Understanding Death—The Vedic Way

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Though the ordinary man looks upon death with dread and sadness, those who have gone before know it as a wondrous experience of peace and freedom.

Every one of us is going to die someday, so there is no use in being afraid of death. You don’t feel miserable at the prospect of losing consciousness of your body in sleep; you accept sleep as a state of freedom to look forward to. So is death; it’s a state of rest, a pension from this life. There is nothing to fear. When death comes, laugh at it. Death is only an experience through which you are meant to learn a great lesson—you are not born, you can’t die.

The soul is neither born, nor does it ever die; nor having once existed, does it ever cease to be. The soul is without birth, eternal, immortal, and ageless. It’s not destroyed when the body is destroyed. Bhagavad Gita 2:20

Our real self, the soul, is immortal. We may sleep for a little while in that change called death, but we can never be destroyed. We exist, and that existence is eternal. The wave comes to the shore, and then goes back to the sea; it isn’t lost. It becomes one with the ocean, or returns again in the form of another wave. This body has come, and it will vanish; but the soul essence within it will never cease to exist. Nothing can terminate that eternal consciousness.

As a person sheds worn-out garments and wears new ones, likewise, at the time of death, the soul casts off its worn-out body and enters a new one. Bhagavad Gita 2:22

Even a particle of matter or a wave of energy is indestructible, as science has proved; the soul or spiritual essence of man is also indestructible. Matter undergoes change; the soul undergoes changing experiences. Radical changes are termed death, but death or a change in form doesn’t change or destroy the spiritual essence.

Some of these souls enter into the womb, in order to embody again into organic beings, others assemble unto immovable things according to their karma, according to their knowledge. Katha Upanishad 2.5.7

The body is only a garment. How many times you have changed your clothing in this life, yet because of this you wouldn’t say that you have changed. Similarly, when you give up this bodily dress at death you don’t change. You are just the same, an immortal soul, a child of God.

Weapons cannot shred the soul, nor can fire burn it. Water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. Bhagavad Gita 2:23

Death is not the end—it’s temporary emancipation, given to you when karmathe law of justice—determines that your present body and environment have served their purpose, or when you are too weary or exhausted by suffering to bear the burden of physical existence any longer. To those who are suffering, death is resurrection from the painful tortures of flesh into awakened peace and calmness. To the elderly, it’s a pension earned by years of struggling through life. For all, it’s a welcome rest.

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