From REPLIES TO CLASS QUESTIONS chapter, delivered at Golden Gate Hall, Sunday, January 25, 1903
The immortal in the changeable forms of ladies and gentlemen,
Why do young children die?
We have no time to deal with these questions in detail, but will simply allude to the answer.
Here is a book written by some body. In this book there are many English passages, and besides that, there are sometimes Sanskrit verses or passages quoted, and you know, to write Sanskrit we require a different kind of pen from what we write English with. So when an author writes English, he uses one kind of pen and he has to change his pen when he writes Sanskrit, and so on. Similarly so long as you are living in this one worldly body, you make use of this body of yours as you make use of a pen. You control or possess this body so long as it serves your purpose. When the body grows old, and becomes diseased so that it can serve your purpose no longer, you throw it aside; you take on another body, just as when your clothes become old, you change those old clothes and get others. Now there is nothing so terrible about it, it is quite natural.
Why do children die? Here is one man who has different kinds of desires; there comes a time when those desires of a particular kind are changed and become desires of another or different kind. For instance, a man lives in some city in America for a long time; he reads such literature, pursues such studies that his inner desires and propensities are altered. Suppose, in his heart of hearts, he becomes an Orientalist, a Hindu. He goes on with his American business for some time until all his inner emotions and desires become entirely estranged from his outer desires. He no longer belongs to America; he belongs to India and must be born in India. At the same time he has a strong desire to live in the company of a rich man for whom he had a fancy. This desire which he had in him of being connected with, say, the Mayor of San Francisco or some other great man, was not so intense as the desire to be born in India. Now this first desire must be fulfilled, and also the second desire. How is it to be decided? The circumstances are such as will not allow him to be connected with the man for whom he has this great love, and so he dies and is born again as the son of Mayor so and so, or as the son of some great man who attracted him; he is connected with this man who attracted him until this term of residence or connection with this beloved man has expired and he must now be born in India, in order that the other stored – up desires may be realized. That is why children die.
The desire to be connected with this one as the father or mother, is like the one Sanskrit line in a big book written in English characters. So children who die young are like lines of reference written in books which are not entirely written in a foreign language.