THE GRANDEST | OF ALL. trueness What makes a verity" grand"?

 

What rituals are performed after death in Hinduism? How long after death is a Hindu funeral? What are the 13 days of mourning in Hinduism? Why is death important in Hinduism?

              “ Comfort ” is no test of verity. On the negative, verity is frequently far from beingcomfortable.However, one mustn't cleave to comfort, If one intends to really find verity. 

 — Swami Vivekananda( CW 8. 14) 

A group of council scholars went to Belur Math to meet Swami Vivekananda eventually in the 1890s. In the course of their discussion, Swamiji said to them 
 

London( December 1896) 
 
 “ You're all studying different seminaries of European gospel and theories and learning new data about ethnicities and countries. Can you tell me what's the grandest of all the trueness in life? ”( CW 5. 329) 
 Still, what would be our answer? How would we indeed begin to suppose of an answer? 
 If Swamiji were to ask the same question to you and me. 

 Then's one way Every verity is precious. Every verity thus can be allowed
 of as “ grand. ” maybe all trueness aren't inversely grand. Some are presumably grander than others, and there's veritably likely one verity which is the grandest among them all. 

But how can we compare one verity with another? One way to do it's by determining the propinquity of a verity to the absolute verity. Which verity would qualify as the “ absolute verity ”( with a capitalized “ T, ” no less)? A verity that's independent of time( kāla), space( deśa) and reason( nimitta) — a verity that stands on its own, a verity that's fully independent — deserves to be the absolute verity. Vedanta identifies it with what's real( satya), conscious( jñāna), and horizonless( ananta)( Taittirīya Upaniṣad,2.1.1). All other “ trueness ” besides this are relative in nature. 
 
 Let us assume that the nearer a verity is to the absolute verity, the grander it is. By this mark, the grandest of all trueness would obviously be one which is the nearest to the absolute verity; it would be the verity which is, so to say, a doorway to the absolute verity. Which means, if we hold on to the grandest of all trueness long enough, we shall ultimately come face to face with the absolute verity. 
The absolute verity itself can not be the grandest of all trueness for the simple reason that it's the absolute. It transcends all relative trueness. It's inimitable. The grandest of all trueness is a relative verity each right, but one which is nearly on the frame that separates the relative from the absolute. 
 
 Which verity, specifically, would qualify as the grandest of all the trueness in life? There's a lot of subjectivity involved then, so we ’ll most likely have different answers. What was Swami Vivekananda’s answer? It was simple and direct 
“ We shall each die!

 That’s it? Every one of us is going to die one day — as if we did n’t know that formerly! The ineluctability of death is a verity each right. But far from being “ the grandest of all trueness, ” it's on the negative the most unwelcome of all trueness. It’s a verity we ’d rather not suppose about. 

 
 rather of allowing about life and living it to the full, why should we fritter down our time and energy incubating over the caliginous, dark study of death? Death is going to come anyway, whether we suppose about it or not. Why should we adulate this hideous verity and call it “ the grandest of all trueness ”? Swamiji’s answer, thus, seems at first sight to be either plainly absurd or meant as a joke. 

 In reality it's neither. When a Vivekananda speaks, thoughtful men and women don't dismiss his statements so fluently. To hear the words of a prophet we need commodity further than simply a brace of good cognizance. To read a prophet’s words in print we need commodity further than simply a brace of good eyes. That commodity further is modesty, reverence, and a sensitive, verity- seeking heart. When the words of a prophet resonate in the heart of such a person, their inner meaning is revealed. Let us open our hearts to Swamiji’s luminous words 
 
 “ Look then — we shall each die! Bear this in mind always, and also the spirit within will wake up. also only hatefulness will evaporate from you, practicality in work will come, you'll get new vigor in body and mind, and those who come in contact with you'll also feel that they've really got commodity upping from you. ”( CW 5. 329) 

 The high condition Swamiji puts is that “ the grandest of all trueness ” — the verity of our eventual death — must be kept in mind always. A small part of the mind must always remain soaked in the study of death. What shall we gain from this ceaseless contemplation on death? Awakening of the spirit, exposure of all hatefulness, practicality in work, a new vigor in body and mind, and the power to hoist others. 
 
