There is an episode in Mahabharata in which Yama, the God of Death wants to test the wisdom and knowledge of Yuddhistra, the eldest of Pandavas. The story goes that Pandava brothers go one after another to fetch water from a pool that supposedly belonged to Yama. As soon as, the pitcher is lowered into water, Yama’s voice reverberates and warns the pitcher holder not to fill it until he answers a question posed to him. As all the younger brothers fail to answer, they drop dead by the pond.
At last when all the brothers are gone and none is returning, Yuddhishtra gets worried and goes in search of the brothers whom he finds lying dead by the pool. He is aghast and anguished. As all the brothers possessed extraordinary powers, he is sure that some higher power has done this to his brothers. While he is sitting by the dead bodies, the voice of Yama again is heard. He lays down the condition before Yuddhistra, that he can revive his brothers if he satisfactorily answers five questions.
One of the questions was what was the greatest wonder of this transient world? To which he replies “Day after day countless people die. It is a fact that what is born has to die one day. Yet the living wish to live forever. O Lord, what can be greater wonder?”.
Sometimes back Steve Jobs the founder of Apple Inc died. He was not old to die but the cancer took his life. But he was a great man who had some most popular inventions to his credit. His products with brand names Apple and iMac are matchless. He wedded the electronics with artistry.
He suffered from the pancreatic cancer. After surgery and liver transplant, he became well and delivered a speech to the graduates. His speech contained 3 topics, last of which dealt with his illness. He says in his speech, I quote,
“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and will be be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’ life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
How strange both Yuddhistra and Jobs have exactly identical views about death. Further, Jobs likens the death to an inspiration. It is a change agent and scavenger. It continuously renews the life on the earth. Whenever, the role played by an individual is over, it simply replaces him or her with younger and brighter one. So, he exhorts, all of us to make best of the available time.