Shakti: I want to know more about this, as I have a feeling that there are too many opinions on this. Why can’t you clarify this now?

Shiva: You are always in a hurry. Of course, I can’t blame you. You have to oversee and control everything I have created. But, I am so happy with you because you are doing everything in a precise manner, unlike some men who misunderstand spiritual path.

Shakti: Why all of a sudden you talk about spiritual path?

Shiva: Yes. It is often misunderstood. Spiritual pursuit should be a part of routine life. There should be perfect alignment between spiritual, material and personal life. These three are like innermost triangle of Sri Chakra. If more attention is paid to any of the three, the triangle will longer exist as triangle, which ultimately leads to disaster.

Shakti: Can you show me some examples?

Shiva: Look at that family. Tell me who are there.

Shakti: A man and his wife, two kids, wife’s aged parents.

Shiva: It is a happy family. Don’t you see the happiness in their faces and also look at the auspiciousness prevailing there?

Shakti: Yes, I am able to do see that and in fact I am able to feel the power of their love here.

Shiva: I will brief about them. This man’s parents lives with his brother, who is living next to him. This man’s wife is the only daughter to her parents. This man asked his wife to bring her parents and made them to live with them. He treats them as his own parents and takes them regularly to all the places they like. When he takes his in-laws away, his wife teaches their children. This man does not do any pūja and instead takes care of his wife, sons, and in-laws. He nurtures them, cuddles them and keeps all of them very close to his heart. This family is full of happiness and I ensure that they do not suffer either physically, mentally and financially. His two kids happily sleep with their grandparents. They tell them stories and make these kids to sleep on their laps. This man and his wife sleep separately and they enjoy their life in their own way. This family is protected by me directly. They are now part of our family. I am so fond of this family.

Now look at another family. This family has the same number of people. The only difference is that instead of wife’s parents, his own parents are living with him. Look, where he has dumped his parents. Through there is a well ventilated room, instead of allotting this room to them he dumped them in a room which has no ventilation. See how he is using this room for worshiping us. When he is not able to shower love on his own parents, how can he expect our grace on him. Though he worships you for hours together, you do not even know him. What is the purpose of his worship? Look at the way in which he is making his wife to run around to prepare for his pūja. She is attending to her kids and simultaneously assisting him for his elaborate pūja. Look at the tense atmosphere prevailing in that home. Where is the divinity in that place?

Shakti: I am not aware of this family. I have not seen them at all. It looks strange. I am in charge of this entire universe and I am not aware of them. Really surprising!

Shiva: You are aware of the previous family, though they never invoked you. But you are not aware of this family even though he invokes you with elaborate procedures. You want me to elaborate further on this.

Shakti: No need. I understand. I exist only in those places, where love and calmness prevail. Even though I am not worshiped, I voluntarily go and stay with them. When they worship me as a matter of fact, I don’t even look at that side? Am I right?

Shiva: Yes. You are right. Now there is going to be a death in each of these families.  Let us see, how each of them reacts.

(The old man and in the first family and the old lady in the second family die)

They die as per their karmic accounts. Anyone’s appointed time with death can never be postponed. I don’t interfere and you don’t interfere, irrespective of their love for us. I don’t want to use the word devotion. Devotion is only dualism, which keeps us in a pedestal. When we are present inside of every human body, where is the need for them to consider us differently? This is their problem and when time comes, they understand this reality. Till such time, they exist like this. This is called transformation point, transformation from external to internal. Though their karmic account plays a significant role in deciding the point of transformation, they too have to look for this point as early as possible. This point is decided both by their karma and mind set. But, they often take shelter under the guise of karma. Karma surely decides. Karma is the experience of their past actions and thoughts. But in this birth, nothing prevents them in seeking us. If someone says that the time has to come to seek us, then they are not interested in seeking us. They are not true seekers. They forget that they can also accrue good karmic imprints in this life, which is carried over to next lives.

Now look at these two houses. First let us see how these two souls leave their gross bodies. There will be no difference between the two bodies with regard to the departure of the souls. It is all going to happen in a few seconds. Now watch what is happening.

(First their gross body stops functioning. All their involuntary organs stop working. Heart stops beating first, which triggers the dissolution of sheath of air into the sheath of mind and sheath of mind dissolves into the sheath of intellect and the sheath of intellect dissolves into the sheath of causal body. Now the causal body is transforming into a force to eject the soul (soul is always inert and soul cannot go out on its own) from the body. At this time, the essence of their actions in this birth becomes a tiny mass and gets attached to the soul. How this happens? All the unfulfilled desires of the mind are extracted and the essence of impressions of the subconscious mind is added, which includes the unspent portion of prārabdha karma (that portion of karma carved out from the sum total of all karmas, which is known as the saṁcita karma). These two join together and is made as a tiny particle and is attached to the soul. This particle is not merging into the soul, but is only attached. Once this attachment is completed, the force that is generated by the causal body ejects the soul outside the physical body and the body is declared as dead. From the moment the involuntary organs stop working, it hardly takes about a few seconds for the soul to leave the body.)

Shakti: This is terrible. The speed and the precision with which everything unfolds are amazing.

