Ekkirala Bharadwaja
Magazine : Matrusri English
Language : English
Volume Number : 2
Month : February
Issue Number : 11
Year : 1968

BELIEVER or sceptic, scientist or layman, everyone is certain of one condition of life the steady, onward march of life towards the moment of death. But the joy of youth and the many cares and avocations of life so engross Man that he hardly thinks seriously of what death is. It is indeed a strange phenomenon that when something that man fears most approaches him relentlessly and unfailingly, he bestows little thought on the subject: he loses sight of it in the bustle of many less significant trifles of life, inspite of the deaths of several dear ones which afford him a chance of turning his mind to it. He weeps for the dead; he consoles the bereaved. Yet he never seems to imagine that he himself would die, till actually its muffled rum is heard, when he has little composure to think objectively about it.

For all that, death is the most important phenomenon with which all religions and schools of mysticism are concerned. Perhaps, in the absence of death, man would not think of the problems of Time and Eternity with such attention. The whole of this truth is expressed very succintly by Adi Shankara:

Dina yaaminyou saayam praatassisira vasantau punaraayathaha;

 Kaalam kreedati gacchatyaayusthadapi na munchat


Bhaja Govindam bhoja Govindam mudhamathe;

 Samprapte sannihite kaale nahi nahi rakshati dukrunkarane.

“Sunrise and sunset, daylight and darkness,

 Winter and springtime come and go

 Even the course of time is playful..

 Life itself soon ebbs away;

But man’s vain hope, alas! goes onward,

Tirelessly onward evermore.

 Worship Govinda, worship Govinda,

Worship Govinda foolish one!

Rules of grammar profit nothing

 Once the hour of death draws nigh”.

From the conspiracy of the two mysteries of Time and Death arise the many baffling questions about the survival of the soul after death and its states, its rebirth, and karma. In a way, the whole of mankind collectively struggles to transcend this composite phenome non- as all life indeed does.- yet the struggle is so unconscious in the case of most of the individuals! The very great achievements of man in art, architicture, literature, (in sciences like medicine.) are a product of man’s struggle to keep what is his above transcience to transform the moment into eternity by depicting eternity in the moment of artistic creation. The greatest of artists and poets are those in whom this struggle is most conscious. Shakespeare writes in one of his sonnets

“So lor men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

(Sonnet 18)

Mysticism and religion are no exceptions to this phenomenon. Religion is the collective education of mankind towards mysti cism and this statement, ofcourse, applies to what is not mere superstition in what today passes for religion. One great mystic said that mysticism is nothing but preperation for death; that it constitutes knowing how to die. This idea is echoed by many scriptures. The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death.” To escape that sin, and thereby to escape death through Prayer, is the essence of Christianity. When a young sufi asked his master to state the gist of his teaching, the master told him (i) to remember Allah, the Merciful; (ii) to believe in the day of Judgement; (iii) to remember that his own death is approaching. In the ‘Bhagavadgita’, the Lord says that whoever meditates on Him at the moment of death attains Him only; and that every departing soul attains that which occupies his mind at the moment of death. Hindu scriptures further state that whatever a man occupies himself with for most of his life dominates his mind at death. So, religious discipline helps man to occupy his mind with efforts to realise the Truth, and thereby helps him to meditate on the Truth at the moment of his death. The whole point is borne out admirably by what Bhagavan Ramana once said, though in a slightly different context:

“All know that they must die some time or other; but they do not think deeply of the matter. All have a fear of death: such fear is momentary. Why fear death? Because of the I-am-the body idea. All are fully aware of the death of the body and its cremation. That the body is lost in death is well-known. Owing to the I-am-the-body notion, death is feared as being the loss of cneself. Birth and death pertain to the body only; but they are superimposed on the Self, giving rise to the delusion that birth and death are real to the Self.

In the effort to overcome birth and death, man looks up to the Supreme Being to save him. Thus are born faith and devotion to the Lord.”

(“Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi” Pp. 637-38)

It is interesting to note, further, that most of the Enlightened. Ones whom mankind adores, have encountered the problem of death in an unusual way, and the phenomenon had more than usual importance in their lives. Buddha’s quest for Enlightenment was sparked off by the sight of a dead body. Christ reappeared three days after his death. Sai Baba of Shirdi was dead for three days and came to life again. Bhagavan Ramana’s flowering into a Maharshi was sparked off by an extreme fear of impending death.

Now, turning to what Mother says about the subject of death. Specific events of Her life which involved death, like the death of her mother Rangamma, were recounted in the earlier issues of “Matrusri”. So let us start with putting together of her sayings that have a more or less direct bearing on the question of death. Later, as we examine each of them in detail, we shall refer to her observations on that phenomenon, and also connect them with what we could make out of her sayings about Grace, Endeavour, Time, and Rebirth. Let us start with four of her sayings

  1. Death is only Change, not annihilation,
  2. The ultimate state of Change is the original state of Brahman.
  3. Death is only forgetfulness.
  4. I have no forgetfulness.

It must be remembered that these four statements were made by Mother at different times to different people in different contexts, and are not stated at one moment. They are, however, connected by their content, the one-ness of Mother’s Being and Her knowledge..

(To be continued)

“Ultimately, every mantra acquires the same meaning. Seeing every object as the form of that (mantra) is unification. Unification does not mean merely sitting before a picture”

– Mother

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