(Mural painting of the goddess Kali)
Death is the question Nature puts continually to Life and her reminder to it that it has not yet found itself. If there were no siege of death, the creature would be bound for ever in the form of an imperfect living. Pursued by death he awakes to the idea of perfect life and seeks out its means and its possibility.
- Sri Aurobindo
(SABCL, Vol. 16, Page 386)
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Death walks beside us on Life's road,
A dim bystander at the body's start
And a last judgment on man's futile works,
Other is the riddle of its ambiguous face:
Death is a stair, a door, a stumbling stride
The soul must take to cross from birth to birth,
A grey defeat pregnant with victory,
A whip to lash us towards our deathless state.
- Sri Aurobindo
(Savitri, SABCL, Vol. 29, pp. 600-601)
* * *
On Death : An interesting experience of the Mother
K left his body. The operation had been extraordinarily, almost miraculously successful—one of those dreadful operations where they extract part of your body. He was quite all right for four days afterwards, then everything went wrong.
During the operation and just afterwards, I had simply put the Force on him, as I always do in such cases, so that everything would turn out for the best. Then a few days ago, during my japa, a kind of order came—a very clear order—to concentrate on him so that he would be conscious of his soul and able to leave under the best conditions. And I saw that the concentration worked wonderfully: it seems that during his last days he was ceaselessly repeating Ma-Ma-Ma—even while he was in a semi-coma.
And the concentration grew stronger and stronger. The day before yesterday it became very, very powerful, and yesterday morning, around half past noon, it pulled me inward; he came to me in a kind of sleep, a conscious sleep, and I even said almost aloud, ‘Oh, K!’
It lasted fifteen minutes; I was completely within, inside, as if to receive him.
But there is something interesting: when I went down at 2 pm, I found the family had come to inform me that they had been notified by telephone that he had died at 11:45 am. Myself, I saw him come at 12:30.
So you see, the outer signs … It’s not the first time I’ve noticed this—the doctors observe all the outer signs, then they declare you dead, but you’re still in your body!
In other words, he was still in his body.
So it’s probably during this period that people are ‘resuscitated,’ as they say. It must be during this period, for they have not left their bodies, they are not really dead, though the heart may give every appearance of having stopped. So K left his body at around half past noon, and officially it was at 11:45. Forty-five minutes later, in other words.
And it takes place very gently, very gently (when it’s done right), very gently, very gently, smoothly, without any shock.
So this morning they’re burning him.
When they’re in too much of a hurry to burn them, sometimes they burn them alive! … They should wait.
For, there’s a consciousness of the form, a life of the form. There’s a consciousness, a consciousness in the form assumed by the cells. That takes SEVEN DAYS to come out. So sometimes the body makes abrupt movements when burned—people say it’s mechanical. It’s not mechanical, I know it’s not.
I know it. I know that this consciousness of the form exists since I have actually gone out of it. Once, long back, I was in a so-called cataleptic state, and after awhile, while still in this state, the body began living again’; that is, it was capable of speaking and even moving (it was Théon who gave me this training). The body managed to get up and move. And yet, everything had gone out of it! 
Once everything had gone out, it naturally became cold, but the body consciousness manages to draw a little energy from the air, from this or that … And I spoke in that state. I spoke—I spoke very well, and besides, I recounted all I was seeing elsewhere.
So I don’t like this habit of burning people very much.
I think they do it here (apart from entirely sanitary considerations in the case of people who have died from nasty diseases), here in India, mainly because they are very afraid of all these little entities that come from desires, impulses—things which are dispersed in the air and which make ‘ghosts’ and all kinds of things. All desires, all attachments, all those things are like pieces that break off (each one goes its own way, you see), then these pieces gain strength in the surrounding atmosphere, and when they can fasten on to someone, they vampirize him. Then they keep on trying to satisfy their desires.
The world, the terrestrial atmosphere, is full of filth.
And people here are much more sensitive than in Europe because they are much more interiorized, so they are conscious of all these little entities, and naturally they’re afraid. And the more afraid they are, the more they’re vampirized!
I think that many of these entities are dispersed by fire—that creates havoc.
I know one person, a boy who died here, who was burned before he had left! He had a weak heart, and not enough care was taken—that is, they probably should not have operated on him. He was our engineer. He died in the hospital. Not a serious operation, an appendicitis, but his heart could not take up its natural movement.
But as he was accustomed to going out of his body, he didn’t know! He even used to make experiments—he would go out, circle around in his room, see his body from outside, observe the difference between the subtle physical and the material physical, etc. So he didn’t know. And it’s only when they burned his body …
I tried to delay the moment, but he was in the hospital, so it was difficult. I was in my room when they burned his body, and then suddenly I saw him arrive—sobbing—saying, ‘But … But I’m dead. I DIDN’T WANT to die! Why am I dead, I DIDN’T WANT to die!’ It was dreadful. So I kept him and held him against me to quiet him down.
He remained there for years.
And whenever we used to have meetings to decide on the construction of something or on repairs to be made, for example, I always felt him there and he influenced those who were present.
He wanted to live again; I managed to give him the opportunity. He was very conscious; the child isn’t yet so.
But people are such fools, they are so ignorant! …
- The Mother
( It was at Tlemcen, in Algeria. While Mother was in trance, Théon caused the thread which linked Mother to her body to break through a movement of anger. He was angry because Mother, who was in a region where she saw the ‘mantra of life,’ refused to tell him the mantra. Faced with the enormity of the result of his anger Théon got hold of himself, and it took all Mother’s force and all Théon’s occult science to get Mother back into her body—which created a kind of very painful friction at the moment of re-entry, perhaps the type of friction that makes new born children cry out.)