 But all of these will come only if we face the study of death dauntlessly. This is important. Indeed recreants posterity over the study of death. But they do n’t choose to do it, they're forced to do it. Their inner weakness and fear impel them to agonize endlessly about death. Swamiji could tolerate and forgive everything but poltroonery. When a convert timidly suggested that serving others in this deciduous world was of no use because death is always stalking behind every one of us, Swamiji burned up. 

 “ Fie upon you! If you die, you'll die but formerly. Why will you die every nanosecond of your life by constantly belabor on death like a sissy? ”( CW 7. 176) 
 
 Swamiji wanted the contemplation on death to be a healthy exercise of the stalwart, not a death- phobia of the weak. 

 It's true, still, that indeed in the case of the stalwart and the humorless, the immediate effect of contemplation on death would clearly be drooping of the spirit. The benefits would surface only latterly. Swamiji agrees 
 
 “ relatively so. At first, the heart will break down, and despondency and caliginous studies will enthrall your mind. But persist, let days pass like that — and also? also you'll see that new strength has come into the heart, that the constant study of death is giving you a new life, and is making you more and more thoughtful by bringing every moment before your mind’s eye the verity of the byword, ‘ Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. ’ stay! Let days, months and times pass, and you'll feel that the spirit within is waking up with the strength of a captain, that the little power within has converted itself into a potent power! suppose of death always and realize the verity of every word I say. ”( CW 5. 329 – 30) 

 As always, Swamiji was only echoing the instruction of his practitioner, Sri Ramakrishna, who tutored “ The world is impermanent. One should constantly flash back death ”( Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, 589). On another occasion Sri Ramakrishna said “ Do your duty in the world but flash back that the ‘ pestle of death ’ will eventually smash your hand. Be alert about it ”( Gospel, 428). 
 
 The significance of keeping the study of death always before our mind’s eye has been emphasized in numerous religious traditions. Ansari(d. 1088), a Persian Sufi master and minstrel, said, “ O man, flash back death at all times. ” In Ecclestasticus( 7. 40) we find this instruction “ In all thy workshop flash back thy last end, and thou shalt noway stray. ” Daidōji Yūzan( 17th cent), a samurai and author, wrote “ The idea most vital and essential to the samurai is that of death, which he ought to have before his mind day and night, night and day, from the dawn of the first day of the time till the last nanosecond of the last day of it. ” Takeda Shingen( 1521 – 73), a great Japanese general and pupil of Zen, remarked “ Zen has no secrets other than seriously allowing about birth and death. ” The reproduction of Christ expresses the idea this way “ Thou oughtest so to order thyself in all thy studies and conduct, as if moment thou wert to die. ” 

 It's important to flash back that not only must there be the trouble to keep in mind the study of our eventual death, but we must persist with this practice indeed through the dark, saddening days of despondency. The important thing is to remain intensively positive. We do n’t have to be obsessed with death. Nor do we want to live with a constant death- related anxiety which makes us avoid the content. Wherever perseverance, fortitude and a strong will to succeed are present, light has got to come sooner or latterly. That's what happens in the case of contemplation on death too.
 
Still, brushing away all of Yama’s volition, tempting offers( Kaṭhopaniṣad, If Nachiketa could remain mightily determined in his hunt to know the secret of death.1.23 – 27), it was because Nachiketa had for long contemplated on his own death. At the end of Yama’s tutoring, Nachiketa was an altogether converted person. The form of a child remained, but his mindfulness had smashed all walls and come one with the universal knowledge. 

