Scientists tell us that 90% of the cells in (or on) a human body are microbes (bacteria/viruses, etc.). Most of these are essential for human life.

When the dead body of a Hindu is cremated, all these are burned alive.

How does a religion which believes in karma and in not killing (if possible) any lifeforms deal with this predicament?

I understand the ancients had no clue about these bacteria and their role, but now that modern Hindus know about the microbes, why won't they change?

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    By your logic humans shouldn't live at all since a live human body's immune system kills so many mico-organisms every minute and so being alive itself is violence against other beings. It boils down to swadharma and path of least harm. Not no harm. Refer to my answer for "Why can we eat 'living' plants but not 'living' animals?": hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/252/14 – Bharat Jul 10 '14 at 21:40
  • @MrJekyll What else to do with a dead body? :) – TheLoneKing Jul 11 '14 at 7:01

The answer is broad, to give you an idea, after soul is left the body, according to the sect which one belongs to, there is tradition to decompose/destruct the body. Here are few exmaples for it..

If a baby dies, body would be buried in the earth and not cremated.

I heard from someone that if a saint/sanyasi leaves his body, his body would be cut into four pieces and spread the pieces across four sides of forest in order to feed animals(may be considered as he lived for others and even after he leaves this world he is helpful to someother being in this way). There are also instances where they disappear/leave their body in a sea. If not it would be buried in a place and the place is worshiped as brindavan

In general the resistance power of the aged or diseased will be low and would be adobe of many harmful microbes, so it is cremated

The most important cause is after the body is cremated, ash will be collected from important body parts and is dissolved into holy river water, it is believed that this will free the dead person from hell and may give better life next time. (so is organ donation is not well popular)

  • But don't you think that donating organs might help the soul neutralize some of its karma and attain liberation or a better life? – TheLoneKing Jul 11 '14 at 12:22
  • @Dharmaputhiran God is seen as reason behind all reasons, so philosophically if one is suffering from an organ loss it may be seen as the consequence of a bad deed. So help yourself! By dissolving ash into holy rivers, some bad vasana doshas(behavioral inheritance) to next birth may be controlled! – pbvamsi Jul 11 '14 at 12:35

By stating that cremation kills microbes, you are thrusting this idea that Hindus dont kill even microbes..

Sir, you are asking the wrong religion, the wrong question.. Shiva was a meat eater, and so did Ram.

So, you are confused between Jainism and Hinduism. Jains cover their mouth , so that they dont even kill a fly.

But why did Hindus cremate. In general, Hinduism has somehow repelled this idea of museums for the dead. In general, Hindus don't construct buildings and monuments over the dead. If you went across India, you would find temples or buildings, palaces, but almost zero buildings venerating the dead. This concept of venerating the dead came from western religions.

  • hmmm.. Hindus do venerate the dead. Pitirs(ancestors) are held with reverence and worshiped through Tarpan and Pitru Paksha. The difference between this and Abrahamic religions is that Hindus value the Atman only while the Abrahamic religion value the body also. There is no monument for the dead because there is a 1 particular place where the dead body 'rests'. The ashes are spread around or immersed in water. – Bharat Jul 31 '14 at 20:53

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