⚡ The Tibetan Sky Burial

Friday, September 03, 2021 11:38:31 PM

The Tibetan Sky Burial



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Sky Burial: Tibetan Burial Ritual

Pieces of the human skeleton were employed in ritual tools such as the skullcup , thigh-bone trumpet. A traditional jhator is performed in specified locations in Tibet and surrounding areas traditionally occupied by Tibetans. Drigung Monastery is one of the three most important jhator sites. The procedure takes place on a large flat rock long used for the purpose. The charnel ground durtro is always higher than its surroundings. It may be very simple, consisting only of the flat rock, or it may be more elaborate, incorporating temples and stupa chorten in Tibetan. Relatives may remain nearby [23] during the jhator , possibly in a place where they cannot see it directly. The jhator usually takes place at dawn.

The full jhator procedure as described below is elaborate and expensive. Those who cannot afford it simply place their deceased on a high rock where the body decomposes or is eaten by birds and animals. In , a prominent Tibetan incarnate lama, Metrul Tendzin Gyatso, visited the sky burial site near the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Sertar County, Sichuan, and was dismayed by its poor condition.

With the stated goal of restoring dignity to the dead and creating a better environment for the vultures, the lama subsequently rebuilt and improved the platform where bodies are cut up, adding many statues and other carved features around it, and constructed a large parking lot for the convenience of visitors. Accounts from observers vary. The following description is assembled from multiple accounts by observers from the U. References appear at the end. Prior to the procedure, monks may chant mantra around the body and burn juniper incense — although ceremonial activities often take place on the preceding day.

The work of disassembling of the body may be done by a monk, or, more commonly, by rogyapas "body-breakers". All the eyewitness accounts remarked on the fact that the rogyapas did not perform their task with gravity or ceremony, but rather talked and laughed as during any other type of physical labor. According to Buddhist teaching, this makes it easier for the soul of the deceased to move on from the uncertain plane between life and death onto the next life. Some accounts refer to individuals who carry out sky burial rituals as a 'Tokden' which is Tibetan for 'Sky Burial Master'.

While a Tokden has an important role in burial rites, they are often people of low social status and sometimes receive payment from the families of the deceased. According to most accounts, vultures are given the whole body. Then, when only the bones remain, these are broken up with mallets, ground with tsampa barley flour with tea and yak butter, or milk and given to the crows and hawks that have waited for the vultures to depart. In one account, the leading rogyapa cut off the limbs and hacked the body to pieces, handing each part to his assistants, who used rocks to pound the flesh and bones together to a pulp, which they mixed with tsampa before the vultures were summoned to eat.

In some cases, a Todken will use butcher's tools to divide the body. Sometimes the internal organs were removed and processed separately, but they too were consumed by birds. The hair is removed from the head and may be simply thrown away; at Drigung, it seems, at least some hair is kept in a room of the monastery. None of the eyewitness accounts specify which kind of knife is used in the jhator.

One source states that it is a "ritual flaying knife" or trigu Sanskrit kartika , but another source expresses skepticism, noting that the trigu is considered a woman's tool rogyapas seem to be exclusively male. The species contributing to the ritual are typically the griffon and Himalayan vultures. In places where there are several jhator offerings each day, the birds sometimes have to be coaxed to eat, which may be accomplished with a ritual dance. If a small number of vultures come down to eat, or if portions of the body are left over after the vultures fly away, or if the body is completely left untouched, it is considered to be a bad omen in Buddhist beliefs.

In places where fewer bodies are offered, the vultures are more eager, and sometimes have to be fended off with sticks during the initial preparations. Often there is a limit to how many corpses can be consumed at a certain burial site, prompting lamas to find different areas. It is believed that if too many corpses are disposed in a certain burial site, ghosts may appear.

Not only are vultures an important aspect to celestial burial but also to its habitat's ecology. They contribute to carcass removal and nutrient recycling, as they are scavengers of the land. Ancient Zoroastrians believed the dead body should be put in a structure called a Dakhma to be feasted upon by birds of prey, because the burial or burning of the corpses would cause water and soil to become dirty, which is forbidden in the ancient religion. A jhator was filmed, with permission from the family, for Frederique Darragon 's documentary Secret Towers of the Himalayas , which aired on the Science Channel in fall The camera work was deliberately careful to never show the body itself, while documenting the procedure, birds, and tools.

The semi-autobiographical book Wolf Totem discusses sky burial. In the video game Bloodborne , Eileen the Crow's bird-like attire is a reference to the practice of Sky Burial. This is told explicitly in her attire's item descriptions. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Tibetan funeral practice. This article is about the Tibetan funeral practice. For other uses, see Sky burial disambiguation.

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