Thursday, August 23, 2012

Body dead is but a feast for the ravens - mantrA 147

srigurubhyO namahA |
In the 147th mantrA of the thirumandiram, the siddar reveals that there is a preponderance of the dOshA known as kaphA / phlegm before death (i.e. when such death occurs through old age - a natural death at the end of the alloted lifespan).

சீக்கை விளைந்தது செய்வினை மூட்டிற்ற
ஆக்கை பிரிந்தது அலகு பழுத்தது
மூக்கினிற் கைவைத்து மூடிட்டுக் கொண்டுபோய்க்
காக்கைக் குப்பலி காட்டிய வாறே. I.2.5.147

Gangrened the sore, the body that Karma shaped
Grew loose of joints, the roof's beam rotted and fell;
And with finger on nose, they bore the body dead,
A plenteous feast for the ravens to feed. I.2.5.147

Com - Gangrened the sore, The dOshA (internal humours) known as kaphA became predominant, the body that Karma shaped The connections that arose from the fruits of karma performed during many previous lifetimes, are now entirely exhausted. the roof's beam rotted and fell; the body finally fell away from the soul, Grew loose of joints, taking away with it the chronic pain of  old and much used bones and joints. And with finger on nose, they bore the body dead, The kinsmen who realise that the life breath is there no more (by keeping a finger under the nose of one just dead), now cover the face of the dead man with a cloth and carry the corpse out to the cremation grounds, A plenteous feast for the ravens to feed. And performed the last rites there by feeding (bali/ pindam) the crows and ravens there.

*The word ‘sIkkai vilaindhadhu’ in the original has been translated as ‘gangrened the sore’ in English. Though quite fitting poetically speaking, the meaning of the term is distorted. It actually refers to the dOshA known as kaphA (phlegm) becoming predominant. The siddars follow the ayurvEdic idea that the body is possessed of three humours or dOshA : vAtA (airy), pittA (fiery) and kaphA (phlegmy). When these three are functioning within their limits it indicates a proper and vital body. If however there is an imbalance among these, then disease arises depending on the nature of the dOshA imbalanced. During old age, there is a preponderance of the kaphA dOshA. It is this deterioration of the original balance that is indicated by the word ‘sIkkai vilaindhadhu’.The exhaustion of the fruits of karma refers to the end of the allotted life span as described previously. And when the body finally falls, the ills of this body (like the pain from old and worn joints, etc) also finally let go of their grip on the person. The gathered kinsmen by checking for the presence of life breath realise now that the soul has departed the body. They then cover the face of the corpse with a cloth and carry it off to the cremation grounds.The bali or feeding of crows and ravens refers to the final rites being performed. As it is our custom that after the rites are performed, pindam (rice balls) and other delicacies made in honour of the dead person are fed to crows. There is a custom known as ‘vAikku arisi’ where rice is poured into the mouth of the dead person (supposedly to help abate their hunger during their journey to the other worlds), which is indicated here. 

thirucchitrambalam |


Anonymous said...

adada, enna oru vilakkam. maranam patriyum, athan pin payanam patriyum thangalin vilakka varnanai abaaram.

nenjaara vaalththukiraen.


mooligai sidhan said...

SrigurubhyO namahA|


mikka nandri.

Anonymous said...

a great narration. not only this, the whole series on the "transitoriness of body", the commentary by you deserves a great applause.

great job you do here.


mooligai sidhan said...

srigurubhyO namahA |

Thank you very much for your kind comment.