Question: What is the best way to bury the dead from the spiritual point of view?

Sri Chinmoy: Once the soul has left the body, once the bird has flown away, it is up to you what to do with the cage. It is up to the individual. If you are a follower of Zoroaster, you will have to keep the dead body on top of the roof. Then the vultures and wild birds will come and the smell you will have to put up with. That is what they feel is the best way. Some say the body should be burned for purification. Others will say, “Why do you have to burn it? It is something Mother Earth gave to this individual. Let it remain with Mother Earth and then you won’t see it.” So they will bury the body. Somebody else will say, “Consciousness is the most important thing. Water is consciousness. Let water carry it to the unknown.” Each one has his own explanation.

You have heard about the Indian custom of the past. When the husbands died, silly Indian tradition said the wives had to join the husbands. Always they had to enter into the burning pyre. Sometimes willingly they did it; most of the time it was unwillingly. They were forced. The wife was crying that she didn’t want to die with her husband, but the relatives, even the parents of the husband, forced the wife into the burning fire because that was the tradition. “To show your oneness, you have to die with your husband,” they said. That started right from the Mahabharata.