Sunday, 29 January 2012

Art Of Dying : Part 2

Srila Prabhupada Ki Jai!
So, we are discussing about the art of dying – the way to immortality. Yesterday, we discussed
quite extensively about how Srimad Bhagavatam is dealing with this topic. As a matter of fact,
Srimad Bhagavatam begins with this problem. Parikshit Maharaj is about to leave his body and
Parikshit Maharaja is considering he has only seven days left; now what should he do? And then,
Sukadeva Goswami came and instructed him about what he should do, and in this way we can
see that Bhagavatam is actually teaching us this specific topic.
The main purpose of Srimad Bhagavatam is actually this art of dying. Now, when one masters
this art of dying, then he does not die; that’s the wonderful thing about this art. You master this
art, but when you master this art of dying, then you do not die; you achieve immortality. So,
immortality is actually the natural consequence of one’s spiritual situation.
When one becomes properly situated in his spiritual identity, then he becomes immortal. To
begin with, the living entities are immortal, but we have become subjected to this cycle of birth
and death, which is considered to be like a whirlpool. When one falls in a whirlpool, it is very
difficult to come out of it – very difficult, I mean practically impossible. He is helplessly drawn
into it and this is the whirlpool of “samsara” – “samsara” means the cycle of birth and death;
birth and death is cycling constantly.
One is born to die and then one dies to be born again. In this respect, Krishna tells in the
Bhagavad Gita that “jatasya hi dhruvo mrtyur dhruvam janma mrtasya ca”- “jatasya” means one
who is born; for him, “dhruvo mrtyur”, for him death is inevitable. For him death is the absolute
truth – one who is born must die.
Therefore, we see that the atheistic people try to be immortal, but they can’t; they can never
become immortal. No one will ever be; no one will ever become immortal in this material nature.
They are trying in so many different ways. One classic example of this endeavour to attain
immortality is Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu performed such severe austerities that his whole
body was eaten up by termites and ants. They made an anthill around his body and his body was
within this anthill; and there are many examples in the Vedic Scriptures, of such austerities.
There was another example that has been described in the Ninth Canto – Chyavana Rishi.
Chyavana Rishi was performing such austerities that an anthill was created around him, and a
princess who was with her father while he was hunting, came across this strange looking anthill.
She saw these two holes and there were some bright lights coming out of them and out of
curiosity, she poked that with a hairpin and then blood started to come out from there. So, the
father was very worried when he came to know and realised that she had hurt some great saintly
So, not only Hiranyakashipu performed great austerities in such a way that an anthill was created
around his body. There are many examples of the performance of such austerities. Also, we
come across the example of Narada Muni who, when he was travelling, came across a yogi who
was performing such austerities that an anthill grew out of his body, not grew, an anthill was
created around his body. And then this person asked Narada Muni, “When you go back to
Vaikuntha, can you please ask the Lord when He is going to take me back?” So, when Narada
Muni came back from Vaikuntha, this yogi asked him, “Did you ask Narayana when He is going
to take me to Vaikuntha?” Narada Muni said, “Yes, Narayana said that you have to come back
for another lifetime,” and this yogi was very upset. He said, “Another lifetime? How can that be?
I performed such severe austerities.”
So, in this way we can see that through this kind of austerities, or this kind of materialistic
endeavour, one can never achieve immortality. Same was the case with Hiranyakashipu.
Hiranyakashipu’s austerity was actually a classic example of austerity. His whole body was eaten
up; only the skeleton was standing. That means his intestines, his lungs, his heart, his brains,
everything was eaten up; there was nothing left and his life air was sustained within his bones, in
the marrow.
Now, still then Hiranyakashipu could not attain immortality. He was performing such austerities
in order to become immortal and then, as a result of his austerities, Brahma became perturbed
and Brahma himself came down and asked Hiranyakashipu, “Hiranyakashipu, what do you
want?” and Hiranyakashipu said, “Please give me the boon that I will become immortal.”
Brahma said, “I can’t give that boon because I, myself, am not immortal, so how can I grant you
this boon?” So, this is the situation; even up to Brahma, everyone is mortal in this world –
“Jatasya hi Dhruvo Mrityu”, “whoever is born must die” – there is no exception to this rule.
Brahma is born, but in a very special way. Brahma came straight from the Lord’s navel; directly
he came from the Lord through His navel. Still, because he was born, although directly from the
Lord, in that sense Brahma is considered to be “aja”- unborn. But still, because he is in the
Universe, he is in the material nature, he took birth. Although it is not an ordinary birth, but it is
some kind of birth, therefore he must die.
And Brahma Samhita describes what is Brahma’s life span; from our calculation, it may appear
to be very, very long – but, what is the life span of Brahma? “yasyaika-nisvasita-kalam
athavalambya jivanti loma-vila-ja jagad-anda-nathah” Jagad-anda” means “brahmanda” – the
Universe and “jagad-anda-nathah” means the Brahmas, not just one Brahma; there are millions
of Brahmas. And what is the lifespan of these Brahmas, apparently who live for such a long, long
time? What is the duration of Brahma’s day – one thousand chatur yugas. One day of Brahma is
one thousand chatur yugas; one chatur yuga is 4.32 million years. And thousand, multiply by one
thousand, what have you got – 4.32 billion years.
So, actually, we can’t figure out the difference; at least I can’t figure out the difference between a
million and a billion. It’s so big an amount, or big a number, that we can’t figure out the
difference. But that is the thing, like it is after all a huge lifespan. But compared to Krishna, not
even Krishna – Vishnu, Krishna’s expansion’s expansion’s expansion’s expansion. So,
“yasyaika-nisvasita-kalam athavalambya” – one breath of Vishnu is the duration of Brahma’s
life. One breath – he exhales and he inhales; that’s it. And then it is said that “visnur mahan sa
iha yasya kala-viseso” – he is an expansion of an expansion of Krishna, Govinda.
So, this is what material nature is like; it’s a relative reality. We may think that our lifespan is so
short, only a hundred years at the most, but consider if an ant is told, “You know human beings
live for such a long time; this is the lifespan of a human being.” What will the ant think? He will
say, “Come on, I have had enough of that. You know, just go and tell these fairy tales to
someone else, not me.”
So, this is the meaning of relativity – relative. Now in relation to us, Brahma’s life is very big,
but when you go to Brahma, or Brahmaloka (Satyaloka), there you will find they are lamenting,
“Oh, we have got such a short span of life.”
So, therefore, a person situated in knowledge will not be affected by this consideration of life and
death. He is not interested in attaining immortality; rather he says, “Yes, I will die, I will die –
but let me master the art of dying.” A devotee does not want to avoid death, but he learns; he
practises to die the right way. And when one dies the right way, then what happens? He goes
back to Godhead, he goes back to Godhead. Like Parikshit Maharaj is one such example; when
he found out that his life is going to come to an end soon, he just started to prepare himself for
that moment. Another such example is King Khattanga. He fought with the demons on behalf of
the demigods. The demigods were pleased with him and they asked him, “So, tell me, what do
you want?” He asked, “Tell me, how much time do I have, how am I going to die?” They said,
“You only have forty eight minutes left.” He said, “Fine, thank you very much for the
information,” and he went and prepared himself for that moment. So, this is the real intelligence,
this is the example of individuals who are situated in knowledge.
Another wonderful way of dying we see are the Pandavas. Pandavas, specially Yudhisthira
Maharaj, when he got to know that Krishna left the planet, he felt, “Ok then, what’s the use of
staying on this planet any longer? Krishna left, so what am I going to do here?” So, although he
was the king of the entire earth planet, when Krishna left, nothing really meant anything to him.
Everything became totally insignificant and he decided and just made arrangements, coronated
Parikshit Maharaj in the throne and he said, “Ok, I am quitting.” “Where are you going?” “I am
going out in Mahaprasthan.” “Mahaprasthan” means “a great departure” – “a great departure”.
This is done in a way like one starts to walk towards the Himalayas and he keeps on walking and
walking and walking without eating, without drinking, without sleeping – just to make this body
totally, totally exhausted, so that the soul would leave the body. And when his other brothers
said, “Ok, then we are also going to join you”, Yudhisthira Maharaj said, “Do whatever you
want, you know, I am not interested. Don’t ask me for permission; if you want to do it then just
do it.” Then Draupadi said, “Then, I’ll also join you all. You are all leaving, so what am I going
to do here?” So, she also left and they started to walk. And one after another, their bodies fell.
Draupadi was the first one to fall, then Sahadeva, then Nakula, then Arjuna, then Bhima.
And where did Bhima leave his body – high up in the Himalayan mountain, near Badrikashram.
Even by car, it takes a good ten hours – ten hours means, of course it’s a windy mountain road, a
very wonderful road. There is nothing on the side of the road, no railings, nothing. And
sometimes, this goes five thousand, six thousand feet deep. And sometimes, some cars just go
that way and anyway, it’s a long way and mind you, there was no road at that time. And they just
kept on walking, they just walked and walked until their body fell. So, what are they doing while
they are walking? They are simply absorbed in the thought of Krishna. So when the body fell,
they left their body thinking of Krishna.
This is what happens when one masters the art of dying. And Krishna Consciousness is actually
the art of dying, in reality; it teaches us how to die. And tomorrow, we will discuss how
Prabhupada left his body. And how, many devotees are leaving their bodies. Anyway, today we
are going to discuss about the different individuals, different personalities who mastered the art
of dying, from Srimad Bhagavatam.
So, one beautiful example is Dhruva Maharaja. When we consider Dhruva Maharaja’s life, it is
very interesting – a six year old boy, he wanted to sit on his father’s lap and the father was
henpecked by his other wife, Suruchi, Dhruva’s stepmother. She was upset that he was letting
him sit on his lap. So, she wanted that her son should become the favourite and although he was
young, he should actually succeed the throne. So, she was making all the arrangements; since she
was the favourite of the king, the king just listened to her words.
Dhruva was denied the right to sit on his father’s lap and his stepmother actually insulted him
and said, “Look, if you want to sit on his lap, then you have to take birth through my womb.”
Sometimes, some women can be vicious and she was hard – stepson, just a six year old boy, but
she is so cruel towards him. Dhruva was a Kshatriya; although only six years old, he was very
upset and he decided to take revenge. “Ok, you said that; I will show you.” He went back to his
mother and told her that this is what happened and he was crying due to this insult, so Dhruva
Maharaj’s mother, Suniti, told him, “Actually, Narayana can save you from this situation. He
can fulfil your desire to become the king.” He said, “Ok, I will get a position from Narayana,
even higher than that of my grandfather.” That is the situation which is even higher than the
situation of Lord Brahma.
Apparently, Dhruva is so attached, but then we see how gradually he is becoming detached. He
performs severe austerities; he went to the forest and he was searching for Narayana. He did not
know who Narayana was and he was asking everybody, “Are you Narayana?” In the forest, who
do you come across – tigers, lions, snakes. And he was asking everybody, “Are you Narayana?”
“Are you Narayana?” And then finally, Narada Muni seeing his intensity, seeing his sincerity,
came over and told him how to get Narayana. He gave him the mantra and asked him to meditate
on the mantra and Dhruva Maharaj was meditating on the mantra in such a way that here also we
can see another kind of austerities, but this is a positive austerity – positive, because it is for the
sake of Narayana.
Hiranyakashipu’s austerity was negative because it was for his own immortality. Now, this is the
advantage of approaching Narayana. So, he approached Narayana; in order to find Narayana, he
performed great austerities. He became so absorbed in meditating on the Lord that he stopped
eating and he would just eat some dry leaves whenever he had to eat. But, that also, he stopped.
He was sustaining himself just by drinking some water; that also, he stopped – stopped drinking,
then he stopped breathing.
And then, Narayana came to him. But when Dhruva saw Narayana, then he realised the futility
of what he was going to ask from Him and Dhruva said, “What I was actually hankering for and
what I had been performing such great austerities and approached You for, appears to be just like
some broken pieces of glass. I don’t want that, I simply want Your association. I simply want to
be engaged in Your devotional service, I don’t want anything else.”
A six year old boy had such profound realisation. But, Narayana told him, “No, since that desire
was there in the heart, go through it, go through it.” and he became the king. And not only a
king, he became so powerful that he defeated the Gandharvas. He was slaughtering the
Gandharvas in such a way that Kuvera became worried. He came and said, “Please, stop doing
that. Why are you unnecessarily killing?” and that also we can see his younger brother, who was
actually his rival to the throne, when that brother was killed by the Gandharvas, he became so
angry that he started to wipe out all the Gandharvas. And then Kuvera came and gave him some
advice and Dhruva desisted. And then Dhruva Maharaj retired from his household life and he
went to the Himalayas to spend the rest of his time in the association of devotees of the Lord in
Badrikashram, which is a very holy place and many saintly personalities were residing there.
Dhruva Maharaj went there and he spent his time in the association of those devotees. And then
one day, the chariot came from Vaikuntha with two Vishnudutas, Nanda and Sunanda and they
came and told him, “Please come, we have come to take you to Vaikuntha.” So, Dhruva Maharaj
went, took a bath, bade farewell to everybody, circumambulated the chariot three times and
when he was about to climb the chariot, he saw death standing with folded hands, “Please bestow
your mercy upon me.” And how did Dhruva Maharaj bestow his mercy upon him – he put his
foot on death’s head to climb the chariot. Now, this is the art of dying; death comes, but how
does death come, not as an object of fear, not as someone who is something very, very
undesirable but, he just took him in his stride, okay, put his foot on his head to alight the chariot
from Vaikuntha. Now that is what actually happens for a devotee. It’s not that a devotee does not
die, or we can say it seems that a devotee also dies, but how does he die; how does a devotee
die? How does a devotee approach death? Death comes to him, but how – with folded hands.
Therefore, it has been described that, “jagbiredhi swayam bhayam” – the personified fear
actually is death and it is said that the personified death is afraid of Krishna. So, if we want to
conquer death, what is the safest way, the easiest way to do that? Take shelter of Krishna – just
take shelter of Krishna, and death will be conquered, death will be overcome. So, this is actually
the real art of dying.
Now, another very wonderful example is Prahlada Maharaj; his father wanted to kill him, but
what did Prahlada Maharaja do? Did he make any endeavour to struggle against his father’s
onslaught? No, he just depended upon Krishna. His mood, or his attitude was, “Well Krishna, if
You want me to die, that’s fine.” – as Bhaktivinode Thakur is describing, “marobi rakhobi jo
iccha tohara” – “whether You want to keep me, or You want to kill me, it’s simply up to You,
because I am Your eternal servant,” and the servant does not have any free will.
A servant is just sold out to his master; whatever the master wants, he will do that. In that
respect, I heard one incidence that the king of Saudi Arabia went to France and they took him to
a kind of a tour and showed him a guillotine; they explained how it works and he wanted to have
a practical demonstration of how it works – he wanted someone to be placed there and chop his
head off and they said, (whoever was taking him around, probably some big government official
or minister) “how is it possible?” He said, “Well, in my country there won’t be any problem
because their understanding is the slave does not have his will; the master can do anything with
the slave.”
Of course, it’s very brutal because the masters are not really genuine masters; they are a bunch of
idiots – but, when you have a genuine master, he does not subject his servants to torture, or any
kind of unpleasant situation; he rather takes care of him. He protects his servants like the Gopis
are praying to Krishna in Gopi Gita, “We are Your unpaid maidservants – ashulka dasike – but
see what You are doing to us. You are killing us by not appearing in front of us. Our separation
from You is going to cause us to die and when we die, what will people say? They will say,
“neha kin badha” – look at Krishna what He did; He killed some innocent young girls, who sold
themselves up completely to Him without demanding anything in return, without any salary,
without any payment.” As it is, to kill a woman is bad and to kill a woman who has completely
surrendered to oneself and who does not expect any price for that servitorship, to kill that woman
is thousand times worse.
So, that is how they were actually provoking Krishna – actually, that was the feelings of their
heart, “We are going to die due to Your separation,” so in this way we can see that devotees do
not want to become immortal; devotees do not want to become immortal – rather, they would
prefer to die if necessary, “Krishna, we are dying due to Your separation,” so, that is the attitude
of a devotee.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is saying, “mama janmani janmanishware,” – Mahaprabhu is not saying,
“This life I will become Your devotee so please give me liberation,” – no, Mahaprabhu is
teaching us how to pray to Krishna, or in the mood of a devotee, Mahaprabhu is praying in a
perfect way. Like, that life after life we can become your servants, we can be engaged in your
service life after life. “Janmani janmanishware”, not one life – “janmani” means many, many
lives – plural. So that is the mood, that is the attitude for devotees. Like liberation or the prospect
of not taking birth again is not at all desirable to a devotee; rather, a devotee is prepared to take
birth again and again and again, in order to serve Krishna. So the art of dying actually is to
become totally surrendered to Krishna; and then automatically, immortality is achieved – to
begin with, one does not die because as we explained or as we discussed yesterday, death is to
the body; death is pertaining to the body.
The soul never dies, but actually through death, we change our situation. Like somebody is
engaged in serving Krishna; now if Krishna wants him to become situated in another kind of
service, Krishna knows what is the best way to serve. So if there is another kind of service, then
Krishna makes the arrangement that he takes another birth – takes another birth – he becomes
situated in another body, in another kind of environment, another situation. Just like in Bhagavad
Gita, Krishna is telling Arjuna, “bahuni me vyatitani janmani tava carjuna” – “many a times I
have taken birth and so did you,” “tany aham veda sarvani na tvam vettha parantapa” – “but I
know about all those births; you don’t.” Now, that is the situation of a conditioned soul, spirit
soul, not conditioned soul. The spirit soul’s perception is minute; so is his memory – when he
changes from one body to another, he generally forgets about his past life. But a devotee simply
surrenders unto Krishna; he does not worry about remembering the past. That is not a big deal
for a devotee.
Like Bhaktivinode Thakur is saying, “Forget the past that sleeps, never future dream at all; live
with the times that are with thee and progress thee shall call.” Forget the past because it’s gone,
let it sleep. “Forget the past that sleeps, never future dream at all,” – don’t dream about your
future – just live with the time, that is, what can I do for Krishna now? Not, tomorrow I will
serve Krishna, or yesterday I served Krishna, and today let me take a holiday. No, that is not the
attitude of a devotee; devotee considers that every single moment is a wonderful opportunity, a
golden opportunity to render service unto Krishna, and that is how he actually continues with his
life. “Be here now,” and only the devotees can properly situate themselves in that understanding.
People may talk about it, but they don’t know how to be here now; because the material platform
– this is also an important consideration- the material platform is the platform of time, which is
transient. Transient means fleeting – constantly moving. In the material nature, time exists in
three phases: past, present, and future. But, when we analyse it carefully then we see that in
material nature, time is actually existing in the form of past and future; present is just a fleeting
concept. So that is how the time is in the spiritual world, because Krishna is absolute, time
related to Krishna is absolute, and those who are related to that time, they are also absolute.
Now, how is it possible – we won’t be able to figure out unless we go back to the spiritual world.
It’s impossible for us to understand that.
But, that is how it is; in the spiritual world, time is eternal, so when time is eternal, everything
and everyone in relation to the time is also eternal. So there is no past and future there; it’s all
present because everyone is totally absorbed with Krishna. They are so absorbed with Krishna
that they don’t have any time to think about the past, or dream about the future.
In a way, Vishwanath Chakravarti Thakur is giving an understanding, some concept – he is
saying that when one perceives Krishna, like when he sees Krishna, then all his senses become
his eyes. He just sees and he doesn’t have any other senses; he doesn’t smell, he doesn’t taste, he
doesn’t touch – all his senses become one sense: vision, eyes. And then the fragrance from the
flowers from Krishna’s Lotus Feet somehow enters into his nostrils and then he becomes all
nose. He is completely absorbed in just smelling the tulasi leaves, and the flowers at Krishna’s
Lotus Feet. Then the sound of Krishna’s flute enters through his ears and he becomes all ears;
then he does not see anything, he does not smell anything; so that is how one actually becomes
completely absorbed in the present and he does not have any consideration for past and future.
Like in the spiritual world, everyone becomes so absorbed in Krishna that he does not have any
other perception whatsoever.
Anyway, to go back to our point, Prahlada Maharaj was subjected to the onslaught of his father.
His father ordered to kill him. He gave many examples; one of the examples he gave to justify
his killing his son – he said, “Disease generates from the body, a disease generates from the
body, but one tries to get rid of that disease so that somebody born out of that body is not
important. But what he does, that’s what’s important. He said look what this boy is doing; the
person who killed his uncle, he is siding with him. He is a traitor; he is a disgrace to the family”,
and he ordered his big, big generals – Shambhara, Namuchi – they are big, powerful generals;
and he said, “Kill this boy,” and they immediately took their swords, their tridents, took their
other weapons and attacked Prahlada Maharaj, shouting “Kill him, kill him”; just that shout must
have been frightening.
Prahlada Maharaj was completely unperturbed and as a result of that, nothing happened to
Prahlada Maharaj. Like, what could have happened – they were just trying to cut his body with
these weapons, but the weapons went through his body and nothing happened to him; and some
weapons just broke – the heavy metal weapons – just by touching Prahlada Maharaj’s body, they
just broke into pieces and they were completely surprised. And why they couldn’t do anything to
Prahlada Maharaj; because Prahlada Maharaj mastered the art of dying – isn’t it? What is the
mastery, what is the way to master the art of dying – meditate upon Krishna, just depend upon
Krishna. And Krishna has given His promise that nothing will happen to His devotees, “mad
bhakta na pranashyate” – My devotees will never vanquish. So this is how Krishna takes care of
His devotees; but of course sometimes we see that devotees die, but when we see that a devotee
is dying we have to understand that death came to him like death came to Dhruva Maharaj – with
folded hands, begging to receive his mercy – and the devotee put his feet on his head and stepped
into the chariot to Vaikuntha.
Now, an interesting thing to note here is, “Have you ever seen a devotee leaving his, or her
body?” “No, ok.” “Mark one thing, you will see that his or her face looks so, not only serene, but
blissful, as if there is a smile on his face. He is completely unaffected; he left the body as if he
was seeing Krishna standing in front. Now, as opposed to a devotee’s body, watch a nondevotee’s dead body and from that you know, you can make out who they had been seeing at that
time. The non-devotees had been seeing the Yamadutas and the devotees saw Vishnudutas, or
Krishna Himself. Now, how can one see Krishna at a time like that? Because one quality of
Krishna is that He is grateful; Krishna is grateful.
Those who have dedicated their lives to Krishna, Krishna remembers that these devotees have
offered everything to Me; they have sacrificed everything to Me, for My sake. So Krishna is so
grateful and we also know that a friend in need is a friend indeed. So what is the greatest need
for our friend; when do we need our friend the most? At that time, when we are about to leave
this body.
So won’t Krishna who is the friend of His devotees; in this respect, one important thing to
remember is that Bhishmadeva is addressing Krishna at the time of leaving his body as a friend
of Arjuna – “Vijayasakhi”. Why he is addressing Krishna with that name, the “friend of
Arjuna”? He is actually addressing that point; Krishna is friend; Krishna, You are a friend of
Your devotee, so if ever I rendered any devotional service to You, then please become my friend
and show Your friendship towards me at this very, very critical time. So this is how Krishna is
established as “Vijayasakhi” – the friend of His devotee and Krishna is grateful; one of the
qualities of Krishna is He is grateful. Like if we had done a little bit for Krishna, then Krishna
will never forget that and He will reciprocate, He will reciprocate. And that’s the advantage of
becoming a devotee, and that is the art of dying, and that is the way to conquer death, and that is
the way to attain immortality.
Now, another beautiful example of an individual who mastered the art of dying is Gajendra, an
elephant; an elephant, he was attacked by a crocodile when he went to sport in the water.
Although an elephant is very, very powerful but he was fighting on a foreign place – in water –
whereas the crocodile belongs to water. So, although from the normal calculation, an elephant is
much stronger than a crocodile, but in the water, the crocodile is stronger; and they fought and
fought and fought for a long, long time and then the elephant realised that his strength is now
waning and he realised he doesn’t have any chance to rescue himself from this situation. So what
did he do; at that time, when he realised now the time has come for me to leave my body, I am
going to die, he realised this is the time to remember Krishna.
And as soon as the elephant remembered Krishna, what did Krishna do? As soon as Krishna
realised that His devotee is in distress and he is remembering Him, Krishna immediately came
there, riding on Garuda. He released the Chakra and chopped the head of the crocodile and
rescued Gajendra. So this is another example of an individual who mastered the art of dying.
Even an elephant can master, even an animal can master this art; and the result is – what is the
result of this mastering this art – he attains immortality.
The benefit of remembering Krishna has been very wonderfully explained through the story of
Ajamila. Ajamila actually did not remember Krishna at that time; he saw Yamadutas and he was
scared – he was scared to death. He realised, “Well now my time is up; now I have to leave,” and
he called out to his youngest son, whose name happened to be Narayana; and as soon as he
called his name, it was not a pure chanting of the holy name of the Lord – it was “namabhasa” –
it was chanted in a clearing stage and as a result of that, immediately Vishnudutas came.
And Prabhupada said that Vishnudutas are actually patrolling around all over; Vishnudutas are
flying around in their spaceships. And whenever they hear a devotee is remembering Krishna,
immediately they come to their rescue and that is the potency of the Holy Name of the Lord –
even if we chant unconsciously, unintentionally.
There is another such example; according to yavana language, a boar is called haram, a pig is
called haram. So this guy had been attacked by a boar; he saw the boar coming and just called
out haram and what did the Vishnudutas hear? They heard “Ha Rama” and came to his rescue.
So this is how the Lord – the Supreme Personality of Godhead – made His divine arrangement to
take care of those who have become His devotees.
Another wonderful example from Srimad Bhagavatam about a person who mastered the art of
dying is Chitraketu, who became Vritrasura. Chitraketu was a king, a very powerful king and
although he had everything, he was unhappy because he did not have a son. Angira Rishi was
visiting him one day and noticed that the king was looking very morose, very unhappy; so he
asked him, “What happened, you have everything, you are such a powerful king, you have
subdued all your enemies and you have everything to enjoy – how come you are still unhappy?”
Then Chitraketu confided in him that he didn’t have a son, he didn’t have a successor to the
Although he married so many beautiful princesses, none of them could bear a son for him. So
then Angira said, “Ok if that is what you want, I will fulfil your desire but be sure that while your
son will be the cause of your joy, he will also be the cause of your distress.” And he thought you
know just as sometimes children are naughty and cause some distress, but after all I’ll get a son,
so he was very happy. In due course of time, he got a son, but Chitraketu became so attached to
the son and the mother of the son, Kritaduti, that Chitraketu started to neglect his other wives and
not only did he neglect his other wives, but he also started to neglect his royal responsibilities.
So, the queens became very envious, ministers became concerned about how the kingdom will
go on like this. And then these envious queens one day decided to poison the boy and they
thought that if we kill this boy, then the king’s attention will be reverted towards us, so they
poisoned the boy and when the boy died, the king was submerged in an ocean of agony along
with the queen, Kritaduti.
At that time Rishi Angira came along with Narada Muni and the king was begging, “Please do
something, please bring my son back to life.” So, Narada Muni said, “Ok, I’ll do that,” and he
went and called the boy, “Why are you leaving? Don’t you see that your parents are in such
anguish?” Then the boy came back to life, he sat up and he asked Narada Muni, “Which parents
are you talking about? I had so many parents, but which ones are you talking about?”
And just these words of wisdom from this boy enlightened the king. He realised the futility of
material existence, we are here only for a short while. We take birth, stay here for some time,
then we go and then again we come back and in this way it goes on and on and on, or it is going
on since time immemorial. We all are travelling “yantrarudhani mayaya”; we are travelling in
some machines that have been designed by maya.
This body is actually a machine, like a very wonderful motor car – far superior to a motor car.
Motor cars are replicas of this machine. This human body has such incredible ability that no
machine, no matter how sophisticated that machine is, will compare as nothing to this human
body or any body as such. If we think about it a little deeply, we can see what a wonderful
machine this is, and after all it is a machine. To give an example what a wonderful machine this
is, the two machines get together and a third machine is produced, right? And in this way, it goes
on and on and on.
Another kind of machine is the trees, one little fruit and inside the fruit there are thousands of
seeds; like consider a fig and how many seeds are there in that fig and in each seed there is a tree,
there is a fig tree. In that tree, there are innumerable fruits and in each fruit there are thousands of
This is what Prabhupada told me once – Prabhupada had a prune and after eating the prune,
Prabhupada held the seed in his hand and he told me, “Inside this, there is a tree, and in that tree
there are innumerable fruits, and in each fruit there is a seed, and in that seed there is a tree, and
in that tree there are innumerable fruits, and in those fruits there are seeds, and in that seed there
is a tree,” and then Prabhupada said, “Can any scientist produce something like this, can they
manufacture something like this – and still they want to compete with Krishna.”
So, anyway this is how wonderful Krishna’s creation is and this is how wonderful our bodies are
and in these bodies the soul is situated and then the soul travels according to the modes of
material nature, “urdhvam gacchanti sattva-stha madhye tisthanti rajasah jaghanya-guna-vrttistha adho gacchanti tamasah” – those who are situated in the mode of goodness they go up, those
who are in the mode of passion, they remain here, and those who have become affected by the
abominable mode of ignorance, they go down to the lower species of life.
So, in this way, living entities are constantly travelling – sometimes going up, sometimes going
down, like in a Ferris wheel. So, Chitraketu realised that, that living entities are just travelling in
this body, in different bodies, in this way and we, due to our ignorance, become attached to those
bodies, thinking that they are our children, or relatives, friends; so Chitraketu begged Narada
Muni to bless him with spiritual knowledge and Narada Muni gave him the mantra and
Chitraketu started to meditate on the mantra and by chanting on the mantra, Chitraketu was so
elevated that he became the king of the Gandharvas and then he was travelling. He had the
ability to travel throughout the universe in his personal spaceship, not spaceship, personal
travelling planet; he had a planet of his own and the planet was travelling around.
And then while he was flying around in that way on his own planet, one day he saw Lord Shiva
sitting with Parvati, surrounded by all exalted personalities; very, very exalted sages and
brahmanas. And Lord Shiva was naked and Parvati was sitting on his lap. So Chitraketu smiled
and said, “Look at him, he is sitting in such an exalted assembly but look at his state.” Lord
Shiva did not mind that Chitraketu thought that way because Lord Shiva knew Chitraketu’s
exalted position, so he didn’t mind that, but Parvati couldn’t tolerate that. Parvati immediately
cursed Chitraketu, “Look at that impudent fool, he dares to speak like that, so I curse him that he
will become a demon.”
Of course before that Bhagavatam also explains that Chitraketu was actually so exalted that he
could counter curse Parvati, because Parvati’s curse was not fair; because of the way Chitraketu
perceived the behaviour of an exalted personality, from his point of view, he was right and that’s
why Lord Shiva was silent; he didn’t say anything.
But Chitraketu, because he was a devotee of the Lord, just accepted it and that is the situation of
a devotee – whether he is blessed, or he is cursed, he accepts both as the mercy of the Lord and
then Chitraketu became a demon – Vritrasura – but he was so powerful a demon that he defeated
Indra, he defeated Indra – took away his kingdom.
Now, Indra was in great distress and he wanted to do something to regain his kingdom, so he
approached Vishnu Narayana and then Vishnu advised, “Ok, the only thing that can kill
Chitraketu is thunder that can be made from the bones of a great sage called Dadhichi.” So Indra
went to Dadhichi and asked him, “Will you kindly give me your bones because Vritra has to be
killed and the only way he can be killed is by the thunder made out of your bones?”
This way we can see Indra, who was not actually adept in the art of dying, behaved in such a
way, like his only concern was his own selfish benefit. But, Dadhichi was so exalted a
personality (he actually was a person who knew the art of dying) that he said, “Well, after all this
body is temporary and eventually this body will become the food for insects and worms, so what
if this body can be used in some good cause, why not?”
So he gave his bones – that means he had to leave his body and with his body, thunder was
made; Vishwakarma made the thunder and with becoming powerful with this thunder, Indra
challenged Vritra to battle and Vritra knew that the Lord’s desire is that now he will die. But still
as a Kshatriya, he accepted that situation, he came to the battlefield to fight with Indra, with his
soldiers, his army and now becoming powerful with the thunder, the demigods became so
powerful that their onslaught was unbearable for the demons – Vritra’s soldiers – and they
started to run away from the battlefield and Vritra was standing alone in the battlefield still,
ready to fight with Indra. And with his mace, he hit Indra so hard that Indra’s elephant, Airavata,
took ten steps back and thunder fell out of Indra’s hand and Indra was completely baffled and
He was just standing there unarmed; Vritra could have killed him at that time but Vritra said, “It
is not to be, like I know I am going to die in this battle, the thunder has been created to kill me.
So Indra pick up the thunder; this is not the time to become baffled, pick up the thunder and
come fight.”And then Indra picked up the thunder and the fight ensued and the fight was so
terrible that Indra cut Vritra’s right hand; Vritra was fighting with his left hand – Indra cut off his
left hand with his thunder. Then Vritrra was fighting with his legs and Indra cut off the legs of
Vritra; then Vritra assuming a huge form, swallowed up Indra and Indra from within Vritra’s
belly, cut open the belly with the thunder and came out and then he applied the thunder to cut
Vritra’s head.
It took thunder three hundred and sixty five days to cut Vritra’s head. Now Sri Vishwanath
Chakravati Thakur makes the point here, he said, “Actually, Vritra didn’t die, it’s Indra who
died.” When Vritra swallowed up Indra, then he considered, “Well my job has been finished so
now let me leave my body,” so he left his body and went to the abode of Shankarshana in the
spiritual sky. So, this is another wonderful example of an individual from Srimad Bhagavatam
who mastered the art of dying.
Now, what is the result of mastering this very special art from all these examples, all these
anecdotes – what did you learn – that when one masters this art, what happens to him? He
becomes immortal. And what is this art ultimately – remember Krishna all the time and never
forget Him; especially at the time of difficulties, remember Krishna. Now one may be practising
devotional service, one may be practising the art of mastering this subject but if he practises
properly then he will be able to practically apply this art when the time comes. Thank you all
very much. Hare Krishna.

The Art Of Dying, Part 1

Thank you all for coming here very much, this evening. Actually the seminar, I originally
thought of giving this time was on Srimad Bhagavatam and the other day in New Vrindavan.
