Bhaja Govindam 7: In journey after death we travel alone (Verse 6)

Yāvat-pavano nivasati dehe tāvat-prcchati kuśalaṃ gehe |

Gatavati vāyau dehāpāye bhāryā bibhyati tasmin kāye | 6 |

Meaning As long as the life force (prana) exists in the body, everyone around enquires about the well-being. However when this life force leaves the body and the person is dead, even his wife shudders at the sight of his corpse!

The previous stanza taught that worldly acquisitions are to be left behind. It also taught that this love professed in this world is untrue and that love stems out of selfish interests. This stanza delves a little more into the reality.

When Shiva, who exists in the form of vital breath (prana vayu) within the being, departs from the body, then all that remains is a corpse.

80% of people in this world take pride in their physical beauty and in their slim and trim physique. Such persons spend their entire life under the illusion that their spouse and children are fascinated by these appealing looks and as such will never ever desert them. Enveloped by this illusion, such person strives to fulfill the needs of his family members and worries about their future. ‘What will happen to my family after my death?’ Such questions always trouble the mind.

Looking after the needs of the family members is not wrong. Yet, it is important that every person should ponder about the spiritual realities as well. Every person should mandatorily pose to himself questions such as- ‘What will happen to ‘me’ after the death of this body? What will happen to this world after my death?’

If the supreme truth ‘none of these objects present in this world will accompany me on my further journey after death’ is deeply grasped by the mind, then it will automatically alter the person’s way of thinking. The one who has understood the truth will never ever grieve for that which is untrue.

In the journey after death, not even a blade of grass can accompany us! The money and wealth that we have strived to earn in this lifetime will remain here itself. Our cows and other domesticated animals will continue to remain in their sheds. The wife and children will accompany the body only till the main gate of the house. After all, the laws of dharma prohibit women from visiting the crematorium, don’t they? Our friends and relatives accompany us till the crematorium. What happens thereafter? The body, with which we had totally identified all our life, is now burnt in the fire.

Many fear death because they have to leave the body which they held on to dearly all through life and depart. But it is inevitable. The wife whom you loved so much, the children whom you raised with tender care, and the relatives who were your best companions, all have to be left behind.

What is it that accompanies us on this further journey after death? It is only our adherence to dharma (rules and duties of righteousness) that accompanies. The good as well as the bad deeds performed in life as well as the good and bad thoughts entertained accompany the being on this journey.

For this reason, the hymn begins with the phrase- ‘Bhaja Govindam’. It means, ‘O human, realize this great truth. With this understanding, engage in dharmic activities (righteous deeds) from now on and chant the holy names of the Lord’.

Do not waste your lifetime sitting and grieving that your spouse will not accompany you on your further journey. Accepting that this is the ‘nature of creation’, focus on performance of meritorious deeds.

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