We inhabit our bodies for a limited period of time and then we leave it. After we leave the body, the antim sanskar, Anteyshti is performed, it is disposed by cremating it, offering it to Agni and then whatever remains after that, the Asti, are offered to a flowing river or the sea. Then we do the pindadaan and the chapter is closed.
In recent times, organ donation is being promoted as a kind thing to do. Most hospitals have trained personnel whose job is to secure organ donors. And in certain nations, the driving licence is issued with a “organ donor” tick mark. Overall organ donation is a rather touchy topic with emotional overtones, but this post needs to be written. (There were several questions.)
Organ donation while you are still alive, eg a kidney donated to a family member or anonymously to anyone else is your conscious choice with your living body. You keep on living with the implications of your choice to donate the organ. You needed this organ yourself but still you gave it away, this can be considered to be a ‘charity’ in some sense. This is between you and your conscience. It is your choice.
But the organ harvesting after the individual soul leaves the body, ie after death, is different. ‘Death’ means the organs of senses and action have finally shut down and the individual soul does not maintain contact with the body or through it with the material world. The individual soul has completed the activities it had planned before it took birth and now it wants to go to the dimensions of the ancestral spirits, Pitrulok, rest and prepare for its new birth. A body deliberately kept on life support is not a living conscious person in the energy sense. Keeping a highly damaged body on life support, when the soul has decided to leave it, causes stress to the soul. In short, ‘death’ is when the sookshma sharir with the linga sharir and the jivatma leaves the sthool sharir.
The body ‘dies’, when the individual soul/ jivatma leaves it. Always remember that you are the soul and not the body. You do not need the body anymore thus you have discarded it. ‘Deh Tyag’ in Sanskrit. ‘Deh’ means the body or the manifestation. ‘Tyag’ means to withdraw, renunciate, resign, divorce, abandon, leave sacrifice, quit or forsake. Now this abandoned body is the responsibility of the heirs, your sons, brothers, father or husband. If these relations are not available then the nearest male blood relative is responsible. If no male relative exists then the female relatives have do it but with the help of the attendants in the Shmashan. And it is the responsibility of these heirs to dispose off the body left to them, as it is, as per the rules of Dharma. As per Dharma, the heirs do not have the authority to damage the body, cut it open or remove the organs or anything like that.
As per Dharma this body, in whatever shape has been left, has to be offered as a sacrifice to Agni, Anteyshti. Agni is not just fire, it is the conscious energy which we see as the fire. This Anteyshti is the last of the sixteen Sanskars for a Dharmic person, an energy evolution. The Agni has to consume the body and as the body gets consumed the blast of energy propels the individual soul to the dimension where it will reside till it get born again in this world.
Even if you have signed a donor card, the moment you leave the body, the body stops being yours, it belongs to your heirs. You have done ‘deh tyag’, definitively discarded the body, it does not belong to you anymore. And you cannot give away what does not belong to you. You cannot sign a donor card to force your heirs away from their Dharmic course of action. (Giving away the organs while still alive and continuing to live in that body is different. This action is between you and your conscience.)
Now an example. Recently one of my friend’s grandfather died. He had signed up for his corneas to be removed from the body after death. His heirs did this and then did the cremation etc. And then the trauma began, the youngest child in the family started seeing his great-grandfather around the house crying out that he has gone blind and what did you do to my eyes! As I have mentioned in my earlier posts also, babies and young children can see energies of other dimensions. They had to cleanse the house, offer the final tarpan at the Brahmakapaal, in Badrinath, Uttarakhand. In that they also offered a special offering with some mantras for making up the loss of the eyes. And another to atone for going against their Dharma and mutilating the body left to them. After these final tarpans the small child stopped seeing the departed soul around the house. However there is no way of determining if the tarpan has restored the energy of the eyes of the departed person or if it has helped him get resigned to his fate of being born blind in his next life. The energies of the organ removed will show its effects in the next life, so it is possible that you may be required to live out a future life without the organ which was removed from the discarded dead body.
Either way, this was a final confirmation for me that organ harvesting from a dead body affects the soul associated with it and is also a negative karma for the heirs. So the final on organ donation is, you can donate while you are living and continue to live after the donation. But organ harvesting after physical death or from a brain dead body is not a good idea.