3. Preparing to Leave the Body

“From Bliss all Beings emerge.
By Bliss all Beings are sustained.
Into Bliss all Beings merge.”
- Taittireeya Upanishad 

“As a well-spent day brings contented sleep, 
so a well-lived life brings contented death.”
- Leonardo da Vinci

“Death is not extinguishing the light.
It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”
- Rabindranath Tagore

       • Create a silent, settled, sanctimonious environment. The thoughts, feelings, and emotions of those who are nearby are the most important influence on the dying body. Silent prayers, meditation, and devotion (such as guru puja) will create a sublime effect. Whether or not the departing soul is able to practice meditation, the meditation of others in the room is the greatest gift of peace that anyone can offer. Establish meditation times when the patient is not to be disturbed. In the same way that a midwife knows several critical techniques to ease birth pangs, the following techniques will ease the passage of the soul from this world to the next.

What to say: Sitting silently in the simplest form of awareness with no expectations may be the best offering. Even even if there is no response from the dying soul, always, always assume that he/she is aware. Awareness may be heightened at this time. Hearing is the last sense to go before death. So only positive remarks should be spoken. Center on basic comforts. Assure your dying friend that he/she is about to begin the most wonderful adventure. All the love and support that he/she has had here on earth will be with him/her in even greater amounts as he/she journeys beyond this world. 

       If there is suffering, reassure the departing soul that the pain will pass. The present discomforts will lighten the burden in the future, and make it clearer, brighter, less encumbered. He/she is releasing and unloading the accumulated stress of a lifetime. No matter what the situation, always reassure. A silent, supportive environment is the greatest comfort.

       Offer familiar religious memorabilia and icons to inspire the highlights of his/her life, but avoid too much reminiscing about fond memories and old times; those are the bonds that tie one to the world. Reliving old memories may make passing more difficult; it may enliven reminders of life's attachments. Also, conversation may be taxing at this time. Be sensitive to the person’s needs. Silence is always golden. Attention on the immediate needs of the body is primary.

       Even after the body is “clinically dead”, you should assume that your thoughts, speech and actions are being conveyed to the deceased. This is the most delicate and important time to continue your support and love. 

       • Maintain pleasant surroundings. A neat, clean, orderly room with beautiful, fresh, fragrant flowers will uplift. A private room is extremely important. Always be attentive to see that the bed sheets and the patient are clean. In this context, it is also important to consider the building architecture. It is always best to live - and die - in a house with proper Vastu. Buildings that violate the natural laws of Stapathya Ved Vastu Vidya, necessarily create subtle confusion and disharmony in the minds of the residents. 

       The most universal principle of vastu is to have the residence with the entry facing unobstructed to due east or due north, and the building structure oriented to the cardinal directions as perfectly as possible. An open central space with plenty of light from all sides is also valuable. Ideally the head of the patient’s bed should point to the North at the time of passing. The patient's feet should never point to pictures of Devas or Gurus.

       • Be Crystal Clear, Simple, and Sincere. Hospice professionals recommend: "Identify yourself by name before you speak, rather than ask the departing soul to guess who you are. Speak softly, clearly and truthfully when you need to communicate something important for the patient's comfort, such as, 'It is time to take your medication,' and explain the reason for the communication, such as, 'so you won't feel pain.’ Do not try to manipulate the patient to meet your needs. . . .

       “Since hearing remains all the way to the end, speak to your loved one in your normal tone of voice, identify yourself by name when you speak, hold his/her hand, and say whatever you need to help him or her ‘let go.’

       Sit with your loved one, hold his/her hand, do NOT shake the person to get his or her attention and do not speak loudly. Speak softly and naturally. Do NOT talk to others about the dying person in that person's presence. Speak directly to the dying person as you normally would, even though there may be no response. Never assume the person cannot hear; hearing is the last sense to go.”

       • Love for the Departing - One simple point emphasized by Hospice professionals throughout the world is NEVER try to "correct" or "straighten out" one who is in the process of passing away. NEVER argue, contradict, explain away or belittle ANYTHING that the dying soul feels. One may experience visions, voices, withdrawal, and seem incoherent in the process of detaching from this world, but NO ONE is competent to judge the experiences of the soul leaving this world. Even the philosophy of reincarnation may be inappropriate to explain to someone on his or her deathbed. 

