Digging up the dead

On 17th August, I boarded a train from Pathsala to New Alipurduar. Barely, fifteen minutes had passed when a Newspaper-Man came chanting: ‘Paper, Paper, English-Hindi-Bangla, Newspaper, Newspaper.’ I stopped him, and ran my fingers through the stack of newspapers and pulled out one. It was ‘Seven Sisters Post’, Guawahati English daily.

As I read and flipped to the second page, my attention was drawn by big and bold heading that read “Bhutanese National held with human bones, skulls’. The newspaper carried colorful images of confessed items, and the facial profile of the smuggler was shown. The article said that the man was in possession of 46 bones, 5 skulls, and 14 small hand-held drums. Interestingly, these materials were to be flown from Delhi to France.

A part of paragraph read “…the skeleton materials have been converted to musical instruments and utensils, which are used for prayers. The upper limb is being used as a flute, the skulls are used as utensils for drinking holy drinks and the small hand-held drums are used to create music during prayer.”

It’s clear that Bhutanese bones exhumed from silent Bhutanese graves are not only used in Bhutan, but also supplied to many other countries. Some clever people are making a lucrative business out of it.

Since a few years back, the digging of dead bodies out of graves during nights have become quite rampant around the country. In Gelephu, people fumed, resented and wept as the graves of their loved ones are emptied every night. Some even could not be laid to rest for even one night in the grave.

What is holy and sacred in ones faith and cultural beliefs can be completely taboo in the culture of others. It’s almost like saying one man’s food is another man’s poison. In some beliefs, cutting a dead body into pieces or breaking or taking of bones is an absolute desecration of the dead body, and is totally banned by their culture.

In some faiths, the dead body is burned, while in some s put into coffin and place it six feet beneath the earth and, it’s is there forever. And some times, even if they practice one faith, they do both- bury and burn, as per their culture or caste.

In some religions and cultures, the dead body is highly revered and cared, while in some, such care is considered immaterial, as it is a dead body without a soul. No culture is good or bad. Every culture is important in its own way, and revered by the people who practice them.

Digging of death bodies indiscriminately can cause misapprehension among people practicing different faiths and cultures, and disturb peaceful coexistence. Today, around the world, many major conflicts have cropped up from faith and cultural issues, because one fails to understand others.



Lakpa Sherpa, DCCL, Nganglam

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  1. Good work Lhakpa..it’s indeed a panegyric writing for those who is lying Six feet underneath,,,i also believe the same that a man is born from the soil and should go back to the very soil..

  2. Lhakpa Sherpa ,Why you worried about dead bodies and you should feel grateful that those that the bodies are utilized properly and liberated. Atleast they are making livelyhood and should appreciate.Dont  try to destabilze the nation and focuss on Developmental issues and need for public facility. 

    • How can you say, he is trying to destabilize nation. In what way such article will destabilize the nation can you explain. Perhaps you need to study the theory and literature before commenting. I am sure your hypothesis is a null hypothesis. please study some books on theory of Justice my John Rawls, critique of pure reason by Emanuel Khants. 
      I hate blind statement, because that makes u a hypocrite…….. 

  3. Only Lhakpa and others  is disturbing the coexistence and spoiling the nature and the environment. 

  4. We dont want to hear cooked up those Indian Drama and should not listen and taken as truth.They do for the money and anti propaganda only.

  5. Seriously, Lord Buddha got englightnment without the use of these huntsman’s horn or skull and crossbones. We must respect the dead. It is like stealing from the house which gave you shelter. It is a disrespectful and contemptuous conduct on part of such sick people. Why can’t we use other musical items. It produces the same notes or rather a better tones…

  6. These people are not human. They are ghost. Someday they will go for the live body if they could not find the deadbody. Be careful and watchful. Ofcourse this world is full of evil and wickedness………………

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