asuryā nāma te lokā andhena tamasā vṛtāḥ |
tāṁs te pretyābhigacchanti ye ke cātmahano janāḥ ||3||
Those worlds of devils are covered by blinded darkness. Those people that kill the Self go to them after giving up this body….........................................Isa Upanishad Verse 3
There are two diametrically opposing organizing forces in creation. In the action of Samsara the individual consciousness is modelled into manifestation by these two forces. It is not as though the action of these two polarities exist only in configuring manifestation but is an integral part of every existence and exhibits itself in Ego and in the Self.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, in his commentary says: “Intelligent human beings must always remember that the soul obtains a human form after an evolution of many millions of years in the cycle of transmigration. The material world is sometimes compared to an ocean, and the human body is compared to a solid boat designed especially to cross this ocean. The Vedic scriptures and the ācāryas, or saintly teachers, are compared to expert boatmen, and the facilities of the human body are compared to favourable breezes that help the boat ply smoothly to its desired destination. If, with all these facilities, a human being does not fully utilize his life for self-realization, he must be considered ātma-hā, a killer of the soul.”
This verse of the Upanishad very clearly states that those who kill the Self while giving up the mortal body surrender their consciousness to the darker side which is metaphorically called the ‘world of the devils’.
The veracity of continued existence of the Self through different vehicles of consciousness is clearly propounded by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita. He says “As the embodied soul continuously passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. A sober person is not bewildered by such a change.” ………BG 2:13
He further states “That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.”………..BG 2:17
If this so how can one kill the Soul or the Self? Killing is a contextual act whereby the slayer deprives the slain a natural state of existence. We associate killing to deprival of life, which is the natural state of existence of a creature. When we talk about killing the Self, we contemplate an act whereby the natural state of existence of the Self is denied or deprived. This state is a state of pure existence in the Self-knowledge that the Self is an integral element of the absolute ‘Supreme Consciousness’ or Paramatma. The existence of the Self is not in the physical or temporal realm. Acting contrary to this perception leads to deprival of the Self’s natural state.
Why is the domain of the demons filled with blinded darkness? Note carefully the word used is ‘andhena tamasā’. Tamas is a Guna or attribute which relates to a state of being. Self awareness is a privileged gift of human beings as compared to other creations. When we do not utilize this gift to move toward true Self realization, which is our greater life purpose but are rooted in material enjoyment, we tend to sink into a tamasic existence, which is a state of darkness wherein we do not see the real picture. All true knowledge is absent in such existence. Hence the domain of darkness is not a physical or temporal realm but a state of being.
This is the meaning of this verse.