Articles by Sri Rajen Vakil

The First Hour

Article 45 - The First Hour


The first hour after death is the most important and it would be right not to move the body of the person deceased for that one hour. The Tibetans call this period the one of clear light and in the old days, the student would be trained in the yoga of the clear light.

We have seen that the spirit and soul have been pulled like an arrow on the string of the vajra nadi. Where do they go? This cannot be understood in the way we understand space geographically. The scriptures talk of three universes. The first is called Bhu or the physical universe of the five senses. We can also call this the cellular universe with cellular time. Next is Bhuvaha - the unseen astral universe of feelings and sensitivities, of dreams and emotions. This is molecular and just as molecular substances can take any shape, our feelings can take any form, from impure to pure and a whole range from happiness to sadness. Here we have molecular time which is much faster than cellular time. Scientists say that the skin of the physical universe is the speed of light and nothing exists beyond it, so we can but imagine the speed of time in an unseen universe.

Beyond and interpenetrating both the Bhu and the Bhuvaha is the Swaha universe of matter in an electronic form. We can barely visualise the state of matter and the speed of time in this universe. This is an interpenetrating space of pure light.

Our thinking so formatted to time as hours and days that it is very difficult to understand time as energy with speed. We have seen that at the moment of death, the speed of the arrow is the fastest. Thus as soon as the soul and the spirit leave the physical form, they are automatically in Svaha or the universe of light. Here the soul which has an astral form, leaves the spirit or atma and slowly, in three steps, descends to the Bhuvaha or astral universe and begins a fifty-five day sojourn in the dream world. This process happens in the first hour after death.

The light is so powerful that in normal circumstances, we would avoid it just as we close our eyes to headlights at night.

Article 44 - Concept of Reverse Time


If we were to ask an astrologer to specify our moment of death, he would reply that the moment of birth is the moment of death. What does this mean? It means just before we die, time reverses.

Our whole lives we go forward in the line of time, from the past to the future. The young child becomes an old man. At our time of exit from this world, the old man goes back and in three minutes becomes a young child again (not physically), going out the way he came. In other words, we live our life twice - from birth to old age and in three minutes, from old age to the point of birth and then death. These three minutes pass like a three-minute dream.

Can we do anything about it? There are so many things I would like to change, rectify so many mistakes, and not take forward certain diseases. All this can be changed. To be able to work in those three minutes, we must practice daily in our dreams. Every night, we must practice waking up and consciously observing our dreams. In a dream, we can live our whole life in three minutes, as if we are passing through a sequence of important events of our life. For this we learn to hold our consciousness in dream time. Then those three minutes become our greatest opportunity.

Guru Hargovind Saheb, the sixth guru of the Sikhs, had a disciple, the Raja of Saket Mandi. For a number of nights, he had a dream in which instead of being a king, he was born and died as a Chandala or lower caste. One day on a hunt with the guru, the Raja lost his way. He spotted a hut in the forest. From the hut, a whole family came out caught him and said their father had returned from the dead, not listening to his cries of denial. 

After some time, the Guru came and asked the family to free the Raja. The Guru then told the Raja that he was destined to be a Chandala but was born a king. However, in a dream, he had fulfilled the karma of a Chandala.

Yes, in three minutes we can change a lifetime.



Article 43 - How to Help the Dying


Can we help a person who is dying? Just as we always want to improve the quality of our life, is it possible to improve the quality of death? Here the question we ask ourselves is that if there is some journey after death, then where does the energy to sustain that journey come from? 

The Vajra Nadi acts as a bow from which the soul is thrown out. The tension in this nadi, created at death, is the energy with which the soul journeys, normally for fifty-five days, in the after world. It is very important that at the point of death, this energy is not diminished or lost in any way. That is, we do not want to do anything that disturbs the speed of the arrow. 

When a person is dying, and if there are people crying in the room, then his or her attention would go to them and there will be a desire to remain, all this while the arrow is pushing out and a lot of thrust hence will be lost. So, at such a point, it would be right to not do anything or have anyone in the room that holds the attention back. 

The second thing is it would be beautiful not to go to sleep before death comes. The person dying may start feeling sleepy and so the proper way would be to keep that person awake by talking to him in such a way that is fully relaxing. If we want to drive a car the whole night, then we would ask a friend to come with us and keep talking throughout the night so we do not go to sleep while driving. Similarly, we keep the person awake but if he cannot resist going to sleep, then we let him do so because in fighting sleep too, a lot of energy will be lost.

The first hour after death is the most important and the body should not be disturbed in any way. If the hospital asks us to empty the bed, please pay for an extra extended hour. It is in this first hour after death, that the soul experiences the state of pure light. 

We will talk about this next week.

The Five Elements

Article 42 - The Five Elements


As we lie on our deathbed, what emotional, physical and mental experiences would we go through? The Tibetan Book of the Dead describes them in detail. Let’s have an overview.

As previously seen, all these experiences are controlled by the vajra nadi and so they will come in waves, i.e. come, go and come again with the intensity increasing each time. Further, as the moment of death approaches, the gap between the two waves will decrease. 

The Tibetans say we are structured in the five elements and as death approaches, these five elements withdraw the binding they give to our body-brain system.

The first to go is the earth element and the immediate feeling is a loss of solidity and support. We may be sleeping on a bed but we will feel as if the support has been withdrawn. Because these experiences will come in waves, the feeling of support will return after the wave has passed. We may have an inner feeling that the solidity of the body is dissolving. Momentarily, we will lose our sense of smell.

The next to leave is the water element and we will feel that the juices of our body are drying up. We will get hot flushes. It is these juices which allow us to enjoy life and we could be overcome by a feeling of meaninglessness. Suddenly, the sense of taste would have gone.  

Next, the fire element will withdraw. This element gives us sight and we may be swept by momentary blindness. Our loved ones may be at our bedside but suddenly we will be unable to see them. We will start feeling cold, as if heat has left the body. Then the wind element goes and we lose the sense of touch. We cannot feel anything and have a deep empty feeling inside. 

At the same time, certain feelings will get magnified. Say, we have complained a lot in life. Then all the complaining comes together - just as many flowers make a drop of perfume - and we get an expanded feeling of it.

Finally, the sky (akash) element leaves and we lose the sense of hearing.

If we understand all these symptoms, then at the point of death, we can detach our consciousness from them. Then they will not affect us and we can embrace death in a different way.