Immortality – Here and Now!

Om/ Tryambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam /
Urvarukamiva Bandhanan Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat
Om – Sacred syllable, also representing Vedic Philosophy in its entirety.
I worship Lord Shiva with three eyes, full of fragrance and one who blesses all with prosperity; one who nourishes all beings. I am tied in bondage to my body and fear of death like the squash remains tied to its vine even after it is fully ripe. Please release me from this bondage, not from my connection to immortality.

This is a very often chanted prayer song (Mantra) in Vedic worship services. In theological terms, the above prayer song dedicated to Lord Shiva is often translated as seeking freedom from death at least as long as possible and seeking “Amrutham” or elixir that provides eternal life or immortality.

Such prayer is closely connected to our desire or “attachments” to worldly possessions such as our body, life, etc. and seeking more of it. This is somewhat surprising and strange indeed. Also, why seek an elixir for eternal life in a heaven that no one can describe after having been there! Such interpretation and translation may also take away from the true and well-intended inner and philosophic meaning behind such prayer songs?

It is a matter of nature and our observation that almost all fruits as they ripen tend to release and wither away from the stem holding the fruit, connecting it to its parent tree or plant. See the figure of an apple and two varieties of oranges. As they ripen they fall off or easily separate from their stem. The best time to pluck any tree ripened fruit is when it is almost ready to fall off from its stem and severe its connection! The only exception would seem to be the squash variety. Pumpkin, Butternut squash, Spaghetti squash, etc. fall in this category. Please see image below of a squash from my garden, months after harvesting it from its vine. Even after such long time of separation, this full grown or ripe squah is still very firmly attached to its stem! It required considerable effort to cut it away the stem . Even then a portion of the squash is still attached or bonded to the stem! Another image shows a squash literally rotting away and yet firmly attached to its stem. As human we exhibit such bondage to our material body and physical possessions. Even at the last moment, at ripe old age when the body is withering away or just before death and after a long life, we still do not want to give up our bondage. We are petrified of our death! This prayer song seeks liberation from such attachment, fear and the pain and suffering it causes?

Why this prayer for the elixir of immortality – Amrutham? Either it is seeking protection for more bondage and longer life here in this life or another form of bondage in another place (i.e.) heaven!

The single truth that Vedic Philosophy repeatedly clarifies is that anything and everything is part of nature (Tat Thwam Asi). Anything and everything exist as the enabled and as evidences, the enabler being the invisible, eternal and omnipresent laws of nature (i.e.) Brahman. Hence everything is Brahman (Sarvam Brahma Mayam).  Instead of seeking a mythical potion of immortality, the prayer is perhaps more intended to remind us of this self-evident truth: That all of us are mortal, only when viewed as mere evidence or the enabled. Everyone is immortal as inseparable parts of the eternal laws of nature (I am Brahman: Aham Brahma). This is also declared in the Vedas by addressing its students “Ye, Children of Immortality (Amrthasya Puthraha)! — Shvetashvatara Upanishad, Chapter II, Verse 5.
It is the same perspective conveyed in BG: 2.20:
The enlightened person – one who sees his own self simultaneously as the enabled and the enabler behind them – is neither born nor dies at any time.  Such a person has no beginning (such as birth), end (death) or return.  Hence the person is unborn, eternal, permanent and ancient (transcends through time or generations).  Thus, when the body is slain, the person is not slain.

The enlightened person referred to here is one with a clear understanding of anything as a two sided coin: Enabled (Cognitive) and the Enabler (Brahman), the in-cognitive! For more discussions on this two-sided coin analogy and many other essays please see the book: Spirituality in Practice

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2 Responses to Immortality – Here and Now!

  1. K K Sankaran says:

    Excellent post. “Immortality – Here and Now “ reminds me of a talk by Swami Sarvapriyananda in May 2019 at the Vedanta Society of St Louis. The title of the talk was “What is Vedanta? The talk was brilliant and lucid and very understandable by all. The talk is available on line in the Vedanta Society of St Louis YouTube channel. I listened to it in person and it was electric! He mentioned about heaven being a different place and going to heaven being time related I.e. after death, meaning not here, not now. Vedanta enables one to attain Immortality -Here and Now.

    Can Brahman be equated to Laws of Nature? You can experience the Laws of Nature without experiencing Brahman, which is the Turiya state. Brahman manifests as the laws of nature. There is a technicality here.


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