अथ यदास्य वाङ्मनसि सम्पद्यते मनः प्राणे प्राणस्तेजसि तेजः परस्यां देवतायामथ न जानाति ॥ ६.१५.२ ॥
atha yadāsya vāṅmanasi sampadyate manaḥ prāṇe prāṇastejasi tejaḥ parasyāṃ devatāyāmatha na jānāti || 6.15.2 ||
2. Then when his speech merges into his mind, his mind into prāṇa, his prāṇa into the heat in his body, and the heat into the Supreme Self, he no longer knows them.
Atha, then; yadā, when; asya, his; vāk manasi sampadyate, speech merges into the mind; manaḥ prāṇe, the mind into prāṇa; prāṇaḥ tejasi, prāṇa into heat; tejaḥ parasyām devatāyām, heat into the Supreme Self; atha na jānāti, then he does not know.
After heat leaves the body, a person can no longer recognize anyone. Heat merges in the Self. The Self is the final resting place.
Then what is the difference between the death of an ignorant person and the death of one who has attained Self-knowledge? Śaṅkara says a person who is ignorant merges in the Self only to re-emerge again and be reborn. But when a person who is enlightened dies, that is his mokṣa, his liberation.
Why are we born again and again? Because we have unfulfilled desires. Suppose we die now—what happens to those desires? They have to be fulfilled, so again we seek a body. Perhaps we want to be rich, or we want to rule over people, or we want to eat good food, or we want to be a great scholar. Unless we have a body, we cannot fulfil these desires. But our goal is desirelessness. Only when we become desireless can we attain Self-knowledge. Holy Mother, Sri Sarada Devi, used to say, ‘If you have to pray for anything, pray for desirelessnes
But some people say: ‘What’s the harm in being reborn? Life is fun.’ The scriptures say: ‘All right, go ahead. But how long will the fun last? At some point you will be tired of all this and realize what a bondage life is. Then you will seek liberation from this cycle of birth and death.’
On the other hand, there are a few people who, after becoming free themselves, want to help others become free. In Mahāyāna Buddhism, these people are called bodhisattvas. They have knowledge, but as long as others are suffering, they will not take the benefit of that knowledge to attain final release. They will return to this world for the good of others.
There is a very interesting story about Rāmānuja, the expounder of Viśiṣṭādvaita (qualified monism). When Rāmānuja was initiated, his guru said to him: ‘You see, this is a very great mantra. You must keep it a secret and not tell it to others.’ Then Rāmānuja asked, ‘What would happen if others hear this mantra?’ The teacher answered, ‘They would all be liberated, but you would go to hell.’ As soon as Rāmānuja left his teacher, he went to the top of a temple tower and called all the people to come. When everyone had gathered there, he repeated the mantra to them all. This is the ideal.
There is a theory called sarvamuktivāda—all shall be liberated together. That is to say, I do not want to be liberated until all are liberated. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that some people are very selfish. Even when they go to a public feast they enjoy it themselves and then quietly leave without telling others about it. But there are others who, as soon as they hear about it, gather everyone together to enjoy it with them.
One day Swami Vivekananda went to Sri Ramakrishna and begged him to let him remain absorbed in samādhi. But Sri Ramakrishna scolded him, saying: ‘I thought you would be like a big banyan tree, giving shade and rest to many people who are scorched by the
This is the ideal—to be like that tree, to make no distinction between a good person and a bad person, to be ready to give relief to everyone, whether friend or foe. That is a bodhisattva. When you have that ideal you do not care for your own liberation. That is true selflessness.
What we have to remember is that we are all one in the Self. Unless we are conscious of this, we are not liberated.