Whether Paramatma is true or not, but death is an indisputable truth. A journey from birth to death we call real life, but in fact, by affirming this, we remain far from the truth. The true life can be called the one which has the divine fragrance. From our qualities, actions, our sadhana, tapasya and other things, the aroma of Paramatma must come forth, just in the same way as guru Gorakhnath, the nine Navanathas, Krishna, Rama, Buddha, Jesus, Mahavira and other great people filled their lives with the fragrance of God. Glory, fame, wealth and prestige have no value on the threshold of death. At this moment, only truth and self-knowledge existing from time immemorial within each of us matter. Encouraging us to renunciation and asceticism, they bring us closer to mukti. The soul (atma) is a part of Paramatma. When through yogic sadhana, tapasya, jnana, asceticism, that is, through our body, words, soul and heart we are purified, then experience of atmatatva, paramshakti happens. It is the fragrance of our life. The soul within us is free and independent, and it has nothing to do with kinship. We acquire ties for our own benefit and wander in illusion. This pure, eternal and omnipresent soul has changed countless bodies. Therefore, the body, the form is only an illusion, and the soul is Brahma, it is mukti and moksha.
What is death?
The human body consists of the sthula sharira or physical body, sukshma sharira – the subtle body and the karana sharira – the causal body. When a person breathes in air (prana), then connecting in such a way the body, soul and spirit or sthula, sukshma and karana, consciousness arises. At the time of death, when prana leaves the body, these three binding substances break up, and physical death occurs. Then the karana rupa and sukshma rupa, having absorbed the good and evil deeds of the deceased, leave the body and go on an eternal journey. This is called death.
Usually, two types of death are distinguished: 1) natural death and 2) unnatural death
1) natural death is such a type of death that occurs naturally through the attainment by a person of a certain venerable age or because of infirmity.
2) unnatural death happens unnaturally, that is, not at the age of senility or infirmity but comes suddenly: usually because of an accident or an incurable disease, such as cancer or congenital heart disease. Death by reason of suicide, for example, asphyxiation or as a result of an accident, such as drowning or death as a result of a fire, etc.
It is said that usually person foresees his death. Everything depends on his good and bad deeds, on the practice of yoga, sadhana, meditation and repentance. A premonition of death can be experienced by both – by the ascetics, hermits, yogis, brahmins, pandits and by ordinary people. Someone can foresee death in six months, someone in three months, someone in a few days and some people can feel it is coming in a couple of hours.
How does death happen?
During human life a person fills the body with prana breathing it through the nose. This process is called the respiratory process or ‘soham pranapana’ or ‘shvasana kriya’. The respiratory process accompanies us from the moment of birth until death, and has about 8,400,000 inhalations throughout life, presuming the human age is 100 years. That is, when you reach 8,400,000 breaths, death necessarily occurs. Thus, we can say that life is being reduced with each new breath, and the person is gradually approaching to death. Death is also called Kala (one of the names of the god of death Yama) and this Kala sooner or later will devour everyone. Thus, if there is a body, death is bound to come. And no matter whose body it is – death is inevitable.
At the moment of death and after death
First, a sense of death comes to a person. At the last moment of death anxiety and confusion arise in his mind and soul. ‘I’m dying,’ the man thinks. ‘It means that I am leaving my home, my fellows, my relatives here … I’ll have to leave my savings, my reputation, my life full of joys and sorrows.’ Thinking such thoughts, he begins to feel very bad, and procession of good and bad events from his life starts to play in front of his eyes like a film. Visions of this kind happen to us in the phase of a deep sleep in the upper part of the forehead of our head. This time the chain of events suddenly arose before the eyes of the person in a state of alertness and in a short time flashed through, revealing an endless thread of events of his life. This ‘film’ consists of all the samskaras (impressions) of the person acquired during his life, fulfilled and unfulfilled desires and dreams, which he is not ready to leave, for man does not want to exist separately from them, after having left his body. Thus, he is tormented by anguish. The person is suffering and shaking, while he is still in the physical body and in the state of consciousness. Then, before his eyes a ‘film’ of his good and bad deeds arises and then he plunges into sleep, but as the brain area that is responsible for consciousness is still active, the person is immersed in a conscious dream.
Then, the breathing of the dying person slows down, the pulse in the veins weakens, and in the area of the umbilical center a tremor begins. Gradually, weakness, spreading from the navel upwards, rises to the throat. It happens because of the opposition of prana and apana vayu or so called descending and ascending energies. And samana vayu, also being unbalanced, weakens. As a result of the imbalance of prana-apana-samana vayu, the man lets out a dying sigh. His legs and arms begin to cramp. Due to the weakening of prana-apana-samana vayu, the person becomes restless, irritable, then fever comes and finally panic occurs. Then the person feels it’s hard to breathe.