       Unconditional love is the only appropriate attitude. Hospice professionals recommend: “This is not the time to try to change your loved one, but the time to give full acceptance, support and comfort . . .. Give absolute permission to your loved one to let go. Don't hold the intention to keep him/her with you. There should be no guilt or compulsion about leaving. The departing soul may try to hold on to this world even though it brings prolonged discomfort. Make sure that they feel free to move on.

       “Your ability to release the dying person from this concern and give him/her assurance that it is all right to let go whenever he/she is ready is one of the greatest gifts you have to give.” (Emerson Hospital Hospice Program, 5/7/99)

       No matter what the concern, assure your loved one that everything will be taken care of. In your own words, assure the passing soul that the next step of evolution will be brighter than anything in this life. Assure your friend on every level - that his or her household is in order, his friends and relatives all wish him or her well, and that everything will be well cared for. S(he) should have the attention on the bright future ahead - on the light. Do not under any circumstances try to "work out" problems and details of the person's life at this sensitive time. Just accept and reassure. If the departing soul feels fear or anxiety, assure that nervousness is natural when any big change is occurring, but the departing soul's good fortune will continue at every step in the future, as it has in the past. 

       • Be sensitive. Unconditional love may be challenging in the face of irritability and discomfort. The dying person is loosing a lifetime of attachments and it can be painful. Always consider, is silence more desirable than conversation, music or prayers? Is the comfort of holding hands or stroking the head appreciated? Are scripture verses pleasing? Is water needed? Is a cool, moist cloth on the forehead welcome? Is a warm blanket needed? TV entertainment may be an annoying distraction at this stage. Be alert not to impose your own ideas of what is best for a soul in transition.

       • Provide a comforting touch. Hospitals can be especially impersonal; family members can provide great comfort and security by simply holding hands or a gentle massaging. Oil massage to the feet and head, may be a welcome healing balm. Rudraksha beads, tulsi beads, and/or sandalwood beads are also mentioned in the Vedic literature for their soothing and evolutionary qualities. Any type of familiar religious rosary or memento will provide the inspiration for moving towards the Almighty and have special comforting effects at this time. Ganges water, tulsi* and rudraksha** are generally considered the most valuable articles to be present at the time of death. 

       • Essential Aroma Oils also can create a sublime atmosphere for transcending in the final moments of life. A few of the most cherished aromas include:
Basil for opening the heart, calming the mind and reducing fear and sadness.
Bergamot for depression and anxiety. 
Cedar for calming depression and tension and stress.
Eucalyptus for antiseptic cooling influence.
Frankincense for transcending.
Citronella for repelling insects and treating headaches.
Lavender for overall health and well being.
Lemon for stimulating.
Lemongrass for muscles and nerves.
Orange for curing sadness, nervousness and anxiety. 
Patchouli for upliftment.
Peppermint for revitalization.
Rosemary for stimulating the mind.
Tea Tree as antiseptic, and for clear thinking.
Vetivert for relaxation.
Geranium for centering and calming upliftment.
Rose for happiness and peace. 
Jasmine for relaxing and soothing and reducing stress.
Ylang Ylang for reducing depression and tension.
Sandalwood for well-being and freedom from stress.
See Section 6 - Costs and Materials and Section 8 - Transcending for further information.

       A Word of Caution: Orthodox Hindus avoid doctors and hospitals in the final days of life, in order to avoid the contamination of mixing energy with unknown persons. Subtle karma is transmitted through touching others, and from receiving gifts from others. By accepting gifts, you accept a certain amount of karmic obligation to the giver. In the final days of life when the soul is in its most delicate state, such karmic mixing is unacceptable to some Hindus. For this reason, death in the familiar surroundings of one's own home is the ideal. If in a hospital, family members should be the main care givers.

       • Inspire with words of scripture when appropriate. Chapter 2 of the Bhagavad Gita is especially useful. Mahavakyas that you speak for the dying soul may be appropriate. But take care not to make someone feel uncomfortable about being "prayed over." Keep your expressions simple, natural, familiar, and appropriate.

