“Any material arrangement for protecting oneself from death is always unsure, but if one is in Krishna consciousness, then immortality is confidently assured.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 12)
At some point in their life, almost every person comes to the realization that man is mortal. Death is guaranteed. We are all going to die eventually; a conclusion that can be reached through a simple study of history. Our forefathers have all passed on, and we even witness the untimely deaths of friends and family members. Since the beginning of time, man has tried to change this fact by finding ways to achieve immortality. Yet each and every one of these attempts has met with failure.
“Scientist Ray Kurzweil claims humans could become immortal in as little as 20 years’ time through nanotechnology and an increased understanding of how the body works.” (Willis, Immortality only 20 years away says scientist)
Now scientists are stating that man can achieve immortality as soon as twenty years from now. The scientific research game is very popular, with new discoveries coming out every day. The last two hundred years have seen unprecedented advancement in technology, with new inventions in the areas of transportation and communication. Science and medicine also have made much advancement. The life expectancy in America now is as high as it has ever been. Inevitably, scientists are bound to become puffed up and think that they can achieve the impossible…immortality.
The above reference story declares that through nanotechnology and artificial organs, man will be able to ostensibly live forever. These hopes represent the extreme ignorance of much of the science community. Life comes from life, not from matter. The essence of a person is the spirit soul that resides within the body. God, through His various energies, decides which souls get placed into which bodies. Through these same energies, the soul is released from the body at an appropriate time. This event is known as death. No scientific invention can stop this. Death is guaranteed, along with birth, old age, and disease.
The Bhagavad-gita, the Song of God, contains all the information one needs regarding the soul. Since it is spoken by God Himself, Lord Krishna, the knowledge contained within it is perfect and flawless. At the time of death, the soul sheds the current body and receives a new one based on karma. Fruitive activity performed with a desired material result is the definition of karma. In a nutshell, any activity done for our own satisfaction can be classified as karma. Every action has an equal and appropriate reaction. God measures our desires at the time of death, and gives us an appropriate new life:
“As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones…Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.22,8.6)
God is so nice to us. He has given us such wonderful instructions in the Bhagavad-gita and other Vedic texts, yet most of the world chooses to ignore them. While it is certainly an error for the scientists to believe man can become immortal, the root of the problem lies in their desire to live forever. Usually done out of fear, people want to live forever because they don’t know anything outside of their personal experiences in this lifetime. The true fact of the matter is that we have all suffered through many many births. This current life isn’t the first one we’ve had. If we still have material desires at the time of death, we are guaranteed to take birth again.
The point of human life is to break out of this perpetual cycle of birth and death. The scientists and karmis don’t realize this. They are very attached to their lifestyle of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. They can’t imagine what will happen to them after they die. They fear losing their precious accumulated possessions. One simply has to apply a little common sense to come to the proper platform of understanding. This life of sense gratification wasn’t actually created by us. We know this from experience since life on earth continues after other people die. Naturally, all our precious possessions will remain here after we die, so how can we claim proprietorship over them? There must be a higher power that created everything before our birth. That higher power is God.
This material world isn’t meant to be our permanent residence. It is sort of a prison house, a place for souls to go and enjoy temporary fleeting happiness. There are 8,400,000 varieties of species, but the human form of life is unique in that we have the intelligence to able to adapt our lifestyle in a way to permanently remove ourselves from this material world. This information is also given in the Bhagavad-gita. Lord Krishna declares that one should become His devotee and try to think of Him at the time of death. One who follows this path will never have to take birth again:
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt…That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Bg. 8.5, 15.6)
Even if we could stay here forever, why would we want to? Scientists have found ways to prolong life, but they have yet to find a way to stop disease and old age. We see that the elderly have a very rough time of it, hobbling around on walkers, always taking various medications. Actually, death is almost a beneficial thing to us, since it is nature’s way of discarding a body that is no longer useful. Just as we get rid of worn out clothes and buy new ones, nature gives us a new body once our current one ceases to be useful to us. Trying to artificially extend life is a way of going against the laws of nature.
According to Vedic information, Lord Krishna is the reservoir of all pleasure. Association with Him brings transcendental bliss which is the source of ultimate happiness. The Lord ‘s body is described as sach-chid-ananda-vigraha because it is eternally blissful and full of knowledge. Our bodies, on the other hand, are full of ignorance and misery. It is only through contact with the Supreme Lord that we can achieve true peace and happiness. Those very fortunate devotees who associated with the Lord during His previous incarnations got to experience this bliss firsthand. Lord Krishna personally came to this earth some five thousand years ago. Those who associated with Him in Vrindavana and Mathura were always happy. Some would play with Him, others would dance with Him, while others acted as His parents. These are the different rasas, or transcendental mellows, that one can experience. In fact, the pastimes of the Lord are occurring regularly in the spiritual world. Everything in this universe is but a reflection of the things existing in the spiritual world but in a purified form.
“The Absolute Truth must be the original source of everything” (Vedatana-sutra)
For true immortality, we don’t have to look to science. One can live eternally with God after this life is over. That is God’s promise to us. If we become sincere devotees then He will deliver us from any calamity. God is very kind, for He gives us what we want. Those who want immortality in the material world are granted this wish through the process of reincarnation. The soul remains the same, so in actuality, a person who is perpetually taking birth in the material world can be thought of as being immortal. Yet a wise man will realize that true happiness can only come from God, who is also known as Rama, meaning one who gives pleasure. The aim of our life should be to work towards achieving the goal of returning back home, back to Godhead. Luckily we don’t need to perform any research in this matter, for Lord Chaitanya has shown us the way. In this age of Kali, the process of regularly chanting the holy names of God, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare” will reward us with Krishna prema, something far more valuable than immortality.