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Archive for June 12th, 2011

From: “Jagadiish Deva”
To: am-global@earthlink.net
Subject: How to Deal with Death
Date: Sun, 12 Jun 2011 20:52:48 +0100

Baba

== HOW TO DEAL WITH DEATH ==

~ Part 1 ~

Namaskar,
This letter addresses – in a universal manner – key points for the handling of the body of our deceased brethren (i.e. respected brothers and sisters) of the Marga. Here we shall review Baba’s teachings on this important matter.

KEY QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

1. Should our deceased be preserved, placed in cold storage, made into mummies, and / or transported over long distances to be cremated?

2. Should we continue to hold onto the bodies of our deceased until the next seminar, DMS, or large gathering so that maximum people can pay their last respects?

3. Should we keep the body long enough for unborn babies to see that deceased person. With the advancement of science, should we arrange bodies so they can be viewed by the coming generation(s) just like they have done with certain political leaders?

4. Should we treat our various master units, Baba Quarters, and retreat centers as burial grounds like Christians and Muslims do etc? Should there be cemeteries in the back of each and every jagrti like Christian churches?

5. Should tombs be erected for our deceased acaryas and margiis?

Indeed these are but some of the many points that demand our review. While many of these questions are relevant today, others will be critically important in the future with the further advancement of science.

Indeed If someone is greatly respected then someone may try to keep that body on display up to eternity for all to see. After all, Lenin’s body has been on display in Russia since 1924. With more refined techniques, one could conceivably try to preserve a body up to eternity.

In our Marga, this entire topic should be made perfectly clear. All such points must be discussed beforehand. It should be known ahead of time. Because once a person dies then people become extremely sentimental and that is not the time to raise these critical issues. Best is to have all the do’s and don’ts resolved beforehand.

Let’s analyse the above according to Baba’s perspective.

Note: As this is a vast topic with many angles and pathways, there is no way I can possibly address all the points in a single letter. So I will focus on one particular viewpoint and invite others to cover other aspects.

BABA’S HISTORIC DISCOURSE

In His historic discourse, Ma’nav Ek Bha’vana’shiil Pra’n’ii (Human Beings Are Emotional) delivered on 15 July 1980 in Patna, published in AV-20 (Hindi Edn ’94), Baba gives clear-cut guidelines for how to deal with and overcome all kinds of miseries including death.

Baba’s main ethic is that in a psychological way, people’s minds should be goaded away from sorrow. Those in mourning should not be forced to suffer unnecessarily. In His discourse Baba gives us so many practical guidelines for how to help a grieving family.

Acknowledgement of their sorrow and diverting the mind upwards are two of the key elements of Baba’s guideline. Now let’s take a look at this in greater detail – keeping in mind the sensitivity of the issue and knowing that we must evaluate this on a case by case basis.

CONSOLING THE GRIEVING FAMILY:

STEPS TO BE TAKEN

Once the death is honourably acknowledged in a timely manner, then efforts should be made to goad the grieving family and friends toward more peaceful thoughts. They should not think again and again about the loss of their loved one.

Here is Baba’s unique and distinct guideline:

1) Upon arriving on-site, first simply sit down & let them cry. This gives tremendous emotional support. The grieving person(s) will think that, “This person sitting with me is my close.” They will feel comforted by your presence. Do not think that they feel that you are bothering them. Rather they appreciate your silent support.

2) After crying for some time, they may begin to look towards you. At that point you can say, “I was also crying when I heard the news.”

3) You can furthermore add that, “Why should one not cry, crying is normal for such a loss. The only reason I stopped crying is because I thought that if I continue to cry then you would cry more.”

4) By this approach, already you have successfully diverted their mind to some degree. No longer are they plunged in their woes and despair.

5) Be sure to wait a few minutes when the time feels right.

6) Ask someone to bring a glass of water and then place it in front of them and say, “Please have some water – it is important to drink something.”

7) They may say, “I am not going to drink – I am not thirsty.”

8) Then politely say, “Your throat must be getting dry because of crying. You do need not to drink a lot but at least put a little water in your mouth.”

9) If still they are declining your offer of water, then gently say, “Here I will put some in your mouth – just take one little sip.” Then certainly they will take one sip. (Note: You can also offer fruit juice, lemon water, tea or coffee.)

10) If in fact the family member takes a sip, it means their mind was at least temporarily diverted from their grieving. That breaks the thought process.

11) Remember, Baba guides us that the goal is that the next person’s mind should be disengaged from thinking about the deceased person. That is the aim.

12) We should also keep in mind that there is no need to do exactly the same thing with every person. But this general type of approach is applicable to all, with some variation here and there.

13) One important point to remember: Be sure to appoint someone outside the front of the house at an adequate distance so that crying visitors will not be audible to the grieving family. No visitor should cry in front of the mourning family. If a visitor starts crying, then all the family members will again become upset.

So tell every visitor that the doctor has forbidden anyone from crying in front of the family. So even if you wants to cry, they should not cry. Rather that visitor should go elsewhere and be consoled at a separate location. Those visiting and consoling the grieving family should not burst out into tears uncontrollably. That will only worsen the pain of those close people in mourning.

Baba guides us that those around the family should be in a balanced and stable state of mind. If someone needs to cry then they should excuse themselves from that environment. They should not start sobbing in front of the mourning family members. This is also one key point Baba has addressed.

14) Perhaps the worst thing a person can do is to start telling the grieving family that crying is not good. Crying is a natural form of human expression and it should not be suppressed.

15) One other pitfall to avoid. One should not start giving a big philosophical lecture:

“This world is changing and whoever takes birth, one day they are going to die – everyone dies at some point – so there is no need to cry.”

One should never give this type of lecture. It is irritating to the grieving party and they will only cry more. In addition they will feel offended by your words.

So do not speak philosophically about the nature of this ephemeral world. That is not good. One must know that such type of preaching is extremely unpsychological.

That is why one should follow Baba’s aforesaid manner – that is psychological and sentient.

16) Remember this warning: Do not remind the grieving family about the deceased person’s star qualities, attributions, dedication and greatness. Do not remind them about how that person always sacrificed for others’ welfare. Then that will only redirect the mourning family toward their loss. So this type of praise and eulogy should be avoided. It is wrong to do like this on this occasion, regardless of how far one is tempted to praise the deceased. It will only intensify the agony and pain of the grieving family and they will cry more.

17) Then you should request someone to start singing devotional bhajans etc. Naturally the family members will also sit and listen. In that way their mind will be diverted towards the devotional chanting of bhajans, kiirtan or Prabhat Samgiita and they will feel more calm. Here the aim is to channelise everything in a devotional way.

18) After the dharmacakra is complete and over, then be sure that someone should tell a devotional story (not a story about the deceased but rather about Parama Purusa), do a reading, or lead svadhyaya.

Note: the above are Baba’s guidelines from His historic discourse, Ma’nav Ek Bha’vana’shiil Pra’n’ii (Human Beings Are Emotional) delivered on 15 July 1980 in Patna, published in AV-20 (Hindi Edn ’94).

THE CREMATION

After all of the above points have been addressed, then arrange for the cremation of the dead body. In due course, the body should be brought to the cremation grounds carry the body silently and perform collective ishvara pranidhan (bhajan, kiirtan and sadhana) before cremating the body. Those are Baba’s explicit guidelines from the chapter, Disposal of the Dead Body, from Caryacarya part 1.

Remember regardless of how difficult and sad the situation is, bhajan, kiirtan and sadhana is the only way to resolve this whole issue in a very psychological way. That will help calm and soothe everyone’s mind and bring comfort.

After the actual cremation then announce when the shraddha ceremony will be done. It can be done the very next day or within the allotted 12 day period according to Caryacarya.

MUST NOT TRANSPORT THE DEAD BODY

OVER LONG DISTANCE TO DMS, RETREATS ETC

Indeed Baba has dedicated an entire discourse to this important matter and put great value on how to handle a person’s death and minimize the grief by diverting the mind away from their loss and towards Parama Purusa. Here are some of the ways this should be applied in our practical life experiences. The follow represents the spirit of Guru’s teachings. Feel free to share your thoughts as well.

When certain in-charges decide to hold onto the body of one of our esteemed acaryas or margiis in one place and then ship that body all the way across the country – or planet – and then put the body on ice until the next retreat or DMS etc, then that drastically slows down everything. That only prolongs one’s grief.

In that case, instead of wrapping things up in a respectful and timely manner at the place of one’s passing and diverting the mind of those grieving, huge efforts, time, and money are being put into transporting a body across an entire continent or land mass to DMS. In that case those in mourning will be further sunk in their woe and sorrow. This is the dogmatic trend we need to be aware of. Baba does not appreciate this as He wants that the mind should be diverted and one’s suffering minimized. That is why He has given a clear-cut, psychological strategy as outlined above.

If any delay occurs in cremating the deceased, then those in mourning are forced to undergo psychic suffering for a longer period. Baba does not at all approve of this. Baba places maximum importance on the care and comfort of the surviving family members by diverting their mind.

MUST NOT COPY THE DOGMATIC RELIGIONS:

THE BODY MUST BE BURNED AND THE VAYUS RELEASED

In the west, they keep the body for some time as that is the religious tradition and there are funeral homes etc for storing the body. Some naive margiis started doing this. But they are just blindly copying Christian dogma. That is unfortunate. Baba wants that the deceased person should be cremated in a timely manner, not in a prolonged affair.

One other critical point is that so long as body has not been cremated, the dhanainjaya vayu will remain – that is not good for mukti, moksa or rebirth.

Baba says, “When the dead body is burnt or gets totally decayed, dhanaiṋjaya as well leaves the body and remains in the Cosmos to act again according to the will of Prakrti.” (Idea and Ideology, Life Death and Samskara)

Keeping the body for a few days is injustice to the deceased person. No matter how much science is advanced, keeping the body is very bad for spiritual reasons.

A FEW PRACTICAL EXAMPLES

So if a margii or acarya dies in India and their laokik home is in NY, then there is no need to send that body back to NY. Due to the advancement of science communities do like that. But in our Marga that is not our way.

Every person in the Marga considers this entire universe to be their homeland. So to delay the burial, cremation, and shraddha ceremony by transporting the body halfway around the world has no rhyme or reason. Rather it is harmful.

Baba’s strict warning is that this inflicts greater harm on those mourning the death and blocks the spiritual progress of the deceased for their mukti, moksa, or rebirth. The mind cannot merge into Parama Purudsa if the dhananjaya vayu is still present. To release the dhanainjaya the body must be cremated and then the mind will be free from that body.

Thus in the unfortunate occurrence of PP Dada dying in a plane crash in Berlin sector or Nairobi, then there is no need to bring that body back to DMS or to central office wherein the body will be kept preserved for future generations like that of Lenin. Indeed there should not be any delay in the respectful and honourable ceremonies for handling the death.

If we do not pay heed to Baba’s order, then it sets the stage that in the future, the bodies of our esteemed acaryas and margiis will always be subject to long travel in order to reach Ananda Nagar or some other master unit; plus the body should be held until the next retreat DMS – be that 5 weeks or 5 months – so that maximum people can view the body. This is the uncomfortable, if not dogmatic ritual, that is being set as a precedent.

And not only that, but what about in the future when people live on different planets, then they will have to hire a spaceship to bring the body across the solar system to reach Ananda Nagar.

BABA’S MAIN TEACHING

We have to remember that Baba’s main teaching is one should divert the mind of those in mourning. They should not be reminded again and again of their loss. Rather we are to help goad their mind in a different direction – i.e. towards Parama Purusa – so they may gain a sense of peace.

And the shraddha ceremony is for the comfort and well-being of the surviving loved ones. That ceremony has no bearing on the future of that deceased soul.

Baba says, “The departed soul does not get any advantage from the shráddha ceremony [memorial ceremony]. It is only meant for the psychic satisfaction of the person performing it.” (Caryacarya Part 1, Shráddha Ceremony)

If the deceased person was a sincere sadhaka and had one-pointed devotion for Baba then they will get mukti or moksa. In which case the deceased person is not there to listen to your shraddha.

If a person was poor in sadhana and not practicing regularly then he will get rebirth. In that case also, he will not be witness to the shraddha ceremony. The deceased may already be taking new life.

In either case – whether moksa or rebirth – the shraddha ceremony is done for the well-being of the surviving members of the society, not the deceased.

Those who think that the deceased person will receive the food and clothes offered to others at the time of shraddha are totally dogmatic.

The cremation ceremony is a time to bring closure for the family and relatives. Hence it should be done in a timely manner lest they undergo more suffering.

Baba has strictly placed a 12 day limit on the period of mourning and the completion of the shraddha ceremony. But the sooner it is done the better. And of course, there must not be an annual celebration or remembrance of that death day. Rather as jiivas, we are to move on psychically.

BABA’S BLESSING

By Baba’s grace He has given all the requisite instructions and guidelines for how to deal with death. By following His guidelines, the grieving family members will be properly cared for and attended to, and the deceased will be freed from the bondage of this life and move on to mukti, moksa or rebirth, as the case may be.

Here following is how Baba beautifully concludes the shraddha ceremony.

Sarve’tra sukhinah bhavantu sarve santu nirámayáh;
Sarve bhadráńi pashyantu na kashcid duhkhamápnuyát.
Oṋḿ shántih oṋḿ shántih oṋḿ shantih.

[Let everybody be happy; let everybody be free from all physical or psychic ailments; let everybody see the bright side of everything; let nobody be forced to undergo any trouble under pressure of circumstances… Oṋḿ shántih, oṋḿ shántih, oṋḿ shantih.]

Namaskar,
Jagadiish

Note: DANGER OF PRESERVING THE BODY

Here is one inherent danger of preserving the deceased body or erecting a tomb to honor the deceased. Then one will have given too much importance to the deceased and have no psychic space left to think about Baba as one’s object of ideation is something else.

Tadekaḿ smarámah tadekaḿ japáma
Tadekaḿ jagatsáksiirúpaḿ namámah.

Baba says, “If I remember anyone, I will remember only that One Entity and not many. If I repeat anyone’s name, I will repeat only the name of the Lord. If I ever salute anyone, I will salute only the Supreme One and no one else.” (Ananda Marga Ideology and Way of Life -11, Relativity and the Supreme Entity)

PRABHAT SAMGIITA

“Bha’loba’so jadi tave eso priyatama diiner e kut’iire…” (P.S. 2619)

Purport:

O’ my dearmost Baba, if You really love me then please come to the hut
of this lowly person. I want to make You listen to my love songs up to Your
full heart’s content; that’s why in my mental viina I have practiced many
tunes and melodies for You.

Baba, I do not have any knowledge or intellect. Nor do I have any
virtue, name & fame, or the weight of those things. I have only one thing:
Love for You in my mind. My whole heart is completely filled with love for
You. And by offering that love I will satisfy You, by Your grace.

Baba, I do not have any prestige nor do I get any respect or honor. None
of these do I have. Nor do I have such devotion that I feel my ego getting
wounded by Your not coming. Baba, I have only gratitude in my heart for all
those things which You have graciously bestowed upon me. Please shower me
in Your ahetuki krpa.

Baba, I know in my heart that You love me, but if You really love me
then please come close in my heart. For You I have prepared and decorated
my mind in Guru cakra. Baba, please come close and grace me…

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Groupist Leaders Do Like This

Baba says, “Ism (groupism etc) is responsible for disrupting human harmony. …[When any particular] group will lose its prestige, the people in the group feel ashamed, and in that condition they do not hesitate to take recourse to ignoble means in order to save the prestige of their nation, caste, group.” (PNS-16, p.3)

Here above Baba is explaining this very point that for those engaged in groupism, power and prestige is everything. Groupists have no interest in the welfare of the collective society. Their interest is only in propagating their own group. And if they feel this is not getting done, then they will take any negative means they can to again bring prestige to their group. Unfortunately in our organisation various groups are doing like this. But margiis and good Wts are not supporting any form of groupism.
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