“One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death, one is sure to take birth again.”Bhagwad Gita, 2.27
When Yuddhistra along with the other Pandavas was on exile, they encountered a Yaksha (a celestial being). The Pandavas had been looking for water when they chanced upon a lake. One by one, Yudhisthira’s younger brothers went to the lake to fetch water but were rendered unconscious upon drinking that lake’s water. When Yuddhistira went to the lake, the Yaksha told him that his brothers had perished as they failed to answer the Celestial’s question. He warned Yuddhisthira that the same fate awaited him if he chose not to answer the questions and drink the water. Yudhishthira, the calm and wise man, engaged with the celestial. A wisdom-filled conversation ensues amongst the two. One of the questions that the Celestial asks, Yuddhisthira is,
“What is the most surprising thing in the world?”
“The fact that people continuously die around humans, yet no one bothers to think of their mortal nature.”
I’m sure you must have heard of the demise of two well-known actors of Hindi Film Industry, Shri Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor the past week. Their death sent a wave of shock amongst those who had been touched by their work.
The Virus, which some estimates claim cumulatively weighs around a gram had killed a quarter-million people all over the planet in the last few months itself. The United States of America itself has lost more number of people to the Virus than they did in the Vietnam war.
What’s incredible, though, most of us move on with sublime ease. People die, we mourn and back to status quo. Curiously, a phenomenon that’s been consistent with human existence since it’s beginning fails to revoke us out of our apathy to the questions of human life.
Death is the ultimate reality of life. No one escapes death—no matter what race, caste, nationality, religion or the level of your fame.
In some cultures, while it is inauspicious even to utter the word death. It’s just as Yuddhisthira implied; we think other people die.
Curiously in the Bhagwad Gita, death is termed as a form of divinity. :
“I am all-devouring death.”Sri Krishna, Bhagwad Gita, 10.34
Why the Hullabaloo?
Death is not merely the end of life.
Death is an absence.
A perceptible being who had a unique discerning mind and presence disappears at death.
Maybe death hits so hard because people live their life as if they are eternal. Death is something that may happen someday, and usually, it’s a phenomenon that happens to other people. With each death, we move on and continue to live in denial of one of the fundamental aspects of life.
The Srimad Bhagwatam, the crown jewel of Vedic scriptures states: the birth of an offspring should enable the parents to recall their mortality, just as the death of a parent (or elder) should awaken the child to mortality.
Although, aren’t we all diagnosed with the condition of death the day we are born?
So, wouldn’t it be a better choice to remember death (our mortality) each day of existence?
A thought worth exploring and investing.
“Oh she passed away”, often that’s how we refer to someone who sheds their mortal body.
What passes away, though?
What is human existence all about then?
Are we just a bag of chemicals?
Ramana Maharishi, one of the great sages from the land of Bharat in the modern era, used to base his teaching on one question:
“Who am I?”
Self-exploration and enquiry have also been the basis of all Vedic scriptures. One is encouraged to be a seeker of truth.
“I do not know” is the most profound statement on the path of self-exploration. Because only once you admit that you do not know, do you create a space for longing to know.
How to seek, though?
How to use death as a tool to further our spiritual evolution?
How to even reconcile of the existence of spirit?
Let us explore each of these topics further in my future posts.
Thank you for reading until the end of the article, dear reader.
Wish you vibrant health and lots of laughter.