Life and Death and Neither, Bhagavad Gita, Ch 14, Vs 14-20

Leaving the Body at Death

How the Gunas of Nature Influence What Happens at Death

What we do in this life not only determines our state of being while living, but also the prevalent guna at death, as well as where we will go after death, and what circumstances we will encounter in the next life.

Death and Rebirth

14 – 15 
When sattva prevails at death, the embodied one (You) reaches the shining world of the Highest Knowers. Meeting death in rajas one is born among those attached to action. Those who die with tamas prevailing are born adrift. 

At Death

16 – 18
It is said that the result of righteous action is sattvic and without sin, but the result of rajasic action is misfortune, and the result of tamasic action is ignorance. From sattva knowledge arises, from rajas, desire, and from tamas, ignorance. Those situated in sattva at death attain the higher realms, those abiding in rajas stay in the middle, and those abiding in tamas go to the lower planes.

Sattva.  Action that is sattvic is righteous action and without error. Such action produces correct knowledge. Sattvic action is meritorious action, so those situated in sattva at death attain the higher realms and are born among the Highest Knowers.

Rajas.  Action that is rajasic results in misery and produces desires, thereby promoting more rajasic action and more misery. Those situated in rajas at death stay in the middle and are born among those attached to fruit-bearing action.

Tamas:  Action that is tamasic is heavy and dark and provides no motivation to overcome ignorance, thus keeping one weighted down by illusion and delusion. Those situated in tamas at death go to the lower planes and are reborn adrift (off course).

Life After DeathYour predominant guna state while living has everything to do with how things will turn out when you die, and will also influence your next life. The guna state predominant while living is likely to be the guna state at death. One’s next life then, is linked to the guṇa that predominated the personality and actions of a person in his life.

The Great Escape

When one sees that all actions are nothing more than the gunas, and knows Me as beyond these gunas, he attains My state. 

In the state called trigunatita (‘beyond the three gunas’), which is arrived at by the realization that all actions are really just the gunas interacting, one transends the gunas and attains the same state as Lord Krishna.

Nature is always active, moving and changing due to the interactions of the gunas. They are the cause of all action. No ’embodied one’, no Divine Individual, ever does anything. Realizing this is the highest enlightenment. This is what the Highest Knowers know with complete certainty. It is Lord Krishna’s state, which we seek to attain.  


When the embodied one transcends the three gunas of the body, he attains immortality and is released from birth, death, old age and misery.

Note that the gunas are “of the body,” reminding us once again that the journey to our natural state of eternal happiness is not some etheric notion, but includes the body.

Life After Death

Alternate translation:
Getting beyond the influence of the three gunas of the body, amrita, the nectar of immortality, is ingested by the body, and one becomes immortal and free of birth, death, old age and misery. 

There has been speculation on when exactly the transition from a mortal body to an immortal form takes place: before, during, or after the death of the physical body. Appearing where it does among verses on what happens at death, this transition appears to take place at or after the death of the body.

It is not that once one gets to the point of ‘tasting the nectar of immortality (amrita)’ that old age and misery go away. But once the embodied one leaves the body at death, this transition will take place and he will never again experience death, old age or misery … because he is freed from rebirth. He is liberated, free, no longer in bondage.

I have encountered people who have known yogis to have made this transition in the middle of the road, so to speak, and from this, they have come to the conclusion that this transition is made while living. However, these appearances, sometimes called ascensions, were made by individuals who had already achieved Divine Form, and the observers were unaware of this. This state is sometimes referred to as “Divine Body”.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one that you really are),
Durga Ma

Surrender Meditation

Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga
Spontaneous Experiential Meditation

Slip into a natural state of meditation with ease. Experience the relief of effortlessly reaching a true meditative state without using your will.

Receive shaktipat and become initiated into the original meditation of ancient masters from which meditation techniques were derived.

Increase your knowledge base and begin Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga: Surrender Meditation. Though correct knowledge you will increase your progress by a thousand times, and bring about even deeper meditation and amazing experiences.

