Duty is duty. After all, everyone will die; nobody will exist. So nobody should be afraid of death. This is Vedic civilization. Death is inevitable. "As sure as death." Who can avoid death? So being afraid of death, we should not deviate from our duties, real duty. That is Vedic civilization. So Duryodhana wanted to point out "That this boy, your disciple, he... It is fixed up that he's meant for killing you, and he has arranged nicely military phalanx just to defeat you. And he has learned this art from you."
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As sure as death
Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures
So if we have to prepare ourself in this life for the next body, why not prepare yourself for a body back to home, back to Godhead. This is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. We are teaching every man how he can prepare himself so that after leaving this body, he can go directly to God. Back to home, back to Godhead. This is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā. Tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti mām eti kaunteya (BG 4.9). Tyaktvā deham, after giving up this... (break) ...we have to give up. I may not like to give up this body, but I'll have to. That is nature's law. "As sure as death." Before death, we must prepare ourselves, what is next body. If we are not doing that, then we are killing ourselves, committing suicide. So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to save the human kind from being fatally injured by the wrong conception of bodily concept of life. And the simple method is by chanting the sixteen words, or if you are philosopher, if you are scientist, if you want to know everything scientifically, philosophically, we have got big, big books like this. You can either read books or simply join with us and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.
The Battle of Kurukṣetra, it was finished within eighteen days. There is no use of prolonging the war unnecessarily. If the chief man is killed, then war is finished. Therefore Kṛṣṇa is advising Arjuna that "Suppose your grandfather on the other side dies, so where is the cause of lamentation? He's old man. He will get another, new body. So you should be rather happy that your old grandfather is going to have a new body." Jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyuḥ. "And everyone will die. You die today or tomorrow, or, say, fifty years after. You have to die. It is as sure as death. So why should you deviate from your duty? You are a kṣatriya. Your duty is to fight. Why you are afraid of being dead, or killing others? This is your duty."
There is a paṇḍita, learned man. His name is Cāṇakya. If you, some of you, had been in India, in New Delhi, where foreign ambassadors are settled, in New Delhi, capital of India, there is a quarter which is called Cāṇakya Purī. Cāṇakya Purī. This Cāṇakya Purī has been named due to the name of this gentleman, Cāṇakya. He was a great politician and prime minister during the reign of Emperor Candragupta. Long, long years before. He was a great politician. So his politics are studied in higher, M.A. class, and so he has got some, he has got a book which is called Cāṇakya Śloka and some principles of morality, some principles of morality. So we, in our childhood, we had to study that small book, Cāṇakya Śloka. So in that principles of morality even Cāṇakya Paṇḍita says that sannimitte varaṁ tyāga vināśe niyate sati. Vināśe niyate sati: "Oh, this body, this body is destined to be destroyed. You cannot protect it. It is to be destroyed." Sannimitte varaṁ tyāge vināśe. Vināśe means it is sure to be destroyed. "As sure as death." There is nothing sure as death. Therefore this body should be utilized, sannimitte, for purpose of spiritual realization.
Kṛṣṇa has described Himself that "I am death. I am death, and I take away all your possession, that's all, as death." It will be taken away. However intelligent we may be, however proud we may be for our possession, but the death is sure. "As sure as death." And when death comes—the death is also another form of Kṛṣṇa—then He will take everything.
In India there is a common saying. They say, bhajan koro pūjān koro morte janle haya. The meaning is that however you may meditate upon... You may be very great meditator, or you may be a great religionist or yogi or a very learned scholar or whatever you may be, but everything will be tested at the time of your death. How far you have made progress, that will be tested at the time of your death. That is also explained in the Bhagavad-gītā. Yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran loke tyajaty ante kalevaram (BG 8.6). Ante. Ante means at the end. Because this body is sure to end. Antavanta ime dehāḥ. This body is antavat; it is destined to be ended. "As sure as death." But nityasyoktāḥ śarīriṇaḥ. Śarīriṇaḥ means the spirit spark which is occupying this body. That is nitya; that is eternal.
All advancement of science, knowledge, philosophy, theology, anything—the idea is how to stop the miserable condition of life. But the real miserable condition of life according to Bhagavad-gītā is birth, death, old age and disease. Don't go, take seriously, the side—miserable condition. Just like people are very much anxious to feed the hungry, the hungry men. Well, that you can do. That is nice business. But why don't you try that... The hungry man and the welfare man both will die. You cannot stop death, either you feed him well or he is hungry. Death is there. "As sure as death." So actual benefit is... If you can stop death, that is actual benefit. So our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is to stop death. You will be surprised. You may not be very much pleased, but it is possible. It is possible. Because we are eternal. We living entities, soul, we are part and parcel of God, we are eternal.
