By Rita Langer
In Buddhist inspiration and perform, loss of life has consistently been a significant notion. This booklet offers a cautious and thorough research of the rituals and social customs surrounding loss of life within the Theravada culture of Sri Lanka. Rita Langer describes the rituals of demise and rebirth and investigates their old origins, studying social problems with the connection among clergymen and lay humans during this context. This point is of specific curiosity as dying rituals are the single existence cycle ritual during which Theravada Buddhist clergymen are actively concerned. Drawing on early Vedic sutras and Pali texts in addition to archaeological and epigraphical fabric, Buddhist Rituals of dying and Rebirth establishes that Sri Lankan rituals are deeply rooted of their pre-Buddhist, Vedic precursors. while ideals and doctrines have gone through significant adjustments over the centuries, it turns into obvious that the underlying practices have mostly remained strong. the 1st finished examine of dying rituals in Theravada Buddhist perform, this is often a major contribution to the fields of Buddhist reports, indology, anthropology and spiritual reports.
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Extra resources for Buddhist Rituals Death And Rebirth: Contemporary SRI Lankan Practice (Routledgecurzon Critical Studies in Buddhism)
My findings, however incomplete, will suffice to demonstrate that the concept was alive at the time when these texts were composed. For the Buddhist texts the logical starting point seems to be instances of death in a positive frame of mind followed by a favourable rebirth (in short good death), assuming that was what beings wish for. There are, however, also stories about people getting swept away by emotions and catapulted into a bad existence. I shall, therefore, investigate passages that describe a death accompanied by a bad frame of mind followed by a rebirth in an unpleasant destiny (in short ‘a bad death’) next.
What picture can we gain from the canonical and post-canonical Pali material? 55 25 BROC01 11/06/2007 03:42PM Page 26 DEATH AND DYING The Vedic and brahmanical material When I was searching the Sanskrit texts for material, two things become apparent: first, rebirth, central as it is to Indian philosophy, is not found in the earliest texts; and second, rebirth and karman do not appear to be linked together from the beginning. 56 One of these ‘other concepts’ linked with rebirth is a curious notion of ‘rebirth according to one’s wish’, sometimes referred to in the texts as kAmacAra.
Once ethicised karman was firmly connected with the rebirth process a number of problems arose, such as the relationship between karman and kAma (or free-will). W. Doniger O’Flaherty (1980, 13) speaks of karman as the ‘straw man in the Purawas: it is set up to be knocked down’ and explains its popularity: In the first place, one must not underestimate the value of karma (and fate) as a plot device; karma ex machina explains what cannot otherwise be justified. Thus inconsistencies in character, such as the sufferings of a good man, are explained by reference to karma accumulated in unknowable previous lives—and this also gives the Paurawika a chance to drag in another good story, often bei den Haarn [sic].