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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Process of Death From The Brahadaranyaka Upanishad, IV, iii Part 2

*The Process of Death*
*From The Brahadaranyaka* *Upanishad*, IV,iii
Part 2

 In describing the rebirth of the soul, an example is given in earlier verses to show that just as the self wanders from the dream state to the waking state, so it passes from the present body to the next body.

Yajnavalkya said:

Just as a heavily loaded cart moves along, creaking, even so the self identified with the body, being presided over by the Self, which is all consciousness (the Supreme Self), moves along, groaning, when breathing becomes difficult (at the approach of death). 35.

When this body becomes thin - is emaciated through old age or disease- then, as a mango or a fig or a fruit of the peepul tree becomes detached from its stalk, so does this infinite being (the self), completely detaching himself from the parts of the body, again move on, in the same way that he came, to another body for the remanifestation (unfoldment ) of his vital force. 36.
[Note: 'Parts of the body ', Such as the eye, nose etc. In deep sleep, the gross body and organs, though left by the subtle body, are preserved by the prana (vital force). But this does not happen at the time of death, when the subtle body, together with the prana, leaves the gross body.]

Now when that self becomes weak and unconscious, as it were, the organs gather around it. Having wholly seized these particles of light, the self comes to the heart. When the presiding deity of the eye turns back from all sides, the dying man fails to notice colour. IV,1.
[Note: ' Presiding Deity ' The sun in its microcosmic aspect is the presiding or controlling deity of the eye. This deity helps the eye to function as long as a person lives, as determined by his past actions. At the time of death the deity stops his help and goes back to the sun. He again returns to the eye when the man takes another body.]

The eye becomes united with the subtle body; then people say: 'He does not see'. The nose becomes united with the subtle body; then they say:'He does not smell'. The tongue becomes united with the subtle body; then they say:'He does not taste'. The vocal organ becomes united with the subtle body; then they say; 'He does not speak'. The ear becomes united with the subtle body; then they say: 'He does not hear'. The skin becomes united with the subtle body; then they say: 'He does not touch (feel)'. The mind becomes united with the subtle body; then they say: 'He does not think'.
The intellect becomes united with the subtle body; then they say: 'He does not know '.

The upper end of the heart lights up, and by that light, the self departs, either through the eye, or through the head or through any other part (aperture) of the body.

And when the self departs, the vital force follows, and when the vital force departs, all the organs follow.

Then the self becomes endowed with a particular consciousness and passes on to the body to be attained by that consciousness.

It is followed by Knowledge, work and past experience. IV,2.

[Note: Compare Bhagavad Gita, Ch.8, Verse 6. "Whosoever at the end leaves the body, thinking of any being, that alone does he attain (become), because of his constant thought of that being."  Comments:The last thought determines the next birth. The most prominent thought of one's life occupies the mind at the time of death.]

*From Chandogya Upanishad*:

Relatives sit around an ailing person, saying, "Do you recognise me, do you recognise me?" He recognises so long as his speech does not become merged in the mind, mind in the vital force, vital force in the warmth, and warmth into the supreme deity.VI,15,1.

Then when his speech merges into the mind, mind into the vital force, vital force into the warmth, and warmth into the supreme deity, he ceases to recognise. VI,15,2.

*From Prashna Upanishad*:

The year verily is Prajapati, and there are two paths thereof; the Southern and the Northern. Those who perform sacrifices and engage in pious actions, as duties to be done, win only the world of the Moon; verily they return here again. Therefore, the rishis who desire offspring travel by the Southern Path. This Path of the Fathers is Rayi, food. I.9

But those who seek the Self through austerity, chastity, faith and knowledge, travel by the Northern Path and win the Sun. The Sun, verily, is the support of all lives. He is immortal and fearless. He is the final goal. Thence they do not return. This path is blocked (for the ignorant). I.10

The sun is, indeed, Prana (vital force); moon is rayi, food. Food is, indeed, all this- what has form and what is formless. Therefore, everything having form s, indeed, food. I.5

Prajapati, the Creator, was desirous of progeny. He performed austerities, created the pair, the moon (rayi) and the sun (prana). He said to Himself: "These two should produce creatures for Me in manifold ways." I.4

*From The Bhagavad Gita*: The blesssed Lord said:

Gita- Ch 8,Verse 23:
Now I will tell thee the times departing at which the Yogis will return or not return.

Gita- Ch.8,Verse 24:
Fire, light, day-time, the bright fortnight, the six months of the northern path of the sun (the northern solstice)- departing then (by these) men who know Brahman go to Brahman.

[Note By Swami Shivananda, Divine Life Society, Rishikesh: This is the northern path or the path of light by which the Yogis go to Brahman. This path leads to salvation. The six months of the northern solstice is from the middle of January to the middle of July. It is regarded as the better period for death. Refer also to . Brahama-Sutras 4.2.18 and 19].

Gita- Ch.8, Verse 25:
Attaining to the lunar light by smoke, night time, the dark fortnight, also the six months of the southern path of the sun (the southern solstice), the Yogi returns.

[Note: This is the pitryana or the path of the ancestors, the path of darkness which leads to rebirth.Those who do sacrifices to the gods, and do other charitable works with expectation of reward go to the Chandraloka through this path and come back to this world when the fruits of the karmas are exhausted. ' ' Smoke', ' night time', ' the dark fortnight', and ' the six months of the southern solstice' are all deities who preside over them. They may denote the degree of ignorance, attachment and passion. There are smoke and dark coloured objects throughout the course. There is no illumination when one passes along this path. It is reached by ignorance. Hence it is called the path of darkness or smoke.]

Gita- Ch.8, Verse 26:
The bright and the dark paths of the world are verily thought to be eternal; by the one (the bright path) a man goes not to return and by the other (the dark path) he returns.

[Note: The bright path is the path to the gods taken by the devotees. The dark path is of the manes taken by those who perform sacrifices and charitable acts with the expectation of rewards. These two paths are not open to the whole world. The bright path is open to the devotee and the dark one to those who are devoted to the rituals.]

Gita- Ch.8, Verse 27:
knowing these paths, O Arjuna, no Yogi is deluded; therefore at all times be steadfast in Yoga.

Gita- Ch.8, Verse 28:
Whatever fruit of merit is declared  (in the scriptures) to accrue from the study of the Vedas, the performance of sacrifices, the practice of austerities and gifts; beyond all these goes the Yogi, having known this; and he attains to the Supreme Primeval Abode.


..........to be contd...

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