“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.13)
देहिनो ऽस्मिन् यथा देहे
कौमारं यौवनं जरा
धीरस् तत्र न मुह्यति
dehino ‘smin yathā dehe
kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā
dhīras tatra na muhyati
1. My childhood
“It was a relatively good time. I don’t have any lasting bad memories. No trauma. No resentment. I got to spend it with my parents and siblings. There is nostalgia associated with certain sounds and memories. Specifically, I remember that we did not have cable television. I therefore cherished every opportunity to watch professional baseball and its stars on the network game of the week. The theme song is still in my head, and I can remember what I would eat on those Saturday afternoons.”
2. My time in school
“We were all in one place. The academic aspect wasn’t necessarily fun, but the environment was great. You got to spend time with your closest friends, from morning until night. Not just one, either. There was a large group of us. We played video games. We watched television. We would go out to restaurants.
“Since that time I have never found a similar environment. Today, I barely have friends around. They all live far away. With advancements in technology we can communicate via electronic devices, but the engagement is not the same. I don’t feel as close with other people.”
3. My days of partying all the time
“It was literally every weekend. We could stay up as long as we wanted. There were no pressing engagements in the morning. We looked forward to this time, as well. We lacked any despair over the future or the short amount of time spent in a single lifetime. I can’t really think about anything negative from the experience except for how quickly it ended.
“Today, there is so much responsibility that I barely get any time to breathe. If I can lie down and rest for a few hours, that is saying something. Otherwise, it is jumping from one task to the next. No one appreciates anything you do. The more you are able to accomplish, the more they rely on you to bail them out.”
4. My peak physical shape
“I remember that I could play tennis for up to three hours, on consecutive days. I could run for four miles, with very little to eat in the morning. My stamina was incredible. Clothes fit me without issue. I did not feel the need to put down liters of water after stuffing myself at a meal.
“In fact, I rarely ate more than required. Everything was under control due to my routine of physical exercise. It was a great time, but today things are totally different. I have trouble making it up and down the stairs. All I think about is the next meal, and my clothes keep getting tighter.”
5. My ignorance of matters life and death
“There was a time when I never thought about long-term issues. Life and death were of no concern to me. You may think that is a silly way to go about things, but what about the alternative? If each of us has to spend a fixed amount of time in this world, isn’t it better to be happy, enthusiastic, and welcoming of upcoming days? Sadly, the reality has hit hard, and I cannot go back to the way things were.”
From this review we see that there are already so many losses we suffer throughout the journey of life. These are aspects that will never return. They are equivalent with death in terms of an event. The passage of time, sweeping away something that we had, and there is no way to go back.
If we have already lost so much, in the permanent sense, why should there be great lamentation over the complete loss, which is inevitable? The same applies to those we have known, the dearly departed. We will never see them again, but there is already so much we have left behind.
Shri Krishna compares the changes to clothes on the body. We take off a certain set, but then there is a replacement. We go through many sets of clothes in a single lifetime, which represents the way the entire body continuously changes.
The final change is the process known as death. The individual inside is not affected. It moves on to another place, getting another body. The exact specification is unknown. It could be the body of a demigod who resides in the heavenly region. It could be another human birth or perhaps demotion to a lower species.
जन्म कर्म च मे दिव्यम्
एवं यो वेत्ति तत्त्वतः
त्यक्त्वा देहं पुनर् जन्म
नैति माम् एति सो ऽर्जुन
janma karma ca me divyam
evaṁ yo vetti tattvataḥ
tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma
naiti mām eti so ‘rjuna
“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)
One who knows the transcendental nature of the birth and activities of Shri Krishna does not have to take birth again. It is as simple as that. The next type of body will be a spiritual one, with a land commensurate with the loss of distinction between body and spirit. In other words, in the liberated state my body can indeed identify who I am.
This liberated state is the natural one. The present run through the cycle of birth and death, spinning on the wheel of suffering, is unnatural. It is based on desire, kama. When that transforms into bhakti, which is pure devotion to the Supreme Lord, then the nature of the experience changes. The acharyas teach on the strength of authority, and we can get a glimpse of the life in liberation today through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Why now over future to lament?
Since the past away it went.
That childhood experience no more,
Partying not until morning hour four.
The same happened already,
Better now to keep mind steady.
That even if eventually to lose,
For eternal shelter to choose.
Categories: the five