“Bhishmadeva said: Oh, what terrible sufferings and what terrible injustices you good souls suffer for being the sons of religion personified. You did not deserve to remain alive under those tribulations, yet you were protected by the brahmanas, God and religion.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.9.12)
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अहो कष्टमहोऽन्याय्यं यद्यूयं धर्मनन्दना: ।
जीवितुं नार्हथ क्लिष्टं विप्रधर्माच्युताश्रया: ॥
aho kaṣṭam aho ’nyāyyaṁ
yad yūyaṁ dharma-nandanāḥ
jīvituṁ nārhatha kliṣṭaṁ
“This might be a strange question to ponder, but it struck me through a related exercise. I heard of a college course that included a legacy project, wherein the students had to imagine that they were ninety years old. They were to leave items in a capsule, but also prepare a speech about how they wanted to be known.
“In other words, they were writing their own eulogy. This is with the potential in mind, that they would live many years into the future. It is a mind-expanding exercise. It makes you think about what you want to do. It also keeps time at the forefront, that the years remaining are limited.
“The question I had in mind is what would be the best way for the dying man to behave. If you could no longer move, if you were relegated to the bed, with well-wishers and family visiting throughout the dwindling days, what would you say to them?
“More importantly, what should we say to them? What is the best way to depart? I think the trivial matters wouldn’t make sense, such as information on bank accounts, succession of business interests, what to remember, and the like.
“Is there anything from Vedic literature? Is there an ideal way to die? Is there something specific that the people left behind should know?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada gave the striking reminder, “Don’t think this won’t happen to you.” The acharya is always teaching, whether living or dying. Even long after they have left this world for travelling to another place, to rescue countless other souls, their instruction remains. In this way, they never die.
There is the well-documented example of Bhishmadeva, who departed while lying on a bed of arrows. Defeated in a military conflict, he was well-respected by both parties. The Pandava brothers went to his side, at the recommendation of Shri Krishna.
Bhishma reviewed how much the Pandava family had suffered. They were literally born into righteousness, dharma, and for that they became targets of the unrighteous, who were dedicated to adharma.
सर्वं कालकृतं मन्ये भवतां च यदप्रियम् ।
सपालो यद्वशे लोको वायोरिव घनावलि: ॥
sarvaṁ kāla-kṛtaṁ manye
bhavatāṁ ca yad-apriyam
sapālo yad-vaśe loko
vāyor iva ghanāvaliḥ
“In my opinion, this is all due to inevitable time, under whose control everyone in every planet is carried, just as the clouds are carried by the wind.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 1.9.14)
Bhishma placed the responsibility at the feet of time. Kala causes these changes for everyone. Whether we are blissfully engaged in a specific occupation or suffering in a torturous situation, things must change. There is not much we can do to fight off the shifts.
It is like the cloud being carried away by the wind. On a hot summer day, a single cloud in the sky can make such a difference. There is brief relief from the scorching rays of the sun. Alas, that cloud must move on. It cannot stay in that spot forever. Inevitably, the nighttime arrives, and after several months it is winter again, when we will desperately long for the association of the same sun.
This is the nature of time, but it can also be a blessing. Within a specific window of opportunity, we can use our vitality to connect with the Almighty, who happens to be the well-wisher to the Pandava family. He was gazed upon by the dying Bhishma, who then merged into Krishna’s transcendental body. This is the best way to depart this world, to have the consciousness fixed on the Divine, who is a person.
As a dying man to show,
Next destination to go.
For ideal way to live,
Lessons to Pandavas to give.
Time otherwise at play,
None forever can stay.
Up and down moving and shifting,
Krishna to Vaikuntha lifting.
Radhe Radhe ❤️ oshriRadhekrishnaBole ❤️ Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Jay Jay Shree Siya Ram