Process of Death & Dying: What to Utter In Last Breath? (67)
Process of Death & Dying: What to Utter In Last Breath? (Bhagavad Gita, CH8) (67)

Summary:

Lesson 67 talks about the jiva who hasn't attained liberation while living on Earth owning to an unqualified gross mind or lack of health/finances or not finding a spiritual teacher. How specifically should such a person exhale their last breath in order to maximize chances of moksha in next rebirth? Also discussed how such jiva (niskama upasaka) can reach brahmaloka and gain krama-mukti (per Vedic model).

Source: Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – verse 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14


Revision:

  • From CH8, v5, Lord answering Arjuna's question about (1) Significance of remembering Lord time of death, (2) how to (3) benefit of doing so.
  • To remember, person must be niṣkāma upāsaka. Only interested in union with Īśvara.
  • Features of niṣkāma upāsaka:
    • Only goal in life is spiritual liberation.
    • Has vairāgyam (dispassion towards gains/losses towards objects/people).
    • One who practices meditation on Īśvara WITH attributes. (saguṇa īśvara upāsanam)
    • Recognized primary goal in life is Īśvara because only Lord is INFINITE.
    • Doesn’t mistake form/personal God as infinite, but knows it REPRESENTS infinity.
    • Appreciates:
      asato mā sadgamaya: everything else other than God is asat. God alone is Sat.
      tamaso mā jyotirgamaya: everything other than God is tamas. God alone is jyoti (brightness).
      mṛtyormā amṛtaṁ gamaya: everything other than God is mortality (mṛtyaḥ: death). God alone represents immortality.
  • Niṣkāma upāsaka take 2 different paths in life:
    1. Practicing niṣkāma upāsana for sometime.
      • Then switch over sādhana to Vedānta inquiry (vicāraḥ) OR niguṇa īśvara jñānam.
        • Remember: nirguṇa īśvara jñānam is NOT subject matter in CH8. Covered CH9, onwards. Hence 1st path is not part of CH8.
      • Conversion process summary:
        • saguṇa > niṛguna.
        • upāsana > jñāna-yoga (śravaṇa, manana, nididhyāsana)
        • Gains liberation here and now: jīvan muktiḥ (discussed in CH9).
    1. Niṣkāma upāsana practiced whole life, without coming to nirguṇa īśvara.
      • Reason never come to nirguṇa jñānam:
        • Buddhi not subtle.
        • Unqualified to appreciate nirguṇa. Attracted more to yoga/action/doing.
        • Doesn’t find appropriate ācārya who introduces Vedānta
        • Insufficient health. Financial issues. (Mental dullness. Can’t afford travelling).
      • Then, since mind always remembers what VALUES most (#1 in life), at time of death, Bhagavān is remembered.
      • How is remembering possible while conscious WILL not present? TOP VALUES spontaneously bubble from subconscious.
      • How to know our VALUES?
        • What makes life worth living.
        • What makes sacrifice justifiable.
        • What I stand up for STRONGLY.
        • I feel hurt when my VALUES are violated by another.
      • How to make mind remember Bhagavān time of death?
        • Krishna answers V6: Thought PRIOR practice (abhyāsa yoga), which imprints divine thoughts into subconscious.
          • “As a person thinks, so a person becomes.”
            • Since niṣkāma upāsaka thinks of limitless Īśvara, he/she becomes one WITH limitlessness.
      • After death… subtle body (sūkṣma-śarīra) goes to brahmaloka, where jñānam is gained. Then attains: krama mukti.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 9:

kaviṁ purāṇam anuśāsitāram
anoraṇīyāṁsam anusmaredyaḥ
sarvasya dhātāram acintyarūpam
ādityavarṇaṁ tamasaḥ parastāt

One who thinks of the Lord at the time of death attains the lord who is omniscient, the ruler of all, subtler than atom, the sustainer of all, incomprehensible, effulgent like the sun, and beyond ignorance.

