Chapter 2. The Why of Death

Death – The Paradox of Life

Is death inevitable? Do we have to die? If so, then why? This is a question that every sensitive mind raises one time or the other. The sting of death and its horror is not so much in the fact of our bodily disappearance but it lies in the abrupt end to all our hopes and dreams, ideals and sentiments, longings and attachments. It is as if a blind and giant unfeeling and unthinking force took a perverse joy in turning all happiness to dust. It is as if an irony of fate ultimately mocks at all human effort. Few see death as a release, except perhaps from long suffering. And here too the will to live is far stronger than the pain and struggle of life. Most feel helpless before its inflexible, harsh and iron law that afflicts one with grief and loss and pain. And yet most human beings at some point come to reconcile the inevitability of death with the jest of life. It is like a race where the final winner has already been declared even before the start and yet one is expected to run well right up to the end.

Perhaps it is because something or someone survives and even benefits from this race. Perhaps it is because thus alone can the spirit in us grow in strength and force and light. Perhaps it is in fact the soul itself that chooses this change of scene and clime through the dark and impregnable tunnel of death to experience new life and new adventures in other countries and forms and names.

Yet through all this, something has persisted in the aspiration and faith of man, that one lives and would live forever. A short story from the great Indian epic the Mahabharata brings home this truth in a paradoxical way:

The god of dharma, who in his frontal aspect is the god of death as well, confronts Yudhisthira, the crown prince in exile. He puts forth several questions before the prince who himself is none other than an embodiment of dharma itself. After being thoroughly satisfied with the wisdom of the prince there comes a last question — “Kimashcharyam?” (In other words) what is the most surprising thing in this world? Yudhisthira, the wise prince, replies pointing to a subtle paradox in human nature: “The most surprising thing in this world is that though we all see death everywhere and everyday, yet somehow we believe that ‘I’ am not going to die.”[1]

The story is often interpreted as pointing to the fatality of life but seen in another way it brings out a deeper truth that behind and despite all appearances there is a faith in man of his immortality. That we physically die is a phenomenal fact. That hid in us is a deeper consciousness of immortality is another subtler fact of our existence. And who knows if human life were not given to resolve this very paradox of the visible outer and the sensible inner truth. That there is an immortal consciousness within man is a fact testified by the spiritual scientist (something which we shall turn to later). But what about the material scientist? Here is an excerpt by someone working in this field:

“We can resolutely affirm that, in the actual terrestrial conditions of life, the immortality of the cell is an indubitable fact… And what characterises most a living organism is its potential immortality and not its death.”[2]

Indeed, as we do observe that unicellular organisms do not die. They live as if in perpetual immortality by transmitting their genetic material and thereby duplicating themselves through asexual reproduction. A complex and multi-cellular organism too dies only partially. Genetically it does not perish since it transmits the genetic material to other cells one way or the other. Besides, as we have seen, groups of cells perish and are reborn several times in a single lifespan of complex organisms. This lifespan also sometimes prolongs itself for a fairly long time as in certain species of plants and trees that given the appropriate conditions continue to throw fresh shoots up to hundreds of years and some even for millenniums. Trees like the Ginkgo biloba are known to exist from the Paleozoic era of the dinosaurs right up to our own times. Closer to home, the big Banyan tree in Bangalore has been living and growing for at least a few thousand years! Even higher in the scale we see certain animal species, like the salamander and the lizard, rejuvenating entire limbs and body-parts if they are lost accidentally. Above all, if we do not brush aside history as mere fantasy when it goes beyond our understanding, then we do find records of rare instances in ancient Indian and Tibetan literature of an indefinite prolongation of life. The ancient Hindu scriptures state that the average lifespan of human beings varies markedly in each age. Thus, the kings and rishis of the golden age or the age of Truth are supposed to have lived for a thousand years. The lifespan thereafter has gone on decreasing until it has touched around a hundred in this iron age of matter or Kaliyuga. Even in our own times there are tales of those like Swami Brahmananda on the shores of Narmada who had lived beyond a few centuries at least. The Ramayana speaks about the lifespan in different epochs and the historian records the life of certain kings of that era as exceeding over a thousand years. One such story is especially interesting since it gives a subtle clue to the process of prolonging life in the body. Whether a myth or a subtle hint of a deeper reality, the story goes thus:

‘Markandeya was an illustrious child of a pious couple. The couple had been childless for a very long time and received the child as a boon from the great god Shiva after engaging in an arduous tapasya (penance). But there is a flip side to the boon. It was prophesied that the child though of a great inner merit would however live only for twelve years. Thus the shadow of death continues to chase the boy till the hour of doom arrives. The god of death, meticulous in his account and unhesitating in his hard task, appears to take back the boy even as he is sitting before his favourite God Shiva in meditative silence. No sooner that the god of death commands the boy to follow him, Markandeya puts his arms around the Shivalinga and holds it tight. Then there appears from behind the shrine the great and luminous god, greater than death itself and asks death to release the boy from his clutches. Power bows down to a greater power and the god of death returns empty handed. Markandeya, in turn, is granted the boon of eternal life.’

Shiva in this story clearly represents the Eternal. It is only by clinging to the Eternal within us that we can arrive at immortality. To put it in another way, that which is given to the soul survives and death loses its hold upon it. While that which is given to mutable transient things perishes one day and death takes them away. To be free of our sense-bound vision that is ever lost in transient things is to be free of the fear of death or the hold that it has over us. To rise above the little plot of the drama of mortal life to a higher and deeper vision that sees and embraces God everywhere is to discover immortality.

Sri Aurobindo, the Seer-Poet, brings out the deeper subtler truth through the masterly stroke of poetic genius:

I Morcundeya whom the worlds release,
The Seer, but it is God alone that sees!
Soar up above the bonds that hold below
Man to his littleness, lost in the show
Perennial which the senses round him build;
I find them out and am no more beguiled.
But ere I rise, ere I become the vast
And luminous Infinite and from the past
And future utterly released forget
These beings who themselves their bonds create,
Once I will speak and what I see declare.
The rest is God. There’s silence everywhere.[3]

 

Death – The Hooded Mask of Life

This question regarding the why of death has little sense for the physical scientist who does not give any more importance to the existence of life upon earth than in the formation of a lump of hard rock. For him this world and its events are a play of chance without any definitive aim or purpose. But what about the occult scientist and the spiritual realist? Here too we often find a dead end. Most philosophies simply accept death as part of nature and of life. It is a fact that has to be accepted, that’s all. Is that really all or is there more to it? For in the vast economy of nature death too must serve a deep purpose. And since life is essentially about evolution through struggle then death too must be somehow contributing if not actually hastening this evolutionary purpose. Perhaps it is a goad that pulls us out of our inertia and the sense-bound life of small joys and grief.

Perhaps it teases us to think beyond the mere present and thereby pulls us out of the limitations of our thoughts.

Perhaps it gives to us an insatiable urge to probe the beyond.

Perhaps reminding us of the transient nature of things, it pushes us to further and further heights of perfection.

Or perhaps, we may well discover, as the Upanishadic sages did, that death indeed is a spur towards our immortality!

Indeed, for we see how death of individual cells serves the larger purpose of the organism. Disintegration and renewal of substance are both complementary processes and both are necessary for life. It is necessary not only for collective life but for individual life itself. For what else is individual life but a smaller collectivity of cells just as the cell itself in turn is a conglomeration of still smaller units of life. And who knows we may well discover one day that even matter has life involved in it, is pregnant with life so to say. Seen thus we indeed discover that death is not the opposite of life but its complementary process. It is needed in the present state of the imperfection of life itself. In fact if cells did not get replaced through the agency of death, the organism as a whole would die much earlier of cancer than otherwise! Could it then be said by extending the logic of Nature that men die so that the larger unit of humanity and the entire earth-life may survive?

The very first thing that we need to be clear about is that all life is one. It is only in appearance that separateness exists for a purpose. Therefore to a deeper sight death does not exist at all. It is the form that changes. The force of life moves on from one instrument to another and would continue till it finds its purpose. The fine balance of the play of life and death has so far helped life establish itself through death. It appears as an opposition only to a fragmentary view of existence. We feel bad when we individually suffer the sting of death. And that’s natural since every organism is shot through and through with the instinct to live and grow. But seen impersonally, these individual deaths pave the way for the survival and growth of the larger totality of living beings.

The real question therefore is why does the instrument of nature called the body break down after a certain point of time? We have seen the mechanism of the breakdown but a mechanism is after all just a process. Why does nature introduce this seeming error deliberately? What justifies this colossal waste of human effort if one day it has to be buried in the grave or go up in flames leaving behind a handful of dust and smoke? Is that all there is to life as a poet moved in a moment of pessimism puts it thus:

Dust unto dust and under dust to lie
Sans wine, sans song, sans singer, sans end.[4]

What the sensitive poet touched by the tragedy of life seems to miss out is the Great Mother’s wisdom that is trying to reach out to a high post beyond our present maps. Dust mingles with dust to mutually enrich. The wine and the song end for a tastier wine and a lovelier song to follow. The singer returns to a mute ecstasy to learn of a sweeter song residing in the bosom of silence.

In other words, through the agency of death there goes on an enrichment of matter. The vibrations of a true consciousness imprinted in a cell are never lost. They awaken and continue to awaken similar vibrations in matter all over. The great mistake we make in all our understanding whether of God’s ways or of Nature is to see ourselves as separate from the world and others. It is this that leads to a constant sense of struggle and discord with its culmination in death. But all life is one just as all force is one. The electricity in the clouds that brings down a tree in a flash is no different from the electricity that lights up the home. So too all life is essentially one and returns back to the One. It is only our excessive preoccupation and identification with the outer form and appearance that makes us feel that life is gone. Gone yes, but where — into the common pool of All-life. The flowers and leaves that fall upon the ground after their term of life is over, end up enriching the soil thereby increasing its fertility. The bodies of men of greater merit crumble to dust but their spirit survives and grows mightier by the fall. Their very death attracts many more souls to fill the vacuum and therefore aids the evolutionary process. To put it paradoxically, the spirit of Christ survives victoriously and rises from the cross to redeem those very men who executed him. The place of his martyrdom becomes a pilgrimage in times to come, to inspire people to the way of life opened by him. So too a Socrates is done away with, seemingly unceremoniously with a cup of hemlock, but he grows even more powerful by his death ushering in a new era in Greece. Guru Teghbahadur gives himself to martyrdom but by this very act paves the way for the freedom of a nation from the shame and ignominy of an alien rule. The son of Arabia falls having been persecuted by his opponents but his sacrifice changes the face of a nation and brings sobriety and discipline among the very barbarians who victimised him. These and many such others are glorious examples but the same holds true at a lower level for the law is indeed the same, the only difference is that one may not see the evidence so visibly. All this hints at a deeper working that we do not quite understand. There is a greater mystery and all does not end with the death of the body and the mingling with dust.

The other and individual cause is that the soul, the true individual in us, has descended to experience the Infinite on a finite basis. The life-force by its very nature seeks change. Restless as it is in pursuit of an aim it still does not know or understand. There is in life this seeking and dissatisfaction with the present thereby urging it to move constantly to the new and the unknown. Normally and on a smaller scale, this happens through a variety of interests and different activities. Death is simply an extraordinary change, a leap across time, a radical jump towards the future. Though we have come to associate death with the sense of a tragedy, in reality, many a time a long life may well itself be unfortunate in our present state of imperfection and ignorance. Indeed the Mahabharata has this interesting tale of a curse bestowed upon the warrior chieftain Aswatthama. Following his heinous act of killing unguarded sleeping men and then trying to kill a baby in the womb by the use of a deadly missile, a strange curse is laid upon him by Sri Krishna, the hero of the war. It is not death for death would be instant, but the curse to live for 3,000 years wandering alone upon the earth carrying the stench of blood, the horrors of the war weighing heavily upon his soul. No doubt this gives him the chance of conscious purification, yet is the long life a painful one, when we have to carry the burden of our past and live alone in a world that has changed beyond our recognition. Human beings by and large, find it difficult to adjust psychologically to the rapid changes in the world around as they grow old. They fall back reminiscing about an old and foregone past as their support, sharing it with the friends of their generation. The older ones try to rebuild a familiar world that they have been habituated to, while the young who have not shared that environment find it increasingly difficult to relate with. There is therefore an increasing gap between oneself and the march of the world that ever moves forward one way or the other. There is an increasing sense of being out of tune with the people and places or with the spirit of the times. Death comes thence as a boon of sorts to give us the necessary relief and jump. Through death we become oblivious of the past in its outer details at least, and through rebirth we get a fresh lease of life, a leap through gaps of time to relive once again the dreams and ideals under newer and who knows maybe even better circumstances. Better or worse, one thing is certain — Death is a device that nature uses to replenish life. In this sense, it is more like a prolonged sleep that helps by making us forget the previous day and its acute troubles, thereby once again instilling within our hearts fresh hopes and strength to face life.

