If you have a little understanding, then everyone’s death will become your death. But if you don’t have this understanding, if you are foolish, then you will think that it is always others who die; “I will not die, I am immortal.”
Shankara could see death. One gets free of the mother as soon as you see death, because “mother” means life. “Mother” means, the one who brought you into this world. “Death” means, that which will take you away. The Hindus’ imagination regarding this is unique. No other community on this earth is more imaginative, more poetic, than Hindus. Their poetry is very deep.
Have you ever seen the statue of Kali? She is the mother and death also; kal, means death – so her name is Kali. And she is the mother, so she is a woman. She is beautiful, beautiful like a mother. Nobody else can be as beautiful as the mother. Even if one’s own mother is ugly, she seems beautiful. Nobody thinks in terms of the beauty of the mother, but the mother is beautiful…because if you see your mother as ugly, then that means that you are ugly because you are her expansion. So Kali is beautiful, very beautiful! But around her neck she is wearing a garland of human heads. She is beautiful, but she is Kali – kal, death!
Western thinkers are puzzled over this symbol. They wonder why a woman should be depicted so horribly, so terrifying. And you call her mother also! How frightening! It is horrible, be-cause death starts from the one who gives birth. It is terrible, because death has arrived along with the birth. The mother has given death as well as life. So on one side she is as beautiful as the mother, as the source, and on the other end she is like kal, death, as dark as death. Around her neck is a garland of human heads; in her hand she is holding a severed head, blood dripping, and she is standing, with her feet on her husband.
This is a very deep symbol: woman as life, and as death too!…Because death comes from where life comes; these two are the two sides of the same coin. And nobody else on this earth realized this fact as the Hindus have done. When Shankara became aware of death…whether he was really caught by the crocodile or not should be asked of the silly historians; I am just not interested in it. What difference does it make whether he was caught by a crocodile or not? But one thing is definite – that he saw death, and when he saw death, sannyas happened.
One cannot escape from sannyas after seeing death. Then you remain stunned, wherever you are. Then life cannot be the same as it was just a moment before this realization. The ambition, the fame, the reputation – everything loses its charm. Death destroys everything. One has to die, so it doesn’t matter whether one dies earlier or later – today, tomorrow or the day after – it is just a matter of time. If my death has to happen, then it has happened just now. And the arrow of death will pierce you in such a way that you will not be able to be what you were before now. This new change in you is sannyas.