 

  • Krishna speaks 8 attributes of Lord, who is to be remembered by Niṣkāma upāsaka, at time of death.
    • Meaning upāsaka knows of scriptures, else won’t know these attributes.
  • 8 Attributes are:
    1. Kaviḥ:
      • Means sarva-jñānam. Omniscient. All illuminating principle. Or TOTAL mind.
    2. Purāṇam:
      • Most ancient one. Who is ever uncreated. Yet is the creator of everything.
    3. Anuśāsitāram:
      • Gives karma phala to all jīvās, according to law of karma (includes physical & moral laws).
        • EG Physical: drop object, it goes down.
        • EG Moral: help someone in LOWER position, automatically feel good.
      • Karma phala dātā: Giver of fruits of our decisions, all laws/orders in universe.
    4. Aṇoḥ aṇīyāṁsam:
      • Who is subtler then most subtlest atom.
      • Whose nature is formlessness.
      • Not available for sense perception. Beyond sound, form, taste, smell and feel.
      • Indirectly saying, perceptible saguṇa īśvara (personal deity) symbolizes formless nirguṇa īśvara.
        • Just like how Australian flag is NOT Australia. Only symbolizes.
        • In same way: peace, security, fullness are only forms of formless Bhagavān. Hence everyone only ever seeking formless Bhagavān.
    1. Sarvasya dhātāram:
      • Who is support / CAUSE of entire creation. Substratum.
      • Just as ocean is substratum for all waves & bubbles.
        • They rise from Ocean. Rest in Ocean. Resolve into Ocean.
      • Thus One who is the existence principle in WHOSE presence everything EXISTS.
        • To apprehend this subtlest “existence principle”, subtle intellect is needed.
        • With gross intellect, we symbolize formless existence “sat”, as gross form.
    1. Acintyarūpam:
      • Who is incomprehensible. Beyond thoughts.
      • Īśvara can’t be objectified by any mind. Why not?
        1. Mind instrument is meant to ONLY study/perceive attributes.
          • Can’t function in an attributeless field.
            • EG: Best car can’t function in ocean. Best ship can’t function on land.
            • Because car/ship is NOT meant for water/land.
        2. Īśvara can’t be objectified, because Īśvara is the very subject who objectifies everything.
          • To an impure mind, the unobjectifiable Consciousness is temporarily objectified by adding attributes.
    2. Āditya varnam:
      • Who is bright and illuminator of everything like the Sun.
      • In Kaṭha Upaniṣad:
        • Just as one Sun illumines everything, God is that one consciousness,
          because of which we are conscious of everything else.
      • Hence Īśvara is caitanya svarupām: One who is all-illumining consciousness.
    3. Tamasaḥ parastāt:
      • Who is unaffected by even darkness.
      • This is difference between sunlight AND ātma caitanya.
        • Sunlight: can illuminate everything except darkness.
        • Swami Chinmaya told story:
          • Someone told Sun God, “There is beautiful girl, Miss Darkness”.
          • Sun God thought, “I should meet her”. Asked “Where is Miss Darkness?”.
          • Answered, other side of earth.
          • Sun started running after Miss Darkness. Still going today. That’s why we have sunrise/sunset.
            • In Sanskrit, darkness/night (niśa) is feminine gender.
      • So limitation of Sun is: it can illuminate everything, but never darkness.
      • Whereas Consciousness is superior light. Illuminates darkness also.
        • EG: Room becomes dark. How do you know it’s dark?
          • Because you are conscious of the darknesss. Meaning, Consciousness illuminates the existence of darkness also. Unaffected by darkness (avidyā).
  • Conclusion: niṣkāma upāsaka meditates upon this Īśvara, and remembers throughout life and time of death. Consequence is krama mukti.

 

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 10:

prayāṇakāle manasā'calena
bhaktyā yukto yogabalena caiva
bhruvormadhye prāṇamāveśya samyak
sa taṁ paraṁ puruṣamupāiti divyam

At the time of death, having properly brought the praṇa between the eyebrows by the power of yoga with an undistracted mind endowed with devotion, one attains that divine supreme Lord.

 