When we were in New Vrindavan, I was discussing with mother Krsna Priya about the seminar,
then I realized to cover or to do justice to Srimad bhagavatam in four days, two hours sessions
will not be possible. Therefore I was thinking, I have to give a seminar on some topic rather
instead of presenting the entire Srimad Bhagavatam, I thought of selecting some specific topic
from Srimad Bhagavatam and give the seminar on that. Then it occurred to me that recently, in
South Africa, I saw there was a big advertisement, many billboards and many posters
announcing the seminar that to be given by someone from India, a spiritualist from India and the
title of that seminar was “The Art of Living”. When I saw that posters, I was thinking a Sadhu’s
business was not to give seminars on Art of Living, because whenever one takes to spiritual life,
one thing one realizes is that the real goal of life is not here, it is beyond this material nature and
then it occurred to me why don’t I give a seminar on Art of Dying and then it occurred to me that
actually Srimad Bhagavatam is extensively deep dealing with this topic the Art of Dying and that
Art of Dying is actually leading to the way to immortality. If one knows how to die, then he
attains immortality, he attains immortal life. So that is the ultimate objective of spiritual
persuasion, spiritual pursuit. It occurred to me at that time, that actually this would be an
appropriate topic, to give a seminar on, the Art of Dying, the way to immortality. And Srimad
Bhagavatam is actually teaching us that art. Although Srimad Bhagavatam originated when
Vyasadeva was summarizing the teachings of the Vedas and trying to present it in such a way
that the disturbed and distressed short living entities of this age of Kali could understand the
purpose of Srimad Bhagavatam or the purpose of the Vedic wisdom and he systematically
analyzed the Vedic wisdom. First he divided the Vedas into four then he wrote different aspects
of Vedic wisdom like dharma Shasta, Itihasa, Puranas and Upanishads. These are different
branches of Darshans and these are all different branches of Vedic wisdom and finally he
presented the summary of the essential understanding of the entire Vedic wisdom in the form of
Vedanta sutra, the aphorism of Vedanta and still when he was not feeling totally content, then
Narada Muni appeared to him and instructed to him to present Srimad Bhagavatam which is the
unalloyed glorification of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And in this way, Srimad
Bhagavatam was presented by Srila Vyasadeva as the summary and the essence of the entire
Vedic wisdom. ‘Nigamaha kalpa tarur’ the ripe fruit of the desire tree of the Vedic wisdom. So
that is what Srimad Bhagavatam was, as it was presented by Srila Vyasadeva. But then this
Srimad Bhagavatam became further, God’s nectarean aspect due to the presentation of Sukadeva
Goswami. So the real presentation of Srimad Bhagavatam was actually made by Srila Sukadeva
Goswami. But what was the occasion? It’s very interesting. What was the occasion of the
presentation? The King of this planet Maharaja Pariksit, he was cursed by Kali, the personality
who is predominating this age, whose business is to establish irreligiosity, whose business is to
introduce sinful activities and promote sinful life. That personality, Kali, considered Pariksit
Maharaja, to be the arch enemy; his arch enemy and he realized that in order to establish his
purpose, in order to establish himself, or his objective, he has to get rid of this King Pariksit
Maharaja. And he did not have the means or the ability to get rid of Pariksit Maharaja, but
Pariksit Maharaja was too powerful for him. Therefore he arranged that a Brahman boy for
cursing and this boy were so powerful although he was just a boy of seven or eight yrs old but he
cursed Pariksit Maharaja. That’s a long story and I am skipping the details and I am sure all of
you know what the occasion was and so this Brahman cursed Pariksit Maharaja that he would die
within seven days and when Pariksit Maharaja got the news that he has been cursed, that he is
going to die in seven days or he has only seven days left. So Pariksit Maharaja did not try to
counteract the curse, he just left everything, left his kingdom, left his palace, left his family, left
everything, and he went to the bank of Ganges in order to prepare himself for this occasion of
dying. He has seven days to die so okay, let me take advantage of the seventh day and prepared
myself to die. And he just sat down, although he was a king and not just a king, he was a king of
the entire earth planet including the ocean. That is how it has been described sa sagara, sagara
means ocean, sa means along with or including. So he was a ruler of the earth planet including
the ocean, the entire planet. But he became completely detached because he knew to begin with,
he knew that some day he has to leave this world. A person who is situated in knowledge, he
knows that one day he will have to die. One who is born is bound to die. The word druva means
fixed, unwavering, or you can say absolute, truth. This truth is unavoidable isn’t it? In the
material nature, although this material nature is a relative reality, here everything is relative. But
there is only one absolute truth in this material nature. What is that absolute truth? That
everybody has to die. So even in this relative reality, there is one absolute truth that is death. So
one who is situated in knowledge knows that he has to die. But those who are ignorant, they try
to avoid death. Well, it’s natural, one does actually in reality, and one does not want to die. But
in order to understand how to attain immortality, one must first know what death is. What is
death? Then only we can understand how to conquer it. If you don’t know who your enemy is, is
there any question of defeating him. Can you defeat or conquer an enemy whom you do not
know? Therefore in order to conquer your enemy, what do you have to do? First of all you have
to recognize who he is, what he is, what his strength is, and how he can harm me and then you
take the action to counter that influence. So those who are situated in knowledge, they know that
death is inevitable some day or other. Therefore one who is situated in knowledge he does not
get bewildered with this issue of death. Rather he prepares for that. Just like Pariksit maharaja
did, and this is an indication that he was situated in knowledge. Pariksit maharaja was a king; he
could have made so many arrangements to counteract that. Actually if he wanted, he could have.
You know how, just to give one example: Pariksit maharaja was cursed that he would be killed
by being bitten by a serpent, celestial serpent called Takshaka. So there was one, you can say, a
snake doctor, the expert of counteracting poison, his name was Kasyapa, a sage, a saintly person,
a Brahman. So he heard that the king was going to be bitten by a snake. So he said fine, I will
come to counteract. So he was going to Pariksit Maharaja, at that time Takshaka was also
coming, so Takshaka came in the disguise of a Brahman, although he is a serpent, although he is
a snake. But he has, the celestial serpent, the celestial being having the ability to transform
themselves in different forms. Takshaka took the shape of a Brahman and he was coming and on
the way they met. Takshaka and Kasyapa said, ok let’s travel together, so then they started to talk
Takshaka: “Where are you going?” Kasyapa: “I am going to Hastinapura.” Takshaka: “Why are
you going there?” Kasyapa: “I heard that the king is going to be bitten by a snake and he is going
to die, so I am going there to save the king.” Takshaka became very angry. He immediately
assumed his form as a serpent, a snake, a huge gigantic snake and he said “I am Takshaka; I am
going to bite him. Do you think you can counteract my poison?” Takshaka immediately, he just
bit, a banyan tree, a huge banyan tree. And the tree immediately turned into ashes and he said:
“See this is the power of my poison, and do you think you are going to counteract that?
Immediately the king’s body is going to burn into ashes as soon as I bite.” So Kasyapa did not
say anything. He took some water from his water pot, did his achaman, and cleansed his mouth
before chanting the mantra and then he took some more water on his palm. He chanted some
mantras, sprinkled some water, on the heap of ash and immediately it came to live. The tree was
regenerated. So Takshaka was surprised. And then he took another course to convince him, he
said: “Look, you may counteract my poison, but you won’t be able to counteract the curse of a
Brahman. So you go back home. And I will give you all these most precious gems. So you go
back home.” So Kasyapa considered that is true like the curse of a Brahman is irretraceable. So
he went back. And now we can see that there are more personalities who could have
counteracted the curse. But Pariksit Maharaja did not take that course. He considered that
“Whenever the Lord will desire me to leave this planet, I will leave. So, now if that is His desire
then in seven days time, I am going to die, ok, at least, I am fortunate that I have got the
information that I am going to die in seven days time. I have seven days to prepare myself.” He
considered that to be a very very great fortune that he had seven days to prepare. We can
consider that most of the time, we don’t actually want to prepare and sometimes death comes
without our knowing about it. All of a sudden we die. So in that respect, Pariksit maharaja was
fortunate and he considered himself very fortunate that at least he has seven days to prepare
himself. So he did that. He, as I mentioned earlier, he left his kingdom, he went to the bank of
Ganges, he sat down without taking any food, water, without sleeping. He just was preparing
himself for his final moment. And at that time, all the greatly saintly persons from the universe
gathered there. They all came there in order to help the king at a difficult time like that. So many
saintly personalities gathered, assembled there and many of them gave different advice to
Pariksit maharaja, but Pariksit Maharaja was not interested in their advice. They, with all good
intention tried to give him good advice but Pariksit Maharaja considered that these advices were
pertaining to the material facilities, material benefits. What kind of benefit? The benefit of
elevating to higher planetary system. The earth planet is not the only planetary system in this
universe. There are many higher planetary systems. Now, there are possibilities of elevating to
higher planetary systems where the facilities are better. But Pariksit maharaja was not interested
in these kind of advices because he considered the ultimate goal of life is not to enjoy this
material nature, whether in higher planetary systems or lower planetary systems, because this
material nature is temporary, no situation in this material nature is going to be permanent and
this material nature ultimately is a place of misery. So what’s the question of enjoyment in a
place of misery! Jaya Sri Sri Radha Golokananda ki Jai! Sri Sri Gaura Nitai ki Jai!! Sri Prahlad
Nrsimhadeva ki Jai!! Srila Prabhupada ki Jai!! So he was not interested but, at that time
Sukadeva Goswami appeared there. A very wonderful personality. He was a sixteen year old
boy, very handsome, very, very handsome, a personality who was endowed with all the
symptoms. He was so absorbed in spiritual consciousness. He was so absorbed in thinking about
the Supreme Personality of Godhead and his pastimes that he did not have any external
consciousness. He did not have any body consciousness so much so that he did not care to wear
anything, he was naked. And he just arrived there and when he arrived there, everybody, all the
exalted saintly personalities could immediately recognize that this is a very special person and
they stood up out of respect. Although he was a 16 year old boy. And then they considered that
this is the most exalted personality meaning, this personality has the highest spiritual knowledge
and Pariksit Maharaja also recognized him and he offered him the exalted seat of a teacher and
he questioned him. Pariksit Maharaja asked him many relevant questions dealing mainly with
this particular topic. His main question was: I’m going to die within seven days, tell me how to
prepare myself for that occasion. I have only seven days left and how must I utilize these seven
days and then Sukadeva Goswami started to instruct him. And that is what Srimad Bhagavatam
is. Therefore while we are covering this topic, we are actually covering Srimad Bhagavatam. The
essential teachings of Srimad Bhagavatam. Generally, when I give a seminar, I like to write on
the board and walk about and I thought of doing that and I got this board here but I am little
concerned that many of you are taping and if I stand up then you won’t be able to tape. Therefore
I thought of one simple solution to this problem. Babai how is your hand writing on the white
board? I am making some points, the points that I make, you can just write them. I will just make
these few points, those who are taking notes, so the few points that I was making, I already
made, I will just give you those points. Like one point is Pariksit Maharaja’s approach to death.
