THE END AS A BEGINNING
by Dr. Tuktuk Ghosh
Death is the end. This is how it is commonly perceived. Hence the dread, the acrid fear and the unremitting angst that is its inseparable double. So much in life is geared towards pushing away what is the only certainty that we are aware of.
Is death really so terrible ? Is it confronted only that one time? Yes, if looked at in the conventional matrix. No, if regarded as a culmination of many an end that speckles each unique life. The only difference is that we experience a beginning after each end-point in life. What is beyond our known experience is only post- death in the physical sense.
This interrogation is not associated with the philosophy that bolsters belief in the endless cycle of birth and rebirth , reincarnation, to be followed with mukti, liberated from the shackles of karma – enforced bondage. Not withstanding thousands of years of learning and as many recounting of previous lives, the fundamental under girding of this is sheer faith, a giant act of faith.
To reiterate, the finality of death is not the only end that confronts us. There is the death of every passing moment that we live with. With continuity there is a constant cessation , which we choose to be oblivious of. It is comforting to believe that there is a constant at the core of our being and our personalized universe. With every such death enters a new beginning which is not recognized as such.
Things would indeed appear very different were they to be viewed from this prism . To acknowledge that we are confronted with death in life is neither simple nor palatable. Death remains the terrifying other , not to taken as life’s consort.
In my personal experience I have seen the terrifying other from very close quarters in its most grotesque visage, on more occasions than I think was fair. Admittedly, this is judgmental. Be that as it may, it is incomprehensible that my father , foster parent and sister ;all met with extremely violent ends, on the same day in the same city, 49 years removed and my mother was hounded by unremitting maladies mercilessly before she secured release. There is no denying that they altered my compass irreversibly and left cavernous unhealed wounds, still pulsating raw.
Poignantly enough , it was my slain sister who led me to Bhagvan Sri Ramana Maharishi over 2 decades ago. I recall Bhagvan’s serene photo adorning my bookshelf all these years beckoning silently , strongly with its own magnetism. Interestingly, around the time of my introduction- if you may- to Bhagvan, my official work with Government of India in the Ministry of Human Resource Development , took me to Thiruvanamalai. I had an opportunity to visit the Ramanashramam there. The calm and simplicity of the sacred space have stayed with me ever since. I also remember a wizened saintly soul in the temple precincts nearby who came up to me , placed his hand lovingly on my head, pointed towards Arunachala and whispered his blessings ever so gently in my ears. I was told by my local companions that this was a most unusual gesture on his part as he hardly ever left his chosen seat. This counts as among my most moving of moments . I do not know why but it has since been a rather long trek back to Arunachala. The most recent nudge has come courtesy a valued colleague who was incidentally also close to my sister, though being several cities removed from her . He has had the distinction of being Secretary of the Ramana Kendra,New Delhi, for over a decade. Uncanny to see the dots converging into a pattern, although for me it is still a pilgrimage very much in progress.
To retrace the trail of death, ends and ends – as – beginnings, as Sankara says, “we will all go back to God from whom we have come as sparks from a fire.” Bhagvan agrees that we will eventually merge with the source. For him, however, the real nature of the self was formless, immanent consciousness. The removal of ignorance by jnana to arrive at that sublime state demands a dissolution of the unreal sense of individuality or ego. How else to reach that summit but by partnering with constant death?
He who thinks he is the doer is also the sufferer. The credo , to highlight one’s true persona, ought to be , as elucidated in Bhagvan’s memorable teachings, to live as the instrument of God , working as his channel.
No end will be an end but only the beginning of unceasing , incandescent bliss.
SHIV ARUNACHALYA, SHIV ARUNACHALAYA, SHIV ARUNACHALAYA.
About Dr. Tuktuk Ghosh
Dr. Tuktuk Ghosh has retired recently from the Indian Administrative Service. During her three decades plus tenure as a civil servant she held various senior positions in the Government of West Bengal ;her State cadre and Government of India. Prior to joining the IAS, Dr.Ghosh taught History at Hindu College, University of Delhi.
Presently, she is associated at the Board level with some Companies and Government Organizations. She also contributes articles on governance issues to national dailies and mentors young civil service aspirants.
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