Scholar, author, former editor and minister, Arun Shourie has, for the last four decades, been one of the most prominent voices in our country's public affairs and discourse.
The one certainty in life, the one appointment which each of us will just have to face, is the one for which we do the least to prepare-death. From the lives and last days of the Buddha, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ramana Maharshi, Gandhiji, Vinoba; from our religious texts; from the teachings of great meditation masters; from santhara to sannyas to practices by which we may tame our mind-leavening all these by his personal experiences-Arun Shourie presents clues to ensure that we face our end with equanimity.
In the process, he lays down what we must do if rituals, pilgrimages and mantras are to help us. He leads us to ask whether texts such as TheTibetan Book of the Dead are for the dead, or do they set out lessons for us, the living? He leads us to see through the sedatives that we are fed. Even as we are being frightened by accounts of 'hell', are we not actually being lulled to sleep? Does the fact that we will face extreme tortures in hell not mean that in some form we will survive death? To experience them, after all, we must be present.
Religions entice us into the great questions. Is there a soul that is never born and never dies? Is there life after death? Is there rebirth? Is there God? What is real and what is just maya? The greatest teachers and mystics have come up with different answers. Each of them has had direct experience of what she or he has proclaimed to be the truth. How, then, are we to proceed?