THIS IS DIVINE LAW
The assembly of gods once met and decided to appoint a man to the position of Lord of Death, the official title being Lord Yama. They selected the most righteous man for this post. His duty was to take (escort) man at the proper time (upon death) to the celestial regions.
A man by the name of Amrita, living on earth, thought to himself that the one thing he feared most was death. He hit upon a bright idea that if he befriended the Lord of Death, then may be death can be kept at a distance. Amrita practised austerities and concentrated his mind upon Lord Yama, the Lord of Death. Lord Yama was pleased and granted a vision to Amrita.
Lord Yama said: I know, by the aid of my divine powers, that you seek to befriend me. Your wish has come true. My presence is only available to those upon whose deaths my messengers or I take their souls to my domain. Those that are born must die and those who die will be born again. This is the eternal law. No one can escape death. Yet I grant you my vision while you are still living.
Amrita said: As a token of our friendship, I ask this favour of you. If death is inevitable, I ask that if I am to die, then at least let me know beforehand of the time when my end is to come so that I can make proper provision for my family before departure.
Lord Yama said: Sure, this is a simple matter. I shall certainly inform you beforehand. But as soon as you get the message, please set about making the preparations.
With these words Lord Yama, the Lord of Death, vanished.
Many years passed. Amrita’s hair began gradually to turn grey, but he was living happily with not a thought about the fear of death. His life was full of sensual pleasures and enjoyments. He did not look forward to receiving any correspondence from his friend, Lord Yama, and he was pleased that so far no letters had arrived from the Lord of Death.
Some more years passed by. By this time Amrita had lost most of his teeth. But he was living without any worries about death or dying. Still no letters had arrived from his friend, the Lord of Death.
As the years rolled by, Amrita’s eyesight became dimmer. Old age is catching up with me, he thought. But I am thankful that my friend has still not sent any letter addressed to me. I know that my friend, Lord Yama, always keeps his promise. He will surely send a message beforehand.
Some more years passed by. Amrita was now an old man who could not stand straight up. With his back bent forward, he could not walk without the support of a walking stick. His skin was all wrinkled. One day he suffered a stroke and became paralysed. People said his condition was very critical. But Amrita was still in a happy frame of mind. As long as his friend Lord Yama had not sent any letter, the thought of death and dying never entered his mind.
Then the inevitable happened. Lord Yama, the god of death, entered the room. Amrita was startled and his mind was seized with fear.
Lord Yama said: My friend, come now, you have suffered greatly. Today I have come to take you with me.
Amrita was trembling with extreme fear. He said: Alas, you have betrayed me. You have not kept your word. You did not send any letter to me. You have now come with your fearful form to take me away. Are you not ashamed to thus deceive a friend?
Lord Yama said: O man! You spent all your life in shameless sense indulgence. Now you cast aspersions on me, the Lord of justice. Pleasures and enjoyments made you blind. How then could you know the letters I sent you? Not one, but four letters did I send to you. But you heeded them not.
Amrita was greatly puzzled: Four letters did you say? But not one reached me. It is just possible that they may have gone astray in the post.
Lord Yama said: With all your cleverness you were fool enough to think that I would take up pen and paper to write letters to you. O deluded mortal! Time is my messenger who brought my messages to you. Now take your mind back in time and recollect, years ago, your hair turned grey. That was my first letter. You did not heed my message but blackened your hair with dye.
My second letter reached you when your teeth began to fall out. Then too, you took no warning, but got yourself a set of false teeth.
My third letter was sent to you when your eyesight failed.
The fourth message was when your body became paralysed.
Amrita said: Oh no! I have grievously erred. Unforgivable is my error. Yet once more I crave your indulgence, Lord Yama.
Lord Yama replied: Indulgence! What more indulgence is there for me to give? What use did you make of the priceless opportunity bestowed on you of the gift of this human birth? Sensual indulgence and drunkenness- with these you wasted your life. Wasting this precious human life, fit on you! Now you shamelessly ask for more time. Time for what?
Amrita said: O friend, remember our past friendship? Please recall those days now and bestow on me one more chance.
Lord Yama said: That friendship was of that time. Now it’s done. I come neither as friend nor as foe. I come as the dispenser of the granite law. This law is above love and above hatred. This law is just, true and impartial. No human servitor am I who for gifts or money would from duty’s path swerve. My course is straight and true to the end. I carry out the stern dictates of destiny. All mortals have to bend to my final mandate. This is the divine law. Now let us go.
Lord Yama, the god of death, puts the noose over the dying man’s neck. The man begins to gasp and then chokes. An agonised expression fills his face.
People said: Amrita is dead.
(from the writings of Swami Shivananda, DLS, Rishikesh)