(HH Kadamba Kanana Swami, Prague, Czech Republic, 13th July 2012, Lecture at Ratha Yatra Festival)
In India, people were going to the temples and taking bath in the Holy Rivers. Everyone seemed to have an interest in spiritual life. They understood that there is more to life than what meets the eye.
One day, I came out of my hotel and I had a great shock, because there was a dead body lying in the street… I had never seen anything like this before! The most amazing thing was that the people were just walking past and as they walked past the body, they were throwing coins onto the body. Within 10 minutes, the whole body was covered in money!
I looked at the (dead) man and said: ‘He looked like a beggar, like a poor man.’
And I thought: ‘Just look, now that he is gone, they are putting money on him. But if they would have given it to him yesterday then maybe he would have still been alive today!’
So I asked someone: ‘Why are you all throwing money on this body?’
He replied: ‘When someone dies, then he (the soul) goes out of the body and is looking down upon his body, and he cannot go back inside. He can hear all the people and sees everything, but no one can hear him! He is trying to go back into the body, but it doesn’t work!’
Therefore in the Vedic tradition, the body is burnt shortly after the person expires so that the soul will move on to his next destination. Well, at that time I was about 17 years old when I walked in the streets of India and heard that story… it blew my mind! The most amazing thing to me was that everyone believed it! Everyone believed that there is life after death and so on.
Later, I read some Vedic literature, especially the Bhagavad-Gita, which describes how the soul is existing eternally, ‘na jayate mriyate va kadacin’ (Bg 2.20). The soul never takes birth and the soul never dies.
I felt: ’Yes, I think so. This makes sense.’
It gives us a deeper understanding of life and a deeper meaning to life.