Death is not to be Feared

The fear in itself is suffering – because a person who fears, already suffers from what he/she fears!

Fear of death will not stop or deter death. However, the fear of death will stop one from living life!

The mind finds it hard to accept the idea that existence contains life and also death. However, life is not logical as the mind! The reality is: If there is birth, there is death.

Use whatever euphemism you want to use for death, it cannot be avoided. In all the directions, wherever we go, we will find it waiting. We must accept it! Also, the Gurbani teaches us that one does not know about how one will die and what sort of death will it be (painful or painless).

  • ਕਿਆ ਜਾਣਾ ਕਿਵ ਮਰਹਗੇ ਕੈਸਾ ਮਰਣਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ ਜੇ ਕਰਿ ਸਾਹਿਬੁ ਮਨਹੁ ਨ ਵੀਸਰੈ ਤਾ ਸਹਿਲਾ ਮਰਣਾ ਹੋਇ ॥ : What do I know about how will I die and what sort of death will it be (painful or painless)? If I do not forget the Creator (divine Virtues) from my mind, then my death will be comfortable. (sggs 555).

Another point which should be borne in mind is that the the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS) does not believe/support unnatural and illogical nonsense such as virgin-born, air-born, fire-born etc. as the followers of many organized religions (Mazhab-ਮਜ਼ਹਬ) stake claim for their prophets and gods.

Many think that denying humanity of their prophets somehow establishes the divinity of their prophets and heightens their status! The Gurbani clearly Teaches us that there can be NO CHILD without the union (ਮੇਲ) of a mother and father or a male and female.

  • ਜੈਸੇ ਮਾਤ ਪਿਤਾ ਬਿਨੁ ਬਾਲੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ : As there is no child without (the union of) a mother and father (sggs 872).

The Gurbani (SGGS) talks about two types of living. In addition to death of the physical body, the Gurbani also talks about death of the instinctive mind or death of the negative or bad impact of Haumai (false ego-sense or its vices/Bikaar: lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride…).

In regard to death of the physical body, the Gurbani time and again reminds us: Anything that appears will soon disappear. In other words, if there is a birth, there is a death.

In regard to death of vices/Bikaar-ridden mind, the Gurbani teaches us not to fear for its just the death of vices/Bikaar. If not controlled, there will be death of spiritual or divine life (ਆਤਮਕ ਮੌਤ) on account of these vices/Bikaar!

That said, the SGGS teaches us to BECOME THE GURBANIdie in Shabad (Naam, Upadesh, Hukam, Giyan-Wisdom…). The Gurbani holds, it is also a Joyful moment for the mind — at last, a chance for enduring and untrammeled Anand (Bliss, Peace…)!

  • ਕਬੀਰ ਜਿਸੁ ਮਰਨੇ ਤੇ ਜਗੁ ਡਰੈ ਮੇਰੇ ਮਨਿ ਆਨੰਦੁ ॥ ਮਰਨੇ ਹੀ ਤੇ ਪਾਈਐ ਪੂਰਨੁ ਪਰਮਾਨੰਦੁ ॥੨੨॥ : Kabir, the world is afraid of death (breaking from Haumai/vices/Bikaar etc.), but it fills my mind with spiritual Bliss. Because, it is only when we die (eradicate Haumai/vices/Bikaar etc.) that we realize God within, the embodiment of Supreme spiritual Bliss. ||22|| (sggs 1365).
  • ਪਹਿਲਾ ਮਰਣੁ ਕਬੂਲਿ ਜੀਵਣ ਕੀ ਛਡਿ ਆਸ ॥ ਹੋਹੁ ਸਭਨਾ ਕੀ ਰੇਣੁਕਾ ਤਉ ਆਉ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਪਾਸਿ ॥੧॥ : (Message from God) O Mortal, first accept death (of your false ego-sense) and give up longing for worldly desires (selfishness etc.), become humble like the dust of the feet of all, only then come to Me. ||1|| (sggs 1102).
  • ਜਉ ਤਉ ਪ੍ਰੇਮ ਖੇਲਣ ਕਾ ਚਾਉ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਧਰਿ ਤਲੀ ਗਲੀ ਮੇਰੀ ਆਉ ॥ ਇਤੁ ਮਾਰਗਿ ਪੈਰੁ ਧਰੀਜੈ ॥ ਸਿਰੁ ਦੀਜੈ ਕਾਣਿ ਨ ਕੀਜੈ ॥੨੦॥ : If you desire to play this game of Divine Love, then step on the Way to me after completely shedding your false ego-sense (Haumai). One should step onto this path (of Love) only when one is ready with complete surrender (of false ego-sense) without any hesitation. ||20|| (sggs 1412).
  • ਸਬਦਿ ਮਰਹੁ ਫਿਰਿ ਜੀਵਹੁ ਸਦ ਹੀ ਤਾ ਫਿਰਿ ਮਰਣੁ ਨ ਹੋਈ ॥ : If you die through the Shabad, then you will live forever, you will not spiritually die again. (sggs 604).

