Is Death Distancing Part II

Stories of Death in the Background of COVID

Stories have feet, sometimes they have wings and fins, they do not even need visas, so they travel across land, air and water without acknowledging borders. ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves’ is a result ( 14.06.2020, 1.03 a.m.) of analysis of traditional stories and inverting them to understand the natural wild aspect of women (obvious by its title) against the domesticated version which is constructed by patriarchy.

I have no recollection from where these ancient short stories about death came to me from.

There is this God of Death, Yama, and there is this God of creation, Brahma, introducing them to people who are unaware of them. I have lost my innocence about what I know as complete truth. I am not saying that they are Hindu Gods as I do not know if there are others staking claim. Hindus in India think of Yama and Brahma in this manner. Let me come to the stories.

One day when allotment of work to Gods was done Yama went to Brahma in anguish. He said, ‘You have given me such an awful job — who will pray to me?’ (Just for our knowledge it is essential part of being Gods that they are prayed in human world. I acknowledge with humility that I am not one of the best story tellers so my comments lace my story telling which I think is not part of good story telling.) Brahma calmly replied, ‘Do not worry Yama, people in the world will be occupied with the immediate cause of death. They will not even know you are there. You will be able to peacefully do your job. You will get your share of respect and awe as God of Death.’

Once upon a time, when science was not discovered, the world was about to be struck by a plague. There was a village where a sadhu lived immersed in his belief of God. With the powers of his prayers one day he saw one Yamdoot, messenger of Yama, entering his village, early in the morning.

He asked him, ‘What are you doing here?’

The Yamdoot with utmost respect answered, ‘Sir there is plague in the world and I have orders to take three people from this village’.

The Sadhu said, ‘But I understand that in plague many die. I am a God believer I will not let you enter my village.’

The Yamdoot pleaded to the Sadhu, ‘Sir these are ways of universe, I am just a messenger and have to follow orders. I promise I will take only three persons.’

Knowing and respecting the rules of universe the Sadhu gave way. That morning the Yamdoot took three persons from the village and left. By evening there were thirty dead in the village and next day sixty. The Sadhu was angry. With his powers he called the Yamdoot. The Yamdoot came with folded hands. Sadhu told him, ‘You did not keep your word!’

The Yamdoot humbly responded, ‘Sir I took only three for plague. The rest all died out of fear’.

I am sure readers have figured out why these stories are being shared. Yes, fear is one of the silent killers of immunity. These are ancient stories, I presume known to world powers of all times, even today. So let me come to present COVID situation. How could fear be created all over the world and why? Since I am in story mode today I will continue telling even facts in story mode so I do not have to be accurate about dates. It is an issue for me even though I can do it but today I will be a creative author and not a researcher. There is an old saying, dhoondne se khuda milta hai — by searching you can find God, assuming God is most difficult to find. I loved what Dr. Purohit said about searching, ‘If you have to challenge the British Empire look into British Encyclopedia.’

This brings me to another story. It is said the Sun never set on British Empire. A small island ruled over the world that is why the Sun never set on its empire. Obviously not all the people in British Empire were power hungry. Only a small number of people are like that. It is their power which gets reflected over the people living in that part of the world. This probably led to white supremacy. Long story but has deep roots so still relevant! When 9/11 happened, the people of the world got to know about it in some way or the other. 9/11 gave power of access into all countries of the world in the name of terrorism. Fear, one way or other, makes us accept values which we know are incorrect.

People dying in Somalia, Ethopia, Myanmaar, Pallestine, even China or India, for whatever reason, does not create as much fear as people dying in so called first world. Men dying during and post emergency because of Population policies in India shifted the direction of reproductive policies, towards women as targets, for good. In patriarchy men are more important than women. Women produce just one fertilizing egg while men produce millions sperms! This was/is the excuse given. So people dying in First world created fear all over the world. Who are these people who are dying? Why are people dying in the first world? I am not a sadhu with special powers that I can call the Yamdoot to find out if they died out of COVID or fear or lack of proper diet or old age or lack of immunity. Creation of fear at local level has been continuous by the lockdowns and the media constantly harping about the number of people dying in a vicious fear creating tone. People love life and are naturally scared of death and the unknown. This virus is an unknown factor as if otherwise life is a planned known path. If the people, who are working in the field giving food and providing help, be seen, it would be known that either they have complete faith in God (not the superficial one) or acceptance of death as ultimate of life so no fear. Both parties must have knowledge and acceptance of the ways of universe and had a diet which would have created an immune system strong enough to not get affected by the virus or their positive attitude helping their bodies if and when affected to recover sooner than most. Anemia is the biggest killer of women in South Asia but no doctor will write that as cause in death certificate!

This brings me to teh last story for now. This story has been adapted from Savitri’s story from Chaturvedi Badrinath’s book ‘Women of the Mahabharta’ ( 14.06.2020, 1.06 a.m.) Orient Blackswan, 2011

Most people living in this landscape are probably aware of the story of Savitri, who got her husband Satyavaan from the door of death. Very few are aware that her father had sent her to find a husband for herself. After she had selected Satyavaan (son of a king, had lost his kingdom and was living in forest with his old parents), Narada, the confusion creating rishi, predicted that Satyavaan will not live more than a year. Savitri stuck to her decision despite knowing this. After marrying she kept record of the days and on the day of his death accompanied him to the forest. Yama came at appointed time and Savitri started walking with him. She told Yama that if we walk a few steps together people become friends. Her talk so impressed Yama that he kept giving her boons other than Satayavaan’s life. After asking for material comforts, good life and health for her in-laws and parents she asked for children which too Yama gave. This unemotional God of Death was impressed by this earthly woman’s talk on Dharma. Savitri with humility requested Yama that he had blessed her with children and how was she to have them if he took away Satayavaan. Yama could not refuse her and let Satyavaan have his life back.

We get to know only a part of this story. If we knew that the God of Death respected a woman of this earth, we as mortals would learn to respect women. Women are not waiting for anyone’s respect, they are reducing death toll wherever they are leading.

( 14.06.2020, 1.01 a.m.)