Of Grief and Mourning

 


chapter 9

Of Grief and Mourning

I want you to understand that your grief is not because someone has died. One life going away does not mean anything to you. Thousands of people in the world die in a day. But it does not leave a vacuum in you. You are still partying. The problem is, this particular life going away leaves a hole in your life.

 

The Essential Nature of Grief

Overcoming one’s grief after the death of a loved one is becoming a big thing in today’s world. But you must understand that your grief is not because someone died. One life going away does not mean anything to you. Every day, thousands of people go away. Why the world, even in your own city so many people are dying, so many people are attending funerals, so many people are in grief. And yet that does not affect you. It does not leave a vacuum in you. You are still partying in the same city. The problem is, this particular life going away leaves a vacuum in your life. Essentially, you grieve because someone who in many ways was a part of your life is gone. So one part of your life has become empty and you are not able to handle that emptiness. It is like this: a group of you were playing a game, and now suddenly one person has dropped out. There is a gap in the game because of that and you are not able to handle it.


Your problem is that this particular death leaves you incomplete. You built your life around someone, you made plans in your mind—I am going to get married to this person, I am going to have two children, I am going to make these children do this and that,’ and so on. But now, when this person vanished from your life, suddenly, all those dreams are shattered. You don’t know what to do with yourself. You are disillusioned. If you are disillusioned, that means your illusions have been destroyed. When your illusions are destroyed, the Maya  is gone—this is the time to arrive at reality. Unfortunately, most people make this into a very painful and destructive process within themselves.


Grief is just about your incompleteness. This is a very cruel thing to say, but it is true that most people will suffer more if they lose all their money or sustenance than if they lose their spouse, parent or child. It may sound brutal but it is a fact. This is why grief can happen to you even without anyone’s death. People can be in grief simply because they are not successful. People can be in grief because they are not able to get what they want. People can be in grief if their house is burned down. People can be in grief if their car is lost. A child can be in grief if his teddy bear is gone. A child may miss that teddy bear more than his parent. He may grieve for his dog much more than the grandfather. I have seen this happen and people were shocked. But it is very human. The boy’s connection with the dog is deeper than with the grandfather. What to do?


You must examine why it is that you feel incomplete if you lose someone. This life has come as a whole. If you know this life the way it is, there is no question of incompleteness. This is a complete life. If this is an incomplete life, that means the Creator has done a bad job. No, it is a great job—far greater than most people realize. It is too fantastic a job. If you had experienced this life the way it is, then nothing would leave a hole in you because this is a complete life. Then you would not fill this up with your profession or your car or your house or your family or something. This life can interact, relate to, be with and include so many things. But still, by itself, it is a complete life. This is the way it is. If this is the experience and state you are in, then whether you lose your job, your money or someone who is dear to you, you will not grieve.


Does it mean you will have no feeling for the departed ones at all? No, you will have immense love for them. Right now, when they are here, a little bit of a problem always exists between two people. However dear and close they are to you, if you stay too close to them for more than four to six hours, you want to get away for a bit. You just make an excuse and go and sit in the bathroom at least! You need some excuse to get away from them, however close and wonderful they are. When people are embodied, two bodies cannot be close all the time. After some time, the bodies have to get apart. But when they are disembodied, immense love will come forth because this barrier of the body is gone.


You have known many things together, done many intimate things—many wonderful things have happened between two people. But as long as they were alive, you hold some small point or the other against them and resist. Now, those small points of resistance have evaporated with death. Now, there is no problem; they will not speak, they will not argue with you, they will not disagree with you. You must see only the wonderful side of who they were. They had problems all right; they had a nasty side to them. But all those things are only because they had a mind and body. So if someone passes away, you should be completely overwhelmed with love. But, unfortunately, you become filled with grief. Grief is a crippling force because it leaves a big hole in you. Then you don’t know what to do next because you have not experienced life the way it is.


Grief can also have an existential basis to it. But this is only in those cases where a parent has lost a child. This is more so with the mother than the father. If the mother loses an offspring below twenty-one years of age, then there is an existential basis to it. Beyond that, it is just purely psychological. The loss of a child is suffered most if the child is between four and twenty-one years of age. Till four years of age, this memory is not too well imprinted. Post twenty-one years of age, this memory begins to delink. If the death of a child happens in between, then the physiological memory in the parent goes through a withdrawal syndrome and the suffering that one goes through is very physical. Of course, this varies from one individual to another based on emotional and psychological connection and dependence.


The physical manifestation of grief is also possible between two spouses who were very deeply connected. When one of them dies, then a certain withdrawal happens in the body of the other which they may suffer. Such people may exit within six months of the death of their spouse. This is not necessarily out of psychological trauma but because of the intertwining of lives. But that is not always true. Very few people get that close. Most of the time, grief is more psychological than existential. But the psychological is not any less important. Human emotion is a powerful part of one’s life. The psychological and emotional parts are not any less significant than the physiological part. It is equally powerful or more powerful, I would say.


Going beyond Grief

We don’t wish for it, but if it so happens that our children or siblings or someone who we deeply love dies before us, how do we go beyond the grief? When we talk about going beyond something, it is not about forgetting about it. You cannot forget your child. You cannot tell yourself, ‘It is all right, it is all natural.’ You cannot. It is true that something that is very precious to you, something that means a lot to you is gone. But the fact of life is that when something slips beyond the realm of what you call as life right now, once it crosses that boundary, it is not yours any more. I want you to understand that when your parent, child or friend is dead, you can neither care for them nor can you be uncaring towards them. Both these things are only for the living. In other words, they have crossed a boundary line, beyond which it is not your realm or business.


You must understand that your connection with people is very physical. Some connections are not physical, but for almost 99.99 per cent of the people, their connections with other people are all physical. Someone is your mother, someone is your father, someone is your husband, someone is your brother, or someone is your wife—all because of the physical. You may have emotions attached to it, but emotions don’t mean anything on an existential plane. If I just wipe your memory out, your emotions will be forgotten. You give it enormous importance but it is very much on the surface. Even your deepest connection is physical.


Now, your brother or friend or child or parent or whoever died, when they were alive, what are the things that you knew about them? Their body was familiar to you. They may have revealed some parts of their mind to you. Even that they would not have revealed completely to you—don’t have such illusions. They would have revealed some aspects of their emotions to you. They did not reveal anything else to you. Now, when they died, they did not carry their body and go. So one major part of familiarity is finished. Whatever the content of their mind, the memory of who you are and who they are was also left behind. Once someone leaves their body, whether you like it or not, they have nothing to do with you any more. You can sit here alive and still think someone is your brother. But for the one who has left the body, there is no brother, sister, father, mother—he or she has gone beyond that. Only when you are embodied, you have a mother, you have a father, you have a brother, you have a sister. After that, there is no such thing.


When someone dies, people think they must forsake their enmity with that person and their friendship should be nurtured. That is stupid. Someone who is dead is neither your friend nor your enemy. It is over. The business is over. You are unwilling to come to terms with it, so grief sets in. As you slowly come to terms with it, grief recedes, isn’t it? Anyway, after ten years you will forget them. Usually, it does not take ten years but even if it takes ten years, after ten years you will eat well, you will laugh, you will make merry, you will do everything. I am saying maintain eleven days of mourning and after that, you do all that, what is the problem? Somewhere people feel guilty that they are still alive when someone has died. But you will also die. You just have to wait. This seems like a very brutal approach, but that is the fact of life.


We must decide in our lives whether we want truth that is liberating or we want fancy lies which give solace. If you tell me you want solace, I will tell you a different story. If you tell me that you want the truth, you want liberation from this, then it is a completely different thing. It is not with any insensitivity that I am saying this, but it is time to accept it the way it is. When death happens, it is time to look back and cherish what has been, and it is time to accept it and look at what you can do with the life that is here.


Right now, let us say, your son or daughter or grandson or someone who was very dear to you passed away. Instead of sitting and making a wreck of yourself, why don’t you look around you? There are so many other sons and daughters and grandsons who have no one to care for them. There is enough opportunity for you to express this love and care in a million different ways. There is so much life around you which needs this care and you have a need to find expression to this love and care in you, so please do that. If you don’t do that, your grief will be forever. It will remain bottled and torture you for all your life. For one son that you lost, you can take up ten as your own and find full expression to your love and parenthood. You will find that it will become a foundation to make your life much more beautiful than it would be with just one son. You could make it like that. You have to take that step. Otherwise, you will simply go on with something that you cannot change.


I want you to remember that what is happening within us—it does not matter for what reason it is happening—is being created by us. If we are willing, we can change that too. As long as you are alive, it is important that you see how to contribute to the living because other than doing a few rituals within the stipulated time, there is nothing that you can do about the dead. Moreover, if you believe that the person you are grieving for has enriched your life, show that enrichment in how you live. If you are going to cry for the rest of your life, then it means this person is now the biggest problem in your life, isn’t it? Someone entered your life and left—if they have enriched your life, you must live joyfully. Acknowledge them for whatever they have done to you, don’t make it look like they poisoned your life and left.


I want you to understand: however big one is in the world, tomorrow morning if I fall dead or you fall dead, the world will go on just fine—maybe better—without us! It is good that people die. Should we bring back the dead? Right now, your emotions are such that you will naturally say, ‘Please bring back my brother who has died.’ But why only your brother, shall I also bring back your grandfather and his father and his father and everyone? Can you imagine what would happen to the world if all those people wake up and start walking? It is good they are dead, isn’t it? It is not right to think that someone should not die. People should die. We want them to complete their whole course and die. We don’t want them to have an untimely death, that is the only concern. But that understanding is not there today as people are so terribly attached to their physical bodies. This is why even if you are ninety or hundred you still don’t want them to die.


You must understand that whatever situations happen to you in your life, you can come out of it with greater strength or you can be left broken by it. This is a choice that you have. This is a choice every human being has. We do not have a choice all the time about whether this situation should happen or not. We can influence it only to some extent but many situations will happen beyond us. But each time, we have the choice whether to go through these situations gracefully or go through these situations in a broken way. This is a choice we always have.


Now, is it possible to do some rituals to overcome grief? Yes, we can. There are things you can do, but is it worth doing it is the question. You must understand creating rituals for everything is taking steps backwards. Doing a ritual means you are not willing to do anything, you just want someone else or something else to handle your grief. When there is a way, where with a certain attitude of mind and awareness, you can come out of it, why do you need to go into rituals? It is okay to use rituals for certain aspects of life, but not for every aspect of life. If someone dear to you dies, you must learn to handle it rather than expecting a ritual or some other intervention to release you. If someone is in such a hopeless state, yes, we will do something but that should not be the mode for a society. It will become very entangling after some time.


One of the tools you could use to overcome grief is to perform Kalabhairava Karma. Kalabhairava Karma will distance you from your Genetic Memory. If it is done properly, there is a clear distance that is created. Suddenly, it is okay, because there is a distance between you and the dead relative. This is why many people who come to do Kalabhairava Karma experience that afterwards suddenly they feel light, as if a huge burden has been taken off them. Kalabhairava Karma is not a ritual to handle your grief, but because of what it does, it can handle grief also.


Articles of the Dead

Once a woman whose grandmother had passed away a few months earlier narrated an incident that kept bothering her. One day, she wore her grandmother’s clothes while cleaning her closet. She was also wearing her grandmother’s ring that she had inherited. She felt that her grandmother was communicating her disapproval of this and she had been experiencing her grandmother’s presence around her. Moreover, she had taken up some of her grandmother’s habits too. For example, she had taken to smoking, even though she was not a smoker until then. Her grandmother was. There were a few other things like this and she was bothered by it. She wanted me to help her become free from this.


Generally, a lot of such things are people’s imagination going wild, but sometimes there could be a basis for it. If you want to be free of such things, the first thing you should do is to stop relating to the dead. You need to understand this: however dear they were to you, however intimate they might have been with you, the moment they shed their body, their general sense of mind, intellect and emotion, which was the basis of your business with them, is finished. All the things that you knew about them are finished. Some other sap is still on, but you never had any relationship with that sap. Your relationship is with the other aspects. All those aspects were shed when that person died. So the only thing that you do when someone dies is you cherish the beautiful moments that you had with them—that is all. If there was something beautiful, you cherish that, otherwise, forget about them. Don’t try to work your guilt and your problems through the dead. It can become very complicated.


You must leave the dead to the dead. You have no business with them unless you have a certain level of mastery over your own life. You should not even look in that direction because you could completely mess up your life by trying to do something silly. And anyway, it does not matter how attached your grandmother was to her clothes and whatever else, she could only wear it as long as she had a body and you know clearly that she has lost that. So she has no use for it. Someone who does not have a body does not have any business with food or clothes or anything. Only if you have a body must you go towards food and clothes. Once you lose your body, what business do you have with food and clothes? Even when you have a body, you should not go too much towards it, but at least you have a good enough excuse to do so! You have to cover it at least, so you want to cover it nicely, that is all right. But when you have lost the body, what are you going to wear clothes upon and walk around in?


Generally, when a lot of emotion is mixed up in the situation, there will be so many things which will happen within you and outside of you. When you go to your grandmother’s place, just do whatever work needs to be done, do your sadhana, be with your grandfather who is still alive and stop trying to be with the dead. See how to enrich your life and your grandfather’s life for those few moments that you are there, rather than doing all kinds of fanciful things with your grandmother.


It is possible that there is a certain residual element of your grandmother that is left behind in her clothes. And they may cause some things. But there is no need to play into it. All these things were taken care of in India by various customs that were built incorporated into the culture. People accepted these things as a normal happening. When a person died, all the clothes that were closely in touch with that person’s body were burned. They were never kept. The clothes that the person occasionally wore were given only to a blood relative, no one else. And even in such an instance, the clothes were not worn for the first year.


These things were done because a certain amount of our energy gets into whatever we are in touch with. If you give it a certain kind of opportunity, these clothes will start behaving funnily. Your grandmother need not come, these clothes will start acting funny by themselves. You are familiar with static where clothes gather electric charges by being in contact with certain substances. Similarly, whatever is in close association with your body will get a certain amount of your quality. The first preference of people who want to do some occult practices on you is to get hold of your hair or nails. These are actually parts of the body that are discarded periodically, so it is easy to get direct access to you through them. If they cannot get that, the next thing they seek is some clothing which is in close contact with your body. Of these, the first target is underwear. This is why people used to take enormous care to ensure that their underwear was never left accessible to others. These days it is all going to the washerman, otherwise, traditionally, in our homes, it was all put in a covered basket.
It must be washed inside the house—never be taken out because with this clothing itself, people can do things to you. It is because of this quality that these clothes carry that even when a person dies their clothes can crackle up a little bit if a certain kind of energy is on.


There have been instances where things actually moved around. Especially the things that they intimately used—they start moving around here and there by themselves. It is not that this person has come and moved things. It is just that the energy that was associated with those objects is sort of withdrawing. In the process of withdrawal, there will be a little bit of extra movement. It is like when you switch off your car engine, when it is just dying down, it makes a little extra shake in the car. It is stopping, so actually it should recede, but that is not what happens. Similarly, when life shifts from one mode to another, there will be a little extra reverberation. That extra shake is mistaken to be ghosts walking all over the place.


If you do something like the Kalabhairava Karma for this person, it will ensure that no residue of that person remains. Now, the dead can be packed and sent and the living can continue their life. If the living get involved with the dead, they will lose their lives in so many ways. All this spooky stuff is sort of intriguing, but it can consume your life in so many different ways that will not be very pleasant. This does not mean some dead person is trying to suck your life out. No. Just your involvement with the dead can do that. Unless you are sufficiently established and possess a certain level of capability, you should not look in that direction. It is not necessary.


Empathetic Death

This happens with some birds, it also happens with animals and human beings: if they were a couple or were very close, when one of them dies, within three to six months, the other will also die. One reason why this happened is because in India, when people were married, their energies were bound together in a certain way. This was at a time in this country when tradition did not allow separation. At that time, people took the liberty of tying them up at the level of the energy because anyway the couple would not separate. These things are not to be done just like that.


You may know this: in India, traditionally, women were required to wear toe rings after marriage. In Tamil Nadu, it is called metti . This is because marriage was supposed to be such a huge experience for the woman that there was a possibility that she would leave the body. Usually, they were married off at the age of eight or ten. The husband and wife would live separately and would not see each other till they were fourteen or fifteen. During this period, while the boy was physiologically and psychologically trained and conditioned to protect this person who is dedicated to him, the girl (being more emotionally competent) was emotionally and psychologically conditioned to believe that her husband was her God. This possibility was built up in her mind. Only when she was physically mature, she was brought to the marital home. So when she comes and meets her husband, it would be such a huge experience for her that her life would explode within her. At that time, it was possible that she could slip out of the body. To prevent this, they put some metal on the girl’s body, in the form of metti. Wearing metal on the body always prevents such an accident. This is also done when we put people through certain types of sadhana. They are given a metal ring or bracelet or some ornament like that. They are not supposed to remove it without the permission of the Guru. This is to prevent them from accidentally slipping out of the body.


In this culture, whether it is business or marriage or having children or family—everything was used as a tool towards your Liberation and mukti. Because of this, they nurtured the newly married girl and boy in such a way that for four to six years they would not have seen each other, but were made to believe that when they met something very big was going to happen. So in the child’s mind, this grew into such a big possibility. It is not just two bodies meeting, not just two minds and emotions meeting, they did a certain process where the marriage was two lives being merged into one.


When a woman got married, she wore something called mangalsutra around her neck. Mangal means auspicious, sutra means thread. The mangalsutra is an energy thread which you are supposed to replace every year. Someone who knows what it is gives you a live mangalsutra, which matches the energies of the husband and wife in such a way that they are not just bound in body, mind and emotion, they are bound as two lives as well. It is like, if you have the right kind of sutra, your kite will fly well. Similarly, the mangalsutra was to make your marriage more purposeful and successful. But today people wear thick gold chains which cannot be replaced in place of the mangalsutra. That sutra was to make you fly in marriage, but this gold chain is a symbol of slavery. Unfortunately, this is the shift that has happened.


In those days, people understood that in a marriage, how the bodies, minds and emotions matched was not important. What was important was that two lives were entwined so that there was a kind of bonding. For this, they employed many tools. Many couples would have never spoken to each other before the marriage, but when married in this manner, their marriage created a bonding which was inexplicable because marriage was a scientific process of binding two lives in such a way that there was no question of incompatibility. It did not matter even if you married a devil. You still bonded and felt ecstatic within you, simply because of the union within yourself and not because of what the other person was doing. When you are like this, what your husband or wife did was immaterial. Just the way you were was an explosive experience. As human experience is 100 per cent from within, one could touch the peaks of life irrespective of the quality of one’s partner.


Since marriage was done this way, when one person left, many times, the other person also left in a short time after that. Today there is statistical evidence of a disproportionate number of spouses dying within six months of each other, but this is more because of the disruption of life than any other reason. Let us say, a couple lives to their old age. When one of them dies, because we have all moved from living as large joint families to nuclear families, often, there is no one left to care for the survivor. Now, because of this disruption in their life, the wish to die becomes very strong in them. While they were both alive, though both were ambling around, they were there for each other. When one person dies, the other person just wants to go because there is usually no other support, unless they are living with the children who are very loving and taking care of them. One life following another in death is not necessarily because of loss of companionship or emotional debacle. Two lives that lived in tandem, that were tied together energetically, tend to dismantle in response. This does not happen at the level of thought; it is deeper than that.


Large-scale Death and Its Consequences

We saw that if a violent or unnatural death happens, then the being hangs around and this in turn impacts the place. Now, in case of wars, where a lot of people are killed violently, are there any negative consequences in that place? This has to be looked at in two parts: if you look at the ancient wars, they were fought with swords and spears with men running full speed into each other. I don’t think there is much fear in such a situation. Death and destruction happened rather quickly. This is often true even with modern warfare. In that sense, there is not much of a residue of this kind.


It is only if you gave them an opportunity for fear—if they were cornered or something, then they were terrorized. But this did not happen on such a large scale in ancient wars. However, if you take World War I or even World War II, most of it was fought in the trenches. Those trenches were terrible places of fear. People were cold and hungry, their fingers and toes were eaten up by frostbite, pain, and all that. Their fear was because they were sitting there, waiting to die. Instead, if you went out with your rifle, screaming, then either you died or the enemy died. This would be a different thing. This is like a car accident. If you are driving full speed and suddenly boom! —either they die or you die. But when they were sitting and waiting in those trenches, only a small percentage of men would not have much fear—these were people who had a larger vision that they were doing this for their country and all that. However, there were many others who did not have such a sense of sacrifice but just became pawns in the game of war. They would have wondered why the hell were they born in this country because they were now in the trenches and may get killed at any moment. Such people would have been in extreme fear.


Whether they died or not, that fear would have left behind an enormous negative force. I think Europe has seen that kind of long-term fear and suffering more than any other land on the planet. So many lives falling apart will have an impact anywhere. But when people die of fear on a large scale, very morbid manifestations may happen. It can be psychological and mixed up with what people go through in terms of life or energetic turmoil. Most of all, one thing that will happen is that they will not know joy, they will not know love. These two things will become difficult when all these things happen around you. They may know passion, they may know sexuality, they may know pleasures, but they cannot know the simple joy and simple bond of loving someone. So complicated expressions of the simple human traits of wanting to be joyful or loving will manifest.


Something like this is said in the Mahabharata after Kurukshetra. 2 The Kurukshetra war was a terrible war. It is said that more than 100,000 people died in the war. For the population of those days, 100,000 people is a huge number to die, that too just by swords and arrows. If you have to kill 100,000 people with no bombs, no gunpowder, just with swords and arrows, then the amount of fighting that happened must have been enormous. The strange thing is that we know so much about the war and there are detailed accounts of every little thing that happened there. After the war, the Pandavas ruled the kingdom for thirty-six years—but we don’t hear a single word about it. In the entire story, the real story should have been after the war because that is why they fought the war—to decide who should rule and how—but not a word is heard about it because nothing significant happened in their lives.


They did not live a joyful life. They simply lived and ruled. They must have done something for the kingdom—expanded perhaps, but nothing significant. Nothing significant happened in the human experience because there was a certain barrenness in their life. This would not be just for those five people and their family but for the entire population as well. This was not because they were affected psychologically from having lost someone. Yes, that impact would also have been there, but above all, it was just the effect of the gore of death all around.


Today, they say, because the place was so soaked in blood, it is good to die in Kurukshetra. People go there to die because they believe it is a good place to die. Maybe someone made this up or maybe it is good, I don’t know. But at that time, definitely, the next few generations after that would have this gore of death in their samskara.  So they could never have really known the joy of bonding with people, nor the simple joy of living. They would have slogged, they would have built and they would have done things. Here and there, they would have laughed, they would have lived, they would know everything, but there would have been no real sense of joy. This I feel is the case with European nations, except in the southern part.


So can this be undone? Yes, it can. Creating many consecrated spaces would be one way of doing it. If you create really powerful consecrated spaces that are strategically located, it could definitely undo a lot. But there is nothing  like Gnanam , Dhyanam , Anandam!  Gnanam is awareness about the truth. Dhyanam is meditativeness. Anandam is blissfulness, which is a consequence of the two. Really, these things are not simply slogans. They can change the world!


Mourning Period

In many cultures, there were stipulations as to what people who were closely related to the dead should and should not do for a certain period of time after the death. This was mainly to create a karmic distance between the living and the departed so that both could continue their respective journeys without much encumbrance.


In a previous section  we saw how we create runanubandha with everybody and everything we interact with in our lives. But runanubandha is not at the same level for all relationships. So, depending upon the strength of the runanubandha, to that extent, the death of a person affects another individual. For example, sometimes, without knowing why, someone wakes up in the morning feeling a pit in the stomach. This could be due to various reasons but it is also possible that someone who has strong runanubandha with you is in some distress or has died or whatever. You may not know this person, you may have never met him or her, but just like that, your system is reacting to what is happening to that person. It is very much possible. The problem of speaking about these things is people will start imagining all kinds of things. Tomorrow, if someone is not feeling well, instead of seeing a doctor or examining what they did not do right the previous day, they will start imagining that someone they love must have died somewhere and all kinds of confusion will start.


In India, there is a peculiar tradition of mourning that depends on being genealogically related to the dead person in a particular way. Such people are supposed to avoid going to temples or participating in social events or celebrations for forty days. This is because, in ancient India, they followed the system of kula , which is like a clan, but with a much more genetic basis to it. Kulas were created mainly to maintain a clear genetic pathway through generations. Through this connection, they created runanubandha on the physical and genetic level as well. Kulas were maintained and sustained primarily by creating Kula Devata s, or the deity for the kula. Each kula had a deity with specific rituals related to that deity. In ancient times, not everyone went to every temple. There were some temples that were for general well-being, which everyone visited. But for specific purposes, people went only to their Kula Devata. Not only that, if a certain kind of genetic pathway is maintained, you can create certain energy which travels through the track, impacting the entire clan. Even now, this is happening to some extent, where medical science is coming up with medication that is specific to certain kinds of DNA make-up. In the future, probably by just spraying a medicine in the air, all the people who have that type of DNA will benefit instantly.


Similarly, it is possible to do spiritually beneficial things to the entire clan, across generations, by just doing it in one place. For example, when kulas were maintained, everyone in the kula did not need to go to the temple. If one person went and prayed, or one big ritual was done, everyone could benefit, whether they were physically present in that space or not, because all of them were connected and the energy moved through that connection.


For thousands of years, people maintained the genetic track in their own way. Never mixing it up, never doing anything that would disturb the track, so that the progeny was well maintained. They had whole systems of how to marry, intermarry and not marry among their own clan. All these things created a very strong runanubandha, which ensured the survival and well-being of that clan. Today, kula is understood as caste and we just react to some atrocities that have been committed in that name. We think everything must be dismantled.


In any case, it is all broken and gone now. Today, the genetic material of people is all mixed up. Society has changed. Today, your son may fall in love with the girl next door and she could be from any caste, religion or race. So it will not work the same way. Today, your choices have become more important than maintaining those kinds of things. So those things have become irrelevant. You cannot revive that but there was a deep science with immense benefits in it. It worked phenomenally for some societies that kept it. When things were maintained like that, not visiting temples at a certain time was a very relevant thing. It was a wonderful understanding of life, a fabulous understanding of genetics and how it functions.


When the kula system was still relevant, if there was a death in the kula, all the members of the kula who were related to the dead person in a certain way were asked not to go to the temple for forty days after the death. This makes sense only for the Kula Devata temple. This is because they wanted to avoid the possibility that the deity would confuse the person with the dead person because of the close resemblance of the genetic material with that person. The deity may recognize you and the dead person’s energy as the same and it could disturb your system; it could cause destabilization of your body. In extreme cases, it could even cause death. So when that energy is hanging around you, you don’t go to your Kula Devata, but you can go to a Shiva temple or a Kalabhairava temple.


Memorials, Samadhis and Pyramids

Building memorials for people who are dear to us or those who were of certain significance or prominence, after their death, is common in all cultures of the world. The famous Taj Mahal of India, for example, is a memorial built by a king in memory of one of his wives. This is also one way of handling one’s grief.
These memorials also have social and political significance where they help in building our identities. However, beyond these reasons, is there any need or existential significance to it? That depends upon many factors.


Once it happened: a five-year-old boy accompanied his mother to the cemetery. He had never been to a cemetery in his life. While his mother was paying her respects at one particular grave, the boy went about everywhere reading all the inscriptions on the tombstones. He then came back to his mother and asked her, ‘Mom, where do they bury all the horrible people?’ Every tombstone declared this was the most wonderful man, so he wanted to know where the horrible ones were buried! Generally, people want to have good memories of people who have died, so their memorials also say good things about them. But in India people created another kind of memorials called samadhis. There is some spiritual significance to such samadhis and people go to a samadhi not just to remember the dead or pay their respects but also to be in its presence and meditate.


In India, if someone died in a certain way, people recognized that there was a benefit in preserving that place and wanted to make the energies they left behind available to people. For example, there is Vijji’s samadhi at the Yoga Center. If you simply sit there, you will see that the samadhi has its own aura and energy about itself because of the way in which she left her body. It is like a solvent. It is a kind of dissolving energy. Generally, for certain people, I tell them not to sit there for too long because it is a very body-taking kind of energy. It can slowly dissolve you. It was set up with the intention that there is one corner in the Yoga Center which nurtures a very different type of energy altogether. It is mild and subtle. It is also very beautiful and pleasant. If you simply sit there without aspiring for anything or relating to anything or trying to imagine things, it can give you a bodiless kind of feeling. For one who is doing sadhana, it is good to be in such spaces. That space is fundamentally of the Anahata Chakra. A lot of people go there probably out of curiosity, but if you look at people who go there regularly, they are a certain type of people. They are Anahata-oriented people who are naturally drawn to that. They prefer to sit in the samadhi rather than in the Dhyanalinga simply because they are of a certain type.


There are many places like that in India. One such place is Kumara Parvata, near the Kukke Subramanya temple in the Western Ghats, Karnataka. It is believed that Shiva’s younger son, Kartikeya, or Subramanya, as he is known outside Tamil Nadu, left his body on top of this mountain. He was a fierce warrior yogi who unleashed destruction wherever he perceived injustice. It is said that one day he realized the futility of his deeds and decided to put an end to it. He washed his bloodied sword one last time in the river at the foothills of Kumara Parvata and climbed the hill. He never came down—they say he shed his body at the top of the mountain. It is said that he was such an accomplished yogi that he shed his body in the standing position. His energies are very much intact there even today.


About twenty years ago, we went there with a group of residents from the Yoga Center. Halfway up the mountain, there is a house that belongs to two brothers who live there. People going up the mountain usually camp there on their way up and down. Once we reached that place, I knew I would not be able to make it to the top. The energies there were so intense that I knew my body would not be able to withstand this sort of energy during that phase of my life. That entire night, I could not lie down and sleep. Every time I tried to sit or lie down, my body would just spring up. I was in a tent and my body would stand erect, dismantling the tent itself. So I ended up standing the whole night.


Another such experience happened when I was in a small village in Tamil Nadu called Velayuthapalayam. I was conducting a programme there and stayed in a home opposite a small hill. In Tamil Nadu, there is bound to be a temple on top of every hill. Very few hilltops are unoccupied. So there was a temple on top of this hill too and every day I would see people going up and coming down. I went to this village a few times, but I never went up that hill. Then they told me there was a cave up there and some Jain monks had stayed there some 2400 years ago and that a local king had beds carved for them on the rock. I thought about this—2400 years ago meant they could be direct disciples of Mahavir  or just after that. So now I was interested.



One day, I went up the hill. It was like a bird’s nest, precariously positioned on top of the hill, in the midst of some big boulders. The place was not well kept, it was being used for all kinds of things. There were empty alcohol bottles and things like that. The walls were all defaced by those ugly love proclamations you commonly find in India: ‘PKT loves SKP’ and rubbish like that. In a corner, I saw the carved beds on the rock. There were small 2-inch protrusions for pillows too. I just sat on one of these beds and my body was literally jumping up and down. I said, ‘This is a loaded place. Clean it up, we will come and sleep here in the night.’ That night, about nine of us went up with mattresses to sleep in that cave. No one slept for a moment because the energy was bursting there in strange ways. And I could clearly see that the person who used to lie on the bed that I happened to sleep upon had no leg below his left knee. What had happened, we don’t know but there was no left leg. They must have been that kind of intense people that their energies were distinctly bouncing there, even after over 2000 years.


There are many more such places in India. Some are maintained with some reverence, but most are anonymous and unkempt. If you want to experience such an energy on a much larger scale, more multidimensional, you must go up to the Seventh Hill of the Velliangiri Mountains. Sadhguru Sri Brahma left his body there through all the seven chakras. So the place is explosive in terms of energy even today. It is something one must experience. It is a tremendous dimension and possibility.


However, for people who led an ordinary life and died, if you want to remember and honour them, that is up to you. But you must know it is a lot of real estate. It is a certain emotion and you are making an investment of your emotion. It may not have any existential significance. Take the Taj Mahal, for example. At least Shah Jahan built something beautiful. Is it reverberating with the energy of his wife, Mumtaz? Nothing like that. It is a beautiful piece of craft that he built. It is a jewel. No one goes there to grieve for her. People just go there to enjoy the craft. Her name may be written somewhere, but existentially the monument has got nothing to do with him or her right now. It has got something to do with the people who worked on it, though.


Ancient Egyptians took this whole memorial business to another level altogether. The pyramids of Egypt are perhaps physically the largest and most spectacular attempt ever at connecting the here with the hereafter. A tremendous amount of thought, engineering and effort have gone into building them. In terms of physicality, perhaps no other human effort to ensure the well-being of the dead is so desperate. So what would be the spiritual value of these pyramids? How far do they go in ensuring the well-being of the departed? Is this effort worthy of emulation in the present times?


Egyptians started building pyramids because they were very death-oriented. It comes from their obsession with pleasure. Death and pleasure are very directly connected. People always think life and pleasure are connected. No, death and pleasure are very directly connected. Pyramids are just one aspect of what they built. They built some very fabulous temples also, but the pyramids have become very popular because of some modern death-oriented people who wrote books on them.


The basic quality of the pyramid is preservation. Some people are promoting the pyramid as a meditative process. A pyramid has nothing to do with meditation. Sitting inside a pyramid and meditating is just ignorance. If you are doing it for health purposes, it is okay. It definitely supports health, but if people think that sitting inside a pyramid and meditating will take them to higher levels of consciousness, it is a very wrong notion. With the pyramid, you can create health, organic unity, and maybe you can increase your lifespan to some extent, but it is not a spiritual process. It does not help the dead in any way, except assisting in the preservation of the physical.


Pyramids work because of their geometry. Even if you make a paper pyramid whose angles are exactly 51.5 degrees on all the four sides and on the top, it will work. You can place a vegetable inside it and you will see that what would normally rot in about three days will still not have rotted even after three weeks. It would have shrunk, shrivelled out, but not rotted. This is because if you create a pyramidal form, Vyana Vayu gets trapped there naturally. Vyana Vayu is in charge of the preservative function of the body. So something can be preserved for a long time, if you can hold it. This is how mummies were preserved for thousands of years.


In India, preserving the dead body is the last thing we want to do. The rule is if someone dies, within four to six hours after death, you must cremate the body. Traditionally, they said, once death has occurred—by the next dusk or dawn, whichever occurs first—the body must be cremated. Destroying the body immediately is very good for both the dead and the living. Preserving the body is only a torture for the person who has departed.








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