By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Akrtidahana, AkRtidahana, AAkrritidahana
Burning the effigy of a person religiously, is called ākṛtidahana. It has been recommended by the dharmaśāstras in the cases where there is enough evidence to believe that a person might have died and neither the body nor its parts were available for cremation.
Rituals for Ākṛtidahana
- An effigy is prepared out of palāśa stalks and leaves, 360 in number.
- These stalks are used in the prescribed manner that 40 pieces for the head, 20 for the chest, 30 for the abdomen and so on.
- If he had preserved the Vedic fires, then his sacrificial vessels are also consigned to the fire, as it is done in regular cremation when the body is available.
- In case, the person were alive and returned later, then all the sanskāras or sacraments had to be repeated again including remarrying his own wife.
- Scientific name of palāśa is Butea frondosa.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore