Death and the aspiring yogi

The last few months haven’t been very kind to humanity in general. Death has reared its ugly face one too many times in the last quarter of 2020. The passing of certain people has affected us more than others for reasons we alone know. But ‘death’ isn’t something that we like focusing on, talking about, or imagining. We tread lightly around this subject, tip-toeing and whispering because mostly we all fear death.

Of late, however, I have stopped fearing the inevitable. Death will come, one day or the other, and there is nothing that we can do about it. I had this mild epiphany very recently when, amidst all the COVID-19 horror and the passing of some beloved celebrities, my mother and my puppy had to go in for surgeries. Two consecutive weeks, as I made my rounds of the hospitals, breathing in the dull energies of confused and scared people, I realised, that I was not afraid.

Don’t get me wrong, for I love my mother and I love my dog like my own child. But as I sat and held my mother’s hand and looked into her fearful eyes, I felt pain at her fear but I did not feel fear. My dad began panicking because we heard nothing from the doctor even 3 hours after she was taken to surgery. All I could say to him was that whatever happens will happen and we simply needed to keep our heads on until we hear something. (The surgery went well and mom has made a full recovery since).

My darling wolf, many moons ago!

The same happened when Wolf was drugged and he dolefully looked at me, droopy eyes sliding into sleep. I felt very sad that my baby couldn’t tell me in so many words, what he was feeling, but I didn’t fear anything. This is all very new to me. I remember a younger version of me bursting into tears when our family physician suggested to my dad that he should get scanned for some pain that he had. I was petrified that it would turn out to be some monstrous illness that would devour him. The thought of losing someone troubled me so much that I would even imagine situations where someone dear died, and the pain that the imagination caused would start off my waterworks.

What Changed

I spent a good month in May 2019 at SVYASA university for Yoga to get certified as a yoga teacher. While all the subjects were interesting, what really intrigued me were the teachings from the Vedas, Upanishads, and the Bhagavad-Gita. These scriptures were pure gold because of the way they explained life, needs, wants, expectations, desires, and even death. The simplicity of their teachings helped me overcome a lot of demons that I was struggling with. One key aspect was- attachment. I learned to separate love from attachment, I learned to plan without expectation towards outcomes, and I learned that death, is inevitable. Clinging will only increase suffering. When the time comes we need to have the grace to allow death to take over with true dignity.

Another thing that brought about this change in me was the fact that I have started deeply believing that we are all energy bodies encased in human flesh. Since energy cannot be created or destroyed, death comes only to that perishable and finite body that we are living in. Even Lord Krishna, in the Bhagavd-Gita, chapter 2: verse 20, says the following:

न जायते म्रियते वा कदाचि
नायं भूत्वा भविता वा न भूय: |
अजो नित्य: शाश्वतोऽयं पुराणो
न हन्यते हन्यमाने शरीरे || 20||
na jāyate mriyate vā kadāchin 
nāyaṁ bhūtvā bhavitā vā na bhūyaḥ
ajo nityaḥ śhāśhvato ’yaṁ purāṇo
na hanyate hanyamāne śharīre

The soul is neither born nor does it die; nor having once existed does it ever cease to be. The soul is without birth, eternal, immortal, and ageless. It is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.

Bhagavad-Gita

Let it flow

In the end, as much as the death of a loved one is painful, we shouldn’t let fear prevent us from enjoying the present. We can cherish each other, be generous, kind, and compassionate, while savouring the time we get with each other. We can forgive more, fight less, and let the positivity take over. Death will come, expected, or by surprise, but until it does, we can be the energy and we can let it flow.


Published by Nitya Neelakantan

Yoga teacher, writer, dog mom!

14 thoughts on “Death and the aspiring yogi

  1. That’s a great clarity of thought Nitya. Iam also learning how to separate love from detachment. As you said , death is inevitable and we can focus on present, forgive more, accept our and other’s faults.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I learned this when my parents passed away, Nitya. There is sorrow, but there’s also hope that they continue to live on in some form.
    Glad to hear your Mom is doing well and that Wolf (such a sweetie!) has recovered.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we are able to move on from the death of a loved one in most cases. But the death of relationships is a lot harder and we pine because the people involved are alive. That is what yoga helped me deal with in a better way. Thank you for reading Corinne.

      Like

  3. Loved your clarity of thought, Nitya. Learning non-attachment can be difficult, but it does bring about an inner equanimity. Glad to hear that your mom has made a complete recovery and that Wolf is doing well (such soulful eyes he has!)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nitya, I think I needed to read this post!
    Love and attachments is one thing that I have trouble getting over. I don’t have any control over my emotions and the attachments I have for people in my life weigh heavier on my heart as time passes. Letting go is a lesson I have learned, but when it comes to loved ones, I lose the battle with attachments.

    Loved this post, tremendously!
    I am happy that your mom is doing well. How’s your baby ? (Such a cute pic! Such precious expressions in those beautiful eyes! )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so happy that the writing has helped you introspect further. I think it takes us all time and much effort to learn these lessons. Wolf has made a full recovery too, although he had to suffer the cone head for 2 weeks. He is a happy boy now. Thank you for asking! 🥰

      Liked by 1 person

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