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Shiva Sutras 3.42 & 3.43 – The Enlightened Have No Fear Of Death

Shiva Sutra 3.42

Bhuta-kancuki tada vimukto bhuyah patisamah parah

The enlightened yogi has reached immersion in God consciousness and returned to his state of origin, that which he always had been all along. However, we are told that he does not immediately leave his physical body. “He is said to be BHUTA-KANCUKI, (meaning) covered by the five elements. This means he maintains his physical frame externally and not in his internal consciousness.” [SLJ]

The enlightened yogi is “absolutely liberated (vimuktah) from the misery of repeated births and deaths.” Eventually he leaves the body and thereupon becomes one with Shiva. Before leaving the body he is said to be ‘just like’ Shiva, the Oneness, God consciousness. As long as he remains in the physical body there is some difference between him and the Oneness. [SLJ]

Even though he is firmly established in God consciousness, he endures whatever inclinations to illness are genetically carried in his body. He “experiences all the physical symptoms associated with the body” such as headaches, etc. However, he “does not insert ego or I-consciousness into the physical body, nor does he say, ‘I am this body.’ He thinks, ‘This body is the frame, let it remain like this, what do I care?” [SLJ]

Thus we understand that the enlightened are not disposed to reverse the aging process or even heal their sufferings. Perhaps such efforts might again entangle their pure consciousness in differentiated perception. Rather they use their immersion in God consciousness to remove any focus from the physical body. Therefore they do not experience pain and suffering as anything more than an external occurrence as if it is happening to a machine.

In the same way as we might observe an old car slowly breaking down, the enlightened yogi does not identify with the symptoms of the body as it moves toward decrepitude and death. In the Sanskrit text the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.iv, we are given the understanding that death is not experienced as pain and suffering for those who have cultivated the sense of non-attachment to the body.

Those who have ‘let go’ of their ego identification with the body, their current life and attachment to dear ones, experience an easier death. Those who are strongly attached and consider the body as their sole identity experience greater suffering. In fact the more you are attached to your body, the more pain you will feel at the time of death.

The Pain of Death/Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.iv

For the ordinary unenlightened ones, the degree of pain experienced at the time of death is said to reflect the level of attachment to those desires that have been driving us throughout life. Individuals who are holding onto to the anguish of unfulfilled desires are said to endure greater pain.

This understanding is evidence of why forgiveness is often urged at the time of death. Those who are trapped in desires of exacting revenge on others are themselves more vulnerable to suffering. We all know that some fortunate people pass peacefully, while others suffer in protracted agony. Desires born in greed, anger, and hatred produce great pain not only during our lives, but also at the time of death.

The path to a painless death is said to be renunciation of desire. The more you ‘let go’ of your attachment to things and people, based on your attitude towards them, the less painful will the moments of your death be.

Habit becomes memory.

The letting go of desires, and not wanting anything, is not likely to occur in the last moments of life unless we have cultivated this understanding over time in our repeated patterns of thought. Habit becomes memory. This consciousness of non-attachment develops over time in the mental renunciation of all desires, through practice and our actions in daily life.

What you do in every moment every day contributes to the totality of your consciousness. That totality generates the quality of your death and the location - as consciousness - you will find yourself in after you leave this plane.

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Death for the enlightened yogi is nothing to be feared. The enlightened one “thinks, ‘I can take off this physical frame at any time I like.’ This body is just a case covering him. He does not insert his I-consciousness into that body…so he is absolutely free.” [SLJ]

This process of returning Home is not about miracles, affecting material objects and attachment to the preservation of the physical body. As a friend of mine likes to say – Matter does not matter! This wild journey is only in consciousness. In the deepest levels of reality, nothing exists that is not consciousness.

Years back in my own explorations I came up with the phrase ‘data-collecting vehicle’ to describe the human body and the sense organs. In a similar vein, in the Kularatnamala Tantra the body is compared to a machine: “…the remaining portion of his life is just like a machine.” [SLJ]

The enlightened yogi is said to live always immersed in God consciousness and views the body as separate, a machine, like the sheath that covers a sword. ‘I am not my body.’ He is not interested in his body and lives only mechanically in it. [Jaideva Singh]

Liberated in an instant

Swami Lakshmanjoo says that the wise person who is established for only one second in that supreme God consciousness becomes liberated. This intriguing idea is expressed in two related texts.

Netra Tantra: 8.8: “If one realizes the state of supreme God consciousness for only a fraction of the time it takes to blink one’s eyes, then from that very moment, he is said to be completely liberated and will not come again into this world.”

Kulasara Shastra: “…If the word of that real nature of God consciousness travels only in sound from one ear to another, not in actual existence, then when the sound of that word has entered the other ear, that word will liberate him instantly. This is the greatness of that supreme state of God consciousness.”

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Shiva Sutra 3.43

Naisargikah pranasambandhah

The Sanskrit word PRANA means the life breath and vital force, breathing in and out. PRANANA is the breathless-breath.

In Sanskrit there are many words that describe various aspects of the subtle thinking of the ancient seers. There are no equivalent words in English. In fact the limits of the English language may actually be a barrier to higher consciousness. While you may not feel inclined to master Sanskrit grammar, learning a few of these brilliant terms will elevate your consciousness and accelerate your journey Home.

Swami Lakshmanjoo explains that the Sanskrit word PRANANA is the “seed of breathing in and out.” He gives the example of a child in the womb. “In that child, there is no breathing, there is only life. This breathless breath is the breath of life.”

The universe is created through the powers of Maya, the matrix, matrika, and her various energies, the forces of Shakti powers. Shakti is always one with Shiva, the Oneness - but she ‘appears’ to be separate for the purpose of manifesting the universe.

The energy of that pranana, which lies in the womb and produces the child, is this Shakti power-energy. Here Swami Lakshmanjoo calls this power the Goddess. “At the first movement of that energy, this supreme Goddess is transformed into this kind of breath (pranana). And then that breath (pranana) is transformed into the second movement of breath, which is breathing in and out (prana).”  

So we understand that the sequence of life entering the child in the womb begins with a breathless breath (pranana), which is the seed of breathing in and out (prana). From this the Goddess is said to hold the “state of limited being and then also enters into the objective (externally manifested) field. So this attachment with the breath that appeared at the beginning is the glory of her (absolute free will) svantantrya.” [SLJ]

This understanding of our ‘attachment’ to the breath hopefully explains sutra 3.43, which states that it is the nature of the enlightened yogi to “travel with the breathing movement.” Therefore when he returns from the eternal state of God consciousness “the connection with breathing in and out occurs naturally.” [SLJ]

The unspoken implication here is that when the yogi is immersed in God consciousness, breathing is either slowed down or somehow experienced very differently. The breathless breath is the first movement of the Goddess Shakti energy toward attachment with the body. It is the ‘glory’ of her free will that allows life in the body to occur.

Swami Lakshmanjoo has talked about this experience of the slowing of the breath, or the breathless-breath, which happens automatically in God consciousness, in his other recorded teachings. However, he says that this slowing of the breath just happens naturally – and thus we are made aware that such an experience cannot and perhaps should not be forced.

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In Kashmir Shaivism the Oneness is Shiva, God consciousness. Shiva and his Goddess Shakti are eternally united as one and never separate. In the ‘appearance’ of separateness, Shiva creates an entire class of bliss-filled energies (shaktis). This class of energies, which is filled with supreme bliss, is called MAHA-GHORESVARI (pronounced Maha-ghor-esh-wari).

This class of energies is said to cause fear in the ignorant and is destructive for those who are unaware. But for the enlightened, who are filled with bliss, these energies are creative. They destroy the Sphere of Time. The Mahaghoresvari serves those who are aware and have reached God consciousness. “This energy of Lord Shiva, which is none other than his consciousness, creates and destroys the sphere of time by entering the path of breath…for those who are elevated.” [SLJ]




The whole world finds asylum in your divine effulgence, in the Ocean of Consciousness, in the Heart that exists within all, in the vital principle of Life (pranana), in the assemblage of emerging and subsiding waveform-waters, and in courageous valor. May we return to immersion in that sweet-flavored wave that is the Essence of your Being.

- The above is my intuitively imagined, transposed version of a prayer in the Rig Veda, Fourth Mandala, Sukta 58, Verse 11.




What Happens When We Die: Parts 1,2, & 3 from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.iv


Rig Veda Samhita, Sanskrit Text, English Translation & Notes According to the Translation of H.H. Wilson and Bhasya of Sayanacarya; Indica Books and Parimal Publications, Varanasi, India, 2002.