When Death Comes…
Long time back there was a king named Susena. He was victorious and to stamp his authority, he initiated the Ashwamedha Yajna. Its a process of releasing the royal horse with the army in pursuit. If anyone stopped the horse, they had to fight the king. Well, in case of Susena, his horse went by the place near the banks of Irrawaddy where an amazing Sage named Gana was in Samadhi. The army accompanying the horse didn’t stop nor it went to show any respect to the great Sage. The Sage’s son saw this and was enraged and vowed to teach them a lesson. So, he captured the horse and beat up the people who were near the horse. When the army came and encircled him, he took the horse and entered a cave in the hill and disappeared. They couldn’t find where he had gone. But soon he re-emerged with a large army and defeated Susena’s Army. He captured most of them and took them inside the hill and made them his prisoners.
When Susena learnt this, he sent his brother Mahasena to get the army and the horse back. He warned Mahasena that Sage Gana is a special being and it would be foolish to pick a fight with him. So, be respectful, apologize and admit our mistake and get everyone back. Such beings he said “cannot be conquered even by gods”. Mahasena went to the hermitage and fell at the Sage’s feet. The son was impressed and liked the humility of the king’s brother. He said to Mahasena “tell me what you desire from him and I will do it for you..”
Mahasena wanted to have a word with the Sage who was in deep Samadhi for many years! The only way to “wake him up” was via occult. So the son entered the Sage’s body and woke him up. Sage opened his eyes and knew what has transpired and what Mahasena wanted through his perceptive vision. He directed his son to return what he had captured and never to repeat it again because “Wrath wrecks penance. Penance is only possible and can progress without obstruction because the king protects yogis.” The son returned everything to Mahasena who saw the army and the horse off but stayed back to thank Sage Gana and his son and ask them where the son had hidden everything.
Sage Gana told how he was a king and had abdicated his kingdom to his sons and came to stay in the forest with his wife. Once they embraced each other passionately and as a result of their actions, this son was born. But soon his wife died. So the Sage brought his son up. When the son grew and knew that his father had been a king, he too wanted to be one. So the Sage instead of making him any king, initiated into the world of Yoga and he grew in his perception and powers and soon was able to create a world of his own in the hill which he started “ruling”. This intrigued Mahasena and he wanted to see the “world” that Sage Gana’s son had created. Sage directed his son to take Mahasena in there and show around.
However the problem was that Mahasena couldn’t enter the hill in his gross body. So, Sage’s son, using his yogic powers, entered Mahasena’s body – put his gross body in a hole covered with bushes and took his subtle body into the hill. There he gave Mahasena a complete tour of the place.
Mahasena saw the Sun and the Himalayas. He saw how the Saint had become Vishnu in Vaikunth and Shiva on Kailash. Everything that one could imagine on the planet and other dimensions was available in this specially created world of the Sage’s son. Once they were done, the Sage’s son helped Mahasena out. And said – while this “sight seeing” last just one day inside the hill, 12,000 years have passed on the planet.
“What was Vanga, you country with Sundara, your capital, is now jungle infested with jackals and wild animals. There is now one Virabahu in your brother’s line who has his capital Visala on the banks of Kshipra in the country of Malwa, in your line.. “ and so on described the new world 12000 years hence from what the king remembered. He told him how everyone he had in his family had been long gone and how their progeny were also gone.. and a new generation was now on the planet.
Mahasena fainted from shock and when he came back was full of grief and sorrow. He grieved at the loss of his brother, brother’s son, and his own wife and kids.
Post this started a dialog between Mahasena and the Sage’s son which is extremely instructive.
I had just returned from India after my mother’s death. I had extended my stay by a few days due to the death and when I came back, I went to meet my client – the Sr VP, who was also an Indian. As he tried to express sorrow I said to him – “everyone has to go, I am happy she went the way it was best for her and I was able to contribute to what was best for her.” He was bewildered and shocked! He looked strangely for some time and then remarked “your reaction shocks me! Your mother is no more and you seem to have no sorrow at all.” I quickly told him that “I had never cried for anyone at their death – both my parents, my grandparents or anyone else. It is just a phase of a living being.” And I came out of his office.
Sage Gana’s son asked Mahasena – “A sensible person never does anything without a purpose, to act without discernment is childish. Think now, and tell me what loss grieves you and what purpose your grief will serve”
When Mahasena tried to explain how anyone would be full of sorrow if his who family died and how could the Sage’s son ask him such a question, Sage Gana’s son remarked almost making fun of him – “King! Tell me now, is this lapse into sorrow a hereditary virtue? Will it result in sin if you do not indulge in it on this occassion? Or do you hope to recover your loss by such grief?”
He then told Mahasena about how his forefathers had died – did he ever sit to mourn their death? Or of his parents whose bodies would have had worms on burial? And, saying this he challenged Mahasena “King think! Who are you? Whodeaths are the cause of your present grief?”
He then explained how this body was simply a conglomerate of different substances. And – “harm to any one of the constituents is harm to the whole. There is no moment in which each of the components is not changing. But the excretions do not constitute a loss to the body.” Have we ever contemplated on this? What was just a hour back part of your body, is now out as filthy excretion – do you mourn it? Do you feel sad?
Sage’s son then goes on to say something that is extremely profound and worth going through again and again.. and AGAIN!
“Those whom you called your brother and so on are mere bodies; the bodies are composed of earth; when lost they return to earth; and earth resolves ultimately into energy. Where then is the loss?
In fact you are not the body. You own the body and call it your own, just as you do a garment you happen to possess. Where lies the difference between your body and your garment? Have you any doubt regarding this conclusion? Being other than your body, what relation is there between you and another body? Did you ever claim similar relationship, say with your brother’s clothes? Why then mourn over the loss of bodies, which are in no way different from garments?”
Amazingly profound and simple.
I often wonder – how could a culture with such utmost clarity of perception fall into a state of emotional rut where people cannot even discuss death openly and clearly. Where talking of the death of a near or dear one – becomes a sensitive issue. Where death has become a dreaded subject. Grief and such fear of death has been the direct consequence of our lack of understanding and experience of self. When we lost our sense of consciousness to the scourge of dry and parochial, limited “rationality” instead of discernment, we lost the comprehensive clarity of what life was.
As Sage’s son follows on and says to Mahasena “As long as ignorance of the self lasts, so long will there be misery”.
Misery of people in India is from lack of clarity and spiritual consciousness. Death is inevitable and a misnomer. There is life.. life.. and just life. Just the dimension and its perception changes.
(All references from Tripura Rahasya: The Secret of the Supreme Goddess)