The Life Philosophy

“The allegation on you is that you are spoiling the youth of the country with your thoughts, principles and books. The seeds of hatred and rebellion are sown in their hearts for the monarchy. You are an atheist and guilty of blaspheming God! So you will have to sacrifice your life by drinking poison for this! This is the rule and also the law of this land!” On behalf of the king, the servant presented, all the charges and punishment against the philosopher with a loud voice with front of the assembly.

The room reverberated with people’s voices “O king, please have mercy on the philosopher.” The judges and the cabinet looked at the king. As always, everyone in the assembly was disappointed to see the constant harshness on the king’s face and the lack of human compassion.

It was almost certain that the philosopher would have to drink poison. When the cup full of poison was brought before the philosopher, it was again said to him – “There is still time, if you throw off your false rosary of wisdom and principles, we will not allow you to die. We will give you life.” Hearing the words, looking at the haughty emperor, the philosopher burst out laughing loudly.

“Why did you laugh?” Question asked.

“Emperor, I am sure to die today, but how long will your death not come near you?” In answer to the question, the philosopher himself questioned the haughty emperor in the matter of power. He was ruthless and even stunned at the liveliness of this great philosopher who ridiculed his death like this!

“Emperor, you gave me the protection of death, will you live forever? Would you never rather die? If you are able to do so and avoid even death, then I am ready to sacrifice my principles.” Perhaps the meaning of the philosopher’s words was beyond the understanding of the emperor or he remained ignorant even knowing it. There was another silence. All those present were listening to the words of the great philosopher of their time. Who even at this time was not at all disturbed by the fear of death.

“Death is bound to come, if not today then tomorrow. Neither I can stop him, nor you, nor anyone else present here. This is the unchanging law of nature and even the harsh truth, that one who is born has to die. This last moment has been fixed by the Creator since birth. Then it is not a good thing to back away from your principles because of the fear of death. This is cowardice, and before death, it like taking death, didn’t it.” The philosopher said calmly.

A void was floating around the haughty Emperor. The philosopher’s words had opened the doors of the minds of all those present.

“You have rightly said that I will live, not die, because what will keep me alive is the fire of my thoughts that will tear through the darkness for ages! But what an irony, Emperor, for the principles and thoughts which will give me immortality, today I have to sacrifice myself for death.

“You have any last wish?” The emperor asked rudely.

“In the end I must say that the meaning of life is not in its longevity, but in finding its right meaning and direction.” Everyone bowed before the scholarship of the philosopher and was confused as to how to generate pity in the mind of the emperor and to avoid this untoward incident?

But then a deep silence went out tearing everyone’s minds. When the philosopher smiled and put the cup of poison to his lips.

•••

[“Jivan Darshan” Hindi short story Mahavir Uttranchali
English Translation by Abhishesk Bhandari]

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