Yogi Amandeep, I am taking care of my mother who is very ill. She will make her transition soon. What can I do to help her through her transition?
First, be sure that your attitude toward death is one of reverence and gratitude. Understand that death is not a sad thing. Observe the death process from the perspective of consciousness. Death is a start to a new story, a new chapter.
Second, if your mother is able, guide her to chant a mantra. Teach her a simple mantra. Even if it is her last minute of life, and she repeats one simple sacred sound, this gives benefit.
There is a beautiful story in the Bhagavata Purana about a man by the name of Ajamil who wasted his life away on frivolity and distraction. He never found his sound.
When Ajamil was nearing his death, his transition, a Sadhu came to him. A Sadhu is a being who walks the path of Dharma.
Ajamil knew that when such an elevated being comes into a person’s life, it means some great karma has bloomed. So Ajamil recognized this opportunity. In the words of Yogi Bhajan, “You get one opportunity to meet your teacher, only one opportunity. It depends on you if you recognize or do not recognize this opportunity; this recognition is up to you. But the universe gives you one opportunity to meet your teacher.”
For this man, Ajamil, this opportunity came toward the end of his life; this Sadhu, a teacher, a master walked into his life. So, Ajamil confided in this Sadhu; he said, “Look, I have wasted my life away. My life had no meaning, and now I am near the end. What can I do? What can I do to help me to cross over?”
The Sadhu asked him, “What is the name of your youngest child, that small child, what is his name?” Ajamil revealed the boy’s name to the Sadhu. The Sadhu said, “Change his name to Narayan. Rename your youngest son Narayan.”
Ajamil wondered, “Rename my young son? That’s all?” The Sadhu said, “That’s all.” Ajamil said, “I thought you were going to tell me to wake up at 3:00 AM, hold my breath, put my legs up this way, and put my arms out that way.” The Sadhu repeated, “No. No. No. Just rename your son Narayan. That’s it.”
Ajamil looked at his son and repeated the name, “Narayan.” At that moment, something bloomed within Ajamil. He felt a sudden new love for his son. The depression and thought patterns that had been consuming Ajamil and the conflicts that had been pressing on him moments before had suddenly lifted, had suddenly dissolved.
“Okay.” He said to his son. “Now, your name is Narayan.”
After the Sadhu left, Ajamil experienced doubt, wondered how changing his son’s name would help him, wondered how changing his son’s name would save him. But this had been the wise guidance from a perfected sage, the words of a perfected sage. One who lives his Sadhana, one who embodies his Sadhana had given this guidance to Ajamil. One whose presence is Sadhana, one whose words are Sadhana, one whose walking is Sadhana had given this guidance. Even the Sadhu’s talking is Sadhana. With the guidance from such a sage, with nothing left to do, and with time running out, Ajamil trusted the way the Sadhu had guided. Ajamil called to his youngest son, “Narayan!”
Narayan is a name of the divine. Nara means human. Ayan means flow. Narayan means that human who has opened himself to the flow. He is no longer closed. He is no longer depressed. He is no longer pressed. He is no longer locked. The five winds (prana, apana, samana, udana, and vyana) are flowing easily with him. He is in the flow; that is what it means. Narayan means a human who is in flow. It’s a name of the divine.
So the dying father started to call out to his son, “Narayan! Come here!” “Narayan, come give me a hug.” “Narayan, come be with me.” With his name changed, the boy’s life took on new meaning. All around him, people started to believe this child was special. Ajamil started to call to him all the time. “Narayan, get me water! Narayan, do this for me.”
In this way, Ajamil had started to chant. He was calling his child’s name, but it was a very elevated sound. It was the sound of the frequency of the divine.
Soon, it was Ajamil’s last moments of his life. In life’s last moments, we call out to someone to be near. We call out to someone who is close to us; we call out to someone whom we want to be near. Ajamil had grown close to this child. When the dying man was crossing over, from the core of his heart, Ajamil called for the last time, he called out for his son, “Narayan!”
Then he died.
In his dying moments, Ajamil was calling for his son, but the name was one of the 8.4 million sounds that he would hear while passing through the Bardo — the intermediate space between; when the door of life closes and before the next door opens, there is an in between space that consciousness must journey through. To accompany him on this journey, Ajamil had an elevated sound, a sound of the divine on his lips as he crossed over. At that moment, the story says, the Sound Current of Narayan gave Ajamil’s consciousness a guiding hand that brought him over the Bardo.
This story illustrates why Mantra, Naam, Shabad, Sacred Sound is very important.
In his last moments, this man — a man who had not walked the path during his life — none the less, in his last moments he was calling out to the divine. Nara and Ayan are sounds that can totally transform the consciousness. So even though this man had lived a life of duality, a life lost in the push and pull of the mind, a life drown in the noise and distractions of maya, at the last moments when he chanted Narayan, the sound guided his consciousness in a deeply sacred way.
When it comes time for someone to give care to a loved one who is passing, it helps if that caregiver’s consciousness sits in poise with these two virtues
1. Hold an attitude that death is a new start, a new story, a new chapter.
2. Chant mantras. Chant mantras to permeate the space where the dying being is making a transition. This introduces Naam, Shabad, or divine sound that will guide the dying person’s consciousness through the Bardo, the death transition.
Set an intention that this sound is weaving into the prana of the dying being. When the mantra and the Prana become one, yogis call this Pran Sutra; Pran Sutra is a sacred thread that guides the consciousness to cross death while remaining in the blessed presence and protective hands of the divine.
May we all approach death as an opportunity to relate to divine consciousness.
This question and answer arose during a recent “Ask a Yogi” Sacred Webinar. These sacred webinars give seekers an opportunity to explore questions about yoga, consciousness, meditation, spiritual awakening, conscious mystical travels, and much more from the perspective of yogic wisdom, elevated consciousness, and the heart center. The intention is to recognize and celebrate all traditions, all times and spaces, all beings, all practices, and all experiences in the warm embrace of beloved Oneness here and now. We hope you will join for the next webinar.
© Yogi Amandeep Singh