This body is now old enough. It will be finished. Everyone knows. "As sure as death." Then after finishing the body, what will be your next body? Who will answer this? Where is the scientist? Where is the philosopher? Where is the learned man? Nobody knows. Nobody knows. Therefore he is blind. He does not know what is his future. But there is future. You cannot say no.
It is a fact that if you want to solve the problems of life, you have to become Kṛṣṇa conscious. There is no other alternative. Kṛṣṇa-nāma karo bhāi āra saba mithyā. You understand Bengali? It says that "Just chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. Everything is false, all other means of making some... False." Why? Palāibe patha naya ya mache kichu.(?) "You cannot escape. Just 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.
You are also subjected to this principle of dying. But he does not take it seriously. This is called illusion, māyā. He thinks, oh, that "I shall live forever. Therefore let me do whatever I like. There is no question of responsibility." Oh, this is very risky life, very risky life. And this is the most covering part of illusion. One should be very serious that death is waiting. "As sure as death." If there is any surety in this world, that is death. Nobody can avoid it. And when there is death, oh, there is no more intelligence, no more your puffed-up philosophy. You are under the grip of nature.
The solution of problem is, human life, is to how to stop death.Therefore śāstra says that nobody should become guru, nobody should become father, nobody should become husband—in this way there is a list—na mocayed yaḥ samupetya mṛtyum, if one cannot help his student or his son or his subordinate to stop death. Actually this is the problem Na mocayed yaḥ samupetya mṛtyum. We are under the clutches of death. "It is as sure as death." So this human life is meant for stopping this death. But if you don't see that this is the problem, that is ajñāna. That is ignorance. If you don't accept this is the problem, if you simply think "My problem is how to eat, how to sleep, how to have sex life, how to defend... These problems are already solved, even by the birds and the beasts. These are not the problems. They are already set up. Real problem is here: janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam (BG 13.9).
N Japan you have got many times the experience of earthquake, earthquake. What do you do at that time? Huh? You all Japanese boys and girls, what do you do? Have you experienced earthquake? You have? What do you do at that time? (pauses waiting for an answer) When there is earthquake, what do you do? Hmm? But I have seen in America. They all, everyone, they scream. (laughter) And perhaps they remember about God. Naturally they will remember, "God save us. God save us." What is your...? That means that we do not wish to die. That's a fact. You cannot say that death is very good thing. Nobody will say. Death... But we have to die. There is no excuse, that "I shall not die." Death is "as sure as death," they say. But you don't want death. This is suffering.
Lord says that "Under My superintendence the material nature is working, and therefore so many wonderful changes are going on." So nature is working under the order of the Supreme Lord, and we are under the stringent laws of nature. Therefore we are obliged to carry out the natural sequences. Just like I already explained, from childhood to boyhood, boyhood to youthhood, youthhood to old age, these are natural laws. And after mature old age, you have to change this body and accept another body. So if we say that "I have no faith in the orders of the material nature. I avoid it," that is not possible. So therefore this dharma means you may have faith or may not have faith; you have to abide by the laws of nature. People therefore say, "As sure as death." I may think or you may think that "Don't care for death. There will be no death," but it will happen. Therefore the conclusion is that you cannot manufacture any laws of religion.
Guest: We do not know because (indistinct) somebody right or somebody (indistinct). We do not know what were our past karmas.
Prabhupāda: Well, everyone dies. Death is inevitable. Nobody can avoid death. "As sure as death". And therefore, I have already explained that we have to take information from the Vedas. Just like this body. It is said in the Vedas, karmaṇā daiva-netreṇa jantur dehopapattaye (SB 3.31.1). Karmaṇā, why we have got different bodies, different mentality? Every one of us sitting here, we are not of the same mentality, not of the same body. So, why the different bodies are there if there is not a superior endowment?
They are claiming to become God, but how they will control this death? That will come, "As sure as death." God means controller. Can you control death, can you control disease, can you control old age? No? Then how do you become God? Rascal, you are claiming to have become God. If I give you a kick on your face, you cannot control, yet you claim to have become God. You see, this is going on.
