Death closes all, so what is this life, after all?
From time immemorial, India has been an ancient land of philosophers. It has been a land that has nurtured philosophy in no small way. It has also been a land that has always taught people to have a very high degree of tolerance. This is perhaps reflected in the manner in which Indians brave droughts, floods, earthquakes, terrorist attacks and so on.
Be that as it may, India has also time and again sought to emphasize the negative side of excessive consumerism. An increasing amount of evidence is now available from the West that the people out there, are themselves a little or more fed up with the rat race. Evidence of this can be found in the increasingly good acceptance of Indian Spiritual tribes who have not only made a big name there, but have also been able to convince people out there to donate to good causes in India.
Death is inevitable. So, we all need to do something before we die. If everyone were to do only good, the world will be a lot more better place to live in, the poor of many countries will have enough to eat, and less of defense expenditure will mean more resources that will be available to educate the poor, make the Government hospitals be far better than what they are, make the public utilities function far better and so on. The list is endless.
Of course, that the world is also full of dirty politicians in each country, who literally hijack the developmental agenda for their personal gain, is a big fact of life. Everyone in India knows, for example, that the politicians make huge money from all Government deals. No one bothers to ever correct them or even question them.
It is these circumstances, perhaps, our ancient forefathers saw coming. So, they started coining messages that had a huge base in philosophy.
In Tamil Nadu, there is one that is very powerful, and says it all. It simply reads "nee ulagathathi vittu pogum pothu, ethaiyumae kondu poga mudiyathu", which literally translates into this: when you are gone from this world on death, you cannot carry anything on your head, and with you.
It should be noted that something as much, or more, is already there in the great Indian epic Mahabharat.
It is only a matter of convenience that in Tamil Nadu, people are made to understand very powerful messages with very simple and common Tamil words. The literary Tamil is very difficult to understand indeed.
The aforesaid saying is a very powerful one. Yes, we all know that death is the final blow. We get reduced to a small urn of ashes in no time.
This is the essence of life. This is what life is all about. So, what?
Yes, there are many many things that we need to do, to justify our existence in this birth.
Like being kind to others. Like, living a life of values, and not doing anything against the law of the land. Like, being selfless, when it comes to family comforts, and then showing the way, though good values.
Like making our own children understand that when we do good, are truthful, respect the law, play according to rules of the land. Donate to social causes, lead a simple life, give respect to elders, take part in all temple activities and do everything to maintain peace in society.
If and when most people do the same, the society as a whole will be a lot more peaceful. The results of such dinning into the ears of several thousands of people, has had its own effects, most of which are very positive indeed.
For instance, thanks to some employment or the other, even those who are more than sixty years old, go for some employment, particularly in farm lands, where the wages have gone up. They somehow manage to send their children, at least to Government schools, and Government colleges, and in Tamil Nadu, we have the second most literate State in India.
Tamil Nadu tops in terms of road infrastructure, and the roads in most parts of the State are fairly good. The bus network is the best in the country. No economist worth his salt has studied and reported the massive surge of employment in the service sector, where people buy and sell goods and services of different kinds. For instance, there are ready made goods sold on installment basis. Saris, inner garments of all kinds, ready made shirts and pants, you can buy them all at relatively less prices, in several thousands of villages in Tamil Nadu. The buses ply to the remotest villages and the economy revolves around a huge amount of cash transactions.
All this is possible, only because the people are generally peace loving and wish to maintain peace at any cost. Most, that is, barring a mere two percent, believe in God and one will simply loose count of the very big festivals that are held in various parts of Tamil Nadu, in some festival or the other, and there is a huge amount of free food that is given to all devotees, throughout the year.
So, in a place that is wedded to philosophy, dinning in the core message, that death will close all, has had a good and positive impact. Development is there, but not at the cost of ecology. For instance, there is a huge resistance to allow oil extraction in areas that are very fertile, and rain fed.
In spite of drought, thanks to employment of different kinds and surge in self-employment of the new age kind ( Tamil Nadu would possibly have the maximum number of cell phone shops in the country ), there is all around development, and there is actually underemployment, and not total unemployment. For instance, the rich farmers have sons who want to become engineers. They become engineers but are not able to get the same jobs as their city counterparts, because they do not read and speak English to the extent that the city boys and girls would.
The philosophy of life should now be explained on a massive scale. It is not that such philosophies do not exist in other parts of India. They do. But the politicians manage to hijack the developmental agenda, and keep the poor as poor for very long periods of time, as development does not reach the masses.
The Tamil Nadu model can be copied to make philosophies work. Simply said, we need to do only good things in life. Numerous films in Tamil Nadu, where cinema is a very powerful medium of expression, even in politics, also convey the same message that death closes all. There is a deep sense of moral responsibility, particularly in villages.
In general, we all need to understand the wider purpose of life. Endless fighting, office politics, quarrels at home over property, issues like extra-marital affairs and so on, only destroy our peace of mind, and make us so much of the inevitable rat race. When we lose control of what we do, we become hard headed and numb. We do not think that we need to help the poor, or help anyone at all.
When we understand the real meaning of death, we will be far better human beings. Let us all start a new chapter in our lives, by understanding the futility of short-term gains, or cutting corners or behaving in ways that send wrong messages to society. The time to act is now.
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