Therefore perhaps Nature in her deep wisdom and sense of balance has created this device of death. Once again returning to the mechanism of cells, there seems to be at work an inbuilt programming. It seems that a cell normally generates a variety of molecules, some of which send survival signals while others send death signals to the cell. So long as survival signals dominate, the cell stays alive. Dominance of death signals leads to the phenomenon of programmed cell death, termed Apoptosis, meaning to fall away. This phenomenon of apoptosis has been engaging the attention of scientists since the last quarter of a century. Various regulatory enzymes have been identified in the series of chain reactions leading to death. The final common pathway appears to be due to certain enzymes called Caspases that attack and destroy crucial cell structures such as the proteins of the nuclear lamina. What is however of great interest is that the life-giving oxygen itself becomes a vehicle of death, by creating as a by-product of reactions certain molecules, leading to oxidative damage to the very cells it nourishes. Even physically we may say that death is nothing but life turning upon itself!

“Death is imposed on the individual life both by the conditions of its own existence and by its relations to the All-Force which manifests itself in the universe. For the individual life is a particular play of energy specialised to constitute, maintain, energise and finally to dissolve when its utility is over, one of the myriad forms which all serve, each in its own place, time and scope, the whole play of the universe. The energy of life in the body has to support the attack of the energies external to it in the universe; it has to draw them in and feed upon them and is itself being constantly devoured by them. All Matter according to the Upanishad is food, and this is the formula of the material world that ‘the eater eating is himself eaten’. The life organised in the body is constantly exposed to the possibility of being broken up by the attack of the life external to it or, its devouring capacity being insufficient or not properly served or there being no right balance between the capacity of devouring and the capacity or necessity of providing food for the life outside, it is unable to protect itself and is devoured or is unable to renew itself and therefore wasted away or broken; it has to go through the process of death for a new construction or renewal.

Not only so but, again in the language of the Upanishad, the life-force is the food of the body, and the body the food of the life-force; in other words, the life-energy in us both supplies the material by which the form is built up and constantly maintained and renewed and is at the same time constantly using up the substantial form of itself which it thus creates and keeps in existence. If the balance between these two operations is imperfect or is disturbed or if the ordered play of the different currents of life-force is thrown out of gear, then disease and decay intervene and commence the process of disintegration. And the very struggle for conscious mastery and even the growth of mind make the maintenance of the life more difficult. For there is an increasing demand of the life-energy on the form, a demand which is in excess of the original system of supply and disturbs the original balance of supply and demand and, before a new balance can be established, many disorders are introduced inimical to the harmony and to the length of maintenance of the life; in addition the attempt at mastery creates always a corresponding reaction in the environment which is full of forces that also desire fulfilment and are therefore intolerant of, revolt against and attack the existence which seeks to master them. There too a balance is disturbed, a more intense struggle is generated; however strong the mastering life, unless either it is unlimited or else succeeds in establishing a new harmony with its environment, it cannot always resist and triumph but must one day be overcome and disintegrated.

But, apart from all these necessities, there is the one fundamental necessity of the nature and object of embodied life itself, which is to seek infinite experience on a finite basis, and since the form, the basis by its very organisation limits the possibility of experience, this can only be done by dissolving it and seeking new forms. For the soul, having once limited itself by concentrating on the moment and the field, is driven to seek its infinity again by the principle of succession, by adding moment to moment and thus storing up a Time-experience which it calls its past; in that Time it moves through successive fields, successive experiences or lives, successive accumulations of knowledge, capacity, enjoyment, and all this it holds in subconscious or superconscious memory as its fund of past acquisition in Time. To this process change of form is essential, and for the soul involved in individual body change of form means dissolution of the body in subjection to the law and compulsion of the All-life in the material universe, to its law of supply of the material of form and demand on the material, to its principle of constant intershock and the struggle of the embodied life to exist in a world of mutual devouring. And this is the law of Death.