The sensitivity of the sense organs gradually disappears and prana-apana-samana vayu being under extinction strike udana vayu in the throat area, as a result of which the udana vayu begins to weaken. The person’s throat gets dry and he feels thirsty, for this reason it becomes difficult for him to speak, after a while he becomes silent and at that time vyana vayu being already too weak loses balance, as a result of which the blood circulation slows down. Thus, gradually the life force leaves the body and prana leaves the body through weakened parts of the body, for example through the eyes, ears, nose, mouth or anus and through other organs and parts of the body. At this time the person is suffering intolerable mental and physical torments. This pain is unbearable; it can be compared to the bite of a hundred scorpions or thousands of snakes – this is the ultimate pain that the person feels, when the soul leaves his body. Man loses his mind. His hands and feet begin to freeze, he completely loses sensitivity and faints. And this is actually a blessing of nature, when a person is in a state of shock or death and feels unbearable pain, nature interferes, and the person loses consciousness so as not to feel these hellish torments. Thus, at the moment, when the soul or prana leaves the body, unbearable pain permeates the body. The physical and psychic forces are not able to endure this pain, and then the person faints. After passing through the stage of wakefulness, the sushupti stage begins and then the person is plunged into deep sleep. At this time, all 9 vayu leave the body and the only dhananjaya vayu remains, because this vayu helps to enter the nidra. Dhananjaya vayu remains in the human body until it completely burns on the funeral pyre or until it completely decays. In this case, we consider the body dead, although this is only one of the stages of death. The first stage is the liberation of the body, the second stage – when the soul leaves the body and the third – when the human body becomes inert: the moment, when the heart and blood circulation together with all vital processes in the body stop. Then the psychic energy of a person also loses its balance, and atma and mritatma the ‘dead soul’, leaving at that moment the physical body, having absorbed all the good and bad samskaras, take the form of sukshma (the subtle body), and go on an endless journey. This is the third, final stage of death, which is called a natural death. The moment when the spirit and atma took the form of sukshma sharira, the mritatma leaves the body through the organs. If this prana atma leaves the body through the lingam or rectum of the mritatma, it is called ‘adhogati’ or descent into matter. In this case, when the mritatma dies, there is a bowel movement. If the soul has gone through the eyes, the eyes remain open, if it has gone through the mouth – the mouth remains open, through the nose or ears – the nose and ears become crooked, bent. Such a leaving of the soul is called ascent or ‘urdhvagati’ – ascended or saved from rebirth. When the yogis, sadhus, ascetics and other great souls awakened the ajna chakra or the agya chakra, which is centered on the forehead between the eyebrows, also called the ‘third eye’, their soul goes directly to Brahmanda, the Brahma universe. This is called uttama-gati. Thus, the yogin atmasakshatkari (the realized soul) opens brahmarandhra chakra, located in the area of the fontanel bone on the crown of the head, which is also called the Brahma hole, and his soul is connected to the macrocosm and this is called sarvottam or keivalya-gati. The soul, seeping through the ajna or brahmarandhra chakra located on the head, comes out and this kind of moksha is called kapala-moksha from the Sanskrit word kapala, which means ‘skull’ or ‘head’. Thus, the soul of the yogi leaves the body and reaches mukti. Sometimes the skull of the deceased is smashed, so that the soul emerges through a hole that has arisen as a result of the split. This rite is called kapala-moksha or kapala-kriya. Those present at the rite of cremation remain there until this moment. Another reason for this ritual is the fact, that the aghori use the half burnt skulls of the deceased in their tantric practices. Therefore, a rite of the splitting of the skull called kapala-moksha is performed.
Sukshma sharira or subtle body. When the soul of the deceased leaves the physical body, taking his unrealized desires, atma according to the samskaras of the person forms vasana, iccha or kamna sharira. The sukshma sharira absolutely coincides with the physical body – sthula sharira. The subtle body can see its dead physical body, but people around cannot see the subtle body. The soul of the deceased is wondering: she no longer experiences unbearable pain, her ‘new’ delicate body is so light and weightless that she can move in space and get wherever she wants in the blink of an eye. She can also pass through walls and any other dense physical objects. She has so many new thoughts and ideas that she literally soars through the air! Therefore, the soul really likes this body but, being under illusions about a dead body, she circles around it not daring to leave it. Seeing her loved ones crying over the dead body, she wonders why they are crying. The soul tries to calm them down, she talks to them in a low voice, then louder, ‘Why are you crying? What is the reason of your tears? Can’t you see I’m here, I’m alive!’ But no one can hear her speaking. She speaks louder and louder, goes on shouting, but everything is useless, because none of her loved ones can neither see nor hear her. In this situation, the soul cannot affect the situation. In the physical body, the soul often felt fear, anger, anxiety but now in a subtle body none of these emotions and feelings are powerful over her, so she feels much better in the subtle body.
