mūkaṁ karoti vācālaṁ paṅguṁ laṅghayate girim
yat-kṛpā tam ahaṁ vande śrī-guruṁ dīna-tāraṇam
hariḥ oṁ tat sat
Oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya
Oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya
Oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya
Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 1.9.30:
tadopasaṁhṛtya giraḥ sahasraṇīr
vimukta-saṅgaṁ mana ādi-pūruṣe
kṛṣṇe lasat-pīta-paṭe catur-bhuje
puraḥ sthite ’mīlita-dṛg vyadhārayat
Translation: Thereupon that man who spoke on different subjects with thousands of meanings, and who fought on thousands of battlefields and protected thousands of men, stopped speaking and, being completely freed from all bondage, withdrew his mind from everything else and fixed his wide-open eyes upon the original Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, who stood before him, four-handed, dressed in yellow garments that glittered and shined.
Purport by Śrīla Prabhupāda: In the momentous hour of leaving his material body, Bhīṣmadeva set the glorious example concerning the important function of the human form of life. The subject matter which attracts the dying man becomes the beginning of his next life. Therefore, if one is absorbed in thoughts of the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, he is sure to go back to Godhead without any doubt. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā (8.5-15):
5: And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.
6: Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.
7: Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Kṛṣṇa and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt.
8: He who meditates on the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Pārtha [Arjuna], is sure to reach Me.
9: One should meditate upon the Supreme Person as the one who knows everything, as He who is the oldest, who is the controller, who is smaller than the smallest, who is the maintainer of everything, who is beyond all material conception, who is inconceivable, and who is always a person. He is luminous like the sun and, being transcendental, is beyond this material nature.
10: One who, at the time of death, fixes his life air between the eyebrows and in full devotion engages himself in remembering the Supreme Lord will certainly attain to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
11: 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.
12: 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.
13: 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.
14: For one who remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Pṛthā, because of his constant engagement in devotional service.
15: After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogīs in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.
Śrī Bhīṣmadeva attained the perfection of quitting his body at will and was fortunate enough to have Lord Kṛṣṇa, the object of his attention, personally present at the time of death. He therefore fixed his open eyes upon Him. He wanted to see Śrī Kṛṣṇa for a long time out of his spontaneous love for Him. Because he was a pure devotee, he had very little to do with the detailed performance of yogic principles. Simple bhakti-yoga is enough to bring about perfection. Therefore, the ardent desire of Bhīṣmadeva was to see the person of Lord Kṛṣṇa, the most lovable object, and by the grace of the Lord, Śrī Bhīṣmadeva had this opportunity at the last stage of his breathing.
Jayapatākā Swami: Bhīṣmadeva he had the boon, he could leave his body whenever he wanted. So, he waited till the uttarāyaṇa came. Then since Kṛṣṇa was there, he focused his eyesight on Kṛṣṇa. In this way he left his body. Completely he was thinking about Kṛṣṇa. Just before that he had advised Yudhiṣṭhira mahārāja on different aspects. But when it was time to leave his body, he stopped speaking, he focused his full attention on Kṛṣṇa. We observe Bhīṣma Pancaka. Then, we offer praṇāma, argya and tarpaṇa for Bhīṣmadeva. He never got married and did not have any children. So we perform tarpaṇa, as his children. We can see what a great devotee he was. Kṛṣṇa was present at his last moments. He took that golden opportunity he completely fixed his consciousness on Lord Kṛṣṇa. Every one of us has to leave our body. Now Bhīṣma showed how to do that successfully. He focused his consciousness on the form of Kṛṣṇa. Since there is no difference from the form, pastimes, name of the Lord, so there is no difference between Bhagavān and His pure devotees. So in this way, if one can meditate on Lord Kṛṣṇa or His devotees or His names, then that person will reach back home back to Godhead.
Arjuna was told to fight for Kṛṣṇa, but keep his mind on Kṛṣṇa. So we should follow that example to keep our mind always on Kṛṣṇa. The battlefield is very intense as the enemy is trying to kill you. But then, Kṛṣṇa told Arjuna to always keep his mind on Him. So if Arjuna could do that in the battlefield, it shouldn’t be difficult for us to do in any other situation. From the Bhagavad-gītā Śrīla Prabhupāda has quoted many verses. All the verses say how we can go back to Lord Kṛṣṇa.
