The Time of Death, Part 1
"So Bhagavad-gītā begins with this point, that one should know that he is not this material body. That knowledge is lacking at the present moment throughout the whole world. Yes. Everyone is identifying with this body like the animals. Therefore Kṛṣṇa chastised Arjuna that 'You have got animalistic concept of life, and still you're speaking like a very learned scholar. No learned scholar laments on account of this body.' It is said in the Bhagavad-gītā, dhīras tatra na muhyati (BG 2.13). Dhīra... Dhīra means one who is sober by education. He is not disturbed. Just like when a man dies, his relatives lament, cry, 'My father is gone. My father is gone. My father is no more,' or 'My son is no more.' Anyway, they lament like that. But if he is little sober, he can understand, he can study, that I am lamenting, 'My father is gone,' 'My son is gone,' but he's not gone. He's lying on the bed or on the floor. Then why I am speaking 'gone'? If some friend asks him, 'Why you are lamenting, My father is gone, My son is gone? He's lying here,' but still he will say, 'No, he's not. He may be lying there, but he's gone.' That is puzzle. He's lying there and gone? What is this contradiction? That is the point to understand about the soul. The relative is lamenting, crying, 'My father is gone.' That means he never saw his father; he saw the body only. But at the time of death of his father he understands that this father is not this body; that is soul."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Mexico City, February 12, 1975)

"The devotee realizes the presence of God by devotional service, whereas the atheist realizes the presence of God in the shape of death. At death everything is finished, and one has to begin a new chapter of life in a new situation, perhaps higher or lower than the last one. In any field of activity -- political, social, national or international -- the result of our actions will be finished with the end of life. That is sure."

(Nectar of Devotion, Preface)

"The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is especially meant for training the mind to be always engaged in Kṛṣṇa's business. The mind contains hundreds and thousands of impressions, not only of this life but also of many, many lives of the past. These impressions sometimes come in contact with one another and produce contradictory pictures. In this way the mind's function can become dangerous for a conditioned soul. Students of psychology are aware of the mind's various psychological changes. In Bhagavad-gītā (8.6) it is said:

    yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
    tyajaty ante kalevaram
    taṁ taṁ evaiti kaunteya
    sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ

'Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.'

At the time of death, the mind and intelligence of a living entity create the subtle form of a certain type of body for the next life. If the mind suddenly thinks of something not very congenial, one has to take a corresponding birth in the next life. On the other hand, if one can think of Kṛṣṇa at the time of death, he can be transferred to the spiritual world, Goloka Vṛndāvana. This process of transmigration is very subtle; therefore Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī advises devotees to train their minds in order that they will be unable to remember anything other than Kṛṣṇa."

(Nectar of Instruction Text 8, Purport)

"If you prepare yourself... Just like in childhood, boyhood, if you prepare yourself, nicely educated, then you get nice job, nice situation; you will be happy. Preparation for the next life. Similarly, if you prepare yourself in this life for going back to home, back to Godhead, then where is perplexity? There is no perplexity. 'I am going to Kṛṣṇa. I am going back to home, back to Godhead. Now I will have not to change material body. I will have my spiritual body. I shall now play with Kṛṣṇa, dance with Kṛṣṇa, eat with Kṛṣṇa.' This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Prepare yourself for the next life. The man, dying man, cries because maybe he is dreaming next life horrible life. Because according to karma... Those who are very, very sinful, they cry, because they see horrible scenes at the time of death, and he is going to accept some type of body... But those who are pious, those who are devotees, they are dying without any anxiety. They are dying... The death may take place... The example is given that... Foolish people may say that 'You devotees, you are dying, and the sinful men, or nondevotees, they are also dying. So where is the difference?' No, there is difference. There is difference. This has been described by the example: just like a cat catches its cub and catches the mouse. So formerly we see that the cat has caught the mouse in the mouth and the cub also in the mouth, but there are difference of catching. The cub is feeling pleasure: 'My mother is carrying me.' And the mouse is feeling death knell: 'Oh, now I am going to die.' This is the difference. So although a devotee is dying and nondevotee is dying, there is difference of feeling at the time of death, like the mouse and the cub. Don't consider that both of them are dying in the same process. The process may be same, but the situation is different."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, London, August 19, 1973)

