I was wondering over this topic, and thought of observing a few things. A little introspection revealed to me quite a few points. And it was easier because just a few days ago, I was losing the will to live. Which, however, does not mean that I was willing to die. It simply means that I was running out of reasons to live for, and was stuck with just existing.
So that was the first observation. Loss of the will to live does not mean that there is a willingness to die. And I guess the opposite holds true too! Many of our soldiers and policemen, and many more of our patriots who helped us achieve independence, have willingly died for us. Does that mean that they had lost the will to live? Au contraire, had they been convinced that we could manage well without their sacrifices, they would have lived on. They died just so that we could live a better life.
And then there’s the part about the absence of the fear of death. It cannot be equated to the willingness to die, but is often misconstrued thus. Here’s the difference. A person willing to die need not necessarily be free from the fear of death. He may be willing to sacrifice himself, but that could be brought on by convincing him that his death could do great good. Or that his death could help avoid any harm being done to his loved ones. This is just an example, by the way.
Then, of course, comes the fear to live. Think of a girl who has just been molested, and is being looked at with strange emotions in their eyes by her friends and relatives. If these stares continue, she might as well become too fearful of just going outside! She won’t develop a willingness to die, or overcome the fear of death. However, she will stick herself in a corner, ceasing to ’live’ her life and continuing to exist.
I had almost forgotten about the will to live. Hope springs eternal, and so does this. Any person willing to die will, given conducive circumstances, change his mind and show the will to live. It is within this ’conducive circumstances’ phrase that the rub lies. These circumstances must provide him with a reason to live. Otherwise, once again, he continues just to exist.
Nevertheless, when it comes to life, living, death and its fear, only one example springs to mind. Bheeshma was given the boon of choosing the time of his death. And he could have chosen a lot of moments to die before he actually chose one.
He could have chosen to die when he came to know that both of his half brothers were incapable of producing offspring. He could have committed suicide when one of his nephews died, while the only other one, a blind whose initial claim to the throne had been rejected solely for that reason, ascended the throne and a series of ’mistakes’ began.
He could have chosen to die when some of his grandsons molested the wife of his other grandsons, and that too in front of the entire court. He could have chosen to die the very moment his grandsons chose to face off against each other in the battlefield. Herein lies another old promise that prevented him.
He had promised his stepmother Satyavati, that under no condition would he let the dynasty’s lineage die out. Hence, he chose sage Vyas to impregnate Ambika, Ambalika and a slave woman. Hence he did a lot of other things to ensure that the lineage would continue. He chose to bear the grief on a number of occasions just in the hope that he would one day see the dynasty flourish. And he breathed his last only when he thought that he had ensured that his grandsons do not wipe each other out.
I draw my own lessons from this, but folks, can you tell me what lessons you draw from this? I would like to compare notes…