The birth of a child is a celebration, a welcoming of a newcomer into a family. But with every birth must come death. We all know this to be true, although we prefer not to think about it. However, we may not be aware that every death is followed by a birth. The Bhagavad-Gita describes this truth:
For one who has taken his birth, death is certain; and for one who is dead, birth is certain.Bhagavad-Gita 2:27
Who is the one, referred to here, whose birth and death is certain? The answer is the living being, or spirit soul. The soul itself does not actually die, so the birth and death being described are only the birth and death of the body.
For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying, and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.Bhagavad-Gita 2:20
Even though I experience the birth and death of the body I am in, I never die, and I am never born. I am the living being within the body. My body is born, but I existed before that birth. In fact, there has never been a time when I did not exist. I came into the body at conception, and I will leave it at death. I am eternal and always a person, whether or not I am in a material body.
As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.Bhagavad-Gita 2:22
This cycle of repeated birth, death and reincarnation, is recognized in many traditions and is understood as being a painful experience, not something to celebrate.
Can I become free from the cycle of birth and death? According to Vedic literature, this is not only possible but is the goal of human life. Indeed, it is only while I am in a human body that I can inquire into these subjects and can learn how to end the cycle of birth and death.
What happens when I am freed from having to accept and give up material bodies? Some people think that if I don’t have a material body, then I must be some kind of formless spirit. Their idea is that there is no form, variety, or activity in the spiritual world. But, according to the Vedas, this is not the case.
The spiritual world is not void, and I have an eternal spiritual form, even though I am currently unaware of it. I am meant to live in the spiritual world experiencing spiritual activities, spiritual happiness, spiritual emotions, and spiritual relationships.
There is a practice called Bhakti Yoga which is the most effective and efficient means of ending the cycle of birth and death. The Vedas are full of histories of people who became self-realized and free from birth and death by following the path of Bhakti Yoga.
That is the way of the spiritual and godly life, after attaining which a man is not bewildered. Being so situated, even at the hour of death, one can enter into the kingdom of God.Bhagavad-Gita 2:72
About the Author:
Sahadeva Das is an initiated disciple of Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa who comes in a long line of bona fide yoga spiritual masters. Sahadeva Das considers it his great fortune in life to have heard and learned from a self-realized soul and is humbly attempting to pass on what he has received.
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