What is death ?

By Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati

Rebirth And Evolution Of Man
The question of rebirth, of life after death, has remained an enigma through the ages. Human knowledge is hardly capable of answering all the problems that life foreshadows, and as Gautama Buddha would say, “In this world of forms and illusions created by our senses according to our illusions, a man either is or is not, either lives or dies, but in the true and formless world this is not so, for all is otherwise than according to our knowledge, and if you ask, does a man live beyond death, I answer No, not in any sense comprehensible to the mind of man which itself dies at death, and if you ask, does a man altogether die at death, I answer No, for what dies is what belongs to this world of form and illusion.”
Yet, human mind would not allow itself to be puzzled by a mystic answer without a definite conclusion, and the age of implicit belief in what the wise had said once upon a time is long past. Today we have a perpetual demand for concrete evidence en masse, not of solitary prodigies. But if such be the attitude on a profound mystery like the soul’s transmigration, the obvious answer has to be, “Better wait until you die, and then you can conclusively know.” There arises, therefore, the necessity of a cool, rational, dispassionate and impersonal consideration.
The doctrine of cause and effect and the consequent inevitability of reincarnation has been the very bedrock of the Hindu philosophy. But we cannot ignore the obvious fact that out of 2000 millions of the earth’s population over 800 millions have no religious tradition to believe in rebirth, while nearly 540 millions are quite agnostic about its possibility.
Naturally, then, it will be a sheer rodomontade of the Hindu’s thought that they were the wisest of men, as though the rest were a massive bunch of ignorant persons, to whom ignorance was bliss. Then the question will arise, if one is to believe that his present life is resultant of the actions done in his previous birth, what was it that caused that previous birth? Well, another previous birth. But what was the cause of that birth, again?
Now, to answer this, we have to fall back upon the law of evolution and say that in the long, distant past we had been once animals and from that strata of life we became human beings. But the question would again arise that in order to justify the theory of cause and effect there must have been some cause as well to be born as human beings, and since animals have no intellect to judge between virtue and vice, how could we be held responsible for our birth into the family of Man? It does not matter; let us tentatively accept this illogical hypothesis to be true, and lead ourselves back into the family of worms and then into the vegetable and the mineral kingdoms, and finally arrive at the conclusion that God must have been the original cause responsible. But, believing in the theory of cause and effect, how indeed, for all the world of reason, could God be so unjust and undeniably become the original cause for all the suffering, conflict and unhappiness that we must undergo, born as we are as human beings?
There is no answer for the original cause. The best course is: Be good and do good, believe in a good conscience and respect the worthiness of the individual and the ethics of life, leaving the rest to God. There are many things beyond the orbit of the human mind, and knowledge of the Self, however imposing the term might be, is the only answer to them. Nevertheless the concept of rebirth cannot be so easily brushed aside, since there are substantial logical inferences, which yield a strong influence on reason to sustain faith.
In the early phases of Vedic literature there is practically no reference to rebirth and no stigma of sins, or dread of the hell-fire and no heavenly lure for the mortals. But with the beginning of the Aranyaka period, as the Vedic mind progressed from a polytheistic concept of the elemental godhead towards a monistic ideals of the one, absolute Reality, the doctrine of cause and effect and the transmigration of soul was evolved as a logical necessity in order to safeguard an unsullied existence of God in human thought.
Now, it is quite well-known that three of the leading religions of the world, though much younger to Hinduism in origin, found it necessary to present a dreadful prospect of an eternal devilment in the hell so that men might desist from flying at each other’s throat and respect social harmony, the value of culture and the usefulness of peace. A colourful lure of a joyous immortality in the heaven was offered at the same time, directed only to serve the same purpose. But here the principle of evolution was at once discredited and man was either abruptly condemned to hell without a slight afterchance of redemption, or he was over-graciously suspended in the heaven for eternity, with an individualised existence. Nor was there any answer as to why one man should be flourishing and happy in spite of being wicked and another should be drudging on a life of want, full of wretchedness, in spite of being virtuous.
