Single is each man born; Single he dies: Manu (Post No.3359)

Compiled  by London Swaminathan


Date: 16 November 2016


Time uploaded in London: 5-14 am


Post No.3359


Pictures are taken from various sources; they are representational only; thanks.









13 Day Hindu Funeral Rites- Part 1


Recorded by The Rev. J E Padfield B.D., year 1908, in his book The Hindu at Home.



(Uttara Kriya)


Manava Dharmasastra, the greatest and first comprehensive Law book in the world describes the death of a Hindu in the following couplets:-


“Single is each man born; single he dies: single he receives the reward of his good, and single the punishment of his evil deeds.


When he leaves his corpse, like a log or a lump of clay, on the ground, his kindred retire with averted faces; but his virtue accompanies his soul.” (Manu, iv, 240-1.)


“A mansion with bones for its rafters and beams; with nerves and tendons for cords; with muscles and blood for mortar with skin for its outward covering.


A mansion infested by age and by sorrow, the seat of malady, and harassed by pains, haunted with the quality of darkness, and incapable of standing long; such a mansion of the vital soul let its occupier always cheerfully quit.


As a tree leaves the bank of a river, when it falls in, or as a bird leaves the branch of a tree at his pleasure, thus he, who leaves his body by necessity or by legal choice, is delivered from the ravening shark, or crocodile, of the world.” (Manu vi, 76- 8.)

Why do good people die?


There is a curious passage in Manu where the question seems to be raised as to how death can have any power over such holy beings as Brahmins, especially those learned in the Vedas and who undeviating perform the duties laid down for their guidance. A reason is given for the mortality of a twice-born who may have been remiss performing religious or has offended in the matter of diet.


The fifth chapter of “Manava Dharma Sastra,” which opens with the passage referred to, is largely composed of the most minute rules and regulations as to diet. It is difficult to conceive the possibility of a mortal man’s avoiding some offence named and thus rendering himself amenable to death. The passage is as follows:


“The sages, having heard those laws delivered for the conduct of house-keepers, thus addressed the high-minded Bhrigu, who proceeded in a former birth from the genius of fire.


How, Lord, can death prevail over Brahmins, who know the scriptural ordinances and perform their duties as they have been declared?

Then he, whose disposition was perfect virtue, even Bhrigu, the son of Manu, thus answered the great Rishis (seers):-


‘Hear, from what sin proceeds the inclination of death to destroy the chief of the twice-born’


“Through a neglect of reading the Véda, through a desertion of approved usages, through supine remissness in performing holy rites and through various offences in diet, the genius death becomes eager to destroy them. (Manu, v.1-4)

Panchagavyam, Just before dying!


When amongst the Hindus of all castes and of both sexes est a person the point of death, the family priest is summoned to administer the last sacrament (Jivanamaskaram) which is administered in the following manner:–


The sick person is lifted from the couch upon which he may be lying, and is made to recline upon the ground, supported by a low stool. A couch is not considered a pure place (madi) and the friends of a sick person will not even feed him whilst lying on it, unless he is too ill to be moved. The priest then approaches with the Panchagavyam. This is a mixture of five products of the cow: milk, curd, butter, urine and dung.


The dying person is first asked to recite after the priest certain Mantras, and if he is too weak to articulate, he is desired to recite them to himself.

Afterwards the vessel containing the Panchagavyam mixture is placed to his lips and some of it poured into the mouth. This whole is called Prayachittam or the ceremony expiation. Of the various texts recited, two are given below as specimens:–


“I take this sacrament of panchagavyam for the absolution of my sins, both those committed voluntarily and involuntarily”

Jnana ajnana krta dosha prayachittartham panchagavyasamskaram karishye


“Whatever sins adhere to the skin and bone now present in this body,

May the partaking of this panchagavyam

Destroy them as fire destroys fuel.”


Yatvagastigatam papam  dehe tishtati mamake

Prasanam panchagav dahatyagnirivendhanam


Must die on the Ground!

The sick person is then replaced upon the couch to await the end though sometimes he may recover. If from sudden death or any other cause, this ceremony cannot be performed, the death is not considered a happy one.


When it is evident that death is very near, the dying person is laid on the ground, which has been previously prepared by smearing it with cow dung and by placing some of the sacred grass (darbha). It is very important that a person should breathe his last on the earth. Indeed, it is a common way of cursing to say, “When you come to die may there be no one to place you on the ground”


Not allowed to die inside the house!


