What is death ?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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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