Namaste! My family recently met with a huge car crash. My mom (67), my aunt (59) and my younger brother’s wife (27) all of them left their bodies. My dad & uncle luckily made it with several injuries. I understand the different types of deaths & that death is a boon for all living creatures. However, I am kind of trying to understand what defines the way we die? Is it just Karma & prarabdha? If so from current or past life? Do we choose the way we want to die before we are born? Why this way..?
—Mavi, United States
I am so sorry for your incredible loss. May you feel surrounded and embraced by God’s presence, and by all the great Masters and angels.
Yes, death is indeed a boon, a most happy experience, and even the “greatest surprise” which life has in store for us, according to Yogananda. However, for those being left behind, the natural human grief can often be healed only by the passing of time.
And yes, death is established by karma. When our time has come, karmically speaking, nothing can prevent our departure. And if it is not yet our time, we will (at least usually) be saved, even in a plane crash. So yes, the way we die is our prarabhda karma (karma sprouting in this life), usually rooted in a past life, or, in some cases, in this one.
As far as I understand, we don’t choose our way of dying. It’s rather a karmic constriction. The soul might be aware of its kind of earthy death before incarnating, but only avatars enjoy the free choice of how to die. As Yogananda writes in his Autobiography of a Yogi: “Jesus knew from the beginning the sequence of his life; he passed through each event not for himself, not from any karmic compulsion, but solely for the upliftment of reflective human beings.”
Our situation, being normal human beings, is different. The karmic compulsion is even active in the way our body manifests when we are reborn. As Yogananda writes (Autobiography): “The pranic lifetrons in the spermatozoa and ova, for instance, guide the embryonic development according to a karmic design.”
God bless you deeply. May your heart realize that your loved ones are never really gone, only for a fleetingly short time, and that you’ll certainly meet them again, because of your karmic connection.