The Indian sages on the contrary offered a better solution and made reincarnation responsible for the evolution of man who alone was the master of his destiny. They frankly admitted their incapability of answering why the world should have been created at all, and from that basis asserted that God was not responsible for good and evil, happiness and suffering, but it was man who was responsible for the decree of his fate, capable at the same time of its betterment through his own self-effort. So, God could not be accused for all the baffling inequalities and injustices of life, and His position in human thought was kept unscathed. The theory of reincarnation is, therefore, a far more convincing doctrine than any belief that justifies an arbitrary irredemption after death.
Furthermore, we have many examples as to how a child easily becomes an adept artist or a gifted musician with a very little training, whereas in some aristocratic families we find that in spite of tremendous efforts of highly qualified teachers and arduous toil on the part of the youngster himself he is able to make very little progress in learning. There are also the examples of child-prodigies with no background of training. Take another case. There are two children born of the same parents and brought up under the same environments: one of them turns out to be a brilliant scholar with fine manners, and the other becomes a dull-headed ragamuffin for no apparent reason at all. The theory of rebirth alone might answer for the difference.
Rebirth is life’s sustaining force, even from the worldly point of view. So many dreams and so many eagerly-sought-after ambitions remain unfulfilled; youth gradually decays into old age and infirmity, and the ember of elusive hope gets dimmer and weaker; but its flame is kept up flickering by a remote expectation that perhaps in another birth those dreams might be fulfilled. So, even from this point of view, rebirth is indeed a gentle consolation and a solace of life.
There is another school of thought which believes that the sledge-hammer of death puts a final end to life, the body and the soul having passed out into the five elements in ultimate oblivion. This convenient belief is very appealing to some intellectual sophists. But, if such be the case, then what is to account for the apparitions and the undeniable experiences at a seance? Hence, life after death cannot be ruled out? Now, let us take into consideration as to what should be the attitude of a spiritual aspirant.
Man has a tremendous potentiality within himself. He is not the slave of fate. Once Buddha asked Sariputta, one of his most brilliant disciples, to whom the world owes an immense debt for the establishment of Buddhism, “Well, monk, does not life burden you and don’t you like to be released by death? Or, does living fascinate you, because there is a noble mission to fulfil?” Sariputta replied, “Venerable Teacher, I desire not life. I desire not death. I wait until my hour shall come, like a servant that waits for his wages.”
Even so should be the attitude of an aspirant. He has nothing to fulfil of his own, since his life is a fulfilment of the will of God. Even the desire to be born again in order to foster a worthy spiritual mission should find no place in him. For, does not God know better as to whom to send as His messenger to this world? And, is it not man’s highest ideal to rejoice in the dissolution of his body and the mind and his individuality in the great cosmic oneness of the Absolute, and thus once for all cease to be an individualised consciousness, either astrally existent or physically imprisoned.
Most assuredly does every aspirant reserve the right to disclaim rebirth for himself, because liberation is his birthright and he is the master of his destiny. No obsession is ever good, be it spiritual or temporal. It is better to cleanse the mind of any unhealthy fear-complex than be harrowed by an obsession at the time of death. Having known the evanescent nature of the material values of life, one has to deny the prospect of being crucified again inside his prison-house of flesh and blood, and claim one’s legitimate due with all the vigour and intensity of will and thought that he can command.
Thought decides action and action decides destiny. There is a vast reservoir of power within every individual and one can surely pulverise any possibility of a future life by the sheer force of his will, together with the inevitable grace of God, and so modelling his present life as to leave no trace of earthly ambition and no tell-tale of an unwipable mark of stigmatic actions. Did not Dattatreya, the sage of unparalleled wisdom and renunciation say, “For the initiated there is no rebirth?”

The Phenomenon Of Death
Death is separation of the soul from the physical body. Death becomes the starting point of a new and better life. Death does not end your personality and self-consciousness. It merely opens the door to a higher form of life. Death is only the gateway to a fuller life.
Birth and death are jugglery of Maya. He who is born begins to die. He who dies begins to live. Life is death and death is life. Birth and death are merely doors of entry and exist on the stage of this world. In reality no one comes, no one goes. Brahman or the Eternal alone exists.
