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Hindus remain austere and refrain from participating in any religious ritual for a specified number of days (mostly 13) when any family member expires.

The popular thought is that the home becomes "ashuddha" and requires purification (either by virtue of 'Garuda Purana' or 'Gayatri Paath'). While I agree that these rituals may be necessary for the peace of the departed soul and their afterlife, but I am finding it difficult to understand why the home becomes contaminated.

My questions are:

  • What is the need to follow a period of aśuddha or aśauca following the death of a family person?

  • Does the same aśuddha or aśauca apply when a pet or any other living being dies, as the soul departs in all of these other cases too?

  • Is there a logical explanation for all this?

  • No, my question is regarding the differences in the rituals for humans/others in the name of 'shuddhi' when the same soul departs in either of the cases. – Vikrant Jan 30 '17 at 6:55
  • Welcome to Hinduism.SE! Your title doesn't mention animals or pets, it's only asking about human death. This answer may give you some answers. Also, I suggest edit out the last line. Scientific speculation is not encouraged on Hinduism.SE. See related meta post. – sv. Jan 30 '17 at 7:06
  • Thanks @sv. for your valuable input. I will edit the title to suit my query. But still I wanted to understand why deaths of different beings are treated differently yet death is same for every being - Human and non-human – Vikrant Jan 30 '17 at 8:31
  • The abstinence is observed when a family member dies not when an animal dies. it is done due to affection. We are related to our family members by blood. But what about animals? – Sarvabhouma Jan 30 '17 at 8:54
  • @Shree Charan: Please read my question carefully. I am not undermining the affection, but questioning the difference in the rituals in the name of "ashuddhi" – Vikrant Jan 30 '17 at 8:56
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Well, Asuchi applies even when a pet dog or a household cow dies.

Acharya is defined as he who conducted Upanayana and Vedadhyayana; it is he who teaches the ‘nirvahana’or the conduct of Smarta Karmas.Acharya’s Patni-Putra mrithyu,also demands one day’s Ashuchi. In reverse too, the death of a Sishya calls for Tri Ratras and so on.Sahadhyaayis death requires pakshini. A Sanyasi’s death requires snaanantara Shuddhi. Death of a household cow requires ‘Grihaasoucha’ till the body is cleared followed by Griha Suddhi. A house hold dog of a Vipra entails ten days of Ashoucha.

Source-Essence of Dharma Sindhu.

NOTE-This book is in itself an authority but i'll still try to find out exact Scriptures which have provided the above "Asuchi Vidhanas" for household animal's death.

EDIT-Sorry i overlooked the questions that are in the body.

What is the need to follow a period of aśuddha or aśauca following the death of a family person?

Is there a logical explanation for all this?

I don't know the reasons.For me "since Shastras ask us to follow" is reason enough.And people who follow the Asuchi rules follow them for the same reason that i have.The impurity obviously applies on the spiritual plane.So,i don't think one can have a rational explanation for the same.

I don't think there are .At least i have not read any such explanations given in the Scriptures.

  • 1
    Thanks @Rickross - I agree that "Shastras ask us to follow" is a formidable reason to follow such practices. Actually I was confused with some of the practices which are blindly followed in the name of 'our forefathers used to do so'. We should know the reason to the extent we could. Thankfully, I got my answer. :-) – Vikrant Feb 2 '17 at 5:04
  • @Vikrant Ok..but actually most of the practices that our forefathers ask us to follow have basis in Scriptures only..Otherwise it wud not have been that easy for ordinary human beings to discover those rules by themselves..So,one has to believe their elders too.. – Rickross Feb 2 '17 at 5:17
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    I agree @Rickross, but one should always query for the reason. I think this is the way one attains knowledge. I agree that one age is not enough to discover all truth but blindly following anything begets superstition and malpractices. On a humble note, This is not a disbelief but search of the truth. – Vikrant Feb 2 '17 at 5:22

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