Cremation, and what it speaks of a person’s conviction


When my father died, we donated his eyes. Some weeks later, the Lions Club, who helped us fulfil this wish of my father, home-delivered a certificate commending him for bringing light into the lives of two persons. My father, like the late #URAnanthamurthy, never shied away from questioning the grey areas in religion. We cremated my father’s mortal remains in an electric crematorium, with no attendant priests; and none of us thought to have any of the prescribed Hindu rituals performed on subsequent days or in the years that followed as we felt it was the best way to honour his memory. My father was not an agnostic, atheist or a follower of any rationalist movement. He died more than twenty years ago when notions like eye and organ donation were still being incubated. [In fact, he would have liked us to donate his organs, or even his body, if it would help medicine or science. We tried, but none then knew how this could be done.]

I recalled my father’s last journey as I read the report of U. R. Ananathamurthy’s funeral. And I felt an injustice has been done to the writer’s memory. It is not my intention to pass judgement on how Prof. Ananthamurthy’s cremation was conducted. All the same, I think an opportunity has been lost to show the world that in death he remained steadfast by what he passionately wrote, spoke and stood for all his life. Would the author of Samskara have had it this way? I wonder.


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