On Death - Auroville (16 December 1999) - Track 1

Question: Is there a connection between the myth of Achilles' heel and Krishna's heel?

It is true that Krishna died because a hunter shot an arrow into his heel, and that the same thing can be said about the weakness of Achilles' heel. But l don't think Krishna's heels were weak, it's only a historical fact that he was hit in his heel and died. But I don't see any special connection.                                               `

Question: Is there a connection between the newborn Moses and Karna both sent floating down the river?

I think there are many stories, not only those of Moses and Karna. This is a kind of a theme that we see very often in myths, so I don't want to establish a connection. l think that Oedipus also had a similar story.

The story of the Great Flood appears in many traditions – here they may be connections, because there is not only myth of a flood, but also a traditional belief that from time to time... In India there is a cyclic view, that there is a pralaya at a certain time. In one of the Brahmanas we have the story of Manu. He went to a river where a small fish spoke to him, saying, "Take me out and give me protection." Then Manu put it in a small pot, and then the fish grew bigger; then he had to put it in a bigger pot, and it became still bigger, and bigger and bigger until it had to be put in the ocean. And for this help, the fish told him, "You can use me when there will be a flood." And then there was a flood, the pralaya, and Manu remained alive because he was saved by this fish. Noah’s Ark is a very famous story of a similar kind. Here I agree that there is certainly a connection. There must be some memory in the race of a pralaya. According to the Indian tradition, pralaya has already taken place six times, and maybe now this is the seventh time – which will not happen, because of what has been done with regard to the establishment of the Supermind on the earth.

Astrologically, 1962 was a year where seven planets came together, and it was predicted that it would be a horrible year and that there would be a pralaya, or something of the kind. This did not happen, but it's a fact that in '62 Mother had the experience of pulsations, a great experience. According to my understanding it was a great saving of the earth. It was a very critical moment that was over-passed because of Mother's accepted the burden of the earth. She transformed it, and there was a great pulsation of love.

Question: Even though you've explained at length about death, I still want to know what death is.
Answer: I haven't explained at length, I only touched upon it. What you want to know is very important.
What is death? This is how Mother explained it, in brief. Every individual body has a certain formation; that formation has its own individuality, its own specificity – it is this individual specificity which keeps the body in a certain shape all the time. This shape is normally governed by a will in the cells, and when this will is weakened, it is the beginning of dissolution. This weakening of the will to keep the specific form increases, and it ultimately leads to dissolution. There is a beginning of dissolution and then an arrival at the point where it dissolves? there is no more that movement of individual specificity. It is this which is the real state of death.
Medically of course it is said that when the brain is affected so seriously that it no longer sends commands, then the body stops. But at a deeper level, the will in the cells for individual specificity is weakened and then stops functioning, and then death occurs. This is a brief answer that I would like to present.
Question: Why do we have to die?
Answer: This is one of the most important questions. Why do we have to die? I spoke yesterday of the obligation to die, the necessity of death. The same question can be asked, why do we have to be born? What is this process of birth and death? What is the necessity of the process of birth and death? All the philosophies that believe in rebirth agree that until a certain point is reached, you have got to be reborn. There is no escape. This is the view of Jainism, of Hinduism, of Buddhism – there is a necessity to be born.
So there seems to be some fundamental meaning in it. It is said that unless you reach a point of moksha or liberation you are obliged to take a new birth. And when you reach liberation, it is suggested that you will not be reborn, or that at least there is no necessity to be reborn. You may be reborn, but there is no necessity.
Why do we have to die? I have posed a counter-question, why do we have to be born? Both are to be answered simultaneously. There is a famous sentence of Shankaracharya: "Punanapi jananam punarapi maranam; punarapi janani jatharay vasanam." "There is repeated birth, repeated death, and repeated coming back into the womb of the Mother." This indicates that this is a process which you cannot eliminate. There is some kind of a necessity; you cannot come out of this process until you reach a point that is called "liberation".
Nobody has explained why. Why this necessity at all? Why should we be born at all? Only when I read Sri Aurobindo did I find the answer to this question. Let us put it in a kind of a children's story: Each one of us has entered into a contract with the Divine. We have said, "We shall collaborate with you in carrying out what you intend to do on this earth. And we shall not leave this contract until that work is done." So each one of us has plunged into this earth, inwardly we know exactly what we are supposed to do here, but when we plunge into this world we seem to forget, first, that we have entered into a contract, second, exactly what we are supposed to do on this earth. We come here, and we go about as if blindfolded in this world, constantly trying to remember because there is in us some kind of faint memory, clouded, coated over by so many impressions, so much darkness. But there is something in us which constantly pushes us. Every one of us is, as it were, pushing-pushing all the time. Even though we have moments of sleep, rest, idleness, sloth, again we wake up and again we go on pushing, pushing, pushing. We can't avoid this either; we are obliged always to push ourselves. It is because there is in us this contract, and each one of us knows what work he has to do.
The contract that we have made with the Divine is the following: We want to make this earth a beautiful temple of the Divine. We are like architects and masons. The Divine said, "I want to make on the earth a living temple of the Divine Consciousness." This is the Will of the Divine. The earth is a principle of Matter, and that bottom of which there is complete Inconscience. Inconscience is the exact opposite of the Superconscience; the Divine Consciousness is plenary consciousness, full consciousness, as if the light of a thousand suns were collected together. Inconscience is the exact opposite.