Monday, October 29, 2012

Nothing can lure back the life that left - mantrA 167

srigurubhyO namahA |
In the 167th mantrA, which is the last one of this subsection , the sage wonders what difference it would make to let the ravens and crows peck away at the dead body instead of cremating it through the proper methods prescribed in the scriptures.

காக்கை கவாலென் கண்டார் பழிக்கிலென்
பாற்றுளி பெய்யிலென் பல்லோர் பழிச்சிலென்
தோற்பையுள் நின்று தொழிலறச் செய்தூட்டுங்
கூத்தன் புறப்பட்டுப் போன இக்கூட்டையே. I.2.25.167

What though the ravens on him feed and way-farers scorn?
What though you feed with parting drops of milk; or many scoff?
For, know that this bag of leather, inflated awhile,
The Great Show-man blows and batters with a smile. I.2.25.167

Com - For, know that this bag of leather, inflated awhile when this body which is nothing more than a bag of leather, falls when it has reached the end of the fruit of its merits The Great Show-man blows and batters with a smile. And when the great show man, the one who has been feeding the body the fruits of its actions, the hero of the story of life, namely the the life force has departed from the body, it is nothing more than an empty shell. What though the ravens on him feed and way-farers scorn? (and when you realise this truth) what does it matter if the dead body became a feast for the ravens? Or what does it matter if bystanders and wayfarers condemn it? What though you feed with parting drops of milk; or many scoff? What does it matter if after cremating the body the ashes were collected and drops of milk offered to it? What does it matter then if many praised it?

*In the final mantra of this sub section on the transitoriness of the body, the sage indicates that the faculties of sensation and reason exist in the body only during the period where the life principle is associated with it. After death, the body itself is just a ‘bag of leather’. The observation that it does not matter to the body if it is being pecked at by ravens or if the proper rites associated with cremation were performed duly, is spoken purely from the standpoint of the dead and feeling less body. It should not construed as the sage’s view with regard to the Hindu cremation practises. The emphasis is on the fact that once the indwelling life principle has departed from the physical body, there is nothing more of the ‘experiencer’ left in it and thus it is incapable of recognising what happens to it. The juxtaposition of the the two sets of opposites in the last two lines of the verse suggests performance of the appropriate funeral rites to be a path that is commended.

thirucchitrambalam |


Anonymous said...

Seeing the elaborate rituals to the dead body i have wondered about those who willing donate their body to medical research? Is it papa or punya?
Maybe the rituals are more for the contemplation of the living.
- K

mooligai sidhan said...

srigurubhyO namahA|

This is a bit of a difficult question. According to the strict injunctions, it is a sin to cut this body (even for surgery)and one is supposed to ensure that there are no body parts, organs etc missing from the body when it is to be cremated.Though the more traditional/orthodox people might still cling on to some of these injunctions, most today would not hesitate to withhold medical treatment or intervention to buy themselves more time in the land of the living.

It is my personal belief that it is a good thing to donate one's organs to others after death - like eyes,heart etc and that might help someone live their life. Though I have to mention here that the scriptures do not advocate this.punyA or pApA, it is still a gesture of empathy towards other living beings.

Regrading donating the whole body to research, I am not too sure - I would still imagine that cremation of the body is an important step towards bringing on the next incarnation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Yes, its such a lovely gesture to leave a few to those who could use it - K