Tag Archives: dead

Ancient Books {3} ~ The Egyptian Book Of The Dead

“The Book of the Dead prevails in both popular culture and current scholarship as one of the most famous aspects of ancient Egyptian culture. This funerary text provides some of the most vivid and enduring images from the ancient world – there are few who have not heard some version of the Book of the Dead’s afterlife mythology. Familiar scenes – like a scale weighing a heart of the deceased against a feather or the eternal destruction of a soul by a deity composed of animal parts – originate from the Book of the Dead. With such impressive narratives, it is clear why Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife are so thoroughly ingrained in our collective memory. But despite the Book of the Dead’s lasting fame, it is often misunderstood or purposefully romanticized for the sake of an exhilarating story, as in the cultural phenomenon of The Mummy in 1999. So what is the Book of the Dead, how was it significant to Egyptians in the past and how do Egyptologists use this important resource today?

“The Chapters/Book of Going Forth By Day” is the official translation of the title given to a collection of papyrus rolls on the same subject known commonly as the Book of the Dead. Though the word “book” brings to mind a story or text written by a singular author and reprinted repeatedly in the same form, these texts have multiple authors and each version has its own variations. These texts served as a guide for the dead to use on their journeys to the afterlife. Each was prepared by scribes for burials, with varying quality depending on the scribe’s skill, and some were prepared with blank spaces to later fill in the name of the dead. In addition to the long-form papyrus versions of the Book of the Dead, spells and passages from the text were recorded other places – on tomb walls, mummy wrappings and even inside King Tut’s golden mask.

The Book of the Dead first appeared in the New Kingdom, but the text evolved from a long tradition of magical funerary writing. The oldest of these writings, the Pyramid Texts, were available exclusively to Egyptian royalty. As religious beliefs on the afterlife changed, copies of the Coffin Texts – an adapted version of the Pyramid Texts – were written on coffins and included in the tombs of non-royals, such as wealthy Egyptians and elites. By the New Kingdom, the afterlife was understood as accessible to all who could afford their own Book of the Dead, a handy guidebook providing the spells necessary for the perilous, confusing and elaborate trials faced to earn eternal life among the gods.
The gods Osiris, associated with resurrection, and Re, associated with the sun, star in the Book of the Dead. Forty-two additional gods appear to judge and test the newly departed. Although the text itself varies in content and order, the narrative is generally divided into four main sections: the deceased enters the underworld and regains the physical abilities of the living, the deceased is resurrected and joins Re to rise as the sun each day, the deceased travels across the sky before judgement in the underworld by a panel of gods and, finally – assuming the soul hasn’t been destroyed – the deceased joins the gods. To progress through the complex challenges in these stages, the dead must speak the right names and spells at the right time and respond with the right answers to the gods’ questions. In one interesting and curious case, the deceased must name various parts of a sentient doorway before passing. Luckily, the Book of the Dead conveniently holds all the required information.

These texts were certainly important to ancient Egyptians, and now they constitute one of the most important resources for Egyptologists hoping to understand the Egyptian religion and afterlife. In addition to explicitly describing the afterlife and the roles of the gods, the Book of the Dead also gives insight into important concepts like the ka and ba, aspects of the soul believed to live on after death. The ka needed a physical form to return to in order to exist, and so the Book of the Dead helps us to understand the importance of the well-known Egyptian practice of mummification. Similarly, the Book of the Dead also contains spells for preserving specific parts of the body and the spell for the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, a ritual performed before the mummy was sealed in its tomb, often depicted in tomb decoration. The Book of the Dead reveals central aspects of the ancient Egyptians’ belief system, and, like many topics in Egyptology, our theories are constantly changing, growing and adapting with every new translation of this text.”

Source ~ https://www.arce.org/resource/book-dead-guidebook-afterlife

Ancient Books {1} ~ The Tibetan Book Of The Dead

“Have you ever wondered what life after death, or in this case, life between death and rebirth, is like? What type of existence must it be? What would you do and learn? While these questions have been asked by billions of human beings, some cultures have gone the extra mile and written books to assist those who are in between.

One of these intermediate state manuals is The Tibetan Book of the Dead. The book was originally written in the eighth century CE, ostensibly by an ancient Buddhist teacher named Padma Sambhava. The book’s original title is Bardo Thodol, which is translated to ‘liberation by hearing on the after death plane.’ The purpose of the book is to help those who are in the intermediate state to escape the cycle of death and rebirth. This is accomplished by reading aloud the text of the book, thereby assisting the dead individual in their escape from the cycle.

The Bardo Thodol is primarily concerned with helping those who have entered the intermediate state to elevate themselves into a new reality, thereby escaping the life, death, bardo, and rebirth cycle. This is accomplished through the reading of instructions to help the confused, disembodied soul find its way through the bardos, or levels of the dream state the dead enter into following separation from their physical forms. There are three bardos encapsulating various aspects of the afterlife realm, in which the living whisper instructions of comfort, peace, and guidance to the deceased.

The First Bardo is the stage of the afterlife that occurs immediately after death. At the beginning of the First Bardo, instructions are read in an attempt to help the dead accept what is called the Clear Light, which helps the soul understand death as the ultimate existence. If the soul can embrace this truth, it will remain in the Clear Light forever, thus escaping the cycle. If not, the soul will sink into the Secondary Clear Light and then move into the Second Bardo.

The Second Bardo is a two-week period divided in half, in which the soul is met by numerous spiritual beings. In the first week, the Peaceful Deities appear to the soul. Seven deities appear, one for each day of the week, bringing their magnificent glory before the soul. If the soul is able to stand before the first deity, it will reach Nirvana, the aforementioned ultimate existence. If not, the soul descends from one day to the next, passing or failing the tests of each deity. In each case, the soul will be reborn into gradually decreasing states of existence, with the final state being reborn as an animal.

During the second week, the soul is met by seven legions of Wrathful Deities, which are actually just the Peaceful Deities in disguise. The instructions to the soul are to be still and unafraid in their presence. If the soul runs away, it will pass down to the Third Bardo, but if it stands its ground it will be liberated.

The dreaded Lord of Death awaits the soul in the Third Bardo. He judges the soul using a mirror that shows all the good and evil deeds of the soul. If the soul can realize through the instructions being read that the Lord of Death and all his minions are merely imaginations of its own mind, the soul can still be liberated. However, if the soul gives way to fear, it will be reborn once more, trapped again in the cycle.

Translation of the Book
The initial Tibetan writing of the Bardo Thodol and its subsequent translation has an interesting history. The book was originally written in Sanskrit, which is the language of Tibet. However, after writing the Bardo Thodol, legend holds that Padma Sambhava decided the writings would be too spiritually advanced for the Tibetans of the time. Therefore, he hid the writings in the hope one day they would be discovered and interpreted judiciously.

Around 1365 CE, a young man named Karma Lingpa discovered many of the texts hidden on a mountaintop. After his discovery, more texts were found, eventually fulfilling Padma Sambhava’s wish for them to be received with openness.”

Source ~ https://study.com/academy/lesson/the-tibetan-book-of-the-dead-summary-translation-quotes.html

~Samadhi Shrine~

A samadhi shrine is a Hindu temple memorializing the dead, which may or may not contain the body of the deceased. These temples are built to honor people who were regarded as saints or gurus in Hindu religious traditions.

While most Hindu people in India are cremated after their deaths, samadhi shrines are reserved for those who have already been cleansed by the fire of yoga. These temples also memorialize individuals who are believed to have been in the state of samadhi (a non-dualistic state of consciousness) at their time of death, such as yogis, gurus or saints.