Chapter 54 — Divine Laws underlie Creation; Death as Reward; Life Durations

The goddess continued:—

Therefore, those who know the knowable God and rely upon virtue can go to spiritual worlds — not others. All material bodies are false, the false conceptions of the mind. They can have no place in Truth, just like no shadow can have any room in sunshine. (So gross matter has no room in the subtle spirit.) Young Leela, being ignorant of the knowable (God) and unacquainted with the highest virtue (the practice of yoga meditation), could go no further than the city of her lord which she had in her heart.

The waking Leela said, “Let her be where she is, but I will ask you about other things. You see here that my husband is about to die. Tell me, what must I now do? Tell me the law of being and not being of beings, and about that destiny which destines living beings to death. What determines the natures of things and gives existence to the categories of objects? What causes the warmth of fire and sun and gives stability to the earth? Why is coldness confined to frost and the like, and what forms the essence of time and space? What are the causes of the different states of things and their various changes, and the causes of the solidity of some and minuteness of others? What causes trees and men to be taller than grass and brambles, and why do many things dwindle and decay in the course and capability of growth?”

The goddess said:—

At the universal dissolution of the world, when all things are dissolved in the formless void, only the essence of Brahman remains in the form of infinite sky stretching on all sides beyond the limits of creation. 10 Then it reflects in its consciousness in the form of a spark of fire, as you are conscious of your aerial journey in a dream. 11 Then this atomic spark in the Divine Spirit increased in size, and having no substance of itself, appeared as what is commonly called the ideal world.

12 The spirit of God thought itself as Brahma, the soul of the world, who reigned over it in his form of the mind, as if it was identical with the real world itself. 13 Whatever primary laws he appointed to all things at their first creation, they invariably continue in force with them to the present time. 14 The minds of all turn as willed by the Divine Mind. There is nothing which of itself can go beyond the law assigned to it by the Divine Will.

15 It is improper to say that all formal existences are nothing because they remain in their substance (of the Divine Spirit) after their forms disappear, just like the substance of gold remains the same after its shape and form are altered. 16 The elementary bodies of fire and frost continue in the same state as when their elements were first formed in the Divine Mind in the beginning of creation. 17 Therefore, as long as Divine Consciousness continues to direct his eternal laws and decrees appointed to all, nothing has the power to forsake its own nature. 18 It is impossible for anything to alter its nature from the eternal stamp that Divine Will has set upon all the substantial and ideal forms of creation. 19 As Divine Consciousness knows no opposition, it never turns from the tenor of its own wonted intelligence that directs the destinies of all.

20 But know that in the first place, the world is not a created thing. All that appears to exist is only a display of the notions in our consciousness, like appearances in our dreams. 21 The unreal appears as real, just like the shadow seems to be of substance. Our notions of things are the properties of our nature. 22 The manner in which Consciousness exhibited itself in its different manifestations at the beginning, the same continues in its course to this time and is known as the manifestations of consciousness (samvid-kachana) or the course or system of the universe which constitute the niyati.

23 The sky is the manifestation of the intellectual idea of emptiness in the Divine Mind. The idea of duration in Consciousness appeared in the form of the parts of time. 24 The idea of liquidity evolved itself in the form of water in the Divine Mind. In the same way one dreams of water and seas in his own mind.

25 We are conscious of our dreams in some particular state of our consciousness, and it is the wonderfully cunning nature of consciousness that makes us think the unreal to be real. 26 The ideas of the reality of earth, air, fire and water are all false. Consciousness perceives them within itself as its false dreams and desires and daydreams.

27 Now hear me tell you about death in order to remove your questions with regard to this future state. Death is destined for our good in that it leads us to the enjoyment of the fruits of acts in this life.

28 Our lives are destined in the beginning to extend to one, two, three and four centuries in the different Kali, Dwapara, Treta and Satya ages (yugas) of the world. 29 However by virtue of place and time, of climate and food, and our good or bad actions and habits, human life extends above or descends below these limits. 30 Falling short of one’s duties shortens life, as excelling in them lengthens its duration. Mediocre conduct keeps it within its proper bound.

31 Children die by acts causing infant diseases and untimely deaths. The young and old die of acts that bring on juvenile and senile weakness, sickness and ultimate death. 32 He who goes on doing his duties as prescribed by scriptures becomes prosperous and enjoys the long life allotted by the rule of scriptures. 33 Likewise men meet their last state and future reward according to the nature of their acts in lifetime; or else their old age is subject to regret and remorse and all kinds of bodily and mental maladies and anxieties.

34 Leela said, “Tell me in short, O moon-faced goddess, something more with regard to death. Is it a pleasure or pain to die? What becomes of us after we are dead and gone from here?”

35 The goddess replied:—

Dying men are of three kinds, and they have different ends upon their death. There are the ignorant, those practiced in yoga, and those who are reasonable and religious. 36 Those practicing dharana yoga (fixed concentration in meditation) may go wherever they like after leaving their bodies, and so the yogi of reason is at liberty to range everywhere. 37 He who has not practiced dharana yoga, or has not applied himself to reasoning, or entertains certain hopes for the future is called an ignorant sot and meets with the pain and pangs of death.

