If a common man in India asks a question to himself in a calm and quiet mood (when he has time) “Why should I live or commit suicide ?” what answers will he get to this question?
Before going into the details of answers to this question we should better know “Who is a common man?”
The poor and the beggars are not included in the category of common man. Similarly the rich and affluent people are not included in the category of common man. Obviously, all others except these two categories are designated as common man for all practical purposes. Looking at the existing conditions in India if the total income of a family is not less than Rs 50,000 (Rupees fifty thousand only) per month or preferably Rs 100,000 (Rupees one lakh only) per month, the members of such a family should be designated as common men. Frankly speaking if a man wants to remain with minimum comforts in India at present, the total income of the family should be minimum Rs 100,000 per month.
If the total income of a family is more than Rs 100,000 per month, the family may be designated as a rich family. If the total income of a family is less than Rs 50,000 per month, the family may not be designated as poor, but the members of the family may not able to live with minimum comforts, although the income appears to be a good income.
A family in India usually consists of husband, wife, two children and the parents. Some of the statistical pundits may laugh at the above-mentioned concept of common man. It is observed that in India people are living comfortably with a family income much less than Rs 50,000 per month. But this is possible only because of the fact that they have some extra illegal income.
People in a Govt job even with an income much less than Rs 50,000 per month live comfortably due to their extra illegal income. Extra illegal income in India (which should be hated) is given extra credit and is privately and confidentially considered praise-worthy by the public. The situation in India is such that if the son (or daughter) gets a Govt job with a salary of less than Rs 50,000 per month but a source for extra illegal income, then the parents as well as the family members become very happy.
The above-mentioned category, who neither belongs to the category of poor nor to the category of common man, let us designate them as category X. The category X, who have adequate extra illegal income, live comfortably. Others are devoid of minimum comforts.
What do we mean by minimum comforts for a common man in India? A common man in rural areas desires to provide nutritious diet to his family, adequate clothes, electricity, water supply, adequate facilities to educate his children. He wants to live in a pukka house with adequate space for his family. He wants a two-wheeler for his easy mobility, and a colour TV for news and entertainment.
A common man in urban area wants all the above facilities, but instead of a two-wheeler he desires to possess a four-wheeler for mobility of himself and his family members. Somebody may say that a man, who possesses a car, is a rich man. Of course a man, who possesses a lavish costly car, is undoubtedly a rich man. But a man, who possesses a car just adequate for mobility of his family, is a common man in urban area.
In addition to the above-mentioned facilities one more vital facility, common man desires, is the facility for health of his family. When some one of his family falls ill, he wants to give him/her proper treatment. Central as well as the state Govts have implemented many preventive health programs. But most of these programs are partially successful. Regarding curative treatment it can hardly be told as highly satisfactory. With much reluctance I can say that it is manageable. In rural areas the health facilities are not adequately available. In urban areas the facilities are available (adequately?), but very costly which is most of the times beyond the reach of common men. If somebody falls seriously ill, a common man becomes more than totally bankrupt by meeting the expenditures for his/her treatment.
Govt give some assistance; have some insurance policies, but people are unable to derive proper benefit out of them mostly due to the cumbersome formal procedures. Even-if somebody has a personal and private health insurance policy, the insurance companies pose so many rules and regulations that the insured either does not get the insurance benefit or gets with much difficulty. The insurance companies in India take the premium very smoothly, but do not pay the insured amount that smoothly at the time of need.
I have enumerated some of the problems a common man commonly faces in India. But in fact a common man in India faces many more problems other than those mentioned in the above paragraphs.
Not only in India but in the world if a man wants to live, it is a gospel truth that he has to live with certain problems. Rich, poor, beggar, common or category X, whoever he may be, he has to live with problems. Notwithstanding the fact that nobody in the world is free from problems, it is also a fact to be admitted that a common man in India faces many avoidable problems most of which can be prevented or solved if the Govt (Govt personnels and officials) sincerely and honestly desire to do so. Lack of sincerity and honesty at almost every level (right from the grass-root level to the top-most) is the greatest drawback in India at present, which creates a lot of unnecessary problems. As a result, life of a common man becomes often unbearable leading to steady increase in the rate of suicidal deaths in India.
