Y) Megaliths

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A megalith is a large stone that has been used to construct a structure or monument, either alone or together with other stones. The word "megalithic" describes structures made of such large stones, utilizing an interlocking system without the use of mortar or cement, as well as representing periods of prehistory characterised by such constructions. For later periods the term monolith, with an overlapping meaning, is more likely to be used.

The word "megalith" comes from the Ancient Greek "μέγας" (megas) meaning "great" and "λίθος" (lithos) meaning "stone." Megalith also denotes an item consisting of rock(s) hewn in definite shapes for special purposes.[1][2][3] It has been used to describe buildings built by people from many parts of the world living in many different periods. A variety of large stones are seen as megaliths, with the most widely known megaliths not being sepulchral.[4] The construction of these structures took place mainly in the Neolithic (though earlier Mesolithic examples are known) and continued into the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age.[5]


A stone between the dead body and the living relations, marks off the boundary-line of Death's domain

Rigveda 10.53.8 (cf. AV 12,2,26; VS 35,10) is rendered in a funeral rite.

Monier- Williams remarks that the rules of the AsvaUyana Grihya Sutras relating to funeral ceremonies possess great interest in their connexion with the 18th hymn of the 10th Mandala of the Rig-Veda :

" Although the Sutras direct that the texts of this hymn are to be used yet the rite must have undergone considerable modifications since the period when the hymn was composed."

" We notice even at that early epoch an evident belief in the soul's eternal existence, and the permanence of its personality hereafter, which notably contrasts with the later ideas of transmigration, absorption
into the divine essence, and pantheistic identification with the supreme Soul of the universe.

*' We learn also from this same hymn that the body in ancient times was not burnt but buried ; nor can we discover the slightest allusion to the later practice of Sati or cremation of the widow with her husband.

"The corpse of the deceased person was deposited close to a grave dug ready for its reception, and by its side his widow, if he happened to be a married man, seated herself, while his children, relatives, and
friends ranged themselves in a circle round her. The priest stood near at an altar, on which the sacred fire was kindled, and having invoked Death, called upon him to withdraw from the path of the living, and not to molest the young and healthy survivors, who were assembled to perform pious rites for the dead, without giving up the expectation of a long life themselves. He then placed a stone between the dead body and the living relations, to mark off the boundary-line of Death's domain, and offered up a prayer that none of those present might be removed to another world before attaining to old age, and that none of the younger might be taken before the elder Then the widow\s married female friends walked up to the altar and offered oblations in the fire ; after which the widow herself withdrew from the inner circle assigned to the dead, and joined the survivors outside the boundary-line, while the officiating priest took the bow out of the hand of the deceased, in order to show that the manly strength which he possessed during life, did not perish with him, but remained with his family. The body was then tenderly laid ia the grave with repetition of the words of the hymn :

" Open thy arms, earth, receive the dead With gentle pressure and with loving welcome. Enshroud him tenderly, e'en as a mother Folds her soft vestment round the child she loves. Soul of the dead 1 depart ; take thou the path The ancient path by which our ancestors have Gone before thee."

" The ceremony was concluded by the careful closing of the tomb with a stone slab. Finally a mound of earth was raised to mark and consecrate the spot."

Murdoch, John, 1898, "The laws of Manu;