Birth and Death in Vedic Scriptures

This is a transcript for the podcast

WHAT IS DEATH? by Vedic Arts

So let's talk about the cultural perception and the regional perception culturally and regionally, depending on what part of the world you come from. Some people are very comfortable talking about death and others are not. So let me put it out to our resident philosopher.

What is death and why do people don't like to talk about it? Well, that's a great question. We can start with the existential question. What is death according to Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (the primary Hindu text)

Just as we are the same person in this body? We go from being a baby to being a child, to being a young person, and then we become an adult and we become old, but we're the same person. The body has changed completely, but we are the same. And when the body dies, we just go all into another existence. That is the really the important essential thing.

Death is a transition from lung physical body to the next. All right. That, that does answer my question. So death doesn't mean everything is ended, it is simply a transition from one physical body to another. Yes, that's correct. And the way that transition happens is in our subtle body or our, which is consciousness.

Mind intelligence and ego. They are the carriers of the soul or atma that take it onto another body. And Krishna has also given the example in the just as the breeze carries different fragrances. Soul body or the sok is also carrying the soul onto another physical body. Thank you. What about why is it that culturally it is, people don't wanna talk about death?

It's kind of shrub under the rug. Well, think about it. You know, death is scary. It's the end of everything that we know. We are born in this world and we come into this world as a little baby and wow, I want attention. Pick me up, love me. Look at me, feed me. And we get attention and this becomes our whole world.

And when we're small babies, we think that the world centers around us. And then as we grow older, we try to find different ways to interact with the world, to find happiness, and to avoid pain. And death is something that you could think of. It's kind of like the sun of all pain. Everything that we know is taken away from us.

If we come face to face with death, if we see someone close to us dying, especially if it's a violent death, it can be very traumatic. It's not a natural thing. Well, you know, I've heard people who have been given certain terminal diagnosis, the diagnosis of terminal illness seems to be worse than death itself.

Yes. They, they start identifying with the illness, they start identifying and then there is this fear, oh, I am going to die. Isn't there, a story of, uh, Uh, do you wanna tell that story? Yes. It's a very interesting story from the Mahabharata about it. And this is a very interesting point. So there is an incident where Emperor Yuddhistar and his brothers are kind of lost in the forest.

They're in a part of the forest where there's no water to be found, and they go looking and find the lake. To make a long story short, Is the last one left. And he goes and finds the guardian of the lake is a yaksha, a kind of supernatural being. And the Yaksha challenges Yudhhistara to a contest of riddles. And of course, Yuddhistara being the incarnation of dharma as he totally ACEs that competition.

One of the questions is, what is the most amazing thing? And Yuddhistaras answer is memorable. He says-

"Every day we see our relatives and our neighbors marching off to the house of death. But those of us who are left behind think that somehow we'll find a way to live forever. What could possibly be more amazing than this? And if you think about it, the person who has passed on, they've moved on, they're out."

They have gone to the other side. Death is more painful for the people who are left behind. That's correct. And the anticipation of death. And the anticipation of pain. Those are often more difficult than the thing itself. That is right. I wanted to talk about, I mean, we are talking about death and so don't be scared of death.

We are all gonna die. You're gonna die. I'm gonna die. Everyone who's listening you, we are all gonna die one day. So there's no point being scared of it, but we need to make our life more meaningful. And also during the Covid, when people realized, you know, when people the relatives and friends and neighbors, it was so tragic.

Everybody had an aha moment, didn't they? Absolutely. Yes. Well, you know, really, this is what it comes down to, this is the Vedic perspective, is that our human life is a precious gift. And we should use it for meaningful things. We shouldn't use it for animalistic pursuits. Now we're not animals, but there are four things where humans and animals do the same things, and those are eating, sleeping, defending themselves, and mating.

And if our human life is spent doing these things, we are not really better than animals. Now that just means that we're wasting an opportunity to find a higher meaning to our life because you enter this world naked and you leave this world naked. We won't take anything with us. The only thing that will follow us is whatever merit we've acquired, whatever good things we've done, those will follow us into our next life.

That is the essence. As you sow, so shall you reap. Right now. We've talked about you. You know, you become naked in this world and we will go naked. Let's talk about coming into this world. We've talked about what is death. What is birth? Well, that's another very interesting question. Sage Capla has a discussion with his mother, David, in the p in the third canto.

And he says,

the living being entered the will of the mother at the time of conception, and this is by fate. So there is an element of fate there. And the, uh, the atma (soul) is then taking shelter and the body is gradually forming. And gradually after about, um, usually seven months or so of pregnancy, then the, uh, fetus becomes aware often, and in that state of awareness, there's an awareness that I am confined in this dark place and I want to get out.

And it is a difficult position to be in for the child. And the child wants to, um, get out and the child may also have remembrance of their past life or lives. And I've heard that, you know, people who have done some spiritual activity, they actually, uh, get a What is a realization? They get the realization of, uh, God, of divine.

And sometimes they even get they can see God. So the seventh month, you know, even in Avera, that's when OJ starts coming in because they're connecting to the divine and they promised the divine, oh, I will not let this birth go to waste. You know, I, I remember my previous lives, I've been a man, a woman, an animal, um, you know, and, uh, It just goes on and on.

It's a nonstop circle. And this time when I come in, Hey, I'm gonna make this human form of life count. And while I, as soon as the, you know, feeders, the baby is out, the, uh, uterus, it's out and boom, it forgets. That's right. Well, that's a, it's a very powerful thing because we become overwhelmed by our sensory perceptions.

Sages have said that the child who's within the womb and they've become aware, you know, we usually refer to the fetal stage when there's not a development of consciousness. The Optima is there, but there's no consciousness. Consciousness has not really awakened. It's kind of like as much conscious as, as a, uh, you know, a piece of, of a wood or a tree or something.

And then when consciousness awakens, it is around the sixth or seventh month. Now there's this awareness and then when the baby comes out, the process of birth is also difficult. The baby is being squeezed out and it's traumatic. It is traumatic, yeah. It's, it's traumatic for the mother. It's traumatic for the baby.

But now, oh wow. We're through this and we have a baby and you know, we're welcoming the baby into the world. And now the baby has, is being exposed to all of these. Incredible sensory perceptions and they can see things now they can't really focus on yet. It takes about, uh, I think a few days to a week for the baby to be able to begin, start resolving kind of blurred images cuz they're seeing things for the first time and it's such an overwhelming experience.

But, you know, the baby gets on the mother's breast and the baby is feeling contact with the mother's vital force. And this has been proven to be an essential thing for babies, for newborns. Yeah. And the baby forgets. I have come to this life and I made a promise just a couple of months ago in the seventh month through the Divine that, you know, I will, I will connect, I will try to have a higher life.

Um, and, uh, now that we, we have established, we are all in a die one day, there's no point being scared. It is scary and it is tragic and it is sad, but it is the fact. How do we make the human form of life successful? One is divine resides in our heart. We call . We can close our eyes. And shut down all those sensory overload, the eyes, the ears, shut down the phone, shut down all those electronic devices.

Get off the social media, close your eyes and meditate on that divine who has been with us in our heart through every single birth, millions and. Trillions of birds that we had before and meditate on that person. Yes. So the heart, this is exactly how it is. The heart is sometimes compared to a tree, and there are two birds sitting on the branch of the tree of the heart.

One is our friend, a friend who loves us so much that they've been with us since the beginning of time. Since before we can remember, and they're just waiting for us to turn to them and to ask us what is the way, what is, what am I meant to do with my life? We should be asking these questions and we should be seeking meaning, we should be seeking meaningful things to do with our lives.

That's the important thing, not what car we have, how much money we have in the bank. And all these other things, but one of the things that I can do that will make my life meaningful and that is what gives meaning to life. You know, when we say death is not something to be afraid of, well of course we'll find death traumatic, we'll find it fearful.

We should be careful. We shouldn't be foolish and, you know, take, do risky things. But at the same time, we should know that life is precious. It's temporary. It's an opportunity. It's an opportunity to do something that lasts. Interestingly, uh, you know, talks about four kinds of life. meaning auspicious, inauspicious, happy, uh, unhappy life, miserable life, and, uh, a mixed bag.

So the idea is, even Ave is saying that if you are born, you know, try to move on to that auspicious life where you live for others life of service, you do connect with divine in, you know, in irrespective of whatever religion it may be. That connection, that spirituality with divine and let's. Elevate ourselves.

Our even objective in life is to elevate ourselves, to get to hitayu- the highest kind of life lived.

Well, thank you very much. I'm gonna end, uh, here. Do you wanna say something before we conclude? Thank you. Well, no, I think that's it. That really does wrap it up. You know, we've gone from the. Kind of western view of death of, oh my God, there was somebody killed, let's cover them up with a white sheet and whisk 'em away because we don't let to face it to, uh, you know, the, the VAD approach, which is death is inevitable.

It's a part of life, and let's make the life meaningful before death comes. All right. Well, thank you so much. .