- Religion and Philosophy
What is death?
Though we witness death and hear about it from the media every day, we are confident that we won't die. There is nothing wrong to think like that since the thought of death itself evokes fear in our psyche. What is death itself is a complete mystery. The Doctors define about a clinical death. The spiritualist talk about the soul and its immortality. Well, what really is death and what is dying? Long ago, Sathya Saibaba gave an inspiriting talk on death and he clarified certain points.
He told the people who gathered there, a beautiful example about death. A boy mourns the sudden death of his mother. The body was lying in front of him but he was shedding copious tears crying, "Oh Mother! why you have left me orphaned? One wise man who was passing by the house entered to pacify the boy. He said, "Why are you crying? The boy has said, "My mother has left me. He asked the boy, "Your mother is very much here. All through these days, you are accosting her through the medium of body. Now you cry that your mother has left you. It is the breath which has left the body. Hence, the body is immaterial, it is the vital breath which is more important. After the breath leaving the body, we call it a corpse and dispose it as early as possible as per the customs prevailing in each land.
The body is just an inert material. It is the breath or "Prana" which gives life and vitality to it. The breath really activate it. As long as the breath is inside the body it is respected and honored. The body is disposed but the breath which escapes from the body snatches the mind along with it. The mind has no form but it is a cumulative record of all that happened, all experiences underwent and all emotions felt. In short, it is a compact disc containing all that happened to the individual from birth to death. Now many may doubt, what is the purpose of the recordings? Hindu scriptures clearly clarify that the life of an individual is not limited to one particular birth alone. He had many births previously in many different lands and environment.
We have studied "Newton's law" which says that every action produce an equivalent and opposite reaction. For instance, if you hit the table surface, the table would have dealt the hit to your hand with equal force. It is true with respect to our life too. All your actions, reactions, emotions etc are carved deeply in the sub conscious mind which we are not aware of. At the appropriate time and occasion, it is played back as resound and reflection. People talk about retribution. We are not born in the world on our own volition. Our actions in previous birth trigger our birth in a place and family to work out its effect. A small example. We take some loan from somebody. Due to unavoidable circumstances, we are not able to repay it. Suddenly we die! What happens to the debt? It is carried over to the future births to pay back to the person from whom we have taken loan. If the amount is heavy, the person will take birth as your son or daughter and we are forced to spend on them for their upkeep, education etc., Once the debt is settled, either we will depart from them or they will depart from us. In some families, children look after their parents for a long time. The reason is that they are indebted to them in their previous birth. When the full amount is settled, when the service they received in their previous birth is given back in services, either of them will depart from the scene.
This point has been emphasized in the Hindu scriptures. Only the bodies die, and the soul is immortal. It has no birth or no death. It has no beginning or end. None has created it, it is self existing, ancient as well as new. Hence death is the change of dress of the soul. As we discard the worn out old dresses, the soul too relinquish the worn out bodies and seek new body to work out the past deeds which has accumulated over many births. Life on this earth is filled with grief and pain. The so called pleasures are momentary in nature. Our aim should be to "defy death" by escaping from this mysterious cycle of birth and death. This is possible only by sacrificing the selfishness and ego by meditating on True Self!