We are spiritual identity. Na jāyate na mriyate vā. Never takes birth, never dies. Na hanyate hanyamāne śarīre (BG 2.20). This is the identification given by Lord Kṛṣṇa. But we are so foolish and rascals we never question that "My position is na jāyate na mriyate vā. I never take birth, never I die. Then why I am afraid of death and why I am actually undergoing birth and death? I am born, everyone knows. I come out from my mother. Therefore jāyate. So why I have taken birth? And again everyone knows, 'As sure as death,' mriyate vā. So why this discrepancy?" This is human being. The cats and dog, they cannot question these things.
Pradyumna: (reads synonyms, then:) Translation: "Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: Mahārāja Parīkṣit, as you have inquired from me as to the duty of the intelligent man who is on the threshold of death, so I answered you."
Prabhupāda: Now, this is the important part of the verse, that "man who is on the threshold of death." Who can say that "I am not on the threshold of death?" Is there any man in this universe who can say that "I am not on the threshold of death." Can anyone say? Everyone is on the threshold of death. That's a fact. But such questions are made amongst them... Everyone is subject to death, and threshold, on the threshold of death. Nobody can say that "I shall live for so many years." No guarantee. Everyone is on the threshold of death. Any moment, we can die. Therefore it is said,"As sure as death." All other things may be not sure, but death is sure. Therefore, before death, one... Manīṣiṇām, manuṣyeṣu manīṣiṇām. Not ordinary man. Manīṣī. Manīṣī means thoughtful. They question, "What is to be done now, before death comes? Shall I die like cats and dogs, or shall I die like human being?" This is the question. Cats and dogs dying, nobody cares. But a human being dying, there are so many ceremonies, mourning.
So Parīkṣit Mahārāja had the opportunity of hearing Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for seven days, so I do not know whether we'll have, I have opportunity for reading Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam for seven minutes. So let me read it very seriously." That should be our attitude. Not that, "Seven... Oh, Parīkṣit Mahārāja was given seven days notice. Oh, I have no such notice. I may live for seven millions of years." That is our disease. Here the most wonderful thing is that everyone is seeing that everyone is dying every moment, but the man seeing, he's thinking that he will live forever. This is the most wonderful thing. Nobody thinks, "No. He is dying, so I will have to die." No. He thinks "I'll live. He is dying." This is the most wonderful thing. He does not think that "I have seen. My father has died, my mother has died, my brother has died. So everyone has died. So I'll die. So what I am doing before death?" They're not serious. Not at all serious. But death is... "As sure as death." And we do not know when that death is coming to take place. So how much serious we should be. We should be very serious.
Death is sure. Death is the best surety as... "As sure as death." Nobody can say that "I can avoid death." That's a fact. So one who actually understands that "I'll have to die,"... People do not understand. Everyone thinks that he will not die. He'll not die. That is called māyā. He's seeing that everyone is dying; still, he's thinking that "I shall not die" or "I shall live for millions of years. There is no question of death."
Death. You may be safe at the present, for a few years, but you cannot avoid death. "As sure as death." And what is the result of death? The same. As the president is taken out from his position, everything, all honor, all money all..., even life, similarly, at the time of death Kṛṣṇa says, mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś ca aham: "I come as death and plunder everything, whatever you have got." Your bank balance, your skyscraper building, your nice wife, your children—you have to give up. You cannot say, "My dear death, kindly give me some time. Let me adjust." "No adjustment. Immediately get out."
So there is no guarantee. Any moment, we can die. And it is therefore called mṛtyu-loka, "The place where death is," I mean to say, "sure." "As sure as death." People give surety example: "As sure as death." As nobody can avoid death, it is sure. You may be very strong and stout in your health and go on exercising on the beach daily, but you can die any moment.
Ayi nanda-tanuja patitaṁ kiṅkaraṁ mām: "I am... Somehow or other, I have fallen in this ocean of material existence. Kindly pick me up and make me the dust of Your lotus feet." Just like if you are in the ocean, somehow or other, if you are taken one inch above the water, you immediately feel relief. So we have to become at least one inch above these material qualities. Then you are liberated, immediately.
