Vedic Rights of Passage

flowersRecently, a number of people have been inquiring about how things should be handled when someone passes, particularly with respect to Mount Soma. This is something I have discussed extensively in the past with our Panditji and other Vedic authorities. From time to time in classes this has all be explained.

That information follows here:

Generally, bodies are cremated. This helps to release the soul from the earth plane, so the individual can most rapidly move forward with their evolution. The ashes are not to be taken home. They should instead be quickly placed in a large river, ideally a holy river in India. Currently, there is a movement in India to clean the Ganges, so people are no longer allowed to put the ashes in that river.

In the West, it is a common practice to construct a little shrine or garden area to honor the deceased. That practice too can hold the soul back from moving forward with their evolution as they let go of their worldly life.

Along those same lines, mourning is something that is best to be limited. There is, of course, a natural mourning period which is not to be suppressed or judged, but is also not to be prolonged. The mourning process is another way the soul is held back.

In short, after a person passes, the best thing to do is what is best for that soul. Though it is understandable, if we are not careful, we end up doing what makes us feel better which may not be the best thing for the departed.

We, at many times, have received requests for ashes of the deceased and shrines or garden areas to be placed at Mount Soma. According to the Vedic tradition, that cannot be permitted. Mount Soma is a place that moves souls forward. So, we certainly take great care in not doing anything that would hold them back.

I certainly understand and am most sympathetic with the more traditional approaches.  I understand traditions like the spiritual teacher not being around the sick, mourning, or dead is difficult for many to understand. In these most delicate and tender times, it is extremely difficult to handle all of this seamlessly. Please know, however, that we are all doing our very best. In so doing, we often find ourselves in an awkward position. Please understand that.

Please also keep in mind that in the best situations, change is difficult. In these challenging times of a life in passing, may we all do our very best to do what is best for the soul of the deceased.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.


  1. Thank you for clarifying the process of the deceased. Since a holy river such as the Ganges is no longer available at this time to put the ashes there, what body of water would suffice? I am interested in learning about Vedic funeral rites as well for myself.

  2. Michaelji:

    With the highest respect for the soul and Vedic tradition, and in honoring this time for personal reflection. I “quietly” offer this thought and question:

    What I have learned and experienced through your teachings is the importance of healing transgradiently. I am wondering if within the context of this discussion, is their a difference between mourning and grieving? I suspect there is, grieving being the natural emotional response to significant loss and mourning being more of a spiritual/ritualistic response to a departing soul? As both psychotherapist and a funeral director, your clarity would be helpful when the time is right. Thank you and thank you for enlightening us as to how best to support this rite of passage.

  3. Thank you for sharing this perspective.

  4. Thank you for addressing this topic Brahmarshi.

    I don’t think it is news to you or anyone else that I love and respect you and feel utmost gratitude to you, beyond what words can express.

    One frustration for me is that I can only process things and deal with them through my current level of evolution, and my identities, my addictions, my colored glasses, etc. Perhaps in some small space of me I am doing this gracefully, with transcendence and with respect for the Veda and your teachings.

    I have been sitting with myself a lot especially these past few weeks. I thought about Peter’s suicide. Peter left because he could not live with the lies he lived and the hurt he caused. He became not himself.

  5. You are coming with amazing blogs lately.
    And i wonder is their growth in death or just in incarnation.
    And when you incarnate again will you look a bit the same or is it totally different?

  6. Hi Kimie,
    There are many Holy rivers in India. But you would need to go there or know someone who would place the ashes for you. Otherwise, a large river near by will do. Not a creek or stream but a large river.

  7. Bill,
    There is of course a strict dictionary definition for each term… mourning and grieving. However, I think it is fine to define them how you choose to make this distinction.
    The subject is so delicate… on some level it even feels inappropriate to address all this in a blog. However, it seems we have no choice other than to do so, or to say nothing (other than to those I speak directly with).
    Certainly grieving and mourning are natural and to be honored and deeply respected.
    I can only give the information that I have. Then people must decide for themselves how to grieve and mourn and for how long. Of course, I allow myself that same space to decide how I grieve and mourn those losses.

  8. Gail,
    Your comment is very sweet and beautifully simple. I sincerely thank you for it. At the same time, the word ‘perspective’ often intrigues me. There are mechanics in nature that strictly speaking are not best termed ‘perspectives’. Admittedly, I am being very detailed here… perhaps too much so. I trust I am understood here. Blogging does have its limitations. Such subtle and delicate points are perhaps best left for class discussions. In fact, you have inspired me to talk in class about ‘perspectives vs mechanics’ and I thank you very much for bringing to light that subtle but, to me, important distinction.

  9. Eri,
    As has been said, the latter is always a more evolved state. But as with my comment to Gail, such topics deserve a class format as opposed to a blog or blog comment. As with Gail, I pray my words are not misunderstood.

    As to ones appearance in the next life, the answer has more to do with the observer than the one who has reincarnated. Do we all not feel immediate affinities for some at first glance? Is this not the foundation of true love at first sight? And as to the physical appearance on a more superficial level, just think of water flowing down a mountain stream. Usually there is little difference from one moment to the next. But at times, the leap over a waterfall or spin in a whirlpool can bring about great change in a flash.

  10. I enjoy this thanks for the response.

  11. Thank you so much for the explanation, Michaelji.

    I have a question about letting a deceased go so the soul can move on. There could be many people in a person’s life that deal with his or her death very differently. While some go through a normal grieving process and then settle in a place of comfortable distance, others will never let go (Lady Di comes to mind as a person who perhaps was not let go of for a long time).

    Does everybody have to let go in order for that person’s soul to move on?

  12. I appreciate that the Vedic tradition prioritizes the soul’s evolution. It makes sense to me.

    I agree with Eri. You are writing amazing blogs lately.

  13. I understand better now!

  14. Yes, this blog can be added to a long list of great ones. Beautiful comments as well.
    Jai Guru Dev!

  15. Thank you very much for providing this information.

  16. The River answered my question. Another question though. What about pictures of family members or friends passed? By displaying them, are we holding them back? And the best place to display, if it is ok?

  17. It is fine to display them. It has more to do with your relationship with them. You need to feel the nature of your relationship with those pictures… from within yourself.

  18. Brahmarshi:

    Thank you, that feels right, as joy comes to me when looking at those that have passed.

    Jai Siva Sankara

  19. Thank you so much.

  20. Such a great blog on a delicate subject like that. This makes so much sense. One thing I’ve always loved about your teachings is that you don’t compromise the Knowledge even if people reject it. Talking about Compassion with a capital ‘C’!!!