Imagine you are living a very happy life and fulfilling all your desires, earned enough money, the family is grown to three generations, etc. suddenly one day you have to leave every comfort or happiness even your loved ones forever and you would see them never again nor will they be able to see you again. How would you feel??? I am sure pretty sad and you would never want such a thing to happen. There was a time when every living entity lived eternally until one fine day came death. Death is the world’s greatest unsolved Mystery. Every living creature has to die and leave his body. The story of death across all cultures is pretty universal and the belief is also similar it’s just that after death belief differs. How did Death come into place? What is its origin? Every culture, civilization, and literature would give its own take on the creation of death. There are so many stories that explain the origin of death.
Yama is the god of Death according to Hindu mythology, he is the one who segregates souls to heaven or hell depending on the deed a particular individual has done, he is also called the god of justice as he does fair justice to departed souls. According to a story Yama was considered to have been the first mortal who died and espied the way to the celestial abodes, thus in virtue of precedence, he became the ruler of the departed and thus death originated. Also according to Vedic texts whatever is created has to be destroyed and after destruction, it has to be recreated. This idea, itself reveals the idea of death.
There was no death at the time when God created the first man and the first woman, but because of the fall of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit due to the temptation of Satan in the garden of Eden. The curse of death was put on the living entities. Thus Death became Permanent.
Native American Mythology
In the story of Cinauaua, the creator brothers determined the conditions of how Ute people would live. The younger brother wanted food for the people to be abundant and for the dead to come back to life the morning after they died. The older brother argued that if food were readily available, people would become lazy. He won the argument, so people had to work hard to feed themselves. He also disagreed with his brother about death and decreed that death would be permanent. To show that this was a mistake, the younger brother killed his brother’s son and pointed out that the grief his brother felt resulted from his decision about the permanence of death.
There is another account of the creation story in Native American Mythology. According to an Inuit story, the first Earth came into being when it fell from the sky, complete with people. The world was dark, there was only dirt to eat, and the people did not know how to die. As a result, the Earth became so crowded that it started to collapse. Then a great flood swept away all but a few people. These survivors realized that life could not go on as before. In exchange for accepting death, they were given sunlight. The creator was forced to recreate earth releasing all the water and making the earth a habitable place.
In Greek mythology, the son of AEOLUS; Sisyphus outwitted Thanatos (Death). Zeus had sent Thanatos to seize Sisyphus. Sisyphus asked Thanatos to demonstrate how the manacles that he carried worked. During the demonstration, Sisyphus managed to lock up Thanatos. Zeus had to send ARES from OLYMPUS to release Death upon the Earth again, for no one was dying.
African Mythology has a number of stories of how death originated. most of them are concerned with spirits and animals such as coyotes, toads, chameleons, etc. animals’ involvement with death I will include in a separate post, I will list a few which are related to gods and goddesses of African tribes.
Abbasi Myth of Nigeria
Abbassi created the world and man and woman, however, he did not want humans to live on earth, but with Abbasi’s wife Atai convincing him he sent them to earth and humans started to hunt, till soil and work and forgot Abbasi, so to keep humans in place Atai sent death to the world. so that they could never be equal to Abbasi.
Naijok Myth of Sudan
A quarrel between a husband and wife led Ajok to make death permanent. The couple’s child had died, and the mother begged Ajok to bring the child back to life. When he did, the woman’s husband became angry. He scolded his wife and killed the child. Ajok declared that he would never again bring anyone back to life; making death to be permanent.
A Myth from the Republic of Congo
The Supreme God had told humans that they could eat the fruit of any tree but the Tahu. As long as humans obeyed this rule, God took them to live in the sky with him when they grew old. One day a pregnant woman craved Tahu fruit and had her husband pick some for her. The Moon saw this and told the Creator. Creator was so angry with humans because of their disobedience that he sent death as a punishment
A Myth from Banyoro of Uganda
Once only animals died permanent deaths. Ruhanga, the Supreme God, resurrected people after death. All that he needed was that the living to express joy when someone was brought back to life. One woman refused to dress up and go to greet the newly risen because she was unhappy over her dog’s death. When Ruhanga, the supreme god heard this, He decided that if people did not care what happened to the dead, they might as well stay dead, and he never resurrected humans again.
So now you can see how death came into existence. There are lot many stories that I will be sharing in my future posts.