(A Vedantic Perspective By Swami Buddha Puri Ji)
‘Kal’ is better identified by the word ‘Death’ in normal life. Death actually is a journey from light to darkness. Though initially ignited with the divine light it gradually and slowly diminishes into the gloom of egoistic ignorance. This is known as a cycle of ‘Kal’. Entangled in an unending series of such cycles, the being ‘Jiva’ had landed into a deadlock. Thus the eternal journey of life goes on and on in a circle without making any progress. As this cycle of life and death is still in motion, we may clearly understand that the journey of life has not reached its ultimate purpose.
Here one thing must be clearly understood that the death is not an accident. The death is taking place ever since the time of birth passing through youth and old age. The continuous deterioration of body takes its toll in the form of death. This everlasting process of change and decay is termed as ‘Kal’.
All the matter and every object of this world, animate or inanimate, have a propensity to change. Earth or sun, stars or moon, animal or even human bodies, all are caught in this unavoidable cycle of death. But the interesting thing is this that even though this universe is entirely in clutches of this deadly ‘Kal’ since eons yet it could never stop the wheel of life from rotation. The very reason is that this world is in existence since eternity and thus would last till eternity. Had ‘Kal’ or ‘Death’ been the destiny of any matter or object, the world had been wiped off long ago.
Death is actually the limit of continuous changes which are taking place each and every moment in any body or matter. These changes keep on transforming the matter or the body which destroys the old form and gives birth to the new. We may say in a way that death in its essence is but a door to the beginning of a new life. It is only through death that any matter takes new birth. Thus in guise of destruction death actually advances the evolution of this world.
Even scientific theories like ‘Law of conservation of Energy’ agree to this concept that matter only gets transformed; it could never be destroyed to nothing. It is needless to say that matter and energy are actually made of same element at the core.
As per the theory of relativity all the animated objects of this world are able to move because the earth, their base is stable. Suppose if earth itself becomes unstable and starts trembling then all the movements on earth will be in limbo and become purposeless; because all the movements are possible only on a stable and firm base. A wheel may rotate only if the shaft is stable in the axis. Similarly, the wheel of time receives its inexhaustible movement from the eternal and infinite source of energy, the divine light which created the world and which is the cause of even this ‘Kal’. As a result this cycle of death rather becomes the ground for evolution.
The ‘Mool Mantra’ of Gurbani is describing the basis of this world when saying ‘Nirbhau Nirvair Akal Murat Ajuni Saibhan’.
The wheel of ‘Kal’ or the cycle of death could not reach to the completion until and unless the being ‘Jiva’ doesn’t achieve the divinity as in its source ‘Akal Purukh’. ‘Moksha’ or the freedom from this everlasting cycle is possible only by conquering the death; and this is what Gurbani carries as its core concept – Victory over Death. To break the deadlock of birth and death we must have total control over death. Then only could we find our destiny and intermingle with our source – The divine.
The wheel of life may complete the cycle at the same point where it started from. Life, thus may achieve its completion only in life not in death. Death denotes an unfinished journey. In view of this how could it be possible to conquer death and attain the divine hood after leaving the body or after death? Gurbani provides us with the clues for winning the death over while living in this very body when it says, ‘Ude nah hans nah kandh chhije’ – (Page 991).
‘Chand suraj ki paye gandh. Tis udasi ka padhe naa kandh.’ – (Page 991) ‘Supne bind na deyi jharna. Tis paakhandi jara na marna.’ – (Page 852) ‘ajar jare ta nau kul bandh. Puje prana howe sir kandh.’ (Page 1289); There are plenty of similar quotations in Gurbani which evidently and plainly enlighten us about the concept of Victory over death. The extremity of ‘Sadhna’ has been stated in such a simple and straightforward words that even a child may interpret them correctly. But if a highly qualified and supposedly learned brain tries to comprehend the possibility and the procedure of attaining the immortal state of ‘Ude nah hans nah kandh chheeje’ then there are more chances of misinterpretation. Incorrect and imperfect meanings are preferably chosen by them.
Death simply means leaving the body forever. But by saying ‘Ude nah hansu nah kandh chheeje’ Gurbani boldly condemn the death and says on the contrary that the being (hans) who has through practice conquered the death doesn’t leave the body. Still, one may think that after all death is inevitable for the body; how it would be possible for the body to retain itself from continuous decay and avoid death? And how it would be possible for the being to live in a diseased and weak body for ever? Moreover, what is the use of clinging to such a worthless mortal body? Isn’t it better to live short than to drag helplessly in pain and misery? But Gurbani further says, ‘Nah kandh chheeje’; that is to say body doesn’t even deteriorate with age. In ‘tis paakhandi jara na marna’ Gurbani declares that such a practitioner who denounces his sin does neither show any traces of aging nor does his body dies.
