VMA 1.78 Do you know when you will die, my friend?
|Originally posted at Vrindavan Today|
śiśoḥ sutaruṇasya vā na khalu mṛtyur ākasmikaḥ |
tad adya niravadya-dhīr a-vapur-indriyāsaktiko
na kiñcana vicāraya drutam upaihi vṛndāvanam||
Friend, when will you die? Do you really know?Commentary
Do not even infants or youths
sometimes meet with an unexpected death?
Therefore, on this very day, with clear intelligence,
without attachment to the body or the senses,
empty your mind and run quickly to Vrindavan.
After glorifying the residents of Vrindavan, Prabodhananda Saraswatipada now returns to basics and addresses the less committed sādhaka with reminders that life in this body is temporary and has a greater purpose than those that are immediately connected to the body and its extensions. We saw a similar verse in 1.50. As was said there, such reminders are more than appropriate from time to time, even for those who are quite advanced on the path. For those who know only this body and its by-products, the bliss of life beyond the body is incomprehensible and will never seem like anything other than a fantasy. This is the misfortune of the purely empirical view of the world.
The Bhāgavatam — indeed all the scriptures — remind us repeatedly of the importance of this fleeting human body and its true purpose,
labdhvā sudurlabham idaṁ bahu-sambhavānte
mānuṣyam arthadam anityam apīha dhīraḥ
tūrṇaṁ yateta na pated anu mṛtyu yāvat
niḥśreyasāya viṣayaḥ khalu sarvataḥ syāt
After many, many births, one finally is born in a most rare and valuable human body which provides an opportunity to attain the supreme goal, but is nevertheless temporary. Therefore, the wise individual should immediately take up the effort to find that which provides the supreme good in all times and circumstances, and not give up that effort unto the very moment of his death. (SB 11.9.29)
nṛ-deham ādyaṁ sulabhaṁ sudurlabhaṁ
plavaṁ sukalpaṁ guru-karṇadhāram|
pumān bhavābdhiṁ na taret sa ātmahā ||
This human body is the root of all benefits. It seems so easily obtained, yet is in fact extremely rare. It is like a boat especially designed for crossing the ocean of material existence. If one has a spiritual master to guide him like the boat’s helmsman and is given the favorable winds of my mercy, and yet still fails to cross over, then he is willfully committing suicide. (11.20.17)In the Gītā Krishna states that the particular state of consciousness we attain at the moment of death determines our next state of being.
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ
The state of being one remembersIn the modern world, it is considered “anti-life” to think of anything beyond the brief few years one spends in this body. It seems self-defeating to live in preparation for an after-life that no one can really prove. The skeptics seem to have the upper hand when it comes to life after death and a belief in the existence of the soul, for there is no objective, empirically-verifiable proof of the soul. It can only be inferred and experienced subjectively. To some extent it is true that one’s present life is most important, but that is only because it serves a higher, transcendent purpose.. In the modern age, however, it is also necessary to show that the spiritual world, the inner world of the soul, is transformative and beneficial for life in the outer world, beyond the individual..
at the time one leaves the body,
is that to which one goes, for that
is the nature to which he belongs. (Gītā 8.6)
This is indeed confirmed in the tradition. The Bengali Vaishnavas quote the following anonymous verse:
sādhana-o ekhāne, siddhi-o ekhāne, bhāvera gocara se
ekhāne jadi ihā dekhite nā pāo, marile dekhibe ke ?
Sādhana is to be practiced here this world, but the attainment of siddhi must also happen here. The Divine Truth is accessible [internally] through one’s emotional state of being (bhāva). Therefore, if you are unable to see that Truth here and now, then who will see it after you die?So it is in this optic that we glorify Vrindavan. If one adopts the Vaishnava path of devotion to Radha Krishna, it culminates in Vrindavan. That is where this world meets that one. The Vrindavan spoken of in this verse is not primarily the physical Vrindavan in this world, but the internal realm where the Divine Person and his lila are manifest.