So who can do that? That is done by Kṛṣṇa. Not the demigods can do that. It is not possible. Only Kṛṣṇa can give. Just like if you..., one is condemned to death, nobody can save him. Only the king can save him, the president can save him. Nobody can save him. It is not... By law, nobody can save him, one who is condemned to death. Everyone knows that. By king's mercy, by president's mercy... So similarly, we are here in this material world just like condemned to death. Condemned... That's a practical, condemned to death. Who is not condemned to death here? Who can say, "No, I am not condemned to death." Can anyone say? Everyone is condemned to death. "As sure as death." That is condemned to death. Why shall I die? If my nature, constitutional position, is na jāyate na mriyate—I do not take birth; I do not die—then why I am dying? That is condemned to death.
When a child is born, if some friends asks, "When this child is born?" "Now, one week before," that means the child has already died one week. From his duration of life, make one week minus. So we are dying every moment. Mṛtyu, death, is sure. "As sure as death."
(break) ...says that before our next death comes... Death will come. We say generally, "As sure as death." For our next life. Śukadeva Gosvāmī advises according to our Vedic principle, before death there is a ceremony which is called prāyaścitta or atonement. He advises that when a diseased man goes to a physician, the physician, after diagnosing the disease, he gives the suitable medicine. If the disease is very serious, sometimes very expensive medicine is recommended.
So here it is suggested that "According to the disease..." Diseases, there are different types of disease. Some disease is very acute; some disease is not very important. So he suggests that tasmāt purā eva ca iha pāpa-niṣkṛtau yateta mṛtyor avipadya ātmanā. You have to die. That is a fact. Nobody will live here. "As sure as death." So before death we must finish the atonement of our sinful activities. This is recommended. Purā. Tasmāt purā eva iha pāpa-niṣkṛtau. But nobody knows. At the present moment they do not know what is pāpa and how to get out of it, what is next birth. Everything is unknown at the present moment. This is the modern civilization.
Everyone is anxious about his duty. Somebody is politician, somebody is householder, somebody is something else. Because he has taken up some false duty and working hard for it, therefore he is an ass. He is forgetting his real business. Real business is that death will come. It will not avoid me. Everyone says, "As sure as death." Now, before death, I have to act in such a way that I may have a position in Vaikuṇṭha, in Vṛndāvana, and I may have permanent life to live with Kṛṣṇa. This is our real duty.
In a Bengali there is a proverb, bhajana kara sādhana kara mūrti jānle haya(?), that "Whatever you are executing as a bhajana, sādhana, that's all right, but it will be tested at the time of your death." It will be test. Just like a parrot is chanting, "Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa," but when some cat comes in, "Kaw, kaw, kaw." No. Then missing. So parrot life will not help you. You must be really chanting without any offense. Then it is possibility that at the time of death... Death will be there. You may be very proud of your body, that "I am permanent." No. "As sure as death." And after death you have to change your body. Tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13). That we do not know, what kind of body I will enjoy. Now I have got Serji's(?) body. That's all right. But your karma will decide the next body.
So Prahlāda Mahārāja advises very nicely, "My dear friend," tat-prayāso na kartavyo yata āyur-vyayaḥ param, "don't exert yourself for increasing the paraphernalia of sense enjoyment. That is simply wasting your valuable time, your valuable duration of life." Because, we must know, the duration of life is limited. That will finish. "As sure as death." And before death comes again, we must prepare in such a nice way—no more death, no more birth. That is education.
Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures
In Allahabad we had a friend. He was very rich man. So he was on the dying stage. So many big, big doctors were attending, and he was begging to the doctors, "Doctor, can you not give me at least four years' time? I could finish what I have already attempted." So here we know the death is certain. Still, we make some scheme, big or small, according to idea. But we do not know that at any moment, death will come. "As sure as death." And this death is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś ca aham. That is Kṛṣṇa's mercy. Repeatedly we are taking birth and making big, big scheme, and we may be successful, but at any moment Kṛṣṇa says, "Now you get out and your all business finished. And whatever you have done, that is also finished, or I'll take it away," just to teach us that this place, material world, is not our place. That is our misconception, or māyā, that we want to make a permanent settlement in this material world, which is not possible at all.
So this civilization, this civilized form of life, we should be careful. Just like Mahārāja Parīkṣit is the instance, that he was cursed by a brāhmaṇa that he would die within seven days, and he was preparing. He was preparing himself, because "I have to meet death." But we are so forward that we do not think of our death. But death is in... "As sure as death." Everyone has to meet death. And we have to consider what we are preparing for our life after death. That is intelligence. That is intelligence. Not that to be absorbed in simply only this small duration of life, say fifty years, sixty years or hundred years. You are not hundred years or sixty years, fifty years. You are soul. You are eternal. So what is your eternal life? How you can become eternally happy? How you can have eternal life? That is your problem. That is your problem.
