The idea of death continues to stir in us uncomfortable feelings, especially fear, though we all accept its inevitability. We prefer to think of it as a distant reality with the attitude, “Let me cross the bridge when I reach it.”
Spiritual teaching aims to remove the fearsome aspect in it by instilling faith in God who alone has the power to mitigate the effects of our individual Karma and lead us to salvation, pointed out Sri Goda Venkateswara Sastrigal in a lecture.
In the hymn Subramanya Bhujanga, Adi Sankara prays to the Lord to be present at his deathbed. It is the belief that one’s next birth is decided by the thoughts that prevail during one’s last moments. When death strikes we may not be aware of its approach due to failing health or many other reasons. But it is important to think of God at that time so that we attain a good status after we die. If God is present at the time of one’s death, one will surely remember Him.
The prayer thus runs, “I prostrate at your feet many times and plead that thoughts of you must always pervade my mind. I will not be able to speak at the time of death. My thoughts, etc., may not be under my control. My mind is filled with fear about the last moment of my life. Please do not delay to be present with me during that time.”
The truth is that we have to anticipate the end and plan for it. This is the most crucial plan of our life that will give us the highest benefit for having taken this birth. The daily dose of aches and pains that all beings experience is itself unbearable. One can imagine how much more manifold the death pain is likely to be. We know that death will strike at some point of time and we also know how to escape it. Should we not take action to deal with this fix?
If we pray now and adhere to the practice of remembering God, the thought of God will come involuntarily to us.
The ability to think of God at all times is itself a great boon. But it is a difficult proposition for us when we are immersed in worldly dealings.