“janma labhah parah pumsAm ante nArayana smriti” ~ Srimad Bhagavatam 2:1:6
Sri Swamiji says often in his discourses that in the exam of life the moment of pass/fail is the last instant of one’s life. In that moment, when life is separated from the body, if the person remembers the Lord it’s a pass; or else he fails and the cycle continues. This moment is even more glorified in the life of Ajamila, when the lifelong sinner got the passing grade even when he inadvertently cried out ‘Narayana’, himself fully knowing that he only called out to his son Narayana. But God, even though All-knowing yet being ever compassionate, protected him as if He was the one propitiated at that time. The Lord did the smarana (thought) of that soul in its last moment. The sloka only said ‘ante nArayana smrithih’. It didn’t qualify who had to do the smarana. The Lord takes up any and all excuses to save the ones who chant His Names – even if it is unintentional.
With this said, how much more meager will the Lord be to take ashore a devotee who lived all his life thinking about Him!
One day, a person (who attends our satsang from time to time) called us, out of the blue, and requested someone from Namadwaar to come and chant Mahamantra prayer in her relative’s house, on the occasion of the passing of their aged-uncle a few days ago. I immediately went to their house to chant. When I entered the house, it did not feel like a mourning household at all. There were about 25 people including family and friends. The head of the family greeted me in. They all seemed to be at peace. This was the first time I was meeting this family.
The head of the family told me that his father was 95 years old and had lived a complete life devoted to the Lord; and even on the deathbed it had not appeared like a bad moment. The family that had gathered there at the time of passing, offered prayers and felt as if he was being carried away by divine beings in a most serene passing. No weeping, only peace.
We all then chanted the Mahamantra 108 times as a prayer. It was only a few days later that I heard the real story behind this.
Bhailal Bhai, the 95-year-old devotee, was a Krishna Bhakta that we do not come across every day. He would be up at 3 a.m. every day, wake up his Krishna, do his japa, and puja in the brahma muhurtam (hours before sunrise) and during the day continue reading his favorite commentaries on Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad Gita and Shiva Purana. His son had preserved these treasures in a beautiful bag as a memory of his father’s devotion.
Once Bhailal Bhai fell ill and couldn’t really get up early as he usually did. Within a day or so, he was back up again at 3 a.m. doing his routine. His son told him, “Papa, why do you do this? You are already ill and just recovering; you should be taking rest,” to which Bhailalji responded, “It’s not for me that I wake up early. You see our Krishna, if I don’t wake Him up as normal He begins to wonder and worry. Krishna wants me to wake Him up at that time. So I do it.” Bhailalji lived a choiceless life of devotion to his Nandalala. It was the only thing he knew.
Towards the end of his life, Bhailalji had been hospitalized for a few days. At that time the family had called a friend of theirs to also offer some prayers at the bedside. That person went to the hospital where the family members were all offering their prayers. Bhailalji’s time had not come yet as he held on to life for some unknown reason. When the friend went to the bedside, the family requested him to chant some mantras. In that moment, he couldn’t think of an apt one. But, in a flash, it occurred to him to open the Namadwaar website and play the Mahamantra in the voice of His Holiness Sri Muralidhara Swamiji. Even he couldn’t recollect why or what prompted him to do this. It was a spur of the moment thing. He found the website and played the Mahamantra sung by Sri Swamiji. As he was playing it he thought to himself ‘I should find a way to put this on repeat so that it continues to play here’. But even before he could figure out the settings to put it on ‘repeat’ Bhailalji had reached the Holy Feet of the Lord! All it took for that soul was to hear
Sri Swamiji’s voice once.
The friend then met me later and shared this: and, it was only at that time that I connected that this was the same person for whom our Satsang went and chanted Mahamantra.
The devotee who lived 95 years of his life doing Krishna’s service heard the Mahamantra chanted one time by Sri Swamiji in the last 16 seconds of this life. Bhailalji (as we see in the mortal eyes) hailed from Gujarat, lived much of his life in America, never once heard about or seen Sri Swamiji but in his ‘antima smarana’ (thought in the last moment of life), passed the test of life in the most auspicious way possible.
The Lord thought of him at the last breath – janma labhah parah pumsam ante narayana smriti:
-Sriram Ramanujam, Houston