So Caitanya Mahāprabhu instructed to study the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. We can see how valuable these instructions are. Now many people are leaving the body, due to this COVID-19. So we know that we put Ganges water on their head, dry Tulasī twig on their body at the time of death, and in that way if the body is cremated or burnt, then if this way if Tulasī is on their body then that person will go back to Goloka Vṛndāvana. Then we chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, and go around the body seven times. So, we saw on Zoom how the devotees, they circumambulated His Holiness Bhakti Cāru Swami’s body. So, according to the Bhagavad-gītā, we are the spirit soul, we are not the body. And the ātmā is eternal. But the body is temporary. But the mistake is that we think, that they identify the material body with themselves. They think that everything related to the body like relatives and wealth is eternal, permanent. This is their illusion. And so Śrīla Prabhupāda he wanted to help the people understand the real meaning of life. Lord Caitanya was giving the spiritual direction, those who are intelligent and fortunate would accept it. Others, they did not take it very seriously. So, Lord Caitanya He gave the special mercy of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa. He chanted kīrtana with so many devotees. And He recited the verse bhakte sane vaas – being in the association of devotees. He said you are all devotees, staying with you is very auspicious. We thought staying with Śrīla Prabhupāda was auspicious. He was saying the opposite. By living with you I am awarded auspiciousness. He said, I am not in Melbourne, I am in Vaikuṇṭha. All the temples I go, everyone is the spiritual world. ISKCON Kuala Lumpur, Perth, Sydney, etc. all are in the spiritual world. So he travelled from one spiritual world to another. He saw all the temples, he would go from one temple to the next and he thought he was always in the spiritual world. Actually, I was travelling around the world, but I just went from one temple to the next. I would go from the airport to the temple and would usually know the temple. Then I would go from one temple to the other. Usually I never had any time to go sightseeing. One spiritual place to the next spiritual place. Like that somehow we should always stay in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. In the Vedas it says, kalua śūdra sambhava – everyone is born a śūdra. But by the mercy of Lord Caitanya, by the mercy of His representative, Śrīla Prabhupāda, we can engage in pure bhakti yoga. In this way, we can make our life perfect. Lord Caitanya after many years, He decided to go to Vṛndāvana. So He went from Jagannātha Purī to Panihati dhāma, He went to Halisahar and lived with Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura for a few days. Then He went to the āśramas, homes, of Vāsudeva Datta and Śivānanda Sena. This way He travelled and reached the home of Advaita Ācārya in Śāntipura. Then some devotees and told Śacī Mata that your son, he is Śāntipura. But she was so ecstatic, she was asking has Kṛṣṇa come back from Mathurā? She was in the mood of Yaśodā. So, then with a palanquin she went to Śāntipura. Lord Caitanya was glorifying her, my mother she gave me so much love and care. And like that, normally children are not so appreciative of their parents. But Lord Caitanya He glorified profusely, His mother. But what was the desire of Mother Śacī? She simply wanted to serve. She wanted to cook for Lord Caitanya. So, she knew that He liked saka. In the West, generally people eat saka which is a kind of spinach. Like pālān saka. But Śacī Mata made twenty varieties of saka! And Lord Caitanya He was itonro each of the spinach, saka this acyuta saka, this is kāla saka. If you take this it will awaken bhakti in you. This spinach, this saka gives you Kṛṣṇa Prema! This saka gives you the association of devotees. Like that He was glorifying each of the sakas. If you eat Helanca saka a type of bitter spinach, what will be the nenefit and this way he would utter the name of each saka and glorify its benefit. Helenca saka is a kind of creeper that grows in a lotus pond. So I don’t know in Australia if you have any lotus ponds? But Lord Caitanya was glorifying all these green leafy vegetable sakas. And all the devotees were sitting around Him and it was such a nice exchange! So, like this the pastimes of Lord Caitanya are so very dear. So like that He had different kinds of pastimes. And devotees were enjoying His association so much. Advaita Gosāñi, Śacī Mata, what a wonderful association! Lord Caitanya was saying that if one remembers Śacī Mata or has any devotion to her, even if they are a million times removed, but they will also be blessed.
