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Why holy men are buried

Hindus generally cremate their dead. But there are exceptions: the dead bodies of saints, holy men and children are buried.

delhi Updated: Apr 24, 2011 23:21 IST
Arnab Mitra

Hindus generally cremate their dead. But there are exceptions: the dead bodies of saints, holy men and children are buried. These practices are based on two related and fundamental tenets of Hinduism — the belief in the transmigration of the soul and reincarnation.

The Gita says: “Just as old clothes are cast off and new one worn, the soul leaves the body after death and enters a new one.”

Hindus believe that burning the body, and, hence, destroying it, helps the departed soul get over any residual attachment it may have developed for the deceased person.

In fact, all the Dharmic faiths —Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism — believe in some variation of this fundamental principle. Holy men and saints, however, are buried in the lotus position (padmasan) as they are believed to have attained — through piety, penance, rigorous spiritual training, or through good deeds done in previous lives — a level of detachment that makes cremation redundant.

Children, on the other hand, are buried as the soul has not stayed in the body long enough to develop any attachment.