Guruji On Do Not Be Afraid Of Death

Birth and death are but the beginning and end of this life upon earth. We are all aware that we have taken birth here in order to live our lives in whatever manner possible, given the circumstances we are placed in. We have seen the happening and also know what happens after birth. But when it comes to death, we have no understanding about what happens at death and after death. The mystery of death is perplexing and frightening to man. He is afraid of death because he fears the unknown. He does not want to die.

When you think of those who have already passed away from earth, you tend to wonder, where they could be? You then wonder, what happens to the soul, once the lifeless body is cremated or buried? When you think of all the great ones, ancient kings, yogis, rishis, warriors, scientists, inventors, etc., who have bequeathed so much to mankind, you wonder about their destination after leaving the earth. It is only the rare ones, the spiritually evolved ones, those who have understood the meaning of death, pain and suffering – that remain unafraid.

All those who are bound with worldly attachments, usually have the feeling that though death is fearful, it happens to others and not to themselves or to their near and dear ones. If at all these people encounter death, they are totally unaware of how to deal with it. The so-called modern education has not prepared the people to deal with life or with death. When death happens, most of them go haywire; they cry and weep, rave and rant, and feel that God has been unjust to them. They do not know how to cope with the absence of their dear departed ones, and as a result fall ill, or go into depression, etc. Therefore, it is important for all people to become aware of this event called death.

Death is an inevitable fact of life. It is but natural for the physical body that has taken birth here, and lived its term, to die one day due to some natural or other causes. There is no such phenomenon called birth or death. Death happens only to the physical body. It is just like the discarding of your old, worn out or damaged clothes. Encased within the clothes is a physical body which, from time to time, replaces the old clothes with new ones.

The individual soul or Jivatma is immortal, it has no birth or death. It is encased in a physical body, made of five elements, that grows, matures and dies. Death is the separation of soul from the physical body, and birth is entrance of soul into the physical body. Death is a transition from one state of being to another, from one plane of consciousness to another, from the earthly plane to the astral or mental plane. Just as ice melts to become water, and water evaporates to become steam, vapour, and invisible gas, so also is the journey of the Jivatma, it continues through the cycles of births and deaths until its purpose on earth is achieved.

Once the Jivatma has completed its mission, it will finally merge with the Supreme Being, the Parmatma, the Brahman or God. The world comes from God and returns to God. Therefore, it is important to live in this world with full awareness about the unity of life, serving joyfully while participating in the joys and sorrows of others, without forgetting for even a moment that this world and its elements belong to God. All that has been said so far, may be understood theoretically, but far more important is for this fact to be understood and absorbed internally. For this very purpose the sadhana of yoga and meditation should be practised with discipline and devotion, so that the fear of death is removed completely.

All of you are aware that you are not the body but the immortal soul, a part of the Brahman. Purify your inner-self through sadhana and meditate upon the pure, immortal, changeless Self within you. Through meditation you will realise that death is only a gateway to a new life where you will again resume the work that was left unfinished in your previous life. Just as you wake up after a deep sleep and resume your duties, so also you will take birth after the death, in order to get on with your mission. Therefore, there should not be any fear of death.

Spend this lifetime in pure and purposeful living, with complete attention and devotion to God. When one is on the verge of death or has already departed, instead of weeping and wailing, all those who have gathered at the venue should spend the period in prayers, bhajans and good thoughts so that the departing soul is sent off in a loving and soothing manner. The last thought of the departing soul is very important because it determines the next birth. It is said that King Bharath of ancient India, had nursed a deer out of mercy and had became so attached to it that at the time of his death he continued to think of the deer. So, as the story goes, he was born as a deer in his next birth.

Every one desires a peaceful death with the mind firmly fixed upon God. But this is something that needs to be nurtured during one’s lifetime through bhakti and sadhana. According to our culture, the Gita, Bhagvata, or some such holy scriptures are recited at the death-bed so that it helps the departing soul to detach itself from worldly objects and to attach itself to God-consciousness. It is also very important to create a soothing and devotional atmosphere near the death-bed. It makes it conducive for the departing soul to be in touch with God during the last moments of earthly life. Loud wailings and uncontrolled cries of grief should be avoided as they create unrest and distress in the departing soul. Instead all should maintain a prayerful attitude in the presence of the departing soul. Care must be taken to make its final journey, peaceful and pleasant.

Love you, and bless you all. May you achieve success in your ‘Sadhana’ and may you never fear death.

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