Death, The Most Fundamental Question

“Life and death exist together, inseparably, in the same breath. Breath is only a supporting actor; the real process is of prana, life energy that controls physical existence.”


Do you know you will die one day? We don’t know if you will get married or not, if you will get a job or not, if you will be successful or not, but death is one thing that is guaranteed in your life. One of the biggest follies is to engage with death in the third person, as though it is an abstract event that happens to other people, not us. About 160,000 people in the world, who were alive yesterday, are not here today. Each second, two people die in the world. And one day, it is going to happen to you and me, too. This knowledge is inbuilt in every human being. Yet, we think we have an unlimited lease of life. This situation is best expressed in the Mahabharata.

The five Pandava princes are lost in the forest. Starved and parched, they scout for water and food. They spot a lake and as they try to drink from it, they are confronted by a yaksha in the form of a white crane, who insists they answer his questions first. Refusing to be stopped by a bird, one by one they try to drink from the lake and drop dead. Only Yudhishthira, the eldest of them, is left. Always the humble and righteous one, he ignores his thirst and engages with the yaksha, who fires a volley of questions about life at him. One of those questions being, "What is the biggest wonder of life?" Without hesitation, Yudhishthira answers, "Hundreds of thousands of living beings meet death at every moment, yet foolish man thinks himself deathless and does not prepare for death. This is the biggest wonder of life." Pleased with his answer, the yaksha allows him to drink from the lake and also restores to life his dead brothers.

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