Around 1915, the ruler of Kashi had an abdominal operation. This was the first such operation ever performed in the world without the use of anesthesia. There were three British physicians who refused to perform the operation without giving anesthesia, saying it was impossible to have a man’s stomach open for one-and-a-half to two hours during a major operation without making the patient unconscious. It was dangerous – the danger was that the patient might scream, move, jump or fall because of the unbearable pain; anything might happen. Hence the doctors were not ready.
But the ruler maintained that there was no cause for concern as long as he remained in meditation, and he said he could easily remain in meditation for one-and-a-half to two hours. He was not willing to take the anesthetic; he said he wished to be operated upon in his conscious state. But the physicians were reluctant; they believed it was dangerous to have someone go through such pain in a conscious state. However, seeing no other alternative, the physicians first asked him, as an experiment, to go into meditation. Then they made a cut in his hand – there was not even a tremor. Only two hours later did he complain that his hand hurt; he did not feel anything for two hours. Subsequently, the operation was performed.
That was the first operation to be performed in the world where physicians worked on a patient’s open stomach for an hour-and-a-half without giving anesthetic. And the ruler remained fully conscious throughout the operation. Deep meditation is required in order to be in such awareness. The meditation has to be so deep as to make one totally aware, without an iota of doubt, that the self and the body are separate. Even the slightest identification with the body can be dangerous.
Death is the biggest surgical operation there is. No physician has ever performed an operation as big as this – because death is a means to transplant the entire prana, the vital energy, from one physical body to a new body. No one has ever performed such a phenomenal operation, nor can it ever be done. We may sever one part of the body or another, or transplant one part or another, but in the case of death, the entire vital energy has to be taken from one body and entered into another.
Nature has kindly seen to it that we become fully unconscious at the occurrence of this phenomenon. It is for our own good; we might not be able to bear that much pain. It is possible that the reason why we become unconscious is because the pain of death is so unbearable. It is in our own interest that we become unconscious; nature does not allow us to remember passing through death.