Right from the moment we are born, we have been using varieties of dresses – from undergarments to over-coats and hats – to clothe this body, as well as jewellery and ornaments – to decorate and pamper the body. As we grew along, some of the items that we used had to be discarded and replaced by fresh, modern and more fitting ones. But we have always been very careful to set aside some of the good and serviceable items for the benefit of other members of the family for immediate use or for use at a later date. We do, of course, pass on some of the items to other needy persons during natural calamities like earthquake, floods etc. so that they could use them. We never think of burning our used dresses as we know that these could be of use to some one, some time, somewhere.
Our body is but mere clothing for the soul. Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita says:
Vasamsi Jeernani yatha vihaya
Navani gruhnathi naroparani
Tatha sareerani vihaya jeernani
Anyani samyathi navani dehi (2.22)
Meaning: Just as man casts off his worn out clothes and puts on new ones, so also the embodied self casts off its worn out bodies and enters others which are new.
Yet, when the soul leaves the body, the body which is just a covering for the soul, is mercilessly consigned to flames, or buried. We know that the two eyes of the dead may be able to give sight to two visually impaired lives; two kidneys may be able to give a new lease of life to two ailing ones with defective/damaged kidneys. Like that there are many parts in the body which could be used for transplantation, thereby benefiting many to lead a normal life. And let us remember the stark reality that we were born with all these organs – gifted to us, as it were. They were not acquired by us by our own efforts. Then why should we hesitate to gift them to someone else, after our death?
It is time now to act. We do not know when the call will come for us to drop the body behind and depart. ‘Paropakararththam idam sareeram.’ Let us ensure that when our soul departs, our body is made available to the needy.
What should we do? Well, some devotees of Anandashram have bequeathed their body after death to any medical college/institution so that the healthy organs may be made use of for transplantation or educational purposes. Whatever is left over is to be consigned to fire in the nearest public crematorium without any rituals.
It is not enough just to bequeath, signing a piece of paper. It may be necessary to do so with the knowledge and consent of the kin, duly witnessed by a responsible citizen. Such a ‘donor declaration’ may be displayed prominently at our place of residence. Whenever we get an opportunity, we must discuss the matter with as many of our friends as possible, persuading them also to make similar donation and requesting them that this wish of the donor is strictly followed by the kin at the proper time.