Yama, in Hindu mythology, is the eschatologist and god of death. And is, thus, dreaded. Even in today's India, there is a fearful hesitancy, if not conscious avoidance, of any talk about him. Yet, paradoxically, the phenomenon of death does not evoke a similar fear in the Indian psyche -- accepted, as it is, a natural event, a part of life: just like poverty, sickness and old age.
Here is an insightful, at once compelling exposition of the phenomenon of death, based on plurimillennial tradition of the Hindus -- which, despite the affirmation of Western attitudes in certain elitist sections of the urban society, has endured since the times of the Vedas and Indic Civilization. Exploring, contextually, the age-old Indian view of mortal existence: from the very moment of an individual's conception to his/her journey to the Kingdom of Yama -- through the major phases of birth, growth and ageing, Professor Filippi unveils a complex network of sentiments, beliefs, scriptural references, customs, hopes, ritualistic practices and much else -- relevant to the "great adventure" of death.
Notwithstanding the sentimental undertones of the mrityu-theme, Dr. Filippi's work outstands for its rare scientific objectivity. It has grown from years of his rigorous research effort involving not only his extensive studies of Indian literature: classical and modern, but also his interviews with Indian samnyasins, brahmanas, relatives of the dead, and the persons living around the cremation grounds. Together with visual material, bibliographic references, and a glossary of non-English terms, the book holds out as much appeal to the general reader as to the specialist.