  • What specifically does Niṣkāma upāsaka do, at time of death?
  • bhruvormadhye prāṇamāveśya: (Bring prāṇa between eyebrows)
    • Mentioned in Kaṭha Upaniṣad:
      • He withdraws prāṇa (lifeforce) from all organs of body.
      • Must bring prāṇa to heart (hṛdayam).
      • From the heart, must direct prāṇa through vein/nerve called, suṣumṇā nāḍī.
        • OR in Gita language: bring prāṇa between eyebrows. Because accessing spot between eyebrows IS accessing suṣumṇā nāḍī.
      • Suṣumṇā nāḍī opens top of head, called Brahma randhra (passage/opening to Brahmaloka).
        • Yoga world, top of head = sahasrāra. (Not Vedāntic language).
        • Plain English: Consciously direct prāṇa to top of head.
      • From Brahma randhra, there is route (V26 discussed) through which jīvātma travels to Brahmaloka.
  • How can exercise so much deliberate control of prāṇa? (Bring to heart > send through suṣumṇā nāḍī)
    • Yoga balena: By strength of yoga
      • Meaning, if person wants krama-mukti, must be SKILLED yogi who practiced life long aṣṭāṅga-yoga.
        • Hence can control functions which medical science can’t explain. (EG: Heartbeat/prāṇa)
      • IN SHORT: Krama mukti requires extreme 24/7 discipline.
  • Also manasā'calena: This upāsaka yogī should have a steady, undistracted mind, throughout life. How? Yoga balena.
  • In addition, bhaktyā yuktaḥ: Upāsaka must be endowed with TOTAL devotion towards Me. How? Yoga balena.
  • Any through such upāsana, the person will: saḥ param puruṣam divyam upāiti. Attain the Lord through krama mukti.
    • Why kind of Lord? Puruṣa which is…
      • Indweller of everyone.
      • Fills up whole creation.
      • Nature of Consciousness.

 

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 11:

yadakṣaraṁ vedavido vadanti
viśanti yadyatayo vītarāgāḥ
yadicchanto brahmacaryaṁ caranti
tat te padaṁ saṅgraheṇa pravakṣye

I shall briefly declare to you that imperishable goal which the knower of the Vedās speak about, which the dispassionate sanyāsis attain, and desiring which they live a life of brahmacharya.

 

  • Krishna speak about upāsakās who are 100% committed to liberation/Īśvara…
  • First we describe what “committed” means:
    • yadakṣaraṁ vedavido vadanti:
      • Regarding those who studied the Veda scriptures, and know Īśvara is the ultimate reality being akṣaram (imperishable), and also know Īśvara is the ONLY inexhaustible source of security, happiness, fullness…
    • viśanti yad yatayaḥ:
      • Those who pursue spiritual goal, single mindedly, to exclusion of every other thing…
        • Called: sannyāsa (spirituality is #1 priority). Not “external sannyāsa”.
        • Thus if your eye is 100% on spirituality, you are sannyasi / sannyasini (male/female).
  • What is their qualification?
    • vīta rāgāḥ:
      • Turned away from finite goals/desires.
        • Because in time discovered limitations of sukha-duḥkha
      • Realized all desires are aparā-prakṛti (inevitably decaying/degrading). Only parā-prakṛti is worth summoning (calling, asking, worshipping).
        • NOTE: For niṣkāma-upāsak, parā-prakṛti is a symbolic-form since mind is gross.
      • Realized, “I can do everything with beautiful cardboard chair”, except can NOT sit on it for security.
      • Thus all interest is on Infinite/Unlimited/Eternal security.
  • How is upāsaka changed by realization that only Īśvara is worth pursuing while alive?
    • yadicchanto brahmacaryam caranti: The upāsaka follows life of brahmacaryam: committed study of scriptures.
      • Brahma: scriptures
      • Caryam: dwelling in scriptures.
    • Why do they dwell in scriptures? Discovered scriptures alone reveal & reinforce the ULTIMATE reality; Īśvara.
  • Aham saṁgraheṇa pravakṣye: I shall define briefly this Īśvara. (Later in 20-22).

 

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 12:

arvadvārāṇi saṁyamya mano hṛdi nirudhya ca |
mūrdhnyādhāya”tmanaḥ prāṇamāsthito yogadhāraṇām ||

Having restrained all the sense organs, having confined the mind to the heart, and having fixed one’s praṇa on the top of the head one should take to yogic concentration.

 

