Tuesday, May 28, 2024

How do you deal with the loss of a loved one? The Bhagavad Gita says the soul is immortal and there is no need to grieve.

Amlan Shekhar Baruah

Nothing is permanent in this material universe. It is an inevitable fact that every living creature has to die some day. So, we never know when we will have to lose our loved ones. Losing a loved one is undoubtedly a very painful and difficult experience. When we lose someone very dear to us, we feel like we have lost a part of ourselves. Suddenly, our lives totally change and get filled with extreme grief, depression, and hopelessness because we know that our beloved one will never come back. So, how do we handle such a hopeless and depressing situation? What should we do next, and how should we continue for the rest of our lives?

The Bhagavad Gita provides us with an excellent explanation of the nature of the soul and the truth regarding birth and death. Realizing these facts might help us a lot in understanding the truth about the soul and about life, which may help us realize that there is actually no need to grieve for the death of any living being because the soul is immortal and eternal. Thus, it might help us a lot in recovering from our grief and moving on in life to continue with our duties and responsibilities.

Verses 20 and 22-27 of Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita say:

“This (soul) is neither born nor does it ever die; nor, after appearing into the material world (in the form of a body), does it again cease to be/exist. It is unborn, everlasting, constant, and ancient.”

“Just as a human gets rid of old/worn-out clothes and puts on new ones, similarly, an embodied soul gets rid of old bodies and enters new ones. Weapons cannot shred it, nor can fire burn it. Water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. It is unbreakable and incombustible; it can neither be dampened nor dried. It is everlasting, omnipresent, stable/unchangeable, immovable, and eternal. It is said to be unmanifest/invisible, inconceivable/incomprehensible and unchangeable. Therefore, knowing it as such, you should not grieve. Also, if instead you accept it as constantly undergoing birth or death, even then you should not grieve like this, o mighty-armed one (Arjuna). Indeed, death is certain for one who has been born, and rebirth is certain for one who has died. Therefore, you should not grieve over this inevitable fact.”

The Gita clearly says that atma (soul), which resides in the body of every living being, is immortal. It never undergoes birth or death but has existed since time immemorial and will continue to exist forever. It is unalterable, and nothing can change or affect it in any way. The body may be mortal, alterable, and perishable, but not the soul. The primary identity of any living being is always the soul, not the body. The body is just a temporary home for the soul. Even without the body, the soul is complete. However, without the soul, the body is just a dead object. So, it makes absolutely no sense to grieve for the soul.

The lifetime of a soul when it resides in a particular body is just a tiny stage of that everlasting soul. Once the body dies, the soul will just enter a new body and begin the next stage of its journey. Just like we change our clothes, the soul changes its body according to its karma (deeds and thoughts). So is there a need to grieve when a loved one of yours completes the present stage of their journey and is about to begin their next stage, a brand new life in a brand new body, in order to further progress in their journey? No, but it is rather good news!  

Thus, whenever you lose a loved one, always remember that their soul is immortal and will always be there. All you can do is ask the Divine to take care of them in the next and subsequent stages of their journey. Instead of grieving for them and staying depressed, you can try to make them proud by continuing to do your duties and responsibilities sincerely. Cherish all the good and happy moments you spent with them, and put to use all the lessons you learned from them. Instead of feeling sad that they are gone, feel happy that they may be about to begin the next stage of their journey. The reason they were here was probably to teach you good lessons and make you a better, wiser, and stronger human. So do not let the time you spent with them affect you negatively and go to waste, but instead prove that the time was worth making you a better, stronger, wiser, and more righteous human.

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