Vajrayana Buddhism teaches the transmigration of souls, making the body a mere vessel for the soul, and at death, an empty one. The dead should be disposed of in the most practical and generous way possible, in this case, cut up and served to wild animals, especially vultures. Another good reason for this no-nonsense burial is the lack of firewood for cremation or the rocky ground unsuitable for burials. The practice dates back to at least the 12th Century and is meant to teach the impermanence of life and generosity, as the remains provide food to other creatures. Close relatives were allowed to watch their dearly departed being devoured.