38 He whose mind is not subdued and is full of desires, temporal cares and anxieties becomes as distressed as a lotus torn from its stalk. 39 The mind that is not guided by the precepts of the scriptures or purified by holiness but is addicted to the society of the wicked is subjected to the burning sensation of fire within itself at the moment of death. 40 At the moment when the last gurgling of the throat chokes the breath, eyesight is dimmed and the countenance fades away, then the rational soul also becomes hazy in its consciousness. 41 A deep darkness spreads over the dimming sight and stars twinkle before it in daylight. The sky appears to be hidden by clouds and presents a gloomy aspect on every side. 42 An acute pain seizes his entire body, and a mirage caused by witchcraft dances before his vision. The earth is turned into air and the dying person seems to be moving in midair. 43 The sphere of heaven revolves before him and the tide of the sea seems to bear him away. He is lifted up in the air, then hurled down as in his state of dizziness or dream. 44 Now he thinks he is falling into a dark pit, and then he is lying in the cave of a hill. He wants to talk out loud about his torments, but his speech fails to utter his thoughts.

45 Now he finds himself as if falling down from the sky, and now as whirled in the air like a bundle of straw blown aloft by a gust of wind. He is now riding swiftly as in a car, and now finds himself melting like snow. 46 He desires to tell his friends about the evils of life and this world, but he is carried away from them as rapidly as if by an air-engine. 47 He whirls about like a turning wheel and he is dragged along like a beast by its halter. He wallows about like in an eddy, or turns around as the machine of some engine. 48 He is borne like straw in the air and is carried about like a cloud in the wind. He rises high like vapor, then falls down like a heavy watery cloud pouring out into the sea. 49 He passes through endless space and revolves in all of its vortices of emptiness to find, as it were, a place free from the ups and downs to which earth and ocean are subject. 50 Thus the rising and falling spirit wanders ceaselessly, and the soul breathing hard and sighing without break sets the whole body in sore pain and agony. 51 By degrees the objects of his senses become as faint to his failing organs as the landscape fades to view with the setting of the sun.

52 At this moment, his memory fails and he loses memories of the past and present, like one is at a loss to know the sides of the compass after the evening twilight has passed away. 53 In his fainting fit, his mind loses its power of thinking. He is lost in a state of ignorance, the loss of all his thoughts and consciousness. 54 In this fainting state, the vital breath ceases to circulate through the body. When its circulation stops completely, a swoon into unconsciousness (murcha) follows. 55 When this state of unconscious paralysis combined with delirium has reached its climax, then by the law of inertia, ordained for living beings from the beginning, the body becomes as stiff as stone.

56 Leela said, “But tell me, O goddess, why do these pains and agonies, this fainting and delirium, and disease and unconsciousness overtake the body, when it is possessed of all of its eight organs intact?”

57 The goddess replied:—

It is the law appointed by the Author of life from the first, that such and such pains are to fall as the lot of living beings at such and such times. 58 The primeval sin springs of itself like a plant in the conscious heart of man and subjects him to his doomed miseries which have no other intelligible cause. 59 When disease and its pain overpower the body and prevent lungs and arteries from expanding and contracting to inhale and exhale air, the body loses its equilibrium (samana) and becomes restless. 60 When inhaled air does not come out and exhaled breath does not re-enter the lungs, all pulsation is at a stop. Organic sensations are lost, remaining only in memory. 61 When vital air doe not enter or exit, the pulse sinks and becomes motionless. The body is said to become senseless, and life to be extinct.

62 I also shall die in my destined time, but all my consciousness of former knowledge will be awake at the hour of death. 63 Though I am dead and gone from here in this manner, yet I must mind that the seed of my innate consciousness (the soul) is never destroyed with my life and body. 64 Consciousness is inner knowledge and is imperishable in its nature. Therefore the nature of consciousness is free from birth and death. 65 In some persons this consciousness is as clear as a fresh fountain; in others as foul as tide water. In some it is bright in its form of the pure intellect (chit); but in many in its nature of the sentient or individual soul (chetana), it is polluted with the passions of animal life.

66 As a blade of grass has joints in the middle, so the nature of the sentient or individual soul is combined with the two states of birth and death amidst it. 67 The sentient soul is neither born nor dead at anytime, but witnesses these two states as the passing shadows and apparitions in a dream and vision. 68 The soul is nothing other than consciousness which is never destroyed anywhere by anything.

Say, what other thing is this soul called purusha besides consciouness itself? 69 Tell me then, who and what are you calling dead today? Is consciousness subject to disease or death at anytime and in any form? Truly millions of living bodies are dying every day, but consciousness always remains imperishable. 70 Consciousness never dies at the death of any living being because the entire individual soul continues the same upon the death of everybody here.

71 Therefore, the individual soul is nothing more than the principle which is conscious of its various desires, affections and passions. It is not that principle to which men attribute the phases of life and death. 72 So there is none that dies and no one is born at anytime. It is this only living principle that continually revolves in the deep eddy of its desires. 73 Considering the unreality of visible phenomena, there can be no desire for them in anyone. But the inner soul that is led by its egoism and believes them to be true is subject to death at the disappearance of phenomena.

74 The recluse ascetic flying from the fears of the world as foreign to his soul, and having none of its false desires rising in his breast, becomes liberated in his life and assimilated with the true One.