Of course not only common people commit suicide. There are several other reasons due to which suicidal trend and tendency is gradually becoming more frequent with people of all categories. The causes may be traced to different factors, but whatever may be the original cause ultimately it is the deep frustration which results in suicide. Frustration is such a mysterious silent killer that it is difficult to trace its head or tail. As no human being is free from problems, so no one is free from frustrations.
Almost all the religions teach that desires are the root cause of all frustrations. All the tragedies, sorrows, frustrations etc can be totally eradicated if desires can be totally destroyed.
Whereas I wholeheartedly agree with the above-mentioned philosophy of life (because there is no other way to escape from the tragedies of life except to quit the desires exclusively), at the same time I also emphatically tell that it is extremely difficult to put this philosophy into practice. An extremely rare person may quit all desires and live peacefully, but if a common man quits all desires it may so happen that he may also quit the desire to live and may commit suicide. Or in other words if man quits all desires, “the desire to live” may quit him.
I am very sorry if a man commits suicide. But I am also astonished why everybody does not commit suicide?
Except about one percent of the world population who are busy with scientific discoveries and inventions, all others just live for living sake or due to some unknown fascination for life. Even if you include all the great philosophers, great spiritualistic personalities, great players, great actors, highly wealthy persons and great persons in all spheres of life as worthy persons, still they will not exceed one percent of the world population.
Since time immemorial about 99% of the world population live only a life for life sake. It is all the same whether they live or do not live. Most of the lives of the world are unworthy lives.
Does it mean that most of the human beings should commit suicide and put an end to their lives? The answer to this question is a definite “No”.
Although there are tragedies in life, there are also a lot of pleasures in life. If a common man can make up his mind to tolerate the tragedies of life, then only he will be able to feel the pleasures of life and will develop an immense aptitude to live. Moreover man can never manufacture a life in the laboratory. Man can never create life, can never conquer death and can never put life into a dead body. If man does not have the capability to create life, he has no right to kill life. Suicide is nothing other than killing one’s own life, which should never be done.
But human beings often kill lives. They kill lives of animals and plants. At times they kill lives of human beings. Most probably they think that they can create lives. They can increase the number of plants by plantation. They can increase the number of hens by poultry firms. They can reproduce children. They can create life (an embryo) in the laboratory by IVF (in-vitro fertilization). These are almost equivalent to creating life, but not equal to creating life. If the scientists can put life into a dead human being or animal or transplant the life of one human being into the dead body of another human being or manufacture a human being of their choice in the laboratory, then only it will be deemed that they are able to create life. Man will never be able to create life or infuse life into a completely dead person.
Scientists are able to make many wonderful discoveries and inventions. But “where from the life comes?”, “how it remains in the body?”, “where does it go after death?” etc are concepts which are beyond the reach of their knowledge and will remain beyond the scope of their knowledge for ever.
In almost all religions there are a lot of beautiful hypotheses on the above issues. They designate life as soul (atma) and then narrate many convincing hypotheses which have no proof. They say that these concepts are beyond proof. However a scientific mind does not accept something which has no proof.
Although it is extremely difficult to believe something which has no proof, but a conscientious and sensible mind can definitely say : “That which can be proved may be accepted as truth, but all that cannot be proved cannot be disregarded as untruth.” Leave aside the spiritual hypotheses, there are many scientific truths which were beyond proof a few hundred years ago, but now amenable to proof. Similarly innumerable scientific truths do exist which cannot be proved today, but may be proved in future or in long future.
If that be so why should we laugh away the spiritual hypotheses on the ground that they are beyond proof? However the difference is that the spiritual hypotheses on soul, Super-Soul, birth, death and rebirth etc have not been proved in the past nor proved at present nor will be proved in future or long future. Still we should not laugh away these concepts as completely vague, because these hypotheses, irrespective of whether they are true or not, have inspired human beings to tread on the path of morality since time immemorial.
If a man wants to live peacefully, he has to learn the art of tolerating the tragedies, trials and tribulations of life, failing which he cannot enjoy the pleasures of life. This is a simple hypothesis of art of living which is applicable not only to the common people but to all the categories of human beings right from the beggars up to the emperors. Man has to struggle with the difficult circumstances and try his level best to overcome the problems and frustrations. If he cannot overcome, then he has to tolerate. Those, who cannot practise this, will face bad effects of depression and frustration which may ultimately result in suicide.
