But the realized soul, has found everything in the very place where he is, and therefore the Pranas dissolve like a bubble in the ocean there itself - only the body swells, deteriorates and

becomes one with the physical element, the earth, but the Prana does not go, the Jiva does not depart, there is no movement through the planes of existence. There is no rebirth for that individual because he has attained liberation, then and there. This is called Sadyo­ Mukti, immediate liberation.

Arthabhaga questions When you say that the Pranas do not depart, they merge there itself, dissolve themselves at the very spot where they are, does anything remain of that person or everything goes? Is everything exhausted or extinguished of that personality or do you think something remains of that individual even after the attainment of the liberation, freedom from Graha and Atigraha?"

Yajnavalkya answers Nothing remains there except his own name." We say Govinda attained liberation meaning someone of that name. Like that his name will be remembered always. So and so has attained liberation; he has gone to Brahmaloka; he has attained Mukti. We speak of him even after he has gone. Vasishta, Valmiki, Suka, and other ancient sages, we speak of them even now. They may be there or may not be there. They might have merged themselves in the Absolute, it does not matter. But their names remain. Nothing remains of them; that is what he means, except the name only - nama iti. Anantam vai nama: "The renown is the only thing that remains and the renown is Ananta. He has attained to the infinite worlds. What else can remain in his personality other than his name”?

Now, what happens to the individual at the time of liberation? Some mysterious processes take place. This individuality is a conglomeration of certain particulars, certain elements taken from the cosmos. This body is made up of certain building bricks got from somewhere else. The body is not a compact indivisible single entity. It is a composite substance like a building. What is the building made of? There are many things in the building. There are bricks; there is mortar; there are iron rods; there are nails; there are wooden rafters and many other things. From where have all these things come? They have come from various sources. Bricks from the brick kilns; iron from iron merchants; and mortar from cement shop and so on and so forth.

Likewise, this body of the individual has been constituted of various elements. The sense-organs also are certain principles which have been taken partly by way of abstraction from the cosmic principles. Then what happens? When the body dies the building collapses and the material goes back to the source from where it has come. The effect returns to the cause. The body will not remain as an isolated entity. All the constituents of the body will be returned to the sources from where they were brought for the particular purpose of embodiment.

"Yajnavalkya! I put you this question." Arthabhaga says: "The principle of speech goes back to the fire, because it came from fire. Prana goes to the cosmic wind. The principle of perception, the eye, will go back to the sun who is the presiding deity thereof. The mind will go to the moon. The ears will go back to the quarters, the Digdevatas. This body, the physical parts of the body will go back to the earth from where they have come. The self will go into the ether. The hairs of the body will go back to the vegetable kingdom. The hair from the head will go back to the trees. The vital energy and the blood will go back to the waters. If all the constituents go like this to their respective places, where does the individual remain?"

“What becomes the cause of the rebirth of an individual, in case at the time of death the principal elements go back to their sources? Except in the case where the individual has attained liberation, there is always rebirth. This refers to a person who dies without having attained the highest knowledge and is conscious of possessing a body. But, you know that the body cannot take rebirth. It goes to the earth. It has no life. It dissolves into the material constituent of which it is a part. So the thing that takes rebirth is not the body. Then what is it that takes birth? Something is there, a peculiar thing which becomes the reason for rebirth. It is not something visible. "Yajnavalkya! I ask you; what is it that really takes birth? Which part of the individual is responsible for it?"

Yajnavalkya says: "I will not answer this question in public. It is a secret. You come with me to a corner. I shall speak to you secretly and tell you what it is. Why should I have it loudly proclaimed?"

He got hold of the hand of the questioner and took him to a corner. "I tell you what it is. Let not others hear it. Only we two know; nobody else will know. The public may not know it. It is useless to talk about it in public because it is a controversial subject. Nobody will understand what I say, if I proclaim it publicly in the audience. Since it is not going to be intelligible to the people, its meaning is not going to be clear, and it is only going to confuse them and confound them. I will tell you only, in your ear. Let not others hear it."

They went out to a corner and discussed between themselves as to the possibility of various alternatives which may be responsible for the rebirth of an individual. They thought over various probabilities such as, “Is it God who is responsible for the rebirth? Some say, God is the cause of rebirth. He punishes. Some say, time is the cause of rebirth. Some say, by accident rebirth takes place. Some say, desire is the cause of rebirth. Some say, simple actions are the cause of rebirth. Oh, various theories! Some say, there is no rebirth for anyone at all because the body gets dissolved in the earth and the body is the only thing that is there. When body goes, everything goes” and so on. So many alternatives have been offered by various schools of thought, right from the materialists onwards. What is the point, really?

Without telling us the details of their discussions on this issue the Upanishad tells us merely their conclusion Karma haiva tad ucatuh, that it is Karma that is the cause of rebirth.

Yajnavalkya did not loudly proclaim it because it is a word whose meaning cannot be easily understood. Karma is action. Literally, the dictionary meaning is action. Action causes rebirth and it is unintelligible because its meaning here is something different from what the dictionary meaning of it is. Karma is action, but it is not any and every kind of action that can be regarded as the cause of rebirth. It is a particular type of attitude of the total individual that can be regarded as action. If a book is lifted and kept it back, it is an action. It is very unreasonable to say that this simple act can be the cause of rebirth, though it is an action. So, it is not every action that is the cause of rebirth. What is implied is a peculiar type of action.

It is a particular attitude generated by a preponderating emphasis laid by the whole personality that may be said to be the cause of rebirth. Well, the word "desire" is a very appropriate term. But even the word "desire" is difficult to understand. It is not every type of want that causes rebirth. It is a very serious urge of the whole psycho-physical personality that can be regarded as the seed of rebirth.

As the word "Karma" is very unintelligible and one cannot understand how Karmas can cause rebirth, Yajnavalkya did not want to speak loudly about it, and privately said ‘this is the point, nothing else’. He said "The kind of "action" that you perform becomes the cause of a kind of life that you are going to enter into in the next birth." Now Arthabagha, descendant of Jaratkaru, kept quiet. His questions had been answered.


This question raised by Arthabhaga was similar to the one put forward by Uddhava to Bhagavan Sri Krishna in the Bhagavatam (Canto 11) and the Lord’s answer thereto a gist of which is given below.

Uddhava raises an interesting question. He says that when death and rebirth is talked about, neither the soul (Self, Atman) nor the body is capable of rebirth because the soul is deathless and the body gets disintegrated upon death and stands no chance of revival. Yet birth and death are real. Then which entity, he asks Krishna, undergoes the process of death and rebirth (if neither the body nor the soul is reborn)?

Krishna answers: “Notwithstanding the fact that the phenomena of birth and death do not really happen to the Soul or prakriti, yet so long as the contact between the ignorant or indiscriminate jiva and the senses continues, birth and death does not cease. It is just like a man so long as he is dreaming, there is no corresponding reality for the objects experienced in the dream but he, the dreamer, continues to be deluded by the dream objects, and continues to suffer the dream sorrow, although this does not exist as real sensations in him, and ceases when he becomes enlightened on waking. Thus birth and death, grief, fear etc affect the deluded jiva, the ego and not his being or Self. Hence the aim should be not to identify with one’s own body which is non-self and unreal and to identify oneself with the Self, which is the only reality. This is called wisdom which consists of distinguishing Self from Non-Self”.

From the above questions and answers what we have to understand is the play of graha and atigraha and the meaning of what causes death of death.



[To be continued]

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