Generally it is thought that the body, by very nature gets diseased and grows old, and thus need to be discarded one day. A practitioner, however, may receive ‘Mukti’ and attain the divine hood even after leaving his body. But Gurbani refuses to buy any such imaginary ‘Mukti’ and describe a much wider and higher concept of life without death. Gurbani says on top of its voice that instead of assimilate the self into the divine light one must work to bring the divinity down to the level of this physical body. The divine light should be filled in this body to such an extent that even while dealing with worldly affairs, divinity outshines the being. When whole body would be completely filled and shining with sweet divine light how dare would the darkness of aging or death enter the body? When the creator of ‘Kal’ himself comes down in this body, how could this body fall prey to ‘Kal’? This is a state when macro gets confined into the micro, vast ocean come into a single drop and the whole universe is obtained by a particle.
Such a Victorian of death may live on this earth for ever, or may disappear with his body and become visible back again at will, or may connect to the divine light and become one with the creator. Guru Nanak Dev and many more similar great souls have attained this super human hood. The evidences of this deathless state are recorded in history and process is described in their preaching (Vaani). It is well established that these great personalities did not leave their bodies rather simply disappeared in thin air along with their bodies.
But do remember that mere attainment of deathless body is not what Gurbani aims at; this immortal state is rather received as an incentive. The aim actually is to bring down the divine light to the lowest level for total transformation of this mortal world. This is possible only when the human body becomes the carrier and bearer of the divine light. The criterion of this divinity is total freedom from aging and death. Then only it would be possible to eradicate the misery and pain from their very roots.
Merely conquering the fear of death and still dying of diseases and aging is not enough. This mental affirmation is barely an indication that the path of immortality has opened up to us. The true seeker aims much farther. Here an innocent practitioner may wonder that saints like Guru Nanak, Guru Gobind, Kabir etc. were all incarnations from the higher realms. It’s hardly a matter for them to dismiss the death. But how could it be possible for a common man? What and how should they practice to make it possible? Have these immortal beings left any traces for guidance?
Of course, Gurus have explained the secrets of this secret art in very simple words at various places in various ways. The simplicity of language attracts and allows even innocent ones to take the ride of this hidden path of immortality. Young or old, sick or healthy, novice or master, all may find suitable leads in these words. A practitioner just needs to contemplate honestly and trustfully over these tips from Gurus.
The validity and acceptance of any concept is decided by its practicability. A brilliant idea without any practical approach is just a useless dream. Thus the concept of deathlessness must be realized by faithful contemplation and honest practice. The abstract nature of this concept makes it impossible to understand the concept without self experiencing. When realized in its completeness, the very body of the practitioner would become a living example of the victory over disease, aging and death. This is much more than mere thought-work as it is not based on any supposition or assumptions. Unlike any superficial hypothesis this concept exhibits itself through the immortal body of the practitioner. Anyone and everyone can experience it through his physical senses in all possible colors.
The assimilation in divine light by conquering the death cycle (or deathlessness) is explained in ‘Mool Mantra’ first and foremost. We all know and often chant this mantra: ‘Ek Onkar Satnam Karta Purakh Nirbhau Nirvair Akal murat Ajuni Saibhan’.
‘Karta Purakh Nirbhau Nirvair Akal murat Ajuni Saibhan’ explains the form and formless nature of the creator who is basis of everything. This must be kept clear in mind that ‘Akal Purakh’ is all-pervading. He exists beyond the reign of ‘Kal’ as ‘Ek Onkar Satnam’ as well as in the form of this mortal world. Through ‘Satnam Onkar’ he creates this world and all the worldly objects, animals etc. This is how the world is created, from the same immortal source. When ‘Jiva’ reaches back to that Supreme Being, with the kind guidance of the master then the deadlock of death is broken. In ‘Mool Mantra’ adjectives such as ‘Akal murat’ and ‘Ajuni Saibhang’ forcibly draw the attention of a true seeker. These phrases clearly state that the Supreme Being is beyond death and decay so when the ‘Jiva’ reaches to him, he also becomes master of death and attains freedom from all the misery. This criterion decides if an aspirant has achieved the purpose of life. It is only in this human body that the ‘Jiva’ can conquer the death. Since the first breath all the time until death is meant to make this possible. If he doesn’t succeed till last breath then the priceless human body is taken away, but again he is granted another body to complete his unfinished practice. Thus the cycle goes repeatedly till the being unites with his creator, the Supreme Being.
