bhagavati ratir astu me mumursor
yam iha niriksya hata gatah sva-rupam [SB 1.9.39]
Translation: At the moment of death, let my ultimate attraction be to Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead. I concentrated 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 Kurukshetra attained their original forms after death.
In the beginning of the first canto we know king Parikshit inquired, inquiry is as following,
atah prcchami samsiddhim
yoginam paramam gurum
purusasyeha yat karyam
mriyamanasya sarvatha [SB 1.19.37]
You are the spiritual master of great saints and devotees. I am therefore begging you to show the way of perfection for all persons, and especially for one who is about to die. You understand about the inquires? Yes? because king Parikshit is about to die and now he has met the authorities Srila Sukhdev Gowswami and he says please now I am begging let me know the way of perfection, specially for one who is about to die, please, so he continue the next verse i.e, 37 or 38. Please let me know what a man should hear, chant, remember and worship and what should he not do. Please explain all this to me. So on behalf of the entire Human race, this inquiry has been made and in fact the whole Srimad Bhagavatam is the answer to this question or this inquiry.
And today’s verse has connection with this inquiry. Grandfather Bhishma’s death is near, of course no one can force death on grandfather Bhishma. You know he had a benediction that only when he wanted to die he could die, not against his will death would not come and take him away. That is the case with all of us in the world, in fact we are never ready whenever we say now is the time, okay take me. We always have something more to do. We are not finished without assignments or the mission. So he was gonna die whenever he wanted to die. But it is very obvious from this statement of grandfather Bhisma that he knows how to attain perfection in life, he knows what to do at the time of death. So what does he want to do? Let’s understand one more time, at the moment of death let my ultimate attraction be to Sri Krishna, the supreme personality of godhead.
We also have to prepare for death so let see how grandfather Bhisma is preparing for that last moment. So what does he wanna do, he wants to concentrate on the supreme personality of godhead. He says specially that lord who is driving the chariot of Arjuna with a wip in his right. Krishna had wip in his hand and bridal rope in his left, in another hand he had ropes.
Lord Krishna was driving the chariot of Arjuna and that chariot had white horses, first chapter of bhagavad-gita it says:
tatah svetair hayair yukte
mahati syandane sthitau
madhavah pandavas caiva
divyau sankhau pradadhmatuh [BG 1.14]
Arjuna and Krishna blew their transcendental conch shells as they were situated on a very magnificent chariot which was drawn by white horses. How many horses were there? Because five senses that’s why you think, usually there are either 2 or 4 or 6. There were four horses. If you meditated on 5 horses then it is some other chariot, it’s not Krishna’s chariot. If you want to meditate on Krishna’s chariot you also have to know how many horses, what kind of colour of the horses otherwise it’s wrong meditation. You need to know a lot of things before you go for meditation. First of all you have to fix the object of meditation, you cannot just sit down and okay it is time for meditation. But you don’t know what to meditate upon. So that is the trouble with most of the meditators all over the world.
Now grandfather Bhisma wants to meditate on Krishna as he is driving the chariot of Arjuna and he also wants to take note of how Krishna was driving the chariot with all care and attention in order to give all protection to Arjuna. So that is his worshipable deity, everyone has his worshipable deity. Or one may also like to meditate on a particular pastime of that deity of that lord. Someone may like to meditate on Damodar, childhood pastimes of Krishna. Someone meditating on Krishna standing on the bank of Yamuna at Keshi ghat with his flute and his bending in three places, tribhanga lalitam. So everyone meditates differently on some particular form, particular pastimes of the lord. Specially at the time of death one is going to choose the most favourite form and most favourite pastime of that lord. One also naturally chooses the form or the pastime according to his relationship with Krishna. Devotees having dasya rasa, servitorship, they are going to remember Krishna as a master. His friends are going to remember him as a cowherd boy. The parents as their child. And Gopis as their beloved Krishna and some madhurya Lila pastimes.
So the type of meditation that grandfather Bhisma has chosen makes it obvious what is his relationship with Krishna. His relationship is that of Vaikuntha not from Goloka, because Krishna in Kurukshetra is Vasudeva Krishna, he is not related with Vraj Mandal Krishna, Vrindavan Krishna. But he is fortunate, of course very intelligent that he does want to remember Krishna.