The Gurbani teaches us that our mind’s True Nature is Jot Saroop — Blissful and Eternal, Deathless, Immortal, Timeless etc. This is the reason why everybody wants to avoid death or sorrows (pain, suffering…) in life. Because Eternal Bliss is our mind’s True Nature (Jot Saroop)!!

  • ਮਰਣਹਾਰੁ ਇਹੁ ਜੀਅਰਾ ਨਾਹੀ ॥੩॥ : This soul is not perishable (sggs 188).

Thus, death does not and cannot hurt an Enlightened a Brahm Giyani (Enlightened or Gurmukh Mindset). Because an Enlightened mind knows that there is no great change other than than the physical body dissipating into its constituent elements returning to their Source.

  • ਬ੍ਰਹਮ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਸਦ ਜੀਵੈ ਨਹੀ ਮਰਤਾ ॥ : Brahm Giyani ever lives and never dies (sggs 273).
  • ਕਬੀਰ ਸੰਤ ਮੂਏ ਕਿਆ ਰੋਈਐ ਜੋ ਅਪੁਨੇ ਗ੍ਰਿਹਿ ਜਾਇ ॥ ਰੋਵਹੁ ਸਾਕਤ ਬਾਪੁਰੇ ਜੁ ਹਾਟੈ ਹਾਟ ਬਿਕਾਇ ॥੧੬॥ : Kabir, why grieve when a seeker of the truth dies? He is only returning to his true home. If anything, grieve for the unenlightened fools (Saakat) who repeatedly sell themselves. ||16|| (sggs 1365).
Death is the name of the feeling that we will be no more in this world. In other words, the thought of death only tortures the one who is engrossed in Maya or body-consciousness.

To put it otherwise, death only hurts an worldly mind ridden with Maya or duality (Doojaa Bhaav), false ego-sense, vices/Bikaar, doubt (Bharam), ignorance etc.).

  • ਏਹ ਤ੍ਰਿਗੁਣ ਮਾਇਆ ਜਿਨਿ ਜਗਤੁ ਭੁਲਾਇਆ ਜਨਮ ਮਰਣ ਕਾ ਸਹਸਾ ॥ : This three-quality Maya has deluded the whole world, (and it builds within Jeev) the fear (doubt, anxiety…) of birth and death (sggs 1257).

Although all die, but there is no grief for the Gurmukh (Bhagat, Jan, Daas, Awakened person, Mool-Realized person, Brahm Giyani) etc.

  • ਹਉ ਨ ਮੂਆ ਮੇਰੀ ਮੁਈ ਬਲਾਇ ॥ ਓਹੁ ਨ ਮੂਆ ਜੋ ਰਹਿਆ ਸਮਾਇ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਿ ਬ੍ਰਹਮੁ ਦਿਖਾਇਆ ॥ ਮਰਤਾ ਜਾਤਾ ਨਦਰਿ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੪॥੪॥ : I understand that (when my body dies) it is not that I have died, but it is my demon (who does NOT reflects upon his own self) which has died. The Omnipresent Creator (the One Universal Energy, Hukam, Natural elements…) never dies. Nanak, the Guru (Giyan-Wisdom) has made me to see Brahm (the Universal Energy, Hukam or System-Rule-Law of Nature…). Now I understand that the Omnipresent Creator does not die and take birth. ||4||4|| (sggs 152).

In other words, an Enlightened person knows that death only hurts those who, instead of Jot Saroop, have become something else (i.e. time-bound, Manmukh-Saakat-Mayadhaaree…).

For example, the essence of wave, ocean, bubble, raindrop etc. is still water. When a raindrop falls in the ocean, it becomes the ocean: Nothing gets lost.

  • ਸਾਗਰ ਮਹਿ ਬੂੰਦ ਬੂੰਦ ਮਹਿ ਸਾਗਰੁ ਕਵਣੁ ਬੁਝੈ ਬਿਧਿ ਜਾਣੈ …: The drop is in the ocean, and the ocean is in the drop. Who understands, and knows this? (sggs 878).

So, the Gurbani Teaches us not to fear death. Because our Mool (Source, Jot...) — the Seer, the Subject — can never be lost. The Divine Wisdom of our Mool (Source, Jot, Raam, Hari, Gobind….) wipes out death, worldliness, duality, suffering.

Thus, there is only one way to avoid the pain of death — the Gurbani says recognize the Timeless Mool (Source, Jot Saroop…) within.

The world reminds us of death. But, our Mool makes us oblivious of death! Guru Nanak says:
  • ਕਹਾ ਤੇ ਆਵੈ ਕਹਾ ਇਹੁ ਜਾਵੈ ਕਹਾ ਇਹੁ ਰਹੈ ਸਮਾਈ ॥ : What Is the Origin of Life; Where does it go? What Is Its Ultimate Destination? (sggs 940).
  • ਹੁਕਮੇ ਆਵੈ ਹੁਕਮੇ ਜਾਵੈ ਹੁਕਮੇ ਰਹੈ ਸਮਾਈ ॥ : The origin of life is by way of the Hukam (Universal System-Rule-Law of Nature, ਕੁਦਰਤੀ ਨਿਯਮ); its ultimate destination is by the Way of Hukam; it is to be lived in Realization of the Hukam. (sggs 940).

And what is that Hukam (the System-Rule-Law-Order of Nature) for life?

Guru Arjan Sahib explains this process beautifully in the following Shabad that inquires: What or who is it that dies – it defines physical death as the Return of Elements to their Source; it tells us what happens to life after death (life itself returns to its Source-‘ਜੋਤੀ ਮਹਿ ਜੋਤਿ ਰਲਿ ਜਾਇਆ’).

  • 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 ॥ ਅਗਲੀ ਕਿਛੁ ਖਬਰਿ ਨ ਪਾਈ ॥ ਰੋਵਨਹਾਰੁ ਭਿ ਊਠਿ ਸਿਧਾਈ ॥ ਭਰਮ ਮੋਹ ਕੇ ਬਾਂਧੇ ਬੰਧ ॥ ਸੁਪਨੁ ਭਇਆ ਭਖਲਾਏ ਅੰਧ ॥੨॥ ਇਹੁ ਤਉ ਰਚਨੁ ਰਚਿਆ ਕਰਤਾਰਿ ॥ ਆਵਤ ਜਾਵਤ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਅਪਾਰਿ ॥ ਨਹ ਕੋ ਮੂਆ ਨ ਮਰਣੈ ਜੋਗੁ ॥ ਨਹ ਬਿਨਸੈ ਅਬਿਨਾਸੀ ਹੋਗੁ ॥੩॥ ਜੋ ਇਹੁ ਜਾਣਹੁ ਸੋ ਇਹੁ ਨਾਹਿ ॥ ਜਾਨਣਹਾਰੇ ਕਉ ਬਲਿ ਜਾਉ ॥ ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਿ ਭਰਮੁ ਚੁਕਾਇਆ ॥ ਨਾ ਕੋਈ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇਆ ॥੪॥੧੦॥ : After physically death, air (breath) returns to merge with air (atmosphere). The light (life/conscience) returns to merge with its Primary Source (Parmaatam). The dust (physical body) gets consumed into the dust (earth). What support is there for the one who is grieving? ||1|| Who is it that has died; who is it that has really died? O Enlightened beings get-together and reflect over it; (upon reflecting you will know that) this is the order and nature of life and death (by the way of Hukam). ||1||Pause|| No one knows what happens next. The one who is lamenting will also depart. Mortal beings are bound by the bonds of doubt and attachment. Mentally blinded (by doubts and attachment, the mortals) babble about death as like in a dream! This world is the creation of the Creator (Hukam). Coming (birth) and going (death) is controlled by the infinite Hukam. No one dies as no one is capable of dying. The Eternal One does not die; it is undying (Imperishable). ||3|| That which you think you know (as told by the self serving Pujaaree), it’s nothing like that. I am awestruck by the one who understands this Reality. Says Nanak, the Guru has dispelled my doubts that no one dies, and no one comes and goes (i.e. energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another). ||4||10|| (sggs 885).
  • ਪਾਂਚ ਤਤ ਕੋ ਤਨੁ ਰਚਿਓ ਜਾਨਹੁ ਚਤੁਰ ਸੁਜਾਨ ॥ ਜਿਹ ਤੇ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਲੀਨ ਤਾਹਿ ਮੈ ਮਾਨੁ ॥੧੧॥ : O clever and wise person, know that (the physical body) is composed/constructed of the five basic elements (air, water, fire, ether and earth). O Nanak, be sure that the elements of which (this body) is made will merge back into the same elements from which it has Originated. ||11|| (sggs 1427).