The study of death was the turning point in Siddhartha’s life too. On his first ever chariot drive outside the palace, the youthful Napoleon encountered complaint, old age, and death. He might as well have driven on, dismissing those effects as ineluctable, so why bother? That's what utmost of usdo.However, he would n’t have come the Buddha( 563 – 480 BCE) and we would n’t be flashing back him moment twenty- five centuries after he passed on, If Siddhartha too had done that. But the study of mortal suffering, climaxing in that apocalyptic , mysterious event called death, noway left Siddhartha’s mind after what he saw outside the palace. When he answered the riddle times latterly under the bodhi tree, Siddhartha was a converted figure. Gone was the Napoleon of Kapilavastu and in his place stood the Enlightened One, the Napoleon of repudiation and compassion. 
The passing down of his father, Shivaguru, brought about a profound change in the mind of youthful Shankara( 788 – 820 CE). Encountering the reality of death so beforehand in life, the youthful boy began to view the world in an entirely new light. Life was noway the same for him again. He noway looked back until he'd answered the riddle of death. Indeed, a Sanskrit movie on Shankara’s life showed him always adjoined by two companions, Knowledge and Death Shankara had acquired the first and conquered the alternate. Visible only to Shankara, these two followed him far and wide. Towards the end of the movie, we see Death bidding farewell to Shankara and the great monk intimately realizing that the time had come for him to lay down the body and enter the horizonless, inexpressible realm of eternity. 

A analogous thing happed in the life of a boy named Ramakrishna( 1836 – 86), who lived in Kamarpukur, an out- of- the- way vill in Bengal. He was only seven when his father Kshudiram failed. The whole family was plunged into anguish. But the death of Kshudiram affected Ramakrishna more unnaturally than it did others. To all appearances, there was little change in the merry, lively child. But inwardly a tremendous metamorphosis had taken place. Not numerous knew that the youthful boy had begun to still slip down and wander alone in the Bhutir Khāl cremation ground or in other solitary spots in the vill. This inner change, sparked off by the event of his father’s death, reached its logical capstone at Dakshineswar when Ramakrishna endured the verity that transcends death. 
 
 These are only a many exemplifications to show how the patient study of death, rather of demoralizing and weakening a person, can bring about a qualitative enhancement in life. It not only uplifts and strengthens people but also wafts them into the arms of the Immortal Being where death has no access. 
The usual question arises The exemplifications given are all of extraordinary people, all geniuses. How can what applies to them apply to us ordinary people? Vivekananda answers 
 
 “ The wisdom of yoga tells us that we're all geniuses if we try hard to be. Some will come into this life more fitted and will do it hastily maybe. We can each do the same. The same power is in everyone ”( CW 4. 219) 
There's no species called “ ordinary people. ” Every one of us is extraordinary. No exception there. Each soul isn't only potentially godly( CW 1. 257) but also inversely godly. The degree of incarnation of divinity may vary, but the quality of divinity does not. The same power, said Swamiji, is in everyone. It’s up to us to decide with what intensity and towards which thing that power is to be directed. If it's directed towards “ the grandest of all trueness ” — towards the study of death — a awful thing happens. Certain subtle changes take place within and our personality undergoes a radical metamorphosis. 
 
 How would this change my life? I'll be a different person in several significant ways and the change will come egregious when I compare what I formerly was with what I've the power to be. 
 Attachment( rāga) 
 
 I was maybe explosively attached to the world — to my family, my effects, my career and social status, to my likes, pursuits and ideas. The intensity of my attachments may have redounded from the unacknowledged conviction that the world was all that signified. I had neither the time nor the inclination to suppose of anything beyond. “ Who knows what’s beyond, and who’s beyond anyway? ” I may have said in the history. 
Or maybe “ Let me make the utmost of what’s right before my eyes. Let me now eat, drink and have fun. There ’ll be plenitude of time to suppose about death when I grow old. ” Or putting on the cloak of a pragmatist I may have said “ Wisdom lies in making hay while the sun shines. Then’s life and let me enjoy it while it lasts. As to death, there’s presumably nothing beyond, just zilch. ” I may have indeed allowed
 that I was a sucker and given my attachments a religious color. 
 
