“Death is a great leveller; time brings all luxuries of life to an end. All feelings of superiority in man are only an illusion and self-deception.” –Shahzeb Afzal
How does the heterogeneity, so embedded in our society, even matter when we are all to return to dust at one point?
Tracing back to the later Vedic age, human beings had created a hierarchy in our society classifying different groups of people in four varied categories with respect to their aptitude and vocation.
They were- the Brahmins- the priests or the spiritual class who were considered above everyone due to the knowledge they possessed, the Kshatriyas- the nobility or the ruling class, the Vaishya’s- the merchants and farmers, and the Shudras- the servants who were employed to do menial work.
There still exits a wide disparity between those occupying the topmost layer and the down-trodden. However, the tables have somewhat turned; Today we see the so-called ‘Godmen’ behind the bars for their despicable crimes, and those belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes contain the youth who emerge to be IAS Officers and strive hard to make our country proud.
It is these inherent differences at the behest of which politics shapes itself. However, these rather man-made differences are rendered meaningless as Death is an equalizer and brings parity to unite one and all.
James Shirley very haunting and philosophically lays down the significance of death in his poem- Death the Leveller
THE glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against Fate;
Death lays his icy hand on kings:
Sceptre and Crown
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap the field,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill:
But their strong nerves at last must yield;
They tame but one another still:
Early or late
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath
When they, pale captives, creep to death.
The garlands wither on your brow,
Boast no more your mighty deeds!
Upon Death’s purple altar now
See where the victor-victim bleeds.
Your heads must come
To the cold tomb:
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.
Poetry Source : Poetry Foundation
Death will come to claim us all one day or the other. Death has no distinction. We are all mere mortals. We can run away from our sins, thus, to escape from its comeuppance; we can shut ourselves from all troubles that worry us, but death- death cannot be cheated upon.
We might have control over each and every facet of our lives, but death- death is synonymous to ambiguity. Death is anonymous; it leaves us perplexed to that extent that we live each moment in fear where today will be our last or not! But if we are to live in such an agonizing fear wherein each minute is slipping away from our hands, is this living at all?
In retrospection, the famous poet– Thomas Dylan in his vociferous poem– ‘Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night’ emphasizes – “Rage Rage against the dying of the light”
Having dedicated this poem to his ailing father, he robustly asks him to fight against death by not feebly succumbing to it. Death is but inevitable.
However, what matters is the quality of life we dare and choose to live. One does not have the power to prevent or postpone the finality of death, but it is upon us to shoulder the responsibility of living a life worth remembering and reflecting upon.
We should treat everyone with utmost respect and equality as death too mars all of us as equals. We are but mere pawns in this game of chess, called Death. Death does not differentiate in terms of colour, race, religion or stature, as we all are to return to the same dust.
As we sow, so shall we reap.
Our actions, if wise and for the good, would beget flowers from the same dust that we return to; vile actions would simply lead to the dust being smeared and trampled upon.
Notwithstanding the icy grasp of death, it should not be feared. We all know that we must yield to fate someday, but what lies in between is worth cherishing every moment. As has been wisely and poetically said in the movie- ‘Patch Adams’–
“What’s wrong with death sir? What are we so mortally afraid of? Why can’t we treat death with a certain amount of humanity and dignity, and decency, and God forbid, maybe even humour. Death is not the enemy gentlemen. If we’re going to fight a disease, let’s fight one of the most terrible diseases of all, indifference.”
It has been brilliantly said by the phenomenal actor, Robin Williams that-
“The tragedy of life is not death but what dies inside us when we live”
Death is the ultimate conqueror- it conquers all the victories that build us, failures, wealth amassed, pride that many a times consumes us human beings. Strength and courage too shall pass, and what will remain of us are our cold white bodies entombed deep beneath the earth.
As has been said by the witty character, Tyrion Lannister–
“Death is so final, whereas life…ah,
Life is full of possibilities.”
It is not in our hands to outdo death, but it is in our bones to create the best version of ourselves so that we leave behind a legacy wherein our spirit is cherished, not because of the fame that we have amassed, but because of who we have become.
Thus, to mark the end of this essay with a power quote as put forward by ‘Don DeLillo’–
“I’ve got death inside me.
It’s just the question of whether or not I can outlive it.”