Shaktipat Intensives with Durga Ma are held in Phoenix, Arizona

“Every step you take pulls every one of us with you.”

The Whole World Is One Family

VIII:19-21 The Day and Night of Brahmā, Part 2

Having come to be again and again in the Day of God, all beings are reabsorbed into the Night of God, only to become manifest again at the arrival of the Day. But there is something beyond all this that is eternal, where one is relieved of the trials of death and rebirth, and never parishes. This is the Highest Goal. 

Having come into manifestation again and again, the multitude of beings are spontaneously reabsorbed at the arrival of night, Son of Pritha, arising again at the arrival of day.

  • Beings: The word for ‘beings’ also means ‘existences, occurrences, material existences’.

In addition to our discussion on Day and Night in the previous installment, another meaning is this: Day is when the Life Energy’s warming aspect is predominant, and night is when its cooling aspect is predominant. 

  • Sunprana, the upward warming cycle of the Life Energy, usually translated as ‘ingoing breath’. 
  • Moonapana, the downward cooling cycle of the Life Energy, usually translated as ‘outgoing breath’. 

You may notice that, at any given time, one nostril is more open than the other to greater and lesser degrees. When the the right nostril is predominantly open, the warming sun is up. When the left nostril is predominantly open, the cool of the moon predominates and it is night.

If “reabsorbed at the arrival of night” puts you in mind of doomsday, consider another meaning of this as the spectacular union of these two energies, prana and apana. When these two energies come clashing together in the body, the evolutionary force, Kundalini, is awakened. Arjuna, who is listening to all this as Krishna speaks, is positioned at this very point and having a hard time of it. It is doomsday alright. It is the beginning of the end of life as he has known it up to this point.

But beyond this un-manifest state, there is another, different non-manifest that is higher and eternal in which, when all beings perish, does not perish.

Ah. So there is another non-manifest that is always there and always has been. It doesn’t come and go or come to an end. This non-manifest is different from the “night of Brahmā” which comes to an end with the “day of Brahmā”.   

This non-manifest is called the Imperishable, and is considered to be the Highest Goal. By attaining it, one does not return. This is My Highest Abode.

Rather than returning to other worlds, it is possible to reach this non-manifest that doesn’t come to an end. This successfully ends the cycles of death and rebirth into lesser, more difficult, worlds. 

This other non-manifest state that exists eternally is called the ‘Imperishable’ for a reason. Imperishable means ‘enduring forever, indestructible, deathless’. This chapter, continuing from the last verses of chapter seven, is providing us with what we need to know in order to reach this deathless state, ourselves.

Equanimity (samadhi) can only be achieved through the union of day and night by “day and night knowing people [previous post].” This is yoga—the union of prana and apana, the sun and the moon, the day and the night—the activation and acceleration of the evolutionary force (Kundalini awakens) within the individual.

This stage of spiritual development is called Hatha Yoga, ‘sun-moon union’. But the show is not over at this point, for there is another stage beyond this that is attained through the union of you and Kundalini, you and God. At this stage, Kundalini fully awakens, and the Imperishable Absolute can now be reached. This is Raja Yoga, royal union. 

These teachings on The Day and Night of Brahmā are presented in apocalyptic terms in some scriptures, and interpreted as armageddon and the end of the world. But there is another interpretation that does not require the usual doomsday scenario:

The Imperishable, Krishna’s Highest Abode, is reached, liberation attained, and the world as you have known it ends. You dwell with Lord Krishna and others like Him, in the Eternal Happiness of the Imperishable. 

  • Apocalypse – Revelation, the disclosure of knowledge of something hidden.
  • Armageddon – The full awakening of Kundalini:

    From the Hebrew: ‘Hill of Megiddo’, a Canaanite city. The verb root (gad) indicates cutting with the distinct purpose of revealing a treasure. This is khechari mudra, ‘flying through the air seal’, which evolves from jalandhara bandha (‘throat lock’) and awakens the evolutionary force, kundalini, in a full and accelerated manner.

