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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Chapter 1: At the door of death -Katha Upanishad (Katopanishad) by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

🌷 *Katha Upanishad (Katopanishad) by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar* 🌷
(Day - 4)

*Chapter 1: At the door of death*

बहूनामेमि प्रथमो बहूनामेमि मध्यमः ।
किँ स्विध्यमस्य कर्तव्यं यन्मयाऽद्य करिष्यति ॥

Nachiketa thought, “let me be the first to do among those who are going to die. Everyone is going to die. I will go a little earlier. Like corn which ripens and falls and then, comes up again. Everything is temporary. People are dying and I will also die. It’s just that I am going a little early, I am going to go to the Lord of Death.”

Nachiketa knew that his father said it in anger, but he still went to death. This is very beautiful. This _Upanishad_ is about the dialogue of this young boy and the Lord of Death.

What is death? What is the ultimate secret that nobody is able to unravel? What is that? There is another story related to Nachiketa. Once, Vajashravas was praying on a riverbank. He accidentally left all his belongings on the river bank and came back home. He told his son, “I forgot my pot. Go and get it.” By the time Nachiketa went to the river bank, the water had risen and the tide had washed away all his father’s belongings – yoga mat, water pot, etc. Nachiketa came back and said that all the belongings were lost. Vajashravas got angry and said, “You are useless. Why didn’t you do anything? You better die! You are good for nothing! Get lost! ” Nachiketa immediately died there. That is why you should never say negative things if you are a good sadhak. Your words carry power. If you call someone stupid, even though that person is not stupid, he will become stupid. Vajashravas was such a great sadhak. He said, “You are good for nothing, you better die” and that boy fell on the floor and died right then. When his son died, Vajashravas became miserable. “Oh My God! What I have done?”

अनुपश्य यथा पूर्वे  प्रतिपश्य तथाऽपरे ।
सस्यमिव मर्त्यः पच्यते सस्यमिवाजायते पुनः ॥

Now the experience of death is described here – what happened to Nachiketa. The spirit of Nachiketa left the body and went to the abode of Yama, the lord of death. Yama told him, “You have come here just because your father’s words are so powerful and they had to be fulfilled. It is not your time yet. Go back. You still have to acquire knowledge and give love.” Nachiketa was dead for one whole hour while his father lamented and prayed. Suddenly, the boy got up and looked effulgent. Having met death and then coming back to life was the most wonderful thing. It was then that he propounded the whole fire ceremony, named after Nachiketa.

He described what death is. It is nothing to be afraid of. Nachiketa proclaims that death is beautiful, that there is no fear, there is eternal silence. If you have read about people having near death experiences, they all say the same thing. They go through a tunnel and see a light. Sometimes the light tells them that it is not yet time and they should go back. The same thing happened some thousands of years ago to Nachiketa. He went through effulgent light, but was told that it was not his time, and that he should go back. So, Nachiketa came back after an encounter with death. This is one story.

What is death? Is it something to be afraid of? How does death happen? Honour death; people who commit suicide are not honouring death. You must remember this. The craving for living, results in suicide not in death. There is a big difference. They can’t bear the pain; they can’t get rid of it. Their life is important for them, not death. So, they commit suicide. That which is different from the body, different from everything around that is changing, is central to spiritual growth.

To be continued......

🌷 *Katha Upanishad (Katopanishad) by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar* 🌷
(Day - 5)

*Chapter 1: At the door of death*

Nachiketa goes to the abode of death and waits there for 3 days without food and water. There is greater, deeper knowledge here. What happens in the process of death? What happens to you when you die?

First, the mind withdraws from the five senses with their impressions. You stop feeling, numbness comes. Sensations in the body disappears. Then sight gets blurred and vision goes away. Sense of touch goes away, sense of taste goes away,  sight goes away and then smells and finally sound disappears. When somebody is dying, they keep a candle burning so that if the soul, the spirit leaves the body, it can feel the light, see the light and remind itself that it is light and move on. This ritual is there in all ancient traditions.

The mind is retrieved from the five senses, with the impressions of those senses. Once it snaps out of the body, it feels such a freedom; it is like coming out of cage!. The spirit becomes so peaceful. In its peace, it also has impressions of craving. If a person is fond of ice cream, burger, that fondness will remain there for some time. It takes three days for the spirit, to really adjust to the other side. You have come out of the body. You don’t know how to get into the body. It doesn’t interest you also – the body is not interesting anymore. It looks like garbage. Suppose, you have used a tissue and thrown it in the garbage, will you take it and use it again? The same feeling comes to the spirit when it snaps out of the body. It doesn’t care about the body anymore. If it wants, it will take another body somewhere else. It takes almost 48 hours,i.e.2 days to get used to the other side, to get relief from this side. It is very significant. That is why for three days, friends and relatives are in more anguish. They start getting some relief after three days. In the ancient days, ten days were kept for mourning. In these ten days, you could cry as much as you wanted and _celebrate_ on the eleventh day. You should mourn for a maximum of ten days, no more.

There is a time zone here but when you leave the body the time zone changes. Six months here is a day there and six months here is a night there. Our one whole year is one day there.

For three days, Nachiketa waited at the door of death but the Lord of Death did not come. Nachiketa didn’t eat anything. He was there – poised, peaceful, calm and an uplifted spirit. Even death became apologetic to him.

वैश्वनरः प्रविशत्यतिथिर्ब्राह्मणो गृहान् ।
तस्यैताँ शान्तिं कुर्वन्ति हर वैवस्वतोदकम् ॥

आशाप्रतीक्षे सङ्गतँ सूनृतां चेष्टापूर्ते पुत्रपशूँश्च सर्वान् ।
एतद्वृङ्क्ते पुरुषस्याल्पमेधसो यस्यानश्नन्वसति ब्राह्मणो गृहे ॥

Yama said, “When a spiritual guest enters the house like a bright flame, he must be received with water to wash his feet.” This is to glorify hospitality. If you are not hospitable, you lose all your merit. You do so many things but if you are not kind, not caring for your guest, then you have lost all merit.

To be continued....

🌷 *Katha Upanishad (Katopanishad) by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar* 🌷
(Day - 6)

*Chapter 1: At the door of death*

This is what the Lord of Death, Yama said,

तिस्रो रात्रिर्यगवात्सीर्गृहे मे ऽनश्नन् ब्रह्मन्नतिथिर्नमस्यः ।
नमस्तेऽस्तु ब्रह्मन् स्वस्ति मेऽस्तु तस्मात्प्रति त्रीन्वरान्वृणीष्व ॥

Yama gave three boons to the boy – “I owe you three boons because you have been so calm, so quiet, you have meditated, you have been spiritual. You have been thinking of something higher.”

शांतसङ्कल्पः सुमना यथा स्याद् वीतमन्युर्गैतमो माऽभि मृत्यो ।
त्वत्प्रसृष्टं माऽभिवदेत्प्रतीत एतत् त्रयाणां प्रथमं वरं वृणे ॥

Nachiketa said, “O Lord of Death, as the first of these three boons, grant that my father’s anger be appeased, so that when I return he may receive me with love.”

The father’s anger weighed heavily on the child, Nachiketa. The first boon he asked was an immediate relief from that. A very simple mind, simple question, simple needs. The greater you are the simpler your needs and desires are. Your wish is very simple – let everybody be happy. No complication. It is the first boon Nachiketa asked for.

In the process of death, one sense gets into the other and finally, the mind, with all the impressions of the five senses, snaps out. Though it snaps out, it still has the ability to listen to sound. That is why singing and chanting is very good for people on the other side. Meditating is very good for people on the other side. Your meditation, your peace touches their soul. It gives them relief. If you are crying and feeling miserable, they also feel that misery.

For the first three days, it is intense and after three days, the soul starts adjusting to the other realm. It keeps moving away from this. Very few souls are earth bound, they don’t go far for long time. They are very few, about 0.1%. Someone who is fond of chicken will be found in a poultry farm. That is why the last impression of your life is very important. It becomes like a balloon over the spirit.

Further in the _Upanishad_, what is the size of the soul, what all happens, how it moves is explained.

To be continued....

🌷 *Katha Upanishad (Katopanishad) by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar* 🌷
(Day - 7)

*Chapter 1: At the door of death*

यथा पुरस्ताद् भविता प्रतीत
औद्दालकिरारुणिर्मत्प्रसृष्टः ।
सुखँ रात्रीः शययिता वीतमन्युः
त्वां दद्दशिवान्मृत्युमुखात् प्रमुक्तम् ॥

First boon is granted – let my father’s anger be appeased. Many times, as seekers when you meditate, you feel, “Nothing is happening to me.” Do you know why? Because some of your merits are being passed on to your forefathers. There is no escape from it. When you meditate. Or do something good, a portion of it, those good vibes are passed on automatically. It is like clearing your past debt. When you meditate, a little amount of merit goes to those who gave you this body. Somebody gave you this body and because of it, you are doing everything that you are doing. So some portion of your merit gets automatically transferred. Like inheritance – your father or mother or somebody passes on and you automatically inherit whether it is their loans or earnings, they just fall on your head. In the same way, in the subtle world also, these things get transferred. A Sanyasi or a monk is the one who, while living, completely fulfills all duties and obligations and washes his hands off. Then there is no connection with the ancestors of any sort. That is monkhood- sanyasi, fourth of the ashrams.

First 25 years learn as much as you can – the student life. Next 25 years enjoy your life as a house holder. Settle down, get married, have children and all that. Third quarter of your life, from 50-75 years is Vanaprastha, be a social worker. It means there is no more ‘my, my, my’! Now you are for everybody in the society. You share yourself with everybody and you are godfather or god mother to everybody. Broaden your scope from ‘only my child’, to ‘our children’, from a limited family to an unlimited society. The last quarter – from the age of 75-100 years, you are supposed to live as a recluse. You are in a state of ‘I am nothing’, ‘I want nothing’. There are four stages or ashrams in life. Some take a jump from first to fourth, they don’t have to go through the middle.

Some people lose interest in food when they are nearing to death. Some crave for more food towards the end of life. In that case, within those ten days, it is good to feed some people, the food the deceased were fond of. When they smell those foods, the spirit feels. “Ok, I have had this for now.” It gives them some sort of relief.

To be continued.....

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