How did Pariksit Maharaja approach his imminent death? Did he try to call some doctors and try
to save himself? No, rather he faced, he prepared himself to face it. And, then when he decided
to face it, he was confronted with two possibilities. One is the apparent goal and the other is
ultimate goal. So what is the apparent goal? The apparent goal is elevation to higher planetary
systems and what is the ultimate goal? Ultimate goal is total freedom from material bondage, and
elevation to spiritual world. The higher planetary system is also part of this material nature. Like
if we consider this material nature to be a prison house, then elevation to higher planetary
systems are something like from lower grade of prison existence to a higher grade of prison.
Like, I don’t know if you have it here, but in some countries in India, they have things like you
know third class prison. The worst I think is vigorous prisoner. They have to work very hard. I
mean, then, in this way it comes to second class prisoner, and then comes a first class prisoner.
Now, if a prisoner, thinks, I am in third class, let me be elevated to second class and then to first
class. Is it an intelligent endeavor? To try to be elevated to a higher level of prison systems. No,
what would be the intelligent thing to do? Get out of the prison, who wants to be in a prison? So,
what did you write Babai? So, maybe you can make a point here. The material nature is like a
prison house, for some and to some others, this material nature is like a boarding school. Ok we
will discuss about this point now. Now, who are put into prison? The prison is design for whom?
The criminals. Does a gentleman go to a prison? He may go for an occasional sightseeing, but he
does not go to live in the prison. The prison is meant for the criminals. What is the definition of
criminals? What is crime? Breaking of law, to break the law. The state or the king has given
some laws. And those laws are meant to be followed or abided by. Now, those laws have to be
followed. Why? Because, the law is actually meant for peaceful and prosperous living of the
citizens of the state or the kingdom. When somebody breaks the law, it creates some
disturbances. People who have perverted mentality of not abiding by the law of the king, has a
perverted mentality. When somebody has a perverted mentality, then that mentality has to be
rectified therefore the prisons are designed. Prisons are the place to rectify the perverted
mentality of the law breakers, criminals. In the prisons, the individuals get punished. They not
always get punished. They also get rewarded. In this way, they know what is right and what is
wrong. And when they do the right thing, in the prison also they appreciate the rewards. And
when they do something wrong, then they get a stick. So the purpose is to rectify, to correct and
to reform them. Now those, who are the law breakers, and whose law is it here? There is the
ultimate law that has been given by the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And the law
given by the Lord is actually called religion. Whenever we consider religion, whichever religion
it is, whether it is Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hindus, whichever religion we approach, we see
in all the religion, we are speaking about God and the laws that He has given and how should one
abide by those laws isn’t it? Doesn’t all religion speak about God? Doesn’t all religion give the
injunction of what the Lord’s instructions are? Or motivate one or direct one or instructs one to
follow those instructions of the Lord? When somebody abides by the laws of the Lord, then
actually they become rewarded but when they break them, they become punished. That is the
ultimate consideration of imprisonment. For the criminals, this material nature is like a prison.
But the material nature also, has another aspect or another side of it. And that side of it is
something like a boarding school. In the boarding school, parents sent their children to the
boarding school. They are away from home. But what they learn in the school, they learn how to
become qualified to live in the free world, a life of prosperity. Those who abide by the law of the
Lord, for them, this material nature are like a boarding school. Those who are there in the
boarding school, they are away from their home. But actually, they are preparing themselves to
go back to home and lead a life of prosperity, become successful individuals there. Now, it’s up
to us, to turn this place into a prison house or a boarding school. The advantage of a boarding
school is when you finish your term, when you finish your education, then you go back home. It
is just taken for granted. And that we will go home. You are not here to stay forever. So, the
Lord, also, is present in the hearts of every living entity and he is actually considering or
determining how an individual is living his life or what is going on inside. Inside, means what is
going on in his consciousness. Externally, we may bluff, cheat or fool others, but internally we
can’t. Now the Supreme Personality of Godhead is situated in everyone’s heart, as the Super soul
and He is witnessing everything. Now, there as the super soul also , the Lord has two ways to
deal with the individual, like to the criminals, He is acting as a witness and He is seeing how
they are acting accordingly and punishing them or rewarding them. And those who have
accepted this place as the boarding school, the Lord sitting in their heart are acting as the teacher.
He guides them from within. Now those who lead a materialistic life, those who think that the
ultimate goal of life is to enjoy in this material nature and do not really want to accept the
existence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or another reality beyond this material nature
which is the spiritual reality and those who do not have any information about the spiritual
reality and they do not know, that they actually came from the spiritual reality, therefore the
spiritual reality is actually their home. They simply keep on wandering in the material nature
from one cell to Another and the Lord in their heart acts as the witness. The Lord is seeing every
action of every individual. Those who are fortunate enough to understand that beyond this
material nature are another reality, the spiritual reality. The Supreme Personality of Godhead is
the center of that reality. He is the Supreme Creator, the Supreme Proprietor, the Supreme
Maintainer, and that Supreme Personality of Godhead is our dear most friend or He is our dear
most Father. When you recognize the individuals, those who recognize that, to them this material
nature becomes like a boarding school. And they take advantage of the situation in the school by
learning, they learn and who is the teacher? The Lord and his associates and his devotees. They
are helped by those exalted devotees of the Lord and ultimately they are helped by the Lord
Himself. And they simply prepare themselves to get out of the school and go out to their home
and become a successful individual. Now that is something like the end or that is the time of
final examination. And the life is the span of time, the span when we get the opportunity to
prepare ourselves for the exams. We study throughout the year for what? We prepare ourselves
for the year in school for what? They sit for the exams, and when we prepare ourselves well, then
we pass with the flying colours straight A’s and when we fail to prepare ourselves then we flunk.
So now a person who has prepared well, will he be afraid to sit in the exams, rather he looks
forward to the exams. A good student, I am sure all of you are, or had been, did you look forward
to exams? Well certain degree of nervousness may be there, before the exam, but when you get
the question papers, when you get the papers and you see you know the answer to all the
questions, then how do you feel? Don’t you feel excited and in bliss, in ecstasy? Therefore those
who prepare themselves, they get into ecstasy when the exams come. Although some initials
nervousness may be there, and now consider what actually happens, when a person who has
prepared himself well, preparation means what does that preparation means for this exams? This
preparation is actually preparing to establish our relationship with the Supreme Personality of
Godhead. The real preparation is to recognize the Lord, to recognize the Supreme Personality of
Godhead and establish our relationship with Him. Throughout our life, we are actually preparing
for that, how shall I face the exams? Throughout our life if that becomes our only concern and
then the time comes for the final exams and what is that exam? That is the time when we are
going to leave this body. So at that time what do we do? We are waiting for this moment to come
and we are out of this body. Will it happen or will it always remain in this body ? Well, there is
another consideration; a third possibility is losing your consciousness. Lose your consciousness
means something like you fall asleep, no more consciousness, no more awareness. Now to a
devotee, that is the most undesirable situation. A devotee doesn’t want to lose his consciousness,
rather at that time, he wants to fix his consciousness onto the lotus feet of Krsna. That spiritual
endeavor has been described as Krsna consciousness. So throughout our life we are trying to be
Krsna conscious. And then the final moment comes and then we see Krsna, how will you feel?
How will you feel that your entire endeavor, throughout your life has been successful? Now you
are face to face with Him. Or you are in a situation, when you have been taken to the Supreme
Personality of Godhead. Anyway these aspects we will discuss tomorrow, today we are just,
today we won’t get into the examples of individuals leaving the bodies and how they left their
body. Like today, we are just covering the basic understanding of this aspect of what life is, what
death is. Now let us again for clarity, let us go back to that point what is life? What is the
definition of life? You are alive what makes you think you are alive? Consciousness. What is
consciousness? Consciousness is the awareness of being. I am, therefore I am alive. When I fall
asleep and I do not have any awareness, whether I am alive or dead, then, what happens? do I
exist? No. When you are fast asleep. Sleep also has two aspects. One is dreams and the other is
dreamless. Like in dream, dream is actually a situation in a subtle existence. When the subtle
body is active, that is called dream. When both the subtle and gross bodies are active, then it is
called wakeful state. When you are awake, then both the gross bodies and the subtle bodies,
anyway for clarity I was saying gross body, we have two types of material bodies. Cintamani can
you tell us what are those two types of material bodies, gross and subtle? What does the gross
body comprise of? Earth, water, fire, air and ether. And subtle bodies are comprised of? Radhika
do you know subtle body? Ok I will ask your mother. What is the subtle body? Subtle body is
made up of mind, intelligence and false ego. The mind is also matter, subtle matter. These are the
three subtle elements. Earth means a solid substance; water means liquid, fire means fiery, air
and ether. These five are gross material elements. With these five gross material elements, we
have this gross body. Beyond this gross body we have a subtle body made of mind intelligence
and false ego. When you are awake, then both the gross and subtle body is active. Like, our body
is also active or aware and we are also aware of our subtle body. When you fall asleep, then the
gross body becomes inactive. We become unconscious of the gross body, but the subtle body
remains active and the subtle activities of the subtle body appear to us like a dream. When the
subtle body also becomes inactive that is the state of deep sleep. At that time we don’t have any
consciousness of this material nature. Let us consider the situation between death and sleep or
the other way round. Sleep we know what sleep is like. Sleep and death. What is the relationship
between sleep and death? When we are asleep, although we are not conscious of our existence,
our consciousness is completely inactive that state is sleep. Even at that state the soul is in the
body. And in sleep we wake up in the same body. Death also is like sleep. But it is a prolonged
sleep. And in death we don’t wake up in this body. We wake up in another body. And that is
called the transmigration of the soul. The soul transmigrates from one body to another. The body
is constantly changing. In this body also, the soul is going from One body to another for example
continuous changes are taking place and since the changes are taking place in the body
continuously, we don’t register it. But we do, when we somebody after a long time. Like you see
a little child, and then you come after seven years, what will you see? That he has completely
changed. Does he have this child body anymore? No he has got another body, his body has
changed completely. Then you see him after another ten years. Now he is a man, it is impossible
to recognize him, he has got a beard, moustache, he has got long hair, and he has got a big body.
So in this body also the soul transmigrates from one body to another. The body changes from
boyhood to youth, to old age. So Kardama Muni you agree with me? Do you remember your self
when you were a 5 year old? So when you were 5 years old, what kind of body did you have? Do
you have a picture? So where is that 5 year old body today? It is not there? Today you have a
completely different body. Are you the same person? You are the same person, although your
body changed but you are the same person. In spite of the change of the body, the soul is the
same. But will it be a logical conclusion that in spite of the change of the body, the soul doesn’t
change? The existence of the soul has nothing to do with the body. Now let us consider, when
the soul leaves the body, then what happens? That is what is called death. Death is actually the
soul’s departure from the body. When the soul leaves the body, the body becomes dead. When
the soul leaves the body, then what happens to the body? To begin with this is the dead body.
This body is made of what? Earth, water, fire, air and ether. Is earth just regular earth? Is it dead
matter? Or earth is alive. Earth is dead matter. Earth, water, fire, air and ether, all these are
actually inert matter. Now this body is made of inert matter or dead matter? Will it be illogical to
conclude that this is a dead body? Actually it is a dead body, but why this body is alive because
of the presence of the soul. So it is due to the presence of the soul that the body is alive. So now
who are we? So let’s make a very simple consideration who are we? Are we this body or are we
the soul? We saw the body changes, but I remain the same so who is that I? When I say I, who
do we actually indicate? Due to our conditioning of this body, we identify ourselves with the
body. But actually we are the spirit soul. When the spirit soul leaves the body, and I am the spirit
soul, would I continue to exist? Do I continue to exist or do I die with the body? When the body
dies, do I die? No, rather when I am in this body, the body became alive. The body remains alive.
So birth, life and death, they actually indicate, the birth is the soul’s acceptance of a new body.
When the soul accepts a new body, we call it birth, and when the soul leaves the whole body,
what do you call it? Death. And the period of the soul existence, from the time of birth to death is
called life. So do you understand now what life is? Sitarani describe what is life? So now let us
consider, we are in boarding school and when the exams will be? And preparation time is?
Lifetime is the time to preparing ourselves for the final exams. And when we fare well in the
exams, then what happens? We find that Krsna is standing there. He said ok, you did very well.
All your life you have been trying to understand Me, recognize Me and establish your
relationship with Me, so I am very happy with you, so come on, let’s go home. My boy did very
well. I am very happy that I sent you to boarding school. So that is our ultimate objective of
existence in this material nature. Now this has been very wonderfully described through an
allegorical story that was the story of Puranjana in Srimad Bhagavatam. How many of you
remember the story of Puranjana? Ok how many of you don’t? I explain briefly. There was a
great personality, a great king called King Pracinabarhi. So King Pracinabarhi had ten sons.
When his children grew up, King Pracinabarhi advised them to get married and take up the royal
responsibility. So, the children felt that in order to enter the household life, in order to take the
responsibility we have to prepare ourselves properly. So they went to the forest to perform
austerity. Then they came across a beautiful lake. The lake was filled with, decorated with many
beautiful flowers like blue, red and white lotus and there were beautiful and colourful singing
birds that were there, flying around. And then to their great amazement they saw Lord Shiva
coming out of the water. And then Lord Shiva gave them the instruction how to meditate, how to
glorify the Supreme Personality of Godhead and meditate upon Him. So in this way being
blessed by Lord Shiva, they got absorbed in meditating upon the Supreme Personality of
Godhead. And at that time Narada Muni, considered that these ten boys are becoming so serious
about their life and look at the father, he is completely absorbed in sense gratification,
performing all kinds of materialistic activities, to acquire piety so that he can enjoy. So, Narada
Muni thought that I must give example, good advice, but he also considered that this king, he is
so gross. When people become absorbed in sense gratification their intelligence becomes quite
blind. A person with blunt intelligence, in English there is an expression called dunderhead. So
dunderhead cannot understand the necessities of life. So Narada Muni instead of giving him a
straightforward advice, he told him a story. And the story is the story of Puranjana. Actually
when Narada Muni was describing the situation of a living entity in this material nature.
Puranjana means one who dwells in a body. So this body is like a city, Pura means city or
dwelling place. Puri means a house. So the soul lives in the house, this body. Not only this body.
This is one type of body, the human form is one type of body there are four hundred thousand
different types of human bodies and there are eight millions other types of bodies, aquatics,
plants, worms, insects, reptiles, birds, animals and then finally human beings. In the process of
spiritual evolution, not organic evolution, the process of spiritual evolution, the human form, is
the highest form of existence in this material nature. So Puranjana means a spirit soul, he told the
story as I described first, there was a prince, he was wandering around in different places, then
finally he came to a land between the tract of the Himalayan mountain and the salty water ocean.
That’s the land of India. While wandering there he came across a city, a beautiful city with nine
gates. Then he saw, there was a beautiful woman, an extremely beautiful woman and she was
attended by ten very powerful and efficient attendants and there was a five headed serpent that
was protecting this lady, this queen. She was the queen of the city. And then Puranjana came so
attracted by her beauty that Puranjana approached her and wanted to marry her. Eventually they
got married, they started to live in the city of nine gates and Puranjana was quite happily living.
