16 - Antyeshti Samskara
Antyeshti is the final Samskara performed for the soul’s journey on the earth. Antyeshti literally means ‘last sacrifice’. It refers to the funeral rites for the one that has left the body. It is also widely known as Antim Samskara, Antya Kriya, Anvarohanyya, or Vahni Samskara.
According to the Vaidic tradition, when the body is cremated, Vaidic mantras are chanted and relevant rituals are performed.
The human body and the universe consist of five elements - air, water, fire, earth and space. The last rite of passage returns the body to the five elements and its origins. The body is offered to the fire as the last sacrifice with the reminder that the body is perishable but the soul or the Brahman is immortal.