[Buddha-l] Book News - Tibetan Rituals of Death

Christopher Fynn chris.fynn at gmail.com
Mon May 28 03:11:21 MDT 2012

Thanks Margaret - that looks very complete. I will definitely try to
get a copy of your book, though that is sometimes difficult here in

I know that at the  Sa-skya monastery in the Tibetan settlement at
Byalakuppe, Mysore (where I lived for several years) in the 1980s the
kun rig rnam par snang mdzad ritual was performed for their patrons
who died - much as the kar gling gzhi khro ritual was performed at the
rNying ma monastery nearby for their patrons. I had never encountered
this before - but at the time did not think it unusual. (It seems
quite certain that the majority of their patrons were not direct
descendants of the Sa-skya line)

Curious -  it may be that it is the custom of one sub-sect of  Sa-skya
- or of one region of Tibet.- possibly only of the tradition of that
particular monastery

best regards


On 28/05/2012, Margaret Gouin <m.gouin at tsd.ac.uk> wrote:
> Hi Chris,
> My book is a detailed review and analysis of the available literature
> describing what is actually done in Tibetan death rituals as opposed to what
> texts prescribe (or what Westerners believe). If the Sa-skya ritual you
> describe is the one performed for direct descendants of the Sa-skya line,
> it's included when I discuss the deaths of noble persons (see chapter 6,
> 'Special Cases'). My information on it is drawn from Turrell Wylie's 1965
> article, 'Mortuary Customs at Sa-Skya, Tibet' (Harvard Journal of Asiatic
> Studies, 25: 229-42).
> Here is the detailed Table of Contents of the book (without pagination). I
> hope you will find it useful:
> 1. Introduction
> 		Terminology
> 		Transliteration
> 		Inclusive Language
> 2. The Sources
> 	Tibetan Material
> 	Non-Tibetan Material
> 	Buddhism Outside Tibet
> 	Bön
> 3. Before Death
> 4. Immediately After Death
> 	Spiritual Concerns
> 		Consciousness Transference (powa)
> 		Death Horoscope
> 		Readings, Prayers and Bardo Guidance
> 		Purification Rituals
> 		Offering Food to the Deceased
> 	Practical Concerns
> 		Planning the Funeral: the role of the death horoscope
> 		Protection Against Malignant Manifestations
> 		Preparation of the Body
> 		Funeral Procession
> 	Comments on Activities Undertaken Immediately After Death
> 		Spiritual Concerns
> 		Practical Concerns
> 5. Disposal of the Body
> 	Burial (disposal in earth)
> 	Immersion (disposal in water)
> 	Cremation (disposal in fire)
> 		Activities at the Cremation Site
> 		Religious Rituals
> 		Conclusion of the Cremation Ceremonies
> 		Self-Immolation
> 	Exposure (disposal in air)
> 		Historical Origins and the ‘Parsi Debate’
> 		Who Qualifies for Exposure?
> 		Who Does It?
> 		How Is It Done?
> 		Religious Observances at the Disposal Site
> 		Why Is It Done?
> 		Speed and Completeness of Consumption
> 		Exposure and ‘Secondary Burial’
> 		The Charge of Cannibalism
> 		‘Sky Burial’ in Western Perception
> 	Treatment of Remains
> 		From Burial
> 		From Cremation
> 		From Exposure
> 		Bones for Ritual Use
> 		Hair
> 	Comments on the Disposal of the Body
> 6. Special Cases
> 	Holy Persons
> 		Preservation
> 		Cremation
> 		Remains
> 		Relics
> 	Nobility
> 	Children
> 	Old People
> 	‘Bad Deaths’
> 	Comments on Special Cases of Disposal
> 7. Post-Disposal Rituals of Benefit and Protection
> 	The Transition Through the Intermediate State (bardo)
> 		The Intermediate State
> 		The 49 Days
> 		The Nature of the ‘Bardo Being’
> 	Rituals of Benefit
> 		The Name-Card and the Effigy
> 		Prayers and Readings
> 		Bardo Guidance
> 		Purifying the Deceased’s Karma
> 		Severing Attachment: chö
> 		Food Offerings
> 		Making Merit
> 		What If There Is No Body?
> 	Rituals of Protection
> 		Protection Against the Deceased
> 		Protection Against the Death-Demon
> 	The Conclusion of the Funeral Rituals
> 	It Depends On What You Pay	
> 	Comments on Post-Disposal Rituals of Benefit and Protection
> 8. Remembering the Deceased
> 9. Conclusion
> ----------------------------------------
> Margaret Gouin, PhD (Bristol)
> Honorary Research Fellow
> School of Theology, Religious Studies and Islamic Studies
> University of Wales Trinity Saint David
> ________________________________________

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