So in this way, Lord Caitanya, how He associated with different devotees is incomparable. When He was at the house of Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura, He stayed for some days. And He asked Śrīvāsa that you have a big family. But you don’t go out! How do you maintain your family? Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura said, very easy, he clapped his hands one, two, three! Lord Caitanya asked what is that?! One, two, three, what is this? So Śrīvāsa said, if I go without food for three days, I will tie a pot around my neck and take my life in the Ganges. So Lord Caitanya said, I said in the Bhagavad-gītā that yogakshemam vahamyam – what the devotees have I will protect it and whatever they need I provide it. Lord Caitanya said, you remain in your house, you will never have any problems. Even if Lakṣmī devī becomes poverty stricken and has to beg from door to door, you will never be poor. And then He gave him blessings that you will not have old age. You and Advaita Gosāin will not have old age. So like that association with Caitanya Mahāprabhu was so special.
Like that the devotees were able to associate with Bhīṣmadeva, and Kṛṣṇa was there when Bhīṣmadeva was leaving his body. There the devotees they derived great pleasure by the association of Bhīṣmadeva. The exchange between Kṛṣṇa and His devotee is so filled with love. But in this world, we don’t have such loving relationships. In the spiritual world, everything is filled with love. So, the relationship with Kṛṣṇa and His devotees is very special. But the way Lord Caitanya associated and mingled with different devotees, where will we find such association? When He was travelling in South India, at that time, each day He would be in a different village, in the house of a different person. In this way, He spread the mercy. If we want this opportunity that Lord Caitanya should go to each house to house of the gṛhasthas, that was His special mercy. How many of you would like Lord Caitanya to visit your house? (Raise your hand). Haribol! Gaurāṅga! Bhīṣmadeva ki jaya! Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa ki jaya!
So for ten minutes are there any questions on today’s class?
Priyamvada Gaurāṅgī devī dāsī: Bhīṣmadeva was a great devotee of Kṛṣṇa and a mahājana, so why was he silent during Draupadī’s vastra hārāñā took place, and took the side of the irreligious Duryodhana in the religious war?
Jayapatākā Swami: There is one saying in Bengali, jaar noon khāo, taar guṇa gāo. Whoever’s salt you accept you praise them. Because he was eating the food of Duryodhana he was being maintained by Duryodhana, that is why he felt he had to fight on the other side. But Yudhiṣṭhira bowed down to him and asked him how can I defeat you? Then Bhīṣmadeva said, if there is some woman or a person has a feminine name he will not fight with them. So that is why Śikhaṇḍī which is like a female name, and so Arjuna kept Śikhaṇḍī in front of him. Anyway, Bhīṣmadeva was very truthful. And there were many wonderful pastimes between him and the other side. Duryodhana said you are being partial to them. I want you to defeat them. And he took five arrows and did pūjā and said with each of the arrows I will kill each of the Pāṇḍavas. But if Kṛṣṇa interferes, I am not responsible. But Duryodhana did not trust Bhīṣma. He took the arrows. Arjuna he had saved Duryodhana from the Gandharvas. And Duryodhana said, I owe you one, whatever you want, I will give one boon. So then Arjuna went to Duryodhana and asked him for the five arrows. He said, how did you know I had the arrows? Kṛṣṇa told me Arjuna said.
Subāhu Sacisuta dāsa, Subhadrā VOICE, Chottagram, Bangladesh: Bengali: You had said that when someone leaves the body, if someone is given and sprinikled Gaṅgā water and dry Tulasī twig is placed on his body, and he is cremated in such a way with Harināma and circumambulates his body seven times, that person gets to go back to Goloka Vṛndāvana. How should we accept this? Does that mean that person does not need to remember Kṛṣṇa at the time of death?
Jayapatākā Swami: if you remember Kṛṣṇa you will go back to Kṛṣṇa. But whether he remembered Kṛṣṇa or not, but if some of his relatives or friend makes this kind of an arrangement then that person will be benefited. So that is how merciful Kṛṣṇa is.