Death, Be Not Proud


After the demise of a family member, almost all believers and some non-believers wish to perform certain rituals in honour of the dead. The rituals date back to as early as the evolution of the society from where one comes or adopts. But, even the rituals appear to be shallow in many respects. 

First, the rituals are one-sided. They are only committed to teaching the kin and kith of the dead that s/he just departed from this world for good. So, there is no reason to lament and wail for him/her. And, the second problem with those rituals is that they willingly try to minimise the impact of the dead on the family and society. But, if a bread winner of a family dies, the whole family members may suffer. Similarly, if a visionary leader or social worker passes away, the entire society feels a void. Ignoring such realities, some religious rituals and teachings are harsh and do not let us cry over the death our loved ones. 

Another shortcoming of those rituals is that they cannot differentiate between a person and his/her personality. Instead, the rituals are likely to mislead us by saying that death is just the transformation of the body and soul. This makes one feel as if the dead was approachable by some means. But, it is not the case. Death is the condition in which cellular activities stop. It is marked by cessation of pulse, heartbeat and respiration. 

A person and his personality are different things. A person has to do with the biological development. If a person is nurtured with the balanced diet and puts on fashionable clothes, s/he will certainly stand out in the society as a person, but the death of such person may have little impact on the society. But, if a person learns certain skills either by formal education or by other means, and uses them for the benefit of the society, s/he becomes a personality with social importance.  

Pradip Giri, a member of the House of Representatives from the Nepali Congress, was one of the prominent personalities in Nepali politics. Giri’s demise has created a big void. Having received his higher education from the Banaras Hindu University and the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, Giri attained greater insight into the Marxist theories and socialism. His knowledge of political history and vitriolic criticism of opportunist leaders and parties appealed to the audiences. His sweet and clear voice is no match to other speakers in the contemporary politics.

 Personal decisions and certain personal conducts may become minor when a person wins the hearts and minds of people. So, the comments, opinions and arguments on relevant social and political issues by the late Giri used to offer a new perspective. His insight used to be food for thought for the Nepali society. 

His strong logic, unbiased and fair criticism on contemporary politicians and parties made me share the famous poem ‘Death, be not proud’ by John Donne: 

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.  

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