When we went into the 9th Standard, all of a sudden there was a change in the atmosphere of our class. The class was virtually split into two sections. While the majority of the students were either focused on immediate class exams or merrymaking, a section of students made radical transformations in their attitude. They were carrying huge books which were meant for IIT entrance preparation. They were focused on their goal of cracking the FINAL EXAMINATION - the IIT Entrance Exam. After almost two decades we can see most of these members in a materially well-established life.
The reason for their success was setting the right goal and then pursuing the goal with a single-pointed determination, as Krishna advises in Bhagavad Gita -
bahu-śākhā hy anantāś ca
Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.
[- Bhagavad Gita 2.41]
If we analyze the students of our class, the difference between the two sections was - Identifying The Final Examination. Based on their definition and understanding they prioritized their focus. While some thought final examination is passing the immediate class tests, some thought final examination is passing 9th standard, some thought passing 10th, 12th Board examination, there was this section of students who understood the Real Final Exam is the Entrance Examination of elite colleges/institutes. If one is prepared for that examination, not only will he be ready with the conceptual base of the 9th standard but be ready with subsequent 10th and 12th Board examinations.
Also, there are many students who scored very well in the exit exam (board exam) but unable to meet the cut-off of the entrance exam, finally they had to choose to join some mediocre college.
Therefore Entrance Exams are equally or sometimes more important than Exit Exams.
Things become very sorted when we understand this as we can prioritize our life, which otherwise will be very mismanaged or disorganized.
the "Exit" Exam of Life
This is quite evident, the exit examination of life is - Death.
Still, the majority of us try to be ostrich by hiding our head into the sand and assuming our predator, death, can't see us. These people keep focusing on various class tests and assignments of life in the form of materialistic duties.
But few who understand the gravity of the situation, choose to dedicate the remaining time in the preparation for the final exam - Entrance Exam to Goloka Vrindavan - Back To GodHead.
We are prepared or not, death is inevitable. The irony is that most of us fail in this exam. Failing an exam means re-appearing for the exam. This means repeated deaths. We are forced to take birth and forced to die until we pass it.
Against the opinion of many - this is not just one life. We have been accepting millions of bodies of various species, one after another. That means we have been dying million times since time immemorial.
vāsāṁsi jīrṇāni yathā vihāya
navāni gṛhṇāti naro ’parāṇi
tathā śarīrāṇi vihāya jīrṇāny
anyāni saṁyāti navāni dehī
As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.
[-Bhagavad Gita 2.22]
Due to our materially intoxicated consciousness, we are in a state of hallucination. Thus we are so much engrossed in chasing the mirage of happiness, we generally do not think about the painful death which will eventually snatch away everything we have accumulated so far.
In the Garuda Purana, one of the ancient Vedic scriptures, it is mentioned that death is extremely painful and the dying person experiences a pain that is equivalent to the simultaneous biting of 40,000 scorpions.
The great sage Kapila informs his mother about the ghastly nature of the death experience,
... Afflicted with many illnesses, such as dyspepsia and loss of appetite, he eats only very small morsels of food, and he becomes an invalid who cannot work any more.
In that diseased condition, one’s eyes bulge due to the pressure of air from within, and his glands become congested with mucus. He has difficulty breathing, and upon exhaling and inhaling he produces a sound like ghura-ghura, a rattling within the throat.
In this way he comes under the clutches of death and lies down, surrounded by lamenting friends and relatives, and although he wants to speak with them, he no longer can because he is under the control of time.
Thus the man, who engaged with uncontrolled senses in maintaining a family, dies in great grief, seeing his relatives crying. He dies most pathetically, in great pain and without consciousness.
[Srimad Bhagvatam 3.30.15-18].
Death, be it natural or accidental, is extremely painful. We are suffering this pain in every birth that we took. It is foolishness to accept so much pain, anxiety and trauma life after life.
Although we can not avoid death, we can avoid RE-BIRTH by entering into a world where "there is no birth and death", a world that is Eternal.
The "Eternal" World
punar āvartino ’rjuna
mām upetya tu kaunteya
punar janma na vidyate
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]
Krishna's world, Krishna's Abode is the Top Most Planet in the Spiritual Sky, also known as Goloka Vrindavan.
Krishna by this verse is stating the solution to end the painful cycle of repeated birth and death by returning to our Eternal Home.
The most important reason for Krishna appearing on this planet and the essence of Vedic Scriptures is to show us the path - Back Home, Back To Godhead. The Final Exam is passing through the Entrance Exam of This Eternal World.
The success of human life is not in becoming famous or eating various cuisines in various restaurants or staying in luxurious apartments or accumulating piles of money to secure our future or producing children or playing with grandchildren.
The real success of human life to crack through the Entrance Exam and Enter into Goloka Vrindavan, once and for all.
the "Enterance" Exam
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ - tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya - sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ
Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail.
[Bhagavad Gita 8.6]
Just as in the material education system, we see based on Exit Exam scores we get qualified to appear for the Entrance Exam. Similarly in the above verse, Krishna is telling based on the Exit Exam of Life we will get an opportunity to appear for the Entrance Exam.
It clearly says - Only if we manage to remember Krishna at the time of death, we can attain Krishna.
yānti deva-vratā devān
pitṝn yānti pitṛ-vratāḥ
bhūtāni yānti bhūtejyā
yānti mad-yājino ’pi mām
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]
Quite opposite to what many think - "Joto Mot Totho Poth", Krishna is saying There is Only One Way To Reach Him. His unalloyed devotional service. Joto Mot Totho Poth is an absurd concept and is a myth, a lie.
If we are interested to attain success we must hear from Krishna directly and follow His instructions.
man-manā bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi yuktvaivam
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]
This is the simplest way to reach Krishna and reside with Him in His Abode eternally. All we need to do is keep our mind and our senses engaged in Krishna and His service.
Our Exit Exam is Death.
Passing this exam means quitting our body with the right state of consciousness. Any thought or desire which is material and related to the material world, even if these are about demigods, will keep us shackled in this material world. Thus we will have to accept repeated birth and deaths.
Our Entrance Exam is Entering into Golok Vrindavan.
Passing this exam means becoming qualified to enter Goloka Vrindavan. Out of all the qualifications, Krishna stresses on man-mana bhva mad-bhakto ... engaging our mind on Krishna and becoming His Devotee.
Srila Prabhupada gives a practical approach to achieve this state.
If in one’s present life one lives in the mode of goodness and always thinks of Kṛṣṇa, it is possible for one to remember Kṛṣṇa at the end of one’s life. That will help one be transferred to the transcendental nature of Kṛṣṇa. If one is transcendentally absorbed in Kṛṣṇa’s service, then his next body will be transcendental (spiritual), not material. Therefore the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare is the best process for successfully changing one’s state of being at the end of one’s life.
[Bhagavad Gita 8.6 - purport]
All that we need to strive for is to
(1) Living life in the mode of goodness (sattva guna)
(2) Stay absorbed to Krishna through Seva (service)
(3) Chant a minimum of 16 rounds of Hare Krishna Maha Mantra every day
Let us become focused on the goal of returning back to Krishna in this very lifetime. The more serious we are, the easier it becomes. A simple solution is seeing the world with an eye of Scriptures and not be fooled by the illusionary potency - Maya Devi.
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