This then is the necessity and justification of Death, not as a denial of Life, but as a process of Life; death is necessary because eternal change of form is the sole immortality to which the finite living substance can aspire and eternal change of experience the sole infinity to which the finite mind involved in living body can attain. This change of form cannot be allowed to remain merely a constant renewal of the same form-type such as constitutes our bodily life between birth and death; for unless the form-type is changed and the experiencing mind is thrown into new forms in new circumstances of time, place and environment, the necessary variation of experience which the very nature of existence in Time and Space demands, cannot be effectuated. And it is only the process of Death by dissolution and by the devouring of life by Life, it is only the absence of freedom, the compulsion, the struggle, the pain, the subjection to something that appears to be Not-Self which makes this necessary and salutary change appear terrible and undesirable to our mortal mentality. It is the sense of being devoured, broken up, destroyed or forced away which is the sting of Death and which even the belief in personal survival of death cannot wholly abrogate.”[5]

The following practical conclusions follow: Death is necessary to maintain a balance between individual life and All-life, between the part and the whole. If any individual or group were allowed to survive indefinitely in our present state of imperfection then that would mean the thwarting of other modes and forms of life. We could compare the process with cancerous cells that begin to grow rapidly at the cost of other cells thereby felling the whole organism. Due to ignorance of any other life and environment our attempt to mastery creates a natural reaction from all that is around us leading to progressive disharmony and death. The environment in which we live and breathe is not a vacuum. Our very effort at mastering the environment creates a kind of reaction from other forms of life thereby threatening our balance of energy.

However strong we may be, we cannot be stronger than the whole. Sooner or later it is a decided battle. Ego and Ignorance with their attendant consequence of separateness lead to disharmony with all that is around, culminating finally in death. Death becomes inevitable at some point or the other since the balance of life is very precarious. It is a question of one part against other parts. Human beings are very complex. Each part in us has its own reasonable or unreasonable demand. It is like a crowd where each one is jostling against the other and yet they have to be somehow kept together with a fair distribution of the force and energy that drives the body and mind in its various pursuits. That energy is one, it is the life-force or prana which supplies and feeds the different parts for their various activities. Now if one part tries to overshadow others and the regulating and balancing mechanism is not smooth enough, then there is an inner war of sorts. The result is a progressive disharmony, imbalance, disease and finally death. Added to this are the rapid and unforeseen changes in our inner and outer milieu plus our own habits that disturb the simple natural rhythm of life. The price we pay for this one-dimensional progress is a progressive dislocation and imbalance at other levels leading to disease and death. The inability of all the different parts in our nature to progress at the same pace and function harmoniously leads to an inner dislocation with disease and death as attendant consequences.

Life consumes life and thereby fells the form to death, so say the Upanishads and there is obviously a profound truth in this. The body is the fuel that is burned by the life-force to generate itself. Thus if there is not a constant supplement of the form from outside, the life-energy will start eating the body to replenish itself. This is what happens when we fast. The life-force continues to supply the energy required for maintaining the life processes and for mental and physical work, but it does so at the expense of the body. Sooner or later the flesh would wear off unless ways and means are found to replenish it. The same happens to animals in hibernation who sometimes do not eat, drink or pass urine for months. They survive but come out weak, having lost a substantial amount of weight.

Death of the material and finite physical basis of life is thereby used by the secret soul and life in us for growth through a variety of experiences. Each of these experiences from one life to another enriches us and unveils the many (nearly infinite) possibilities concealed within our soul. It is only through the agency of death that we can undergo a radical change of form and place leading to the varied experiences that the life-force in us demands for nurturing the soul.

 

Death – The Passport to Immortality

Thus seen we discover that death is not just a senseless passage from one life to another or a meaningless change of form driven by some mechanical law of karma but something much more. It is a forward journey wherein the soul in us breaks free from the chrysalis of one life that it has woven around itself for a certain experience. The crust is left behind but the essence is carried forward. This goes on till the butterfly is formed out of the moth and no longer needs the limiting casing of ignorance for its growth. Then are we freed from the law of death and birth since its purpose is over — the rediscovery of the infinite soul in finite terms. Through the repeated experience of death and rebirth we are made fit and ready to discover the immortal soul within us. In other words, death is our passport to immortality. That is what these repeated cycles are meant for. The secret soul in us grows through the experiences of many lives till it becomes strong and free. Strong, in the sense that it is no more weak and indifferently consented to nature’s acts, a mere spectator of the complex drama of life but in fact an active participant, the decision-maker, anumanta. Free, in the sense that it is no more bound to the determinisms of nature but the author and artisan of its own fate, free of its circumstances of birth, free from life and death. Not that we cannot choose to be born again for that would be an imperfect and a conditional freedom, incompetence for a soul grown fully conscious of its divinity, but in that case, it is a conscious birth for a conscious work in Matter and upon earth. A soul that has arrived at freedom (traditionally called mukti or moksha) need not descend upon earth for the growing experiences. However, it need not cease from works upon earth either. A new possibility opens before it. The possibility of consciously helping other human beings to grow in soul terms and/or the new possibility of participating in the conscious transformation of matter and material life upon earth.

