Is the Time of Death Predestined?

Question

Is the time of death predestined? I recently lost my sister. She underwent a surgery due to a hole in large intestine. Though we had consulted many doctors earlier, the disease that she had was diagnosed very late. And this keeps all of our family members in regret. What if we had taken her to a corporate hospital early, and what if the disease was diagnosed earlier? I’m not too able to lead my life with this guilt and regret.

—Sathya Gannarapu, India

Answer

Dear Sathya,

I am very sorry for your loss.

Your pain is understandable, but please don’t be regretful for what you might have done or what could have happened differently. It was the karmically destined time for your sister to leave for the higher worlds. If she hadn’t left because of this particular disease, she would have left because of another.

Yogananda had a similar experience as yours. His brother Ananta died young, aged 31. One day in meditation, as he recounts in his Autobiography of a Yogi, clear words formed in his consciousness: “Ananta cannot live; the sands of his karma for this life have run out.”

In other words, we all have received, figuratively speaking, a sand timer, also called hourglass, and have certain amount of sand available. When it runs out, it is our time to leave this earth. There is nothing that can be done about it.

A similar statement was made by Mahavatar Babaji, who told Sri Yukteswar to convey a message to Lahiri Mahasaya: “Tell Lahiri,” he said, “that the stored-up power for this life now runs low; it is nearly finished.”

The message is the very same: we have a received certain “stored-up power” for this lifetime. When it runs out, our life is finished.

Mahavatar Babaji could have saved Lahiri Mahasaya’s life, but he didn’t. There are rare incidents when a true master prolongs the life of a person, but usually he doesn’t. When the karma for this life is over, it’s time to move on. The master sees that the soul is ready to progress to the next life, to the next experience. It is the best for that soul.

Of course, humanly speaking, our heart laments and grieves when we loose a dear one. Yogananda too deeply grieved for his brother and mother whom he lost. But the heart can be calmed by wisdom, at least a little bit: it was the right moment for your sister to leave, for her evolution as a soul. And you have not really lost your sister, only for some time. Death is a veil that temporarily separates souls, but they will meet again, recognizing one another, and their evolutionary journey continues.

May your heart find solace and peace,
Jayadev