Thursday, April 19, 2012

She will go as She was

It was one of the saddest days in our lives.  Our dear mother showered her love on us for a long time and had just left for her heavenly abode that day.  We were waiting for the arrival of her elder sister from Bangalore before the final step of consigning her mortal remains to eternity. All her sons and daughters and grandchildren were engulfed by sorrow and not many words were spoken around.  Our father had lost his wife of nearly six decades.  They had seen difficult days, good days and very happy days along these years.  He was sitting on a chair lost in deep thoughts.  The years they spent together was probably unfolding in his memory like a film.  He was not actually crying but one could feel the sadness by just looking at him.

The body was readied by my sisters for the final journey. The last offering called "Baagina" was kept ready for the husband to offer to the departed wife.  A well meaning neighbor asked for a piece of turmeric.  She wanted the piece of turmeric for tying around the neck of the body and removing the golden "Maangalya".  It is common practice to remove all the gold items from the body before consigning it to flames.  She was only reminding this trend.  All such gold items are material wealth and valuable for the living.  But it has no value for the dead.  Why destroy it?  Wiser people remove these items much before the end comes so that there is no embarrassment or delicate issues to be sorted out when the final moment arrives.

"She will go as She was", my father all but shouted in a clear voice and continued, "Nothing will be removed.  Whatever she was wearing will go with her. When I see her for the one last time, she should be the same as she was".  The neighbor was taken aback but she was not the one to give up an issue without some more argument.  "I have only suggested what is generally done. That is the common practice.", she replied mildly.  "What you suggested is right and fine. But that will not be done with my wife today", he replied her in a soothing tone.  "She will go with her ear studs, nose stud, Maangalya, bangles and the silver rings on the fingers of her feet. These five were the ornaments she wore as Muttaide, the five beautification aids or whatever you may call them.  When she is herself gone what to do with those things?", were his words of finality.  "Those people in the crematorium will take the gold pieces from the ashes", she said.  "What somebody does after she is consigned to flames does not bother me" he replied as the final verdict.  The issue ended there.

A week later things had calmed down a bit.  My father was telling all of us about the highlights of their long journey in life. I seized the opportunity and raised the issue.  "People take out all valuable items and the gold items are generally given to the daughters or daughters-in-law.  Is it a wrong practice?", I asked him.  "It is not at all a wrong practice and I did not suggest anything like that.  It is one's personal choice.  Many people remove these gold items and give it to the unmarried daughters. Those who are economically weak should better take the ornaments out and use them as it makes more sense for them.  All our daughters are married and even some grand daughters.  We do not need it. People also say that an unmarried daughter should be got married within a year so that the departed soul gets the punya, benefit of that action.  What punya you can you give to a departed soul?  Each soul has to carry its burden on its own shoulders.  This getting the unmarried daughter within a year also has a reason.  It is probably more for some fast action and ensure that the daughter is married that year itself rather than passing on the punya to the departed soul.  As the mother is no longer around to press for it, such a system may ensure the required action.  All this kriya or karma that is done is only for our satisfaction and peace of mind.  No one knows whether the soul will know of this or cares about it.  We all join together and remember the departed person and his or her contribution to our lives. That appears to be the basic purpose of these karmas. Rest of it is pure Tarka (Logic) or belief", he said.

"Then why should we do all this kriya karma? Why waste resources on these things?", I asked.  "Where is the wastage? You invite all relatives and friends and have a feast remembering the departed member of the family and society.  it is an occasion just like birthday. Only difference is that we do not respect the laws of nature when it comes to death.  During kriya karma you bring many items and distribute them among the needy in memory of the departed soul. Those items are used by the receivers in their daily lives. Nothing is a waste. When you give a set of footwear to someone walking barefoot it is not a waste.  But when you give it to a person having four pairs already, then it is a waste. So also with a bed.  It is to be given to a person sleeping on a floor and not to someone who has four cots in his house.  As far as performing kriya karma is concerned, it is one's choice. It is like two brothers going out of the house and arguing about whether it will rain that day.  One believes it rains and carries an umbrella with him.  The other brother does not believe it rains and goes without an umbrella.  If it rains, the one with umbrella is protected and the one without it will get drenched in the rain. If it does not rain the one who took it out  has only the problem of carrying the piece with him. I suggest you do the kriya karma as per the tradition of your family, just like keeping  the umbrella for no one knows for sure what happens after death or whether there is another world or not. Just like whether it will rain or not", he concluded.

Opinions may differ on arguments, logic and philosophy part.  But he was right about one thing.  When he saw his wife for the one last time in front of the electric furnace, she was as she was all her life, for him.  Just as I saw my mother for that one last time, as she was since my birth. 


  1. I am tiuched by this piece of writing sir!
    It shows the love a husband had for his wife!!

  2. hgod cannot be present everywhere to take care time to time needs and he manifests in form og mother .No body can give better love than a mother

  3. Very touching post.

  4. Thaata was a wise man.

  5. So touching, shows how much he loved her.

  6. Touching account of the moment of greatest loss for the husband and children.At the same time educating
    Rahul Aradhya

  7. some things that everyone reflects upon, at various points in time - very beautifully brought out. Sir, you have a gift for simple narratives that evoke deep feelings

  8. very beautifully written - sir, you have a gift for simple narratives that bring out deep feelings