Life and death as concepts have invited many a thinker, philosopher, writer and physician to define or describe them. Sometimes attempts have been made or efforts have been undertaken to gloriously paint the pictures of both in many a colour and shade. Swami Vivekananda expects one to understand that life is the lamp that is constantly burning out and further suggests that if one wants to have life, one has to die every moment for it.

John Dryden, an illustrious English author, considers life a cheat and says that men favour the deceit. No one considers that the goal of life is the grave.

John Dryden

Léon Montenaeken would like to describe life as short, a little hoping, a little dreaming and then good night.

The famous poet Léon Montenaeken would state,

“Do not go gentle into that good night”

One may like to compare life with constant restless moment spent in fear of extinction of a valued vapour; and another may sincerely believe that it is beyond any conceivable metaphor. A metaphysical poet like John Donne, in his inimitable manner, says:-

“One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.”

John Donne

Some would say with profound wisdom that life is to be lived only for pleasure and others with equal wise pragmatism would proclaim that life is meant for the realization of divinity within one because that is where one feels the ―self, the individuality and one‘s own real identity.

Dharmaraj Yudhisthira may express that though man sees that death takes place every moment, yet he feels that the silence of death would not disturb him and nothing could be more surprising than the said thought. Yet others feel that one should never be concerned about the uncertain death and live life embracing hedonism till death comes.

Charvaka, an ancient philosopher, frowns at the conception of re-birth and commends for living life to the fullest. Thus, death is complicated and life is a phenomenon which possibly intends to keep away from negatives that try to attack the virtue and vigour of life from any arena. In spite of all the statements, references and utterances, be it mystical, philosophical or psychological, the fact remains, at least on the basis of conceptual majority, that people love to live – whether at eighty or eighteen – and do not, in actuality, intend to treat life like an ―autumn leaf.

As Alfred Tennyson says:-

“No life that breathes with human breath has ever truly longed for death.”

Alfred Tennyson

The perception is not always the same at every stage. There comes a phase in life when the spring of life is frozen, the rain of circulation becomes dry, the movement of body becomes motionless, the rainbow of life becomes colourless and the word ‘life’ which one calls a dance in space and time becomes still and blurred and the inevitable death comes near to hold it as an octopus gripping firmly with its tentacles so that the person shall rise up never.

The ancient Greet philosopher, Epicurus, has said, although in a different context:- “Why should I fear death? If I am, then death is not. If death is, then I am not. Why should I fear that which can only exist when I do not?”


But there is a fallacy in the said proposition. It is because mere existence does not amount to presence. And sometimes there is a feebleness of feeling of presence in semi-reality state when the idea of conceptual identity is lost, quality of life is sunk and the sanctity of life is destroyed and such destruction is denial of real living.

Ernest Hemingway, in his book ‘The Old Man and the Sea‘, expounds the idea that man can be destroyed, but cannot be defeated. In a certain context, it can be said, life sans dignity is an unacceptable defeat and life that meets death with dignity is a value to be aspired for and a moment for celebration.


A prologue from the judgment of ‘Common Cause v. UOI (2018)