The Karma of Premature Death


I have been reading a lot of articles about meditation, the third eye, and conscious dying. I hear people say that blessed are those who pass away peacefully in sleep, by aging or by natural causes. That sounds unfair. There are so many good, kind, and wonderful people who pass away in accidents, terror attacks, natural disasters.....are those persons not blessed? Does the way one dies have any implications in the soul’s journey after discarding the body form?

—Venkat, India


Dear Venkat,

You ask an interesting question. Fortunately, karma is so complex that saying those who die peacefully are blessed doesn’t mean that those who die violently are not!

One who dies “prematurely” by accident or violence may, in fact, be paying off some old karma. We imagine and it seems reasonable, that those who die suddenly are angry or disturbed by their early departure from this world but it need not be so. Gandhi died saying God’s name; Jesus Christ died forgiving his accusers. Now those are unusual cases, I grant you, but in the wide range of human emotions and responses it illustrates what is possible.

In the Mahabharata, Goddess Ganga drowns seven of her eight children immediately after their birth. The explanation given is that those souls were great rishis who had been cursed to have to take human birth. She helped them by ending their lives so they didn’t have to go through the travails of human existence, otherwise having had no karma to work off.

The point is – things are not always what they appear to be. Much depends upon our reaction and response to life’s circumstances. It is this more than anything that determines whether karma is being expiated or accumulated.

From a human standpoint — that life is good — premature death always seems “a shame.” This too is natural and has its place in human experience. But there’s no point in judging it from the “outside in.” It just is! Yes, it’s sad for those left behind who experience the loss of their loved one. But so many accounts of those who return from the astral world in so-called “near-death” experiences confirm that one does not feel loss upon being reborn into that realm.

Much depends upon how we have lived and even more depends upon how we respond to life’s changes and challenges.

It remains true, however, that to die peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, feeling the presence of God, the saints, or loved ones already past, is indeed a blessing. After all, most fear death; many experience pain during the process.

I prefer to live by the great mantra and precept: both-and! Both may be true and both may be false. What is (true), simply IS. I hope you will find this helpful.

In Joy and with Blessings,
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA