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What Is Death?

Death is a fact of life, an inevitable fact. We all know this fact, yet the very name of death makes us experience a shiver of fear. On knowing that our death is near, the hope of living longer gets rekindled. A whirlwind of emotions arises when a close loved one dies. The parents who gave us a new life - when one of them dies, when a brother or a sister dearer than a friend dies, a husband or wife who is the support of life dies, or a child who has not yet seen the world prematurely dies, one feels such a void in life which no one can fill. As if Nature has snatched away a part of our very own existence, such sorrow, grievance and sorrow surround us. And regarding the transience of life, so many questions arise in the mind. Of which one of the questions, ‘What is death?’ constantly perplexes the heart.

what is death

According to physical science, where the main organs of the body like heart, brain, lungs etc. shut down, that state is called death. According to worldly belief, it is also said that death means going to God's house. When small, children are told that those who die become a star in the sky. Socially speaking, death is a very sad event in which the family mourns by wearing white or black clothes. According to some religious beliefs, death occurs when the Soul leaves the body, and according to the custom of the particular religion, the body is either cremated or buried in the ground.

We know the apparent processes and rituals after death, but nowhere is there a true understanding of what death really is. When the only son passes away, and one says 'God took away my son', does that not mean you established God to be a murderer? Why would God gather people in his house? If (upon death) we were to become a star in the sky, then wouldn’t the number of stars increase by many times? Therefore, there is a need for a realistic understanding of what death is, which can relieve the feeling of grief after the death of a loved one. The fear felt at the time of one’s own death or others’ can be removed. Through Akram Vignan, Param Pujya Dadashri has given such a clear scientific understanding about death, knowing which, not only removes the pain and fear of death, but death becomes a festival instead!

That Which Has Birth Has Death:

The beginning of everything is always along with its end. When the sun rises, so does the sun set for sure. In spring, a new leaf bud crops, and in autumn, the ripe leaf falls. Studies began when you went to school, and it ended when you finished studying. A shirt was born when you got a new shirt sewed, and when it wore out and got torn, its death happened. This is how death is connected with birth. Where there is birth, there surely has to be death! This is a natural law to be known before understanding what is death.


A Night Between Two Days:

Death is not the end of existence, but it is like a twilight between the two existences. Just like there is night between two days, so there is death between two lives. Just like the clothes on the body change, likewise the body over the Soul changes. So, this body is temporary; it is perishable, and that which is temporary dies. Whereas the Soul is permanent, it is indestructible, it is eternal. There is never a death of the Soul, the Soul is unborn-immortal! At the time of cremation, the body is destroyed and absorbed into the five elements, and the Soul assumes a new body.

Does it hurt us if our dear relative changes old clothes and wears new ones? No, it doesn't. Because it remains in our awareness that the clothes are being changed, and not the person. If we maintain the same vision for the Soul, that the Soul is just changing the body, but it itself remains forever! Then, it won’t hurt. One that has been burnt, that is the body, but the Soul has right now already taken birth as another body, somewhere. This meaning of death helps in keeping all our grief and fear away.

Life (Aayushya), a Karma:

Then what is the basis for the death of the body? Karma!

Actually how many years a human will live depends on the account of karmas. The initiation of karma means birth, and one-by-one, when all karmas get completed and the Soul gets released from the body, that is death! This is a scientific perspective of comprehending what is death. When the account of karma, that was bound for one life-time, gets finished, death happens.

Life-span is also a karma. Let us understand it with the example of a candle. We light the candle by its thread. That thread burns the wax. A candle can only give light as long as the slightest thread remains, or the wax is burning. As the candle keeps giving light, its existence keeps diminishing, and eventually the candle burns out. In other words, the candle is extinguished when its life is over. Just as a candle burns on the basis of four things: thread, wax, light and life, likewise, the human body also lives on the basis of karma. Just as a candle, once lit, keeps burning naturally, so is the case with human beings, from the moment they are born, the karma keeps unfolding without doing anything. As the candle is going on burning, it automatically finishes, similarly, upon the completion of life karma, the body also gets finished.

The initiation of karma means birth, and one-by-one when all karmas are completed, the Soul is released from the body, that is death!


Death is verily the result of our karma, and apparently, due to some illness, person, event or circumstance, that karma is completed. If this understanding remains present, then the cause or circumstance which causes the completion of the life-karma (ayushya karma) does not appear to be the culprit.

Death is not in our hands!

Death is based on karma, that is why no one has control over death. Sometimes a small child dies within a few days of birth. While some elders enjoy even longer than a hundred years of life. Sometimes there happens a sudden death due to an accident or a heart attack, while sometimes death happens from cancer after years of suffering and sufferings. Even Vasudeva Shree Krishna could not stop his death when an arrow hit him in the leg. Jesus Christ also met death when put on the cross. Lord Mahavir, being such a powerful Tirthankar, also could not make an iota of change in his time of death.

Death is not in our hands. But how to live this life is in our hands, isn’t it?! So as long as we are alive, as long as our loved ones are alive, let us live each and every moment of this life, and make this human life worthwhile.

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