BIRTH and death are two phenomena that have forever remained a source of great mystery. While birth envisages happiness, death is accompanied with sorrow. Death is apparently a dark void into which everything collapses, the great and the small, the high and the mighty as well as the lowly and the weak, the virtuous and the vicious, the pure and the wicked, the angels and the demigods as well as the devils and the Titans. Death snatches all while acting as a great leveller.
We normally associate death with the visible dissolution of the physical form but in reality it is more than that. This is the first process of decay and disintegration that is almost a part of all material forms that we know upon Earth. Thus death at a high plane represents a beginning and end of things in Time – the great annihilator of its own work.
This book is a philosophical treatise on death, written by a psychiatrist associated with the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Integral Health and Research at Pondicherry and who is a philosopher out on a spiritual journey to find answers to queries on karma and rebirth, suffering and pain. On studying the vast works and revelations of Sri Aurobindo, he feels satisfied that his queries – Who are we? What is death? Why does it come? What if rebirth is not about retribution but is a form of evolution? What if life and death are not opposites but work towards a common goal? How should we deal withy trauma and loss, suffering and pain and other ethical and existential issues? – have been answered.
The one and only thing most predictable about life is death. Yet man lives, forgetting this aspect of life as if he were immortal. Between life and death is a visible manifestation of death and an innate sense of immortality on which hangs the balance of life, a paradox which we do not understand. The author tries to show that there are two faces of death – one that is natural and normal as a process complimentary to life and called apoptosis; the other as something unnatural and superimposed upon the organism, called necrosis. In apoptosis or programmed cell death, the dying cell sends signals to the neighbouring cells which then engage in swallowing all the important organelles which can be utilised.
While providing answers to many questions troubling us about death, the book is replete with anecdotes and experiences related to brushes with death. Nevertheless, it goes without saying that death is such a mystery that no amount of talking or writing about it can solve this riddle.
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