Advaita Philosophy, Yoga Philosophy

What happens on death — Part II


Chandogya Upanishad


This self of mine within the heart, is the performer of all actions, is possessed of all good desires, is possessed of all good smells, is possessed of all good essences, pervades all this, is devoid of speech, and is without hankering. This is Brahman. After departing from here (this body), I shall become identified with This. He who has this belief truly, and has no doubt, he will attain Brahmanhood. This is what Sandilya said in days of yore. Sandilya (said this).

Here, it is said directly, ‘after departing from here , I shall become identified with This.’ Here there is no talk of reincarnation.


O good looking one, of this person when he departs, the organ of speech is withdrawn into the mind, mind into the vital force, vital force into the fire, and fire into the supreme Deity.

Here also, the sutra speaks of direct merger into the supreme Deity on death, there is no mention of anything like reincarnation.

6.15.1 (Chandogya) is a nearly identical sutra. A previous sutra is similar:


O good looking one, all these beings have Existence as their root, Existence is their abode, Existence is their place of merger.

Here, merger is for ‘all these beings. The next sutras in this part of the Chandogya Upanishad also speak of a similar merger.


O good looking one, as bees make honey by collecting the essences of trees sanding in different quarters, and reduce the juice into a homogenous whole;


And as they do not have such distinctive ideas there as ‘I am the juice of this tree’. ‘I am the juice of this tree’. So also O good looking one, all these creatures, after merging in Existence, do not understand this: ‘We have merged in Existence’.


‘Whichever creatures they might have been here in this world, whether tiger, lion, wolf, pig, insect, grass hopper, gadfly or mosquito, they become That’.

In these three sutras also, we see that a merger into the supreme being is described more evocatively. There is no mention or reincarnation here. In this sutra in fact, a merger into the supreme being is promised not just for all human beings but for all conscious beings, even insects, etc. Thus here we see the very important idea that all beings which have an individual consciousness merge into the Absolute consciousness on death. There is no mention of anything like Karma, etc. since obviously insects or pigs cannot be considered to have good or bad karma. This is a strong assertion of the idea that all consciousness which rises from Brahman merges back into it on death. The same idea is seen in this sutra:


O good looking one, as these eastward rivers flow to the east, and westward rivers flow to the west, they rise from the sea, and merge in the sea itself. They become one with the sea. As they do not realize there , I am this river, in this very way indeed, o good looking one, all these creatures having come from Existence, do not realize, we have come from Existence. Whichever creatures they were here in this world – whether tiger, lion, wolf pig insect, grass hopper, gad fly, or mosquito, they become That.

These sutras from the Chandogya Upanishad can be seen to give support to a theory that there is merger for all into Brahman on death. Hence as a theory, we can find sufficient sriptural support for this idea also.

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