The Grim Reaper escorts souls of the deceased to the unknown territory of life after death. While some believe that he arrives on an old coach drawn by white horses, others believe he arrives on a horse without coaches. His skeletal face wears a grin to haunt a number of people all across the universe.
Many religions believe a particular spirit or deity is responsible to look after the souls after the death of a person. The Grim Reaper is considered this Psychopomp, who performs his duties of looking after souls of the dead. In ancient Greek mythology, Charon was such an entity, who carried the souls of the recently deceased in a ferry across the river that separated the world of the living from the dead. Although, some historians depend on the Hades, others believe the entity is a manifestation of one's own belief.
Folklore and Mythology
Odin, who was considered the god in Norse paganism, was considered the leader of souls. His assistants, Valkyries, escorted the dead warriors to their rightful place - a hall in heaven. In Germanic folklore Odin, who rode on a nightmarish horse and wielded a spear had all the characteristics of the ones associated with the Grim Reaper. Some historians also claim that Odin who was also called Grimnir led to the conceptualization of the Grim Reaper.
In Breton mythology the personification of death which was Ankou, donned a long black robe. Legend has it that two horses pulled his cart which helped him carry the souls of the deceased. Although, some believe that the popular entity is derived from the legend of Ankou, others claim it isn't true.
In ancient times Salvic people viewed the manifestation of death as a woman in white robe with the power to put an individual to an everlasting sleep, with the help of an everlasting green sprout in her hand. Later in the middle ages, the theory of death as an entity was portrayed as a walking skeleton.
Baltic ethnic groups in ancient times considered death to be in the form of an ugly old wrinkled woman with a poisonous tongue and a long nose. Later on these theories were dismissed and a skeletal figure became a manifestation of death. Hindu mythology describes the lord of death as Yamraj, a figure that rides a black buffalo and carries the soul of the dead person to Yamlok, his abode.
Although there are different accounts of the manifestation of death, the Grim Reaper has become a conceptual personification of death the world over. The presence of this nightmarish entity has captured the imagination of storytellers, writers and artists.
Well, 'The Life After Death' is well beyond the realm of physical world and no one has ventured back to tell us whether there is such an entity or not. Still, the concept of Grim Reaper is a chilling reminder, and teaches us that the death can be just round the corner, crouching in wait for us.