A Jataka tale on why we can't conquer death
Long ago, there was a king called Chirayu. He had a trusted minister called Nagarjun who was an expert in chemical and herbal remedies. Nagarjun carried out varied experiments. Once, he mixed several valuable ingredients, and voila he had the immortality concoction. He shared it with Chirayu and both of them swept death aside and became immortal. Now, the process was costly and the ingredients expensive, so immortality was confined to Nagarjun and Chirayu.
The immortal Nagarjun had a son called Somadev, whom he loved dearly. One day, he suddenly died, and Nagarjun grew depressed. He swore to conquer death. He worked day and night at making his immortality concoction cheap and readily available. He researched for many years to find cheaper equivalents. Years of hard work bore fruit, Nagarjun was in the final stages of preparing Amrut ï¿½ the nectar of eternal life.
As the progress report reached the heavens, Indra , the ruler of heaven, was annoyed. It was after all the sole right of the gods to be immortal. A mere mortal couldn't tamper with it. He couldn't let it go on. Calling on his divine physicians, the Aswins , he commanded, "Go to earth and put an end to Nagarjunï¿½s experiment by all means."
The Aswins took the form of human beings and came visiting Nagarjun. They said, "Minister, why are you working towards upsetting the entire administration of the universe? You're violating the divine law which makes man mortal. You're also invading the rights of gods who alone have the privilege of conferring immortality on humans. It's not correct to take on the task of removing the distinction between mortals and immortals. We know you are angry about your son's death, we assure you, he is happy in heaven ."
Nagarjun was not entirely convinced, he dilly-dallied about his aim. Soon, Jayasen, Chirayu's son, was declared as the successor to the throne. Grand festivities were organised for the crowning ceremony . The Aswins unable to persuade Nagarjun returned to heaven. Indra devised another plan. Disguised as an old Brahmin, Indra went to meet the crown prince, Jayasen. He said, "I'm sorry for you, young man, though you're the crown prince, you've no future as a king. Your father is immortal and he will always be king and you will remain a mere crown prince."