Posts Tagged ‘death’

A blank wall

December 3, 2017

When I think of Death, I face a blank wall.
I realize that I do not know Death at all.
Will I just stop? Will I cease to be?
Or is there, just further, what I cannot see?
Will I be born again? / As a human, or a worm?
Would I move in someone’s bloodstream…
A single-celled germ?
Would my spirit float free?
Would my sins be wiped out?
Would I live on, just not me,
Only when I got talked about?
Would I really exist, apart from this shell?
Would I ascend to Heaven, or just go to hell?
For the answers to these…
Upon whom can I call?
I can ask as much as I please…
No one knows Death, at all!

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Stages, by Herman Hesse

October 24, 2017

Stages
As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.
–Hermann Hesse
(translated by Richard and Clara Winston)

The Nano graveyard

July 15, 2017

We went on a nature/birding walk to Kalena Agrahara today, and skirted the lake at IDBI Bank Layout. I was amazed to see several Nano cars parked, and rusting in the monsoon weather.

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There must have been about sixty of the cars, parked all around.

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At a conservative estimate of Rs.2 lakhs per car, that’s Rs. 80 lakhs just wasting away.

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I finally found this banner, saying that these cars apparently belong to this rental initiative:

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The problem in our country seems to be, not lack of good initiatives, but keeping up with them. I have tried to call this number to find out why so many cars are rusting…and could not get through. I will try again on Monday (which should be a working day.)  But meanwhile…would it not have been better to just donate these cars rather than let such an investment waste away in this fashion?

“Oh…this is a new AirBnB effort!” said my friend Rekha-Ram Lakshmanan, from St.Louis, when he saw the cars. “No,” I riposted, “This is CarBnB!”

What a sad state of affairs. Can anyone throw any more light on this failed initiative?

Minnal Shaffer, 190108

January 19, 2017

In front of the waving grasses in an urban park
Facing the calm waters
Lies a small brick, upon the ground,
That carries your name.
O dear one, my firstborn’s firstborn,
You went away before you even came into this world.
Souls of great ones, our scriptures say,
Do not have long to spend on this earth.
Coccooned within your mother,
You had very little time.
But you were here long enough
For us to love, remember, and cherish you.
You remind us how every live birth,
Every normal child,
Is nothing short of several miracles.
You were a lightning flash that touched our lives;
But,like lighnting, you had great power
To open our eyes to the fragility of life.
Your home in our hearts is eternal,
As is that of every being whose lifespan is small.

Life and death…and thoughts

September 25, 2014

ஜென்மம் நிறைந்தது சென்றவர் வாழ்க
சிந்தை கலங்கிட வந்தவர் வாழ்க
நீரில் மிதந்திடும் கண்களும் காய்க
நிம்மதி நிம்மதி இவ்விடம் சூழ்க

The life is over; hail to the person who left.
Hail to the person who concerned us.
Let the eyes swimming in tears dry up;
Let peace and calm prevail.

ஜனனமும் பூமியில் புதியது இல்லை
மரணத்தை போல் ஒரு பழையதும் இல்லை
இரண்டும் இல்லாவிடில் இயற்கையும் இல்லை
இயற்கையின் ஆணைதான் ஞானத்தின் எல்லை

Birth is nothing new upon this earth.
There is nothing older than death.
Without both, there is no Nature.
The laws of Nature are the far reaches of wisdom.

பாசமுலவிய கண்களும் எங்கே
பாய்ந்து துலாவிய கைகளும் எங்கே
தேசம் அளாவிய கால்களும் எங்கே
தீ உண்டதென்றது சாம்பலும் இங்கே

Where are the eyes filled with love?
Where are the hands that moved?
Where are the feet that straddled this earth
There are only the ashes, after the consuming fire.

கண்ணில் தெரிந்தது காற்றுடன் போக
மண்ணில் பிறந்தது மண்ணுடன் சேர்க
எலும்பு சதை கொண்ட உருவங்கள் போக
எச்சங்களால் அந்த இன்னுயிர் வாழ்க

What one could see, goes with the wind.
What is born on earth, returns to the earth.
The form made of flesh and bones disappears
May the soul live forever.

பிறப்பு இல்லாமலே நாளொன்று இல்லை
இறப்பு இல்லாமலும் நாளொன்று இல்லை
நேசத்தினால் வரும் நினைவுகள் தொல்லை
மறதியை போல் ஒரு மாமருந்தில்லை

There is no day without a birth
There is no day without a death
The memories born out of love trouble us.
There is no medicine like forgettin.

கடல் தொடும் ஆறுகள் கலங்குவதில்லை
தரை தொடும் தரைகள் அழுவதும் இல்லை
நதி மழை போன்றதே விதி ஒன்று கண்டும்
மதி கொண்ட மானுடர் மயங்குவதென்ன

The rivers which the ocean touches, do not worry;
The lands that touch other lands, do not weep.
When they percieve a Fate that is a like a river or rain
Why do intelligent humans get enmeshed?

மரணத்தினால் சில கோவங்கள் தீரும்
மரணத்தினால் சில சாபங்கள் தீரும்
வேதம் சொல்லாததை மரணங்கள் கூறும்
விதை ஒன்று வீழ்ந்திடில் செடி வந்து சேரும்

With death, some angers will cease.
With death, some curses will end.
Death clarifies what even the Vedas do not say.
Where a seed falls, a plant will rise.

பூமிக்கு நாமொரு யாத்திரை வந்தோம்
யாத்திரை தீருமுன் நித்திரை கொண்டோம்
நித்திரை போவது நியதி என்றாலும்
யாத்திரை என்பது தொடர் கதையாகும்

We came to this earth on a journey
Before journey’s end, we fell asleep.
Though sleeping is in our destiny,
Our journey is a serial tale.

தென்றலின் பூங்கரம் தீண்டிடும் போதும்
சூரிய கீற்றொளி தோன்றிடும் போதும்
மழழையின் தேன்மொழி செவியுறும் போதும்
மாண்டவர் எம்முடன் வாழ்ந்திட கூடும்

When the soft southern breeze touches us,
When the rays of the rising sun touch us,
When we hear the honeyed sound of the rain,
Those who are departed, may live with us again.

மாண்டவர் சுவாசங்கள் காற்றுடன் சேர்க
தூயவர் கண்ணொளி சூரியன் சேர்க
பூதங்கள் ஐந்திலும் உன்னுடல் சேர்க
போனவர் புண்ணியம் எம்முடன் சேர்க

May the breath of the departed mix with the breeze.
May the light of their eyes mingle with the sun.
May your body merge with the Five Elements
May the good deeds of the departed belong to us.

போனவர் புண்ணியம் எம்முடன் சேர்க
போனவர் புண்ணியம் எம்முடன் சேர்க

May the good deeds of the departed belong to us.
May the good deeds of the departed belong to us.

Here’s the transliteration and a much better translation by R Shankar:

janmam niRaindadu senRavar vAzhga
sindai kalangiDa vandavar vAzhga
nIril midandiDum kaNgaLum kAyga
nimmadi nimmadi ivviDam sUzhga
Life was full, blessed be the departed
Blessed be the ones who made us grieve
May eyes that swim in tears dry out
May tranquility pervade, here and everywhere

jananamum bhUmiyil pudiyadu illai
maraNattai pOl oru pazhaiyadum illai
iraNDum illAviDil iyaRkaiyum illai
iyaRkaiyin ANaidAn nyAnattin ellai
Birth on this earth is nothing new
Nothing more timeworn than death
But without them natural order will perish
The bounds of knowledge are but nature’s mandates

pAsamulAviya kaNgaLum engE
pAyndu tuzhAviya kaigaLum engE
dEsam aLAviya kAlgaLum engE
tI uNDadenRadu sAmbalum ingE
Where are the loving eyes?
Where are the hands that leapt to feel and search?
Where are the feet that measured the world?
Ashes and left-overs (from fire’s meal) are all that remain

kaNNil terindadu kATRuDan pOga
maNNil piRandadu maNNuDan sErga
elumbu sadai koNDa uruvangaL pOga
eccangaLAl anda innuyir vAzhga
What was evident has gone with the wind
Born of the earth, is now unto the earth
Skin and bone have evanesced
May that sweet life live on despite defects

piRappu illAmalE nALonRu illai
iRappu illAmalum nALonRu illai
nEsattinAl varum ninaivugaL tollai
maRadiyai pOl oru mAmarundillai
A day without birth isn’t possible
Nor a day without death
Loving thoughts are the malady
There’s no panacea like amnesia

kaDal toDum ARugaL kalanguvadillai
tarai toDum tAraigaL azhuvadum illai
nadi mazhai pOnRadE vidhi enRu kaNDum
madi koNDa mAnuDar mayanguvadenna
Rivers draining in the ocean are not distressed
Rays touching the ground do not shed tears
Knowing that rivers and rain are but fate
Why are intelligent men bewildered

maraNattinAl sila kOpangaL tIrum
maraNattinAl sila sApangaL tIrum
vEdam sollAdadai maraNangaL kURum
vidai onRu vIzhndiDil seDi vandu sErum
Wrath expires with death
Imprecations vanish with death
What scriptures do not, death does teach
If a seed falls, a tree will result

bhUmikku nAmoru yAttirai vandOm
yAttirai tIrumun nittirai koNDOm
nittirai pOvadu niyadi enRAlum
yAttirai enbadu toDar kadaiyAgum
We’ve come on a journey to this earth
We’ve gone to sleep before journey’s end
Even if sleep were pre-ordained
The journey itself is without end

tenRalin pUnkaram tINDiDum pOdum
sUriya kITRoLi tOnRiDum pOdum
mazhalaiyin tEnmozhi seviyuRum pOdum
mANDavar emmuDan vAzhndiDa kUDum
When the gentle fingers of the wind caress
When a sliver of sunlight sparkles
When the prattle of babes fills our ears
The dead come back to our lives

mANDavar suvAsangaL kATRuDan sErga
tUyavar kaNNoLi sUriyan sErga
bhUtangaL aindilum unnuDal sErga
pOnavar puNNiyam emmuDan sErga
May the breath of the dead mingle with the wind
May the brightness of their eyes brighten the sun
May their bodies become one with the elements
May their virtue become ours

When I’m gone…

July 27, 2014

When I’m gone…when my time is done..
Let me rest my weary head.

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In the softest of flowers,
Upon a petal bed.

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When the blooms wither,
When the colours turn to lead…

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We’ll both return in the spring.
Neither of us…is dead.

The departure

July 2, 2014

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I saw this scene,
It was a metaphor to me.
When the soul wants to leave
The cage, and depart
For the spaces beyond,
It cannot wait.
It needs no gates or pathways;
Through the very bones,
Through the grid,
It passes, leaving behind
Just the shell of what was once inhabited.
The fence cannot hold it back
Once the call for departure comes.
Mute, devoid of the presence
That has gone,
The fence stands, just showing
How, inside it, once, was a soul
That is now free.

Would you….?

May 1, 2014

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Would you like to be a god
Symbolized by stones..
Or rest in eternal peace,
Your world-weary bones
Under the spreading shade
Of majestic trees
That Nature made?
Would you also say,
Would you agree
With the poet’s words,
“Only God can make a tree”?

Peace and quiet

February 21, 2014

I thought it must be lovely to rest, with the winds from the field blowing one’s way, the sun shining around, and open to the elements:

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When the colours are washed out, it’s not monotony, but a serene, peaceful monochrome.

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But then, I felt that the departed soul might mingle with the Everlasting, and might not identify with just one spot. The memorial is not for those who are gone, but for those in whose memories the departed live..

Burial Customs

February 10, 2014

On my visit to Manipal, Karnataka, walking in the Saralabettu area while participating in the Bird Day, I saw this scene:

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That intrigued me, and I enquired of my fellow birders if they knew the significance of the open umbrella and the pot.

One of them explained to me that when someone of the area died, they were buried, and the pot and open umbrella were left to feed the departed, and shelter him from the elements, respectively.

Such burial customs reminded me of the

dolmen

that I have often found in the Bannerghatta forest, especially in the Ragihalli sheet rock area.

A dolmen, according to the Wiki, is also known as a portal tomb, portal grave, or quoit. It is a type of single-chamber megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone (table), although there are also more complex variants. Most date from the early Neolithic period (4000 to 3000 BC). Dolmens were usually covered with earth or smaller stones to form a barrow, though in many cases that covering has weathered away, leaving only the stone “skeleton” of the burial mound intact.

Here’s the picture of one that I took in Ragihalli sheet rock area, 261113:

260113 bg sunrise dolmen photo DSC09994.jpg

One common thread running through many burial customs seems to be an unwillingness to accept that what is left is only the body; there seems to be an attempt made to ease the person’s path even in the afterlife. The most famous examples of this are the tombs of Pharaohs in ancient Egypt, where all manner of items were interred with the mummy.

Here

is an account of Egyptian burial customs, with a detailed description of “funeral goods”.

Well, our friend in this field was no Pharaoh, so he has to be content with an umbrella, a pot, a stirrer and some small items.

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