Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 09 Jul 2020


Awareness In Death And Deep Sleep

Shri Yogendra Thakur asked: Pranam! Namaskaram! The feeling that is coming to my mind is that this body is eating, working and sleeping; from dawn to night; day after day. I am feeding this body daily and the body is getting nourished. But, at the same time, it is also also perishing, and heading towards death. The body is said to have ‘caitanya’. How will I realise that caitanya factor when this body-vehicle is headed towards its death? Please let me know. Yogendra

Swami replied: O Learned and Devoted Servants of God! The body is made of inert energy and inert matter. Inert matter is the condensed form of inert energy. The soul is made of non-inert awareness and that awareness is also a specific work-form of the same inert energy. Thus, the final essential material of the entire creation including souls is only inert energy. Food is inert matter, which gets converted into inert energy in the body and a part of that inert energy is converted into non-inert awareness. The difference between inert and non-inert entities is only superficial and not essential. Both inert and non-inert entities are inter-convertible. Both are not opposites of each other like light and darkness. The absence of light is darkness, whereas the absence of inert energy is not the non-inert awareness. If the inert energy is absent, the non-inert awareness is also absent. If gold is absent, the golden chain is also absent.

Death and Deep Sleep

In deep sleep, the non-inert awareness disappears and remains as inert energy itself, which is its essential material. Hence, deep sleep is a state of the absence of awareness. The qualities of the soul remain as inert pulses of energy in the inert ‘information chip’ which is the memory of the brain. When deep sleep ends, the resting nervous system starts functioning and the inert energy in it once again gets converted into the non-inert awareness. This pure awareness comes in contact with the qualities (thoughts) from the ‘information chip’ and the pure awareness is once again polluted with the specific qualities of that individual soul.

In death, the picture is quite different. The non-inert awareness, which is polluted with the individual’s qualities is called the individual soul. At the time of death, this individual soul leaves the body in which all the biological functions of the various systems cease. In death, there is no absence of awareness. If this idea of the disappearance of awareness makes you worried, understand that you only need to worry about the state of deep sleep and not death. You are mistaking death to be like deep sleep, as poetically imagined by some people. In death, the functions of the various systems of the body stop and the individual soul leaves the dead body, surrounded by an energetic body.

This energetic body enveloping the individual soul is called the subtle body. The individual soul in that subtle body goes to Preta Loka or the world of the dead, where it faces the inquiry of its meritorious and sinful deeds. God conducts the inquiry for ten days in the Preta Loka. After that, the individual soul enveloped in a subtle body goes to heaven to enjoy the merits earned by it and to hell to suffer for the sins committed. After enjoying the respective fruits of its good and bad deeds, the individual soul in a subtle body returns to earth along with a subtle balance of qualities. The quantities of the qualities are greatly reduced due to the enjoyment of the corresponding fruits in the upper worlds. However, there is no change in the qualitative ratio between the good and the bad qualities in the soul. This balance of qualities of very small intensity, having the same specific ratio of qualities, is called the balance of deeds, karma śeṣa or śañcita. The individual soul possessing this balance of deeds takes up a gross body according to the influence of this balance of deeds. This influence of the balance of deeds that determines the new gross body is called prārabdha. After thus taking rebirth on earth, the individual soul again performs meritorious and sinful deeds under the influence of the same ratio of its qualities and hence, the ratio remains intact. The pending fruits for the deeds done in the new birth come under the head called āgāmi.

There is a possibility that the ratio of the qualities of the individual soul may undergo a change provided the soul gets the greatest fortune of the guidance of a divine preacher (Sadguru). Otherwise, the ratio of qualities of that individual soul continues forever and the individual soul continues to rotate in the wheel of deeds, which is the cycle of birth, deeds, death, enjoyment of the fruits of deeds in the upper worlds and rebirth. This wheel of deeds, also known as the karma cakra, continues until the soul comes in contact with a divine preacher, who is a Human Incarnation of God. God appears on earth as a Human Incarnation in every human generation to give an equal chance to all generations.

Rarity of Human Rebirth

There is no need to be worried about death at all. In death, there is neither the disappearance of awareness nor the disappearance of inert energy and inert matter. There is only a change of place since the soul travels from earth (Karma Loka) to the upper world (Bhoga Loka). In terms of the existence of awareness, death is far better than deep sleep because in deep sleep, awareness completely disappears and the activity of soul also stops, even if temporarily. Both these do not happen in death. The real reason for our worry should be the scene after death, when the soul reaches the upper world. The soul’s deeds in the present birth determine the type of world and the fruits the soul will enjoy after leaving the material human body. We should also be worried about the future birth that the soul will obtain on this earth. Obtaining a human rebirth is almost impossible as told by all religious scriptures. Even the Hindu religious scripture does not guarantee human rebirth. It says that human rebirth is very very rare (Manuṣyatvaṃ...durlabham). Other religions say that human rebirth is impossible. There is no major difference in saying that human rebirth is “very rare” or that it is “impossible”. But it is better to accept that there is a very rare possibility of human rebirth. This is because God has the power to discriminate and the power to grant a human rebirth to a certain rare soul, when God feels hopeful that the soul will use that rare chance of human rebirth to get reformed. If you completely close the possibility of God being able to grant human rebirth to a soul, we cannot say that God is omnipotent. However, one must remember that there is not the slightest difference between religions on the matter of human rebirth and as such, “very rare” and “impossible” mean one and the same.

Personally for a soul, it is better to believe in the impossibility of human rebirth so that one can concentrate one’s full attention on making maximum spiritual progress in the present human life itself. Even if there is a possibility of human rebirth, it is certainly not assured and it is, in fact, an extremely rare possibility. At the same time, there is no point in stressing too much on the impossibility of human rebirth either since it contradicts the omnipotence of God. We must, however, keep in mind that apart from being omnipotent, God is also omniscient. So, He extends the opportunity of human rebirth only to the most deserving cases, which makes it an extremely rare possibility. Will any wise soul depend on such an extremely rare opportunity of human rebirth and take the risk of wasting the present human birth without making spiritual progress?


| Shri Datta Swami | Awareness In Death And Deep Sleep | Chaitanya Karmaloka Bhogaloka Manushyatvam durlabham