Would you please explain why it is said that death during uttarayana is more auspicious than dakshinayana?
To understand this, we may begin with these slokas from the Bhagavad Gita (8:24–25):
Those who know Brahma go to Him following the path of fire, light, daytime, the bright half of the solar month, the six months of the northern passage of the sun. Following the path of smoke, night, the dark half of the lunar month and six months of the southern passage of the sun, the yogi obtains the lunar light and returns.
Hindus believe that when you die during uttarayana, the six months when the sun moves to the north of the equator, from December 22nd to June 21st, you attain one of the passages which are written about in the Bhagavad Gita. When you die during dakshinayana, the six months when the sun moves to the south of the equator, from June 22nd to December 21st, you go through the other passage. These passages also refer to the two paths the consciousness can take when it enters the inner dimension after you have transcended the senses, mind and intellect.
When your consciousness is able to penetrate beyond that, you have the experiences of agni, fire, jyoti, light, a whitish hue and of dawn. This means you are going through the path from which the consciousness will not return to the material plane. The second meaning is that you have transcended the indriyas, or the sensory level of mental and intellectual awareness. You are in the region of the Self, the spirit. When you have the experience of smoke, dhumra, dark night, ratri, and darkness, krishna, then it means that you are going through the path of dakshinayana. When you go on this path, you will have the experience of moonlight, or something like moonlight, and then you will come back again as Mr So and So, or Mr X,Y,Z or Swami Satyananda. You will revert to normal consciousness. It is explained further in the Bhagavad Gita (8:26):
The bright and the dark paths are deemed to be the world’s eternal paths. By the bright path one goes never to return again. By the dark path one goes to return again.
That makes it clear. If you take one path, you will reach the destination; if you take the other, you will return. The first meaning is the religious meaning. If you die between Capricorn and Cancer you go this way, and if you die between Cancer and Capricorn, you go that way and have to return. There is also the second deeper meaning: these are the two paths of consciousness which can be taken, depending on one’s karma. My guru told me, “If you insist on the spiritual path now, you will go through dakshinayana and you will have to come back. Wait for forty to forty-five years and purify yourself. Be free of the passions that are lurking in your mind. Clean up in any way you like and then, one day, sit down. Beyond the senses and mind are buddhi and atma. Go beyond that, then you will not come back.”
My path, however, is very simple. I am a servant of God and I take orders from Him.
If You tell me to stand up,
I will stand up.
If You tell me to walk,
Then I will walk.
If You tell me to sing,
Then I will sing for Thee.
From morning to evening,
From earth to sky,
I will sing and dance.
The love between us is long-standing. He just needs to give me an order; we have that understanding. It is called dasya bhakti, the devotion of a servant for his master.
I used to have an intellectual understanding of this issue of uttarayana and dakshinayana and explain it to people, but I could not retain it in my own mind. For me, it is not a practical thing. I do not say that it is false, but for me, it is too tough, abstract, difficult and complicated to comprehend. Simplicity is for me. God, You tell me what I have to do. You told me to go to Munger and I went. You asked me to go to Australia, so I went. It was a nice place, and the people there were very simple. You told me to leave Munger and go to Rikhia. I left. I became God’s servant and there is joy in it.
—Rikhiapeeth, 23 November 1994, first published in Bhakti Yoga Sagar Vol. 1