antakaale cha maam eva smaran muktwaa kalevaram
yah prayaati sa madbhaavam yaati naastyatra samshayah // 8.5 //
Whosoever at the time of death leaves his body remembering Me alone and goes forth - he attains My Being; there is no doubt about this.
yam yam vaapi smaran bhaavam tyajatyante kalevaram
tam tamevaiti kaunteya sadaa tadbhaavabhaavitah // 8.6 //
For whatever object a man thinks of at the final moment, when he leaves his body - that alone does he attain, O Son of Kunti, being ever absorbed in the thought thereof.
The most prominent thought of one's life occupies the mind at the time of death. The last thoughts of a dying person determine the quality of his next birth. The soul goes to that on which its mind is set during the last moments. What we think we become. Our past thoughts determine our present birth and our present ones will determine the future.
Therefore, Sri Krishna tells that one who leaves the body with his mind completely turned towards the Self will naturally reach the Eternal and the Immortal - the Supreme abode, reaching which there is no return. We can think of God in the last moments only if we are devoted to Him previously also.
The Lord explains that whatever object one remembers while leaving the body, he reaches that alone because of his constant thought of that object. It is not the casual fancy of the last moment but a persistent endeavor of the whole life that determines the future birth.
tasmaat sarveshu kaaleshu maamanusmara yudhya cha
mayyarpitamanobuddhir maamevaishyasyasamshayah // 8.7 //
Therefore, at all times, constantly remember Me and fight. With your mind and intellect absorbed in Me, you shall doubtless come to Me alone.
Sri Krishna, advises Arjuna to constantly keep his mind fixed on Him and at the same time perform his Swadharma (to fight). The mind is purified when a man performs his own dharma, regarding himself as an instrument of God. Only a pure mind can constantly remember God.
CONSTANT PRACTICE IS NECESSARY TO REALIZE GOD
abhyaasayogayuktena chetasaa naanyagaaminaa
paramam purusham divyam yaati paarthaanuchintayan // 8.8 //
Engaged in the Yoga of constant practice and not allowing the mind to wander away to anything else, he who meditates on the supreme, resplendent Purusha reaches Him, O son of Pritha.
Constant practice is the uninterrupted repetition of one and the same idea, with reference to the Lord as the sole object of meditation. Such practice by which one surrenders his heart and soul to the Lord alone is known as Yoga.
Resplendent Purusha means the presiding deity of the solar orb which is considered as the manifestation of the Absolute as the Cosmic Spirit. He is also known as Saguna Brahman.
MEDITATING AND ATTAINING PURUSHA
kavim puraanam anushaasitaaram
sarvasya dhaataaram achintyaroopam
aadityavarnam tamasah parastaat //8.9//
Whosoever meditates upon the Omniscient, the ancient, the ruler (of the whole world), who is subtler than the subtle, the supporter of all, whose form is inconceivable, effulgent like the sun and beyond the darkness (of ignorance),
bhaktyaa yukto yogabalena chaiva
bhruvormadhye praanamaaveshya samyak
sa tam param purushamupaiti divyam // 8.10 //
At the time of death, with an unshaken mind full of devotion, by the power of 'yoga' fixing the whole 'prana' (breath) between the two eyebrows, he (the seeker) reaches the Supreme Resplendent 'purusha. '
In these two verses Sri Krishna gives Arjuna exhaustive guidance that will help in undertaking meditation by all. The meaning of the various terms used here is as follows.
Verse - 9
Omniscient (Kavi) - Just as the sun is said to be seeing everything because it illuminates all the objects of the world, so too is the Principle of Awareness without which no knowledge whatsoever is possible. Thus, in terms of the limited knowledge we presently experience, the Self is considered as the Supreme Knower who knows everything i.e. Omniscient and without whom no knowledge is ever possible.
Ancient (Puranam) - The Self is considered as the most ancient because the Eternal Truth which was there before all creation remains the same always.
