With the young and dashing Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide a couple of days back, social media is full of articles, posts, and tweets related to his life, nepotism in the film industry and importantly mental health in general. While some angry fans have vowed not to watch movies of some stars, who allegedly mocked Sushant, others are discussing about the Law of Karma and whether a suicide/death can be prevented.
I found very few people speaking of the impact a suicide has on the family of the deceased. Their life becomes a living hell, with unanswered questions, “what if” scenarios being played over and over and most importantly a sense of guilt that you couldn’t do enough. One can sympathise with their situation and suffering, but you can rarely empathise.
On April 7 1984, I lost my elder brother who committed suicide following a phase of severe depression. He was just 24 when he died. I was 23 then. Thirty six years after his untimely death, neither Nachi nor I are able to forget that day and the unbelievable emotional trauma that we went through as a family. Kannan made multiple attempts to end his life but till that day, he was not successful.
Despite our family’s full commitment, love and support to him, he could never win the battle within his mind. We even had him consult with a well known psychiatrist of those times. His cause of dejection was the fact that he could not get a job he deserved based on his brilliance and merit. He felt rejected and considered himself a failure in life. Before you stand in judgement, know that it’s nearly impossible to communicate with someone in this state of mind. They erect strong barriers, and go into a shell.
As we increasingly realised that we were unable to reach him with our love and concern, we resorted to other things like fate, Karma and God to give ourselves some comfort and hoped for a miracle. I started going to a temple three times a day to pray for his life. My mother would tie the end of her saree to his “veshti” before going to sleep, so that he couldn’t leave without her knowing about it. My father and Nachi tried in their own ways to reach him but all our efforts were in vain.
The consequences of his death on our family was devastating. My father had a heart attack soon after and my mother became unmanageable. Nachi could not write his final year degree exam as his exams were to begin a few days after Kannan’s death. I felt guilty that I could not save my brother’s life. This guilt remained dormant for many years before manifesting as physical ailments much later in life. It took several years for us to recover .. and I don’t think my parents ever recovered fully.
What helps recovery ?
- Time heals – Every passing day helps and suddenly its a year and then a few years since the loss. Happier events like marriage or child birth or a change of place help with the healing too.
- Therapy – Our family chose not to undergo therapy at the time of Kannan’s death as we could not afford it. I underwent past life regression therapy in 2013 and it helped me to heal. I re-lived the feeling of guilt in my subconscious and the therapist helped me take steps towards relief.
- Evolving Spiritually – Our family, like many others held the wrong belief that the soul of a person who commits suicide would wander about and not depart. Dr. Newton Kondaveti, a past life regression specialist, was emphatic in saying that no such thing happened. Its always the soul’s decision about when to depart, the timing and type of death. Our own evolving spiritual knowledge helped us to heal.
- Law of Karma – Hinduism and Buddhism strongly believe in the law of Karma. There are no chance encounters with other people nor accidents or events in our lives. They are all brought to us in order to help us expiate our Karma. We take many lives and in each life, we do some good karma and some bad karma. In subsequent lives we try and balance the Karma ledger. Understanding the Law of Karma helps us in dealing with tragic incidents like suicide.
The Law of Karma – an interesting story
This story was shared by a friend this morning on our WhatsApp group.
Once Lord Vishnu came to visit Lord Shiva at Kailasa. He left Garuda (His carrier, the half-man half-bird) at the entrance. Garuda’s eyes fell on an arch, on which sat a beautiful small bird. Such a beautiful creation he thought ! The one who made these majestic mountains, rivers and trees also made this tiny wonderful creation. Right at that moment, Yama (God of death) also enters Kailasa. Yama looked at the tiny bird intensely for a while. Garuda thought that if Yama was looking at the bird intensely with his brows raised, it was probably time for the bird to leave. He decided to protect the tiny bird, as he was filled with pity. He took the bird in his talons, rushed to a forest miles away and left the bird on a rock next to a brook.
Came back to the entrance of Kailasa and sat there. Yama came out & Garuda asked him “While going in you looked at a tiny bird intensely, may I ask why?” Yama replied “Well, when my eyes fell on the little bird, I saw that it was to die in a few minutes, swallowed by a python, near a brook, in a forest far away from here. I wondered how this tiny creature would traverse thousands of miles that separated it from its destiny in such a short time. There are no pythons here, high on Kailasa & I was briefly puzzled.” Then I thought it must’ve happened somehow.”
Yama smiled and walked away. Not sure if he knew Garuda’s role in this. Is Garuda to be blamed for his right intent that led to a wrong outcome? No. Karma is just that, you do your duty with the best intentions. What happens with someone else is their Karma. The tiny bird’s time was up.
Important learning – Do your best in any given circumstance but if you are unable to prevent something tragic happening, do not carry any guilt because it was that person’s Karma. None of us can change another person’s Karma. All we can do is carry good intentions in our hearts and take actions that are right.
Suggested reading – Suicide Prevention – What you can do