On August 12, 2002, Sri Swami Satchidananda gave satsang at the Integral Yoga Institute of Coimbatore during which he answered questions. This excerpt is part of the last recorded satsang of Sri Swamiji and follows his participation as a keynote speaker at the World Congress on Peace, Nonviolence and Harmony in South India. He left the body and entered Mahasamadhi a few days after this talk and the conclusion of the World Congress—his participation a fitting testament to his deep and lifelong commitment to interfaith harmony and world peace.
Question: What will happen to us after our death?
Sri Swami Satchidananda: It will be known after death. While alive, it cannot be known. You are now alive. Why do you bother about death? A Tamil text says, “Don’t bother about the past. What is going to happen in the future is not at hand. Don’t bother about the future. Don’t lose the present by thinking about the past and the future.” If you want to know about the happenings after death, you must ask those who died. Don’t worry about death. Really, there is no death for us. We are divine beings, God’s manifestations. In the Bible there is a saying: “God made man in His own image.” Not only man, but the entire creation—animals, birds and all other beings—are made in God’s image. Only when God dies, we will die.
There is no birth or death to God. So we have no death. What is death? We just leave the body. The Atma or soul has no death. When you go to a place and inquire about a person known to you, if that person is no longer alive, people will say, “Sethu poyittarey” [they are dead and gone]. Unknowingly, we say the truth. Who died? Who has gone? The soul leaves the body and goes away and enters another new body.
In God’s creation, nothing dies. In the Bhagavad Gita, there is a verse: “What is, will always be; what is not, never will be.” What we call “death” is a mere change of form. Wood dies to become a chair or a table. Gold dies to become bangles. One thing becomes another thing; change of form only. Even a body does not die. It is composed of five elements—earth, water, air, fire and ether. When the soul leaves the body, the body is decomposed into the elements. When a Christian dies, their body is entombed. The priest says, “Earth to earth, water to water, air to air …” That is, composed body is decomposed. So, even a body does not die. Cotton dies to become cloth; cloth dies to become a shirt; a shirt dies to become a rag; a rag is burnt to become ash. So, nothing is lost; a mere change of form. That is what we call death. We are immortal. Realize and experience immortality by practicing Yoga.
Question: What is the future of the world?
Sri Swami Satchidananda: Who created the world? God created it. More than us, God is concerned about this creation. Is it not? God has created it for some purpose. When that purpose is over, God will dissolve it. That is what we call cosmic dissolution. All this is a play. When the play is over, another will be created. Why does God do this? I cannot answer. See God and ask, “Why did You create the world?” I suppose that once God was all by Himself; no, Herself; no, Itself. God saw God everywhere. “O God! What am I doing? There is nothing else!” So, God thought, “All right. Let Me create the world.” From what? Some religions say that God created the world from dust. Then, the question arises: “Who created the dust?” No answer. So, that idea is not correct. God multiplied Itself. The world is God’s manifestation.
A saint sings, “Here, You have become the entire universe….” Why? For play. That is why we say “Krishna Leela” [Divine Play], “Rama Leela.” What is a play? If a plain white card is given to you, can you play? You cannot. But, if the card is cut into 52 pieces, can you play? All the 52 pieces are white; no difference. How to play? If they are stamped 1, 2, 3,…10, King, Queen, Jack, etc., then a card game can be played. In one game an ace may be a trump, in another a Jack may be a trump. The importance of each card may vary. After the game is over, all the cards are put into the packet.
In the same way, we are all cards created by God. One may be rich, another may be poor, and so on. To God, all are equal. All are God’s instruments. We should also feel equal. There should be no superiority or inferiority among us. But, everyone has a distinctive role. There is no duplication in the creation. Scientists say no two snowflakes are similar; no two persons are similar. Everyone’s nature is different. That person cannot do what you are doing. Everybody is unique. Everyone has responsibility. Someone may say, “I have no work. I am not doing anything. I am wasting my time.” Even to such a person, there is work. What work? They serve as an example for others to say, “We should not be lazy like them.” For that purpose they were created.
All are God’s instruments. But we refuse to be God’s instruments. We want to make God as our instrument. Have we brought anything at birth? You may be rich today, but did you bring anything at birth? Nothing, not even a cent. We came empty-handed. When we die, do we take anything with us? Nothing. Even the body is not ours. When we enter mother’s womb, we don’t have a body. Mother created it by taking calcium, iron and other nutrients. We do not bring with us name, fame, position or status. God has given them to us. We cannot claim them as ours.