According to modern science (Einstein etc.), mass–energy equivalence is the relationship between mass and energy. The equivalence principle implies that when energy is lost in chemical reactions, nuclear reactions, and other energy transformations, the system will also lose a corresponding amount of mass. What it means is that mass and energy are interconvertible but the sum total of the two remains constant.

Now let us examine death from this perspective. A human being is simply a temporary bundle of mass/energy. After the dissolution of the elements (mass/energy), we say that a person has died. But a more careful examination reveals that it is only that particular configuration of mass/energy which we previously identified as ‘person’ has ceased to exist. The mass/energy which previously comprised that person continues to exist in a constantly changing form. That is why Guru Arjan Sahib says, no one dies, and no one comes and goes’ (‘ਨਾ ਕੋਈ ਮਰੈ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇਆ’). Hence the SGGS rejects both the Hindu and the Semitic concepts of ‘soul’ and afterlife concepts.

Accordingly, a true Sikh (a learner of the SGGS) looks upon both happy as well as sad events equally in his life! Thus, known as an Enlightened person (Gurmukh MINDSET) in the Gurbani, the whole life of such an Awakened Being becomes a celebration itself!

  • 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 Shabad. (sggs 125).

In short, before we step on the Way of the Gurbani, the Gurbani commands us to ‘first’ accept death:

  • ਪਹਿਲਾ ਮਰਣੁ ਕਬੂਲਿ ਜੀਵਣ ਕੀ ਛਡਿ ਆਸ ॥ ਹੋਹੁ ਸਭਨਾ ਕੀ ਰੇਣੁਕਾ ਤਉ ਆਉ ਹਮਾਰੈ ਪਾਸਿ ॥੧॥ : First accept death and give up the desire for life (i.e., give up attachment to body…). Become the dust of the feet of all (i.e., become truly humble…), then, come to me. ||1|| (sggs 1102).

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10 comments

  1. CS jeo,
    I think it would not be possible to correlate Sounds of Gurmukhi alphabets with the sound of English alphabets.
    Here in ਣਾਣੈ the sound is that of N and in ੜਾੜੈ that of D.
    However it is very imperative to have clear understanding of gurmukhi script alphabets.

  2. You are right jio – the change occurs on the last letter – I think Gurbani has several dots scattered at various places and needs some serious searching for meanings from these clues.
    What are your thoughts on ਣਾਣੈ ਰਵਤੁ ਰਹੈ ਘਟ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਵੈ ਸੋਈ ॥
    and ੜਾੜੈ ਰਾੜਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਕਿਆ ਪ੍ਰਾਣੀ ਤਿਸਹਿ ਧਿਆਵਹੁ ਜਿ ਅਮਰੁ ਹੋਆ Ank 432
    There seems three suggested sounds for “R” in Patti Mhal 1 Thanks

  3. CS jeo,
    In my understanding the different spellings for the same word are related to the style of different language.e g In Eastern India side the word may be ਜੀਅਰਾ and in Punjab the same may be as ਜੀਅੜਾ
    There are many similar words with different spellings like one as
    KIPAAR and KIRPAAL here L is exchanged with R at the last alphabet.
    One may notice that for the same word the change in spelling is only for the last alphabet of the words .

