Decoration of The Dead Body
The following two Sanskrit slokas are quoted in the Chaitanya Charitamrita from Haribhakti Sudhodaya. (11 and 12th.)
jātiḥ śāstraṁ japas tapaḥ
śvapāko ‘pi budhaiḥ ślāgyo
na vedajño ‘pi nāstikaḥ
Bhagabad Bhakti Hinashya Jatih Sastram Japah Tapah Apranashya Eva Dehasya Mandanam Loka Ranjanam.
Suchih Sadbhakti Diptagni Dagdha Durjati Kalmasha Swapaka Api Budhai Shlaghya Na Vedajna Api Nastikah.
Bhagabad=The Personality of Godhead. Bhakti=Devotional activity. Hinashya=one who is devoid of. Jatih=Caste or heredity. Sastram=Book of knowledge. Japah=Meditation. Tapa=Penances. Apranasya=What is devoid of life. Eva=certainly. Dehasya=Of the body. Mandanam=Decoration. Loka=Popular. Ranjanam=Satisfaction. Suchih=One who is purified or a Brahmin. Sadbhakti=Devotion of the Supreme one. Diptagni=Burning fire. Dugdha=Exhausted. Durjati=Low birth. Kalmasha=Result of past misdeeds. Swapaka=One who eats dog (the lowest of the human being). Api=also. Budhai=By the learned. Shlaghya=Object of respect. Na=Not. Vedajna=One who knows the Vedas. Api=Even though. Nastikah=The faithless.
A person who is devoid of devotional activities on behalf of the Personality of Godhead has no value for his high caste or heredity, knowledge in the books, meditation, penances-because all these are to him like the decoration of the dead body.
The lowest of the human being (the dog eater), whose lower birth as a result of past misdeeds, has been exhausted by the burning devotional activities for the Supreme one, is an object of respect by the learned but not the one who is faithless even though he may be well versed in all the Vedas.
These slokas were quoted by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu when He met Shri Rupa Goswami along with his younger brother at Allahabad.
The material body, an encagement of the spirit soul and made of five gross elements of material nature namely earth, water, fire, air and sky-is a dead body from the beginning of its formation in the womb of its birth. The ingredients of the body is supplied by varieties of secretion of a male and a female body and when the favourable circumstance is created by such combination, a living soul takes shelter in that material combination according to the past deeds of the migrating soul. Transmigration of the soul takes place according to the mental situation of the dying man. The subtle body encircling the spirit soul carries him to the special body destined for him by the law of nature. The law of nature is executed in terms of her different modes and a living entity is accommodated in a suitable womb according to his association with different modes of nature namely goodness, passion and ignorance. Here is a great science for many research scholars.
Persons who associate or develop the natural quality of goodness-transmigrate to higher status of life. Those who associate or develop the natural quality of passion-transmigrate to middle working status of life and those who associate or develop the natural quality of ignorance do transmigrate in the lower status of life which include the life in the animal kingdom. Therefore the conclusion is that all the different varieties of species of life are made by the laws of nature according to the spirit soul’s tendency of association which can be changed by the free will of the living being from higher status of life to the lower, from lower to the higher or from middle to the higher or lower as it may be.
In this progressive path of different status of life the highest position is the status of a devotee of the Personality of Godhead. That is the highest aim of progressive life. The material body begins to decay from the day of its very formation. Development of the material body from embryo to childhood, boyhood, youth and old age are different stages of dying process which is complete when the soul transmigrates from one body to another.
The human form of body is meant for the highest realization of life, i.e., to know one’s own real identity, the universe and its laws, the controlling power and the Supreme Powerful and also the different inter-relations that exist between one another of all of them as above mentioned. And knowing this one is sure to become a devotee of Vasudeva.
In the Bhagwat Gita it is said that empiric philosophers (the Jnanaban) after many births do realise the Supreme Powerful Personality of Godhead Vasudeva and thus surrenders unto Him-which is the beginning of devotional life. All sorts of philosophical research, studies of the Vedas, meditation, sacrifice, penances and many more things subordinate to these paraphernalias-are done only for attaining to the higher status of life culminating in the transcendental loving service of the Personality of Godhead. This mode of service is technically known as ‘Buddhi Yoga’ or the mystic power transcendental to the mental speculative plane. “Buddhi” is above the mental activities and as such the cult of devotion begins in pure consciousness or in the liberated state of the soul. It is therefore called ‘Buddhi Yoga’ or ‘Bhakti Yoga’. This Buddhi Yoga where it is mixed up with the aptitude of productive work, it is called ‘Karma Yoga’ and when the same is mixed up with the aptitude of philosophical research, it is called ‘Jnana Yoga’. In any case however the attainment of ‘Buddhi Yoga’ is the highest status of life because this is not the concern of the dead body. If therefore this status of life is not attained the so-called progress made in the matters of elevated birth, higher studies of the books of knowledge, meditation, penance etc. are but all decoration of the dead body.
