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The Last Thought

From: sadagopan iyengar (sadagopaniyengar_at_yahoo.com)
Date: Thu Nov 08 2001 - 19:32:56 PST

Srimate SrivanSatakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatindra
Mahadesikaya Nama:

                               The Last Thought
                            ________________
Our minds are always busy, thinking about various
things. It is indeed difficult to control the
direction of one's thoughts-the mind functions almost
as an independent agent, over which one has little
influence. We can experience this especially when we
try to concentrate on a particular subject: despite
our sincere efforts, our thoughts often fly off at a
tangent. Adiyen has been a victim of such a wayward
mind, which takes off in unintended directions,
whenever adiyen is engaged in japam, etc. However, we
do have a consolation- better people than us have
faced similar problems with their minds. Even Arjuna,
who is supposed to have been a master of  
concentration,laments to the Lord, "Chanchalam hi
mana: Krishna………tasyAham nigraham manyE , vAyOriva
sudurgraham" (The mind is indeed capricious and
wayward, and as difficult to control as the wind):but
tame the thoughts we must, for the mind is verily the
root cause of one's bondage or liberation ("mana Eva
manushyANAm kAraNam bandha mOkshayO;").This applies
specially to the thoughts that occupy our mind at the
time of shedding the mortal coils.

 The Bhagavad Gita is very explicit as to the
influence of the ultimate thoughts on what happens to
us next. 
"yam yam vApi smaran bhAvam tyajanti ante kaLEbaram
 tam tam Evaiti KountEya sadA tad bhAva bhAvita:"
  The thoughts that occupy the mind at the last
moments of a person's life form the basis of what he
becomes after death, says the GitAchAryA. This is
indeed frightening, because, if we are not able to
control our thoughts while we are alive and in full
possession of our faculties, chances are indeed bleak,
of our thinking the right thing at the time of bidding
goodbye to this world, for who knows in what physical
and mental state we would be then? The same thought
has occurred to Sri PeriyAzhvAr, when he says,
 "eippu ennai vandu naliyum pOdu 
  angu Edum nAn unnai ninaikka mAttEn
 appOdaikku ippOdE solli vaitthEn 
arangatthu aravaNai palliyAnE"
The feelings are echoed by Sri Kulasekhara perumal in
his Mukunda Mala-
 "Krishna tvadeeya pada pankaja pancharAntam
  adyaiva mE  visatu mAnasa rAjahamsa:
 prAna prayANa samayE kapa vAda pitthai:
kanttAvarOdhana vidhou smaraNam kutastE"
When vAda, pitthA and slEshmA clog my throat and cloud
my brain at the time of death, how will I be able to
think of You? Please ,therefore, Oh Krishna! Let my
mind dwell on your lotus feet right now, and stay
there- this is Azhwar's prayer. Sri VishnuchittA goes
one step further and says, " I seek refuge in you now
itself, when I am hale and hearty: when it is time for
me to go, with faculties debilitated by fast
approaching death, I won't be able to fix my mind on
You; You should hence keep in mind my present
entreaties and save me as you saved Gajendra". 

Sri Krishna, having posed the problem of antima
smriti, offers a solution too. What we think of at the
time of death is, after all, a function of what we
think all through our lives. Hence He exhorts us to
think of Him always, every waking moment and to fill
every nook and corner of our mind with Him. This will
ensure that even during our last moments, having
fallen into the divine groove, our mind is filled
solely with thoughts of Him, which will in turn lead
us safely to Him, after death. Here is the beautiful
sloka-
 "tasmAt sarvEshu kAlEshu mAm anusmara yudhya cha
  mayi arpita manObuddhi: mAmEva Eshyasi asamsaya:"
For good measure, He repeats this in the following
sloka-
"anta kAlEcha mAmEva smaran muktvA kaLEbaram
 ya:prayAti sa mad bhAvam yAti nAsti atra samsaya:"

Even Arjuna, listening to Sri Krishna's homily, must
have remarked sotto voce, "it is very well for you
say". Not being able to fix our thoughts on Him even
for a few minutes at a stretch, we would agree totally
with the Pandava that to ask us to think of the Lord
always is easier said than done. What then is the
solution? 
 As always, we turn to Swami Desikan for guidance. The
infinitely merciful Acharya, who knows well our
predicament, prescribes Prapatti as the solution. For,
once we perform Saranagati, the Lord Himself exempts
us from the requirement of antima smriti(having to
think of him at the parting moments to ensure a berth
at Sri vaikuntam). Tooppul PiLLai quotes the Varaha
Charama slokas in support of his contention-
"stthirE manasi susvasttE sarirE sati yO nara:
 dhAtu sAmyE sttitE smartA visvaroopam cha mAm ajam.
Tatastam mriamANam tu kAshta pAshANa sannibham
Aham smarAmi mad bhaktam nayAmi paramAm gatim"
 
In reply to Sri Bhoomi Piratti's queries, Sri Varaha
Perumal is very reassuring-"If one understands and
fills his thoughts with my glory and surrenders to Me
when in full possession of his faculties, at the time
of his death, when he lies inert like a stone, I
remember him as my devotee and lead him to Sri
Vaikuntam".

Hence Swami Desikan concludes, "prapannanukku antima
smrityAdigaliL nirbandham illai". We heave a sigh of
relief, for, as prapannAs, our ascent to Sri Vaikuntam
(at the appropriate time) is ensured, whether or not
we are able to keep Him in our Last Thoughts.
 Srimate Sri Lakshminrisimha diva paduka sevaka
SrivanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikaya
Nama:
                                   _dasan, sadagopan.


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