March 1, 2007 at 5:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My uncle, i.e., Chithappa as we say in Tamil, passed away this morning in Madras. According to our customs, Sanatana Dharma, there are sixteen important ceremonies and rites in a Brahmin’s life. You cannot pinpoint which is the starting point for these sixteen rites, because they cover a continuous cycle of birth and death and life in between. I am not too much into rights and rituals, and in the olden days I would have been cast out of the community, excommunicated and alienated. So I will leave it to you to lealrn about the Sanatana Dharma from books and the internet.

Death is so very familiar to us that it doesn’t shock or affect us as long as it doesn’t happen to our own near and dear. When you open the day’s newspaper,  news of death occurring through various reasons can be read. When you switch on the TV or Radio, at least one death news will be aired in every news. We are so inured to death that it is not something to be dreaded. That is until death stares you in the face.

When people marry good consorts, rear a family, live a full life, give a lot of charities, save enough for posterity, undertake and honor religious vows, live a long and generally healthy life, and when they finally die without suffering prolonged illness or pain, or worldly worries like unfulfilled responsibilities, outstanding debts, and when all the near and dear are gathered around their deathbed to offer them silent solace and togetherness and contentment, then they have achieved the purpose of life.

Why people dread death? You an come up with any number of reasons. All people are created equal but they are not endowed equal. Some are more wealthy, more educated, more intelligent, more well mannered, more cultured, more good-natured than the others. Some are more contented even when less endowed. Some are never happy. Some are more carnal, and some are more ascetic; some are more philosophical and some are more materialistic; some are more greedy and avaricious and some are always satisfied and happy with what they have and actually bless themselves even for small favors from God . Some live a long life, some live a healthy life, some live a tumultous life, some have a lust for life; some always suffer and toil in life, while some have n easy and comfortable and pleasant life; Some are busy and some are lazy; Some just sit and watch and some always go and fetch.

For all these types, two things are common, life and death. Life is just momentary. Life, though momentary, is long because it is subjective because it is lived from moment to moment. We live every moment, breathe every moment, our brain and body sustain our senses and emotions, while the other faculties carry on their functions every moment.  When people come into this world they cry, and when they die the bereaved ones cry for the departed.

But what makes us fear death.  My birdbrain is not responding readily to this poser.  or, if you rephrase the question can you find an answer.  Let’s ask like this:   WHY DO PEOPLE CLING TO DEAR LIFE AND WHY DO THEY WANT TO PROLONG THEIR LIFESPAN?  For either question I feel the answer is the same.  Birth is something which we can explain spiritually and scientifically; whereas death is an enigma, an indeterminate number.  Death is an imposing door, a gaping chasm and abyss.  Birth is always construed as a gala affair whereas death is solemn and stern and abrupt.  Birth is youth, growth, fruition, achievement, laurels, accolades, adorations,  warmth and joy.  Death is inscrutable, dismal,  a shutting off.  Death offers no more chances, death doesn’t pardon, death punishes and it is irreversible.

Death means that there is no more worldly or corporal indulgences,  no more whims and fancies.  Men who have not done their worldly duties fear death because their near and dear will suffer as a result.  Those who are over indulgent and lusty or avaricious or vengeful,  fear death.  People who are over affectionate to people and objects, fear death.  People who are too young, energetic and virile, fear death.  People who have lived in sin and repented it late in life when they are reaping the consequences of their misdeeds, fear death.  People who imagine a fate in hell after death, also fear death.

Think for an instant.  We know we are organic and  and like any other living matter, our bodies also will disintegrate into various elements of nature.  The moment you die, you are not you.  There is no you, I or anything after death  Death is final and it is a great blessing.  Imagine living on and on for a couple of hundred years, and  that will be the living dead.

Death is a solemn affair.  If you are a religious person, all the last rites send you straight to heaven.  If you are an agnostic, or a naturalist, then you enrich mother nature.

Live well, and die laughing.  Keep a healthy regimen, and keep your fingers crossed against diseases and epidemics.  Like the story books say, let there be a lingering smile on your face when you die.


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