It may be illustrated as follows. Supposing a man by dint of his educational qualification becomes a doctor of philosophy, or by dint of his hard industrial activities becomes a rich capitalist or attains to the kingdom of heaven by his power of mystic meditation and austere penances-even though with all these what does he gain? He loses everything with the destruction of the material body, because none of the above acquisitions belong to the soul proper which is ever-existing eternal object. ‘Buddhi Yoga’ is the function of the soul proper and whatever small or big progress is made in the matter of Buddhi Yoga-all of them become eternal assets of the soul, without any fear of destruction. The progress made of the ‘Buddhi Yoga’ during the existence of the current life is inviolable and non-degradable and as such even a small portion of it performed in this life can save one from the greatest calamities of life. In the revealed scriptures, there are many instances of this and the saving of Ajamil from the path of hell is one of the lucid example of this. Apart from Puranik examples there are many examples even today as to how even a neophyte mundane devotee is saved from many many dangerous pitfalls. This statement is corroborated in the 2nd Chapter of Bhagwat Gita. One should therefore not merely try to decorate the dead body, which is sure to be vanquished today or one hundred years after because there is nothing surer than the cruel death, but one must try to do things in the path of ‘Buddhi Yoga’ or ‘Bhakti Yoga’ as this will never vanquish even after the destruction of the body. The transmigrated soul will be given a chance for making up further progress in the path of Buddhi Yoga by his taking birth either in the family of a great devotee or a sincere and qualified Brahmin or in the family of a big merchantile capitalist. The ‘Buddhi Yogi’ who has yet not completed the path of his progress, is given such three grades of chances by degrees of his distinction in that transcendental service. In the matter of gross bodily activities known as ‘Karma’ and that of subtle mental activities known as ‘Jnana’, everything is finished with the end of the present life. Death means forgetfulness of all past deeds. This fact was reminded to Arjuna by the Lord in the 4th Chapter of Bhagwat Gita.
With reference to the above context of revealed scriptures we think that modern trend of human civilization is a wholesale process of decorating the dead body. Such decorations of dead body may be pleasing to the ignorant mass of people but to the persons who are actually learned and have spiritual vision of life, such civilized life is a process of wasting human energy at the risk of being pushed in the lower regions of births of animal or vegetable life. Puffed up by vain erudition and national power such leaders of spoiling human energy may not look forward to the most powerful hands of cruel death, but sane persons weep silently for the trend of modern civilization as to whither they are drifting.
We have seen recently a function of decorating the dead body at the junction of Ajmere Gate, Delhi and we could not distinguish what is the difference between such a function and that of leading a procession of decorated dead body. In India and perhaps in many more countries, some people follow the custom of leading a procession of decorated dead body for the pleasure of the lamenting relatives and in the same way the modern trend of civilization is a patch up work of human activities for covering the perpetual miseries of material existence namely sufferings of birth, death, old age and diseases. The big leaders have set aside these difficult problems meant for a solution in the human form of life and they are jubilant by decorating the dead outward covering.
Such civilization of decorating a dead body is never approved by “Buddhai” or the Buddhas. Sometimes we are enthusiastic in commemorating the relics of Buddha but we do not care to learn the teachings Buddha. The teachings of Buddha centered round the principle of “Ahinsa”, ‘Hinsa’ means not to allow another person in prosecuting his rightful occupation. When an animal is killed it is called ‘Hinsa’ because the animal is hampered in the process of its delineating the proper terms of his life. And because it is checked in the progress of its rightful occupation, the men also conspire to kill the animal, are liable to be punished by the law of nature. It is just similar to the laws of the land. If a man is killed by conspiracy the whole set of conspirators are punished by the law. ‘Hinsa’ or violence on any living being is as much punishable as that of killing a human being. That is the law of inviolable nature. The punishment so awarded is for checking the rightful progress of one’s duration of life, otherwise the soul being indestructible, nobody can annihilate the spirit soul-that is the instruction of Bhagwat Gita.
The highest form of ‘Hinsa’ is to keep in darkness the human being in his developed consciousness of life. The human form of life is the highest stage of developed consciousness and it is attended after full many years of gradual differentiation of transmigration of the soul. The human being therefore should not be hampered in his rightful progress of spiritual realization. This path of spiritual realization is open to all human being irrespective of caste creed colour and nationality. Nobody is banned from it except the one who willfully gets away from this rightful path and commits a spiritual suicide.
In the Bhagwat Geeta the Lord declares most emphatically that anyone even born of the lowest status of human being can attain the highest goal of life by accepting the need of Bhaktiyoga or the path of reaching the Lord. In the social status of life, the women, the labourer and the merchantile community are considered lesser intelligent classes and yet they can also reach the higher goal of life by Bhaktiyoga and what to speak of those who are learned and intelligent persons, philosophers and administrators.
(To be continued)