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 mrtyu-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 as well as 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.