In any roadside meat shop, a common scene in India, we can find that a butcher chops a goat while nearby a herd of goats is tied and given leaves to eat. Goats are seen happily eating them. Not even for once they wonder:
- Why is the butcher taking away goats one by one and not returning them?
- Whose flesh is hung?
- Am I really safe, will it be my turn next?
They keep ignoring the evident symptoms of death and think "Let's enjoy and eat even the last piece of green leaf." However, if there were a group of humans (supposedly intelligent than goats) kept in the place of goats, they would have definitely enquired about these questions. They would have tried to break free, rejecting the sweet aroma from the delicious food.
In The Mahabharata, when Yaksha asked: “What is the greatest wonder in the world?” Yudhishthira replied: “That no man, though he sees others dying all around him, believes that he himself will die...”
Early last year, I was speaking with one of my previous company colleagues and came to know a very close friend of ours left his body while taking a shower.
Almost every year we get an email from Human Resources Team informing us about the sad decease of our office employees. A few months back, we got a sad news at the office. One of our office morning cabs met with an accident, a head-on collision with a bus, killing the cab driver and our office colleagues on the spot.
An under-construction flyover came crashing at peak hours of noon over one of the busiest street-crossings of Kolkata, smashing people like insects.
A few years back one of my close relatives, was washed away to death in a river.
Every month, if not daily we see or hear or read in the newspaper about someone or other's death. Most of these deaths are accidental, unexpected, sudden and without warning.
Most of us, when we hear these news, feel little sad but then continue with our normal life i.e. run after accumulating unlimited wealth and attain all the comforts of life. We subconsciously think we won’t die, at least not in the near future. Hardly anyone of us realizes, that we might die the very next minute. This is Goat-Syndrome and almost each one of us is like the Foolish Goat.
Krishna says in Bhagavad Gita,
One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again.
[Bhagavad Gita - 2.27]
For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.
[Bhagavad Gita - 2.20]
So it is foolishness to pamper something which is perishable (body) and not focus on something which is eternal (soul) .
There was once this little girl, who was gifted by her mother, a small rose plant. There was a beautiful big rose on the plant. The little girl looked at the rose and was awestruck with its beauty. She used to take care of the rose like anything, spray water so that no dust clings to it and drive away from the flies & other insects. However in spite of her immense love and care the flower withered to death after few days. She was heartbroken. Adding to her grief the plant also died, since she was so much attached to the flower, she neglected the plant.
We shouldn’t behave like this little ignorant kid by neglecting the eternal thing and pamper what is short-lived. Death is certain, how much ever we try to close our eyes and ears and try to avoid the fact, reality still remains the same.
If we are Goats then who is The Wise?
Goats spend their entire life grazing and get surprised by death.
Human suffering with Goat Syndrom also spends their entire life in merrymaking and get surprised by death.But The Wise men, on the other hand, spend their entire life in preparing for their death.
There is a famous quote by Rousseau - Man has forgotten how to die because he does not know how to live.
We all have to die for sure, so we must know how to die, and to do that we should start learning how to live. This is only possible if we take shelter of Scriptures like Bhagavad Gita & Srimad Bhagavatam.
How to be Wise?
If you reach out to any materialistic person, his entire focus is to “secure” his future. Ask any financial advisor how to ensure a secured future, he will ask you to do the planning – financial planning. Similarly, real wise men plan their life so that they can face death as it should be.
This can be done by 4 easy steps:
1. Understand the Goal of Life.
“From the highest planet in the material world down to the lowest, all are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. But one who attains to My abode, O son of Kuntī, never takes birth again.”
[Bhagavad Gita – 8.16]
All the goals that we have been “taught to have” are okay only till the time we have this body. Like, let us say “I want to be famous in the world.” That is great. But, what if I die before I attain it? Or even if I attain my goal, what will I do with it once I die, as I will be in some other body - probably with a different name (if at all I get a human birth again)? With our death, every attended & unattended materialistic goals become useless.
Hence our actual goal of life should be independent of this body, it has to be something that we will find useful even after quitting this body.
This is why we need Scriptures to guide us as no one else can provide us this knowledge. Vedic Scriptures like Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatham says that we – the spirit soul has been transmigrating from one body to another since time immemorial, from the bodies of various species of life (8.4 million to be precise). Now we have got a human body which is the only body capable of doing Spiritual Activities. This human body should not be wasted in sophisticating the animalistic acts of eating-sleeping-matting-defending. Instead, this human form should be made instrumental in setting and attaining the highest goal - “to attain the abode of Krishna – our Home.”
