08 Apr 2013 QA-7

What is the significance of the last rite ceremonies?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:

The last rites also have a purpose, they are very nice.
A mantra is said in the ear of the corpse, because the soul is still there for some time, it has not gone. They are told, ‘Look, this body is going back to its original elements. You are not that. You are light. Move on.’
It is the son or the daughter who says it. Today, this ceremony has become male dominated.

There is a belief in India that you have to have a son in order to be liberated, because even after you die, it is the son who will say these mantras, give you knowledge and liberate you. Without the son, there is no liberation! However, this is not true! In the olden days, girls also had these rights.

The Art of Living is fighting against female feticide. We are working with UNICEF and United Nations Family Fund for gender equality. The Hindu scriptures speak about gender equality, but somewhere in the middle Ages, this changed.
If you go to Bali, an ancient Hindu culture, you will find female priests there. (Bali’s Hindu culture is much older than India)
In India, this practice disappeared. Females are not allowed to become priests.

Isn’t it nice, to say to those who have passed across, ‘Be satisfied! Be content! Be happy there!’ I thought it is a fantastic message, even if you say it mentally.

Mental action is for people with a little higher intelligence.
People with little lesser intelligence want some action to be done. You don’t need to bring a flower for someone who is intelligent. However, an unintelligent person wants to do something that is action oriented.
Those who do not have a high level of intellectual maturity, they cannot survive without action. Therefore, in the action also, they made it so meaningful.
Take a few sesame seeds, pour some water from your hand, and remember the departed. That’s all. This is shraadh, nothing else.

Later on, the priests and pundits thought, ‘Anyways people are making offerings, why not put one or two rupee coins along? So, when they put the coins, the pundits take them.
The coins are not mentioned anywhere! Only sesame seeds! You do it with this feeling that, ‘Be satisfied! Drop all the cravings; if you still have any desires, leave it to me.’