       • Create balance in the mind and body. Despite the technological advances of modern medicine, the allopathic approach often has devastating toxic side effects. Ayurveda physicians are available throughout the world to provide the most ancient, scientific system of natural health care. Specially trained medical doctors can diagnose an individual's specific mind/body type and identify any psycho/physiological imbalances that may exist. The doctor prescribes foods, teas, seasonings, herbs, massage oils, aroma treatments, healing sounds and/or daily routines to gently correct the imbalance—to compliment whatever other medical treatments may be prescribed. For example, vata pacifying aroma oils and massage oils can settle and sooth the whole atmosphere. Nearing death, the Ayurvedic prescriptions are more for comfort than cure. See Section 6 - Costs and Materials for the most cherished traditional offerings.

       • Vedic Yagyas are especially effective for creating a settled environment. Skilled Vedic pundits produce an effect of harmony and coherence for the individual — even though the performance of the yagyas is thousands of miles away. The yagya procedures always begin with a Sankalpa, which locates the exact "address" of the individual, whether he/she is on earth or ‘departed’. The Vedic rites are designed like an efficient courier service to convey comfort to the individual on the most subtle level of consciousness. 

       This site is not affiliated with any particular yagya service, but reliable information is available at: https://www.maharishiyagyaprogram.eu 
Jyotish-Yagya@Maharishi.net or YagyaProgram@Maharishi.net

If the soul is fortunate, he/she will have yagyas prior to death:
1. to pacify malefic planetary influences (graha shanti), 
2. for Peace of Mind and Smooth Passing (MY-505), and 
3. to promote spiritual progress (MY- 507). 

Two other yagyas are especially effective before death
1) Nava Graha Shanti Homa creates peace and harmony among all the planets. 
2) Maha Mrityun Jaya Mantra is one of the most cherished stotrams at the time of death. It invokes: 

       "I honor the All Knowing (3 eyed), sweet, fragrant Lord. May that Nourisher of All Beings release me from attachment to the world, like a ripe squash that snaps easily from the vine, yet maintain my eternal connection to the Almighty." 

       This mantra is famous for letting go of this world and easing the transition to the next world. The effect of the yagya is determined by the number of repetitions. The most powerful yagya consists of 125,000 repetitions (Sava Lakh) of the Maha Mrityun Jaya Mantra. Yagyas with 65,000, 33,000, and 11,000 repetitions are also common, as is the shorter Mrityun Jaya Mantra without the bija (seed) mantras. Yagyas will produce better long-term effects for the dying soul than any medications. And they complement any medical treatments that are prescribed.

       • Bhagavat Saptah Yagya is one of the most highly regarded yagyas. The Rishis prescribed this yagya for Raja Parikchit 5000 years ago when he had only seven days to live. The Rishis guaranteed that this would provide the greatest benefits. This yagya lasts about nine days. It can cost many thousands of dollars and requires a favorable jyotish muhurtha. But less expensive versions are commonly available. In fact, if Karma Khanda pandits are not available, a Bhagavat Katha - reading of the scripture can be done in the native language of the departing soul. Even a simple reading of the chapter summaries (which describe Vishnu’s Ten Avatars) has value. It is especially valuable for descendants to perform this rite one year after the death of a close relative. The cost can range from $2000 to $20,000. Often several families will join together to sponsor this yagya.

       • Gandharva Veda Ragas create soothing melodies, which are designed to enliven balance and harmony in the individual and the environment. Different harmonics played at different times of the day create different effects, such as emotional strength, calmness, understanding, joy, happiness, love, peace, tranquility, wisdom, and soothing sleep. These melodies can be played quietly as ‘background music’ with excellent effects. The simplest way to bring this blessing to any location is via the Maharishi Veda App. The optimum harmonious melodies of each period of each day in your timezone is selected automatically, 24 hours/day. No need to change the Raga with the changing rhythms of the day. It’s all automated. 

       • Sama Veda recitation (as well as Shiva Sahasranam and Ganga Sahasranam) also are valuable and available on the Maharishi Veda App. But above all, be respectful of the wishes of the departing soul. Silence may be the best medicine. TV probably will be an annoying distraction.

       • Vedic Sound Therapy - Another easily implemented Vedic technology is available at https://www.vedicsound.org. This website allows you to listen to Vedic recitation specifically suited to your ailment or state of mind. The Vedic suktams are streamed directly into your computer in the comfort of your home. Nature’s repair mechanisms are profoundly enlivened by exposing the psychophysiology to the Vedic sounds correlated with the specific area(s) of concern. This approach to health through the vibrations of consciousness is free from side effects. For best results a nine-session course of Vedic Sounds over three to nine consecutive days is recommended. Each session lasts 45 to 70 minutes.