Just as you move from one house to another house, the soul passes from one body to another to gain experience. Just as a man casting off worn-out garments, takes new ones, so the dweller in this body, casting off worn-out bodies, enters into others which are new.
Death is not the end of life. Life is one continuous never-ending process. Death is only a passing and necessary phenomenon, which every soul has to pass to gain experience for its further evolution.
Dissolution of the body is no more than sleep. Just as man sleeps and wakes up, so is death and birth. Death is like sleep. Birth is like waking up. Death brings promotion to a new and better life. A man of discrimination and wisdom is not afraid of death. He knows that death is the gate of life. Death to him is no longer a skeleton bearing a sword to cut the thread of life, but rather an angel who has a golden key to unlock for him the door to a wider, fuller and happier existence.
Every soul is a circle. The circumference of this circle is nowhere but its centre is in the body. Death means the change of this centre from body to body. Why, then, should you be afraid of death?
The Supreme Soul or Paramatman is deathless, decayless, timeless, causeless and spaceless. It is the source and substratum for this body, mind and the whole world. There is death for the physical body only, which is a compound of five elements. How can there be death for the Eternal Soul which is beyond time, space and causation?
If you wish to free yourself from birth and death, you must become bodiless. Body is the result of Karmas or actions. You must not do any action with expectation of fruits. If you free yourself from Raga-Dvesha, or likes and dislikes, you will be free from Karma. If you kill egoism only, you can free yourself from Raga and Dvesha. If you annihilate ignorance through knowledge of the Imperishable, you can annihilate egoism. The root-cause for this body is therefore ignorance.
He who realises the Eternal Soul, which is beyond all sound, all sight, all taste, all touch, which is formless and attributeless, which is beyond Nature, which is beyond three bodies and five sheaths, which is infinite and unchanging, self-luminous, frees himself from the jaws of death.

Death Is Not The End Of Life
The individual souls or Jivas build various bodies to display their activities and gain experience from this world. They enter the bodies and leave them when they become unfit to live in. They build new bodies again and leave them again in the same manner. This is known as transmigration of souls. The entrance of a soul into a body is called birth. The soul’s departure from the body is called death. A body is dead if the soul is absent.
The conception of a human child in the womb of the mother is the fusion of sperm of man into ovum of woman. Spermatozoon and ovum are microscopic living cells. They cannot be seen through the naked eye. This fusion is generally known as conception and technically as fertilisation of the ovum. In the mother’s womb sperm (Sukla) and ovum (Sonita) are fused into one single cell. This single cell after fertilisation develops into an embryo and further in course of ten months into a complete human child.
Man has always tried to tear aside the veil and know the course of events subsequent to the death of an individual. Various theories have been put forward, but it cannot be said that he has succeeded in tearing aside the veil that covers the life beyond.
Science has been struggling to unravel the mystery, but so far no data have been furnished which can form the basis of a theory. But experiments in this direction have yielded many an interesting fact.
Natural death, it is said, is unknown to unicellular organisation. When life on earth consisted of these creatures, death was unknown. The phenomenon appeared only when from unicellular the multicellular evolved.
Experiments conducted in laboratories have shown that whole organs such as thyroid glands, the ovary, suprarenal gland, the spleen, the heart and the kidneys isolated from the body of a cat or a fowl, can be kept alive in vitro to show increase in size or weight due to the appearance of new cells or tissues.
It is also known that after the cessation of an individuality, parts of the organisation, can continue to function. The white blood-corpuscles of the blood, if cared for, can live for months after the body from which they were withdrawn has been cremated. But the life, it is true, is the life of blood-corpuscles; it is not the life of the individual.
Death is not the end of life. It is merely cessation of an important individuality. Life flows on to achieve its conquest of the universal; life flows on till it merges in the Eternal.

Process Of Death
Vasishtha says in the Yoga-Vasishtha:
“When on account of the diseases of the body its Nadis lose their vigour and thus become unable to expand and contract in order to exhale or inhale air, the body loses its harmony and becomes restless. The inhaled air does not then properly come out, nor does the exhaled air re-enter the body. So respiration stops. Respiration stopping, the creature becomes senseless and dead. All the desires and ideas of the individual are then withdrawn within himself. The individual with all his Vasanas (desires or previous impressions) within himself is called a Jiva. When the body is dead, the Pranas of the individual with the Jiva within, come out of the body and roam in the air. The atmospheric air is full of a number of such Pranas which have Jivas within them; these Jivas themselves having their respective world-experiences potentially existing within them—I can see them. At that time the individual with all his Vasanas within him is called Preta (gone to the other world.)
