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Mrtyu, Concept of Death in Indian Traditions

Transformation of the Body and Funeral Rites by: Gian Giuseppe Filippi

Professor Filippi explores the Indian view of mortal existence — from an individual’s conception to his/her journey to the Kingdom of Yama — with rare scientific objectivity — by unveiling a complex network of sentiments, beliefs, scriptural references, customs, etc.

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Year Of Publication: 2005
Edition: 2nd
Pages : xiii, 271 [+8]
Bibliographic Details : 8 Colour Plates; Glossary; Bibliography; Index
Language : English
Binding : Hardcover
Publisher: D.K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Size: 23 cm.
Weight: 500

Overview

Yama, in Hindu mythology, is the eschatologist and god of death. And is, thus, dreaded. Even in today’s India, there is a fearful hesitancy, if not conscious avoidance, of any talk about him. Yet, paradoxically, the phenomenon of death does not evoke a similar fear in the Indian psyche — accepted, as it is, a natural event, a part of life: just like poverty, sickness and old age. Here is an insightful, at once compelling exposition of the phenomenon of death, based on plurimillennial tradition of the Hindus — which, despite the affirmation of Western attitudes in certain elitist sections of the urban society, has endured since the times of the Vedas and Indic Civilization. Exploring, contextually, the age-old Indian view of mortal existence: from the very moment of an individual’s conception to his/her journey to the Kingdom of Yama — through the major phases of birth, growth and ageing, Professor Filippi unveils a complex network of sentiments, beliefs, scriptural references, customs, hopes, ritualistic practices and much else — relevant to the ‘great adventure’ of death. Notwithstanding the sentimental undertones of the mrtyu-theme, Dr. Filippi’s work outstands for its rare scientific objectivity. It has grown from years of his rigorous research effort involving not only his extensive studies of Indian literature: classical as well as modern, but also his interviews with Indian samnyasins, brahmanas, relatives of the dead, and the persons living around the cremation grounds. Together with visual material, bibliographic references, and a glossary of non-English terms, the book holds out as much appeal to the general reader as to the specialist.

Contents

Preface
Abbreviations
List of Illustrations
Introduction
1. The Human Being (manushya) and the Other Beings
2. The Nature of Individual Beings
3. The Three Evolutionary Components of Nature
4. Human Life from Conception to Birth
5. Human Life from Birth to Marriage
6. The Structure of the Human Being
7. The End of Bodily Life
8. Agony and its Rites
9. The Last Sacrifice: The Offering of the Body
10. Transformation of the Deceased into Ancestor
11. Funerals without Cremation
12. The New Conditions of the Living Soul
13. The Journey to the Kingdom of Yama
Glossary
Bibliography
Index
Plates

Meet the Author
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Dr. Gian Giuseppe Filippi is Professor of lndology and History of Art of lndia, University “Ca’ Foscari”, Venice. Involved, since 1971, in extensive field studies in India, directed specially towards the traditional relations between the shrines and rituals, he is not just one of the discoverers of Drupad Kila (in mid- Ganga plains), but led the multidisciplinary research team, credited with this discovery. Extensively published, Professor Filippi is President of the Venetian Academy of Indian Studies (VAIS), heads Human Sciences research in the “Kampilya Project”; and is Member of Is.I.A.O., Royal Society of Asian Affairs, Indian Archaeological Society, and Pafichal Research Institute, among several other institutions in Europe and India.
Books of Gian Giuseppe Filippi