Death

The Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) talks about three types of death:

  1. Death (or transformation) of the physical body-frame (ਸਰੀਰਕ ਮੌਤ), which everybody has to go through, no exception.
  2. Death of the spiritual life or divine life or Gurmukh Lifestyle (i.e., Aatmak Maut – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ).
  3. Dying in the Shabad.

1. Death (or transformation) of the physical body-frame

Birth is the proof of impending death!

Once the measure of breath is full, interview with death is certain!

  • ਮਰਣੁ ਲਿਖਾਇ ਮੰਡਲ ਮਹਿ ਆਏ ॥: Destined to die, (one) comes into the world (sggs 685).
  • ਕੋ ਰਹੈ ਨ ਭਰੀਐ ਪਾਈਐ ॥੫॥: No one remains here when the count of the breaths is full ||5|| (sggs 465).
  • ਮਲਕਲ ਮਉਤ ਜਾਂ ਆਵਸੀ ਸਭ ਦਰਵਾਜੇ ਭੰਨਿ ॥: Crushing death comes breaking open all doors (destroying all bodily senses or faculties). (sggs 1383).

As sunrise is the proof of immanent sunset or as the morning is the proof of approaching night, similarly, birth of an entity is the proof of it’s impending death.

The Gurbani calls the human body “Jajaree-ਜਜਰੀ” (meaning perishable, frail, weak, ਨਾਸਵੰਤ, etc.).

  • ਇਹੁ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਜਜਰੀ ਹੈ ਇਸ ਨੋ ਜਰੁ ਪਹੁਚੈ ਆਏ ॥: This body is perishable; old age overtakes it (sggs 584).

The time eats it away, bit by bit! It dissolves slowly and steadily into the very elements from which it had come!

  • ਪਵਨੈ ਮਹਿ ਪਵਨੁ ਸਮਾਇਆ ॥ ਜੋਤੀ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਰਲਿ ਜਾਇਆ ॥ ਮਾਟੀ ਮਾਟੀ ਹੋਈ ਏਕ ॥ ਰੋਵਨਹਾਰੇ ਕੀ ਕਵਨ ਟੇਕ ॥੧॥ ਕਉਨੁ ਮੂਆ ਰੇ ਕਉਨੁ ਮੂਆ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਮਿਲਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਬੀਚਾਰਾ ਇਹੁ ਤਉ ਚਲਤੁ ਭਇਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥ …: (When someone is declared as dead, from the body which is made of five elements) wind merges into the wind. The individual light or fire blends into the Light (Universal Energy). Earth becomes one with the earth. What support is there for the one who is lamenting (i.e., the one who laments does so because of doubts and attachment) ? ||1|| O, who has died, who has died. Meeting a Brahm-Giaanee (Brahm-realized, the Gurmukh…), inquire (Vichaar, deep search) into this; (upon inquiry or Vichaar, you will know that) this is just an movement (self-moving spectacle, show, ਖੇਡ, ਤਮਾਸ਼ਾ, etc.). ||1||Pause|| … (sggs 885).
  • ਪਾਂਚ ਤਤ ਕੋ ਤਨੁ ਰਚਿਓ ਜਾਨਹੁ ਚਤੁਰ ਸੁਜਾਨ ॥ ਜਿਹ ਤੇ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਲੀਨ ਤਾਹਿ ਮੈ ਮਾਨੁ ॥੧੧॥: O wise and clever (man)! Know that (your physical body) is made up of the five elements. O Nanak! Believe that (this physical body) will merge back into (these five elements). ||11||(sggs 1427).

To this end, the Gurbani time and again reminds us: Anything that appears will soon disappear. In other words, if there is birth, there is death. Use whatever euphemism you want to use for death, it cannot be avoided. In all directions, wherever we go, we will find it waiting — waiting from the moment one is born. Simply put, anything born must finish one day.

Between birth and death is “Jeevan-ਜੀਵਨ” (life, living, livelihood…). At the most, the body-frame can live through the three stages — childhood, youth, and old age (ਬੁਢੇਪਾ). After the third stage — old age (“Jaru-ਜਰੁ”, senility) — there is the death of the body-frame!

In other words, death is always hovering over one’s head. Just because the Jeeva (individual beings) have forgotten death, that does not mean the death has disappeared!

  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਅੰਧੇ ਕਿਛੂ ਨ ਸੂਝੈ ॥ ਮਰਣੁ ਲਿਖਾਇ ਆਏ ਨਹੀ ਬੂਝੈ ॥: The blind Manmuks (mentally blind or ignorant self-willed…) don’t understand anything. Death was pre-ordained for them when they came (into the world), but they do not understand. (sggs 114).
  • ਬਾਲ ਜੁਆਨੀ ਅਰੁ ਬਿਰਧਿ ਫੁਨਿ ਤੀਨਿ ਅਵਸਥਾ ਜਾਨਿ ॥: Childhood, youth and old age – know these as the three stages of life (sggs 1428).
  • ਜਨਨੀ ਜਾਨਤ ਸੁਤੁ ਬਡਾ ਹੋਤੁ ਹੈ ਇਤਨਾ ਕੁ ਨ ਜਾਨੈ ਜਿ ਦਿਨ ਦਿਨ ਅਵਧ ਘਟਤੁ ਹੈ ॥: The mother thinks that her son is growing up; (but) she does not understand that, day by day, his life is diminishing (sggs 91).

The Gurbani equates human life with a night. Somebody’s life-night is few days, few months, few years. some may live up to 100 years or more. Regardless, everybody’s life-night must end, sooner or later.

  • ਰਾਤਿ ਕਾਰਣਿ ਧਨੁ ਸੰਚੀਐ ਭਲਕੇ ਚਲਣੁ ਹੋਇ ॥: (The mortal) accumulates wealth for a night of his life, but in the morning, (he) must depart. (sggs 787).

One can color his or her hair to hide old age (ਬੁਢੇਪਾ), or get plastic surgery done to hide the old age, but death “suddenly pounces” just as a hawk suddenly pounces on a bird engaged in play!

  • ਜੋ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਸੋ ਬਿਨਸਿ ਹੈ ਪਰੋ ਆਜੁ ਕੈ ਕਾਲਿ ॥: Whatever is born will perish, today or tomorrow (sggs 1429).
  • ਜੋ ਦੀਸੈ ਸੋ ਚਾਲਨਹਾਰੁ ॥: Whatever is seen (entire material world) is perishable (sggs 268).

The Gurbani also compares this human body with a clay-built pitcher. In a cracked clay-built pitcher, water will slowly and steadily leak out. Similarly, this pitcher of the human body — which also got cracked as soon as it took the first breath — will perish as well!

  • ਛਿਨੁ ਛਿਨੁ ਅਉਧ ਬਿਹਾਤੁ ਹੈ ਫੂਟੈ ਘਟ ਜਿਉ ਪਾਨੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Each and every moment, your life is passing away, like water from a cracked pitcher. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 726).

That which is Real never ends, and that which ends is not Real (i.e., false, impermanent, “ਸੋ ਕਾਚੋ ਕਾਚਾ”). Thus, the Gurbani’s edict is what comes and goes is not Real.

Anything that is time-bound cannot be Eternal (ਸਦੀਵੀ, forever, permanent…), hence not Real. To be Real means to be free of beginning, middle and end. Whatever comes and goes is bound and limited by beginning, middle and end, therefore unreal.

2. Death of spiritual life (Aatmak Maut – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ)

Death of the spiritual life or divine life or Gurmukh Lifestyle (i.e., Aatmak Maut – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ); or death of one’s consciousness (death of Jameer-ਜਮੀਰ); or death of one’s Wisdom and Virtues – Truth (ਸਤ), honesty (ਇਮਾਨਦਾਰੀ), contentment (ਸੰਤੋਖ), mercy (ਦਯਾ), patience (ਧੀਰਜ), Sahaj (ਸਹਜ-Natural State of Being), Wisdom, humility (ਮਨ ਨਿਮਾਣਾ, ਬੁਧਿ ਗਰੀਬੀ), sweat speech (ਮਿਠ ਬੋਲੜਾ), etc.

