By Rita Langer

In Buddhist concept and perform, dying has consistently been a principal thought. This booklet presents a cautious and thorough research of the rituals and social customs surrounding dying within the Theravada culture of Sri Lanka.

Rita Langer describes the rituals of demise and rebirth and investigates their historic origins, studying social problems with the connection among priests and lay humans during this context. This point is of specific curiosity as dying rituals are the single lifestyles cycle ritual within 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 demise and Rebirth establishes that Sri Lankan rituals are deeply rooted of their pre-Buddhist, Vedic precursors. when ideals and doctrines have gone through significant adjustments over the centuries, it turns into glaring that the underlying practices have principally remained good.

The first complete learn of loss of life rituals in Theravada Buddhist perform, this is often a massive contribution to the fields of Buddhist experiences, indology, anthropology and non secular studies.

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Extra resources for Buddhist Rituals of Death and Rebirth: Contemporary Sri Lankan practice and its origins

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BROC01 11/06/2007 03:42PM Page 17 DEATH AND DYING in favour of ‘ghost stories’. This made it desirable to stick to Sinhala as much as possible. Terminology: Sinhala yaka/bhetaya/prbtaya/perbtaya. The terminology applied in the context of these ‘ghost stories’ does not seem clearly defined. A rather general term for ‘ghost’, which is frequently used in conversation, is bhEta. There are, however, two terms, which are more specifically used in the context of death: maXayakA (pl. maXayakku) and prBtayA/perBtayA or even maXaprBtayA.

The dead person reaches the sun and moon (presumably by way of the funeral pyre or sacrificial fire) and his quest for the Brahma world remains unanswered (unless sun and moon are representing the Brahma world here), but he has ‘unrestricted movement’ to go where he wishes (kAmacAra, from the root kam). 14. It is also possible that those who cannot afford a cremation are excluded from having a chance to achieve ‘rebirth according to one’s wish’, as well, but the text does not say so in this passage.

Agrees that what is presented here is indeed the doctrine of ethicised karman. 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.

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