There is a very common Bengali proverb that says that whatever one does for perfection will be tested at the time of his death. Bhagavad-gītā describes what we should do at the point of our death, when we are giving up this present body. For the dhyāna-yogī (meditator) Śrī Kṛṣṇa speaks the following verses:
- yad akṣaraṁ veda-vido vadanti
- viśanti yad yatayo vīta-rāgāḥ
- yad icchanto brahmacaryaṁ caranti
- tat te padaṁ saṅgraheṇa pravakṣye
- sarva-dvārāṇi saṁyamya
- mano hṛdi nirudhya ca
- mūrdhny ādhāyātmanaḥ prāṇam
- āsthito yoga-dhāraṇām
"Persons learned in the Vedas, who utter oṁkāra and who are great sages in the renounced order, enter into Brahman. Desiring such perfection, one practices celibacy. I shall now explain to you this process by which one may attain salvation. The yogic situation is that of detachment from all sensual engagements. Closing all the doors of the senses and fixing the mind on the heart and the life air at the top of the head, one establishes himself in yoga." (Bg. 8.11-12) In the yoga system this process is called pratyāhāra, which means, in technical language, "the opposite." Now the eyes are engaged in seeing worldly beauty, so one has to withdraw them from enjoying that beauty and concentrate on seeing beauty inside. That is called pratyāhāra. Similarly, one has to hear the oṁkāra sound from within.
- oṁ ity ekākṣaraṁ brahma
- vyāharan mām anusmaran
- yaḥ prayāti tyajan dehaṁ
- sa yāti paramāṁ gatim
"After being situated in this yoga practice and vibrating the sacred syllable oṁ, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the spiritual planets." (BG 8.13) In this way all the senses have to be stopped in their external activities, and the mind must be concentrated on viṣṇu-mūrti, the form of Lord Viṣṇu. That is the perfection of yoga. The mind is very turbulent, so it has to be fixed upon the heart. When the mind is fixed within the heart and the life air is transferred to the top of the head, one can attain the perfection of yoga.
The perfect yogī then determines where he is to go. There are innumerable material planets, and beyond these planets there is the spiritual world. Yogīs have this information from Vedic scriptures. For example, before I came to the United States I read descriptions of it from books. Similarly, a description of the higher planets and the spiritual world can be found in the Vedic scriptures. The yogī knows everything; he can transfer himself to any planet he likes. He does not need the help of spacecraft.
Material scientists have been trying for many years, and they will go on trying for one hundred or one thousand years more, but they will never reach any planet. Maybe by a scientific process one or two men can reach some planet, but that is not the general process. The generally accepted process for transferral to other planets is the practice of the yoga system or the jñāna system. The bhakti system, however, is not meant for transferral to any material planet. Those who engage in the devotional service of Kṛṣṇa, or the Supreme Lord, are not interested in any of the planets of this material world because they know that no matter to which planet one elevates himself, he will still find the four principles of material existence there nonetheless. On some planets the duration of life is much longer than on this earth, but death is there. Those who are Kṛṣṇa conscious, however, transcend this material life of birth, death, disease and old age.
Spiritual life means release from this botheration and misery. Those who are intelligent, therefore, do not try to elevate themselves to any planet of this material world. Men are trying to reach the moon, and although it is very difficult to gain entrance to that planet, if we do gain entrance the period of our lives will be enhanced. Of course, that does not apply to life in this body. If we were to enter the moon with this body, instant death would be certain.
When one enters into a planetary system, he must have a suitable body for that planet. Every planet is inhabited by living entities with bodies suitable for that planet. For instance, we can enter the water in this body, but we cannot live there. We may stay there fifteen or sixteen hours, or maybe twenty-four hours, but that's all. Aquatic animals, however, have particular bodies suitable for living their whole lives in water. Similarly, if one takes a fish out of water and puts it on the land, it will die instantly. As we understand that even on this planet there are different kinds of bodies for living in particular places, so, similarly, if we want to enter another planet, we have to prepare ourselves to get a suitable body.