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58. An Aspirant should Know the Fundamental Principles:

In the seventh chapter of the Gita the fundamental principles underlying the various entities like Brahma, Adhyatma, Karma, Adhibuta, Adhidaiva and Adhiyajna have been mentioned. Sri Krishna describes these entities in the eighth chapter of the Gita. The God who is infinite, immutable and immortal is Parabrahma. He is 'Adhiyajna.' In the form of Adhiyajna He is inside every body controlling and motivating all its activities. Parabrahma and Adhiyajna are one and the same. Sri Vishnu in the macrocosmic form is called Parabrahma and the same Vishnu who is in a microcosmic form in all bodies is called 'Adhiyajna.' The individual soul is called Adhyatma. It is different from both the Supreme Lord and inert matter. This distinction should be understood by every aspirant. 'Karma' is not merely the petty activities we are engaged in; the stupendous activities of God in the whole cosmos, the soul of which is the Supreme Himself, are Karma and the knowledge of such a hand of God inside each and every activity in the creation gives us bliss and peace of mind. The good deeds done by noble souls in a spirit of Yajna for the orderly development of the society can also be called Karma. The body, the senses, the five elements, and all other gross matter which are required by individuals for the spiritual upliftment of their souls is called Adhibuta. There are a host of gods under the Supreme Lord, who are conducting the day-to-day affairs of the universe and the foremost among them is Chaturmukha Brahma and He is known as 'Adhidaiva'. By knowing all these things and their functions an aspirant can work for his spiritual emancipation.


People are rather reluctant to undertake spiritual exercises. They say piety and spiritual exercise are meant for the old and retired people, and young men in the prime of youth and in the midst of enjoyment should not be bothered about these things.

But it is not right to put off the practice of such spiritual exercise to an indefinite date in the future. We shall be doing a great disservice to ourselves if, when we are hale and healthy and full of vitality, we do not utilise it to uplift our soul but dissipate that energy in fleeting pleasures. It is ridiculous on our part to allow the torrents of water during the monsoon of our youth to go waste and undertake to cultivate the soul in the dry summer of old age.
kaEmar Aacret! àa}ae xmaRn! -agvtainh,
kaum˜ra ˜caret pr˜jño dharm˜n bh˜gavat˜niha -- Bhagavata
(The godly way of life should be pursued in (from) boyhood by those who know.)

Hence Prahlada gives a clarion call to all youth to come forward and practise piety. I have seen parents discouraging children doing their daily worship of God and periodic fasting on Ekadashi days and saying that they are too young for it. We should not nip in the bud the surging spiritual enthusiasm in the minds of the youth. On the other hand, it is our duty as elders to encourage such propensities in the young so that they may take firm root in their minds when they grow old.
g&hIt #vkeze;um&Tyuna xmRmacret!,
g®hŸta ivakeþeÿum®tyun˜ dharmam˜caret
(We should practise religion (expeditiously) as though we have been seized by the forelocks by Death.)

Good deeds must be performed instantly and without delay as though the jaws of death are yawning before us. We must always possess the enthusiastic readiness to face death when it comes. When a Brahmin came to Dharmaraja for help he turned him back asking him to come the next day. Since he was badly in need of money he went to Bhimasena who immediately parted with his gold bangle. Immediately Bhima ordered the beating of drums in the city proclaiming the good news. Dharmaraja asked his brother Bhimasena what the good news was. Bhimasena replied: "Oh brother, you asked the Brahmin to come tomorrow. That means you are sure you are going to live ill tomorrow. Such exceptional knowledge of the future possessed by you is worth proclaiming to the world." At his, Dharmaraja realised his folly. This humorous parable brings home to us the utter folly of postponing performance of good deeds.

60. Thinking of God at the Moment of Death:

The eighth chapter of the Gita emphasises in the context of spiritual cultivation that aspirants should remember God at the moment of death. We should not misconstrue this statement by supposing that we need not think of God at other times and could be steeped in worldly pleasures. The thought of God does not come to us magically as it were at the last moment. We may have the unique fortune of remembering him at the last moment only if we have pursued the practice throughout our life and absorbed godliness. The whole life should be a preparation if we are to remember Him at the last moment. In whatever activity we have spent our greatest time and energy during our lifetime and whichever experience had left the deepest impression in our mind, that experience alone comes to our mind easily at the time of our death. There is a story of a miser. He spent his whole lifetime n a miserly way. While on his deathbed he noticed the wick-lamp burning rather too brightly, and soon he instructed his children to make it less bright and save oil. Whatever one has practised throughout one's whole lifetime, that alone would show up at the time of death. One who has spent his whole lifetime in prayers and meditation on God can alone think of God at the time of his death. It is vain to hope that after one has wasted one's whole lifetime in chasing carnal pleasures one would be able to think of God at the time of his death. Sri Madhvacharya says:
s<tt< icNtye=nNt< ANtkale ivze;t> ,
santataÕ cintaye’nantaÕ antak˜le viþeÿata× -- Dwadasa Stotra I-12
(One should always think of God, but specially at the last moment.)