“In that very place where one dies, one experiences another world after the insensibility of death is over.”

Signs Of Death
It is very difficult to find out the real signs of death. Stoppage of the heart-beat, stoppage of the pulse or breathing are not the actual signs of death. Stoppage of the heartbeats, pulse and respiration, cadaveric rigidity of the limbs, clammy sweat on the body, absence of warmth of the body, are the popular signs of death. The doctor tries to find out whether there is corneal reflex in the eye. He tries to bend the leg. These signs are not the real signs of death, because there have been several cases where there were cessation of breathing and beating of heart and yet they were revived after some time.
Hatha Yogis are put in a box and buried underneath the earth for forty days. Afterwards they are taken out and they revive. Respiration may stop for a long time. In cases of suspended animation, respiration stops for two days. Many cases have been recorded. The heart-beat may stop for many hours, even for days, and then it can be recovered. Hence it is extremely difficult to say what would be the actual or the final sign of death. The decomposition and putrefaction of the body may be the only final sign of death.
No one should be buried immediately after death before decomposition sets in. One may think that a man is dead, whereas he may be in a state of trance, catalepsy or ecstasy or Samadhi. Trance, Samadhi, catalepsy and ecstasy are states which resemble death. The outward signs are similar.
Persons dying of heart-failure should not be buried immediately, as breathing would commence once again after a particular time. Burial should take place only after the body begins to putrefy.
A Yogi can stop his heart-beat at his will. He can remain in a state of Samadhi, or superconscious state for hours or days. There is neither heart-beat nor breathing during the state of Samadhi. This is sleepless sleep or perfect awareness. When he comes down to physical consciousness, there is revival of heart-beating and respiration. Science cannot explain this and doctors are dumb-founded when they witness these phenomena.

Dissolution Of Elements At Death
This physical body is composed of five great elements or the Mahabhutas, namely, earth, water, fire, air and ether. The Devas or gods are endowed with a divine or luminous body. The fire Tattva is predominant in them. In man the earth Tattva is preponderating. In the case of aquatic animals the element of water predominates. In the case of birds the element of air predominates.
Hardness of the body is due to the portion of earth; the fluidity is due to portion of water; the warmth that you feel in the body is due to fire; moving to and fro and such other activities are due to air; space is due to Akasa or ether. Jivatma or the individual soul is different from the five elements.
After death these elements are dissolved. They reach their primordial sources from the inexhaustible storehouse of nature. The element of earth goes and joins its storehouse of Prithvi Tattva. The other elements also go back to their sources.
The dead body is bathed and newly clothed and is taken to the cremation ground where it is laid on the funeral pyre. The Mantras that are now chanted are addressed to the spirit. The spirit is invoked to throw out from its body its five Pranas or the vital airs, so that they may mingle with their counterparts in the external air. The body is then addressed to dissolve itself with its five material components of earth, water, fire, air and ether from where it originally arose. The body is then offered to fire. The spirit which is thus driven out of the body in consequence of the dissolution begins its onward march to the Beyond.
The respective functions of the organs are blended with the presiding gods. Sight goes to the Sun from where it had its power of vision; speech goes to the fire, life-breath to the air, the ear into the quarters, the body into the earth, hairs into annual herbs, hairs of the head into trees and blood and semen into waters.

Function Of Udana Vayu
Vayu is wind or air. Vayu is Prana or vital force. Prana moves the senses or Indriyas. Prana generates thoughts. Prana moves the body and causes locomotion. Prana digests the food, circulates the blood, excretes urine and motion. Prana causes respirations. It is through Prana you see, hear, feel, taste and think. The sum total of all Pranas is Hiranyagarbha or Lord Brahma. Prana is manifestation of Prakritis. Gross Prana is breath. Subtle Prana is vital force.
