“Death is Truth, life is a dream” Guru Nanak Dev
Very very long ago, there lived a mighty king named Abhaya, meaning fearless. After ruling for several decades, he was desirous of learning about Truth, and obtaining liberation. Unsure of whom to seek guidance from, he invited four Masters to his palace. He had heard about their greatness but had never met them before.
Upon their arrival, he honoured them in a kingly and kind-hearted way, and gifted each with some precious jewels. He made them sit on the royal chairs, but he himself sat on the floor, and humbly requested them to tell him about Truth. They all, except one, quoting different scriptures, spoke a lot. The one who didn’t speak much seemed more interested in listening to others. His name was Anidra, meaning the one who is always awake. He looked very young, perhaps twenty, but seemed to have the presence and maturity of a thousand years old. He was short, but looked strong. His face was round, with big and glowing eyes. His face reflected the pleasantness and calmness of His mind. When the other Masters would say something amusing, Anidra would chuckle like an old man. He also frequently nodded His head in appreciation of what the other Masters were saying. It made the whole atmosphere more relaxed and appreciative of each other. Abhaya was mesmerized by Anidta’s presence. He would frequently turn his eyes toward Anidra, but was also being careful to not ignore other Masters. He looked at Anidra like as someone who had lived in a desert all his life and was now looking at the Ocean.
After a lengthy discourse and discussion on Truth, the king thanked them all for coming, and one by one he bid farewell to them. As they were leaving, Abhaya requested for a blessing from each,” O Holy Master, please bless me for a long life so that I may realize the Shiva in me.” The first three Masters to leave blessed the king, “May you live a very long life and realize the Shiva in you!”. The last one to leave was Anidra. Abhaya was very happy to be with Him alone for a while. He approached Him and requested for the same blessing ,” O Holy Master, please bless me for a long life so that I may realize the Shiva in me.” Anidra replied,” I cannot give you such a blessing.” The king looked astound. Anidra continued,” To realize Shiva, one must die. If you must realize Shiva, I bless you. May you die soon!” Then He whispered softly and smilingly,”But don’t worry. It is very easy.” He placed the jewels, which He had received earlier, back in Abhaya’s hands and said ,” These hold more value in your hands.” And He left. Abhaya, holding the jewels in his hands, just stood there and watched Anidra leave. His body, mind, and speech had gone numb. After Anidra had gone out of his sight, he closed his eyes and kept standing there for a long time like a statue. He couldn’t understand what was happening to him, but he had understood what Anidra had meant, that one’s mind must die before one can realize Shiva.
Shiva is called samashan vasa, meaning, the one who resides in a cremation ground. When all the desires in the mind die, it becomes like a samashan. Only such a mind can realize Shiva.
Just as, when the clouds disappear, the entire space again becomes filled with sunshine, similarly, when the desires disappear, the entire mind again becomes filled with Shiva.
There is a story about Guru Nanak Dev. In His early childhood, one day when He didn’t return home from school, his family went looking for him and were shocked to find Him sitting and meditating in a samashan. When asked why He was sitting there, He replied,”This is where I must come at the end, so I am just becoming familiar with it.” In His mind there was nothing else but God.
The one whose mind has become like a samashan is called a Jeevan mukta, meaning the one who has been liberated even while still living.
For liberation, the death also provides two great opportunities, one just before the death, and another one right after the death.
If you can remember God just before the death, you become liberated. It may seem easy, but it is not. Your last thoughts before you die are mostly about your desires and attachments, which become the reason for your next life. Only the one who cultivates a habit of remembering God with his heart, continuously for many years, may be able to remember God at the end too. That’s why many great Masters have emphasized the importance of remembering God.
Saint Kabir says, “Don’t let even a single breath pass by without remembering Lord Rama, you never know this may be your last breath.” He further says,” Why are you caught up in so many different things? Just sing Rama’s name. Only His name can bring you liberation, and it doesn’t cost anything.”
Guru Nanak Dev says,”The kings and emperors, with mountains of wealth, are not even equal to an ant if they don’t remember God.”
Mahatma Gandhi encouraged people to remember God even while doing worldly activities, which He himself also did. When He was shot to death, the last two words He uttered were ‘Ram..Ram’.
The second opportunity comes right after you die. Dying is like waking up from a dream. You suddenly wake up to the Reality. But it lasts only momentarily as, because of the desires and attachments in the mind, you choose to fall back into sleep for another dream. Only a rare one manages to remain awake. Remembering God just before the death helps you in remaining awake after the death.
Both these opportunities are not available to those who commit suicide because they fail to honour life. To be free, one must honour life, remember God, and be prepared to welcome the death.
Anidra’s presence and His words had made Abhaya very restless. His mind had been stirred. There were so many what, why, and how in his mind, that he wanted to know the answers to. And he knew who could give him the correct answers. But, above all, he wanted to be in Anidra’s presence again.
Unable to sleep, in the middle of the night he decided to go to see Anidra who lived several miles away from his palace. For the first time in his life, he was walking alone in the middle of the night, bare feet, and empty handed. For the first time he felt that he had nothing to give to someone. His heart was telling him that Anidra was not only a Master, but also a mystic Faqir who, like Consciousness, was self-supporting and self-sufficient. His heart was also telling him how to go to a Faquir. The mighty king walked like a helpless beggar the whole night.
To be continued…