  • Since formless God is difficult to conceive, scriptures present CONCRETE SYMBOLS to help visualize the formless.
  • Concrete symbol called: ālambanam (support, foundation, basis, cause).
  • ālambanam has 2 types:
    1. Prathimā: (idol/image)
      • Symbol has all limbs/organs/weapons (trident) of personal God.
      • EG: Krishna becomes prathimā ālambanam. (Krishna is supporting idol representing Infinite.)
    2. Prathīka: (part/portion)
      • When symbol doesn’t have limbs/organs.
      • EG: Śiva liṅga (liṅga: sign. EG: Smoke is sign of fire).
      • EG 2: Fire for some represents destroyer of avidyā.
  • Scriptures allow use of ANY ālambanam (basis).
    • One of most important ālambanam is Oṃkāra.
      • So Oṃkāra upāsana is meditation where limitless Īśvara is invoked in Om.
    • Oṃkāra upāsana is talked in almost every Upaniṣad.
    • Because very popular, Krishna borrows Oṃkāra upāsana for V12/13.
  • SUMMARY:
    • Need to have concrete symbol for abstract God. Either Prathimā (entire idol) OR Prathīka (part).
    • Meditate/contemplate on this symbol through life & time of death.
  • Then near physical departure, sarvadvārāṇi saṁyamya: withdraw from all the sense organs.
    • Reason for withdrawal?
      • World ENTERS without permission through sense organs.
      • Triggers certain thinking without permission.
      • Then don’t feel like remembering Īśvara.
  • For this reason, mano hṛdi, bring mind to heart (core of self / not in thoughts).
  • Then from the heart, hṛdi nirudhya ca mūrdhni ādhāya ātmanaḥ prāṇam:
    • Bring prāṇa to top of head (focusing between eyebrows). Because Suṣumṇā-nāḍī emerges out at top of head.
  • What should mind be doing at time of departure?
    • āsthitaḥ yogadhāraṇām:
      • Practice yogic concentration (dhāraṇā) called: Oṃkāra upāsana.
      • Should be focusing, dwelling, concentrating on meaning of OM (infinite Īśvara).
      • Utter your personal God (iṣṭa-devata) in last breath.
        • EG: Oṃkāra upāsaka utters: OM. Krishna upāsaka utters: Krishna.
  • What does worldly person (sakāma upāsaka/bhakta) utter? STORY…
    • Worldly person was about to die.
    • Pārvatī requested Śiva to bless the dying man.
      • Pārvatī: Symbolizes universal mother. Māyā.
      • Śiva: Symbolizes universal father. Parā-prakṛti. Parameśvara.
      • Śiva liṇga impregnates Pārvatī yoni (womb / place of gestation), with consciousness.
    • Parameśvara: He doesn’t want us. Wants world objects.
    • Pārvatī: Nevertheless, have consideration & bless him please.
    • Parameśvara: We both go near him time of death. If utters “amma”, you help. If utters “appa”, I help.
      • This is contract between Parameśvara/Pārvatī to always be available to everyone.
    • Worldly man in last moments says “a…”.
    • But both amma/appa start with “a”. So they’re unsure.
    • Man exhales with: ayyo (Alas! Unfortunately. Unluckily. Regretfully.)
    • Parameśvara smiles to Pārvatī: Even if WE ARE READY to rescue anytime, most humanity generally doesn’t want God, but possessions.

 

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 13:

omityekākṣaraṃ brahma vyāharan māmanusmaran |
yaḥ prayāti tyajan dehaṃ sa yāti paramāṃ gatim ||

Uttering the monosyllable ‘Om’ which is (the name of) Brahman and remembering Me, one departs leaving the body attains the supreme goal.

 

  • What does Niṣkāma upāsaka (who performs Omkāra-upāsana) DO at time of death?
  • First we define Niṣkāma upāsaka:
    • Never came to nirguṇa īśvara / Vedānta jñānam.
    • Considered ajñāni.
    • Hasn’t directly & permanently apprehended ONENESS between jīvātma and paramātma.
    • Proficient/expert at Upāsana.
    • Hence aparokṣa-jñāni need not bother about krama mukti (for ajñāni’s only).
  • What does niṣkāma upāsaka do in last breath? omityekākṣaraṃ brahma
    • Utters a word of one syllable OM, which represents Brahman (Supreme Reality / satcitānanda).
    • Whatever practiced, that nāma person HAS TO utter. (Jesus, Rāma, etc).
  • And throughout this utterance, anusmaran, he/she remembers ONLY Bhagavān.
    • Why “only Bhagavān” and not family?
      • Understands at final moment, no one can truly help, except God.
  • Then, yaḥ prayāti, one travels, assisted by deities, through a special path. (Explained later).
  • What exactly travels after, body is left (tyajan dehaṃ)?
    • Can’t be sthūla-śarīra. Burned.
    • Can’t be ātma because consciousness (parā-prakṛti) is all pervading.
    • Hence subtle/causal (sūkṣma/kāraṇa-śarīra) travels.
  • Travel WHERE? sa yāti paramāṃ gatim
    • Jīvātma travels to highest goal in life, being krama mukti, attained in brahmaloka.

