Shakti: You said that mind is subtle body. Then, which body travels along with the soul when a person dies? Is the subtle body leaves along with the soul?
Shiva: This concept is often misunderstood. When a soul enters the body, it is immediately veiled by māyā, which is known as ānandamaya kośa. As you are well aware that I am the soul and you are the ānandamaya kośa. I do not change along with the growth of the physical body. My action ceases at the moment I enter a body and a zygote is formed. My action is restricted to make a small movement from the cosmos to form a zygote. Once I enter the body as a soul, my action ceases and you know I am always inert. You must also understand why I am inert. I am not as inert as I am always projected. I have carved out all my powers and created you as my Shakti (Shakti means power). You cannot function without being constantly energized by me. I create energy and continuously pass on the energy to you to carry out your enormous duties and responsibilities. But, my energization happens all the time in the most subtle manner. This is the subtlest aspect of this entire creation.
Shakti: You mean your act of energizing me?
Shiva: Yes. Therefore, please understand that I am not inert. As I am devoid of any guṇa-s (attributes) and hence men think that I am inert. When I am the very source of the entire creation, how can I be inert? But remember that no action ever takes in the universe without being noticed by me. Take for example, this zygote. How can a zygote be formed without me? As you know, I am the cause of this zygote and the rest are only effect of this cause. The moment a zygote is formed, you cast a veil around me, suppressing my original illumination. People can realize me only if they first understand you. That is why true spiritual seekers worship you to get your grace. Irrespective of what human gurus teach, you are the one who reveals me to a true spiritual seeker. You take over from human guru, in the last leg of that seeker’s spiritual path.
Shakti: Can I say that you revealed these 64 tantras to me, keeping this in mind.
Shiva: Yes, otherwise what is the need for such secretive revelations?
Shakti: Why do you say that they are secretive in nature?
Shiva: All my sayings have both gross and subtle interpretations. Everyone understands gross interpretations. Take for example, Vedas. Vedas have both gross and subtle interpretations. But almost everyone goes with gross interpretations. Vedas talk about various gods. In fact they are not gods and they are your energies. Your administration of the universe is like an organization. The only difference between these governances and your organization is that the former is not automated and interdependent. Your organizational structure is fully automated and highly interdependent. Let us take the example of great gravitational force (known as gurutvākarṣaṇaśakti, where gurutva means magnitude; this is so called because of interdependence of various objects including planets, stars, etc on this force). You have used multitude of energies to keep this universe floating. If this gurutvākarṣaṇaśakti is disturbed even for a millisecond, the planets collide with each other causing huge destruction. Learned men call this as annihilation. At this point, I take over from you and absorb everything that existed, unto me. During my absorption of the universe, you only stand as a witness to this annihilation. You neither get absorbed into me nor do you act on my behalf at the time of annihilation. You alone remain as the witness to this exclusive act of mine.
Shakti: Then why do people talk about four yugas?
Shiva: These yugas are for the sake of human mind, which is bound by time factor and this time is controlled by kālapuruṣa, again one of your own energies.
Shakti: You say everything is my own energy and all such energies function under me. Then why people worship different shapes and forms? Is it not a mistake?
Shiva: It is not a mistake because they have not evolved to understand the truth. You may ask why. Again it is due to your act of causing illusion. You confuse them with the power of your māyā. Typically speaking, māyā is related to law of karma. You rule the entire universe with the law of karma and hence it is known as “Law of the Lord”. You never show any favoritism to anyone. Though you are endowed with enormous powers to override the law of karma and liberate a person, you have never done that so far and you will never do that in future. You made everyone to experience their karma, let it be pain or pleasure. For you, everyone is your child and hence you do not show any favoritism. How can mother show partiality amongst her children?
You asked about worshiping different shapes and forms. Nobody understands the reality, as it is absolutely beyond comprehension. I do not have a form and you do not have a form. Even Paramashiva does not have a shape or form. At least I have an attribute called light. Paramashiva does not have even that light. He is known as mahāśūnya or the great void. Nothing is there, it is neither light nor dark; it is the source of this cosmos. These shapes and forms are meant to attract men and women to step into the path of liberation. Liberation is a long process and consists of multiple stages spread over several births.
Shakti: Whenever I seek answers for my doubts, you always talk about liberation. I requested you to explain to me about the soul that departed from a man’s body after death.
Shiva: Liberation is also my duty and as you know, only I can offer liberation.
Shakti: You mean to say that I can’t liberate anyone?
Shiva: Of course, you can’t and you know that. You job ends when you remove the veil of māyā. From birth till unveiling of māyā, everything is done by you. I am responsible in energizing you, annihilating the universe and offering liberation to those who are approved by you. As you know, I have never offered liberation to anyone without your approval.
You asked me what happens to the soul after its exit from a dead body. I told you in the beginning that both of us unite to form zygote and similarly both of us exit together at the time of death of a person. Once we exit, we move apart. As long as we stay united, a man lives and once we decide to part from that man’s body, he dies. Every sentient and insentient being has to die at some point of time. When we join together, we take different shapes and forms. I have already told you how we join together. Now I will tell you how we separate at the time of death.
Shakti: Do you mean to say that there are times when we leave each other? I thought, both of us always stay together.
Shiva: When we stay together, it is creation and sustenance. When we move away for a split second, it is known as death in the microcosmic level and annihilation at the macrocosmic level. Our separation never happens at the macrocosmic level. As I told you already, yugas and other time periods on the macrocosmic level are only mythological in nature. We are not here to destroy what we have created. Since a man is bound by the limitation of time, he tries to correlate macrocosm with microcosm. It is only an attempt and not a reality.
Shakti: How death happens to a man?
Shiva: Everything is bound by time except you and me. Every shape and form has to perish. The entire universe is our playground. We take different shapes and forms. Once they get their life energy, they begin to act. How do they act depends upon their previous births. I will come to that later.
For every being, death is already fixed by kālapuruṣa. Both of us do not interfere in this. As discussed earlier, everything is functioning due to the fully automated mechanism created by you. A few seconds before death, the process of creation is reversed. Let me explain this to you with the following image.
There are five superimposed sheaths known as kośa. The inner most is ānandamaya kośa, the sheath of bliss, which corresponds to the casual body. What is this causal body? If I am the soul, you are the causal body. You are here as māyā. As prāṇa, your push me to form the zygote. Wherever I am, you always veil me, concealing my true form. Some realized souls call this as āliṅgana (embrace of Shiva and Shakti). Thus, are we not staying together always? As the soul, I am inert and I only witness all the actions of these bodies. You also do not make anyone act. They act according to their karmas. You also witness their actions like I do. The only difference between us on this is that you get moved when they begin to love you and at some point when their love intensifies, you begin to teach the path of realization by sending your emissaries to transform them through a realized soul.The next two layers are vijñānamaya kośa, the sheath of intellect and knowledge and manomaya kośa, the sheath of mind. These two, vijñānamaya kośa and manomaya kośa correspond to the subtle body. You evaluate a person’s depth of love based on their ability to maneuver this subtle body. The fourth and fifth layers are prāṇamaya kośa, the sheath of vital airs like prāna, apāna, etc and annamaya kośa, the sheath of food. These two prāṇamaya kośa and annamaya kośa correspond to the gross body. The second, third and fourth layers (vijñānamaya, manomaya and prāṇamaya) are like three sides of the triangle. When they are able to work on these three sheaths, they are able to realize you in the form of Bliss, which is the property of ānandamaya kośa
At the time of conception, these three bodies originate from me. This is called my expansion. A few minutes before death, these bodies contract and become one with me. This is called absorption or contraction. In other words, at the appointed time of death, gross body dies and merges into subtle body. After fraction of a second, subtle body dissolves into the causal body and they become prāṇa. You also get dissolved into this prāṇa and at the appointed time of death, you push me outside the body through an orifice at the top of the skull, known as brahmarandra, also known as my orifice (orifice of Brahman). This is meant only for my exit from the body. You in the form of prāṇa push me with the highest force and make me exit from the body and then the concerned body is called dead. You attain maximum potency in a human body only at the time of death. By using your extreme force, both of us exit from the body. Just a few seconds before the final exit, his or her karmas are condensed and attached to me as the tiniest particle and this particle is known as karma, derived from the word karman, known as remuneration for all the actions done in one’s life, not only in this birth, but also during his or her past births.
Shakti: What happens when we exit through the skull? But some people say that soul exits through nine apertures of the body. Is this right?
Shiva: No, it is not right. The force you generate within the body for our exit is so great that it causes some of the waste body fluids to ooze out through anyone or more of these nine apertures. This is wrongly interpreted as our exit. My exit path is only the brahmarandhra for every human being.
Shakti: But everyone gives different versions for this. Are they not leading people to wrong understanding?
Shiva: I have not yet completed yet. When I exit from the body, as I already told you, the karmic impressions in the form miniscule dot, (may be for the sake of understanding 1part of one billion is the size of this karmic imprint) known as karmic bag. I have nothing to do with this karmic bag. It is merely attached to me. In case, the bag is not attached, that particular soul is absorbed into my macrocosmic form for its onward journey towards Paramashiva, the Supreme Void. That soul is liberated. Journey of the soul is possible towards my macrocosmic form only if there is no bag attached to it and I alone decide whether to send that particular soul towards to Paramashiva for absorption. I don’t send all the souls to Paramashiva. You also do not allow some of the most sacred souls to become one with me, though they are liberated. You keep these souls with you to send them as your emissaries to individual minds to accelerate the process of their liberation. Such souls enter the subtle bodies identified by you. Sometimes, such individuals can see the forms of your emissaries and sometimes they can’t. Such souls enter the subtle bodies (mind and intellect) with their last identified forms.
Shakti: What happens after the soul exited from the body? Many people perform ceremonies to the departed ones.
Shiva: You mean people offering tarpaṇa (water oblations) and performing śrāddha (annual ancestral rites) which is different from antyeṣṭi (last rites or funeral ceremonies)? Please do not ask any questions on this. I can explain antyeṣṭi, but not śrāddha. I do not want to say something that pleases someone. Please do not ask anything related to śrāddha, as this is only a mythical belief. To whom tarpaṇa and śrāddha offered? To which body they are offered? When a person dies, all his bodies (causal, subtle and gross) die and only you and I exit the body. You are the cause of my exit. You exit in the form of prāṇa and I exit in the form of soul with their karmic imprints. After our exit, we merge into cosmos. You tell me for whom tarpaṇa and śrāddha are offered; for me or for you? How can any perform tarpaṇa and śrāddha for us?
Shakti: Can you explain more on this?
Shiva: I will tell you more about this sometime later.