"He is not enjoyer, but he is thinking enjoyer. He is not enjoyer. At any moment his so-called enjoyment will be finished. Just like in the Western world they are thinking that 'We are enjoying life.' Of course, enjoying life in his consideration. But how long, sir, you will enjoy this life? You have got very nice car or very nice building, and you are enjoying as Australian, as American. That's all right. But how long you shall remain American and Australian? That question does not come to the dull brain, because he does not know that he is eternal. And this is temporary dress. I... Somehow or other, I wanted this, and prakṛti, nature, has given me. But nature has not given me the right to remain as American, Australian, Indian. No. That is not possible. You wanted. You enjoyed this life for a certain time, and then again you create your desire. 'Now I am very powerful, very happy. Let me love dog instead of God' -- that means you are preparing your next life as dog, because it is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā that at the time of death the mentality which you have created throughout the whole life, that will carry you to other body, gross body. It is very scientific. Anta-kāle tu māṁ smaran.

So if you train up... You have got this facility of life, comfortable life. Do not misuse it for becoming next life a dog. Utilize it to become next life god. That is success. You have got advanced intelligence, but this intelligence is given to you for understanding God and your position that by forgetting God you are in this material world, and in this material world you are changing one body to another -- sometimes American body, sometimes demigod's body, sometimes celestial body, sometimes dog's body, cat's body, tiger's body. This science is unknown."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Melbourne, June 27, 1974)

"So therefore for complete happy society, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is essential. All intelligent persons, they should join this movement and reform the present social, political, religious. All field of activities, they should reform. Then people will be happy. Not only happy in this life, but also next life. Unfortunately, the present education does not provide knowledge of next life. There is no such education. They are kept in darkness like cats and dogs. They do not know that there is life after death, and we get our next life according to our present activities -- karmaṇā daiva-netreṇa (SB 3.31.1). These things are unknown. Very risky life. If I am prime minister in this life or president, and if I am going to become a dog next life, then what is the benefit of becoming prime minister or president? And nature's law is that you get your next life according to the mentality at the time of death. So if I have acted like cats and dogs throughout whole life, naturally I shall think like cats and dogs at the time of death. Then next life is cats and dogs. So I may be worshiped here in a statue, that 'Here is our beloved prime minister,' and next life, I'm barking as a dog. Then what is the benefit?"

(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Washington, D.C., July 8, 1976)

"If we are serious of being transferred to the loka, to the place, where Kṛṣṇa is, then we have to train up the mind so nicely that at the time of death I can remember Kṛṣṇa. Therefore one great king, Kulaśekhara, he is praying to Kṛṣṇa, kṛṣṇa tvadīya pada-paṅkaja... What is that verse? Tvadīya... kṛṣṇa tvadīya pada-paṅkaja (MM 33). The idea is, Kulaśekhara, King Kulaśekhara is praying to Kṛṣṇa, adyaiva viśatu me mānasa-rāja-haṁsaḥ. Adyaiva. Prāṇa-prayāṇa-samaye kapha-vāta-pittaiḥ smaraṇaṁ kutas te. He is praying, 'Kṛṣṇa, I am now in good health. So kindly award me death immediately.' Adyaiva, 'Immediately, so that my mind, who is just like a swan, he can take pleasure by entering into stem of Your lotus flower feet.'

Kṛṣṇa's feet is always compared with lotus flower, and the lotus flower has got a stem. And the swans, they take pleasure being entangled with that stem. They go and dive into the water. This is their very good sporting. So he is taking that sporting; he is comparing his mind as the rāja-haṁsa. 'So as the rāja-haṁsa takes pleasure by entangling him in the stem of the lotus flower, similarly Your lotus feet, there is a stem. So my mind, which may be compared with rāja-haṁsa, let it be entangled now, immediately. Otherwise I do not know.' Prāṇa-prayāṇa-samaye kapha-vāta-pittaiḥ: 'When everything bodily function will be mixed up,' kapha-vāta-pittaiḥ, 'ghahn-ghahn,' there will be some sound, 'how I will be able to remembering Your lotus feet? So let me die immediately, immediately. Now I am quite fit. Otherwise I may not be able.'

