Welcoming Death


What is your opinion about Santa Muerte? Is she good or evil? is she only a symbol of death? does she realy exist? is she only one of many deities? is it wrong to pray to her?

—Kk, Europe


Dear Kk,

In all great traditions, there are symbols and personifications of Death. In Hindu tradition, for example, there is the god Yama. But in ALL traditions there can be found such a one. It is natural for humans to personify the great forces of nature and of God. This doesn’t mean that such forces are not conscious beings, but the more important fact and the lesson of all of them, including Santa Muerte, is that Death is not to be viewed as evil or a bad thing in human life.

Death can bring relief from suffering and misery; can help usher in a new life, rebirth into heaven and later rebirth back to earth. A fresh start, in other words. Death comes to all people, beings, animals, and objects. Here are some quotations, e.g., from the Ananda Funeral Service:


The Pilot of life has come to redeem our brother /sister _______________. We know that the Redeemer is his/her friend, come to fetch him /her away from the land of broken dreams to the highland of life.

We are come together on an occasion of duel meaning, mixed with sadness and with joy. The sadness is ours for the time. The joy is his/hers whose spirit is now risen, and the words of the psalmist in the 23rd Psalm are those of _______________ now, for he/she is in the bosom of the Lord

Thine astral airplane of earthly parting came to take my soul away. I wondered through what strange skies I was to soar, and to what lands I was to travel.

I asked the mystic Pilot of Cosmic Law whither I was going, The Silent One answered, soundlessly:

“I am the Pilot of Life, mistakenly called the terrible Death by ignorant earth-folk. I am thy brother, uplifter, redeemer, friend—unloader of thy gross burden of body-troubles. I come to fetch thee away from the land of thy broken dreams to the highland of light where poisonous vapors of sorrow can never climb.

“I have mercilessly broken thy cage of flesh-attachment, that thy soul-bird may be free. I have broken thy chains of disease and mental fears. Thy long imprisonment behind the bars of bones made thee unwillingly become used to the cage. Thou didst want thy freedom always. Now, why art thou fear-filled, when thou hast won thy long-craved freedom?

“O bird of paradise! hop into My plane of omnipresence! Fold thy long-fluttering wings and restfully ride with me, anywhere, everywhere, in Thine etheral home!”

So for those who worship Death as Santa Muerte, the god Shiva or Yama, or any other, this is perfectly understandable and can bring comfort, yes, even joy, to those who remain behind and are sad.

God is the God of Life! As science tells us that “energy can be neither created nor destroyed,” so it is with Life. The soul, Krishna tells us in the Bhagavad Gita, is eternal, deathless, and ever Blissful. Be of good cheer.

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA