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  AHYMSIN NEWSLETTER, ISSUE - July 2018 
 
   
 
   

Delete Death

by Swami Veda

[This passage has been taken from Mahabharata’s Bhishma: Death, Your Servant by Swami Veda Bharati (Veda, S., 2015. Mahabharata's Bhishma: Death, Your Servant: Examples from a World Classic. New Age Books.)]

Book cover of Death Your ServantWe fail to erase ‘death’ from the writings of our fate; we fail to delete it from the programmes in our minds.

The undying myth called ‘death’ revives itself, raises its fearsome hood - as though a reality - each time a creature makes (re-)appearance called birth.

Each time the Master Alchemist prepares plans to alter our wrinkles into freshness of a new infant’s smooth skin, we cry out – ‘death!’

Each time the Master Builder seeks to demolish an old decrepit chamber and make for us a new one with better amenities, we shout out – ‘death!’

The theologians debate about the best means to kill the elephant that is NOT in the room, nor in the forest. They sharpen their word-darts, wishing somehow to be able to shoot them at the no-elephant so that it would not pick us with its only-in-myth-hanging long trunk and trample us with the shadow feet of fear.

Sages and masters, prophets and saints, for a thousand generations, have sung to us the songs of our immortality, but we won’t listen - so enamoured are we of our favourite myth, the death.

Nachiketas demolished it. Bhīṣhma asked:

kiṁ no mṛityuḥ kariṣh yati
What can death do to us?

The sage Sanatsujāta of Mahābhārata, blessed to remain a child perennially, stated categorically:

na mṛityur asti
There is no such thing as death.

The Vedas, Upaniṣhads, other scriptures, Lao Tze, Socrates, Seneca – they all showed us the key to press to delete from our minds the programme called ‘death’. But we just refuse, and still run around in panic, crying and shouting all over the city streets, ‘sky is falling’, ‘death! death! Death is on its way!’

Everyone prays: may I not die. But the Vedic sage prays:

mo ṣhu varuṇa mṛinmayaṁ
gṛihaṁ rājann ahaṁ gaman

May I not, O Lord of Universal Law,
Re-enter this house of clay.

And, when the Buddha opened his eyes upon reaching enlightenment, what were the first words he uttered?

I have seen you, O house-builder;
You shall build me no more a house!!

Before demolishing his old house so that he might live only in a house whose building blocks are Light, our own master, Swāmī Rāma, tried, in his book Sacred Journey, to delete death from our minds. But reading it, we read it not.

May the

Non-natus, ever unborn, a-janmā
Non-geriatric, undecaying, unwrinkled, never aging, a-jara
non-mortal, never dying, a-mṛityu 1

in us come out yelling now, whispering then, silent again, ‘here I am! Know me as it is I who is you, eternally immortal’. Death, that was not, never was an entity, remains banished to be so. It was ever a vikalpa, verbal fantasy without an object 2.

With all blessings that the re-cognition (praty-abhi-jñā) of our non-mortality confers.


1) a-janmā, a-jara and amṛityu, these three epithets of ātman are repeated emphatically throughout the Vedic texts.

2) See Yoga-sūtras of Patañjali 1. 9, Swāmī Veda Bharatī’s Commentary. The stock example of a vikalpa is given in the texts:

Here goes the son of a barren woman.
He has worn a crown of sky-flowers.
Having bathed in the waters of a mirage
He carries a bow made of hare’s horns.


Editor's Note:

A second, expanded edition of the book from which this passage has been taken (Mahabharata’s Bhishma: Death, Your Servant) is to be released very soon!

For all of Swami Veda’s published works, please visit www.yogapublications.org or send an email to [email protected].

 

   
       

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