This cycle is moving in the same manner since eternity and starts in the womb of a mother every time. It would be a great achievement if one could discover and understand the opening of this cycle. If this could be accomplished even at the time of death, one may go beyond this cycle. In womb the being is nothing less than a dead as far senses and physical movements are concerned. But this state is more close to ‘Samadhi’ since ‘Jiva’ is directly connected to the divine light. Gurbani further elaborates: ‘Manahu kyun visariye ewad data ji agan ahar pahuchawaye.’ ‘Jaisi agne udar meh taisi bahar maya.’ ‘Ai sarira mereya hari tum meh jot rakhi tatu jag meh aaiya.’ – (Anand Sahib)
The child doesn’t use lungs and breathes no air in womb. His heart also remains inactive. If this state is reached out of womb, the person is declared dead. On the contrary, while in womb not only does he survives but also develops rapidly in body and consciousness. The reason is very simple that in womb ‘Jiva’ is connected with the divine light.
Once out of womb the child is entrapped and lured by ‘Maya’. As said by Gurus, ‘Jaisi agne udar meh taisi bahar maya’. So if a child can survive the fire in womb then why isn’t it possible to endure the ‘Maya’ and conquer the death?
But the million dollar question is how to hold on to the contact with the divine light while living in this world and enticed by ‘Maya’. In womb child need not do anything rather he can not do anything still the Supreme Being by very nature takes care of him. But while living in world fully conscious then what should one do to regain and retain the state similar to that in womb. Remember this would be a state in which the royal path from Naval Plexus (Nabhi Kund) till Crown of Head (Sahasrara) would open wide. While in womb the child receives all the nourishment from naval only, at that time the divine light burnish in the ‘Dasham Dwar’.
As per the theory of ‘Jo Brahmande Soyi Pinde’ naval is the region of Sun and head is of Moon. The path joining them both (Sushumna) is full of loop and knots (Chakras). As long these two are not coupled total transformation or the complete ‘Samadhi’ is not possible and the cycle of death may not be conked out. By joining them both one may attain the womb like state of ‘Samadhi’ and stay directly connected to the divine light. In such a state a practitioner would be free of all the ties and bonds and wouldn’t be affected even by death. As he lasted the fire of womb alike he would endure the diseases, old age and even death. Free from all the slavery he would get to the state of ‘Ude nah Hansu Nah kandh Chheeje’. Further elaborating the technique of this deathless immortal state Guru utters:
‘Sur sar sos lai som sar pokh lai, jugat kari mart so sanbandh kije.
Min ki chapel siu jugat man rakhiye ude nah hans nah kandh chheeje.
ajar gahu jar lai amar gahu mar lai bhrat taj chhod tau apiyu peeje.
Min ki chapel siu jugat man rakhiye ude nah hans nah kandh chheeje.
bhanat nanak jan rawe je hari mano man pawan siu amrit peeje.
Min ki chapel siu jugat man rakhiye ude nah hans nah kandh chheeje’.’
– (Page 99, Maru M. 1)
In this lines ‘Min ki chapel siu jugat man rakhiye ude nah hans nah kandh chheeje’ has been repeated thrice. This shows the significance of these words thus we must look into the meaning of them.
We have already discussed a little bit about ‘Ude nah hans nah kandh chheeje’. But generally people (even learned ones) make a very silly interpretation of these words by saying that the practitioner just gets rid of the fear of death. It is simply and clearly perceptible in these words that a true practitioner neither suffers diseases or aging nor does he fall prey to death. It is undoubtedly a superior state by all means. To get to this state one must learn the tactics of ‘Min ki chapel siu ……’.
The water by nature always flows downwards. It is a fish which can swim opposite to even high-speed water current. A fish can even climb up the water stream. In the same way out of five source elements the water and earth have downward tendency. Thus the energy flow (current of prana) and the movement of mind is directed outwardly and downwardly towards worldly objects through our sensory organs. It may not originally shin up the royal path of Sushumna and arrive at Dasham Dwar. This is called as downfall of seminal power (Virya Shakti) in man. This is the primary reason of diseases, aging and finally of death in common man. As a fish knows how to clamber through water current likewise a true seeker need to figure out the ways to ascend through the Sushumna path. By finding such a method he would be able to turn around the flow of Prana and imbibe the nectar flowing from Dasham Dwar. This would bring him endurance and immortality. The method is turning the current of Prana upwards. By the means of this method ‘jugat kari martu so sanbandh kije’ that is to say by connecting to the energy current in the body ‘Ultat pawan chakra khat bedhe’ all the knots and ties would be unlocked and this flow would make a way into the royal path of Sushumna.
