Thursday, November 14, 2013

Japanese The Rite Of Nokan & Other Death Rituals


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"Approximately 80 percent of Japanese people get married in a Shinto ceremony and 90 percent hold Buddhist services for a funeral ceremony."…

VIEWS HELD BY JAPANESE ON CORPSES….."Generally the elderly Japanese do not perceive the body and soul as a duality, that is flesh and spirit. The corpse is considered a very important part and if funeral rites are not carried out, the deceased’s soul will not be mourned. It is very important that the corpse is attended to and the death is mourned by as many people as possible. Additionally the corpse must be well taken care of until all rites have been carried out. The body is not just considered a vehicle or an object or a shell for the soul but it is considered an entity with a will, hopes and rights therefore the family has a responsibility to care for them, respect them and accord them a befitting farewell.."…..

"The Rite Of Nokan Or The Encoffinment …..The rite of Nokan or the encoffinment where the corpse was placed in a casket during the funeral. Traditionally, the ceremony was to relieve the family of their grief by cleansing the dead of all his worldly suffering, while hoping they would have a better life in the afterlife. The specialist handled all the necessary requirements for ease of passage into the afterlife. In early times there were two main traditions practiced Shinto and Buddhist traditions. According to Shinto traditions, the dead as well as the family unit from which he/she came from were considered to be unclean and impure; therefore the corpse had to be washed for purification. Traditional Japanese believed that the dead person’s soul remained impure for some period following death before purification through memorials done by the relatives of the dead; thereafter the soul was deindividuated into an ancestor god or goddess. Traditional Japanese opinion that dead people are impure is based on the Kojiki myth, where maggots came out of the rotting body of a god. Traditionally burial gowns were also considered garments for travelling that prepared the dead when travelling to the other world."….

"Zoroastrians strongly connect physical purity with spiritual purity. This is one of the reasons washing is such a central part of purification rituals. Conversely, physical corruption invites spiritual corruption…..The body of the recently deceased is washed in gomez (unconsecrated bull’s urine) and water. Meanwhile, the clothes he will wear and the room in which he will lie before final disposal are also washed clean. The clothes will be disposed of afterward as contact with a corpse has permanently defiled them. The body is then placed on a clean white sheet and visitors are allowed to pay their respects, although they are forbidden to touch. A dog will twice be brought into the corpse’s presence to keep away demons in a ritual called sagdid….While juddins, or non-Zoroastrians, are allowed to initially view the body and pay respects to it, they are generally not allowed to witness any of the actual funeral rituals….The body is traditionally moved within one day to the dakhma or Tower of Silence….The dakhma is a wide tower with a platform open to the sky. Corpses are left on the platform to be picked clean by vultures, a process which only takes a few hours. This allows a body to be consumed before dangerous corruption sets in. The bodies are not placed on the ground because their presence would corrupt the earth. For the same reason, Zoroastrians do not cremate their dead, as it would corrupt the fire."…..

"Mehrdad Shokoohy, The Zoroastrian Towers of Silence....From ancient times Zoroastrian funeral practices have attracted attention, as rather than cremation or burial, the body of the diseased is exposed to birds of prey in a dakhma, a structure known in the West as a “Tower of Silence.” Many such towers still stand in Iran and India, but in spite of extensive discussion on Zoroastrian beliefs, rites, and rituals regarding disposal of the dead, study of the physical and architectural features of such towers has remained minimal, as approaching--let alone entering--a dakhma is forbidden to all, including Zoroastrians, apart from the corpse bearers."....

"…aspects of the Indo-European mythology related to death, the journey to the netherworld, and the process of dying and returning from the world of the dead……Old Indian (Vedic), Indo-Iranian, Old Slavic, and Baltic myths and burial rituals….the mythological motif of a path to the netherworld (the world of the dead or ancestors), e.g. crossing the waters, going over fire, ascending a tree, descending into a well, etc. The motif of a path is compared and contrasted with the motif of a mythological character that undertakes a journey to the netherworld, completes it, and returns back to the world of the living……In Indo-Iranian and Old Slavic traditions, there is a number of myths and folktales that have a character whose name usually means ‘the Third’ (for example, Slavic Tret’yak) who goes to or finds himself in the netherworld (the third kingdom), overcomes a variety of obstacles (sometimes escaping three inevitable deaths), miraculously returns to the living, reestablishes the connection between the three worlds (netherworld, heaven, and earth), and thus recreates the tripartite Universe…..The aforementioned Indo-European motifs find their continuation in Buddhist soteriological myths. The latter are structured as a sequence of motifs: to exist in the world of the living – to die having reached the limit of life in due course – to be reborn by overcoming obstacles."….Reconstructing features of Indo-European mythology of death and funeral rituals from Baltic, Slavic, and Buddhist parallels by Boris Oguibénine1 & Nataliya Yanchevskaya....

"Sky burial (Tibetan: Wylie: bya gtor), lit. "bird-scattered") is a funerary practice in the Chinese provinces of Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan and Inner Mongolia, and in Mongolia proper, wherein a human corpse is incised in certain locations and placed on a mountaintop, exposing it to the elements (mahābhūta) and animals – especially predatory birds. The locations of preparation and sky burial are understood in the Vajrayana Buddhist traditions as charnel grounds.....The majority of Tibetan people and many Mongols adhere to Vajrayana Buddhism, which teaches the transmigration of spirits. There is no need to preserve the body, as it is now an empty vessel. Birds may eat it or nature may cause it to decompose. The function of the sky burial is simply to dispose of the remains in as generous a way as possible (the source of the practice's Tibetan name). In much of Tibet and Qinghai, the ground is too hard and rocky to dig a grave, and, due to the scarcity of fuel and timber, sky burials were typically more practical than the traditional Buddhist practice of cremation. In the past, cremation was limited to high lamas and some other dignitaries, but modern technology and difficulties with sky burial have led to its increasing use by commoners."