The dead body is usually buried or cremated. When the soul of the deceased sees that her physical body is being burned in a funeral pyre, she gets upset and finds out that she is dead. She thinks, ‘Now I’m existing separately from the world of the living.’ As long as the soul has affections like love, desires, illusions, she circles around her relatives and loved ones, visits her favorite places but can do nothing except just watching it. Depending on the degree of attachment the soul can stay in this state from one year and three months to two years. So this is what natural death looks like.
Unnatural death. Such a death usually happens suddenly, so loss of consciousness occurs in an instant, the vital processes of the body also stop suddenly, and the soul quickly leaves the body. An unnatural death is also called premature death. Usually it is quite painful and agonizing. Sometimes the level of awareness in the circumstances of such death is low and if a person doesn’t lose consciousness for a long time, then there is a chance to save the dying soul for the period minimum of twelve hours. If it was luckily saved, then later in the state of sukshma sharira the soul would talk about it like it was in a dream. And if death came when a person was unconscious, his face changes beyond recognition.
Such premature death comes as a result of an accident, for example, during a fire, drowning, poisoning, death in battle, etc. The body dies and at the moment when the prana leaves it, during unbearable pain, being in a semi-conscious state along with sukshma sharira, having absorbed all the samskaras of sthula sharira associated with the senses, desires, illusions, rage, etc., becoming a subtle body, the soul leaves the physical body. Therefore, after death such a body is half-dead and half alive, sometimes physically dense, and sometimes thin, half-awake and half asleep. Due to the fact, that the mritatma still remains on the physical level, it becomes a spirit or a ghost. Her connection with the world of people is still very strong. Sometimes it even appears in this world in the form of a ghost or spirit. But those souls that die a natural death, cannot show themselves in the human world. Such actions require incredible efforts from them.
Such ghost souls wander the earth in captivity of their desires. They suffer from anger, hypocrisy, greed and other vices. Wandering and wandering these souls, having met a suitable womb, immediately incarnate in a new birth, that is reborn. Although, similar searches can last quite a long time. Such souls bear the character of tamasi pravritti (the lower mode of material nature). Some spirits are of the nature of rajasi pravritti (guna of passion / activity), they are greedy and selfish. They travel with samskaras of wisdom, agility and cunning. Taking rebirth is especially difficult for politicians, writers and artists, they are saddened and frightened by a long wait. A simple person who has positive samskaras can easily be reborn, one can say, he is reborn immediately after death.
Such unsatisfied souls have to be reborn every 2-3 hours, 2-3 days or 2-3 years. The reason for this is an acute need for a physical body for the realization of an urgent desire. Such spirits live near reservoirs and rivers or in the crown of a peepal tree. Because at the time of death the pulse slows down and a person feels thirsty, the soul leaving the body asks for water and at that moment death overtakes the body. That is why the soul settles in the above-mentioned places and dwells there until all the necessary rituals are performed. Since the peepal tree produces a lot of oxygen and prana vayu and the level of prana in its canopy is very high, that’s why the sukshma chetna lives there. This is why earthbound souls receive prana shakti, nature’s energy and deep peace here in a special way. For the same reason when ordinary people make puja or go around the peepal tree, their most cherished desires come true. Ascetics and yogis perform under this tree a sadhana of high levels. Aghoris also perform tantric rituals under this tree, therefore, to perform their rituals at the place of cremation, there must necessarily be a peepal tree.
Being embodied into vasana, iccha and kamna sharira, restless souls live in such spirits and ghosts. You may find good and evil souls, the souls of believers and atheists, sinners and righteous among them and when any convenient situation or opportunity to realize their plans and desires arises or when they meet a suitable woman for the role of their physical mother, they are reborn. Furthermore, these souls can easily move into a body of psychologically weak person and depending on their desires commit acts for the good or to the detriment of the world. Those of them who during their physical life were devoted to God, virtuous and unselfish, endowed with divine qualities, having settled into the body of some good-natured simpleton, praising the gods act for the benefit of mankind. Some of the souls endowed with the divine qualities after fulfilling their desires, courtesy of their virtuous samskaras, enter the sukshma sharira and go to paradise (swarga) or towards mukti. Such earthbound souls, after leaving their first physical body, depending on their desires and samskaras, enter the iccha, kamna or vasana sharira and after fulfilling their desires, they become a subtle body. Then, according to their desires, the souls are reborn or having entered the manomaya or chetna sharira they go on an endless journey to the moksha-mukti. In other words, having left the gross body (mortal world), dissatisfied souls, proceeding from their desires and samskaras, acquire ichcha, kamna or vasana sharira and wander around the world. Further, after working through their samskaras, they are incarnated in sukshma sharira and are reborn. Or after leaving the sukshma sharira, they enter manomaya sharira. In manomaya sharira they can be reborn as well or as a result of virtuous samskaras they go to swarga or towards mukti.
