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Jara Marana Concept In Hinduism – Old Age And Death

Jara Marna literally means old age and death and it is an important teaching and concept in Hinduism. the Bhagavad Gita declares, “jatasya hi dhruvo mrityuh” – to one who is born death is certain (11.27). But the born does not die immediately. The born lives, grows, undergoes some vikaras (transformations) in life and then finally breathes his last. Six transformations are generally noted –

  • Jayate (one is born)
  • Asti (one exists)
  • Vardhate (one grows)
  • Viparinamate (one undergoes physical changes for the worse)
  • Apakshiyate (one declines)
  • Vinashyati (one dies).
  • Once is born in this world again.

Gradually one grows from infancy to childhood and then to boyhood. In youth, one works enthusiastically to earn in order to make one’s family and relatives happy and satisfied. But an advanced stage is destined to come. It arrives when one realizes that strength is waning. The various parts of the body – bones, their joints, flesh, blood, the respiratory and blood-circulations systems, various helping glands in the body – all these refuse to work smoothly and regularly as before. This is the fifth stage in the body when all the powers in it are on the decline.

In old age, as Shankaracharya describes in his Carpatapanjarika Stotra (S 1.6), “the body has fallen down, the head has become white, the face is without teeth, and the old man walks with the help of a stick, but still he does  not abandon hope to live more.” The special characteristic of this period is that one is continually lost in anxiety (Carpatapanjarika Stotra 7). He is prone to diseases and prepares himself for death.

That last stage is vinasha (death). The body lies motionless and has to be got rid of by burning, buy burying, or by leaving it to the vultures. Death is destined for everything that is produced on this Earth.