The technique for the above mentioned proposal is delineated precisely and concisely in very words ‘Sur sar sos lai som sar pokh lai’.
Naval region is the center of sun. The rays of this sun are spread all around the body through the channel of subtle nerves. The principal channel is of Sushumna with two supporting conduit, Ida (left) and Pingla (right). The center of moon is in head region and the core is Dasham Dwar which may be related to pineal gland. Ida is called as lunar channel while Pingla is termed as solar channel. When moon center is set in motion Prana flows swiftly into lunar channel. And when sun center is set in motion Prana flows promptly into solar channel. In a healthy body Prana flows alternatively in these two channels changing every hour. Surfeit of Ida causes the night condition in the body and the surplus of Pingla causes day condition in the body. Therefore corresponding to a single rotation of day and night in the universe body has 12 cycles of day and night in 24 hours. This is the cycle of ‘Kal’.
But when Sushumna flows, Ida and Pingla come together, sun and moon also adjoin each other. This clears the darkness of ego, the Agyan. This is the state of Samadhi. This state is described by ‘sas ghar sur base mite andhiayara’ – (Page 943). Uninterrupted state of Samadhi in world endows the practitioner with immortal youthful body.(The subtle energy channels such as Ida and Pingla have been discussed at many places in Gurbani but in this small article there is no scope for another topic.) We need to know next that how to combine sun and moon in our body and how to open the Sushumna. Guru provides us with the solution by saying, ‘Sur saru sosi lai som saru pokhi lai’.
We ought to overturn the outward energy current, emerging from the sun in naval region trough subtle channels, outside in. This only is meant by ‘Sur sar sos lai’. By reversing the current of Pingla, we overturn all the flow towards sensory organs which is directed outside back in Pingla. As a result sun in naval region illumines and fills it with light and energy. This awakens many divine sounds and vibrations (Anahad Naad) in solar plexus. This is described as ‘Nabhi kamal meh bedi rachi le brahma gyan uchara’ (Kabir, Page 482). Lotus of divine power blossoms in naval region by immersing the ‘Sur Saru’. Starting at the lower end of the spinal chord (Muladhar) vigorous vibrations in form of Anahad Naad begin rising up till solar plexus. This stirs up the center of earth and water in the body. In other words rising of Naad in solar plexus absorbs the ‘Sur sar’.
Sushumna opens wide with the forceful flow of Prana and Naad which penetrates all the knots and chakras on the path. This rising energy nourishes the ‘Som sar’ in head region. The nectar flooding down from ‘Som sar’ further boosts the fire in naval region, in turn. In the process a cycle reverse to the cycle of ‘Kal’ is set up in the body. This cycle of divine power annul the ‘Kal’.
Describing this divine cycle Guru says, ‘ajar gahujar lai amar gahu mar lai bhrat taj chhod tau apiyu peeje’. Sahasrara or Dasham Dwar is the divine abode free from aging and death. When the rising divine energy of ‘Sur Saru’ enters this abode in the form of Prana and Nada, the nectar starts melting in ‘Som sar’. Commencement of this nectar (Amrit Rasa) flow is sign of authority over elixir of life ‘Som sar’. When mind and prana absorb this ‘Amrit Rasa’, the state of ‘Ude nah hans nah kandh chheeje’ is achieved.
‘So paakhandi je kaya pakhale. Kaya ki agani brahma par jale. Supne bindu na deyi jharna. Tis paakhandi jara na marna.’ – (Page 992) also correspond to the practice of ‘Sur saru sosi lai som saru pokhi lai’. It is sheer impossible to feature all the various component of Sadhana (practice) in such a small paper. Still, an attempt is made to reveal the secrets of this mysterious and bizarre practice. This concept actually depends totally and solely on personal practice.
Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam etc. all the sects and creeds have enough evidences to this concept of immortality. Gurbani tells us about very simple and easy techniques to achieve such a high state. The method is chanting the name of the divine but the source of this recitation should not be tongue, lips or throat; the center should be rather naval region or solar plexus. When the recitation takes place on the foundation of naval region then the energy waves start vibrating not only tongue, lips and throat but each and every part of the body. The compelling force of Anahad Naad puts the prana at a standstill. The practitioner enters the state of Samadhi and receives sustenance purely by divine light as in the womb of mother. This is the actual blessing or ‘Gurprasad’ what a disciple obtains. In continuous state of such incessant Samadhi the body is recreated in due course by the nectar and radiance of divine nature which totally transforms the body into immortal one. The cycle of ‘Kal’ or death doesn’t exist anymore for such an aspirant.