If you practise meditation in your whole lifetime there is hope of your remembering God in your deathbed. We do many things during the course of the day but when we sleep we do not remember them. But we can easily remember those incidents which have left a deep impression On our mind. One who has spent his whole lifetime in prayers and contemplation of God, can easily think of God on his deathbed. When the Gita says that we should think of God on our deathbed it gives the exceptional message that we must practise godly life throughout our lifetime.

Thus, our death must be full of holiness. For this we should purify our whole life by good thoughts and good deeds and should be able to see it echoed at the moment of death. Our death is the very consummation of our whole life. From any one's holy memory of God at the moment of death we can identify the fulfilment of a whole life of purity. That our whole life must be purified by a sense of God is the central message of the eighth chapter of the Gita.

Just as one's deathbed experience is the reflection of a whole lifetime, it is also suggestive of what is going to happen in our next life. The kind of thinking we have at the moment of death has a special influence on the life after. There is the story of Bharata. Even though he had forsaken his kingdom and was living in a forest as a saint he could not get over his attachment to his pet animal and at the time of his death he thought of this only and so, in his next life, he had to face the tragic consequence of being born as a deer. Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu had in their minds the fierce forms of Varaha (wild boar) and Narasimha (man-lion) respectively at the time of their death and they were born again in the fierce forms of Rakshasas. Those who saw the Kshatriya Rama at the time of their death were born as Kshatriyas in their subsequent life. Those who meditated on the lovely form of Krishna as God at the time of death, died to accomplish the sarupya (similar in form) Mukti. We get in our next life whatever the name and form we think on our deathbed. If we shed our mortal coils in the contemplation of the Almighty God of infinite auspicious qualities who is of the essence of pure consciousness and bliss, then we too shall get rid of our mortal bodies and shine as pure spirits of consciousness and bliss. We are shackled to the material body now. We identify our soul with this body of inert matter and carry on our activities. We should be liberated from such a state. In essence we are the true image of God. The qualities and form of God are inherent in our soul also but they are lying latent. Since it is our life's endeavour to bring out these hidden latent qualities, we will be gifted with the great chance of experiencing the soul's deathless and native bliss only if we cultivate our whole life with holy thoughts and the whole consequent culture of the soul is reflected in the moment of death.

61. Journey during the Dark and the White Halves of the Month:

At the end of the eighth chapter of the Gita a reference is made to the journey during the dark and the white halves of the month. This has confused many. The apparent meaning of this stanza is that if anybody dies during daytime, the white half of the month and the 'uttarayana' he attains salvation and if he dies at night, during the dark half of the month and in 'dakshinayana' he is caught in the whirl of birth and death. No doubt the proper time and good circumstances of death may be indicative of good things; but it is wrong to conclude a particular death to be holy or sinful on the basis of physical time. In this section of the Gita, only the path through which the yogi's soul journeys after death is discussed. The yogis who journey in the path presided over by the deities ruling over the brighter half of the month and the 'uttarayana' go to God. Those yogis that perform severe penance and holy sacrifice in expectation of rewards follows a different path, presided over by the deities ruling over the darker half of the month and the 'dakshinayana.' Thus the reference deals only with the spiritual path followed by the soul of yogis after death and this is a subject falling within the scope of yogasastra. The popular notion that the statements deal with the description of the physical time of death, is ill-conceived.

At the time of death our minds should not be covered by ignorance like a cloudy and dark night of the darker half of the month in the dakshinayana. Neither should it be polluted like the air in a room full of smoke. Our ignorance and attachment to worldly things, like the cloud and darkness, dim our souls. These should be cleared from our heart and should be filled with the purest moon-rays of godliness. Our heart should be as pure and cloudless as the uttarayana day and as clear as the full moon night. At the time of death the mind should be free from ignorance and sin and be active and bright, like a burning flame. Hence we may also understand that the description is but a metaphor for the interior situation of the soul at the moment of physical death.

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This page prepared by  Ramadas
Created March 02, 2000; last modified March 08, 2000