something good for the needy. Nothing else to be done or performed.

Can family members be bound by my wish if made as a part of personal WILL?
I understand that if somebody donates his/her entire body on death to Medical College for their studies/research than no rituals need to be observed. Is it true and if yes, why exemption under this category?
I am sure you would take some time out of your busy schedule to quench my thirst for answer to the above.


  1. very well written sir,very well..
    sir i myself believe n agree wd u dat if sombdy donates its body parts dn dere is no need to perfom rituals

    happy blogging sir!

  2. Hello sir
    this is my first visit to ur blog and i gave the first review on Indiblogger..really excellent blog.... and I still dont know the reason and meaning behind these rituals....

    I would say the research they are doing after ones death is far more effective than the rituals we are doing....

  3. Nice blogging Sir! Yes, I dont find an answer to this :( posted in Indiblogger too.

  4. I agree with you.
    A lot of money and time is spend for many rituals, why not spend something for the needy as you said.
    Once again great thoughts.
    Keep Blogging.
    (please visit and comment)

  5. Dear sir,

    I am with you for all the ideas and suggestions you have given for the rituals done after death.
    I just believe in doing things like giving comfort and support for the elderly people than doing lot of dhana and dharma after their death. As you said nobody has seen where people go after their death. Do right thing when given a chance to live on earth.
    Nice ideas.
    great blog.
    Manjula M.V.

  6. Ayyangar sir, you have hit it on the head. I am convinced that the rituals after death are solely for the surviving kin's satisfaction and should be done away with. Your idea about donating body is absolutely what I have in mind (apne mere muh ki bat chhin li). So my full support to you on that. Cheers.

  7. It is good that you have raised this topic. I agree with your contention. I do not understand the need for these rituals. But I am amazed at the social stigma that people who choose not to observe these rituals are subjected to. A friend lost her father about 7 months ago. It was his last wish that no rituals be conducted after his death. So in accordance, they did not do the 10th day and 13th circus. And I could not believe that the people in my apartment actually avoided talking to them because of it! They did not even go to convey their condolences. It was really atrocious.
    And what about the 'mangali pondudal' that is done when a married woman dies? Just a means of posturing if you ask me.

  8. Without commenting on how people show off etc. I would recommend you read our scriptures, discuss with a knowledgeable seeker the importance of the ceremonies conducted on all 13 days and each month for the first year. Once you really know and understand the significance, the objective will be clear. The ceremonies are not to appease any God - God is after all in each of us. This discussion cannot be done in a response to a blog and it cannot be done unless involved parties have read our scriptures and are open to understand. Unfortunately modern day Indians in India go through ceremonies like a robot these days!

  9. Performing ceremonies after your death is not YOUR choice it is the duty and choice of your children, unfortunately, Will or no will, you have no say in the matter!

  10. Through email-Devdutt Pattanaik -
    All rituals are ultimately meaningless....we bring meaning into it.