By Gaurav Sharma
Most people have some clue about Karma, the cycle of action and reaction that defines one’s state of existence or life. Few are aware about the phenomenon of death.
For the majority, life comes to an end after death, implying therefore, that there is no experience beyond the body. The ancient wisdom of the Vedas, however, is unequivocal in defining death as a mere shift of vehicle, a simple change of the bodily dress.
According to the Upanishads, dying can be compared to falling asleep and after-death experiences to dreams.
The nature of dream is solely determined by the thoughts and actions contemplated and performed during the waking stage. Based on these lines, the atma or the soul experiences the results of the activities performed during its time on Earth or the particular plane of existence.
Just as a dream is real to the dreamer, the after-death experiences are real to the soul. Therefore, when a person dies, it essentially means that his body–the accumulated sum of the experiences gathered up to that particular point of time–has been left behind.
The subtle body, comprising of the mind (manas), the intellect (buddhi) and the ego (ahamkara) carries the self or the soul to another body according to the level of consciousness of the self.
And, when the consciousness created by the living entity is such, that there is absolutely no awareness of the difference between the body and the self, the soul tends to hang about. This is because it has merged itself in experience with the gross body.
When the person is leaving, it is possible to create the required awareness that ‘who one is’ and ‘what one has collected’ are two entirely different aspects. This is where the concept of Kalbhairava Karma comes in.
According to Yogi Jaggi Vasudev, Kalbhairava Karma relates to the bundle of memory that is floating around and seeking a new body. It is about the dimension of life that has left the body.
“Kala Bhairava is a unique manifestation of Shiva, which is in the form of time.
You cannot manage time because it is running at its own pace. Energy you can manage, you can play with it. Time is running at its own pace, but there is a certain dimension of consciousness, which can go beyond time. That dimension of consciousness is referred to as Kala Bhairava”, says the founder of the Isha foundation.
While enumerating the different ways in which the soul can leave the body, the mystic reduces death to three basic eventualities: Old age, accidents/natural causes and attainment of a higher spiritual dimension.
Old age implies the weakening of the life energy to such a feeble extent that life becomes incapable of holding on to the physical body. Accidents refer to death through crashes, body ailments and also through deliberate wrecking of the the body organs.
Lastly, death can also occur when the life energy is magnified to a level where the physical body becomes powerless in maintaining the being.
The rare third form of death can be termed as liberation, enlightenment and attainment in the spiritual jargon.
When a being passes away via any of the first two mediums, there is a possibility of ‘touching’ the life element. Touching means that the being loses its physical body and, more importantly, the discernment ability of the mind.
Due to such inexorable factors, when the ‘passed-away’ being is touched with pleasantness or unpleasantness, it experiences the feeling in a much more intense form.
To make the concept more vivid, Sadhguru elucidates the fable of Markandeya from the annals of Hindu ‘mythology’. Although the parable has been vocalised in myriad ways, the basic plot revolves around the death of Markandeya, a devotee of Shiva.
When Yama, the God of death approaches Markandeya, a 15 year-old child, the young child holds on to a form of Shiva; a linga consecrated in the form of Kala Bhairava. Suddenly, a dimension of consciousness explodes within the child after which the child is no longer within the realm of time.
The child then continues to live his life as a fifteen year old, never, for once, turning sixteen; the age when he was predicted to die.
The epic of Markandeya defines Kala Bhairava Karma in no uncertain terms, as the journey of the soul beyond the clutches of body, death and time.