Sky Burial: Tibetan Burial Ritual

Posted by Jon Underwood on Oct. 2, 2010, 1:53 p.m.

"Sky Burial follows the ritual of "jha-tor", the giving of alms to birds in a northern Tibetan monastery - where the bodies of the dead are offered to the vultures as a final act of kindness to living beings.

At the Drigung Monastery lamas chant to call the consciousness from the body. Juniper incense is burned to summon the vultures. Special body breakers, or "rogyapas", unwrap the bodies and cut away the flesh. The bones are crushed and mixed with tsampa, roasted barley flour. The entire body is consumed by the birds, assuring the ascent of the soul.

The sky, or the universe, is where the sacred world lies. To merge with the sky after death is a holy event, one that replaces the sufferings of this world with peace.

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