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The Last Thought

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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


"tasmAt sarvEshu kAlEshu mAm anusmara yudhya cha

mayi arpita manObuddhi: mAmEva Eshyasi asamsaya:"

For good measure, He repeats this in the following


"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


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



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


_dasan, sadagopan.





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bhakti-list, sadagopan iyengar <sadagopaniyengar>


> 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.


Sri Sadagopan Swamin,


What a lovely essay! I would like to follow up with Sri

Vedanta Desika's concluding teachings from the same section of

Srimad Rahasya Traya Saaram. Some shastras (such as the Gita)

say that one *must* keep the Lord in one's thoughts as one

dies. Without this there is no attainment of the Lord, for

whatever one's last thought is, that itself it attains.

This we know from the story of Adi Bharata, etc. Other

shastras (such as the Varaha Charama Sloka) say that for

one who is relying purely on His grace, such remembrance

is unnecessary for He Himself will remember the jIva and

lead it along the path of light to His abode. How can one

reconcile the two conflicting teachings?


The resolution is that one must understand the real problem.

It is really not whether one must have a thought of the Lord as one

dies. This, as we have seen from the Gita and various other

shastras, is necessary. The question then is whether one

must *expend any effort* in *keeping* the Lord in one's thoughts

at that stage. For, as the author of the Mukunda Mala says,

'smaraNam kutas te' -- how can I remember you when I am physically

incapable of doing so?


The answer lies in the Lord's words from His conversation with

Sri Ramanuja in Saranagati Gadyam. He reassures Sri Ramanuja

that at the time of death, purely by His own grace, because

the He is remembering the jIva, the jIva will have the thought of

Him, even if the jIva would otherwise be incapable. --

'SarIra-pAta-samaye tu, kevalam madIya dayayA ... atiprabuddhaH,

mAm eva avalokayan ... '


In other words, one need not worry about the remembrance at

all. Just as for the mature upAsaka (meditator) the final

thought will be natural, as an outflow of his or her

meditative experience of the Lord throughout life, for one

relying wholly upon the Lord's grace, the Lord *Himself* will

achieve this final remembrance, without any effort expended

on the jIva's part. No matter what the condition, even if

the body be unconscious like a log, such a final thought

will be achieved -- because He has declared that He will

take care of the jIva.


In all cases one must adopt the attitude of Nammalvar --

'ciRRa vENDA' -- do not worry!


aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan


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Hari Hari,


In response to the following reply by Shree. Mani,

Adiyeen would like to mention that : Shree Krishna has

demonstrated the same to everyone by the way he

accompanied Bheeshmar in his final moments. Respected

members may kindly eloberate on that particular

occassion, so that it would reassure all of us.


Hari Hari

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