02 Sep Existence After Death
In Hinduism it has always been emphasized that there is continuity of existence after death. An individual continues in a new embodiment and environment after the death of the physical form. The individuality which undergoes the experiences of birth and death repeatedly, is called the jiva. This jiva is the eternal light of Consciousness playing upon and seemingly conditioned by the subtle body comprised of the mind and intellect. This subtle body, which is nothing but a bundle of thoughts, moves out of the physical body when its purpose has been exhausted. Even while living in this body, thoughts determine both our physical and subtle movements. And after death we still pursue the fulfillment of those thoughts which we had while acting through the body.
The result of motives and intentions encouraged, positive and negative thoughts entertained. and actions performed, determine the type and texture of our thoughts when we leave the physical body.
In the fourteenth chapter of the Gita, Lord Krishna defined three types of thought-textures, or gunas, through which the human mind functions: Sattva – purity: thoughts that are pure and noble; Rajas – passion: thoughts that are passionate and agitated; and Tamas – inertia: thoughts that are dull and inactive.
The quality of thoughts is influenced by the type of guna behind them. Our predominant guna is cultivated by the type of activities and thoughts that we engage in throughout our lives. Therefore, it is logical to assume that the predominant guna also determines the direction and range of the subtle body after its release from the physical body.
There is a continuity of thought-life in this embodiment. Every moment is an extension of the previous moment’s thoughts. Thus, if there is continuous development in the thought-life during one’s embodiment, then there is no reason why this continuity should suddenly end at the time of death. If sattva predominates, then one attains to the highest heavenly realm. If, at the time one leaves the body, the mind is under the influence of rajas, it takes an embodiment among those who are extremely attached to action. The mind seeks the most appropriate field where it can exhaust its existing tendencies.