The process of death is painful for the body and not for the soul. In the previous posting the process of prana or air entering an embryo was discussed. Air is the first and the last element to be associated with a gross body. At the time of death the four elements merge into air element before all the five elements leave the body in the form of air or prana. Beating of heart and cessation breath alone is not symptoms of death. In rare cases, the heart beats again after a brief stoppage. In the case of yogis, they can stop their breath at their will. The first symptom of death is the cadaveric rigidity followed by evidences of decay. Indian scriptures say that a body should not be burnt or buried immediately after pronouncing the body as corpse. They specify time frame before or after which corpse should not be burnt or buried. Once the gross body turns into a corpse, the soul leaves the body along with prana. Soul does not leave in the same condition as it entered the body. What makes the difference in a soul is the karmic account at the time of birth and at the time of death. The karmic account generally swells with the results of actions in this life. Every action with “I” attached to it causes karma. The only way to get over the clutches of karma is to surrender the results of all our actions to God. In other words, actions should be performed, but without ego attached to it. This stage can be reached only by spiritually advanced persons. Karmic account is not only affected by actions by senses but also by the mind. Thinking of evil to others surely causes karmic afflictions. As long as thoughts and actions do not cause any miseries and pains to a living being, such thoughts and actions do not afflict karmic account. Karmic account is nothing but the distance between a soul and the Brahman. If the distance is too long, the soul has to make many entries and exits and if the distance is too short, probably the liberation is not far off.

The connecting link between the soul and the body is internal tool which is known as anthakkaranam. This consists of mind, intellect, consciousness and ego. The effects karmas unfold through anthakkaranam, which in turn act through senses. Meditation is the only solution that can effectively purify the internal tool. Souls originate from God and have to ultimately merge with Him. At the time of the first manifestation of a soul, it is very pure and at the time of liberation also, it becomes totally pure. An impure soul cannot be liberated. In the intervening period, the soul is bound by the karmic influence. Soul takes a short sojourn between two incarnations and the place of sojourn depends upon its karmic account. There are theories which say that a soul remembers its previous incarnations and some are of the opinion that there are facial resemblances between two incarnations. But these theories do not appear to be reasonable as all the incarnations need not be human births. Depending upon the karmic influence, a man after his death for instance can be reborn as a dog or vice versa. Soul is nothing but a miniscule replica of the Brahman. Like the Brahman, it also remains as a witness. It is not influenced either by freewill or by dependence. It cannot be influenced at all and its only assignment is to witness the actions unfolded by one’s karmas. It is not the soul that is responsible for our actions whereas it is only our own karmas that are responsible for experiencing pleasure and pain. When there is no karmic embedment in the soul, it means liberation for the soul. But without karma soul cannot manifest and without soul karmas also cannot accrue. This is a typical case of interdependence. The entire creation and sustenance happens only on the basis of interdependence. Souls are not differentiated on the basis of castes and religions and it is only due to ignorance and lower level of consciousness classification of humanity is made.

Karmas originate from three important sources mind, speech and body. Mind is the chief among the three. Speech and bodily actions originate from the mind. All the thoughts of the mind are not translated into speech or actions because of fear, a byproduct of the mind. If the mind continues to dwell in a thought for long, finally it gets translated into either speech or actions. This is the reason for attaching great importance to mind in Self-realization. If the mind is controlled, karmic afflictions are automatically reduced as there will be lesser thoughts and actions. The great Indian scriptures laid down certain broad guidelines about how karmas arise out of certain actions. For example, idle and abusive talks make one born as a bird or a beast. Injuring creatures make a person to be born as inanimate. A number of such prescriptions have been provided in dharma sastra. Contrary to this doctrine, science says that karmas are embedded in the form of DNA (the king of molecules). Individual karma is based upon the sum total of cause and effect of all relationship that a soul has encountered in all its previous incarnations. The cause and effect gets translated in the form of certain types of DNA that belong to a particular culture and environment and based upon this, a soul is born.

Too offset karmic afflictions, pundits have been prescribing certain remedial measures. Karma cannot be offset by performing rituals. There are only two possibilities to get away from karmas. One is to perform more of good karmas, which could possibly offset bad karmas as karmic theory is based on net karma. Good karmas +/- bad karmas = net karmas. Markendeya Purana (Chapter 40) cites a number of omens of impending death. Following are the few examples. “He who when stout becomes thin, and when thing becomes stout quite unaccountably and loses his natural functions, lives only for eight months. If a pigeon or a crow alights on one’s head, it indicates that he would die in six months. When water does not quench one’s thirst, he lives for ten days.” The epic also suggests that meditation and renunciation (Here renunciation does not mean sainthood, but renouncing fruits of actions. This has been discussed in Bhagavad Gita) are the best possible ways to eradicate the evil effects of karmas. Except meditation and surrender there is no other possibility of evading the effects of karmas.

(to be continued)