For indeed if freedom is the first term and need of the growing soul in us then unity is its second and even more important term. No soul is truly free from the clutches of death till there is even one soul struggling for freedom from the law of death. There is an essential freedom of the individual soul which at a point of time can become free from the cycle of birth and death. But this is a conditioned and partial freedom. For the soul though individual in its manifestation is always linked through the Universal Soul with all beings. Nor is there perfect peace and bliss of life as long as there is a single being striving for relief from pain and suffering.

Thus runs a significant verse in the Bhagavata[6]:

न कामयेऽहं  गतिमीश्वरात्  परामष्टर्द्धियुक्तामपुनर्भवं  वा ।
आर्तिं प्रपघेऽखिलदेहभाजामन्तःस्थितो येन भवन्त्यदुःखाः ॥

I desire not the supreme state with all its eight siddhis nor the cessation of rebirth; may it assume the sorrow of all creatures who suffer and enter into them so that they may be made free from grief. [7]

Savitri echoes a similar aspiration in Sri Aurobindo’s great epic:

Earth is the chosen place of mightiest souls;
Earth is the heroic spirit’s battlefield,
The forge where the Arch-mason shapes his works.
Thy servitudes on earth are greater, king,
Than all the glorious liberties of heaven.
…In me the spirit of immortal love
Stretches its arms out to embrace mankind.
Too far thy heavens for me from suffering men.
Imperfect is the joy not shared by all.
…A lonely freedom cannot satisfy
A heart that has grown one with every heart:
I am a deputy of the aspiring world,
My spirit’s liberty I ask for all.[8]

Death serves as a grim reminder of the imperfection and impermanence of life. Instead of depressing us it should act as a spur to goad us towards a greater perfection since that is what death and indeed all apparent destruction secretly is. In our present state of ignorance and imperfection, death becomes necessary so that we may realise our deficiencies and do not get locked forever in a fixed and rigid and ignorant mould. It is a movement forward, the last stage of our growth in a single lifetime, the transit from greater to lesser ignorance. As Ignorance vanishes, death too shall vanish, having served its purpose.

To weep because a glorious sun has set
Which the next morn shall gild the east again;
To mourn that mighty strengths must yield to fate
Which by that force a double strength attain;
To shrink from pain without whose friendly strife
Joy could not be, to make a terror of death
Who smiling beckons us to farther life,
And is a bridge for the persistent breath;
Despair and anguish and the tragic grief
Of dry set eyes, or such disastrous tears.
As rend the heart, though meant for its relief,
And all man’s ghastly company of fears
Are born of folly that believes the span
Of life the limit of immortal man.[9]

“This world was built by Death that he might live.
Wilt thou abolish death? Then life too will perish.
Thou canst not abolish death, but thou mayst transform it into a greater living.”
 

What is this Talk
 
What is this talk of slayer and of slain?
Swords are not sharp to slay nor floods assuage
This flaming soul. Mortality and pain
Are mere conventions of a mightier stage.
As when a hero by his doom pursued
Falls like a pillar of the world uptorn,
Shaking the hearts of men, and awe-imbued
Silent the audience sits of joy forlorn,
Meanwhile behind the stage the actor sighs
Deep-lunged relief, puts by what he has been
And talks with friends that waited, or from the flies
Watches the quiet of the closing scene,
Even so the unwounded spirits of slayer and slain
Beyond our vision passing live again.
 
…a great departing Soul can say this of death in vigorous phrase, ‘I have spat out the body.’
Sri Aurobindo

 

[1] From the ‘Van Parva’ of the Mahabharata by Veda Vyasa.
[2] S. Metalnikov: Immortalité et Rajeunissement dans la Biologie Moderne
[3] Sri Aurobindo: ‘Morcundeya’, Collected Poems, p.117
[4] Omar Khayyam: The Rubaiyyat as translated by Edgar Fitzgerald
[5] Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine, pp.192-94
[6] The Srimadabhagavat Purana is the story of Sri Krishna, the Divine becoming human, so as to show us the inner path leading to Him. Book 9-21 – 12
[7] ibid
[8] Sri Aurobindo: Savitri, pp.686 and 649
[9] Sri Aurobindo: ‘To Weep because a Glorious Sun’, Collected Poems, p.124

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