The way we go about scattering the ashes of our loved ones after they are cremated either helps them in the afterlife or obstructs their onward journey. Spiritual research conducted has shown that immersing ashes in water alone can benefit our ancestors. This article also provides information on the reasons behind the spiritually correct methods to be adopted – right from the collection of ashes to its final disposal.
1. Introduction to scattering ashes
Nowadays there is an increasing trend of people choosing cremation over burial as a funeral rite. The funeral rite of cremation that takes place either on a funeral pyre or in a crematorium does not dispose off the body totally. The remains are commonly known as ashes and are handed back to the family in an urn. The entire process from receiving the ashes to the scattering of the ashes is important from a spiritual point of view. Depending on the process adopted, we can either help our departed loved one to move on in their afterlife or we may be instrumental in their remaining earthbound. However the surviving relatives who receive the ashes in a cremation urn are generally unaware of the spiritually correct way of scattering the ashes.
In the article on, ‘What is the spiritual perspective on cremation, burial and body consumed by vultures?’ we described how the corpse could be attacked by ghosts, thus impeding the progress of a subtle-body after death. The ashes after cremation represent the last vestiges of the person. The ashes therefore have the same frequencies as that of the departed ancestor.
We know that we can medically identify a decomposed body that is beyond recognition by techniques such as DNA testing etc. because even a small remnant of a tooth or hair matches exactly to the person. Similarly at a subtler, intangible level the smallest remnant of the corpse, even in the ashes has the same frequencies and vibrations as the person.
These frequencies are generally negative in nature. As 50% of the population is below 30% spiritual level, the frequencies emanating from the body are the subtle basic Raja-Tama frequencies. Also as 100% of the population is affected by ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) the frequencies emanating from the body and ashes are of the Tama variety. As a result, they are distressing to us at a subtle level.
Refer to the article – the three subtle basic components of sattva, raja and tama in relation to spiritual level.
There is also a subtle bond that exists between the ashes and the departed ancestor because of the similar frequencies. These frequencies and subtle bond can be used by ghosts to create obstacles in the subtle body’s journey after death. By creating obstacles in the onward journey in the afterlife, ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) capture and then end up controlling the subtle body. This enables them to trouble the subtle body or make it do many undesirable acts as per their bidding, like troubling others. In almost all cases where the ancestor is earthbound they end up troubling their descendents.
Refer to the article – Why would my departed loved ones and my other ancestors want to give me pain?
In this article, we present the spiritual research undertaken to identify the spiritually most beneficial method to be adopted from the time the cremation ashes are received to the final scattering of the ashes. The primary purpose is to help the departed ancestor move on in the afterlife with minimum negative impact on the surviving relatives.
2. Where should one keep the cremation urn until the ashes are scattered?
As explained above, the ashes of any person who is not a Saint is usually high in the subtle basic Raja-Tama component. Any contact with it adds to the subtle basic Raja-Tama component in us and can be a cause for distress. Hence it is advisable to scatter ashes immediately after collecting them. Bringing the ashes into the house also increases the attachment of the departed ancestor’s subtle body and makes it more earthbound instead of hastening its momentum in the afterlife.
If for some reason the scattering of ashes cannot be done immediately, the sealed urn is best kept outside the house, tied to a tree etc.
3. How long should we wait before scattering cremation ashes?
If the cremation was done on a funeral pyre the ashes are generally collected on the 3rd day. This is because it takes approximately three days for the embers to completely die down. If the cremation is done in a crematorium, the ashes are available the next day itself. Whatever the method of cremation the sooner one goes about scattering the ashes, the lesser is the negative impact of the Raja-Tama frequencies.
In some cases, relatives residing overseas who could not make it for the funeral want to be part of the ritual of scattering of ashes. Here too, one has to weigh the spiritual benefit to the ancestor and preventing distress to oneself by scattering the ashes immediately versus the emotional gratification of the relatives.
4. What is spiritually the best way to go about scattering ashes from a cremation urn?
4.1 Immersion of ashes in water
After the body is cremated, immersion of the ashes in water is spiritually the best way of disposing of the ashes. The reasons for this are as follows:
- It is easier for ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) to gain control of the ashes and the subtle body and misuse it. This is especially so when they find the ashes all together in one place in the ground. By immersing the ashes in water, they are dispersed and hence unavailable to the ghosts in a collected form to gain control of.
- As water is all-assimilating, it imbibes the distressing vibrations remaining from the dead body in the ashes and the other Absolute Cosmic Principles (Panchamahābhūtās) related to the subtle body like Absolute Earth (Pruthvī), Fire (Tēj), Air (Vāyu) element etc. This helps to break the remaining attachment of the subtle body to its gross body (sthūladēha) on the Earth region (Bhūlok). As a result, the probability of the subtle body getting stuck in the Earth region as well as that of being attacked by ghosts is dramatically reduced.
- The demerits (sins) of the person add to the subtle basic Raja-Tama frequencies of the ashes. By scattering the ashes of the deceased in the water, the demerits i.e. the Raja-Tama frequencies related to the demerits are washed into the water.
