Question: What should we do with the body after it dies?

Sri Chinmoy: It depends on where you were born. When you die, your soul-bird flies away from the cage. Once the bird, or the soul, has gone away, you can do anything you want to with the body. When you see that there is no bird inside, the cage is useless. You can break the cage, you can throw it into the sea, you can burn it, you can bury it underground.

Indian Hindus will be cremated. The Western people think that it is good to be buried. In the Parsee tradition they keep the body on the top of the roof, and the vultures and other animals eat the flesh and bones. The members of the family see all this. That is their tradition. Other people, when their own parents die, keep the bodies under the same roof that they sleep under. That is their culture. Who can challenge any culture? Some feel that they don't want to keep bodies of their dear ones around. They feel that they cannot keep a dead body in the same house with living people because it is frightening, and for other reasons. But other people do keep the body in the house. Again, Indians feel that since the body was so kind to them, now they should purify the body. And some people will want to throw the body into water, into the sea or the ocean, because water is consciousness. The body wanted to have infinite consciousness, so they throw the body into the water and let the ocean take care of it. And again, others will think that since the body came from earth, let it go back to earth. This is also true.

Who is wrong, who is right? When the soul goes away you can do anything you want with the body. We are spiritual people, but ordinary people feel that they must get some satisfaction when their dear ones die. Since it is only a matter of a few hours or a couple of days, let the relatives get satisfaction in their own way. If they feel that burning is the best thing, let them do it. If they feel that immersing in water is the best thing, let them do it. It is the individual's choice. Since the bird has left, you can do anything you want to do with the cage.