In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna speaks about death, rather strongly. He says that death in this material world is inevitable. So, we should not feel sorry for those who are dying. Everyone who is born in this world will die one day.
No matter who you are you will die one day. The agents of death can knock at your or mine door at any moment, and we cannot do anything.
Greatest conquerors have failed to conquer death
I had once seen a movie “Final Destination.” The movie shows that a group of students of a college boards a plane to go to France. One of the students while on the plane gets a paranormal experience. He sees the future. He sees that soon after the takeoff, the plane catches fire and crashes. Everyone dies. He starts shouting saying that the plane is going to crash. He asks everyone to deboard the plane else they will die. It creates chaos inside the plane. Everyone thinks that he has gone insane. The airport security takes him off the plane. And the plane really crashes immediately after takeoff. He escapes death.
The student feels that he was also supposed to die with others in the plane crash, but he escaped death. But death won’t leave him. Sooner or later, it will follow him. To survive, he needs to defeat death. He starts doing research on death and tries to understand how death strikes. And what is its pattern?
His apprehensions are true. Death tries to strike him again and again. But with his intelligence and proper planning he is able to outwit death each time. He finally survives in the movie. The concept of the movie is quite fascinating.
But such things happen only in reel life and not in real life. In real life it is impossible to conquer death. The greatest conquerors in this world have failed to conquer death.
Death may come without any prior notice
During this Covid pandemic many of us have got this realization. Many people whom I knew closely have died. In fact, they died helplessly. All the powerful governments of the world have terribly failed to save the life of the people. They have failed to save even themselves. Many influential political leaders have succumbed to Coronavirus. Everyone seems helpless.
Not just because of Coronavirus, people are also dying for other reasons. Or it would be correct to say for no reasons. Sometimes death strikes without any prior notice, within few seconds life comes to an end.
Recently I had an experience that how life can end within few moments.
The Devastating Day
It was just like any other day. I started my office work from home. Because of lockdown, I have been working from home for more than a year now. The sky was clear. I opened the window for fresh air and got into my work.
But soon by noon the sky got covered with thick clouds. It became completely dark. We had to switch on the lights. Soon there was thunderstorm accompanied with lightning. Thunderstorm is not uncommon in Kolkata. We have got used to it.
But that day it appeared as if the sky was too angry. There were multiple layers of cloud in the sky, and they were all roaring. After every few seconds lightning was striking. I could see that many of it fell near our house.
I was seeing the wrath of the nature from my window. Soon the lights went off. Although it was middle of the day but the room was completely dark. Nothing could be seen. The security personnel did not immediately start the generator. Maybe they were afraid to go to the generator room.
My wife had put lunch plate at the altar and was about to offer food to Lord Krishna. She used mobile torch for light and kept it near the altar.
After offering the food, she went to the balcony. The sky was still roaring, and the lightning was falling from the sky again and again.
One such lightning it appeared fell very close to our apartment. My wife ran from the balcony. She said that she could experience the force of the lightning and it had made her numb for few seconds.
She said that it looks like these are the clouds of devastation. Something like sāṁvartaka cloud which Indra sent to destroy Vrindavan.
Lethal lightning kills the kids
After few hours weather became normal. Next morning the maid who does not live too far from our apartment informed that two children – a boy and a girl – who were playing near her house got burnt alive due to lightning strike. The maid was in shock because she knew the kids. They were brother and sister and were small. Seeing the rain, they ran outside to play.
The children’s mother did not expect something terrible was to happen. She was watching her kids play as she used to do daily while doing her household chores. But suddenly the lethal lightning fell upon the children.
Everything happened in few moments. Mother could not do anything. Nobody could have done anything. Her life fell apart.
It was the same lightning strike which had frightened me and my wife. It seems that the cloud of devastation had come to take the life of those two children.
In material world death is everywhere
Srimad Bhagavatam informs us that in this world there is danger at every step – padaṁ padaṁ yad vipadāṁ na teṣām.
In Bhagavad Gita too Krishna clearly says that this material world is a place of misery – duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam.
Krishna also says that everyone in this material universe has to die. No one can escape death. Here death is everywhere. Even if you and me go to the highest planet of this material world – Brahmaloka – still we won’t get freedom from death. Only in the spiritual world, the kingdom of Krishna, there is no death.
“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kuntī, never takes birth again.” Bhagavad Gita 8.16
Death is too painful
It is true that as a soul we never die. We are eternal. But in this material world we are again and again forced to leave our current body and accept a new temporary body. That process is called death. And death is extremely painful.
When we die, we are forced to leave everything which we are attached to in this world.
We all have experience that when even a small thing which we are attached to is taken away from us, we feel so miserable. We love our mobile phone, and we lose it, we feel so terrible.
If someone is attached to his house and he is forcibly evicted from the house, he is devastated.
A person had a beautiful house. I would see his house daily while going to school. It was a big bungalow painted in pink. Government decided to build a bridge over the Ganges connecting cities. As per the design made by the engineers the pillars of the bridge had to be laid down in the area where the pink bungalow was built.
That beautiful bungalow had to be demolished. The owner of the house was in shock. He opposed the move. He fought a legal battle in the court. But the court said that the bridge is going to serve the people, so let it be built. Let your house be demolished, take the compensation. When the municipal authorities came and started demolishing the house, the owner of the pink bungalow could not bear it. He got a massive heart attack and died. He was very much attached to his house.
At the time of death, one experiences pain of 42,000 scorpion bites
Just like we are attached to our house, we are also attached to our body. In fact, we identify ourselves with our body every moment. As a soul, we reside in our body. This body is our home. And one fine day we are asked to evict the body. How terrible we will feel? We will be forced to leave our family members and friends. The thought of it makes us sick.
Death is not just painful physically but also emotionally.
To make us understand how painful death is, Garuda Purana says that at the time of death, a person experiences pain equivalent to 42,000 scorpion bites.
Bhagavad Gita says to escape death return back to the spiritual world
So, Vedic scriptures like Bhagavad Gita says that we should not be too attached to this world because this world is temporary and here death is everywhere. In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says that we should strive hard to return back to the spiritual world where there is no death and life is permanent.
“That which the Vedāntists describe as unmanifest and infallible, that which is known as the supreme destination, that place from which, having attained it, one never returns – that is My supreme abode.” Bhagavad Gita 8.21
Death is present only in this material world. And not in the spiritual world. In the spiritual world no one dies because of Coronavirus or lightning strike.
So, Krishna wants us to return back to the spiritual world.
In Brihad-Bhagavatamrita, it is explained that Lord Krishna becomes so happy when Gopa kumara returns back to the spiritual world from this material world. While welcoming gopa kumara to the spiritual world Lord Krishna says, “In the material world you had to suffer so much because of heat, cloud, rain, thunderstorms and lightning. I am happy that you are back to my kingdom.”
This is why Bhagavad Gita says that if we want to escape death, we should return back to the spiritual world, the kingdom of Krishna.