  • ਆਖਾ ਜੀਵਾ ਵਿਸਰੈ ਮਰਿ ਜਾਉ ॥: I come alive (Aatmak Jeevan-ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ) as I practice (Naam – Virtues, Wisdom, Truth…). Upon forgetting (Virtues, Wisdom, Truth…), I die (spiritual death-ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). (sggs 9 & 349).
  • ਅਬ ਕੈਸੇ ਮਰਉ ਮਰਨਿ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ॥ਮਰਿ ਮਰਿ ਜਾਤੇ ਜਿਨ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਿਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: Those who do not know the Lord, die over and over again, and then depart. ||1||Pause|| (sggs 327).
  • ਅਤਿ ਸੁੰਦਰ ਕੁਲੀਨ ਚਤੁਰ ਮੁਖਿ ਙਿਆਨੀ ਧਨਵੰਤ ॥ ਮਿਰਤਕ ਕਹੀਅਹਿ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਹ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਿ ਨਹੀ ਭਗਵੰਤ ॥੧॥: A person may be very handsome, of high birth, clever, talking wise, and wealthy. (But) O Nanak! That person is called dead (ਆਤਮਾ ਜਾਂ ਮਨ ਕਰਕੇ ਮੁਰਦਾ) if he has no Love within for Bhagvant (Virtues, Wisdom, Truth…) ||1|| (sggs 253).

Therefore, Baabaa Nanak tells us:

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਸਦਾ ਅਰਾਧਿ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਜਾਂਹਿ ਮਰਿ ॥੧੭॥: O Nanak! Always adore the Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…), you will not die ever (spiritual death-ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). ||17|| (sggs 1363).

3. Dying in the Shabad

According to the Gurmat (Wisdom, Giaan, Upadesh or Way of the SGGS…), dying in the Shabad Awakens the Divine Wisdom (Giaan, Bibek, Truth…) and Virtues (ਗੁਣ) within, and thus annihilate the bad impact of Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, pride, etc.).

When died through the Shabad (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…), one is saved from the death of his spiritual life (ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ) or divine life or Gurmukh Lifestyle (i.e., Aatmic Maut – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ).

  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਫਿਰਿ ਮਰਣੁ ਨ ਹੋਇ ॥: One who dies in the Shabad (i.e., Wisdom, Virtues…), will never again have to die (ਫਿਰ ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ ਨਹੀ ਹੋਵੇਗੀ). (sggs 153).
  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਭਗਤਿ ਪਾਏ ਜਨੁ ਸੋਇ ॥੩॥: One who dies in the Shabad, obtains Bhagti ||3|| (sggs 159).
  • ਮਨੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਪਰਤੀਤਿ ਹੋਇ ਹਉਮੈ ਤਜੇ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥: When one’s mind dies in the Shabad gains Knowledge and conviction, and (he) sheds egotism and “Vikaar” (sggs 162).

What is dying in the Shabad, or dying through the Shabad?

In nutshell, it is the continuous abidance in the Shabad-Surt — Gur-Updesh, Naam-consciousness, the Gurmukh Lifestyle, Gur-Giaan or Wisdom, Virtues, etc. In other words, it’s to live a Divine Life, Gurmukh Lifestyle, ਆਤਮਕ ਜੀਵਨ – acceptance or application of the Wisdom (Gur-Giaan), Virtues, Truth in daily life).

  • ਜਿਹ ਮਰਨੈ ਸਭੁ ਜਗਤੁ ਤਰਾਸਿਆ ॥ ਸੋ ਮਰਨਾ ਗੁਰ ਸਬਦਿ ਪ੍ਰਗਾਸਿਆ ॥੧॥ ਅਬ ਕੈਸੇ ਮਰਉ ਮਰਨਿ ਮਨੁ ਮਾਨਿਆ ॥ ਮਰਿ ਮਰਿ ਜਾਤੇ ਜਿਨ ਰਾਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਨਿਆ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: That death, which has terrified the entire world – the reality of that death is revealed unto me by the Gur-Shabad (i.e., Gur-Giann, Wisdom, Upadesh…). ||1|| Now, I will not die (i.e., Aatmak Maut – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ).  My mind has already accepted death (i.e., to die in the Shabad: ਸ਼ਬਦ ਵਾਲੀ ਮੌਤ). Those who do not know Raam (-Naam: Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…), die over and over again (i.e., death of spiritual life – ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ). ||1||Pause|| (sggs327).

It is to free the mind from the negative impact of Haumai (false ego-sense), Maya’s bad effect, duality, doubts, ignorance, Bikaar (lust, anger, greed, etc.), self-will or Manmukhataa; it is to be Awakened to one’s Mool or “Nij Gharu”, within; it is to become living liberated or dead while alive; it is to remain constantly (ਸਾਸ ਸਾਸ: each and every breadth) hooked on to one’s Mool within; and so on.

  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਤਾਂ ਏਕ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਏ ॥: (One) can embrace the Love for the One (single mindedly – ਇਕ ਮਨ ਇਕ ਚਿਤ ਹੋ ਕੇ) only when (he) dies through the Shabad ( sggs 412).
  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਤਿਸੁ ਸਦਾ ਅਨੰਦ ॥: One who dies in the Shabad, is ever in Bliss. (sggs 364).
  • ਗੁਰ ਕੈ ਸਬਦਿ ਜੀਵਤੁ ਮਰੈ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਵਸੈ ਮਨਿ ਆਇ ॥੧॥: Through the Gur-Shabad, who remains dead (to Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, etc.) while yet alive, Naam (Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…) comes to dwell within his mind. ||1|| (sggs 33).

Upon dying in the Shabad, one attains Perfection, becomes the embodiment of the the Divine Knowledge (Aatam Giaan, Virtues, Truth…) that is contained in the Gur-Shabad, as the fragrance is boxed in the flower…

  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰੈ ਸੋਈ ਜਨੁ ਪੂਰਾ ॥ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਆਖਿ ਸੁਣਾਏ ਸੂਰਾ ॥: Perfect (ਪੂਰਨ) is that “Janu” (Bhagat, Daas, Gurmukh) who dies through the Shabad. The brave Satiuru utters and proclaims this. (sggs 1046).

In other words, when died through the Shabad, the Inner (“Antar”) Awakens to the Hukam or Law of Nature, Naam, Divinity, Wisdom, etc. Such exalted State is indicated by the Gurbani to be beyond the physical instruments of tongue, ears, etc.

Hence, according to the Gurbani, the real death is to remain dead in the Shabad (Gur-Giaan, Wisdom, Upadesh…) while still alive: To become liberated-in-life; to become living dead or Jeevanmukta

  • ਮੁਕਤਿ ਪਦਾਰਥੁ ਸਬਦਿ ਸਲਾਹੀ ॥: Mukti (Liberation) Padaarath is obtained through the counselor of the Shabad (Giaan, Wisdom, Upadesh… (sggs 1024).

Accordingly, a real Sikh (a true student or a learner of the SGGS) wants to Realize the Gur-Shabad through Shabad-Vichaar (Reflections on the Gurbani). Thus, known as a Gurmukh in the Gurbani, the whole life of such an Awakened Being becomes a celebration itself! He knows the human life’s target and the purpose.

  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਜੀਵੈ ਮਰੈ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ॥ ਆਰਜਾ ਨ ਛੀਜੈ ਸਬਦੁ ਪਛਾਣੁ ॥: (Who ) becomes the Gurmukh, (his) life and death is of avail (ਸਫਲ, ਕਬੂਲ). (His) life does not waste away; (because he) realizes the “Sabadu” (sggs 125).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਮੁਹਿ ਮਰਨੇ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ ਹੈ ਮਰਉ ਤ ਹਰਿ ਕੈ ਦੁਆਰ ॥: O Kabeer, I long to die (in the Shabad: ਸ਼ਬਦ ਵਾਲੀ ਮੌਤ); (but, this is possible only) if I die at the Door of the Hari (i.e., if I surrender to the Divine Wisdom, Virtues, Truth…). (sggs 1367).

2 replies on “Death”

ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰਹੁ ਫਿਰਿ ਜੀਵਹੁ ਸਦ ਹੀ ਤਾ ਫਿਰਿ ਮਰਣੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ सबदि मरहु फिरि जीवहु सद ही ता फिरि मरणु न होई ॥ Sabaḏ marahu fir jīvhu saḏ hī ṯā fir maraṇ na ho▫ī. pp604 sggsji

Means..Dying thru/by SABADu one shall live forever and one shall not die again.
Such is the greace of SABADu.

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