Let us examine this concept in the light of Vedanta but for that we need to first understand the difference between the ultimate ‘Vedantic Philosophy’ and the popular notions of Vedanta in modern time. There are many opinions popular these days about Vedanta but by and large the base of them all is that the world is but an illusion. Negating all objects by saying Neti-Neti takes and unites us finally to the root cause of everything that is ‘Sat-Chit-Anand’ (Eternal and true source of bliss). Thus the process of negation finally takes us to the ultimate goal. Instead of analyzing these popular perceptions and getting into unnecessary detail of such a process we would rather keep ourselves focused on the absolute philosophy of Vedanta. We need to keep one thing clear in our mind that the most authentic text of Vedanta available to us are Upnishads.
There are few popular quotations which offer the epitome of this age-old philosophy. For instance, ‘Ayamatma Brahma’ which means Jiva (the mortal being) and Ishwar (the Supreme Being) are one and the same. Another quotation is, ‘Sarva Khalvidam Brahma’ that implies this all universe is essentially a form of Supreme Being himself.
The revered most Master of Vedanta of this era, ‘Acharya Shankar’ has clearly written, ‘Vedanta Siddhanta Niruktiresha Brahmaiva Jivah Sakalam Jagacch’. The meaning of this Sanskrit verse is that the Jiva and this whole universe is nothing else but Brahma, the Supreme Being. As there can be no difference between the waves and their source – the ocean, similarly the creator (Supreme Being) and the creation (the universe and the mortal being) are the same.
This indispensable concept of Vedanta is visible all over the Gurbani. Likewise the concept of immortality what Gurbani boasts of is scattered all over the Upanishads. Shwetaswar Upanishad (‘Acharya Shankar’ has written a remarkable commentary for that) has a very prudent and lucid quote, ‘Prithvyapte joonilkhe samutthite panchatmake yog gune pravritte. Na tasya roga na jara na mrityu praptasya yogagnimayam shariram.’
The implication of this verse is that when earth, water, fire, wind and ether all the five elements collaborate to move upwards in the Sushumna then the practitioner attain a radiating divine form. This form remains untouched by disease, aging and even death and thus called immortal.
Yog Kundalini Upanishad, Yog Chunamani Upanishad and many more Upanishads provide us with details of various techniques to conquer the death and remain in permanent bliss. The gist of them all is to combine the sun in naval and moon in head. There is another popular text of Vedanta by the name ‘Yog Vashishtha’. This book also offers accounts of several practitioners and practices of Immortality. The most important description is of ‘Kak Bhushund’. His practice is also based on the same concept of combining Sun and Moon, or Prana and Apana, or Ida and Pingla, or Jiva and Brahma.
If we carefully analyze then we may clearly discover that even the modern Vedantic philosophy is actually aiming at turning the pranic flow inwards and expanding the petty ego. The practice of ‘Sur sar sos lai som sar pokhi lai’ also aspires to free the being from the limits of this mortal body. Subsequently the practitioner may acquire Samadhi and the process of transformation may occur in the body.
Remember, as long the deathless body is not attained the concept of ‘Sarva Khalvidam Brahma’ may not be realized. As long consciousness is confined to this body how could anyone expand and become conscious of the Supreme Being in the form of this world? As long this immortal state is not achieved the practitioner is only trying to comprehend the idea of alleged Vedanta philosophy but has not actually entered into the domain of Vedanta. He has not obtained the crucial ability to realize the actual Vedanta wisdom.
We have already discussed a lot about the concept of ‘Kal’ and the practice of conquering it, though it was in perception of Gurbani, but considering the similarity of the two there is no need discuss it all over again using Vedantic terminology. The only need is to take the responsibility that this invaluable practice would not remain confined to the cage of our brains.
Though this practice may sound intricate and hard to follow but the worth of it lies in the fact that when one seeker vow to beat the path and move towards the triumph, he becomes the liberator of plentiful more as indicated by ‘Keti chhuti naal’ in Gurbani. The ‘Ek Jiva Vaad’ (one is related to all) philosophy of Vedanta is in total agreement with this practice. As per this philosophy if one attains complete freedom (Mukti) all else would be affected by this. The actualization of this concept is possible only in those who have completely conquered the death through immortality of their body.
Authored by :-
Swami Buddh Puri Ji