Just as there is the subtle bladder within the football, so also there is the subtle body or Sukshma Deha within this gross body. Udana Vayu draws out the subtle body from the gross body at the time of death. It is this subtle body that goes to heaven and works in the dreaming state. Udana Vayu is the vehicle of transport for all Pranas. It helps deglutition or swallowing of food. It takes you to Brahman during deep sleep. Its abode is the throat.
This immortal Soul or Atman which is the source and support for all the Pranas, mind, intellect, senses and the body abides in the chambers of your heart. This Atman is in the heart where there are a hundred and one arteries. Every one of these has seventy-two thousand branches. Vyana which does the circulation of blood moves in these arteries.
Udana, which goes up through one of these, leads you to the higher worlds by means of your meritorious actions, to the evil worlds by means of your evil deeds and to the world of men by a mixture of both deeds.
In the case of Jivanmuktas or liberated sages who have nothing more by way of births nor worlds to live in, their minds and Pranas get absorbed in Brahman. The individual soul merges itself in the Supreme Soul or Para Brahman.
In the Jivanmukta there is no question of any forerunner like the Udana Vayu. The liberated sages with their minds purified by renunciation and with knowledge of the imperishable Atman are completely absorbed at the time of death. There is no return to this world for them.

What Is Soul?
There are two kinds of souls, viz., the individual soul or Jivatman or the human soul, and the Supreme Soul or Paramatman. The individual soul is an image or reflection of the Supreme Soul. Just as the Sun is reflected in different pots of water, so also the Supreme Soul is reflected in different minds of different persons.
Soul is spirit. It is immaterial. It is intelligence or consciousness. It is Chaitanya. Individual soul is reflected Chaitanya. It is this individual soul that departs from the body after its death and goes to heaven, with the senses, mind, Prana, impressions, desires and tendencies. It is endowed with a subtle astral body when it proceeds to heaven.
When the water in the lake is absorbed, the reflection of, the Sun in the water merges in the Sun itself. Even so, when the mind is annihilated through meditation, the individual soul merges itself in the Supreme Soul or Paramatman. This is the goal of life.
The individual soul has become impure through cravings, desires, egoism, pride, greed, lust and likes and dislikes. Hence it is finite (Paricchinna), it is endowed with limited knowledge (Alpajna) and limited power (Alpa-Saktiman). The Supreme Soul is Infinite, Omniscient and Omnipotent. It is an embodiment of knowledge and bliss.
The individual soul is under bondage through ignorance and limiting adjuncts such as mind, body and senses. It is mere appearance. It is illusory. When it attains knowledge of the Imperishable, it is freed from limiting adjuncts and bondage. Just as the bubble becomes one with the ocean, so also the Jiva becomes one with the Supreme Soul when ignorance is destroyed.
A dead body cannot speak, cannot walk, cannot see. It remains like a log of wood after the soul has departed from the body. It is the soul that enlivens, galvanises, moves and directs the body, mind and the senses.
The Supreme Soul is self-consciousness, self-awareness, self-delight, self-knowledge and self-existence. It knows itself and knows others. It is self-luminous and illumines everything. Hence it is Chaitanya. Matter does not know itself. It does not know others. Hence it is Jada or insentient.
The Supreme Soul is formless, attributeless, all-pervading indivisible, decayless, timeless, spaceless. There is neither time nor day nor night in the Sun itself, although it creates day and night. So is the Supreme Soul. Soul is Infinite, Eternal, Immortal.
The Supreme alone exists. This world of names and forms is illusory. It is superimposed upon the Supreme Soul, just as snake is superimposed on the rope. Bring a light; the snake in the rope vanishes at once. Attain illumination or knowledge of the Supreme Soul. This world will vanish in toto.
Everybody feels ‘I exist’, ‘I am, Aham Asmi’. No one can say ‘I do not exist’. This itself proves the existence of an Immortal Soul or the Supreme Self. In deep sleep you rest in the Supreme Soul. There is no world for you. You enjoy unalloyed bliss. This proves that the Supreme Soul exists and its essential nature is pure bliss.
Purify your mind. Steady it. Fix the mind on the Supreme Soul. Meditate and realise your essential divine nature. You will be freed from the wheel of births and deaths. You will attain eternal bliss and immortality.

Philosophy Of Flesh
The Charvakas are atheists who deny the existence of the soul after the death of the body. The materialists who worship the body as the soul and who deny the existence of a soul independent of the body, which is separate from the body, are also atheists. The Charvakas, the Lokayatikas, and the materialists believe that the body only is the soul and the soul does not exist outside the body. They also believe that the soul dies when the body dies.
They say that the soul is formed by the combination of the five elements, just as the red colour is formed by the combination of betel leaves, nuts and lime; or just as an intoxicating liquor is formed by the combination of some ingredients. Is this not a beautiful philosophy? It is the philosophy of the flesh. It is the philosophy of Virochana and his followers.
They believe in nothing which cannot be cognised by the senses. They will not admit the existence of anything which lies beyond the reach of their senses. They want ocular proof for everything. They must see the soul with the naked eyes. Then only they will believe in the existence of a soul. They do not know that the soul can be intuitively realised and that it is not an object of perception. Their philosophy is “Eat, drink and be merry. Have sensual enjoyment to the maximum degree. Do not think of the future. If you have no money, beg or borrow it and then eat and drink. Then again drink, because when the body is burnt to ashes, no one will have to be accountable for your actions.” Such philosophers are abundant in every country. Their number is increasing daily. There are many who do not believe at all in the existence of a soul.
The Charvakas and the materialists do not bother about reincarnation or transmigration of souls, about philosophical questions like “Who am I? Whence and where? Whither? What remains after death? What is life? What is death? What is then on the other side of death? When the body dies what conditions shall man pass into; in which world shall he find himself?” They think that those who make such enquiries are ignorant persons and that they are the only clever and wise persons. No argument can convince them or change their views. They have written volumes after volumes against the existence of the soul. Wonderful people indeed with perverted intellects!
Most of the modern college students of India, the children of the ancient Rishis and Seers of India, have become followers of the above philosophy on account of wrong education and wrong association. They are in the grip of the devil. They are in the clutches of fashion and passion. They have left off prayer, Sandhya, Gayatri Japa, Satsanga, study of the Gita and the Upanishads, the Ramayana and the Bhagavata. They are worshippers of the body. They practise vile imitation in dress etc. They visit hotels, restaurants, clubs and cinemas regularly, play cards and study novels enthusiastically. They have no idea of the financial difficulties of their parents and spend hundreds monthly. After graduation they cannot earn even fifty. Ignorant parents foolishly imagine that their sons will become big judges, big engineers, barristers and civilians and educate them even by borrowing money and selling their lands. Then eventually they find them in the role of the unemployed. Nature surely punishes wicked students.
The Charvakas and materialists hold that the combination of matter or body produces thought, intelligence, consciousness, mind and soul, and that consciousness, etc., last so long as the body lasts. They believe that thought or intelligence or consciousness is a function or secretion of the brain, just as bile is a secretion of the liver. Very strange indeed! Combination of atoms and molecules can never generate thought, intelligence or consciousness. Motion cannot produce sensation, ideas and thoughts. Consciousness or intelligence is verily not an act of motion. No scientist can prove that matter or force has ever produced consciousness or intelligence. The Charvakas and the materialists are deluding themselves by various false arguments. They have lost their power of discrimination on account of sensual indulgence. They have not got the subtle pure intellect to discern things in their proper light. Consciousness, intelligence and bliss are the attributes of the Universal Soul. This body is constantly changing. This physical body, which is a combination of the five elements, will be destroyed. But the eternal Soul which is the basis, substratum and source for matter, energy, mind will ever remain. The sense of ‘I’ will continue to exist even after this body perishes. You can never think or imagine that you do not exist after the body is destroyed. There is an innate feeling in you that you do exist after the body is gone. This proves that there is an immortal soul independent of the body. The soul can never be demonstrated, but its existence can be inferred by certain empirical facts.
The innate question: “What remains after death? What becomes of the soul after the death of the body? Where is he gone? Does he still exist?” spontaneously arises in all minds. This is a momentous question which touches the hearts of all deeply. The same question arises today in all people of all countries, as it arose thousands of years ago. No one can stop this. The same question is discussed today and it will be discussed in the future also. From ancient times, philosophers, sages, saints, Yogins, thinkers, Swamis, metaphysicians and prophets have tried their best to solve this great problem.
When you lead a life of luxury, when you are rolling in wealth, you forget it. But the moment you see that one of your dearest relations is snatched away by the cruel hand of death you are struck with awe and wonder and begin to reflect within yourself. “Where is he gone? Does he still exist? Is there a soul independent of body? He cannot be totally annihilated. His impressions of thoughts and actions cannot die.”
The seers of Upanishads boldly declared with emphasis on account of their intuitive realisation that there is One All-pervading Immortal Soul, Self-luminous, All-Blissful, Birthless, Decayless, Deathless, Timeless, Spaceless, Thoughtless, and that the individual soul is identical with this Supreme Soul when his limiting adjuncts such as body and mind are dissolved when he is freed from ignorance through knowledge of the Imperishable Soul. Soul is the Inner Ruler and Director of the mind, Prana and senses. Mind borrows its light from the soul.
Soul is beyond the realm of physical science. Soul is beyond the reach of material science. Man is a soul wearing a physical body. Soul is extremely subtle. It is subtler than ether, mind and energy. Consciousness, intelligence are of the soul and not of the body. Consciousness is evidence of the existence of the soul. Personality of man is a brief, partial manifestation of the Immortal, All-pervading, Indivisible Soul or Atman or Brahman. Soul is the immortal part in man. O ignorant man, who has been led astray by the study of those books which deny the existence of an Immortal Soul, wake up now from the slumber of ignorance. Open your eyes. You have already reserved a seat for you in hell and obtained a direct passport to this dark region by study of heaven-closing worthless books. Burn these books at once, and study the Gita and the Upanishads. Do Japa, Kirtan and meditation regularly and thoroughly overhaul your wrong Samskaras. Then only you are saved from destruction.
Do not identify with this body. You are not this perishable body. You are the Immortal Soul. Identify yourself with the soul. “Tat Tvam Asi—Thou art That”. Feel this. Realise this and be free.

Swoon, Sleep, Death
A man lying in a swoon cannot be said to be awake because he does not perceive external objects by means of his senses. The man who returns to consciousness from a swoon says: “I was shut up in blind darkness; I was conscious of nothing.” A wakeful man keeps his body upright but the body of a swooning person falls down.
He is not dreaming, because he is altogether unconscious. Nor is he dead as he has life and warmth. He continues to breathe.
When a man has become senseless and people are in doubt whether he is alive or dead, they touch the region of the heart in order to find out whether there is warmth in his body or not and put their hands to his nostrils to find out whether there is breathing or not. If they find out there is neither warmth nor breath they come to the conclusion that he is dead. If they perceive warmth and breath they decide that he is not dead and begin to sprinkle cold water on his face so that he may recover consciousness.
He who has swooned is not dead, because he rises again to conscious life.
A man who has swooned may sometimes not breathe for a long time. His body trembles; his face is dreadful. His eyes are staring wide open. But a sleeping man looks calm and happy. He draws his breath at regular intervals. His eyes are closed. His body does not tremble. A sleeping man may be aroused by a gentle stroking with the hand but a person lying in a swoon cannot be aroused even by a blow with a stick. Swoon is due to external causes. It is caused by a blow on the head with a stick, or the like; while sleep is due to fatigue. Swoon is half sleep. It does not mean by this that he half enjoys Brahman. It means that it partly resembles sleep. The man who lies in a swoon belongs, with one half, to the side of deep sleep, while the other half to the side of death. In fact swoon is the door to death. If there is a remnant of Karma he returns to consciousness. Else, he dies.
The state of swoon is recognised by the Ayurveda and Allopathic doctors. It is known from ordinary experience.
The silent witness of waking state, dreaming state, deep sleep state and swoon is Brahman, thy innermost Self, Immortal Atman or the Inner Ruler. Identify yourself with Brahman, transcend all the states and be ever happy and blissful.

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