- Sea water is the best for disposal of ashes. This is because sea water has the maximum all-assimilating property among all types of waters. Amongst other waters, holy rivers are the best. Holy rivers are those rivers whose waters have a very high content of subtle basic Sattva component. For example, in rivers like the Ganges in India the subtle basic Sattva component is high despite the water being heavily polluted. In general, flowing water is the best as it scatters the ashes thus making it near impossible for the ghosts to gain control on the subtle body through the ashes.
4.1.1 What should one do with the urn after immersing the ashes in the sea?
As the ashes are collected in the urn, the urn gets charged with the vibrations in the ashes. Keeping the urn or using it later can give rise to distress because of the distressing frequencies associated with most ashes as explained above. Hence it is best to immerse the urn in water along with the ashes.
4.2 Burial of the ashes
Some cultures prescribe burial of ashes in the urn after cremation. They also argue that the body is a temple of God and therefore should be buried instead of cremated.
As explained above, burying the ashes in an urn makes it an easy target for the ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies, etc.) and it is much easier for them to gain control of the subtle body of the departed ancestor. At a spiritual level, the adverse effect of the ashes on the subtle body is identical to that of burying the body albeit of a slightly less intensity. Thus burial of a corpse or burial of the ashes is a highly incorrect act. Considering the number of burials so far over the centuries and those to come, it is evident that everybody has to face the consequences of the increase of subtle basic Raja-Tama vibrations generated through this incorrect act. When there is an overall rise in the Raja-Tama vibrations on Earth there is an increase in natural disasters, wars, terrorism, social unrest etc.
4.3 Keeping ashes in jewellery
Some people make cremation jewellery by placing a lock of hair, a dried flower from the funeral, ashes etc. in a locket, pendant, bracelet etc. By doing this we harm the ancestor by:
- Increasing his worldly attachment thus causing an impediment to his onward journey in the afterlife and making him Earthbound. The act of wearing the ashes itself causes a higher level of attachment in the subtle body of the departed ancestor for the descendent and their previous life on Earth.
- Exposing him to the risk of attack by ghosts.
Cremation jewellery is harmful to us as:
- We expose ourselves to the subtle basic Raja-Tama in the ashes intimately and over an extended period of time.
- We expose ourselves to the risk of being affected by the subtle body of the ancestor as well as the ghost who may be in control of the ancestor’s subtle body through the ashes.
4.4 Scattering ashes by airplane or on a favourite place of the deceased
It is best to scatter ashes quietly and without much fuss/fanfare as a sign of respect to the dead and also to keep its worldly attachment to the minimum.
As explained above, it is best to scatter ashes in water.
5. Who should perform the rite of scattering of the ashes?
Anybody can scatter the ashes; usually it is the next of kin who does it. It is best that only a single person does it to limit contact with the ashes and keep it to the minimum.
6. What material should the cremation urn be made of?
Manufacturers of cremation urns offer a variety of products to select from. The cremation urn varies from the type of material used, to the design on them, to the shape.
From a spiritual perspective, the following is recommended for the selection of an urn:
- Material: It is best to use a plain earthenware urn for collecting and storing ashes. The urn should not be of any other material such as ceramic, glass, porcelain etc. The earthenware urn when immersed in water dissolves completely into the water and thus causes no or minimal pollution. It also is high in the Absolute Earth Principle. The ashes are also predominantly made up of the Absolute Earth Principle. As both belong to the same Absolute Cosmic Principle their frequencies do not clash. Hence it is beneficial to use earthenware urns.
- Design: Every type of design or art can be sāttvik, rājasik or tāmasik. Only if one has evolved to a level where one can perceive the purity in the art or design will one be able to perceive the positive or distressing vibrations from the design on the urn. Thus it is recommended that the urn have no design. If the design is subtle Raja-Tama predominant, it will add to the existing Raja-Tama in the ashes. It will thus cause further distress or impediment in the onward journey of the subtle body of the departed ancestor.
- Shape: Urns are manufactured in all shapes and sizes. They are generally cubical, cylindrical, like a pyramid etc. The urns with sharp angles as in the aforementioned shapes give rise to striking, opposing frequencies that are predominantly subtle basic Raja-Tama. These add to the distressing frequencies of the ashes. This means an addition of subtle basic raja-tama to the subtle body too. Spiritual research has shown that with regards to shape, it is best to have a plain circular regular shape as it does not have the detrimental effect of adding on subtle basic Raja-Tama frequencies.
Some manufacturers of cremation urns advertise cremation jewellery that allows the surviving relatives to keep a part of the ashes in some bracelet or pendant. In these pendants, they also keep a lock of hair of the dead person, some dried flowers from the funeral or some earth from the burial site. From a spiritual perspective, this is most harmful for the subtle body of the dead person and also the person wearing it. Please refer to point 4 for a full explanation of why ashes should not be kept.
To seal the urn, from the time of collection of the ashes to its final scattering, it is best to use white cotton cloth.
7. Should I scatter my pet’s ashes?
It is recommended that the pet’s ashes too be immersed in water for the same reasons as above.
Some people have expressed their desire to bury their pet dog or cat’s ashes along with their ashes. Spiritual research indicates that this is highly detrimental. This is because they are holding on to attachments thus increasing the possibility of remaining Earthbound. Also the pets ashes’ are more Tama predominant than human ashes.