‘It’s a sad day!’ the boatman exclaimed.
‘Why?’ asked the outsider.
‘Look at the boat there – ready to go out,’ the boatman pointed.
‘What is so special about the boat?’
‘It is Raghu’s boat and he has decided to cross the Vaitarni in his own boat,’ the boatman explained.
A puzzled expression came over the outsider’s countenance.
‘Raghu has been sick for some time and he requested his sons not to cremate him if he died. He wants them to put his body in this boat and let it drift with the current. He believes that he could cross in to Yamloka on his own boat.’ The boatman elucidated.
‘Is it a religious belief?’
‘Yes, we Hindus believe that after a person dies, a portion of his body – memory of unpaid debts – outlive him. This portion crosses the river Vaitarni and enters the land of the dead – Yamaloka, where it lives as Pitr(ancestors). If unable to cross the Vaitarni, the dead stay back in the land of the living as a Preta, a ghost – with no chance of salvation or rebirth,’ the boatman elaborated.