Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Jeffery D. Long, Rita D. Sherma, Pankaj Jain, Madhu Khanna


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_188-1


The Sanskrit term antyeṣṭi refers to the Hindu funeral rite, the central element of which is cremation of the dead body.


According to the earliest textual sources, Vedic Indians knew and practiced different ways of dealing with the dead body ([2, 3]; [6], pp. 168–170), but the standard procedure was the ritual burning of the corpse. Although each Vedic ritual school had its own prescribed practice, there were no significant real differences between these rites, and therefore, Vedic funerals were quite uniform. Because the full funeral was enormously complex (it can be divided into 114 steps, [1]) and quite expensive, we can assume that it was executed in its entirety only for people belonging to the upper strata of Vedic society. Nevertheless, the later Hindu antyeṣṭievolved from the Vedic funeral ritual. The Hindu funeral thus naturally reflects the structure of the Vedic funeral and shares with it many of the same ritual acts. At the same time, however, many...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of ArtsCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic