When you understand what Kṛṣṇa is saying in these verses (2.26 – 2.30) you get over any fear of death . In fact you will celebrate death.
Sometime ago, when I was delivering a discourse in India, news arrived that my father had died. I continued with the discourse. Later that night, many of our disciples traveled with me to Tiruvannamalai where the body lay. If you see the videos of this event, you will find that my mother never once cried. She is a very traditional person, brought up in a rural environment that sets great importance on social behavior. When one’s husband dies one is naturally heartbroken; especially as in the case of my mother and father, who were very close to each other. His departure would have been a great loss to her. She understood the meaning of these verses of Kṛṣṇa without me ever having to explain them to her.
When I told her my father, her husband, is now in the energy form that is eternal, she trusted my words implicitly and joined me in celebrating his release. We are not talking about philosophers and saints here. We are talking about ordinary people whose lifestyle was all about fear of death and grief at death. They understood very easily what Kṛṣṇa is saying. They understood that the spirit lives on after the body perishes and death is indeed an event to celebrate and not to grieve. It is only the scholars who have a mere intellectual understanding of what Gītā says with no trust in Kṛṣṇa, and still suffer from the fear of death. Kṛṣṇa’s words are not about logic; they are about trust in the Master.
Death is inevitable for the born, jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyur; and birth is certain for the dead, dhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca. Whether the spirit lives on after the body perishes and locates itself in another body may be a debatable point to some. Kṛṣṇa says that this is not a reason to lament death, na tvaṁ śocitum arhasi (2.27). In either case, death can be a passage that one can look forward to. We all know death is inevitable. Yet for many It is a wonder.
Kṛṣṇa says, ‘One sees It as a wonder – āścarya-vat paśyati, another speaks of It as a wonder – āścarya-vad vadati, another hears of It as a wonder. Yet, having heard, none understands It at all – śrutvāpy enaṁ veda na caiva kaścit (2.29)!
Listen. Bringing the dead back to life is not a wonder or miracle. The real wonder and mystery though, is the transformation of individuals instilling in them the truth of completion to live integrity, authenticity, responsibility and enriching, and causing these four powers of words, thinking, feeling and living as reality. This indeed is the miracle that only a true Master can perform.
I tell you, mystery school is nothing but the Master’s inner space with his vast responsibility – whoever comes inside, in whatever form is processed, transformed and released! Integrity, authenticity, responsibility, enriching – these are the real wonders of transformation.
Many of us do believe that life is a wonder; truly so. Life is wondrous! We do not understand how life is created. We may have a biological explanation as to how a new life is created.
Even today there is no absolute proof as to how the Universe was created. All one has are theories such as Big Bang etc. What was there before the Big Bang? No one knows, how the first life form originated. Again, there are only theories. From time immemorial what happens after life, or more correctly, after death has been the human quest. The cycle of life and death is a mystery and a wonder. While Quantum Physics and Molecular Biology are making rapid advances in this area, yet there is no ‘scientific’ proof, as the logical mind would demand.
Those who are authentic enough to accept and be complete with the truth of the eternal nature of the spirit are the fortunate, the blessed. Those who fight and grieve are the wretched, the miserable, the incomplete. You cannot fight life or death. They are both beyond you, out of your control. You can marvel at them and be happy and joyous. Or you can keep questioning and doubting them, and be miserable. This is the choice and free will you have. The illustrious King Yayāti lived for hundreds of years.
Bhāgavatam, the great Hindu epic, says that when Yama, the god of death, came to Yayāti at his appointed time of death, Yayāti begged to be allowed to live on. Due to his deep incompletions with life, he said he had not lived life enough and he needed more time. Yama relented and said that if one of his sons would give Yayāti the rest of his life, then he could live that long. Using the life span of his son, Yayāti lived many more years but with more and more incompletions.
Finally the realization dawned on him that no matter how long he lived, his incomplete desires would never cease and that his completion would never happen through material enjoyment. Yayāti completed with his root pattern and gave himself up to Yama once he realized this truth.
It is not death that frightens us. It is leaving our incomplete desires and un-lived life that frightens us. The problem is that we do not know how to live a fulfilled life in the space of completion. All our desires are partially fulfilled or incomplete because, before they are fulfilled, we move on to other desires. The hangover of that past incomplete desire continues to chase us as a pattern in the present. The simple fact is that we do not know how to be complete, joyful.