The ruler of the whole world (Anushaasitaaram) - It indicates that if the principle of awareness were not present in our faculties of perception, feeling and comprehension, harmonization of our physical, mental and intellectual experiences would not have been possible to lead a meaningful existence. Hence the Knowing Principle or Consciousness is the very essence of life just as without the mud the mud-pot cannot exist. The mud is the ruler in the world of mud pots so too is the Self the over-ruler of the Universe.
Minuter than the Atom (Anoraneeyaam) - The smallest divisible particle of any element maintaining the properties of that element is called its atom. It indicates that the Self is the subtlest of the subtle.
The more a thing is subtle the more is its pervasiveness. Water is subtler than the ice and hence water is said to be more pervasive than the ice and similarly steam is more pervasive than water. So also, the Self is the subtlest of the subtle which pervades all but nothing pervades it.
The nourisher of all (Sarvasya Dhaataram) - Nourishment here means the support which sustains everything. Just like the canvas supports ever so many different paintings of an artist, the Consciousness illuminates constantly the ever changing things and happenings, around and within us, from birth to death, through all situations which results in homogeneous oneness of life.
Of inconceivable form (Achintyaroopam) - Various descriptions of the Self given above should not lead to the wrong conclusion that It can be thought about and understood as any finite object or idea. We should be clear that the Infinite cannot be comprehended by the finite instruments of perception, feeling or understanding. Although the Self is in the form inconceivable, It is not inexperienceable since an individual can apprehend It to be of his own real nature during the process of Divine awakening.
Effulgent like the sun (Aadityavarnam) - So long as a man identifies himself with his limited auxiliaries in his body he lives in the external world of multiplicities wherein the Self is in-conceivable, inexperienceable and in-comprehensible. Once these auxiliaries are crossed through a process of contemplation of the Self, he realizes his own nature of Pure Being.
To see the sun no other light is necessary or a dreamer cannot know the waker, because to know the waker the dreamer has to end his dream state and become the waker. So too, on ending the egocentric existence during spiritual awakening, one realizes that he is nothing but the Self at all times.
Beyond all the darkness (Tamasah parastaat) - The sun is variable in nature like its brightness during the day with various degrees of intensity and its total absence during the night. It may be erroneously concluded that the Self is also variable in its intensity or there are times when It is totally absent. To remove this possible misunderstanding The Lord says that the Self is beyond darkness of ignorance.
Thus, the one who meditates upon the Self as omniscient, ancient, over-ruler, subtlest of the subtle, nourisher of all, of in-conceivable form, self illuminating as the sun and beyond all ---
Verse - 10
At the time of death (Prayaanakaale) - These words do not mean `the physical death' but they are to be understood as `at the moment of the death of the ego' when all identifications with the body, mind and intellect are consciously withdrawn during meditation.
Endowed with full devotion (Bhakti) - It means selfless love for the Divine without any expectation which implies identification of the ego with its real nature. The idea is that the meditation should be accompanied by the meditator's readiness to identify himself with the principle of awareness as earlier indicated.
By the power of Yoga (Yogabalena) - This is the inward strength that grows in the mind of the meditator when he meditates upon the Supreme for long periods of time when the mind is withdrawn from its agitations and the intellect rests on contemplation of the Absolute. When one is thus engaged in meditation, all his pranas get concentrated at the point of his concentration between the eyebrows which represents the seat of steady thought.
Fixing the whole prana between the eyebrows - This is the process of controlling the breath. Life expressing itself at the various functions in a living body is called the Prana which can be classified under five categories viz. Prana: faculty of sense perception, Apana: the excretory system, Vyana: the digestive system, Samaana: the circulatory system and Udana: capacity to visualize some greater concepts beyond the present world of knowledge. When an individual gets himself merged with the Self, at that moment all these faculties are temporarily arrested.
Reaches the resplendent Supreme person - Such a person in whom the mind becomes completely silent and calm, all manifestations of life's presence through his body are halted. At this stage he goes to the Supreme Resplendent Self (Purusha) i.e. completely identifies himself with his point of contemplation, the Self.