top of page

Q & A : What is death?

The sto­ry of Rishi Mandavya’s impale­ment and his curse of Yamad­har­mara­ja (because of which he is born as Vidu­ra on earth dur­ing the Mahab­hara­ta peri­od) marks the time when “juve­nile lenien­cy” came into exis­tence. Through the sto­ry, Adi ji offers insight into the inner process­es that hap­pen dur­ing death and what “death” tech­ni­cal­ly means, in terms of the three shari­ra – sthu­la, suk­sh­ma and karana. He also relates it to the sto­ry of Sav­it­ri and Satya­van, and why they are con­sid­ered great beings. This time­less sto­ry is nar­rat­ed by Smrithi ji (in the next part)

(Extract­ed from the dis­cus­sions at Vikasa 2016) (In the Mahab­hara­ta) It so hap­pened that there was this great rishi, Man­davya, who hap­pened to be put to shu­la, put to stake, that’s a cru­el way of killing. The raja found some thieves hid­den in his place and he assumed this rishi is too a thief. The sol­diers pre­sent­ed it to the raja and the raja want­ed every­one to be put to stake. Shu­ladan­danai – a spear is dri­ven through the body from the back. Every­one was dead, except this rishi. The raja was ter­ri­fied, because nobody would be alive in such cir­cum­stances. But this rishi was alive. And hence he fell at is feet and earnest­ly asked for for­give­ness. The Rishi felt it was Yama’s fault. So he went to Yamalo­ka. He was so pow­er­ful, the rishi, so he trav­elled to Yamalo­ka. He faced Yamad­har­mara­ja and asked “I don’t remem­ber hav­ing done any­thing wrong in my life to have deserved this sort of a karmic con­se­quence.” Because Yamad­har­mara­ja is one of the impor­tant offices con­trol­ling karmic con­se­quences and set­ting things in bal­ance. If there is a cause there has to be a nec­es­sary effect. But who sets things? That is the office of Yamad­har­mara­ja. That’s why at the appoint­ed time, the mes­sen­gers of death, as you say, Yamad­hutas, would be here to take away the Lin­ga shari­ra. There are dif­fer­ent types of Shari­ra. This (phys­i­cal body) is Sthu­la Shari­ra. Sthu­la means gross body. This you leave behind. Sthu­la – sol­id, made up of atoms from earth, but still star­dust, because the atoms of the earth have been cre­at­ed from the nuclear reac­tions in the core of stars, super­no­va explo­sion, and from that dust, is formed new­er plan­e­tary sys­tems, stel­lar sys­tems and so on. So this is star­dust. But these atoms are recy­cled here, you can­not take it out­side of this space, that is the sphere of influ­ence. So this star­dust is left behind here. That is the Sthu­la Shari­ra. Suk­sh­ma Shari­ra, you have the indriyas, all that part of the Suk­sh­ma Shari­ra. So that is tak­en, if you have not resolved it, if you have not resolved at that lev­el, that is tak­en for­ward. So you still have a body, but which is sub­tle. Now this Karana Shari­ra, that is also gen­er­al­ly linked to the causal struc­ture, beyond which, it is just exis­tence. You are not there. So that causal struc­ture is gen­er­al­ly in the form of a Lin­ga, it is a Lin­ga. You can expe­ri­ence your core causal struc­ture — I would call that a struc­ture, it is just a struc­ture, because if that struc­ture is dis­man­tled, who are you? Then what is all this? There is no dif­fer­ence. So that struc­ture is not generally…but if you wish to dis­man­tle it, that is the aspi­ra­tion of mok­sha. You dis­man­tle it. That is a very very core dis­man­tling. Am I talk­ing crazy stuff? This is the mechan­ics, fun­da­men­tal mechan­ics, and this is not to do with reli­gion, though in this cul­ture it is so robust, that it brings out the struc­tures in a very sys­tem­at­ic man­ner, so that every­one can ben­e­fit. It is just mechan­ics, it is like this space is there (the hall in Kriya Babaji’s ashra­ma), I came at a time when the yoga hall was not con­struct­ed. The yoga hall that we see now, was not there, it was space. Then they designed, con­struct­ed, and now also it is space, but enclosed space. You dis­man­tle that, then space is space. It makes sense? So noth­ing has hap­pened and yet every­thing has hap­pened. Now because it is enclosed, this space feels dif­fer­ent from that space. So because it is enclosed, this space feels dif­fer­ent from that space. And what is that enclo­sure? That is what we call as con­di­tion­ing, raa­ga-dwe­sha (attrac­tion and repul­sion) and so on. So this Shari­ra, that is also a struc­ture, so that is tak­en away, by these Yamad­hutas. But not just that, along with it, a lot more you would not have resolved. If you have resolved all that, then not a prob­lem. You would have heard Satya­van Sav­it­ri yes­ter­day. So Satya­van had resolved so much that the great Yamad­har­mara­ja him­self came to invite Satya­van away. But how is it done? So that is the mys­tic noose, which pulls out that struc­ture, that you can call you, what­ev­er you choose to call that. That is the core you, not the out­er you, not the bio­suit (phys­i­cal body). This (phys­i­cal body) also you can call you, but you leave it behind. Your Suk­sh­ma Shari­ra — your men­tal space, your emo­tions, desires — all that also you can call you, but if you have resolved it real­ly well, all that will get dis­si­pat­ed. You will not take all of that bag­gage, because you can­not trav­el for­ward with that bag­gage. In our tra­di­tion peo­ple con­duct after-death cer­e­monies to relieve peo­ple of some excess bag­gage, that is why so many sam­skaras are done. Any­how the phys­i­cal bag­gage, you are relieved of, but you have so much more excess bag­gage, to help peo­ple relieve some of their excess bag­gage these rit­u­als are done. Not every­thing, unless it is a Sat­gu­ru. A Sat­gu­ru, a true Sat­gu­ru, that is why peo­ple come to Kashi or such places to be free of the bag­gage. Old peo­ple, you have have heard of this tra­di­tion­al belief, you should leave your body in such places. They will come there, wait for 6 months, just to give up their bod­ies. Now, rules are com­ing to restrict peo­ple from doing that. (Laughs) So that is anoth­er thing. Or peo­ple will come here (to Ma Gan­ga) to give up their bod­ies.

