By Nama Prabhu Dasa
5 April, 1974
Please accept my blessings. I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter, undated, and I have noted the contents…
One of the symptoms of a devotee is that he is kind, so if our Godbrother becomes ill it is our duty to help him get the proper medicine and treatment so that he can recover…. So there is no question of ill treating of our own Godbrothers simply because they are sick, nor should you allow such neglect to go on. So long we have this material body there will be sickness, but we have to remain on the transcendental platform nevertheless….
Your ever well-wisher,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
The Lord in His incarnation of Dhanvantari very quickly cures the diseases of the ever-diseased living entities simply by His fame personified, and only because of Him do the demigods achieve long lives. Thus the Personality of Godhead becomes ever glorified. He also exacted a share from the sacrifices, and it is He only who inaugurated the medical science, or the knowledge of medicine, in the universe. dhanvantarir bhagavan patv apathyad
May the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His incarnation as Dhanvantari relieve me from undesirable eatables and protect me from physical illness. May Lord Rsabhadeva, who conquered His inner and outer senses, protect me from fear produced by the duality of heat and cold. May Yajna protect me from defamation and harm from the populace, and may Lord Balarama as Sesa protect me from envious serpents. (SB 6.8.18)
The son of Kasya was Kasi, and his son was Rastra, the father of Dirghatama. Dirghatama had a son named Dhanvantari, who was the inaugurator of the medical science and an incarnation of Lord Vasudeva, the enjoyer of the results of sacrifices. One who remembers the name of Dhanvantari can be released from all disease.
So at times like these we should remember Lord Dhanvantari to become free from disease, yet at the same time we must always remember that death is inevitable as long as we have a material body and Krishna will always do what is best for us.
“My Lord, due to Your illusory energy, all living beings in this material world have forgotten their real constitutional position, and out of ignorance they are always desirous of material happiness in the form of society, friendship and love. Therefore, please do not ask me to take some material benefits from You, but as a father, not waiting for the son’s demand, does everything for the benefit of the son, please bestow upon me whatever You think best for me.” (SB 4.20.31)
In that regard, here is the last chapter of the book, Chanting Hare Krishna….
Chanting at the Time of Death
Please Be Enchanted In the Mellow of Chanting
Lord Caitanya, in a sweet voice He is singing the maha-mantra, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In a very sweet song He’s singing, and it is our duty to follow His footsteps to sing the maha-mantra. So Bhaktivinoda Thakura advises, either you stay at your home as a householder, or you stay in the forest in the renounced order of life, it does not make difference, but you have to chant the maha-mantra, Hare Krsna. Always chant this maha-mantra. Do not forget chanting either in distress or in happiness. So far as chanting is concerned, there cannot be any check, because in whatever condition I may be, I can go on chanting this maha-mantra, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
So Bhaktivinoda Thakura advises, “Never mind, you are in distress or happiness, but go on chanting this maha-mantra.” You are entrapped by the network of the illusory energy, maya-jale, just like the fisherman catches from the sea all kinds of creatures within his net. Similarly we are also within the net of the illusory energy. And because we have no freedom, therefore all our activities are useless. Action in freedom has got some meaning, but when we are not free, when we are within the clutches of maya, within the network of maya, then our so-called freedom has no value. Therefore, whatever we are doing is simply defeat. Without knowing our constitutional position as eternal servant of Krsna, if you are forced to do something by the pressure of the illusory energy, it is simply a useless waste of time. Therefore, Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, “Now you have got full consciousness in the human form of life, so just chant Hare Krsna. There is no loss but great profit.” Now gradually everyone is on the verge of death. Nobody can say that, “I shall remain, I shall stay for a hundred years more.” No, at any moment we can die. Therefore Bhaktivinoda Thakura advises: “Please be enchanted, nam-rase, in the mellow of chanting the transcendental name. Dive yourself within this ocean. That is my request.”
(Purport to Gay Gaura Madhur Sware / Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)
Therefore One Should Constantly, Incessantly Chant the Maha-Mantra
And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.
In this verse the importance of Krsna consciousness is stressed. Anyone who quits his body in Krsna consciousness is at once transferred to the transcendental nature of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is the purest of the pure. Therefore anyone who is constantly Krsna conscious is also the purest of the pure. The word smaran (“remembering”) is important. Remembrance of Krsna is not possible for the impure soul who has not practiced Krsna consciousness in devotional service. Therefore one should practice Krsna consciousness from the very beginning of life. If one wants to achieve success at the end of his life, the process of remembering Krsna is essential. Therefore one should constantly, incessantly chant the maha-mantra – Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Lord Caitanya has advised that one be as tolerant as a tree (taror iva sahisnuna). There may be so many impediments for a person who is chanting Hare Krsna. Nonetheless, tolerating all these impediments, one should continue to chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, so that at the end of one’s life one can have the full benefit of Krsna consciousness. (Bhagavad-gita 8.5)
Chant the Holy Name of the Lord with Love and Faith
While suffering at the time of death, Ajamila chanted the holy name of the Lord, and although the chanting was directed toward his son, he nevertheless returned home, back to Godhead. Therefore if one faithfully and inoffensively chants the holy name of the Lord, where is the doubt that he will return to Godhead?
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 Krsna 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.
Even You Send Me Into the Hell
Simply our prayer should be, ‘My dear Krishna, please remind me to always chant Your Holy Name, please do not put me into forgetfulness. You are sitting within me as Supersoul, so you can put me into forgetfulness or into remembering You. So please do not put me into forgetfulness. Please always remind me to chant, even You send me into the hell, it doesn’t matter, just so long as I can always chant Hare Krishna.’
(Letter to Devananda / November 23, 1968)
You Cannot Escape – Death is Waiting Behind You
Now, here is the solution of problem, as Krsna says in the fourteenth verse, Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gita: “It is very difficult to surmount the problems offered by the laws of material nature, but one who surrenders unto Me, he overcomes.” Therefore we are teaching this Krsna consciousness to solve the problems of life. It is not sentiment or fanaticism or any sectarian religion. It is a fact that if you want to solve the problems of life, you have to become Krsna conscious. There is no other alternative. Krsna-nama karo bhai, ara saba mithya. You understand Bengali? It says that “Just chant Hare Krsna. Everything is false, all other means of making some solution. False.” Why? Palaiba patha nai, yama ache piche. “You cannot escape. Death is waiting behind you.” So before death overcomes you, you make a solution of the problem. That is intelligence, that “The greatest danger is awaiting me – death.” That is sure. “As sure as death.” Everyone knows.
(Lecture on Bhagavad-gita / Hamburg – September 8, 1969)
We Do Not Know When We Shall Meet Out Next Death
If you have got some time, the best thing would be to chant Hare Krishna more and more. Because our life is very short, and we have to finish our Krishna Consciousness this life very quickly. We do not know when we shall meet our next death, our next exit from this platform. But before going out of this platform, we may try to finish Krishna Consciousness. That is our main business. (Letter to Jayapataka – October 6, 1968)
Death May Come At Any Moment
Devotee (reading): Maharaja Pariksit met Sukadeva Gosvami just a week before his death, and the King was perplexed as to what should be done before he was to pass on. Many other sages also arrived there, but no one could give him the proper direction. Sukadeva Gosvami, however, gave this direction to him as follows: ‘My dear King, if you want to be fearless in meeting your death next week (for actually everyone is afraid at the point of death), then you must immediately begin the process of hearing and chanting and remembering God.’ If one can chant and hear Hare Krsna and always remember Lord Krsna, then he is sure to become fearless at death, which may come at any moment.
Prabhupada: Yes. This is our prescription, that “Chant Hare Krsna mantra without any stop.” And even death comes, death may come at any moment, but if at the time of death, somehow or other you can utter “Krsna” or remember Krsna, and as soon as you utter the name of Krsna you remember Krsna’s form, Krsna’s pastimes, everything. So let us chant Hare Krsna mantra twenty-four hours. There is no impediment. Nobody can check it. If you are determined that “I shall always chant Hare Krsna mantra,” nobody can check. But we do not feel so much attached to the chanting. Therefore it is checked. So therefore we have fixed up a certain amount of rounds. Just like we have given to you sixteen rounds. At least as a regulative principle you must chant. Then gradually we may increase and automatically chant Hare Krsna mantra. That will be very good approach.
(Lecture on Nectar of Devotion / Calcutta – Januarhy 25, 1973)
So Krsna Is Very Kind
So here it is said, because at the time of death he has uttered “Narayana,” so now there is no question of offense. There is no question of. It is said in the Bhagavad-gita that yesam tv anta-gatam papam: by chanting Hare Krsna mantra, one gradually becomes free from all sinful reaction. If at the time of death one can chant Hare Krsna, then he is glorious. I have several times said, the test will be examined at the time of death. Your austerity, penances, chanting of the holy name, all these things. Just like there is examination. Before promotion to the higher class one is examined in the school, and if the marks are sufficient, then he is promoted. So our promotion will depend at the time of death, where we are going. Tatha dehantara-praptih. Death means we are going to change our body. So this change of body will be decided at the time of death. It is already decided what kind of body we are going to get, but the final decision will be taken at the time of death. That is said by Krsna. Everyone can understand. If at the time of death one chants Hare Krsna, then you know certainly that he has gone to Vaikuntha. There is no doubt about it. And even there is aparadha, that is not taken into consideration because at the time of death he has uttered. This is special consideration.
So nice thing, this Hare Krsna movement. Some way or other, if we can take it very seriously, then our life will be succesful at the end of life, if we can chant. Therefore Kulasekhara Maharaja says, he was emperor, he is praying, “My Lord, now I am healthy. I am quite conscious. So this time, if I absorb my mind in Your lotus feet and die, it is very good. It is very good because in the natural time of death, the three elements – kapha, vata, pitaih – they’ll be dismantled, and there will be different sounds, and mind will be distracted. Brain will be falling. So hardly there is possibility of chanting Your holy name. The best thing is, now I am feeling healthy, my whole system, physical system, is quite fit. Let me chant and die immediately.” This is desire of the devotee.
So Krsna is very kind. If you chant seriously, without offense, even the mental condition at the time of death is disordered, Krsna will help you how to chant without any offense. The only qualification is that we must be very sincere. Even by symbolic chanting, by joking, if one can get the benefit, why not do it carefully? Why not do it carefully? What is the wrong there? Be serious and chant Hare Krsna very carefully in order to get success of life at the time of death. Thank you very much. Hare Krsna.
(Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.2.13 / Vrndavana – September 15, 1975)
Death Is Coming – Death Is At My Door
We shall declare to the whole world that “Krsna is the Supreme. There is no more superior anyone than Krsna.” This is our Krsna consciousness movement. Krsna says, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru. We are preaching this. In this temple we are asking eveyone, “Here is Krsna. Always think of Krsna. Chant Hare Krsna.” Then you will have to think, “Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna,” means thinking of Krsna. As soon as you hear the name of Krsna, man-mana. And who will do that? Mad-bhakta. Unless you become a devotee of Krsna, you cannot waste your time, “Krsna, Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna.” That means simply by chanting Hare Krsna mantra you become a devotee of Krsna. Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji.
Everyone should be trained up in this bhagavata-dharma. And “Yes, it is important, that’s all right. But let me live for hundred years. Then we shall talk about Krsna.” And Prahlada Maharaja said, “No. You do not know when you will die. At any moment you can die.” Padam padam yad vipadam. Therefore, before your next death, you realize Krsna. Even if you live for a few years and if you take the chance of chanting Hare Krsna, still, you are benefited. You are still benefited.
So this chanting of Hare Krsna is so important that you can think always that “Death is coming. Death is at my door. Let me finish my chanting. Let me finish my chanting.” Always you should think like that, that “Death is already coming, so let me chant.”
(Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.6.1 / Vrndavana – December 2, 1975)
Chant Hare Krsna – Let us Die Peacefully
Prabhupada: I wish to die without a doctor. I may be seriously, but don’t call doctor. Chant Hare Krsna. Don’t be disturbed. Everyone has to die. Let us die peacefully, without doctor. All this medicine, injections, and prohibitions, this, that.
Hari-sauri: Tirtha Maharaja had all kinds of machines. Still didn’t save him.
Prabhupada: Chant Hare Krsna and depend on Krsna. Actually… Nartasya cagadam udanvati majjato nauh. That is the Prahlada Maharaja’s verse. Find out this. Balasya neha saranam pitarau nrsimha. Seventh Canto.
Hari-sauri: “My Lord Nrsimhadeva, O Supreme, because of a bodily conception of life, embodied souls neglected and not cared for by You cannot do anything for their betterment.”
Prabhupada: That’s it.
Hari-sauri: “Whatever remedies they accept, although perhaps temporarily beneficial, are certainly impermanent. For example, a father and mother cannot protect their child, a physician and medicine cannot relieve a suffering patient, and a boat on the ocean cannot protect a drowning man.”
Prabhupada: These are facts.
Gargamuni: That’s ultimately, but maybe we could give you some temporary relief so we don’t feel… Because when you are ill, we feel…
Prabhupada: Yes, that is… But for that, no severe treatment should be accepted. Better not to take. Chant Hare Krsna.
(Room Conversation / January 19, 1977 – Bhuvanesvara)
Kirtaniyah sada harih. Without condition, kirtana should go on. And that is the panacea for all troubles. Bhaktivinoda Thakura has given, jay sakal bipod, bhaktivinod, bole jakhon o-nam gai. This is a fact. If you always continue kirtana, there is no danger. You are above all danger…
What is the wrong? We are talking of Krsna, and all of a sudden if I collapse… Oh, that is the greatest profit. Greatest profit… krsna tvadiya-pada-pankaja-panjarantam adyaiva visatu me manasa-raja-hamsah, prana-prayana [O Lord Krsna, at this moment let the royal swan of my mind enter the tangled stems of the lotus of Your feet]… Ordinary dying, kapha-pitta-vayu [mucus, bile, and air]: “Ghara ghara ghar,” choking and… But in the kirtana if we die, oh, it is so successfully… Injection, operation, who needs it? That atmosphere death and krsna-kirtana death. Glorious death. Oxygen gas… [laughs] dying, and so much trouble. Never call. Please accept my request. Chant Hare Krsna, bas, and let me die peacefully. Never be disturbed, call doctor—no. Chant Hare Krsna. Go on chanting. Chanting, hearing, chanting.
(Room Conversation / May 27, 1977, Vrndavana)
Now This Is the Last Day
So to get a material body is not at all pleasure. It is always miserable condition, from the very beginning and up to the point of death, simply miserable condition. This is intelligence, that the miserable condition means we accept this material body. Therefore, to be out of miserable condition means not to accept again this misery. That should be the aim and objective of life—not to accept. That we have repeatedly said. That can be achieved very easily, tyaktva deham punar janma naiti. After giving up this body, we do not accept anymore material body, provided we become fully Krsna conscious. At the time of death, if we simply remember Krsna, yam yam vapi smaran bhavam tyajaty ante kalevaram. That is the highest perfection of life, simply to remember Krsna. If we can consciously remember Krsna: “Whatever was possible for me, I have tried to execute. Now this is the last day; You do whatever You like.” That’s all. But Krsna is very kind. He will at once take you back to home, back to Godhead. Ante narayana smrti. This is the highest perfection of life. Therefore we have to practice Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
(Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 1.14 / Mayapur, April 7, 1975)