Tag Archives: Death

Consciousness at the Time of Death


Question: As per Bhagavad Gītā 8.6, “Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kuntī, that state he will attain without fail.” If one thinks about dead matter like a building, money etc., when he quits his body, then what is his destination?

Answer: Such a question arises from not understanding the true meaning of the verse. If you do not study the original verse and only study a translation, then it can be confusing or misleading. The word used in the verse is “bhāva.” Bhāvadoes not mean only a specific object but also a mood, consciousness, or awareness. When you think of an object, you don’t just think of the object. You also have some emotion behind the thought. So, what was the consciousness behind the thought of dead matter? The basic material emotions are only two, rāga and dveśa. Therefore, assuming that the person was thinking of the building or money out of deep rāga, then he may be born in that building as a living being according that his karma. He may come again as a human being and live in that building. He may become a dog and guard it. He may become a mosquito or a fly and take revenge upon its residents.

Question: If one thinks about Gurudeva when he quits his body, then what is his destination? Would it depend upon the destination of his Gurudeva?

Answer: Again, it is not the thought that matters—it is the consciousness (bhāva) behind the thought which is important. You have to know the difference between a thought and consciousness. The verse talks of bhāva and not of thought. If the disciple is materially attached to the guru, then he can come again as a disciple. If he is fully surrendered to the guru and knows him to be the manifestation of Kṛṣṇa, then the disciple would go to Kṛṣṇa’s abode. King Bharata died thinking of the deer cub. He was materially attached to the deer, so he became a deer in his next life. But if he had thought of the deer as a creation of Kṛṣṇa and then died, he would have gone to Vaikuntha.

Question: What if a chaste wife remembers her husband when she quits her body; what is her destination? Does it depend upon the spiritual advancement of her husband or she will get a male body as per her past karma? Likewise, if one thinks about the dhāma like Vṛndāvana, Jagannāth Purī etc., or about a Vaiṣṇava, then what is his destination?

Answer: By understanding my reply to your first question, you will know the answer to all these questions. The main point is that the verse is speaking about bhāva (smaraa-bhāvam) at the time of death and not of some object. The other point to be understood is that this bhāva is dependent upon the dominant bhāva in one’s life (sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ). The word bhāva is used twice in this verse, and this is the key point.