    From the dictionary: “The last battle between good and evil before the Day of Judgment and the termination of life.” Meaning: At the last clashing together of sun and moon energies before the dawning of Kundalini when She fully asserts Herself, the past will be dead and you’ll never be the same again.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma

VIII:15-16 Brahmā’s World

In the previous verses we learned that through the practice of uniting (yoga) by resorting to God, surrendering ourselves to God, cycles of death and rebirth can be avoided. Now we will learn about the conditions under which this becomes possible.

15 – 16
Having come to Me, those great souls who have accomplished the highest are not born again into this impermanent place of suffering and unhappiness. Worlds up to
 Brahmā‘s World are subject to successive rebirths, Arjuna, but in approaching Me, rebirth is not found, Son of Kunti

In this chapter, Lord Krishna has taken to calling Arjuna by epitaphs referring to his mother, Kunti, also known as Pritha, who represents Earth. The name Kunti derives from a root meaning ‘spear or lance’, and Pritha, from ‘battle and strife’, suggesting the difficulties of this world, and urging Arjuna to get on with it.

We who are more fortunate and cannot see this world in these terms, are mistaken. This world is indeed a place of suffering and unhappiness, but we don’t like to hear things like this. We prefer to think that if we can just do better we can find fulfillment here on earth. We believe we can change things if we try harder. Evidence to the contrary is right before our eyes, but we refuse to see it.

I have always said that everyone has two life purposes, one that is unique to each individual, and one that is the same for everyone. Union with God and liberation from repeated births and deaths is the purpose that is the same for everyone. By not putting this first, we waste precious time and the opportunity to accomplish this release, while simultaneously effecting the remission of suffering for the world and those who inhabit it (truly, this is so). We make this mistake by constantly trying for a better part in the play of Life. But happiness is always temporal here. If we open our eyes to the Truth, we can attain happiness that is unending, and benefit everyone in the process. 

The worlds of Brahmā are subject to successive rebirths
There are many worlds of death and rebirth, some better and some worse than our own. These worlds are the worlds of Brahmā, God as Creator. In the larger scheme of things, Brahmā’s World consists of these worlds where we arrive upon rebirth. But there is another meaning here that translates to something more personal and immediate.

Brahmā’s World

At a personal level, Brahmā’s World of death and rebirth is up to the diaphragm, and encompasses the first three chakras: the first chakra, muladhara, ‘root holder’, the second chakra, svathishthana, ‘one’s own place’, and the third chakra, manipura, ‘jewel city’.

In this diagram, seven chakras are numbered from the bottom up on the left, and three granthis on the right:

Chakras & Granthis

Chakras & Granthis

To become liberated from death and rebirth, the escalating evolutionary force, kundalini, must rise above Brahmā’s World. The World of Brahmā lies in the region of the first first three chakras, and is delineated by the brahmagranthi, the ‘knot of Brahmā’. To get past this boundary between Brahmā’s World and the next, this knot must be pierced so that the evolutionary force can ascend through the central channel (sushumna) to the higher worlds. First, however, this force must be activated within the individual—kundalini must be awakened. But there is a catch: 

Kundalini is for yogis seeking liberation, and the fettering of fools. — Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Awakening Kundalini is not a simple matter. Those who are not interested in liberation should not disturb Her. One who awakens Her for anything other than this purpose is asking for trouble. But for the yogi (one who has achieved yoga), She is the respected and venerated Divine Mother, and the yogi wants this Divine Goddess on his side, for it is She who will deliver him.

“The worlds of Brahmā are subject to successive rebirths, Arjuna. But in approaching Me, rebirth is not found.”
Brahmā’s World, everything up to and including the brahmagranthi, is associated with the things in life and in ourselves that will cause us to be reborn into another physical world of suffering and temporal happiness. But if we get with the program and resort to God, surrender to God, in the constant practice of yoga (uniting), we are headed in the right direction. We are approaching God. With kundalini ascending to realms above the World of Brahmā, we are positioned to become “great souls who have accomplished the highest,” free of the cycles of death and rebirth.

These two verses are describing the longest part of the journey to liberation and unending happiness. In the next verses we will learn more about how this is accomplished.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma