Ram
7 min readNov 12, 2022

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My father passed away, My friend Satya Saar prabhu passed away, my uncle and grandfather passed away. Just in the Ukraine war this year around 80,000+ people have been reportedly killed. The NHTSA projects an estimated 42915 people died in traffic crashes in 2021, a 10.5% increase from 2020 in motor vehicle accidents.

“This morning as I was driving up our lane, I saw a hawk flying past me with a live squirrel in his talons. And I thought, ‘how fragile is this life’. One moment the squirrel was out collecting nuts to store in his home for the winter, and the next moment, he is being carried away to his sure death. I was reminded of the famous quote “Life takes Life”, and of how all of ours lives, hang in the balance.”[2]

“Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was asked by Yamarāja, the devata of Death ‘What is the most wonderful thing in this world? Can you explain?’ So Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira answered,

‘Yes. The most wonderful thing is that at every moment one can see that his friends, his fathers, and his relatives have died, but he is thinking, ‘I shall live forever.’” (The Science of Self Realization).

This is the great illusion (Maya)” [2]

“The living entity’s fear of death is due to his false ego of identifying with the body. Everyone is afraid of death. Actually there is no death for the spirit soul, but due to our absorption in the identification of body as self, the fear of death develops. It is also stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (11.2.37), bhayam dvitiyabhinivesatah syat. Dvitiya refers to matter, which is beyond spirit. Matter is the secondary manifestation of spirit, for matter is produced from spirit. Just as the material elements described are caused by the Supreme Lord, or the Supreme Spirit, the body is also a product of the spirit soul. Therefore, the material body is called dvitiya, or “the second.” One who is absorbed in this second element or second exhibition of the spirit is afraid of death. When one is fully convinced that he is not his body, there is no question of fearing death, since the spirit soul does not die.” SB 3.26.16, Purport

Śukadeva Gosvāmī said that out of the 8,400,000 species of living entities, the human form of life is rare and valuable, and out of those rare human beings those who are conscious of the material problems are rarer still, and the still more rare persons are those who are conscious of the value of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which contains the messages of the Lord and His pure devotees. Death is inevitable for everyone, intelligent or foolish. SB 2.3.2–7, Purport [1]

Isn’t maintaining the family the goal of Life?:

“In Bhagavad-gītā it is said that at the time of death one will be absorbed in the thoughts which he cultivated during his lifetime. A person who had no other idea than to properly maintain his family members must have family affairs in his last thoughts. That is the natural sequence for a common man. The common man does not know the destiny of his life; he is simply busy in his flash of life, maintaining his family. At the last stage, no one is satisfied with how he has improved the family economic condition; everyone thinks that he could not provide sufficiently. Because of his deep family affection, he forgets his main duty of controlling the senses and improving his spiritual consciousness. Sometimes a dying man entrusts the family affairs to either his son or some relative, saying, “I am going. Please look after the family.” He does not know where he is going, but even at the time of death he is anxious about how his family will be maintained. Sometimes it is seen that a dying man requests the physician to increase his life at least for a few years so that the family maintenance plan which he has begun can be completed. These are the material diseases of the conditioned soul.”

“He completely forgets his real engagement — to become Kṛṣṇa conscious — and is always serious about planning to maintain his family, although he changes families one after another.” [4]

https://youtu.be/Q24FZ2FRwGQ

Death is not at all pleasing, and since everyone is exactly like a condemned man being led to the place of execution(āghātaṁ nīyamānasya vadhyasyeva na tuṣṭi-daḥ), what possible happiness can people derive from material objects or the gratification they provide? [3]

It is customary throughout the world that a condemned man is offered a sumptuous last meal. For the condemned man, however, such a feast is a chilling reminder of his imminent death, and therefore he cannot enjoy it. Similarly, no sane human being can be satisfied in material life, because death is standing near and may strike at any moment. If one is sitting in one’s living room with a deadly snake at one’s side, knowing that at any moment the poisonous fangs might pierce the flesh, how can one sit peacefully and watch television or read a book? Similarly, unless one is more or less crazy, one cannot be enthusiastic or even peaceful in material life. Knowledge of the inevitability of death should encourage one to become determined in spiritual life.

“Death is a symptom of the material infection of the eternal living being; only due to material infection is the eternal living entity subjected to the law of birth, death, old age and disease.” SB 2.3.17, Purport

https://youtu.be/Q24FZ2FRwGQ

“When a pure devotee is completely prepared, all of a sudden the change of body occurs which is commonly called death. And for the pure devotee such a change takes place exactly like lightning, and illumination follows simultaneously. That is to say a devotee simultaneously changes his material body and develops a spiritual body by the will of the Supreme. Even before death, a pure devotee has no material affection, due to his body’s being spiritualized like a red-hot iron in contact with fire.” SB 1.6.27, Purport

“A self-surrendered devotee of the Lord is called nārāyaṇa-parāyaṇa. Such a person is never afraid of any place or person, not even of death. For him nothing is as important as the Supreme Lord, and thus he gives equal importance to heaven and hell. He knows well that both heaven and hell are creations of the Lord, and similarly life and death are different conditions of existence created by the Lord. But in all conditions and in all circumstances, remembrance of Nārāyaṇa is essential. The nārāyaṇa-parāyaṇa practices this constantly. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was such a pure devotee.” SB 1.18.2, Purport

“The only hope of suspending the cruel slaughtering process of Yamarāja is to call him to hear and chant the holy name of the Lord. Yamarāja is a great devotee of the Lord, and he likes to be invited to kīrtanas and sacrifices by the pure devotees, who are constantly engaged in the devotional service of the Lord. Thus the great sages, headed by Śaunaka and others, invited Yamarāja to attend the sacrifice performed at Naimiṣāraṇya. This was good for those who did not want to die.” SB 1.16.7, Purport

Making the best out of death:

“If one strictly follows the process of devotional service, he has no fear of death, for he is predestined to go back home, back to Godhead. The non-devotees (of Bhagavan Krishna) are fearful of death because they have no guarantee of where they are going or of the type of body they are going to get in their next life” SB 4.24.68, Purport

“The cycle of birth and death cannot be stopped unless one is a pure devotee of the Supreme Lord. It is said, hariṁ vinā na mṛtim taranti. One cannot surpass the cycle of birth and death unless one is favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The same concept is confirmed herewith: one may take to the system of understanding the Absolute Truth by one’s own imperfect sensory speculation, or one may try to realize the self by the mystic yoga process; but whatever one may do, unless he comes to the point of surrendering to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, no process can give him liberation.” SB 3.25.41, Purport

A devotee (of Krishna) is never fearful of his death, for he meditates on the Supreme Personality of Godhead always, not for any material profit, but as his duty. The Lord, however, knows how to protect His devotee. As indicated by the words prāg diṣṭam, the Lord knew everything. Therefore, before anything happened, He had already arranged for His cakra to protect Mahārāja Ambarīṣa. SB 9.4.48, Purport

We can learn from Bhishmadeva on what to think at the time of death.

At the moment of death, let my ultimate attraction be to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead. I concentrate my mind upon the chariot driver of Arjuna who stood with a whip in His right hand and a bridle rope in His left, who was very careful to give protection to Arjuna’s chariot by all means. Those who saw Him on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra attained their original forms after death. (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.9.39)

Srila Prabhupada confirms:

“Simply by remembering the Lord at the time of death one can obtain liberation from this material existence. The conclusion is that whoever dies looking on the Personality of Godhead within or without attains his svarūpa, which is the highest perfection of life.”

You can liberate your forefathers too!

Prahlāda Mahārāja accepted whatever the Lord had offered him, and he prayed for the Lord to deliver his father. In response to this prayer, the Lord assured him that in the family of such a pure devotee as he, not only the devotee’s father but his forefathers for twenty-one generations are liberated. The Lord also asked Prahlāda to perform the ritualistic ceremonies appropriate after his father’s death. SB 7.10 Summary, Purport

Conclusion:

anta-kale ca mam eva

smaran muktva kalevaram

yah prayati sa mad-bhavam

yati nasty atra samsayah

And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt. https://asitis.com/8/5.html

In this verse the importance of Krsna consciousness is stressed. Anyone who quits his body in Krsna consciousness is at once transferred to the transcendental abode of the Supreme Lord. The word smaran (remembering) is important. Remembrance of Krsna is not possible for the impure soul who has not practiced Krsna consciousness in devotional service. To remember Krsna one should chant the mahamantra, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, incessantly, following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya, being more tolerant than the tree, humbler than the grass and offering all respect to others without requiring respect in return. In such a way one will be able to depart from the body successfully remembering Krsna and so attain the supreme goal.

References:

  1. https://vaniquotes.org/wiki/Death_and_the_pure_devotee
  2. https://theharekrishnamovement.org/category/death-and-dying/
  3. https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/11/10/20/
  4. https://prabhupadabooks.com/sb/3/30/18

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