There were many atheistic persons like Kaṁsa, Rāvaṇa, Hiraṇyakaśipu, Dantavakra, they never accepted existence of God. But they had to accept the existence of God at the time of death. Therefore in the Bhagavad-gītā it is said, mṛtyuḥ sarva-haraś ca aham, that "Death, which takes away everything from everyone, that is... That death I am." So if we don't try to see God during our lifetime, then there will be an incidence which is sure—"As sure as death." That death is God. So to the atheistic person death is God. And to the theistic person, they can see, premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena santaḥ sadaiva hṛdayeṣu vilokayanti (Bs. 5.38). Those who have developed love of God, oh, they are enjoying the transcendental pleasure in every moment by seeing the artistic work of Kṛṣṇa. So that is the position of a devotee.
Conversations and Morning Walks
1970 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: No, liver extract preparations there are many medicines. For anemic patient liver extract is recommended.
Devotee (6): That's all right for us to take?
Prabhupāda: No, but if you are going to die, then you can take.
Yamunā: Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: When required for such trouble, if you are going to die, then, to save yourself, you can.
Devotee (6): If that liver can be eaten raw...
Prabhupāda: If you are going to die. Not ordinary. If it is clear that without liver extract you shall die, you can take.
Devotee (4): You cannot tell. You can't tell until you actually (indistinct)
Prabhupāda: Because when there is question of death it is recommended you may take anything to save your life.
Yamunā: Chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Prabhupāda: But those who are rigid, they are prepared to die even.
Yamunā: Vaiṣṇavas, wouldn't they just chant?
Prabhupāda: Their proposal is "Death is sure today or tomorrow, so why shall I change my principles? Death will take place even if I live for ten years more, and what is the benefit? Why shall I change my principles? It is not that by taking that medicine or liver extract I shall be amara, immortal." That is not possible. If somebody gives some medicine that one can make himself immortal, that is another thing. Nobody is going to be immortal. Why he should be afraid of death? Death will take place. "As sure as death." So today, or tomorrow, or hundred years after. So if one moment is utilized for Kṛṣṇa consciousness, that makes life successful. Why shall I live for hundred years, waste my time? One moment is sufficient for living.
1975 Conversations and Morning Walks
Prabhupāda: Those who are not believing in God, to them God will come one day as death, "Now believe Me. Get out!" Finished. All your pride finished. Your pride, your property, your family, your bank balance, your skyscraper building—all taken away. "Finished. Get out." This is God. Now understand God? To believe or not believe, God will come one day. He will take you, take your everything, and "Get out!" That is God. You believe or not believe. It doesn't matter. The same example, the tenant may not believe the landlord, but when the landlord will come with court's order, "Get out," then you have to go out. That's all. That is stated in the Bhagavad-gītā, that "Those who are not believer in God, to them I come as death and take away everything, finished." That one has to believe, "Yes, as sure as death." Then God is sure. You may challenge so long you have got little life for a few years, (laughter) but God will come and drive you away from your present pride, prestigious position, "Get out." So unless one is madman, he cannot say, "There is no God." Anyone who denies the existence of God, he is a madman.
1976 Conversations and Morning Walks
Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Sometimes people criticize us that we are talking too much about death.
Prabhupāda: Because we are not fool like you. Because as sure as death. But you are so fool you do not think of it. So we are not rascal like you. This is the difference. We take practical reality, but you are such a fool you don't care for the reality. So we are not so fool like you are.
Prabhupāda: People are so misled. Tathā dehāntara-prāptiḥ (BG 2.13). We have to change this body. There is no preparation. "As sure as death." Death will take place, and you have to accept another body. Who understands this philosophy? Nobody. They are so dull-headed. This body finished, everything finished. All big, big leaders, scholars, they say. One gentleman, his name is... He was Rabindranath Tagore's brother, artist. So in a meeting he was saying, "We are so fool. Thinking of next life, next life, we are spoiling this life." He said like that long, long ago when we were children, young men, about eighteen years, twenty years. So I remember distinctly, he is saying in the meeting that "Simply thinking of next life, we are spoiling this life." He said. That was his explanation. So at that time we were young boys: "Yes, why we should think of, so much of next life?" Of course, I was not very much convinced, but naturally... I think his name Aurobindo Tagore, like that. Rabindranath Tagore.