Depending on her samskaras, the mritatma leaves the prana and most likely she will meet a womb with the same samskaras from which she will be born again. The mritatmas are divided into three types: 1) endowed with sattvic qualities or sat-guna, 2) rajas-guna, 3) tamo-guna. A man lives a life filled with all three gunas. Depending on which guna prevails, the soul is identified with it.
Sat-guna mritatma. In this mritatma sat-guna is most represented, such a person performed good deeds during life. The strength of the spirit of such a soul is great. These souls are usually disinterested, compassionate, virtuous, peaceful, religious and wise. Therefore, such souls live in quiet secluded places. In the world of people, they can perform beneficial activities. Also they can indicate the path (margdarshana) and help to comprehend sakshatkara (self-realization) to an unselfish, religious, sattvic person, but can also give a lesson to a selfish, sinful person. If such a soul is reborn, then it is embodied into a person endowed with sattvic gunas or immediately gets into swarga, experiencing an infinite sense of happiness. Possessing the knowledge, such a soul after leaving sukshma sharira enters manomaya sharira and lives in the form of videhi (disembodied, unconscious) or chetna atma. Sometime later, the soul renounces this form as well and becomes one form with her purpose. Then the soul embarks on the path of mukti or takes the form of moksha-mukti. Such souls probably live in a more spiritual existence, in an atmosphere of higher divine order in the form of deities or in the role of ascetics and hermits.
Rajas-guna mritatma. In such a soul rajas guna predominates. During life such souls perform deeds for personal gain. For this reason, these souls are in captivity of illusion, they are greedy and remain dissatisfied and restless. Concerned with their desires and goals, they enter the body of a person who has the same qualities as they do and fulfill their intentions through him. Souls penetrate into the body of such a person, deeply influencing his psyche. But being compassionate, such souls can help a person to profit in trade, they can bring him inspiration in creativity and help to achieve other goals. The connection of such dissatisfied souls with the mortal world is strong, so they have to wait a long time until they find moksha-mukti. They live for a long time in the cycle of life and death waiting for the next reincarnation. Since they exist in the form of pranamaya, and, after having found pranasharira, they continue to live in sukshamta. Having been born again and having received the atmagyana, they follow the path of mukti.
Tamo-guna mritatma. Such a soul is in a distressed state, because this mritatma has tamasic nature and is filled with contempt, anxiety, obsessive desires, has a violent tendency, etc. Such mritatmas, influencing the consciousness of a person, subordinate him to themselves and taking the form of a pretatma commit atrocities using this person. They commit thefts, murders, robberies, violence, quarrels, fights and so on. They enjoy the terrible murders, scandals, fights and riots. They live in vasana sharira and they are called pret- or bhutatma. Obsessed with their desires, they do not know what they are doing. They also have to suffer infernal torments. Mritatmas of tamo-gunas are evil spirits, demons and witches, they always create a mess in the nature of things.
Mritatma is formed from the smallest particles of nature and prana, it lives in cosmic depths. The connection of mritatma with the mortal world is weak.
Pretatma is formed from the particles of the desires of the body and lives in the physical world. Pretatma longs to live among people and lives there long enough.
In conclusion, sattva, rajas, and tamo-gunas of the mritatma formed from the atoms of the Earth (the physical world) are endowed with the ability to manifest in it, are able to take rebirth and perform the desired deeds in sukshma sharira and even able to enter the body of a weak person and fulfill the desired by means of it. After leaving the first gross body, the mritatmas enter iccha, vasanamaya, kamna, bhut- or pretsharira and after fulfilling the desire, they can enter the sukshmasharira. Then, having entered the manomaya sharira and having renounced it after a few days, they pass into atoms and having entered into atmatatva they acquire moksha-mukti. It is necessary for the soul to have the qualities of renunciation, asceticism and jnana to reach mukti. That is why, before gaining such qualities, the soul has to take rebirth again and again, and after passing the path of renunciation, asceticism and jnana, the soul finally reaches mukti after death.