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Rituals for the dead

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  • Hariharan Parasuraman
    Hi, Does Rig veda or any other Vedic scripture mentions about the rituals for the dead? Especially is the custom of keeping a gold silver leaf or coin over
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 1, 2008
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      Hi,

      Does Rig veda or any other Vedic scripture mentions about the rituals for the dead?

      Especially is the custom of keeping a gold\silver leaf or coin over the fore head of dead corpse mentioned anywhere?

      Regards,
      Hariharan




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    • Sunil Bhattacharjya
       Dear Hariharan Parasuramanji, Kindly specify whether you heard about this ritual before cremation or before burial, as both the methods have been given in
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 1, 2008
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         Dear Hariharan Parasuramanji,

        Kindly specify whether you heard about this ritual before cremation or before burial, as both the methods have been given in Veda?

        Regards,

        Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

        --- On Mon, 12/1/08, Hariharan Parasuraman <hariharan_parasuraman@...> wrote:
        From: Hariharan Parasuraman <hariharan_parasuraman@...>
        Subject: [Ind-Arch] Rituals for the dead
        To: IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Monday, December 1, 2008, 4:12 AM

        Hi,

        Does Rig veda or any other Vedic scripture mentions about the rituals for the dead?

        Especially is the custom of keeping a gold\silver leaf or coin over the fore head of dead corpse mentioned anywhere?

        Regards,
        Hariharan

        Check out the all-new face of Yahoo! India. Go to http://in.yahoo. com/


      • hariharan_parasuraman
        I am more curious to know about this custom before burial. Regards, Hariharan ... cremation or before burial, as both the methods have been given in Veda? ...
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 2, 2008
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          I am more curious to know about this custom before burial.

          Regards,
          Hariharan

          --- In IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com, Sunil Bhattacharjya
          <sunil_bhattacharjya@...> wrote:
          >
          >  Dear Hariharan Parasuramanji,
          >
          > Kindly specify whether you heard about this ritual before
          cremation or before burial, as both the methods have been given in
          Veda?
          >
          > Regards,
          >
          > Sunil K. Bhattacharjya
          >
          > --- On Mon, 12/1/08, Hariharan Parasuraman
          <hariharan_parasuraman@...> wrote:
          > From: Hariharan Parasuraman <hariharan_parasuraman@...>
          > Subject: [Ind-Arch] Rituals for the dead
          > To: IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com
          > Date: Monday, December 1, 2008, 4:12 AM
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > Hi,
          >
          >
          >
          > Does Rig veda or any other Vedic scripture mentions about the
          rituals for the dead?
          >
          >
          >
          > Especially is the custom of keeping a gold\silver leaf or coin
          over the fore head of dead corpse mentioned anywhere?
          >
          >
          >
          > Regards,
          >
          > Hariharan
          >
          >
          >
          > Check out the all-new face of Yahoo! India. Go to http://in.yahoo
          com/
          >
        • Francesco Brighenti
          ... Yes, it is mentioned in Vedic Sutras. Some of the latter texts prescribe that thin or minute pieces of gold -- not coins! -- should be placed on the two
          Message 4 of 6 , Dec 3, 2008
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            Hariharan Parasuraman asked:

            > Does Rig veda or any other Vedic scripture mentions about the
            > rituals for the dead? Especially is the custom of keeping a
            > gold/silver leaf or coin over the fore head of dead corpse
            > mentioned anywhere?

            Yes, it is mentioned in Vedic Sutras. Some of the latter texts
            prescribe that thin or minute pieces of gold -- not coins! -- should
            be placed on the two ears, the two eyes, the two nostrils and the
            mouth of the corpse of the deceased before the cremation ceremony so
            as to close all of its facial orifices. Gold in this case was meant
            to ensure immortality to the soul of the deceased. This rite had to
            be accompanied by the recitation of the five hrdaya-formulas
            (namely, those beginning with suvarnam gharmam...). Some Sutra texts
            do not mention at all the number of facial orifices the pieces of
            gold had to be laid upon, and some others just prescibe that, as fas
            as possible, a piece of gold should be placed on the mouth of the
            deceased. Yet some other Sutra texts say that at least melted butter
            should be allowed to trickle down upon the openings of the face.

            On this topic see Jan Gonda, _The Functions and Significance of Gold
            in the Veda_, Leiden and New York, E.J. Brill, 1991, p. 159;
            _Srautakosa: Encyclopaedia of Vedic Sacrificial Ritual_, Poona,
            Vaidika Samsodhana Mandala, 1958-1973, Vol. I, Pt. II, pp. 1115-1116.

            Kindest regards,
            Francesco Brighenti
          • Rajagopal S. Iyer
            namo namaH, ... Well I can t speak in the context of R^igveda. AFAIK the rituals are followed according one e suutra. But it is a well known fact that the
            Message 5 of 6 , Dec 4, 2008
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              namo namaH,

              --- In IndiaArchaeology@yahoogroups.com, "hariharan_parasuraman"
              <hariharan_parasuraman@...> wrote:
              >
              > I am more curious to know about this custom before burial.
              >
              > Regards,
              > Hariharan
              >

              Well I can't speak in the context of R^igveda.

