The entire place was shimmering with a yellowish glow. The sun has faded into the twilight and a bluish gray hue has smudged the eastern sky. The ambiance of the place is weaving a dismal feeling into the hearts of few who are standing on the staircases on the bank on the Ganges.
A perfect scene of desolation; a poet would say, is manifesting on the “Harishchandra Ghat” in Benares. Samar came from Kolkata last night along with his father to carry out a duty which his father requested him to do. It was his father’s wish. It was his father’s last wish to get cremated on the bank of the sacred river the Ganges and especially in Benares because his father believed that getting cremated in Benares shall bring forth the complete liberation of his soul. His father was happened to be a natural believer of his religion.
Samar never paid any heed to any customs of the religion, he inherited neither he believed that it had any relevance to practical life. He is a business man and understands only the transactions pertaining to our daily life. But he loved his father too. They shared an amazing bondage mixed with the emotion of father and son and true friends. They both were the only members of their family. Samar lost his mother when he was only a child. His father became his mother too.
But now he is alone. A weird feeling of isolation and blackness filled his mind. The earthly body of his father which was the only identity of his guardian and friend is burning on the “Ghat” and the dancing flame lighted up the place with a yellowish tint. The glow of the flame is declining with the dying dusk. His father is transforming into a fistful of ashes.
Behind the scene:
The scene we just came across is not happening with Samar only; it is common to all irrespective of the differences on the basis of caste, creed, location or species.
Who dies? What dies? Is there any existence beyond death? Was there any existence before birth?
These are some very basic questions which pop up in our minds whenever we get into a situation in which Samar is right now. Well, not all but an analytical mind shall never fail to face these questions.
This complex network of society equipped with sports, politics, daily soaps, reality shows, online shopping, job insecurity, communal disharmony and more are enough to keep us entangled with utmost physicality; we hardly find a scope to deal with our own inner world.
But as I said, there are few who venture to find an answer.
In the well-known scripture of “Katha Upanishad”, young Nachiketa, went to “Yama” the ruler of death because of his father; on a hit of a moment, donated him to “Yama”. To keep the words of his father, Nachiketa went to “Yama” and waited for three days and nights at the gateway to hell as “Yama “ was not there. On hearing the news, “Yama” came to young Nachiketa and promised him three boons in return of his long wait.
Nachiketa, in his last boon, asked “Yama” to tell him about the mystery of life and death and how anybody can attain liberation with this knowledge.
“Yama” repeatedly tried to distract “Nachiketa” by promising to give all the earthly comforts in return which even a king is not entitled to get. But “Nachiketa” rejected all his propositions and continued his discourse by saying that, there is no guarantee of a life so how long a comfort will stay? The desires of human life shall never end and there is no way to fulfill it no matter how much he gets.
At the end “Yama” gives the answer to “Naciketa’s” last question which is also the answer for Samar’s bewildered mind and for us.
Death is not the end. It is just the purging of this physical sheath called the body. But the owner of this body, we call it soul never dies. It leaves it’s sheathed and depending on the karma; take a new body within varied species.
This soul is nothing but the “Brahman” or the ultimate truth. As there is only one Truth so the soul must be a single one. This soul or “The Truth” reflects on multiple bodies and it seems to be numerous souls. It is similar to the reflections of the sun on different water bowls. The sun is one but the reflections are many.
Our physical bodies and this entire seen universe are the waves of the same ocean called “Brahman”. When a wave appears, we call it birth and when it dissolute, we call it death. So in actuality, there is neither a life nor a death happening, it is a rise and fall of a wave or a transformation from a current state to another.
In the revered book named “Gita”; Lord Krishna, talked about this when answering back to “Arjuna”. It is the echo of the same concept about life and death discussed in Vedanta. Gita is the cream of all Upanishads so there is a complete synergy.
Our lives are united as our death too because it is one in its core and the rest is unreal reflections. So to cry over death and to laugh on birth is both an irrelevant act of us.
We are on our way of understanding this fact. One day “We” shall become “I” and all the queries and doubts shall cease to exist.
Samar is lying back on his berth. He is returning home1; alone. His mind is pondering over the recent change in his life. His unsettled logic is unable to accept the truth of this changing world. He is failing to get around the blackness inside him and the surge of tears in his eyes.
We hope; someday he will know the truth of life and will able to comprehend the unity of our existence and at that very moment, he will feel the existence of his father inside him.
From there, his journey will start towards eternity.