 

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8 – Verse 14:

ananyacetāḥ satataṃ yo māṃ smarati nityaśaḥ |
tasyāhaṃ sulabhaḥ pārtha nityayuktasya yoginaḥ ||

I am easily available to that Yogi who is ever steadfast (and) who constantly and continuously remembers Me always with an undistracted mind, Oh Arjuna!

 

  • How is CONSCIOUS upāsana possible at time of death?
    • Yoga balena: By dedicated past practice, one spontaneously remembers Īśvara.
  • What specifically caused upāsaka to remember Īśvara?
    • Recognized (while healthy):
      • Everything/everyone to whom I am associated to (love), belongs to Lord.
        • Field is provided to understand that, all that is here is Lord’s alone.
      • Learned to not seek security from finite people/objects, but from infinite Lord only.
      • “I only came to world for liberation. And not to get enmeshed with world all over again.”
  • Result of this recognition, upāsaka…
    • Is not worried about family, possession… while nearing death. Because all objects belong to God alone.
    • Also śāstra reminds us:
      • Relatives are in good condition NOT because of you, but in spite of YOU.
      • World doesn’t need you to run. Often traps us.
    • For this reason, mind won’t dwell on worldly things, because “Nothing here is mine”.
  • Having realized this, yaḥ māṁ smarati nityasaḥ, person remembers Me all the time.
  • What specifically has ajñāni niṣkāma upāsaka ascertained, to remember Īśvara all the time?
    • Understands Īśvara represents TOTAL. And no individual is separate from TOTAL.
      • Just like no wave is separate from Ocean. If wave claims separate existence, it’s wave’s ignorance.
      • Knows wave is always permanently related to the Ocean.
        • Because wave rises from Ocean. Exists in Ocean. Resolve into Ocean.
        • Again wave is born out of Ocean.
      • Hence wave has permanent relationship with Ocean only.
      • While relationship between TWO waves is temporary/incidental only.
        • Which also need to be attended to, called svadharma.
      • IN PRACTICE: Continue relationship with other temporary waves (spouse wave/friend wave/etc).
        • But remember fundamental relationship is with Ocean ONLY.
  • Also, ananyacetāḥ, without being distracted by incidental roles with other waves, he/she remembers Me in background.
    • Just like always in background to get back on bus, meant to take you farther.
  • For such yogī upāsaka, ahaṃ sulabhaḥ, I am the easiest puruṣa to remember.
    • Just how money/children is easy to remember if VALUE them most in life.
    • In same way, Īśvara is easy and natural to remember if VALUE Supreme Truth throughout life.

 

Keywords: abhyasa, acarya, Acintyarupa, aditya, ajnani, aksaram, akshara, alambana, alambanam, Anoh aniyamsa, Anusasitaram, Anushasitara, apara, aparoksa-jnanam, aparoksha-jnani, asato ma sadgamaya, ashtanga, astanga, asthita, atma, atman, avidya, bhagavan, bhaktya yukta, brahmacarya, dharana, dhataram, duhkha, ishta, ishvara, ista devata, isvara, jivan mukti, jivanmukti, jnana, jnana-yoga, jnanam, karma phala data, katha upanishad, Kavi, manas hrdi, mṛtyorma amrtam gamaya, nididhyasana, nirguna, nisa, nisha, niskama, om-kara, omityekaksaram, omkara, para, parameshvara, paramesvara, parastat, parvati, prakriti, prakrti, prana, pranamaveshya, pranamavesya, Prathika, Prathima, Purana, purusa, purusha, rama, sagun, sahasrāra, sannyasa, sarvadvarani, sastra, satchitananda, satcitananda, saṁgrahena, sharira, shastra, shiva lingam, shravana, siva linga, sravana, sukshma, suksma, sushumna, susumna nadi, svarupa, tamah, Tamasah, tamaso ma jyotirgamaya, upaiti, upasakas, vairagyam, vedanta, vedantic, vicara, vicarah, vita raga, vitaraga, yah prayati, yogadharanam, yogi upasaka

Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Chinmaya Int. Foundation & Swami Paramarthananda

Recorded 24 Sept, 2019

 

1 Comment

  1. Mani on October 2, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Such a insightful and meaningful lesson!

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