Now we have heard so many classes and we have read so many descriptions of how different devotees prepare for the final moment. This is all meant to remind us what we should be doing at the time of death. We know from the 6th canto of Srimad bhagavatam, when it was the turn of Ajamila to die. In the first set of persons he had to see where the yamadutas, the first set of persons. The scene was not very pleasing, he was scared to death just by seeing them. They were very fearful, fearsome and he was alone and they were four of them. He was invalid, old and had almost no physical strength and these persons were gigantic and their eyes were very reddish and their teeth were sticking out and long hairy bodies. Any person will get scared just by seeing the sight of these four of them, they come and surround you. They say, “okay hurry up now, out”, and you say, “where, where, where are you taking us!!”. “There is no time for inquiry, out, we say out”. Then he is trying to look at his wife and children. “What about this and what about that. No no I am not ready come back next week.”
When hare Krishnas call you and invite you to temple you could say, “I am very busy, next week I could come”. But when yamadutas come can you tell yamadutas, “no I am very busy yamadutas. May next week, and you better call me before you come. If I give you an appointment then you can come”. It doesn’t work like that yamadutas just come and when they come they come to get you. They don’t give you any time to prepare, could you imagine.
And if we are going out of station how many preparation we make. We are attached to so many household paraphernalia, dogs, cars, property. Going away sometime feels like we are not ready to go away from all these near and dear ones and all possessions. You know, all life long you have working for accumulating so many things and there is a home there, nice car has been parked at the front, nice lawns are also there. And then you are told, hands up!! don’t touch anything now!! don’t extend your hand to grab this or grab that, thinking that at least you could bring this or maybe that, what about that. Could my girlfriend come with me. You are told is don’t touch now hands up or hands off and you have no time you have to get out. You know if anyone describe how could be described in further details how we have worked on all these properties and relations and you have to give that up. All this 100% accumulation from there you have to go down to not even 50 but zero! It’s not gonna be easy job. So one side all this property and relations are attracting you and on another side there is a rope dragging you out of that body, how tortuous that experience must be.
We have seen, those who work in hospitals see people dying, no one just die joyfully. People pass stool and urine and that is nothing there must be much more that they go through. So if we don’t want to go through that then there is a way to prepare in order to avoid this kind of torture and breaking of heart kind of experience if you don’t wanna go through then there is another path. That you are just ready, there is no problem. Krishna says tatha dehantara-praptir, dhiras tatra na muhyati.
That come with a nice plane, flight, very pleasing to look at and nice crowns, four hands, effulgent bodies, ornaments. You would like to look at. They’re more beautiful than any person that you have seen in your life, that wasn’t the case of other set of fellows. You also have seen someone scary like these yamadutas. But if you are preparing all life long and thinking of Krishna and wanting to go back home then there are another set of people very beautiful to look at. And you precisely know what is going on. You know where they are taking you, otherwise people they are not preparing for death, they are not prepared to die. Death is the last thing they would like to think about. Talk of death is considered very inauspicious. When we were Childens at home our parents, our elders they used to say, don’t talk! don’t talk! They like to change topic, so ignore or think there is no death. So when such people die they don’t know what is next what is all this going on. They don’t know whether after getting out of the body they have to turn left or right, no idea. But devotees of Krishna, they know what their destination is and where they are going. So that is why Krishna says dhiras tatra na muhyati, the realised person, he is not bewildered by such a change, no big change. You know Krishna is there, that much confidence is there, you are Krishna’s and these personalities have come from Krishna then what is there, there is no problem. And in fact the problem is resolved now, the perfection has been attained, time to go back home. This is all auspicious time. Nitya Lila pravisht, time for entering eternal pastimes of Radha and Krishna, time for jubilation and celebration, no lamentation.
So that is the difference between dying and dying, again the choice is of the individual, it is individual’s choice. Soul is marginal in nature, soul could be controlled by the external energy of the lord or the internal energy of the lord. Yamadutas is the arrangement of the external energy of the lord and Vishnu Dutas is the arrangement of the internal energy of the lord. The feeling is like a cat holding a rat in the mouth. How does the rat feel in the mouth of a cat, and feel at home? That same cat holds it’s kitten, a little cat, how does that little kitten feel? It’s relaxing, keep holding me as long as you like.