       • Food For Thought - Home-cooked, organic food is an important part of caring for loved ones. Toxic chemicals accumulate in the body throughout life, and cause untold disease, suffering and misery, long before the onset of death. A diet of home-cooked, garden-fresh, organic food should be part of everyone’s life. A pure and healthy diet should begin before birth. That means that every prospective mother should begin eating pure food even before conception of a child. Don't wait for the agony of death to begin taking care of the body. 

       The great 20th century saint, Sri Anandamayi Ma cautioned her disciples that “The quality of your mind is greatly influenced by the kind of food you eat.” (Kishenpur, Uttarakhand, 17 June 1962) This warning has been sounded by other great rishis of our age. Much of the food that we eat is contaminated by toxic chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, preservatives, texturizers, colorings, and other additives. These chemicals affect the mind, as well as the hygiene of the kitchen and the consciousness of the cook.

       Meat products are especially difficult to digest. In addition, meat products accumulate toxic farm chemicals and antibiotics, which are administered to the weak, suffering farm animals. This influence is inevitably transferred to the eater. A fresh, organic diet will produce the most ideal influence on the mind.

Volumes have been written about Near-Death and After-Life Experiences. If you are interested, The Journey Home: Inspiring Passages From Near-Death Experiences to Comfort the Dying by Michael A. Quinn and Linda L. Quinn is the most comprehensive for overcoming the fear associated with death. By reading the passages from those who have experienced profound unconditional love and incredibly beautiful Near-Death Experiences, the authors inspire a genuinely positive vision for the journey to the next world. They show how to create a precious inner sanctuary in the heart to hold, nourish, comfort, and cherish the soul whenever fear or sorrow arises.

*  The Value of Tulsi Beads (Sacred Holy Basil):
     1. Maha Pataka Samhantrim (frees one from the effects of past errors according to Skanda Purana), 
According to Garuda Purana:
     2. Deha Sada Harih (brings the presence of God to mind), 
     3. Pitrnam devata krtam koti gunam) increases the merit of pious actions a million fold), 
     4. Preta raja dutakah drstrva nashyanti durena (keeps the force of death away), and 
     5. Duhsvapnam durnimittam bhayam shastrajam (protects from bad dreams, accident, weapons, and death). 

Reliable sources of Tulsi Malas.

**  The Value of Rudraksha Beads
In Padma Purana, Chapter 57, verses 99 to 106 Lord Shiva explains: “A man becomes equal to Me by wearing Rudrakshas…. Therefore, O son, with all diligence, wear a Rudraksha. A man wearing a Rudraksha, who dies on the earth, goes to my charming city, (and) is honored by all gods.

“Formerly in Maru country, a man was harassed (taunted) by a female spirit under a tree when he was going for trading. A Brahmana saw the spirit dancing (and said to her:) ‘Who are you? You are helpless; you are covered over with a tattered garment.’

She then told the Brahmana: ‘I have heard from a messenger of gods, O Brahmana, that this charming man will be struck with lightening and certainly meet with death. Then he will be my husband.’ Indeed, the thunderbolt fell from heaven on the man’s head; and he fell on the ground. He landed on half a portion of a Rudraksha seed. Then, O son, an airplane quickly flew from my city (Shivaloka). The fortunate man got into it and remained in heaven for a long time. Having obtained my blessings, he will return to the earth as a rich and wealthy man. O son, thus a man who dies on a piece of a Rudraksha, gains great benefits (i.e. goes to heaven).

“This is the effect of reaping the benefits of rudraksha (and past karma). The fruit of wearing a Rudraksha with the full knowledge (of its importance) is beyond description. He who dies with a rosary of Rudrakshas or with (just) one Rudraksha (on his body), would become the follower of Siva, Sakti Ganapati, or the Sun.” (Translated by Bhatta, 1989)

This story emphasizes how rudraksha may attract the most ripe good fruits of one’s past karma at the time of death. Srimad Devi Bhagavat, 1st Skanda, Chapter VI, Verse 40 to 54 relates another similar story about the benefit of dying near a rudraksha mala.

Reliable sources of Rudraksha Malas.