KIRAN ATMA: Antyeshthi
Showing posts with label Antyeshthi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Antyeshthi. Show all posts

Hinduism And Hindu Theology - What Is Antyeshthi?


Antyeshthi means "final rituals." Samskara the sixteenth and last of the traditional life-cycle rituals (samskaras), which consists of funeral rites. 

Deathbed rituals for the dying individual, cremation for the corpse, asthi-sanchayana (collecting the ashes), sapindikarana (assimilation to the ancestors), different memorial rites known as shraddhas, and asthivisarjana are all examples of these rites (immersing the ashes in a sacred river). 

These rituals have a dual function. 

  • The first is to remove the body, which is a source of infection and impurity (ashaucha), thereby protecting the living from the dead. 
  • The second goal is to make it easier for the deceased person's spirit to go to the next realm. 

Apart from these purposes, conducting familiar and ceremonial rituals for the deceased provides psychological comfort to the living and helps in the mourning process. 

The following is just a summary of these rituals; check the individual articles for additional details. 

  • The first 10 days following death are when ritual practices are most intense, since this is considered to be the time of maximum impurity. 
    • Cremation is typically performed on the day of death, not just to avoid decomposition and illness in hot climates, but also to ensure that the corpse is destroyed and cannot be reanimated by a wandering soul. 

  • On the second or third day, the ashes (asthi-sanchayana) are collected. 
    • They would have been stored in a secure location for years until a relative visiting a holy river could conduct asthi-visarjana (immersion of the ashes); but, with the introduction of modern transportation, this is now usually done only a few days after death. 
    • Symbolic sustenance is provided to the spirit throughout this ten-day period to aid in the formation of a "new" body. 

  • The family holds the first of the memorial rituals known as shraddhas on the eleventh day; in this instance, an ekoddishta shraddha is held, in which brahmin visitors are served as surrogates for the ancestors. 

  • The family conducts the sapindikarana ritual on the twelfth day after death, in which the dead is integrated into the ranks of the ancestral spirits (pitr) and therefore no longer regarded a restless spirit. 

  • After then, there are yearly shraddhas once a year during the Pitrpaksha (“fortnight of the ancestors”), the waning moon period in the lunar month of Bhadrapada (August–September), which is exclusively dedicated to such monuments. 

See Pandurang Varnan Kane (trans. ), A History of Dharmasastra, 1968, and Raj Bali Pandey, Hindu Samskaras, 1969, for further details. 

See David M. Knipe, “Sapindikarana: The Hindu Rite of Entry into Heaven,” in Frank E. Reynolds and Earle H. Waugh (eds. ), Religious Encounters with Death, 1977; Lawrence Babb, The Divine Hierarchy, 1975; and Anne Grodzins Gold, Fruitful Journeys, 1988, for descriptions of contemporary practice.

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