Q41. Is it possible to conquer death?
Death has been interpreted in different ways. According to the general concept, death is the extinction of the body and the sense-organs. According to Sikh Gurus, death is the forgetting of God. Guru Nanak says: "If I remember Him, I live; when I forget Him, I am dead." It is this forgetfulness of God which makes man enter the cycle of birth and death.
Sikhism was re-born under the shadow of the sword. Guru Gobind Singh, at the time of the creation of the Khalsa Panth, called Sikhs who were prepared to lay down their lives. The acid test of the Khalsa is his readiness to give up his life. The Khalsa covets the best type of death, death in battle, while fighting for the poor, the needy or the oppressed or his Faith.
According to Sikhism, physical death is neither painful nor terrible. All must die because the physical frame is subject to decay. But there is something like an art of dying. There is a joy at the prospect of a coming death. Even the worst tortures causes no fear to the devotee. Look at the Sikh martyrs. It is no joke to be cut joint by joint, to have the skin peeled off, to be sawn alive, to be blown away at the cannon's mouth, or to be crushed under the wheels of a railway engine. Martyrs are the real conqerors of death.
Those who know the art of true living also know that of true dying. True living is dying to self, the ego, and living up to God. True dying is the privilage of the brave who die for an approved cause. Aimless dying, for no cause, helps nobody.
To conquer death is to merit salvation. Death has a terror for ordinary mortals. They are afraid becasue they have not made any progress on the spiritual plane. They feel worried for their sins and fear of punishment for their misdeeds.
A 'True' devotee, welcomes death as friend and as a benefactor because he looks forward to a union with the Supreme Being. He knows that it is through the gate of physical death that he will be able to embrace his Beloved Lord. Death is nothing but a gateway to Divinity and Eternity. This mortal coil may be shaken off an opportunity is there, to don the robe of God's bride.