We all need something to shake us up, wake us up. These frightening descriptions of death and hell they are meant to wake us up. But a lot of times we have no faith, we say, “who has seen, who will see”. So this kind of attitude that we have as a result we never prepare. Or we hear Ajamila only at the time of death he chanted Narayana Narayana, “O now I know the trick. I will certainly have at least one son if not ten sons”. Ajamila had 10 sons, he was 88 year old when he had ten children and fortunately he named him Narayana. And then he called him Narayana, called helplessly Narayana when he saw these scary yamadutas. So after hearing this narration some people think yes I know, but it doesn’t work like that.
Prabhupada is also pointing out in the purport that even in case of different kinds of yogis their meditation or thinking is just mechanical whereas that of a pure devotee it is natural in pure love and affection, spontaneous affection. It may start as an official devotion or mechanical devotion but it has to make progress and has to become spontaneous devotion. Only one should expect Vishnudutas to come, going back to Godhead. Same thing is when we are out of the body at the time of death one should not feel lonely, that is what one feels, feels separated from all these family members and neighbours and friends. They are all staying behind and I am taken away from the midst of them. So that is the kind of feeling one gets, why me, I want to be with them. One needs to prepare, mentally prepare. You entangle yourself so much, that to disentangle is going to be a tough job.
Life of Krishna consciousness, Krishna conscious lifestyle is favorable for preparing for the last moment of death, like we are here in Krishna consciousness movement or padyatra. I am not supposed to be having a lot of things that we are attached to. We don’t have much property. Sometimes our devotees have and we say bring all that you have in the world, bring it here. Then bring one metal trunk, suitcase and sometimes the suitcase is half empty and there are some old dhoties, toothbrushes, Bhagavatam, Tilak. So these things are, so he says all that I have in the world is right here. Then his father is no more there is only mother, she is also a devotee chanting Hare Krishna, brother is off he is not doing well, sister is married and all settled and there is no boss, there is no job, what about bank balance? No bank balance. All money is spent before joining Krishna consciousness movement, so there is nothing much to get attracted and attached to. Leading a nice brahmachari life or grihasta life, wife is also a nice devotee. So these things aren’t much entangling, so to disentangle from few of these relations and few of these possessions is not a big job. It’s good, you may not be happy with these possessions. Why only this much and then you will get into acquiring things and accumulating things, you could get in trouble.
Like the story of that yogi and the mouse, not becoming mouse again that is another story. Yogi was staying on the bank of the river and he was wearing just a Brahmin underwear, but in the kuti he was staying there was a rat, a rat also stayed there. So the rat used to eat the coupin , make holes in the coupin. So he thought what should he do now I want to get rid of this, don’t want to get my coupin all holed. He said I should get a cat, rat will stay in the hole and my coupin will be safe. So he managed getting the cat and the cat has to drink something, cat loves milk, so he was wondering where should I get a cow. He had some followers, they said no problem I have a cow, an extra cow. So the cow was giving milk, the cat was drinking milk and he was fat and happy, doing meww meww, just by hearing this sound the rat was scared to death and staying in the hole and his coupin was safe, all this just for saving the coupin . So the cow was there but someone had to look after the cow, so another follower of this yogi said I have a young daughter not married yet so she could take care of the cow. So this young daughter of some follower also was in the seen taking care of cow, the milk was there and cat was drinking the milk, meww meww and his coupin was safe. Some lesson to learn not only entertainment here. He have to deal with young daughter of his follower and this yogi himself was not very old and not fully realised. So as he was dealing with her in a close contact, he couldn’t avoid getting into a relationship and then soon there were Children and one kuti was not big enough, he tried expanding it. Eventually family was good size family, they could not maintain in on the bank of the river, so then they made arrangements sent a fax to some transport company and everything was transported to Rome. He started making money, double shift, working day and night making money. And that was the end of his peaceful life, yogi life. So it could start with what about this more, what about that more or this is required that is required and then there is no end to it, you could build a whole empire around you.
So relatively speaking compared with the rest of the people in the world around us our possessions are very few or almost nothing, but we have to be happy with what we have. If we think no this is nothing I could use ten times as many things then you may make some other arrangements all together. You may end up leaving the devotee association, finding jobs and what not, competing with the rest of the world and you have to be back in the rat race. So somehow we are put in circumstances, we almost own nothing. In Fact there is a possibility to live happily with having almost nothing if we are happy with Krishna, if we are gaining something from Krishna. How nicely we are linked with Krishna, joy that we get from chanting Hare Krishna, hearing Srimad Bhagavatam and performing devotional service, worshipping the deities and performing sankirtan. If this is giving us pleasure then we won’t require much, the material things or possessions. Or if we are not getting nicely linked and not getting a nectar then we may look for poison, drink it and spoil our life, then that would go against our goal of life or the kind of meditation that we would like to maintain at the time of death.
