Patanjali Calls Fear of Death an Affliction
As per Sage Patanjali abhinivesha (fear of death or clinging to life) is one of the five kleshas or afflictions that lead to human suffering. Fear of death is a fear that all of us have to some extent. This fear dilutes your focus and interferes with your ability to experience the spiritual freedom that is the goal of yoga.
The fear of death is due to ignorance, or failure to realise the difference between what is permanent (true self) and those things that are not permanent (our ego and our physical body). It leads to total identification and obsession with one’s individuality. Because of our attachment to our ego, this irrational fear of death (abhinivesha) arises; we panick at the thought of termination of this life and loss of our individuality.
Soul is Immortal. In the second chapter of Gita, Krishna emphasises on the imperishable nature of the Atman. “The soul is never born, nor it ever dies; nor does it become on being born, For, it is unborn, eternal, everlasting and primeval; even though the body is slain, the soul is not.” [Bhagwad Gita 2.20]. The eternal soul is never destroyed.
Life After Death. It is believed that when a man dies, the soul contracts and withdraws all the senses. The subtle body or sukshma sarira passes out of the physical body like a mist carrying along with it blueprint of a person that carries the impressions of present life and past lives.
Death as Considered by an Illuminated Soul. A knower of Self realizes that repeated cycles of birth and death are part of evolution of the soul. He remains un affected by the grind of life as he knows that these are characteristic of the body and not of the Self. He is also free from desires, which arises when one is identified with the body.
Rational View of Phenomenon of Death
If we think philosophically, having an unnatural fear of death is not rational, there are only following two options are possible:
There is no survival after death. Death results in absolute oblivion. Then, you won’t be around to fear it. It would be the “blessed end of everything.”
There is survival after death Then only question can be whether a person goes to hell or heaven. Hence, if you are doing good karma there is no need to worry.
Another important question is, did we exist before we were born? If we were there before birth we will continue our journey in some other form. If we were not there before our birth, we will not be there after death and it does not matter.