Since I became a monk in the spring of ’73, I’ve made it a practice to have my japa beads (meditation beads) near me. This is how I was trained. My mentor at the time insisted, “Anything can happen at any time! It’s good that your beads can be within reach.” I was also cautioned that Lord Yamaraja, the God of death can appear at night, in your sleep, and with his agents, the Yamadutas, can drag you from your gross body preparing you for a torturous ride.
The kunti mala, the neck beads, and the wearing of tilak, sacred earthen substance, with markings on the upper body, are protective measures that protect you from the death agents. “They will pass over you!” explained a mentor.
And in 8.5 of the Gita we are informed: “Whatever state of being one remembers when he/she quits the body that state will be attained without fail.” This verse and a previous one provoke caution, so be prepared.
At night, I assure myself of having near me a clock, my neck beads, my tilak and my japa beads for safety. This is why the phrase: “Stay safe!” resonates with me. Another common phrase we hear during covid 19 is “Stay home!” Our guru, Prabhupada, would say, “Go Home!” implying our destination in life is in a spiritual realm. Not here!
On my return from my night walk, I saw a banner promoting the Van Gogh art exhibit in town. The catchy promo says “Gogh At A Distance.” At night, when I sleep, I am habituated to having my beads near me. No distance!