There are certain phases of the moon during which would be considered a serious calamity for anyone to die inside the house. Should death draw near at such a period, the patient is carefully taken outside to die in some outer verandah. If, through a misfortune, he should die inside the house during a period, the whole dwelling is considered polluted. It must be entirely vacated for some time, after which a ceremony called “punyachavachanam” is performed in the place to purify it before it can be re-occupied. Sometimes when such a calamity does befall a house hold, in order to avoid the trouble and cost of moving out entirely, a hole is made in the sidewall of the house, near the room where the death took place, and the body is passed outside through the hole. In such a case, only that side of the house will be impure and need purification; the other part can be inhabited usual. This mode of action, however, is not considered proper or respectable and it is thought to reflect dishonour upon the dead.



When an orthodox Hindu is at the point of death, a Brahmin brings a cow, marks its forehead with vermillion (kunkum) and salutes it. A little Ganges water is poured into the mouth of the dying man. Alms are given to Brahmins and to beggars; and just at the moment of dissolution he is removed into the open air or conveyed to the river bank.


To be continued………………..






Elephant Coffee- a cup £30 (Rs2500)

London newspapers have published an interesting news story about coffee that comes out of an elephant’s bottom! It is called black ivory coffee. Because of its super taste, it is one of the most expensive coffees in the word at £30 a cup (Rs 2500). The reason for its good taste is every coffee bean is plucked out of elephant’s dung. They feed the coffee beans to elephants and the animal’s stomach acid improves it flavour.


This coffee is called crap-uccino. Canadian Blake Dinkin spent £300,000 developing this idea. He used a herd of twenty elephants for this. The first 70 kilo coffee he produced in Thailand has sold out. He expects a good demand for this black ivory coffee.

It raises a moral question. Can we use elephants to make them eat what they can’t digest? When it comes to money, morality disappears in western countries.

Hindus reverence to Elephants & cows

Hindus revered two animals the most –cow and elephant. They did two pujas everyday in all the temples and Mutts for cow and elephant. They are known as Go Puja (cow worship) and Gaja Puja (elephant worship). They not only respected these animals but used their parts as well. Even a primitive man would have done it. There is no wonder. But Hindus went one step further and found out the medical values of their urine and excretory materials.

Pancha gavyam (five products from Go=Gau=cow) is from the cow. Hindus must consume the urine, cow’s dung, milk, curd and butter at all ritual functions. The cow dung is anti bacterial and is used by the Hindus for thousands of years as cleaning materials in kitchen and front of the houses. Now cow’s urine is sold in bottles. People will slowly realise its medical value. I will consider these as Hindu discoveries.

The hair from elephant tails is used as a talisman against diseases in Kerala, India. The mahout used to give it when we give him money. Elephant’s urine was also used by orthodox Hindus. When I spent my boyhood days in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India I have done it along with other elders. When I went to Guruvayur elephant sanctuary, I bought the elephant’s hair. As soon as the elephants excrete the dung people used to run and stamp on it so that all the fissures and sores on the foot disappear. When I was a boy all these were fun rather than religious or scientific. Now after reading the elephant dung coffee news I realise its value.

People pay the mahout to get the water blown out from the trunk of an elephant. Whoever drenches in that water will get immunity from diseases. This is seen in 2200 year old (Bharhut sculptures) Gajalakshmi statues where Goddess Lakshmi is bathed by two elephants. I have already written about Gajalakshmi’s travel to Sri Lanka and Denmark. The figure is found in Denmark and Sri Lanka.

Elephant dung and cow’s dung are used as manure. Cow’s milk is also used all over the world. I have a feeling Hindus were the first one to introduce them to the human beings. There are some reasons to believe so. They worshipped these two animals above all other animals and started using them well before others. They found out their medicinal values. They banned beef eating. Beef spreads killer diseases such as Mad Cow Disease. Millions of cows were slaughtered after this disease spread to Europe in the past few years. Certain countries beef was banned by UK leading to economic wars. Beef sale dropped out heavily in the supermarkets after the scientists’ revelation that it can spread to human beings. Lot of people stopped eating red meat and switched over to chicken and fish. A lot more have become vegetarians.


Read also my previous posts:

1.யானை பற்றிய நூறு பழமொழிகள் 2.Gajalakshmi in Kalidasa and Sangam Literature 3.Gajendra Moksha in Africa

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