Brother Bhaktananda on Understanding the Mystery of Life and Death

by Norm on March 28, 2014

in Paramahansa Yogananda, Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF Monastics


Brother Bhaktananda was a monastic in Paramahansa Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship from 1939 until his passing in 2005.

There was an Indian doctor who had his practice near a jungle and it was not uncommon for him to treat people who had been mauled by tigers or bitten by cobras. But they all said the same thing – they felt no pain and no fear. Nature takes care of us. Those in tune with God don’t have fear.

Dr. William Hunter, a physician and scientist, whispered to a loved one at death, “If I had strength to hold a pen I would write down how easy and pleasant a thing it is to die.”

At death, the life force – the energy – leaves the muscles, the senses, the nervous system, and retires to the brain, and finally at the moment of death the energy leaves the body through the top of the head.

This same retirement of the energy into the brain happens also every night as we sleep. During sleep there is no energy carrying messages from the body to the brain and so we feel no pain…

At death we go to a realm of light in the astral body. Evil people go to the darker regions of the astral – they have a choice and they choose darkness, because that is what they want.

The astral plane is beautiful. Atheists think death is the end of existence, but boy are they going to be surprised!  We may meet friends, or astral beings of light who give us information we need. We will be in great light. There is nothing to fear – it’s like moving from one city to another.

Saint Paul said, “There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body.” He was speaking of this body of light, the spiritual body, or astral body.

Everything is lightthere is water, but you can’t drown; fire but you can’t burn; because it is all light. This material world seems like paper mache, dull and lifeless, after experiencing the astral which is so vibrant.

Thomas Edison whispered as he neared death, “It’s beautiful over there.” There is no pain, no bills to pay, no slaving eight hours a day, no limitations. Anything you want is always available so you don’t have to store things.

Loved ones who leave us at death are sad only because we who are left back in the physical are grieving – they don’t like those painful vibrations they receive from the loved ones they left behind.

There is a story of a man, a novelist, who lived so high on the hog that he was always financially broke. He even tried to borrow money from his uncle. Finally, his uncle died and left him a good sum of money. The man wrote to his friends, “Last night my uncle and I passed onto a better life.”

There is much rejoicing in heaven – nothing but happiness.

There is a saying, “There are two things we cannot escape – taxes and death”, but Will Rogers added to it, “…but death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”

Master said that many devotees have seen proof of life after death by the appearances of Lahiri Mahasaya and Sri Yukteswar to them after they had already left the body.

After Master left the body, in Germany there was a woman walking down the street and she noticed the unusual sight of a Hindu approaching her. Then some time later she read Master’s Autobiography of a Yogi (Complete edition) and recognized it had been Paramahansa Yogananda she had seen on the street.

… Our guru gives us a great consolation, “When a sincere devotee calls on me at the time of death, I or one of the gurus will come and will usher you consciously into the astral at the time of death – even if you are not highly developed.” —- Brother Bhaktananda

Among his many saintly qualities, one that caused me to always pay attention to Brother Bhaktananda, was that so many highly advanced yogi monks looked up to him as the master of “Practicing the Presence.” —Norman


Please feel free to ask questions and make comments below, which will require you to sign in with your name and email address in order to prevent spam comments. Your email will not be posted on this blog nor will it ever be sold or otherwise distributed without your permission. I dislike spam as much as you do…Norm


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Diana March 29, 2014 at 8:41 pm

When I accepted Jesus as my savior, I received many gifts—I was forgiven of my sins because he died for me. I no longer had a fear of death. I became interested in Bible reading & following a pattern of living that Jesus teaches as he asked his disciples to write about in the Bible. I enjoyed reading what Brother Bhaktananda has to say about life & death. I’ll keep that in my mind always. Thank you.

Norm March 29, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Obviously, this has worked for you, as it should, because you practiced what Jesus teaches, which seems to be where so many fail.

Isn’t this true in so many areas of our lives? A person can read a lot, talk all about it, philosophize, but finally, all that’s important is what she practices.

Thank you very much for sharing how this has worked for you.
Love & Blessings,

sherwin April 2, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Hope all is well. Thanks for this.

Norm April 2, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Sherwin, You are very welcome.
I hope all is well with you also.

MARTY April 3, 2014 at 11:29 pm

I was reading somewhere when Muhatma Ghandi was assassinated his dying words were “Ram Ram Ram. The point made was the importance of keeping God in our consciousness at the last minutes… I also took to heart, starting now in my path with Guruji to release myself of past regrets and shame .All those self negative regrets, remorse need to be forgiven as past karma leading to this dharma life, to this moment. Dying with these regrets will transfer as so much karmic baggage into my next life needing to work those matters out…Am I missing the mark somewhere Norm???

Norm April 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Hi Marty,
I think that you bring up a very important point about letting go of past mistakes. Yogananda has said that dwelling on past mistakes, failures, or bad behavior will retard your spiritual progress. In fact, Yogananda’s guru, Swami Sri Yukteswarji, had this to say,

“Forget the past. The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.”—Excerpt from Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi (Complete edition)

So I would say, Marty, that you are on the right track. Thank you for giving us all something to think about.
I wish you great success.

Miguel G.Fragoso October 26, 2015 at 2:17 am

Dear Norm,
Brother Bhaktananda took care of my spiritual life. He was like a Sweet Father to me. When I was around him he always approached me with a comment or phrase I was in need to hear at that precise moment. When I saw Yogananda at the entrance of the 110 Freeway in Pasadena,CA. I went to see him [Bhaktananda] at the Hollywood Temple immediately and after a question he told me ” It was Master”.

Norm October 27, 2015 at 10:50 am

Dear Miguel,
Thank for sharing your experiences with Brother Bhaktananda. I have heard many of the other monastics speak about Bhaktananda with great respect for his skill in ‘Practicing the Presence.” I was also impressed by Bhaktananda’s service and his always being so available to any one in need.

No doubt you feel very blessed by you association with Bhaktananda and with seeing Yogananda, who left his body in 1952. Often at the yearly Self-Realization Fellowship World Convocation a non member will show up and say a man, later identified as Paramahansa Yogananda, told he or she to come to the convocation.

I will be happy to hear of any other experiences about your spiritual life that you would like to share.
Thank you for taking the time to comment,

Brent March 22, 2016 at 6:06 pm

Hi Norm. Thanks for this post. I met Bhaktananda by accident. I was in LA on business and wanted to visit the SRF sites. I went to the Hollywood Temple and wandered in unannounced.
A man was there that welcomed me in. I proceeded to tell him I was a ‘lessons’ student and had some questions. He immediately dropped what he was doing, invited me into his office, pulled out his copy of the lessons and answered all my questions.
What a wonderful man! Because we didn’t formally introduce each other I didn’t realize it was Bro Bhaktananda until some years later. Truly a nice, loving and concerned man.

Norm March 24, 2016 at 11:26 am

Hi Brent, Looks like you got a pretty good idea of what Brother Bhaktananda was like. Very accessible and ready to help.
Brother Ishtananda, who served under Bhaktananda at Hollywood Temple, said once when a person called and asked to speak to Bhaktananda, Ishtananda told the caller that Bhaktananda was eating and not available. When Bhaktananda heard this, he said that whenever anyone wanted to talk to him, to let him know immediately and he would answer the phone call.

Brent, thank you very much for sharing your story. I am always happy to hear about Brother Bhaktananda and others who serve Yogananda’s work.

Mili July 4, 2017 at 4:39 am

Thanks a lot for sharing this post:)

Norm July 10, 2017 at 2:30 pm

You are very welcome.

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