  4. It seems weird though why would there be more than one spelling for a similar Akhari Namo if there were no additional reflections meant for understanding / meaning something

  5. ਮਰਣ ਜੀਵਣ ਕੀ ਚਿੰਤਾ ਗਈ ਇਹੁ ਜੀਅੜਾ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਵਸਿ ॥
    ਜਿਉ ਭਾਵੈ ਤਿਉ ਰਖੁ ਤੂ ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਮੁ ਬਖਸਿ ॥੧॥
    Sorry, I should have submitted this along. From this instance, it seems the meanings are same for ਜੀਅੜਾ/ ਜੀਅਰਾ

  6. Thanks Jio for further inputs
    Here are some expamples

    1) ਇਉ ਸਰਪਨਿ ਕੈ ਵਸਿ ਜੀਅੜਾ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਦੋਇ ॥
    2) ਜੀਅੜਾ ਅਗਨਿ ਬਰਾਬਰਿ ਤਪੈ ਭੀਤਰਿ ਵਗੈ ਕਾਤੀ ॥

    3) ਪਾਪੀ ਜੀਅਰਾ ਲੋਭੁ ਕਰਤੁ ਹੈ ਆਜੁ ਕਾਲਿ ਉਠਿ ਜਾਹਿਗਾ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
    4) ਜਾ ਦਿਨ ਭੇਟੇ ਸਾਧ ਮੋਹਿ ਉਆ ਦਿਨ ਬਲਿਹਾਰੀ ॥
    ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਅਪਨੋ ਜੀਅਰਾ ਫਿਰਿ ਫਿਰਿ ਹਉ ਵਾਰੀ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥

    It seems although the meanings may closely be the same/ look similar the surface, difference in spellings of Akhri NaMo have likely some significance. In the example – ਜੀਅੜਾ is associated with ਸਰਪਨਿ Sarpin / Maaaa where as ਜੀਅਰਾ / Jiaara is associated with ਭੇਟੇ ਸਾਧ /Sadh. None of the two -ਜੀਅੜਾ / ਜੀਅਰਾ ( examples 1 to 3 above) are likely free from transcending Time/Space – death ; however, the one that has likely advanced into the company of Sadhoo is likely to cross over. This company/Sangat – seems that never perishes, this company is more likely accomplished with ਜੀਅਰਾ ( advanced from ਜੀਅੜਾ)
    It will be interesting finding some reference of ਜੀਅੜਾ as not perishable
    Humbly

  7. CS ji,
    Would you pl post Quotes wherein we can see the words ਜੀਅਰਾ and ਜੀਅੜਾ for their true reference meainings. In fact there are several same words with exchange of an alphabet depending upon the style of language of the message. The change of alphabet does not seem to be changing the meaning of the word. This needs further perusal in this context.

  8. Thanks jio for exploring fearlessly – the fear; Just thinking what could be the reason of two spelling of ਜੀਅਰਾ and ਜੀਅੜਾ – My take is when it is ਜੀਅੜਾ it is like stuck up ( ਅੜਾ) and when it is released ਜੀ(ਅਰਾ) this released One still seeks union. However, ਜੀ( ਅੜਾ) can not directly unite. It has to get released first where is in stuck up in Maeaa. Until ਜੀਅਰਾ the death-birth cycle likely remains as in one Gur Sabd Mhla9 clarifies. Would appreciate help in further learning. Secondly, great point on Perishable-Imperishable. Though it seems the perishable is important to learn about the imperishable and as Tsingh ji says – until Budh Bibeka blessed through Gurbani. Perishable seems taking us to Gurbani.

  9. Well said Bhia Sahib Jio.
    The Divine Wisdom or “Bibek Budhi” of the Gurbani helps us discriminate between perishable and Imperishable, impermanent and Permanent, untruth and Truth…
    • ਬਿਬੇਕ ਬੁਧਿ ਸਤਿਗੁਰ ਤੇ ਪਾਈ ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੇਰਾ ॥: Bibek budhi satigur te paaee gur giaanu guroo prabh keraa (sggs 711).

  10. From gurbaanee one learns about what is Perishable and what is Imperishable. Whatever is visible is all perishable.and Imperishable is ever going to be there that is SAT(i) Since there is no question of DEATH so no fear of DEATH .

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