You mean Jalasamad­hi? Jalasamad­hi is an advanced con­cept. Peo­ple think just throw­ing the body into the water body is Jalasamad­hi. If you real­ly have a tapasvi, you throw their body, it will sink, it will not float. They would have done such immense tapasya. And that actu­al­ly ben­e­fits the entire…the whole stream is ener­gised. Any­body who comes there is ben­e­fit­ed. How does tak­ing a dip in Ma Gan­ga just like that take away your sins? It is by such tapasvis and so many oth­er mech­a­nisms. It is held in place. Just throw­ing a body, any body, into Gan­ga will pol­lute it. So you need some capa­bil­i­ty before which..but who assess the capa­bil­i­ties? Ear­li­er there were struc­tures to assess that. But now it is all gov­ern­men­tal reg­u­la­tion. So it becomes…environmentalists don’t under­stand this, they are not tapasvis. Ear­li­er tapasvis used to reg­u­late it, and hence it was in safe hands. After that you have con­fused indi­vid­u­als reg­u­lat­ing it, they have no idea of what is hap­pen­ing, and hence, every­thing is ques­tioned — “Is that dhar­ma?” Dhar­ma is when dharmis take deci­sions. (Laugh­ter) Those who have inte­grat­ed that essence of dhar­ma take deci­sions. Not oth­er­wise, oth­er­wise it is adhar­ma. Because you don’t know how to dis­crim­i­nate. Which is right, which is wrong, you don’t have it in you to dis­crim­i­nate. It is not a law book. You under­stand how crit­i­cal it is?

There used to be a Rajagu­ru to guide Rajas right? Yes, there was a Rajagu­ru. That was so sig­nif­i­cant. The rajas would always bow down to rishis, to brah­manas. Why? Because they were the hold­ers of that knowl­edge. Not as a text­book, but liv­ing embod­ied knowl­edge. Oth­ers spe­cialise, but they would be mas­sive hold­ers of knowl­edge. In fact, it so hap­pened once Mahar­ishi Vashish­ta lost his body. Every­body got fright­ened because if he lost his body, so much knowl­edge went with him. That should not be and hence every­one con­spired to give him a body, that is why he was born again, got a body again, with Rishi Agastya, through Mitra-Varuna, so such things are done, because body is very crit­i­cal. So you should cul­ti­vate the body.

So com­ing back to the sto­ry of Man­davya. So you have Yamad­har­mara­ja, Yamad­hutas, they lead you forth and hence you can imag­ine, air traf­fic con­trol is real­ly crit­i­cal, because so many beings going and all that, very crit­i­cal. (Laughs) So he goes to Yamad­har­mara­ja, and asks,”I don’t see any rea­son why I should have got this karmic con­se­quence. I am not able to rea­son it out. You explain to me.” For which Yama responds, that,”See, when you were a very small child, you poked with a nee­dle, a small crawl­ing crea­ture. You poked it. You stuck a nee­dle through a crawl­ing crea­ture and hence you have this karmic con­se­quence.” For which Man­davya was…he could not accept this. So he cursed Yama,”You are sit­ting on this high pedestal and you don’t know what real­i­ty is in Manushya loka. You should be born a human. You should be born a human, only then you will under­stand.” And that was Vidu­ra. Because of such a deci­sion, Yama had to be born through a sudra yoni, a sudra’s womb, and hence had to go through var­i­ous things, to be able to under­stand, “Oh, this is how it works.” So that it can be inte­grat­ed back into Yama’s office. Oth­er­wise, they will not have the prac­ti­cal expe­ri­ence to…it is like sit­ting in an ivory tow­er and you decide things, some­times it might not work that way. In fact, Man­davya was the first rishi to bring in juve­nile lenien­cy. Juve­niles should not be pun­ished, because they don’t have the rea­son­ing yet, but they have to be pro­tect­ed by the elders. The elders should be pun­ished for their actions. This was brought about by Rishi Man­davya. So he was called Ani­man­davya — because the shu­la stuck, it would not be removed. So Ani­man­davya. So Vidu­ra was born because of Rishi Ani­man­davya’s curse of Yama. Yama had to be born as Vidu­ra.

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Indi­a’s Inspir­ing Sci­en­tif­ic Her­itage A primer series into the devel­op­ment of Jyotiṣa & Gaṇitā in India Through a series of short arti­cles, we have set forth to cov­er a few high­lights in th

bottom of page