Dying Gracefully

Dying Gracefully


Death is inevitable, but only a few people have the fortune of a graceful death. Sadhguru tells us about how to ensure a graceful exit for a dying person, and the importance of taking away the “choppiness” of death.

Everywhere in the world, people talk about dying peacefully. All they are talking about is they do not want to die in a choppy manner; they want to recede gently. To take away the choppiness of death, one simple thing you can do is to have  a lamp – preferably with ghee but you can also use butter – burning constantly, 24 hours of the day next to that person. This creates a certain aura so that the choppy nature of withdrawal can be regulated to some extent. Another thing you can do is to set up some kind of a universal chant – – at a very mild volume. A consecrated sound like this in the background will also make sure that choppy withdrawal can be avoided.

Having a lamp and a simple chant going should continue up to 14 days after one has been certified dead, because he may be medically dead but not existentially dead; he is not completely dead. Death happens slowly. The withdrawal of the life process from this lump of earth – the body – happens step-by-step. For all practical purposes, the activity of the lungs, heart and brain has stopped so they are declared dead, but it is not yet so. Even if the person’s body is burnt, he is still not dead because his movement into the other realm has not started.

It is based on this that there are various kinds of rituals in India up to 14 days after somebody dies. Unfortunately, the knowledge and power behind these rituals have mostly been lost and people are just doing things for their livelihood. Very few people truly understand the significance of what it is. Unless one leaves absolutely consciously that he is instantly off, for such a person we do not do anything, but for all others, these things are done because you have to show them the way.

So the first thing that is done when somebody dies is, anything that has been intimately in touch with their body, such as underclothes, is burnt. Other clothes, jewelry, everything is distributed – not just to one person – but among many people within three days. Everything is distributed as quickly as possible so that they get confused. They will not know where to hang around anymore. If you were to give a bundle of their belongings to someone, they would go there because the energy of their own body still exists in the clothes. These things were done not only to settle the dead but also to settle the family and relatives, so that they understand that it is over. It doesn’t matter how involved and attached you were to somebody, when it is done, it is done – the game is up.

Generally, everywhere in the world irrespective of which culture, it is said, “even if it is your enemy who is dying right now, you must create a peaceful atmosphere for him, you don’t do ugly things.” Maybe you shot him in battle, but you take off your hat when he is leaving or you say, “Ram Ram,” or whatever you know. When somebody is dying, at that moment the whistle has already been blown and the game is over. There is no point kicking now.

That is the reason why, when you see that even the dead are not treated with respect, something within you shakes. Not because you have to treat a body with respect but because he is exiting slowly. It doesn’t matter how he lived, at least that must happen well. Every human being must have that much intention.