Ante Narayana Smrti

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Dandavats all devotees. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva.

The shastras tell us that the perfection of one's spiritual life is to remember Lord Narayana at the time of death. The Shrimad Bhagavatam verse 2.1.6 also says,

etāvān sāṅkhya-yogābhyāṁ sva-dharma-pariniṣṭhayā
janma-lābhaḥ paraḥ puṁsām ante nārāyaṇa-smṛtiḥ

The highest perfection of human life, achieved either by complete knowledge of matter and spirit, by practice of mystic powers, or by perfect discharge of occupational duty, is to remember the Personality of Godhead at the end of life.

Also in the Gita Krishna says "anta-kāle ca mām eva smaran muktvā kalevaram - One who quits this body remembering Me attains My nature." In the purport Srila Prabhupada writes that at the time of death one's mind will be very disturbed and all the bodily functions will be completely disrupted and it'll be difficult to think of the Lord. It is almost impossible. So the great devotee Kulasekara azhwar prays, "Let my mind be fixed upon your lotus feet now when my mind is fresh and body is strong because at the time of death when my throat is choked with mucus, how can I think of you?". In this context a general question asked is, "What if a person dies in coma, where a person lapses into complete unconscious state? How can he remember the Lord. If he can't remember should he come back again to this world?". The Lord Himself answers this question in the Varaha avatara.

When the Lord took Varaha avatara and rescued the Earth, Bhumidevi, the presiding deity of earth and the consort of Lord Vishnu asked the Lord, "Oh Lord, how can people remember you at the time of death which is very disturbing and painful?". The Lord gave a wonderful answer in the form of a sloka. It is called Varaha Charama (ultimate) sloka.

stithe manasi su-svasthe śarīre sati yo naraḥ
dhātu sāmye stithe smarthā viśvarūpaṁ ca mām ajam
tatastam mṛiyamāṇaṁ tu kāṣṭha pāṣāṇa sannibham
aham smarāmi mad bhaktam nayāmi paramāṁ gatim

Let one think of Me, while he's hale and healthy. When he dies even though he just remains motionless like a log of wood or piece of stone, I'll remember My devotee and take him to My Supreme Abode.

So the Lord says that though the devotee can't remember Him at the time of death, He'll remember the devotee at the time of death and personally take him to the Supreme abode. So one need not feel anxious about the last moments of life. Even the brahmasutras emphasize this point. It states, "The jiva departs through the suumnā nādi on the top of the head and through the mercy of the Lord situated in the top of the head, he's lead to the Supreme Abode". Krishna also states in verse 8.27of Gita,

naite sṛtī pārtha jānan yogī muhyati kaścana
tasmāt sarveṣu kāleṣu yoga-yukto bhavārjuna

The devotees are not bewildered by the path of light (uttarāyana) and path of smoke (dakṣināyana). So be fixed in devotion, O Arjuna.

So it is imperative that one glorifies the Lord to the best of his ability and circumstances so that though he may be unconscious at the time of death, the Lord who's Supremely conscious will remember him and deliver him.

Your servant,
L.Harikumar
Chennai.