              AFAIK the rituals are followed according one'e suutra.

              But it is a well known fact that the rituals of a yati are essentially
              burial.

              I don't have my text near me. Let me check out the specific point you
              have raised in the next few days and get back.

              aa no bhadraaH kratavo yantu vishvataH

              Rajagopal
            • Sarvesh Tiwari
              ... Hariharan Ji, Namaste. The below note, very interesting, may be relevant: An Aryan mortuary rite
              Message 6 of 6 , Dec 4, 2008
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                --- In IndiaArchaeology@ yahoogroups. com, "hariharan_parasura man"
                <hariharan_parasura man@...> wrote:
                >
                > I am more curious to know about this custom before burial.
                >
                > Regards,
                > Hariharan

                Hariharan Ji, Namaste. The below note, very interesting, may be relevant:

                 

                An Aryan mortuary rite

                http://manasataramgini.wordpress.com/2004/08/05/an-aryan-mortuary-rite/
                 
                The pitR^imedha is a relatively obscure Aryan mortuary rite done an year or later after the death of an ancestor. It used to be performed in the height of summer, a new moon day or in the month of magha, usually choosing a nakShatra with a single star. The bones of the ancestor were brought in an urn and placed on a couch. The urn was wrapped in an unwashed cloth and the living descendents and their women folk go around the urn 3 times as the vINA and other musical instruments are played. They fan the urn with their upper garments as they go around. These circumambulations are performed in the initial, middle and last part of the night. The day the ritual is done also includes a feast and distribution of food along with a provision for dancing, singing and and playing on musical instruments. Some food is also dedicated to the urn of the dead ancestor.
                 
                Final depositing of the bones occurs when the sun is just rising. By dawn the adhvaryu, the yajamAna and his clansmen start walking towards the south. The site for interment should be far away from a place of habitation and roads. They should also be away from banyan, pipal vibhIdaka and other fig trees. The place should be beautiful and should have reeds. An isoceles trapezoidal shmashAna is measured out a man’s length in height and the four corners are marked with pegs of palasha wood (East), shami wood, varaNa wood and stone. The stone peg should have an image of vR^itra on it and be placed in the southern quarter. A rope is held taut around he marked area by the pegs. The place is swept with a palasha twig with the formula ‘apeto yantu…’. The twig is then thrown to the south and the yajamAna arranges the enclosing stones around the shmashAna. With oxen he plows along the rope with the formula ‘vAyuH punAtu …” from north to west. Then the bullocks are released and the plough placed at the south with the formula “vimuchyantAM …”. He then sows all kinds of seeds in the furrow with the formula ashvatthe vaH. Then the bones are deposited with the formula with ’savitA te..’. An assistant of the brahmin breaks the urn to the south while performing a prANAyAma. When he returns the adhvaryu utters the formula ‘param mR^ityo..’ The bones are then arranged in anatomically correct articulation as a stretched out man, with the formula ’shaM vAtA..’ and a brick is placed in the middle. At each side of the trapezium 3 bricks are placed, going east to west. Soil is then spread over the bricks. If the dead one was not a great fire sacrificer then the grave is covered with gravel. If the dead one was brahmin then the head part of the smashAna is made tall. If it were a kshatriya then the chest region is made high, if it were a vaishya the thighs are made high. If it were a woman of any caste then the region corresponding to the pelvis is made high. For a shudra the knee section is made high. Then the shmashAna is covered with moss and kusha grass.
                 
                If the land was plowed nearby to get soil for the mound then barley is sowed into the furrows. Then they dig two trenches in the south of the shmashAna and 7 to the north from west to east. The two to the south are filled with water and milk and those to the north with water. The ritualists then throw 3 stones into each of the 9 trenches they then return to their habitation after crossing over the trenches with ashmnavatIH forumula. The yajamAna purifies himself by spraying an extract of the apAmArga plant on himself with the formula ‘apA aghaM..’ and ritually bathes. Between the zone of habitation and the shmashAna the yajamAna places a clod of earth with the formula imam jIvebhyAH…
                 
                The adhvaryu then gives the yajamAna ointments and perfumes to apply on himself and spread grass around the household aupAsana fire. Then varaNa wood is placed on the fire and offer ghee with the chant of agna AyuguMShi… He then recites the protective formulae begining with pari ime gaM aneShata… The adhvaryu then throws away the aupAsana fire through an outlet other than the house door with the formula kravyAdaM… and concludes with the formula iha eva ayam…
                 
                The fees for the rite is a chair with a cushion and a jowar sack or an old ox.
                It may have helped in the development of the knowledge of skeletal anatomy in the early sacrificers.

                 

                ~ by mAnasa-taraMgiNI on August 5, 2004.

                 
                Best Regards
                Sarvesh Tiwari


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