Death and Remembering

Q. In several places in BTG I have read that while departing the body, if the soul thinks of Lord Krishna as the last thought then it reaches only Lord Krishna, the Supersoul, as its final destination. How does this fit with the laws of karma, where your past works determine your next life and destiny in the material world? Is it not saying that all your life you can commit sins and in old age run to the shelter of Lord Krishna and try to develop the skills to think of Him in your last thoughts and thus reach Him—in other words, attain liberation?

A. One of the main teachings of Bhagavad-gita is that karma or work  done for the satisfaction of Krishna brings no reaction. Such work is called akarma. The devotee serving Krishna under the direction of Krishna’s representative, the bona fide spiritual master, performs spiritual activities that not only have no material reaction; they act to purify the consciousness. Purified consciousness means Krishna consciousness.

Unless we develop Krishna consciousness during our life to remember Krishna at the time of death will be very difficult. Srila Prabhupada cautions, “Remembrance of Krishna is not possible for the impure soul who has not practiced Krishna consciousness in devotional service.”

At death, we’ll naturally remember whatever we’re attached to. If we spend our life developing attachments to things other than Krishna, we’ll remember those things and look to them to save us at the time of death. So while it is true that whoever remembers Krishna at death goes to Him, we should understand that doing so will be impossible unless we diligently practice and awaken our love for Him.