I asked a learned friend about ‘death and rituals in Jainism’ because my grandfather passed away recently. This made me think about the rituals that are in place and the fact that the generation that will become ‘the elders’ mostly, do not have a clue about what is done or why it is done! Thus it was time to ask some questions.
It can be a stressful and emotional time. A time when some people don’t see the big deal with things like this. When others don’t want anything to go ‘wrong’. Some will not want to do anything wrong through fear that the soul will not be at peace and so on. Thus it is important to know and be accurate about what to do and how to do it.
I have asked quite a few questions surrounding death and the Jain rituals that follow.
VERY IMPORTANT POINT TO REMEMBER:
In all cultures the rites and rituals are performed based on availability of resources, the region, historical time, and what the society considers to be most appropriate. The rites and rituals change with these four factors called dravya, kshetra, kala and bhava in Jainism. Jain faith is very flexible and pragmatic. Anything which is rigid does not last, and Jainism has kept its originality in philosophical terms for over 2,500 years proves its pragmatism.
When a soul has departed, in Jain trans-migration, it takes less than one second to travel to and occupy its seat of the next birth and has not memory of its past life. Whatever rites and rituals we perform in it its name are only for our own self-satisfaction and cannot in any way benefit the departed soul. Hence, do perform all rites which give you satisfaction and remove any lingering doubts but do not carry any anxieties or doubts related to the departed soul. ‘AS YE SOW, SO SHALL YE REAP’. Your deed will never deliver fruit to me!
I have written this paper with the little knowledge which I have related to the subject. There is a detailed description of the transmigration of soul in TATTVARTHA SUTRA which can be discussed in a group. There are likely to be variations in interpretations for which I apologise.