 But reflecting deeply on the reality of death can change me. I may continue to have a semblance of attachment to the world, but it wo n’t be strong. My contemplation on death will reveal to me that nothing lasts. Everything perishes sooner or latterly. Indeed my own body will one day either give food to the worms underground or come a pile of ashes and combine into the soil. No sensible person gets attached to murk. I'll begin to see a shadowy world and keep myself free and unattached. 
Desire( vāsanā) 
 
 Attachment types desire. My once attachments filled me with everlasting solicitations, big and small, gross and subtle, noble and ignoble. A mind full of solicitations is like a distance of water full of ripples, orbits and vortices . Now I know why I was always restless and anxious. I had no peace. No sooner was one desire fulfilled than another popped up. It was an endless chain and I set up myself set hand and bottom. 
After beginning my humorless reflection on the reality of death, I'll be freed from my worldly solicitations, because my mind’s constant lodging on death will move me that pursuit of solicitations is really the pursuit of death. It’s a way of speeding the process of death. For, the dispensable struggle to fulfill one’s solicitations destroys the body and weakens the mind. I'll learn to say no to all solicitations except one — the desire to know the riddle of death and to explore the realm that transcends death, or in popular terms, the desire to know God. This is a advanced desire, which subsumes and overcomes all other solicitations. This is a special kind of desire because, unlike other solicitations, this will take me on the road to freedom, not to bondage. 
 
 wrathfulness( krodha) and Fear( bhaya) 
 Wrathfulness and fear arise in every desire- filled mind. Whenever obstacles came, I used to get angry. The wrathfulness didn't manifest externally when I was strong enough to overcome theobstacle.However, I seethed, If the handicap was too redoubtable. Whether I felt strong or weak, I couldn't avoid being filled with anxiety about the unknown hurdles that lay ahead and with fear that ever or other the object of my desire and attachment might noway be mine or that it might desert me or be snared down. My once feels like a wretched actuality. 
 
 But now I can be free from both wrathfulness and fear. Having the verity of my own death forcefully impressed on my mind, I'll find it meaningless and foolish to be angry with anybody for any reason. We do n’t generally get to see a man on his deathbed blowing his top. That’s the time to forgive and forget. And that's what I ’ll do. I do n’t have to be on my deathbed to do that. The miscalculations that the dying man seeks to amend during the final moments can now be remedied by me indeed when I'm in the stylish of health. Not only will I not get angry, I wo n’t also sweat anything. Having encountered the verity about death day after day, month after month, I ’ll be free from fear. 
 Vision( moha) 
 
 A life without a good ideal is a life of vision. The only ideal that I had in the history was to satisfy the desire that was upmost in my mind at any given time. This pursuit wasn't only empty but also unattainable. It defied all sense. One would suppose that satisfying a desire would get relieve of that desire, but it does n’t, it only strengthens the desire by producing another desire to repeat the experience. Now I know why I led an unfulfilled life. 
But after I begin reflecting on death, my life can attain a measure of stability, because my ideal now is to know the verity that transcends death. The misgivings, the incongruencies, and the concave values of material life can no longer throw me off my balance. The patient study of death will always produce in my mind the study of what transcends death. It's this constant plumbing of the depths of my mind by the study of the transcendent that will lift me from the morass of vision. It'll gradationally transfigure me into a new person. 
 
 I'll see that the old- me was embrangle down by attachment, desire, wrathfulness, fear, and vision. But the new- me, who has begun to reflect on death, will be free from them. This freedom leads to, as Vivekananda said, awakening of the inner spirit, exposure of hatefulness, practicality in work, new vigor in body and mind, and power to hoist others. 
These are great means, no mistrustfulness, but they aren't the thing. The thing is to know the riddle of death. With these recently acquired characteristics, which transfigure the old- me into a new- me, I'll continue my hunt for that which lies beyond death. Not for nothing did Swamiji call sannyasa “ love of death ”( CW 3. 446). Every genuine spiritual candidate is a monastic at heart. Not everyone can or need to take formal monastic promises. While the monastic renounces both externally and internally, the lay candidate practices repudiation only internally. That's all the difference there's between a monastic spiritual candidate and a lay spiritual candidate. What's needed of both is to be a true candidate of God. And that's easy enough to corroborate. Every true candidate loves death. 


