Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The soul does not go alone –it takes something while leaving the body!

It is generally thought that the soul leaves the body at death,

leaving everything behind.

If we say it is not so,

then it may be said that the soul does not leave alone, for,

it takes its karma along with it.

If we say that there is something more,

it may be said that the soul does not go alone, for,

it will be taking along with it all its thoughts, aspirations,

unfulfilled dreams, anger, happiness and many more

which are all an outcome of the combination of 3 gunas

it had while living, namely,

sattwa, rajas and tamas.

But again we say that there is another one too.

This is what it has acquired from the 5 elements of Nature,

-what it has eaten, drunk and assimilated

that had helped it to grow its body,

its internal functions

and its mind.

The solid constituents of these have been left behind,

to be consigned to flames or to be buried.

It is generally thought that the physical aspects of whatever one acquired

are returned to Nature in the disposal of the body.

No, there is something more of Nature

that is left unreturned.

That ‘something’ also leaves along with the soul.

To understand what it is, let us see what it takes from Nature.


Before born into this world,

the foetus grows by receiving food from the mother.

The foetus does not absorb the food directly,

but only in its elemental forms.

What it receives is

three levels of elemental substances

which in essence are associated with the 5 elements of Nature.

Agni or fire is the first level element which is necessary for

any absorption into the body.

Agni is always associated with vaayu (Air), as it needs air to grow.

The second level element is water

which is the medium of transportation or communication (we have already discussed)

The third level element is the food, which is derived from earthen particles.

Earth always contains along with itself the 5th element, the akasha (ether)

Thus the food drawn from Nature is

basically the three elemental substances,

namely, fire, water and earth.

These three are the basis of the constitution of the body

or in other words, then body is made up of these three elements.

If we think a little deeply, we will know that

everything in Nature has a 3-state existence or constitution.

(The 3 states of existence are known as ‘vyAhruthi’ in Upanishads

There are many ‘vyAhruthis’ and each set is held by its Lord,

designated as “Maha’ tattwa - propounded by sage MahAsamasya (1))

Matter exists as solid, liquid and gas.

This can be said in other words as

physical, vital and mental level of existence of matter.

The earth also has 3-state existence.

The earth has its physical level of existence in the land mass.

Its vital level is formed of waters

And its mental level is the atmosphere.

If we consider man,

his skeleton is the physical, blood and fluids is the vital

and mind and thought is the mental level of existence.

Getting into subtleties of these with reference to man,

we find that the initial constitution is made at the womb!

The first string of 3-some constitution starts right at the moment of conception.

What the foetus draws from the food supplied by the mother

goes to develop its body completely.

From the moment the foetus is born as a baby

the drawl from Nature starts directly from the food it takes.

From then onwards, a ‘direct account’ is maintained in the transaction

with reference to Nature

and all other interactions with man, materials etc.

What are these 3-some or the 3-fold drawl and what do they give rise to?


Chandogya and Brihadharanyaka Upanishad provide a number of inputs in this regard.

From Chandogya we come to know that (6-5)

that the 3-fold drawl gives rise to

3 levels of constitution of man.

"Food when eaten becomes threefold.

What is coarsest in it becomes faeces,

what is medium becomes flesh and

what is subtlest becomes mind.

"Water when drunk becomes threefold.

What is coarsest in it becomes urine,

what is medium becomes blood and

what is subtlest becomes prana.

"Fire when eaten becomes threefold.

What is coarsest in it becomes bone,

what is medium becomes marrow and

what is subtlest becomes speech.

"The mind consists of food,

the prana of water and

speech of heat."

(From Chandogya 6-6)

"In the same manner,

that which is the subtlest part of the food that is eaten

rises and becomes mind.

"The subtlest part of the water that is drunk rises and becomes prana.

"The subtlest part of the fire that is eaten rises and becomes speech.

"Thus the mind consists of food, (2)

the prana consists of water and

speech consists of fire."

These 3 (Mind, prana and speech ) are the ‘vyahruthis’

that merge in the Individual Soul.

That is, Speech + Mind + Prana > Individual soul.

That is, when a man lives he is endowed with these three.

When he dies, he does not go alone. He takes all these three.

From Brahma sutras we understand that his faculty of speech

(along with faculties of all the other sense organs merged into it)

represents the Fire of the three-some.

At the time of death this goes to merge with the next level, called Mind.

The mind representing the water or vital level of functioning

merges with Prana, the subtlest of all.

This, in our terminology, is the mental level.

At the time of death, this Prana along with the other two merged into it, joins or reaches its Lord,

which is none other than the Jiva or the individual soul. (3)

(The details of this are found in Brihadaranyaka and Chandogya upanishads.)

The individual soul, depending on the status of its works (karma)

may be guided to Pithruyana or Devayana.

Here again Brahma sutras give us a very good insight into

who reaches which place and what happens thereafter.

But for our discussion here, we will concentrate on issues around

pithrus and tapaNam.

What happens to the person just departed from the body?

The reply is that he is being held by Vayu.

(Brihadaranyaka) :-

“Yajnavalkya said: "Vayu, O Gautama, is that Sutra.

By Vayu, as by a thread, O Gautama, are this world, the other world and

all beings held together.

Therefore, O Gautama, they say of a person who dies

that his limbs have been loosened;

for they are held together by Vayu as by a thread."

This is corroborated by what the sage Vyasa tells his son sage Suka in Mahabharatha ( shanti parvam).

He says that there are 7 types of Vayu, 5 of which vary from mild to wild and roam around the earth and the 6th and 7th are outside the earth.

The 6th Vayu, ‘Parivahan’ has made the sun stay where it is and

also has made the moon stay in its present position.

(science calls this force as gravitation)

This Vayu is a very powerful one in which Akash Ganga abides.

The sun is in Pithru yana marga.

Therefore this Vayu is the conduit between the earth and pithru loka.

The 7th Vayu, “ParAvahan” is one that stretches till the end of Kalpa.

All the 7 vayus are the sons of Aditi, as also others such as the Sun.

Aditi denotes ‘non-duality’ thereby indicating that all these have sprung at the beginning of creation when variations sprang from non-dual one-ness.

The departed soul held by the Vayu (perhaps Parivahan)

reaches pithru loka.

The questions we get here are,

They have left. What then is the connection to earth?

They have departed, perhaps might even be taking up rebirth soon,

then why should one do tarpaNam?

Does it reach them?

Instead one can do some charity in their name.

Also the individual soul is untainted (Gita says this in many verses).

In what way this connection with relatives (son, in particular)

continues after it has left this plane?

This wonderful body of knowledge which is nothing but

the science of Brahman and Its Creation has all answers.

Its only that they are encrypted and

the keys to open them are in Upanishads.

Lets us take up these questions in the next post.




From Taittriya Upanishad,(chapter 1)

The vyAhruthis

(1) About the universe,
Bhuh > the earth
Bhvah> anthariksham
svah > swarga (heaven)

& Maha: > the Sun. The Sun is the Lord.

(2) About tattwas,
Bhuh > agni
Bhvah > vaayu
svah > Adhithya

& Maha: > Chandra. The moon is the lord of Bhu,Bhuvah & Svah.

(3) About Knowledge
Bhuh > rik veda
Bhvah > sama veda
svah > yajur veda

& Maha: > Brahman. Brahman is the lord of the 3 vedas.

(4) About life force
Bhuh > prana
Bhvah > apana
svah > vyana

& Maha: > annam (food) Food is the lord of these 3,

for, food sustains them.

(2) Chandogya - 6 -7 — How the Mind consists of Food

"A person, my dear, consists of sixteen parts. Do not eat any food for fifteen days, but drink as much water as you like. Since the prana consists of water, it will not be cut off if you drink water."

Svetaketu did not eat any food for fifteen days. Then he came to his father and said: "What, Sir, shall I recite?"
His father said: "The Rik, Yagus and Saman verses."
He replied: "They do not occur to me, Sir."

His father said to him: "Just as, my dear, of a great blazing fire a single coal, the size of a firefly, may be left, which would not burn much more than that, even so, my dear, of your sixteen parts only one part is left; and therefore with that one part you do not remember the Vedas. Now go and eat and you will understand me."

Svetaketu ate and approached his father. Then whatever his father asked him, he showed that he knew

Then his father said to him: "Just as, my dear, of a great lighted fire a single coal the size of a firefly, if left, may be made to blaze up again by adding grass to it and will thus burn much more,
"Even so, my dear; of your sixteen parts only one part was left and that, when strengthened by food, blazed up. With it you now remember the Vedas. Therefore, my dear, the mind consists of food, the prana consists of water and speech consists of fire."
After that he understood what his father said, yea, he understood it.”

(3) Brahma sutra verses 4- 2,3 & 4

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