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Examine the meaning of the opening lines of Sri Aurobindo's "Life and Death:"  "Life,...

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deedee18 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 24, 2013 at 2:09 PM via web

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Examine the meaning of the opening lines of Sri Aurobindo's "Life and Death:"  "Life, death, – death, life; the words have led for agesOur thought and consciousness and firmly seemedTwo opposites;"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 24, 2013 at 2:32 PM (Answer #1)

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The original question had to be edited.  I would suggest that one of the primary meanings of the opening lines to Sri Aurobindo's poem would be that our traditional understanding of life and death as binary opposites have to be changed.  Sri Aurobindo opens his poem with the traditional understanding of life and death as one in which human beings fear "death" as the end of "life."  The invocation of "our thought and consciousness" along with the idea of "firmly" helps to enhance this.  Sri Aurobindo is speaking of a belief position that posits death as the end of life, one that is looked on with fear and confusion.  It is rooted in the attachment of life and the clinging to it as one in which individuals see themselves as being alone in the world.  

Sri Aurobindo follows the opening lines with "two opposites" that have its "long- hidden pages opened."  This helps to evoke the idea that life and death are part of a larger process.  It is not one in which we are forlorn, causing us to be afraid of death.  Rather, Sri Aurobindo is suggesting that we open our minds to fully embracing a reality in which individuals see themselves as part of a larger configuration.  This construction is one in which "liberating truths" emerge, shedding the idea that death is to be something in which fear shrouds.  For Sri Aurobindo, the opening lines of his poem suggests that this mode of thought is something that should be changed and can be if one has the courage to unearth "long- hidden pages."

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