Veda Gyanam

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We all experience death which is certain at some point of time. But what dies and what continues to exist need to be understood for us to know the truth. In the Vedanta it is said that even if a person dies in sleep or otherwise, it is certain that the person will wake up…

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What happens when the body dies?

We all experience death which is certain at some point of time. But what dies and what continues to exist need to be understood for us to know the truth. In the Vedanta it is said that even if a person dies in sleep or otherwise, it is certain that the person will wake up in a new body. But he will not remember anything about his past. This is satyam (truth) and anything about the person remembering his previous birth is not correct. If a person remembered his past birth, then don’t you think he would remember his previous husband, daughter etc.?

There is always a witness and that witness is none other than consciousness. Only through the witness you arrive at consciousness. All of us can see each of us, because all our forms, dress are illumined. If there is no light, the live body is opaque. Then we cannot see each other. All our forms, body are well illumined due to light. The illumination is there means there is an illuminator here, without you knowing that there is an illuminator. Your attention is held by the illumined objects such that you forget that there is an illuminator. Only when you shift your attention from the illumined to the illuminator, you then understand that you are already seeing the illuminator. E.g. the light already existed and in the presence of light, you see all opaque objects coming to light. But we get so engrossed in the illumination that we forget that there is light first without which we can’t see anything in the first place. You are resolving the illuminator in the light cognitively. You have arrived at the light.

Likewise in deep sleep state all your senses including the mind gets resolved in consciousness. So there is no existence of the outside world. Without Aham there is no idham.

Which of the following statement is correct?

The universe is therefore is I See.


I see therefore the universe is.

If I do not see, the universe is as good as non-existent. Every day we wake up and the ‘I am’ also wakes up. But if you don’t wake up your ‘I’ gets resolved in consciousness and there is no ‘I am’ concept. In deep sleep state we cannot say that there is nothing there. There is no experience but there is consciousness and when you wake up you don’t remember you existed in deep sleep state. But you were there.

Just like you are in deep sleep, so you will be in death. It will be a longer sleep. When you wake up, your praradbha wakes you up in another body. We don’t remember anything of the past. This is because if we know all our previous births then all our previous hatred, vengeance, love etc. will be known and we will continue to keep fighting, loving and there is no end to this. Shrushti is not like that. So ishwara has removed that option for us so that we have a clean start. This is the law of karma and nothing can change it.

For the sukshma to be functional, it should have a Sthoola i.e. body. Only in the presence of sukshma the Sthoola is functional. Sthoola becomes disintegrated, but sukshma does not. Sukshma continues. That’s why we call jeeva yatra. It leaves this body and goes into another body. In between period before the birth and after the death, the sukshma is non relatable, but alive, as good as non-existent.

What is the condition of this sukshma?

After we die, can we feel or see the physical body being created, or can the sukshma see the body being cremated? No. Any heavenly pleasure you experience when you die and before you take birth is like a dream. E.g. In a dream, you imagine going to places, eat, dance etc. But when you wake up from dream, you know that this is just a thought. Only thing that is that when you are alive, you can talk about your dream to someone, but when you are dead, you cannot talk about your dream as your thought also disappears along with sukshma.

There is no loka outside of your mind. Swarga and naraka is in your mind. Can someone tell or narrate that he or she went to heaven and their experience? No.

It is not true that anyone can remember his or her past birth as the sukshma that leaves the body takes birth in anybody e.g. animal, inspect or human depending upon the karma which you did in your previous birth. But your karma does not go waste as you continue from where you left off and grow in knowledge till such time you realize your true self. This is reincarnation as you leave your existing body and take another birth in another body, another set of parents, relations based on your praradbha karma.

Can we cultivate the habit or we are too helpless to remember the lord? Yes.

It is possible by doing karma yoga i.e. non attachment to results and having samatva buddhi. Our mind is very sensitive as to the fact that there are always thoughts. The thoughts give rise to desires. The desires then turn into raga or dvesas which in turn give you the phalam. So when during your last minute if you still have thoughts running about your money, your relatives and your attachment to them, your expectations of them from you, you are still doing action and getting phalams. In all these thoughts there is no ishwara_arpana buddhi as we forget that we cannot take any of these along with us excepting good or bad deeds and the related punyams and papams. But to get to this state of mind, the sthithapragya concept is introduced where the person is stable when coming to any desire and ultimately forgoes all the desires. So there is nothing left for him to achieve and he becomes one with the ishwara. This is a sadhana and can be accomplished only by repeated reading, understanding of the true nature, and constant dwelling on the satyam. When we keep practicing this, eventually our mind will slowly will turn around and make this impossible thing possible.

6 responses to “What happens when the body dies?”

  1. Uma Nirgudkar avatar
    Uma Nirgudkar

    tq shankar when others spoke about atma it was mumbo jumbo for me. you have made it very clear what is atma, what is God…. Thank you guruji

  2. veeraraghavan avatar

    Why r the rituals being followed after death? R there some connections between the living & the dead or is it a complicated way of just thanking our parents or ancestors? Does this really reach the atman which wud hv taken another form as per their prarabhdha karma & as per ur explanation above?

  3. shankarsydney avatar


    According to the Vedas, the departed soul takes 13 days to reach Vaikunta or Shiva Loka depending upon the belief followed. When the soul leaves the body, it can see the universe and the messengers of Yama give account of his/her good or bad karma while on the way to the Pitru Loka. It is said that the on the 13th day, the sukshma reaches the ultimate destination thereby it is given another life depending upon the karma. So the sukshma takes birth in another body and continues to live in samsara though not knowing its past. The rituals are performed are for 2 things.

    a. There is a pitru hrunam which one has to expend while living this life. This is because without the pitr, there would not be us and we would not have had a body, let alone do karma and enjoy life on this universe. So this is important just like we have deva hrunam and rishi hrunam. Rishi hrunam involves studying the vedas thereby repaying the debts given by our rishis.

    b. Due to law of karma, there is always another life and the person who is dead is reborn in another loka, in a family where the life is spent. So we remember their contribution though we don’t know where they are and offer our prayers to the departed soul every month , yearly and also do tharpanam during amavasai days. This is because on that specific day of amavasya (which is coincided with the dakshinayana path or the dark path) the departed soul some times will not get food, water for many days till it reaches. There are pindas offered and each pinda on a specific day gives rise to a body part (e.g. the eyes, ears, arms, legs, torso and then the head finally). The pinda is eaten by the preta and gets ready to travel to the world of Yama first who then takes it to Vaikunta for temporary enjoyment or Yama sends them back to earth in another body form.

    So the pinda and water that we offer is a subtle reminder that when the body is cremated, the sukshma is still alive though not visible to us. But when the sukshma leaves first, it can see the body lying and wants to return, but the body is cremated next day. So it finally reconciles to the fact that it can’t enter that body again and now waits for someone to feed food just like when it is alive when having a body.

    It is a respect for the departed soul and the Garuda Purana details a lot which I will explain another time when I am in person in Mumbai


  4. Uma Nirgudkar avatar
    Uma Nirgudkar

    If I may, shankar, I would also put it this way. It is a way or procedure of letting go of all the raga dweshas against the dead person and continue to live peacefully with a clear mind – Antha karana Shuddhi.

    1. shankarsydney avatar

      Yes. That’s also another reason for us to do rituals

  5. Uma Nirgudkar avatar
    Uma Nirgudkar

    It may be one of the reasons for general unwillingness amongst indians, to donate body organs after death. Will it matter?

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