Shiva: Now look at these two souls. They are ejected into the atmosphere and see how they move up like a rocket. You can also see that one soul stopped at a lower level and the other one stopped at a much higher level. Now both these souls enter their period of sojourn. Now look at their gross bodies now. There is no other body left in them except the gross body. Let us see how they react to these deaths.

Shakti: You said that these two souls have entered their period of sojourn. I want to know whether the soul contains anything else such as causal body or subtle body, except the karmic imprint.

Shiva: No, the soul contains nothing except that tiny attachment of karmic bag.

Shakti: Now what these people do with these gross bodies, which are not alive?

Shiva: They will burn or bury these bodies. But they find it difficult to forget their association with these gross bodies. This is natural and understandable. Now look at what they do after their deaths.

Look at the first family. They go to the crematorium. They seek the help of some priests who recite certain mantras prescribed in Vedas and burn the body. Next day they go and collect their ashes and immerse it in some water bodies. Look at the way they are pressurized to perform several rituals spreading over various days. Let us listen to their conversation. (A refers to the dead man’s son-in-law and B refers to his relatives)

B: Where are you going to perform the rites?

A: I have already performed. What rites you are talking about?

B: I am talking about daily rites, feeding them with water, offering them oblations with sesame seeds, etc.

A: I am not going to do this. I had taken care of him more than my father. I kept him happy when he was alive. What else I need to do now?

B: If you don’t peprform these ceremonies, their soul will not go to heaven. That soul will curse you. Please perform all these prescribed rites.

A. Curse? Do you think that my father-in-law’s soul would ever curse me? No, souls would ever curse and even if they curse, my father-in-law’s soul will never curse us. It knows what we have done when he was alive. I will not perform any ceremonies for him, be it now or annual ceremonies. I know what is what. Thank you for your advice.

B. You are not a human being at all. You are going to be cursed by your ancestors.

A. Be it so. Thanks.

Shakti: Why this man refuses to perform the prescribed duties? Is he not committing a sin?

Shiva: Have you forgotten what I have told you in Adhyātmarāmāyaṇa? {Adhyātmarāmāyaṇa (Bālakāṇḍa – verse 51), “Knowing this (you are That or you are Brahman), my devotees attain Me. Those who are devoid of devotion to Me, roll in the abyss of śāstra-s. Theirs is neither knowledge nor emancipation, even through hundreds of transmigration.” (For a Self-realized person, dictums of śāstra-s and procedures do not matter as he is fully aware that reality is Brahman alone.} A soul is nothing but me. My illuminating nature is veiled by you as māyā. Once they realize you, you move away, revealing my true nature. You may ask for the difference between the Self and the self. Both are the same. I am all pervading. Let me take the example of a balloon. What is the difference between the air within the balloon and outside the balloon? There is no difference except for the fact that air within the balloon is bound and air outside the balloon is not bound. The balloon is microcosm and the atmospheric air is macrocosm. The balloon is the body. When the balloon is burst, the air inside the balloon becomes one with the atmosphere. Similarly, when the individual soul is released from the body, it enters the cosmos. It is absolutely not possible to find out which soul belongs to whom. Thus there is no gross body, subtle body and causal body for a soul which is ejected out. As I said, an individual soul is bound and when released into the cosmos, it remains with a miniscule bag known as karmic bag. When this is the truth, for whom these rituals are performed? Is it for me? Can anyone perform ceremonial rites for me? Then what is the difference between ceremonial rites and worship? Are you confused?

Shakti: I am not confused. I am clear now. You say that there is no need for daily, monthly or annual rites for the departed souls? It sounds logical to me.

Shiva: Yes, you are right. The quality of the person depends upon his thoughts and actions and not on performing ancestral rites. But, don’t decide now. Let us see what the other family does.

(C refers to the dead man’s mother and D refers to his relatives)

D: Where are you going to perform the rites?

C: I have to perform this in the most expensive place. I have not done anything for my father. Let me spend a lot of money in gifts. If I give a lot of gifts, my father’s soul will be happy and satisfied.

D: Yes. You were always a good son to him. Don’t hesitate to spend money on these ceremonial rites. Do it in a posh place. Give lot of gifts. Don’t substitute gifts. Buy everything that is prescribed by śāstra-s. Perform all the 13 day ceremonies and monthly, quarterly and annual ceremonies. If you don’t do, you will be cursed by your father’s soul.

C: Yes, yes, I know. Hence, I am borrowing money from others to celebrate this ceremony in a grand manner. I am going to host a big feast. It is going to be expensive, but this does not matter. I want my mother’s soul to be happy.

Shiva: Did you hear what he said. When his mother was alive, he never attended to her and after her death, he wants to spend money to satisfy his personal ego.

Shakti: I understand.

Shiva: It is very important that everyone takes care of his parents, wife and children with utmost care, compassion and love. When one fails on this, he takes several births to get rid of this karma. It is better to worship their parents, rather than worshiping us. After death, no elaborate karmas are needed except paying respects to the gross body that is going to be buried or burnt. It is a mark of respect to the body and not to the soul.

Shakti: Can you now tell me what will happen to these two souls?

Shiva: Have some patience. I have promised to discuss with you all about Truth. I will do that in due course.