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Possédées par un Gandharva

20 mars 2007

Les Gandharva, dans l'hindouisme, sont des divinités mineures, des esprits ou des génies qui volent dans les airs et qui ont un talent de musiciens. Ils sont liés aux arbres et aux fleurs; ils vivent dans l'odeur des écorces, les senteurs de la nature sauvage, les sèves et les boutons de fleurs. La légende veut qu'ils séduisent les jeunes femmes non mariées et disparaissent après les avoir rendues enceintes. Les Gandharva sont des incarnations et des instruments de la Mâyâ. Ils représentent la Mâyâ dans ses dimensions biologiques. Ils président à la fécondité et leur aide est sollicitée par les femmes en mal d'enfant.

Dans le jardin du taravad

Thakazhi, Kayar

Dans les années 1880-1890 au Kuttanad, un noble Nayar envoyé en mission par le maharaja de Travancore pour superviser le cadastre et la répartition de l'impôt sur les terres agricoles, s'installe au village pour plusieurs mois. Charmeur et entreprenant, il séduit en secret dans les jardins de leur taravad (le vaste compound des Maisons nayar), deux jeunes femmes du village qui auront un enfant de lui. Un mariage arrangé sauvera la réputation de l'une, tandis que le déshonneur de l'autre entraînera le départ pour Kashi (Bénarès), autrement dit le Renoncement (samnyâsa), de l'un des sages du village qui était son oncle (nous sommes dans une société matrilinéaire).

Le début du chapitre VI fixe le cadre enchanteur des amours entre Kochupennu Kunjamma, la jeune héritière de Kodanthara, et Kochu Pillai de Kilimannoor, le beau Klassiper, sous les grands manguiers qui lancent leurs frondaisons jusqu'au ciel, dans les sept bosquets aux serpents (nâga-kâvu) du taravad de Kodanthara, peuplés d'oiseaux rares et parfumés d'odeurs célestes. La suite du chapitre raconte comment ils évitent le scandale en manipulant les règles du mariage Nayar et la légende des Gandharva protecteurs de la jeune mariée.

Dans la Brhadarânyaka Upanisad

Récit fait par Uddâlaka, Brhadarânyakopanisad III.7.1, de sa rencontre avec un Gandharva qui avait pris possession de l'épouse de son hôte.

Yohanan Grinshpon, The Upanisadic story and the hidden vidyâ. Personality and possession in the Brhadaranyakopanisad, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol.26, 1998, pp.373–385.

( 374) "He and some of his brahmin-colleagues were travelling in the country of Madra, eager for Vedic knowledge. The host's wife was possessed by a Gandharva (gandharva-grhîtâ), a non-human being by the name of Âtharvana Kabandha. The sages were apparently taking advantage of the presence of the supra-human source of knowledge; they addressed him, and he responded. The Gandharva then introduced two questions: What is "the string on which this world and the next, as well as of all beings, are strung together?""Who is the inner controller (antar-yâmin)?" The sages present at the host's house did not know. The narrative suggests that they also could not know the answers to /375/ the Gandharva's questions. Indeed, in his bhâsya on BU 3.3 Sankara proposes that the Gandharva's knowledge was perhaps inaccessible to the brahmins…

[Yajnavalkya] is required to know what only a non-human being such as a Gandharva could know. The animosity, ridicule and contempt on Uddâlaka's part are hardly concealed; "everyone can say 'I know, I know'. If you know, then say what you know". [Je lirai ce texte en français dans la traduction d'Emile Sénart.]

(384) Since the Gandharva is a supra-human (divya) being, one who had not received this knowledge from such a source cannot know certain truths. The Gandharva told the brahmins secrets inaccessible to humans…"

Et pourtant Yajnavalkya se révèle capable de donner la réponse à ces questions, une réponse qu'il ne connaissait pas d'avance mais qu'il se savait capable de découvrir. Double conclusion: sur la créativité du sage en quête de vérité (selon le Vedânta); et sur le rôle d'intercesseur du Gandharva (dans la cosmologie hindoue).

Autres textes à l'appui

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, The Sun-Kiss, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol.60, No.1, March 1940, pp.46–67.

Bryan Jaré Cuevas, Predecessors and Prototypes: Towards a Conceptual History of the Buddhist Antarâbhava, Numen, Vol 43, No.3, September 1996, pp 263–302.

Dans les Veda, les Gandharva sont des êtres semi-divins habitant l'espace intermédiaire entre le ciel et la terre (Sk. antarîksa). Ils sont les protecteurs du Soma, le jus fertilisant; ils sont associés aux eaux. Jeunes et beaux, ils sont les amants des grâcieuses Apsaras et les séducteurs de toutes les jeunes femmes. (280) "In his amorous capacity, the gandharva is affiliated with the wedding ceremony, and /281/the unmarried bride is said to be possessed by him as well as by Soma and Agni. Consequently, the gandharva, during the first few days of marriage, is regarded as the irritating rival of the jealous husband… Always given to pleasure, they are fond of scents (gandha) and scented objects and are described as wearing fragrant (surabhi) garments; hence the name gandharva, "eaters of scent". As sexually virile beings, the gandharvas, together with their female companions, the apsaras, are believed to preside over fertility and are petitioned by those desiring progeny. Following the trajectory of this theme, the Buddhists, in a later period, name that being gandharva (Pali gandhabba) who, upon departing from its previous existence, enters the womb and becomes an embryo at the moment of conception; its passage recognized as an autonomous transitional period (antarâbhava) between the end of one life and the beginning of the next." Dans le bouddhisme donc, les Gandharva errent pendant plusieurs semaines dans l'espace-temps situé entre la mort et la prochaine renaissance (Sk. antarâbhava).

Thomas Oberlies, Der Gandharva und die drei Tage Währende 'Quarantäne', Indo-Iranian Journal, Vol.48, 2005, pp.97–109.

(98) "The function of the Gandharva is to escort things from 'outside' into this world thereby divesting them of their (potential) dangerous nature. In this way the Rgveda seems to have 're-interpreted' the inherited notion of a Soma protecting being… As a guardian at the border of this world [l'illusion] and the beyond and as the 'god of transfer' the Gandharva knows the true nature of things [la vérité] — their 'immortal name(s)' (RV 10.123.4) —, which he reveals to Indra (RV 10.139.6)."

O. H. de A. Wijesekera, The Concept of Viññâna in Theravâda Buddhism, Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol.84, No.3, July-September 1964, pp.254–259.

(256) "In the Mahâtanhâsankhaya Sutta it is said that, for conception to take place, there should be the conjunction of three things: "There should be the coitus of parents, the mother should have her period, and the gandhabba must be present" (M.i.265). Buddhaghosa's comment is unusually clear on the point: "Gandhabba (here denotes) the being about to enter the womb; it is not that he remains in the proximity observing the union of the parents, (on the other hand) what is implied is that a certain being is about to be born in that situation, being driven on by the mechanism of Kamma." […] "From the time of the Atharvaveda the word gandharva is found meaning "discarnate spirit." Since, however, in this particular context, the identity of the spirit with a previous person in point of caste goes against the Buddhist principle that the reborn individual is neither identical nor non-identical with the previous person, Buddhaghosa maintains a discreet silence… But, from the early Buddhist point of view, the special meaning of the term gandhabba as used in the above contexts is not difficult to determine. It must refer to the samsâric Viññâna [Sk. vijñâna] in the intermediate state between death and the succeeding birth."