The Great Soul Achieving the Supreme At the Time of Death

The transition of death is something that has troubled people throughout human existence. Some are fearful, others are hopeful of salvation in some form. The Katha Upanishad reviews the question of existence beyond death quite extensively. The Egyptians and the Tibetans both have a Book of the Dead that outlines the transition that takes place after the soul departs from the body. The Gita takes up this question as part of a continuous transitional state through which the souls pass in a procession of lives. One major question that the Gita takes special interest in, however, is the ability of the soul to focus and direct its attention at the time of death to ensure that it continues moving in the right direction during the event of death. The concentration and focus of a lifetime is of course, the pre-condition that helps to ensure that the direction remains constant. At the same time, the Gita provides insight into the psychological state of the yogin who consciously meets his death.

Sri Aurobindo describes the ideal poise of the soul thus: “A motionless mind, a soul armed with the strength of Yoga, a union with God in Bhakti,…and the life-force entirely drawn up and set between the brows in the seat of mystic vision. All the doors of the sense are closed, the mind is shut in into the heart, the life-force taken up out of its diffused movement into the head, the intelligence concentrated in the utterance of the sacred syllable OM and its conceptive thought in the remembrance of the supreme Godhead….That is the established Yogic way of going, a last offering up of the whole being to the Eternal, the Transcendent. But still that is only a process; the essential condition is the constant undeviating memory of the Divine in life, even in action and battle…and the turning of the whole act of living into an uninterrupted Yoga….Whoever does that, finds Me easy to attain, says the Godhead; he is the great soul who reaches the supreme perfection.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, Second Series, Part I, Chapter 3, The Supreme Divine, pp. 282-283