So if you want to succeed with the final exam of our life then you have to follow the example of so many, this world has seen an unlimited number of great souls, great devotees, countless number of devotees have led very Krishna conscious perfect lives. They have attained perfection of yoga, they have gone home, home back to Godhead, and all their experiences and lifestyles and processes they adopted have been included in the scriptures. Srila Vyasdeva is sharing that with us, we just have to employ that, utilize that.
This way we could see that International Society for Krishna consciousness is meant to help humans, humanity at large in order to attain perfection in their life and go back to home, back to Godhead. So we are part of that international society for Krishna consciousness, the whole process is at our disposal, so we should take full advantage of it and attain perfection in this life.
Srimad bhagavatam ki jai!
Question: You were talking about Yamadutas or Vishnu Dutas. What happens if the devotee has not completed the process, has not reached perfection, not reached the spiritual world?
Answer: Everyone does if you are not going only two places you can go either you go back to Vaikuntha, spiritual world or you go to abode of Yamraj after death. Yamdutas take you to the court of Yamraj and there the decision is made what is to be done with you next.
I can’t give any scriptural reference but you know ordinary criminals are arrested and they are taken in front of the judge and then sometimes big big leaders are also for some reason taken in custody, they are arrested but treatment is not the same. The criminal is beaten up but the other leader who might get arrested some time is not treated like that. Also Prabhupada talks about first class prison and second class prison and third class prison because that comes after the judgment where you will be sent to. So depending upon how sinful you are Yamadutas deal with you accordingly. So Yamdutas come, messenger of Yamduta will come but then if you are almost devotee, not fit to go back to Godhead but almost devotee and you are taken to court of Yamraj and then you are given another human birth, okay you take birth in this family.
As we know from Krishna’s statement that,
sv-alpam apy asya dharmasya, trayate mahato bhayat
Whatever little progress one makes in spiritual life if he had made the progress then he is saved from going to hell or from taking birth in lower species.
So depending upon how sinful you are and how offensive you are are gonna be treated differently by the Yamdutas. Now police may come, they also deal with Hare Krishnas but there dealings are, they are same police but their dealings are sometimes very pleasing. The same police is dealing with a drunkard then they deal differently.
We know something, but to know everything how it works as, almost inconsiderable to us. Chanting once also, chanting once purely, once you chant purely then you are pure devotee then Yamadutas has no jurisdiction over you. Say not again you can’t trick Yamraj or Yamadutas. Yamraj has a good understanding, he is a judge, he is the best judge. Even acharyas say you may put paint on the face, Tilak, it’s called paint, neck beads if your consciousness is something else then you can’t even cheat your Bhakta leader, temple authority, you cannot claim I am a devotee just because I am shaved up I am this, I am that. Then what to speak of Yamraj as we said earlier, yes now we know, all that I have to do it is call out my son’s name, he named Narayana, I will keep my son name Giridhari, Giridhari, O Giridhari and I will be saved because that is mechanical and that is kind of trick that is not going to work. But we do understand as we are doing chanting Hare Krishna and performing devotional service, our records in Yamraj’s court are always changing, ever changing. All the time difference witnesses there are always going back and forth, they are going to Yamraj and giving report to Yamraj, witnesses ,sakshi.
How many 13? There is mention how many there are, sun, moon, directions, the air, the night. Like they are all considered witnesses, what they are doing is witness then immediately going to give report. So all record is there, there is one record in your name also and it gets recorded all the time but if you chant Hare Krishna and do nice sankirtan, you got up and worship the deities then so many things are also getting erased, wiped out, “okay wipe this out and this one also, you just chanted hare Krishna more, he chanted 64 rounds, okay this also or he was doing Vraj mandal parikrama so get some more”. Like that with additional devotional service and credits and deposits in that account all his previous sinful record are all getting cleared. This neutralizes this also and at the end of the record now, “there is no more, it’s all a clean record, okay his name is off the list now”.
So when all accounts of the sinful record are all neutralized then his name is transferred to Vaikuntha. Now your name will be recorded in Vaikuntha and at the time of death messengers will also come from Vaikuntha.