This is the point. The mind should be kept in healthy condition. Saṁjñā. Therefore one who dies with full sense remembering Kṛṣṇa, oh, he is successful. In Bengali it is said, bhajana kara sādhana kara mūrti yāṅre haya... Means you may be very great devotee. That's all right. But it will be tested at the time of your death how you remember Kṛṣṇa. That will be the test examination. At the time of death, if we forget, if we become parrotlike... Just like parrot, he chants also, 'Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa.' But when the cat catches the neck, 'Tyanh! Tyanh! Tyanh! Tyanh!' No more Kṛṣṇa. No more Kṛṣṇa. So artificial practice will not help us. Then 'Tyanh, tyhanh.' That kapha-pitta-vātaiḥ, kaṇṭhāvarodhana-vidhau smaraṇaṁ kutas te (MM 33).

So from the very beginning we have to practice Kṛṣṇa consciousness if we are actually serious to go back to home, back to Godhead. Not that let it be left for two or three years before death. Oh, it is not so easy. It is not so easy."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, London, July 22, 1973)

"The real success in life is ante nārāyaṇa-smṛti -- remembering the holy name, attributes, activities and form of the Lord at the time of death. Although we may be engaged in the Lord's devotional service in the temple, material conditions are so tough and inevitable that we may forget the Lord at the time of death due to a diseased condition or mental derangement. Therefore we should pray to the Lord to be able to remember His lotus feet without fail at the time of death, when we are in such a precarious condition."

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 5.3.12, Purport)

"At the time of death one is certainly bewildered because his bodily functions are in disorder. At that time, even one who throughout his life has practiced chanting the holy name of the Lord may not be able to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra very distinctly. Nevertheless, such a person receives all the benefits of chanting the holy name. While the body is fit therefore, why should we not chant the holy name of the Lord loudly and distinctly? If one does so, it is quite possible that even at the time of death he will be properly able to chant the holy name of the Lord with love and faith. In conclusion, one who chants the holy name of the Lord constantly is guaranteed to return home, back to Godhead, without a doubt."

(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.2.49, Purport)

"The Sankara's Bhaja Govinda verse is as follows:

    bhaja govindam bhaja govindam
    bhaja govindam mudha mate
    prapte sannihite khalu marane
    nahi nahi raksati dukrin karane.

This is Sankara's last instruction to his followers, and the purport is that the mayavadi philosophers are very much accustomed to draw favorable meanings from unwanted interpretations by grammatical jugglery. In Sanskrit the grammatical jugglery is a great puzzle, there are many words which can be changed into different meanings by grammatical root derivations and affixing and prefixing pratyayas. So Sankara advised that do not try to exact favorable conclusions by beating the Sastras, but be submissive to Lord Govinda and worship Him. Otherwise, this grammatical jugglery of words will not help you at the time of death. At that time only if you can someway or other remember the Lotus Feet of Govinda, Krishna, that will save you, O' the fool number-one. Don't waste your time in misinterpreting the sastras."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter, January 21, 1970)

"So if Vaiṣṇava appears in a family, he liberates not only his father, but his father, his father, his father, his father, in that way. But that is the best service to the family, to become Kṛṣṇa conscious. Actually, it has happened. One of my students, Kārttikeya, his mother was so much fond of society that usually when he wanted to see his mother, mother says 'Sit down. I am going to the dancing party.' That was the relationship. Still, because he, this boy, is Kṛṣṇa conscious, he was talking of Kṛṣṇa to his mother many times. So at the time of death the mother asked the son, 'Where is your Kṛṣṇa? He is here?' And she immediately, she died. That means at the time of death she remembered Kṛṣṇa, and immediately she was delivered. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty ante kalevaram (BG 8.6). At the time of death if one remembers Kṛṣṇa, then life is successful. So this mother, on account of the son, Kṛṣṇa consciousness son, she got liberated, without actually coming to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. So this is the benefit."

(Srila Prabhupada Arrival Lecture, Gainesville, July 29, 1971)

"You know your President Kennedy. He was going in a procession, and the time came, and he had to leave everything at once, at once, without any hesitation. You cannot hesitate. So we are in the grip of the material nature. However we may declare ourself that we are independent, we are not independent. We are dependent, completely dependent. We may foolishly mislead ourself by the sense of independence. No. You are not independent. You are completely under the control of the material nature. Daivī hy eṣā guṇamayī mama māyā duratyayā (BG 7.14). The material nature is so strong that it is very difficult to get out of the entanglement.
But there is a way. That is also said in the Bhagavad-gītā, mām eva ye prapadyante māyām etāṁ taranti te: 'Anyone who surrenders unto Me...' The whole process, the whole process of material activities, material nature, is going on under this principle, that we are required to go back to the eternal world, to get our eternal life and eternal blissful knowledge. These things are awaiting us. But if we do not try, do not endeavor for attaining that sublime position and spoil our reserve energy in making an adjustment of this temporary material world, that is our foolishness."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, July 25, 1966)

"So for the last three days we have been discussing. Prayāṇa-kāle manasā 'calena. Prayāṇa-kāle means 'at the time of death.' Just like the students, they prepare two years, three years, five years, in their college education, and the final test is their examination, and if they pass in the examination, they get the degree. Similarly, in our living condition, if we prepare for the examination at the time of death and we pass the examination, then we are transferred to the spiritual world. So prayāṇa-kāle. The whole thing is examined at the time of death. Just the other day I recited one Bengali proverb. This is a very common saying in Bengal. They say bhajan kara pūjān kara mṛtyu-kāle haya: 'Our, whatever you do for perfection, at the time of your death it will be tested.'"

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, November 15, 1966)

"It is the mercy of Krishna that you are getting fair warning of your nearing death. Now, you must become very serious to prepare to meet death without fear of being fully absorbed in the lotus feet of Krishna. You must be very careful and always praying to Krishna that you will not forget Him at the time of dying.

If your heart is weak, do not take part in so much active service. It will be better for you to chant more, read books, eat less -- like that you can engage yourself. Everyone has to die sometime, but the problem is that most men your age are thinking, 'I will live another fifty years,' but now you have been informed that in your case, you will not live so long. Take advantage of this advance notice, consider it a blessing and prepare yourself to go back to home, back to Godhead."

(Srila Prabhupada Letter to Audolomi, February 6, 1975)

"So this Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, very easy. There is no need of education, there is no need of becoming very wealth or very intelligent. Anyone, even a child, can chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. So each time you pronounce the holy name of Kṛṣṇa, you remember Him, the smārtavyaḥ satato viṣṇuḥ. Ante nārāyaṇa-smṛtiḥ (SB 2.1.6). If by practicing this, at the time of death if we can remember Kṛṣṇa, then our life is successful. Then our life is successful. Ante nārāyaṇa-smṛtiḥ: if you can remember simply Nārāyaṇa at the time of death."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Tokyo, May 1, 1972)

"Kṛṣṇa consciousness means somehow or other try to remember Kṛṣṇa at the time of death, ante nārāyaṇa-smṛtiḥ. Then your life is successful. Just like Ajāmila. Ajāmila, he was a great sinner -- we shall one day describe about Ajāmila's life -- but at the time of death, out of his affection for his youngest son, whose name was Nārāyaṇa, he thrice called, 'Nārāyaṇa! Nārāyaṇa!'

But the original Nārāyaṇa took notice of it: 'Oh, this man is calling Nārāyaṇa.' Immediately sent His personal assistant to take him back to home, back to Godhead. Ante nārāyaṇa-smṛtiḥ (SB 2.1.6). Somehow or other. He was not remembering the original Nārāyaṇa, but Nārāyaṇa was the name of his son. Therefore according to our Vedic system we keep God's name our children or family member, so that somehow or other... there are thousands of names of Kṛṣṇa. If we remember one of them, our life is successful. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness."

(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, Bombay, December 26, 1972)

"Once the Bakāsura demon assumed the shape of a very big duck and opened his mouth in order to swallow Kṛṣṇa and all the cowherd boys. When Kṛṣṇa was entering into the demon's mouth, Balarāma and the other cowherd boys almost fainted and appeared as though they had no life. Even if devotees are illusioned by some ghastly scene or by any accidental occurrence, they never forget Kṛṣṇa. Even in the greatest danger they can remember Kṛṣṇa. This is the benefit of Kṛṣṇa consciousness: even at the time of death, when all the functions of the body become dislocated, the devotee can remember Kṛṣṇa in his innermost consciousness, and this saves him from falling down into material existence. In this way Kṛṣṇa consciousness immediately takes one from the material platform to the spiritual world."

(Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 30)
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