Some time ago, I visited my octogenarian aunt who stays in a crowded area of Varanasi. As I was looking at the busy road from her house, my eyes were drawn to a funeral procession.
Since such processions are no more a usual sight in our new cities, I was engrossed in it. But, what I saw in the next half-an-hour could leave any stranger terrified. Seven funeral processions passed on that road one after the other.
Aghast, I turned to my aunt and exclaimed, “Isn’t the death rate terribly high in Varanasi?”. She broke into peals of laughter and said, “My child, not all the funeral processions are from Varanasi city alone, This road goes to a cremation ground which has a special significance for all Hindus in the vicinity of 100 km and this explains the unusually high number of funeral processions”
“But, doesn’t this spectre bring in you some sinking feeling. Believe me I am feeling as if I can be one of these.” I said ruefully.
“You are correct. Me, you and everybody else will be one of these. If we remain enlightened to this truth, we will be saved from committing many bad deeds.”
Continuing, she narrated an anecdote of Lord Buddha. When approached by a woman about the bad habits of her son, the Buddha told the woman it was no use giving any advice as the boy had only a week more left to live. After a week, the Buddha visited them and enquired about the boy’s behaviour.
The woman said, “How you expect any person to do bad acts when he knows that his death is very near.”
The Buddha laughed and said, “Who am I to predict anybody’s death? I just wanted to emphasise that if we all keep in mind that we have to leave this world one day empty handed, we will be saved from committing many sins.”