This is a simple hypothesis which can be easily practised by everybody with little effort, but usually very few people care to put it into practice. Hence the thought “why should I live” haunts the mind of each and every human being off and on. No one is free from occasional suicidal thoughts. But everybody does not commit suicide. Despite the cruel truth that thought of suicide comes to the mind of every human being at least once in life time, most of the human beings love “to live” and do not love at all “to die”.
Love is the only concept which makes life on Earth beautiful and enjoyable. But we should not forget the cruel truth that if man wants to continue his life, he should also develop in the core of his heart mind and soul a deep hatred for suicide.
Hence if a common man in India (also in the world) asks a question to himself/herself “Why should I live despite so many problems?” the most befitting answer is “I want to live, because I do not want to commit suicide.”
Is it also the cause of continuation of lives of all categories of human beings on Earth? Most of the rich, affluent and great persons may not admit this cruel truth. Of course the concept of hatred for suicide is not applicable to living creatures other than the human beings. It is solely a human phenomenon.
The non-human living creatures do not commit suicide, because they do not have adequate intelligence to know how to commit suicide. Man is the most intelligent living creature on Earth. But he misutilizes his intelligence by surrendering to the most foolish act of committing suicide.
I have designated suicide as the most foolish act, because, a man who commits suicide, does not know what is in store for him in future. It is a strange fact that some great personalities thought of committing suicide at some time or other in their life, but some how other they could overcome the impulse and so they lived! If they would have surrendered to the suicidal impulse, they could not have become great personalities.
All the human beings have the desire to become great, although everybody do not become great. After all, if all will become great there will be no great persons,because all will be of equal calibre. However who will become great cannot be predicted, although everybody have the potentiality to become great. So those, who commit suicide, are nothing but fools.
Despite all the above considerations I wonder how majority of people live without committing suicide! Is it due to their love for life or due to their hatred and fear for death? Most probably all these factors work simultaneously throughout every man’s life. Continuation of life is the result of interaction of all these human phenomena. But which is the most dominant factor? A careful thinking by any sensible person will indicate that if a man wants to continue his life he must overcome the impulse to commit suicide, which spontaneously comes to every human mind at least once during life-time. Man is the most intelligent living creature on Earth. But if he wants to live, he should always beware of suicide, which is the most foolish human phenomenon. The impulse of suicide comes to everybody. The cruel truth is that he only continues to live until natural death, who does not surrender to the suicidal impulse (the most foolish human impulse).
But is it foolishness for a person who suffers from severe bed-ridden stage due to an incurable disease or extreme old age, a street beggar or an extremely physically handicapped person to commit suicide? Scientific logic cannot justify such suicide as unjustified. However those who believe in the hypothesis of rebirth opine such suicides as completely unjustified.
The hypothesis of rebirth states: “Man enjoys pleasures or suffers displeasures due to his pious or evil deeds in his previous birth. If he does not suffer his pre-scheduled (prarabdha) quota of tragedies, diseases, trials and tribulations etc in this life, then he will suffer this quota in next life. His quota of tragedies can only be exhausted by his suffering. If his quota is not exhausted in the present birth by living the life until spontaneous and natural death and ends his life by suicide, then he has to take another birth only to exhaust the quota of his suffering. If he exhausts his quota by living up to his natural death, he will get physically and mentally healthy human body in his next life.”
One may put forth several arguments against the above hypothesis. But if you defy it, it is extremely difficult to explain why some people are born with various types and grades of congenital abnormalities. Similarly it is also very difficult to explain why some children are born with silver spoon and some others are born of the beggars. Science cannot give satisfactory explanation to these spontaneous and natural phenomena. The hypothesis of prarabdha at least gives plausible explanation. But we are sceptical about this hypothesis, because it is beyond proof.
If the hypothesis of rebirth and prarabdha is untrue, then suicide is justified for everybody. If the hypothesis is true, suicide is unjustified for everybody. In the benefit of doubt (irrespective of the hypotheses being true or untrue) and for welfare of mankind is it not more justified on the part of all human beings (the most intelligent living creatures on Earth) to accept philosophically as well as practically suicide as the most foolish human act?
Dr Narayan Udgata
B 210, Jagannath Complex (Block B)
Nandan Vihar, Kalarahanga, Patia
Bubaneswar 751024 (Odisha)