One for Madhu

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Kendall K. Down

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Jul 26, 2022, 11:39:41 PMJul 26
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I'm reading Ibn Battuta at the moment and am up to his visit to India.
He reports on the practice of suti and recounts seeing it happen.

===============
Once in the town of Amjari (Amjhera, near Dhar) I saw three women whose
husbands had been killed in battle and who had agreed to burn
themselves. Each one had a horse brought to her and mounted it, richly
dressed and perfumed. In her right hand she held a coconut, with which
she played, and in her left a mirror, in which she looked at her face.
They were surrounded by Brahmans and their own relatives, and were
preceded by drums, trumpets and bugles. Everyone of the infidels said to
them “Take greetings from me to my father, or brother or mother, or
friend” and they would say “Yes” and smile at them.
===============

The interesting thing is that the three women and the people surrounding
them clearly expected them to have a self-identity in the afterlife and
to be able to recognise other people. Not much point in giving the woman
messages to your dear departed if, immediately after death, she is
reincarnated as an ant or monkey or something.

I wonder how old the theory of reincarnation actually is?

Incidentally, Ibn Battuta was horrified by what he saw:

===============
Thereupon she joined her hands above her head in salutation to the fire
and cast herself into it. At the same moment the drums, trumpets and
bugles were sounded, the men threw their firewood on her and the others
put the heavy wood on top of her to prevent her moving, cries were
raised and there was a loud clamour. When I saw this I had all but
fallen off my horse, if my companions had not quickly brought water to
me and laved my face, after which I withdrew.
==============

It is an interesting commentary that the Muslims, who regarded the
Hindus with contempt as infidels and who cared if they burned a few
women alive? did nothing to stop the practice of suti. It was the
Christian British, who viewed all people as souls to be saved, who put a
stop to it.

God bless,
Kendall K. Down


Madhu

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Jul 27, 2022, 2:19:42 AMJul 27
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[I am not well-informed on sati, my sources are probably more restricted
than yours.]

* "Kendall K. Down" <tbqbv5$2e5o6$1 @dont-email.me> :
Wrote on Wed, 27 Jul 2022 04:37:43 +0100:

> I'm reading Ibn Battuta at the moment and am up to his visit to
> India. He reports on the practice of suti and recounts seeing it
> happen.

[snip]

> The interesting thing is that the three women and the people
> surrounding them clearly expected them to have a self-identity in the
> afterlife and to be able to recognise other people. Not much point in
> giving the woman messages to your dear departed if, immediately after
> death, she is reincarnated as an ant or monkey or something.
>
> I wonder how old the theory of reincarnation actually is?

textually it first shows up in the upanishads, the Chandogya and
Brihdaranyaka upanishads, as a teaching received by the brahmins from
the kshatriya kings. Verifiably current at the time of Buddha.

I haven't been able to get a sense of the early Egyptian beliefs here
https://www.sacred-texts.com/egy/emec/emec03.htm (the bible skeptic
Samuel Sharpe, Egyptian Mythology and Egyptian Christianity, 1863, and
at archive.org)

Metempsychosis was known both in Egypt and Greece, but the belief behind
mummification seems to be a resurrection after certain millenia when the
king would get back his original body.

> Incidentally, Ibn Battuta was horrified by what he saw:

No stomach for this. GMF also has a graphic scene in /Flashman and the
Mount of Light/

> It is an interesting commentary that the Muslims, who regarded the
> Hindus with contempt as infidels and who cared if they burned a few
> women alive? did nothing to stop the practice of suti.

I'm not sure this is true. I have a vague recollection that some
mughals did try to curb it.

Kendall K. Down

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Jul 27, 2022, 3:39:41 AMJul 27
to
On 27/07/2022 07:11, Madhu wrote:

> textually it first shows up in the upanishads, the Chandogya and
> Brihdaranyaka upanishads, as a teaching received by the brahmins from
> the kshatriya kings. Verifiably current at the time of Buddha.

Clearly it had not made it into the popular consciousness by the time of
Ibn Battuta.

> Metempsychosis was known both in Egypt and Greece, but the belief behind
> mummification seems to be a resurrection after certain millenia when the
> king would get back his original body.

No, the dead person would go straight to the underworld (via a
complicated and dangerous route which the Book of the Dead would guide
you through) and there continue to live - provided his body was still in
existence. However a substitute body, in the form of a statue, was
acceptable provided it had been vivified with the correct charms.

> No stomach for this. GMF also has a graphic scene in /Flashman and the
> Mount of Light/

Indeed. Suti also figures in "Around the World in 80 Days" and "The Far
Pavilions" and, no doubt, other works. Those are the two of which I am
aware.

> I'm not sure this is true. I have a vague recollection that some
> mughals did try to curb it.

I don't recall any mention of any such attempt, but even if your
recollection is correct, they didn't succeed. It was the wicked British
and their colonial oppression that saved India's widows.

Madhu

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Jul 27, 2022, 12:59:42 PMJul 27
to
* "Kendall K. Down" <tbqpv3$2f7jk$1...@dont-email.me> :
Wrote on Wed, 27 Jul 2022 08:37:07 +0100:
> On 27/07/2022 07:11, Madhu wrote:
>
>> textually it first shows up in the upanishads, the Chandogya and
>> Brihdaranyaka upanishads, as a teaching received by the brahmins from
>> the kshatriya kings. Verifiably current at the time of Buddha.
>
> Clearly it had not made it into the popular consciousness by the time
> of Ibn Battuta.

But it was. I believe it was as much a part of the Indian
consciousness- along with a sense of timeless dharma and karma - then as
is now. Reincarnation does not automatically imply you get reborn as an
insect. The soul could first go to heaven, or the region of the pitrs
(the "fathers" on the moon), enjoy itself in the company of the gods or
pitrs before being reborn, perhaps in the same family. There is an idea
of persisiting identity in the afterlife, maintained, there is a notion
that a husband and wife will be husband and wife in future and past
births -- even as deer and doe and other life forms, maintaining
identity until they are reborn (with a knowledge of the past lives). the
afterlife mythology is rich enough to accomodate the beliefs that Ibn
Battuta wrote about (i'll have to remember to find it and try to read it
later)

>> Metempsychosis was known both in Egypt and Greece, but the belief behind
>> mummification seems to be a resurrection after certain millenia when the
>> king would get back his original body.
>
> No, the dead person would go straight to the underworld (via a
> complicated and dangerous route which the Book of the Dead would guide
> you through) and there continue to live - provided his body was still
> in existence. However a substitute body, in the form of a statue, was
> acceptable provided it had been vivified with the correct charms.

Thanks


Kendall K. Down

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Jul 27, 2022, 3:49:45 PMJul 27
to
On 27/07/2022 17:55, Madhu wrote:

> But it was. I believe it was as much a part of the Indian
> consciousness- along with a sense of timeless dharma and karma - then as
> is now. Reincarnation does not automatically imply you get reborn as an
> insect. The soul could first go to heaven, or the region of the pitrs
> (the "fathers" on the moon), enjoy itself in the company of the gods or
> pitrs before being reborn, perhaps in the same family. There is an idea
> of persisiting identity in the afterlife, maintained, there is a notion
> that a husband and wife will be husband and wife in future and past
> births -- even as deer and doe and other life forms, maintaining
> identity until they are reborn (with a knowledge of the past lives). the
> afterlife mythology is rich enough to accomodate the beliefs that Ibn
> Battuta wrote about (i'll have to remember to find it and try to read it
> later)

Thanks for the information.
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