Swamiji explains 
 
 “ Worldly people love life. The sannyasin is to love death. Are we to commit self-murder also? Far from it. For self-murders aren't suckers of death, as it's frequently seen that when a man trying to commit self-murder fails, he noway attempts it for a alternate time. What's the love of death also? We must die, that's certain, let us die also for a good cause. ”( CW 3. 446) 
Swamiji also goes on to show how the little individuality of ours, which is centered round the body and mind, must be replaced with a universal individuality that's able of embracing everyone and everything. 
 
 The constant study of death gives us that tremendous motivation to break away from the hold our narrow tone has over us. It widens our vision and this finds expression as selfless, unalienated love towards all. The spirit of service therefore naturally fills the heart of an awakened soul. The body- centered and mind- centered personality begins to fade down and is replaced by a God- centered personality. 
When this process is complete, an amazing change takes place. The study “ I'll die one day ” throws away the robe and brings me face- to- face with the verity which proclaims that “ I'll noway die. ” The grandest of all trueness, which reminded me every moment of my death, now takes me by the hand and leads me through the doorway to the absolute verity of my immortal nature. 
 
 before I felt that “ I'll die one day ” because my “ I ” was mixed up with my body and mind. Now I realize that “ I'll die one day ” really means “ I'll be separated one day from my body. ” The death that scarified me in the history is discovered to be nothing but the separation of the body from me and my mind. It's really the death of the body, not my death, because I and my mind continue to live. 
 Also, I do n’t have to remain formless for ever. Soon enough I can get another body. In the words of the Gītā(2.22), it's just like changing the old dress for a new bone
 . The body- dress changes in every life. Since every one of us has had millions of once lives, we've changed our dresses millions of times. It appears relatively silly now to make a big deal about a simple matter like changing a dress. When we suppose about it calmly, death loses its sting. 
 
 What worries the new- me isn't the death of the body but the survival of the mind. The new- me will fete that the real problem- creator isn't the body but the mind. So long as the mind lives, it's going to latch on to some body or other. It can not live on its own for long, because all its solicitations need a body for expression and satisfaction. So I'll long for the death of the mind itself. I'll be fed up with my mind- dress and the uncountable body- dresses I've worn and discarded. I wo n’t want a dress presently. 
In the Bible, the fall from grace is represented by the desire to cover the body. Adam and Eve were born pure and naked. The first stain of contamination produced in them the desire to cover themselves. The new- me will have changed the direction of my trip. I'll be also swimming upstream towards God, having purified myself of all worldly solicitations. So clothes — the body- dress and the mind- dress — will come redundant. The new- me will want to wander freely in God’s Garden, pure and naked, like Adam and Eve before the fall. My expanding knowledge will no longer be suitable to remain confined within the body- dress and the mind- dress. 
 
 I wo n’t still go out of my way to seek the falling of the body- dress. I'll know that the body is going to fall sooner or latterly anyway once it’s air- texture withers down. What I'll strive to throw down with all my muscle is the mind- dress. The power to fling it down — or, more directly, to burn it down — comes through the grace of God, which is ceaselessly blowing like a breath. I've only to extend the cruises of the yacht of my life. Meditating on “ the grandest of all trueness ” is the first step in the process of extending of the cruises to catch the breath of godly grace. 
The burning- away of the mind- dress is another kind of death. It separates me not only from my body but also from my mind. This happens only formerly, and when it does, I'll be free for ever. No more deaths for me, because there will be no further births for me. I also will have no body and no mind — and so no limitations and enslavements of any kind. No more will anyone relate to me as he or she or they. Gender belongs to the body, not to the ātman. I'll also be the unfettered ātman — free, perfect, and immersed eternally in supreme bliss. 
 
 It's easy to understand now why Swamiji called the certainty of death as the grandest of all trueness for, a stalwart and positive reflection on it can take me fleetly, as no other verity can, to the absolute verity of my immortal, godly, and joyful nature. 



SeeDISQUSComment