Death Wish of the Deathless: An old lady lived on the outskirts of the
village. Beyond was endless forest. The lady as her support had only
one son. Everyday he would go to the forest to dig roots, pluck fruits
and collect fire wood. Some times he hunted small game. The old lady
thanked God daily for giving her such a good son. She had nothing to
complain, though she was leading a meg re subsistence life. Hard life has taught her to be satisfied with minimal needs.
One day, out of the blue, ill-luck struck her hard. She was sweeping
the front yard of her hut after her son left for the forest. Then she
heard a rustle in the woods and a shadow loomed over her bent frame. She
looked up to see to her utter horror a hunter standing in front of
her. The hunter over his shoulder had her son slouched and a snake
swishing on the tip of his arrow, with his bow hanging on the other
shoulder. The hunter conveyed the terrible sad news of the death of her only
son by snake bite.
The old lady was crest fallen and inconsolable. The hunter was furious.
He wanted to deal the severest punishment to the evil, cruel snake. He
said consoling the old lady that he intends to extract justice from
the snake and mete out a fitting retribution.
"Tell me, old lady", hollered the hunter, " what kind of punishment you
want me to give this wicked snake?"
The hunter breathed fire, " should I cut this wily slitherer into pie
aces, or crush it under a heavy stone or yet throw this cold blodded
viper into burning fire?"
The old lady looked at the hunter pathetically and whispered in her
feeble voice " son, will I get my dead son back by killing this snake?"
" Definitely not " said the perplexed hunter.
" Then what is the point in killing this stupid snake " sighed the old
woman looking into the other direction.
By the time the hunter laid the dead body on the ground and sat on the
trunk of a fallen tree, pinning the snake down to the ground, saying, "
my dear old lady, you are naive, you don't punish to correct an
injustice, you punish to take revenge and get even with the criminal. More
over how you don't know that this snake will not bite another innocent
child? To prevent such an terrible incident atleat, should you not kill
instantly this killer snake?
The old lady said in between sobs, " my child, what makes you presume
that this snake will again bite another unsuspecting victim?. May be
after seeing my sorrow he has felt remorseful and has vowed not to hurt
even a fly". " Don't you think that every sinner has a future and every
saint a past?"
While they were thus discussing and debating, the snake in its week
voice, to the surprise of the hunter and the old lady, opened its mouth,
put out its forked tongue and talked. " Friends you are barking at the
wrong tree. I am not the one responsible for the death of this boy. I am
only a junior orderly who just carries out orders under threat of
punishment for disobedience".
"Then if you are not responsible, tell us who is responsible for the
untimely tragic death of this boy', demanded the hunter in his harsh
voice. The old lady perked her ears to listen to the revelation of the
" It is Lord Yama who ordered the death of this boy. I just carried
out his orders, do I have a choice in the first place! Would you punish
an instrument, for example a sword, which cuts and kills? Or would you
punish the wielder of the sword? I am innocent , a helpless cog in a
cosmic machine, please leave me alone", while saying this the snake's
shiny eyes floated in unshed tears"
This time the old lady became furious. " How could Lord Yama, Dharma
Raja, the upholder of Dharma cause to kill my son; I don't believe this
boloney; I need justice; I want my son back" shouted the lady
The hunter shivered in fear at the mention of Lord Yama and cast
restless, furtive glances all around.
At that time Lord Yama himself appeared. He walked towards the old lady
in sure, steady steps, took her frail forearm in his big firm hand and
said in a calm, deep voice, " Mother don't blame me for the death of
your son. I may be the one who signed his death warrant, but I am only
an officer in a cosmic hierarchy, who just carries out orders
efficiently and conscientiously. My choices are nil. In Dharma there are no
choices, but only duties. People say justice is blind, but mother I keep my
eyes and ears open with out sleep or rest. Pardon me mother, would you
want me to be influenced by partiality, sentiments, likes and dislikes
in dispensing my duty? I just carry out orders!
"Whose orders?" This time both the hunter and the old lady shouted
simultaneously. For they have no more fear of Lord Death knowing that he is
only a glorified functionary.
"I take my orders from Lord kala/Time. Blame Kala if you should",
saying thus Lord Death vanished in a trail of smoke.
Neither the hunter nor the old lady had any clue who Lord Time was.
Their minds raced back and forth to the abysmal past and the endless
future, like a pair of birds caught in a dark tunnel.
Then there was a welcome breeze and a white shaft of light crashed in
front of them. From it emerged Lord of Time wearing a dhoti with black
and white boarders.
Lord Kala spoke in measured tones, "Lady, people accuse for every thing
good and bad. But let me tell you, listen carefully, it is not me the
direct cause of this boy's death. Actually, you won't believe, it is
his own karma that visited him in the form of death. We are all punished
or rewarded by our karma for our karma. We are our own tormentors as
well as benefactors. So relax. This boy just balanced his karmic account,
that is all! Relax!
Post script: On the way Kala meets karma who confronts kala.
" See you were telling the old lady that karma was the ultimate cause
of her son's death. Seriously, it is not me, but his own desire that
commanded me to cause his death".
Kala couldn't believe that outrageous statement." How can one desire
ones own death?" Kala asked in utter exasperation.
Karma said", because he is immortal, just as we all are immortal! The
immortal, for a change, just for the heck of it, like a child's play,
desires the pleasure of mortality. Only the deathless have the leisure
and comfort to play act death, the most creative act of the ever
existing. What else the deathless wish but death to express and enjoy