At the time of one’s death - utkrānti ( passing away, stepping up) what should one be settled-into ? What to think ? Kṛṣṇa-jī says remember Me.
Now this can be a tall order for one on their death bed. Here is where there is some additional thinking and pondering on this matter. The points offered will be
based upon the wisdom offered by abhinavagupti-ji, from his gitārthasaṁgraha¹ ( commentary and translation on the bhāgavad gītā through the eyes of non-dual (advaita)
Being fit at the time of death
asvasthāvasthāyāyṁ - when in this state (avasthā) and the body is not fit/ill (asvastha) how then is it possible to remember the Supreme ?
And further , what is ‘remembering Me ?’
Here is one view on this matter… if we look to the 5th śloka of the 8th chapter of the bhāgavad gītā there is one word ‘ca’ that makes a difference.
This term is defined as ‘and , both , also , moreover , as well as’. It reads antakale ca māmeva smaran - at the end (antakale) of life also (ca) remembering
(smaran) me certainly (māmeva).
Now from the precision of perception offered by abhinavagupti-ji he sees it like this: antakale’pi māmeva smaran . This grammar convention shown of antakale’pi is
writing in ‘short form’ antakale api. What does this api mean ? It is defined as ‘and , also , moreover , besides’ . Compare ‘api’ to ‘ca’ and there is little difference.
When translated abhinavagupta-ji he sees api = also, but not as a forceful ‘must do’. Such as talking to a child and saying, eat your carrots ALSO, or said differently,
AND you better finish your carrots. You can see the force/compliance that is implied. Abhinavagupta-ji translates it as , if at the time of death if he also thinks of the Supreme ,
this possibility occurs and the native will also (api) be carried to the Supreme.
The point being offered
The notion of recalling/becoming established in the Supreme at the time of death is ~also~ another option. Practicing (abhyāsa) during one’s life (recall abhyāsa
means repeated or permanent practice, perpetual) is also wise. One is fit and and in good health during this period; but if you recall from post 1 above one is kṣaraḥ ‘melting away’,
perishable. We are decaying as I type this post, yet we are competent for abhyāsa , for one’s practice - yogī yuñjīita satatam - one’s practice is done in continuity.
See the subtle point? If one is in a continuous perishable condition called life, then it seems to make perfect sense to align one’s self to Kṛṣṇa-jī's
words of ‘remembering Me’ while in a condition that we are mindful and capable - fit for doing this, even though we meet the definition of dying daily.
The wise agree on this point: What one thinks all of their lives will be on their mind’s at the last breath¹. If we are captured by the world of diversity ( money, possessions, must do’s,
career, etc.) there is a higher probability this will be one one’s mind in the end due to vāsana-s ( impressions) stamped and re-enforced day-in and day-out.
So, now the question - what does Kṛṣṇa-jī's words of ‘remembering Me’ mean? How do we get comfortable with this before the body perishes and is no longer a viable chariot
for the Self/Being/pure awareness ? Let’s address that in the next post.
- abhinavagupti-ji in his gitārthasaṁgraha – properly listed as bhāgavadgītārthasaṁgraha of mahāmāheśvara rājānaka abhinavagupti-ji and edited by paṇḍitá svāmī lakṣman-jū first reviewed 1933, then 1978, then again revisited in 1990 with new insights.
- A simple note to the reader:
- I have read the bhāgavad gītā throughout my life; It has been explained by many and in different ways; This translation is the most robust – yet it is not for the tender-hearted ( entry level practitioner). That is, even if I have studied this book some 5 years back I would have put it down and left it. It is only recently that the true value of this knowledge from the vantage point of trika (advaita kaśmir śaivism) has begun to flower.
- will be on their mind’s at the last breath - this is supported and pointed out in the 6th śloka of the 8th chapter we are discussing.
Last edited by yajvan; 17 November 2015 at 12:59 PM.
because you are identical with śiva