Because once we reach the spiritual realm (abode of Krishna), there is no chance of our falling back into the miserable cycle of 8.4 million species of life [Bhagavad Gita – 15.6]
2. Live the moment but carefully Plan for the future.
Each one of us gets 24 hours. However, we spend our entire 24 hours on something which will be of no use after our certain death. Students spend maximum time in studying, youths spend maximum time in activities to earn money and comfort or chit-chatting with friends over drinks, or match or movies, and retired old people spend maximum time in watching TV, gardening or reading mundane newspaper and magazines. There is not too much harm in these activities, but the thing is, we need to find some time for our spiritual growth so that we can attain our higher goal.
The easiest excuse is – we are too busy to invest in spiritual activities.
Krishna narrated the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, who was a warrior, in the middle of a battlefield with 640 million heavily armed and equipped soldiers ready to kill each other. Did you ever wonder why did Krishna choose to teach Bhagavad Gita in the middle of the battlefield?
The reason is, Krishna is challenging each one of us (the so-called busy people who don't even have a moment's time to spare) that, are we really busier than Arjuna who was on a battlefield with those 640 million soldiers who are eager to kill at the drop of a hat? Even in that extraordinary consequential moment of destruction and annihilation, Krishna requested Arjuna to take out 45 minutes of his crucial time to teach the entire Bhagavad Gita. Therefore, we should realize however occupied we are with our work or family, we should still take out some time to remember the Lord and hear about Him.
The fundamental thing to know is – we do not quit anything, we continue to do our regular activities, work, school or office – the only thing is keeping Krishna in the center.
Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishna 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.
[Bhagavad Gita – 8.7]
Having said this many of us will come up with a question - Why reach Only Krishna, why not someone else?
Because, apart from the fact that, Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, He also says something that neither anyone else has said in past nor anyone else can say in the future.
That supreme abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by ﬁre or electricity. Those who reach it never return to this material world.
[Bhagavad Gita 15.6]
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.
[Bhagavad Gita 8.15]
This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difﬁcult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.
[Bhagavad Gita 7.14]
Intelligent amongst us will ponder over a vital question - How to Reach Krishna?
The answer is again provided by Krishna Himself in Bhagavad Gita;
For one who always remembers Me without deviation, I am easy to obtain, O son of Pṛthā, because of his constant engagement in devotional service.
[Bhagavad Gita 8.14]
He who meditates on Me as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, his mind constantly engaged in remembering Me, undeviated from the path, he, O Pārtha, is sure to reach Me.
[Bhagavad Gita 8.8]
Those who worship the demigods will take birth among the demigods; those who worship the ancestors go to the ancestors; those who worship ghosts and spirits will take birth among such beings; and those who worship Me will live with Me.
[Bhagavad Gita 9.25]
Engage your mind always in thinking of Me, become My devotee, offer obeisances to Me and worship Me. Being completely absorbed in Me, surely you will come to Me.
[Bhagavad Gita 9.34]
3. Remember Krishna at the time of Death.
And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.
[Bhagavad Gita 8.5]
But how much ever we try to remember Krishna at the time of death, it will be very difficult, as we would be suffering a tremendous pain of 42,000 scorpion bites or some of us will be feeling separation from our loved ones!!
Just like a final stage performance requires numerous practices, we need to practice calling out to Him from now on – when we are healthy, fit and fine. This will re-establish our forgotten sambandha or relationship with Krishna. Once our relation is reestablished, no pain can stop us from remembering and calling out our beloved Krishna.
This is easily done by chanting the Holy Name, Mahamantra - Greatest Mantra.
Hare Krishna - Hare Krishna * Krishna Krishna Hare Hare * Hare Rama - Hare Rama * Rama Rama Hare Hare.
4. Beware of the pitfalls
Most of the time we give up the idea of spirituality because either we follow other rich & famous materialist or get demotivated by others (who can be our close & loved ones). But we need to embed a fact in our mind that – the world is filled with foolish (ignorant) people who are incapable of taking on to Krishna Consciousness and there are very very very few (rare) intelligent souls who will (at least try to) understand the great science of Krishna Consciousness, as said by Krishna Himself.
Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.
[Bhagavad Gita 7.15]
I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible.
[Bhagavad Gita 7.25]
Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.
[Bhagavad Gita 7.3]
After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.
[Bhagavad Gita 7.19]
Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life and whose sinful actions are completely eradicated are freed from the dualities of delusion, and they engage themselves in My service with determination.
[Bhagavad Gita 7.28]
So we must not follow the ignorant foolish majority around us, instead, try to educate them about reality and motivate them to become Krishna Conscious - and finally become human from a goat.
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