Kausila’s son, who also is my maternal uncle, Dharma, approached this whole process differently and did not follow the conventional rituals. He says- he listened to his conscience and firmly stood without fear of family, society and the religious preachers to practice what he believed was right. He cremated his mother on a river bank but unlike others buried the ashes and leftover wood in a pit. Whereas, people used to throw such ashes and leftovers on the river. He also did not follow the priestly rituals while cremating and afterwards for thirteen days at home. Because, as his conscience says-neither we nor the priest can mediate and guarantee the trail to and seat in heaven for the dead person. Rather, it is the person’s own deeds in life that will make hell or heaven. Dharma did take time to mourn- resting, eating once a day, talking with the visitors and explaining why he chose this way to mourn with his two sisters for thirteen days. He says it was his responsibility to respect his sisters’ views too while he is firmly standing for his own.
On the river bank while the dead body was being prepared for cremation- Dhama’s family members, relatives, villagers and the priests were asking, almost trying to force Dharma to follow all the rituals. He was questioned for his conscience, and told that his decision was wrong and sinful. He was directly and indirectly threatened that his next generations will have to suffer because of this. He was reminded that this is against tradition and social values. A few even whispered in the corners that he will be boycotted by relatives, Brahmins and the society. As a witness, family member and a peace worker, I was curious to observe his response to this intense atmosphere. In such a situation, where Dharma was on one side and the rest of the people were on the other side, he was still calm and able to stand firmly for what his conscience was telling him. He did not get angry or furious at anyone. He never said he is right and others are wrong. Neither did he criticize anybody or put himself up for what he was doing. He followed his heart which people can rarely do. Dharma’s choice was rare, not only in his community but also in the whole country.