Sometimes he used to feel very depressed, sometimes he used to fight with his queen. Sometimes
he had different types of adversaries. Once a very big onslaught came upon the city. The Javana
king attacked the city. And a very very big fight ensured and they were fighting to protect the
city and the serpent who was actually used to protecting the city was becoming gradually weaker
and weaker, couldn’t really withstand all onslaught. And then the Javana king’s sister Talakanya
came and embraced Puranjana. And when she embraced Puranjana, he lost completely all his
power. He lost all his ability to fight. And then all the soldiers of Javana king dragged him out of
the city. And the Puranjana took birth as a woman in his next life. So here Puranjana died. So
next life Puranjana is born as a woman. So when her Husband died. Her husband at some point
left home. She was a princess; she was married to a king. But the king left her kingdom and went
to vanaprastha, went to the forest. So when the king died, this Puranjani, Puranjana is now a
woman. She lit the funeral pyre. Placed her husband there and lit the fire and then she was also
considering to enter into the fire and give up her life. So at that time one Brahman came and told
her that he was her friend from the long past and at this time of difficulty, he came to help her.
So in this way the Brahman actually rescued Puranjani and led her to the ultimate goal of life. So
the king could understand that it was an allegorical story. So he asked Narada Muni why did you
tell a story like that? What is the hidden meaning behind this story? So then Narada Muni
explained that this Puranjani is actually a spirit soul and the spirit soul wanders in different types
of bodies. Sometimes he is elevated to the higher planetary systems. Sometimes he goes to lower
planetary systems. In this way, he is wandering around this universe and then he comes into the
land of India or we can say the land of wisdom. A land where knowledge is available. And there
he comes across this city of nine gates. And the city of nine gates is the human body. So the
human body has nine gates means there are nine holes through this gate one actually goes out to
enjoy the senses, derive enjoyment from the objects of the senses like two ears, two eyes, two
nostrils, mouth, anus, and genitals. So these are nine gates in the human body. And the queen is
the intelligence who actually makes all the arrangements for the soul to dwell in this human body
and try to enjoy. The queen has ten attendants and they are the ten senses, five knowledge
acquiring senses, and five working senses. The serpent that protects this city is the five types of
air prana, apana, saman, vyan and udan. These five types of air is actually sustaining this body
and making this body function. All the actions and functions of the body are controlled by these
five types of air. And then, there is an attack from the Javana king. Javana king is the king of
death. So a king of death comes along with his soldiers and his sister. then in his next life he
became a woman. Then at the time of funeral of her husband, he came across this Brahman. Who
is this Brahman? The Brahman is the Supersoul, the spiritual master. The spiritual master guides
one towards the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead which is the ultimate goal of
life and which indicates our ultimate freedom. So in this way very beautifully through many
many anecdotes and incidences recorded, Srimad Bhagavatam is teaching us what is life and
what is death and how to conquer it. So the Art of dying actually means how to conquer death.
When we conquer death, what do We achieve, we achieve immortality. So I will stop here today
if anyone has any questions please feel free to ask. Question1 HH Bhakti Charu Swami answers:
You see, before death when you are alive, the question of mortality does not come. You are
already immortal at that time. But immortality considers actually one, we are already immortal.
In reality we are immortal. But the problem starts when we forgot our spiritual identity and
began to identify ourselves with the body, and then when the body dies, we think that we are
dying or we are dead. But when we are situated in our spiritual identity then there is no death,
then actually by nature we all are immortal. The first instructions of the vedas are: “O son of
immortality listen to the wisdom of the spiritual reality.” To begin with, we are the children of
immortality. If our father is immortal, then we are also immortal. And only thing is that
unfortunately we are trying to identify ourselves with the body and that’s the problem. Now we
have to realize that we are not this body. The body is just an external covering. We are actually
spiritual being. We become situated in our spiritual identity, and then there is no death. There is
no consideration of death; there is no question of death. Question Two HH Bhakti Charu Swami
answers: How do we become situated in our spiritual identity? When we become connected to
the Supreme spirit, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, then we automatically becomes situated
in our spiritual identity. So to make this point clear, very nice question you brought up and I will
answer it a little elaborately. A living entity, we, the spirit soul, we are very minute spiritual
entities like a spark. Spark is a part of fire, a tiny little fire, but when the spark flies out of the fire
and falls into a heap of ash, what happens to its fiery qualities? It loses its fiery qualities, it
becomes ash. That aspect of fire that spark that it was, it loses its fiery qualities, it stops to be a
spark and becomes ash coming in contact with the heap of ash. When that aspect is taken back
into the fire then what happens, it automatically regains its fiery qualities. Similarly we are all
spiritual beings, but we are tiny, spiritual sparks. So when we get out of spiritual reality, spiritual
nature and coming in contact with the material nature, then we lose our spiritual quality and
become materialized. Just as a spark coming in contact with the heap of ash becomes ash. So that
is the condition, we are spiritual but we are considering ourselves with the material, fighting to
get our spiritual identity. Now tell me how can we get our spiritual identity back? If we go back
to the fire again, then again we become spiritualized again when we go back to the spiritual.
Therefore the way to become re-spiritualized is to re-establish our contact with the supreme
spirit, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By forgetting him we are falling into this material
nature and lost our spiritual identity. Now if we re-establish our relationship with Him, then we
will again regain our spiritual identity. I told you by re-establishing our relationship with Krsna;
we develop our relationship with Krsna. Now the way to develop is by love. Love is the thing
that brings us together, hates separates us. When we develop our loving relationship, then that
love is actually a force that unites us with Krsna. Yes Sailesh. Question three HH Bhakti Charu
Swami answers: I briefly touched this point before, anyway we will try to elaborate it let’s see.
Consciousness is in simple words, it can be identified as awareness. That I am aware, that I am
sitting in this room, surrounded by so many people. Question Four HH Bhakti Charu Swami
answers: The thing is if the consciousness comes from the soul. Just as light comes, or heat
comes out of fire. You see when there is fire; heat comes out or light comes out. Now just as
light comes out of fire, similarly, one can say that consciousness comes from the soul, now that
consciousness becomes subjective or effective by various factors of this material nature like
three subtle elements and five gross elements like those subtle elements are mind, intelligence
and false ego, the mistaken concept of our identity. So when that happens, then the soul
consciousness is projected towards the material direction. Just let me take one step backwards
and try to elaborate it little more. The soul is from the spiritual world. The soul is not generated
in the material nature due to some chemical combination. Soul is from the spiritual world. Now
the spiritual world is the world of the reality. God is the center. So when we look toward God,
when we have our relationship with God, then we are in the spiritual world. But when we look
away from God, then we look at his external creations, external energy, which is the material
world and when we come in contact with the material nature. When we turn our face away from
the spiritual reality and look towards the material nature and material nature being inferior and
we being superior we develop a tendency to lord over the material nature. Now in reality our
relationship with God is that he is the Supreme Master and we are his eternal servants. That is
our identity actually. We are eternal servants of the Lord. But when we look at the material
nature, then we forget our identity as servant but we resume the identity of the master now that is
the mistaken identity and that is called the false ego, the mistaken concept of our identity. And
then we begin to plan how we are going to exploit this material nature, that gives us the second
covering of the subtle matter called the intelligence how we are going to exploit this world for
our enjoyment and then through the mind, the consciousness constantly flows towards the
material direction. So in this way, we get our subtle body or covering of mind, intelligence and
false ego. Then according to the state of our subtle body, the material nature provides us with the
gross body. Now through this body we virtually or practically try to exploit or enjoy this material
nature. In this way the soul becomes entrapped in these two bodies, subtle and gross. As a result
of that, the consciousness begins to flow towards this direction, material direction, through subtle
body and the gross body, through the mind and through the senses. Our consciousness is going
out to its different directions and trying to enjoy. That is the state of affairs in our material
existence. We recognize the facts that it is not a desirable situation here. We want to enjoy but
we can’t enjoy. Enjoyment is an illusory concept. A poor man wants to be a rich man and a rich
man wants to be a king. No one is satisfied in his present existing situation. Either he dwells in
the past or dreams about the future. But the real situation is that we are in a miserable condition
here. If we are miserable here, then why should we stay here? Let’s find the right place where we
can be joyful that’s why we have to make the spiritual endeavor, to go back to the spiritual
world. To become situated in our natural joyful state of existence. Thank you. Hare Krishna.
Questions Five HH Bhakti Charu Swami answers: Maya means the material energy of the Lord,
the illusory energy which actually is manifested in the form of this material nature. It is illusory.
It is not there. We are trying to enjoy, but is there any enjoyment? Like a mirage. In a desert, you
see a mirage and it gives you the impression that there is water and you are very thirsty, dying of
thirst. So you run after the mirage. So what happens? The mirage runs away from you. No matter
how fast you ran after the mirage, the mirage will constantly ran away from you. Our situation in
the material nature is like that and it’s been created by Maya, the illusory energy of the Lord.
Question Six HH Bhakti Charu Swami answers: As long as you remain in material
consciousness, you will be in Maya, But once you take shelter of Krsna then you are not in
Maya. Thank you very much. So I will stop now, and I will see all of you tomorrow. Hare
Krishna. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!!!