How does one see death? Is it a personal disaster or is it a doorway, a point in time, on the way to eternity? Is death final? Is there life after death? Many such questions trouble every person'smind, more so as one grows older. Death has been a perpetual challenge which has ?to be confronted with life,? says the author.
This book under review presents man'spredicament and fear of death, which is becoming the predominant theme even when life expectancy is on the increase and medical advances are there to ensure good health during old age. In a way, death co-exists with life and as Erich Fromm has rightly said, ?Man is the only animal that finds his own existence a problem he has to solve and from which he cannot escape. In the same sense, man is the only animal who knows he must die.?
Our attitude towards death, and the beliefs and rituals associated with it, are embedded in the philosophy of life and which varies across cultures. While ?awareness of death is immanent, everyone wants to be immortal.? In most societies, death is not considered the end of existence. The physical body dies but the spiritual body is believed to live on. The view of reincarnation held in Hinduism and Buddhism gives a new dimension to the idea of life after death.
The variations in perception of death reflect diverse values and philosophies. Some look at it as a sentence for one'ssins, an act on punishment, or a judgement of God. For some death stands for loneliness; for others it means emancipation or relief from the troubles of the earth. Some consider death as a fitting finale to a fulfilled life and therefore, embrace and welcome it; while some despise and fear it.
Anxiety on death is not an unknown phenomenon. When under severe stress, a person is at a high level of anxiety and may develop an acute anxiety as to start expecting death to occur.
Death is discussed in the Bhagavad Gita as when the Mahabharata war broke out, Arjuna said to his charioteer Lord Krishna, ?I will not kill my kinsmen and I desire not victory, nor kingdom, nor pleasures.? Lord Krishna'sreply was, ?Do not yield to impotence, O Partha; it does not befit you. Give up this paltry faint-heartedness and arise?. Lord Krishna has also said in the Bhagavad Gita, ?Surrender to me, O Partha, I shall deliver you from all sin and evil.? Man too should surrender to the will and convince oneself that one cannot come to terms with death, its meaning and the emotions generated by it without thinking about the Divine.
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