What constitutes death? When can we say that a person is dead? Tales and historical myths tell us that the average human Nimai no longer lived when Prabhu Chaitanyadeva was mesmerising the Bhakts. Philosophical observation tells us that Bhakti preacher Chaitanya no longer lived when he was looked up to as Krishnavatar Mahaprabhu. Chaitanya as a person ceased to exist at the time of Prabhu’s ‘antardhan’, in other words, desertion. So is death a desertion?
There is a controversy whether all deaths are misfortunes or not. There is a difference of opinion between Thomas Nagel and Bernard Williams, philosophers of identity and consciousness. One of them hold that death is always an evil as continued life always makes good things accessible, and the other argues that, while early death is a misfortune, it is a good thing that we are not immortal, since we cannot continue to be who we are now and remain meaningfully attached to life forever. If we consider the life of Chaitanya, we get to see how he survived various odds in his lifetime and how the path of his life changed from time to time. Well, maybe he was meaningfully attached to his faith and devotion till death but the consciousness of human Chaitanya was no longer attached to this self. Of course, by the term consciousness, I mean, perceptual experience here. In that sense, death is constituted by the loss of the capacity to sustain our sense perception using vital processes. We could analyze the meaning of death only if we had a clearer idea of what we are.
Assistant Professor, Unitedworld School of Liberal Arts and Mass Communication (USLM)
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