"The Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State (Standard Tibetan: bardo "liminality" or "threshold"; thodol "liberation"), sometimes translated as Liberation Through Hearing or transliterated as Bardo Thodol, is a funerary text….The Tibetan text describes, and is intended to guide one through, the experiences that the consciousness has after death, during the interval between death and the next rebirth. This interval is known in Tibetan as the bardo. The text also includes chapters on the signs of death, and rituals to undertake when death is closing in, or has taken place."….

Tibet: Bon Religion: A Death Ritual of the Tibetan Bonpos…by Per Kvaerne….

"the ceremonies for the kings, each of whom was buried in a specially-constructed tomb, and apparently joined in death by servants, ministers, and retainers. The royal priests then performed special ceremonies, which according to old records sometimes lasted for several years. These were intended to ensure the well-being of the kings in the afterlife and to solicit their help in mundane affairs….. The spirits that reside in rocks and trees are called nyen (gnyan); they are often malicious, and Tibetans issociate them with sickness and death"….

"…Indian religious beliefs regarding the state of mind at the moment of death: the future fate of a dying person is believed to be determined by it. According to those beliefs, there is continuity between this life and the life after death, and the soul’s state at the time of death or near death determines the dying person’s future life…..The earliest Vedic texts do not contain any traces of the belief that the dying person concentrates his thoughts on the next world, but the Middle Vedic (Brāhmaṇa) texts do, e.g. Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa speculates about a ‘frame of mind’ (kratu) at the moment of death: ‘Just as far as his kratu extends as he passes away from this world, with precisely such a kratu he enters upon the other world after death’…. An underlying idea of many Indian tales summarized by Edgerton is that a dying person builds his own future in accordance with his last wish at the mo- ment of death. In other words he gains a desired identity as it is imagined by his mind. If a suicide is committed, whoever/whatever a dying person imagines himself to be just before taking his own life, he will eventually become that."….

"In Chinese Buddhist sources, there is a ‘principle of birth and death’ according to which a man’s soul escapes from his body through an upper or lower body part at death. A bystander can tell whether the dead man will go to a good or bad rebirth by noticing which part of the corpse retains its warmth longest…."…. Edgerton, F., 1927, The Hour of Death. Its Importance for Man's Future Fate in Hindu and Western Religions, Annals of the Bhandarkar Institute, vol. VIII, pp. 219-249.

Sufi….Ruh …."The sufi, mostly, believe in a strong spirit. You can make your spirit strong through the practice you get through the teaching of a Spiritual Teacher [Shaykh]…. Death does not mean 'The End' it is turn to enter in new life which is entirely different from the life which he has spent. Death is only temporary separation of Ruh from Body….Nasma is the Sufi term for the subtle or Astral Body. It is not to be confused with the Ruh (spirit) which transcends both nasma and physical form…. you do not loathe death, do not seek it, nor do you desire either its hastening or its delay."….

"The Sufi quote…. “An-naasu niyaam wa idhaa matu'ntabahu”. This means: “People are asleep and when they die, they awake”. Mawlana Rumi saw in this saying that the Prophet pointed to the coming of the morning light of eternity, in which all actions, which we have performed like dreamers in our present life, will be interpreted properly. Then we'll see no longer see unclear dream figures, but unveiled Reality."….

"…. the Taoist understanding of death. The process of death itself is described as shijie or "release from the corpse", but what happens after is described variously as transformation, immortality or ascension to heaven. For example, the Yellow Emperor was said to have ascended directly to heaven in plain sight, while the thaumaturge Ye Fashan was said to have transformed into a sword and then into a column of smoke which rose to heaven…..] In Taoism death is seen as just another phase in life, something that must happen and that we must all accept."….

"The Manichaean Body: In Discipline and Ritual….By Jason David BeDuhn….

"…. the iconography of the gravestones in the vicinity of Kavadarci and broader Tikveš region(Republic of Macedonia). It refers to roughly carved stonestelae (andesite) decorated with schematized patterns dated between the 3rd and 4th century. Their complex iconography is interpreted in the context of Manichaean doctrines regarding man’s afterlife i.e. the transition of its celestial soul from the material world into the Heaven, also knownas the »Kingdom of Eternal Light«. The basic iconographic elements are identified in direction of the Manichean fundamental dogmatic postulates and the myth of the soul salvation:…. Manichaeism begins between 240 – 241AD, when Mani – its founder, leader, and major sermonizer left his Judeo-Chri-stian Elkasaite commune and formed a new religious teaching which will later be named after him. Using the benevolence of the Persian king Shapur I, he soon spread his doctrine throughout the whole Persian kingdom….Absorbing numerous features of the localIranian Mazdaism, as well as Zoroastrianism, the Hindu religions, Gnosticism andChristianity, Manichaeism became very acceptable to populations that previously practiced these religions…"…


John Hopkins.....Northern New Mexico….November 2013


1 comment:

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