anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaḿ
yāti nāsty atra saḿśayaḥ
Translation of Bhagavad Gita 8.5
And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.
Commentary by Sri A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
In this verse the importance of Krishna consciousness is stressed. Anyone who quits his body in Krishna consciousness is at once transferred to the transcendental nature of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord is the purest of the pure. Therefore anyone who is constantly Krishna conscious is also the purest of the pure. The word smaran (“remembering”) is important. Remembrance of Krishna is not possible for the impure soul who has not practiced Krishna consciousness in devotional service. Therefore one should practice Krishna consciousness from the very beginning of life. If one wants to achieve success at the end of his life, the process of remembering Krishna is essential. Therefore one should constantly, incessantly chant the maha-mantra—Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Lord Caitanya has advised that one be as tolerant as a tree (taror iva sahisnuna). There may be so many impediments for a person who is chanting Hare Krishna. Nonetheless, tolerating all these impediments, one should continue to chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, so that at the end of one’s life one can have the full benefit of Krishna consciousness.
Commentary by Sri Vishvanatha Chakravarthi Thakur of Gaudiya Sampradaya:
This verse answers the question “How are you to be known at the time of death?” Smaran means remembering me, knowing me in truth, not like knowing pots or cloth. The method of knowing or remembering the Lord is now explained in fourteen verses.
Commentary by Sri Ramanuja of Sri Sampradaya:
8.5 He who, at the last moment, while leaving the body, departs remembering Me alone, attains My being; he attains My condition. In whatever way he meditates on Me, he attains that very form, in the same manner as the royal sage Bharata attained the form of the deer remembered by him at death. Such is the meaning. Sri Krsna further elucidates that it is the nature of one’s last thought that leads to the attainment of a similar form by the meditator:
Commentary by Sri Sridhara Swami of Rudra Sampradaya:
The means of knowledge at expiration from the physical body and its subsequent result is revealed succinctly by Lord Krishna to answer the question how He is to be known at the time of death. One who remembers and meditates exclusively on Lord Krishna as the Supreme Lord, the ultimate controller internally and externally, the shelter of all living entities while leaving their body at the moment of death attains the Supreme Lord Himself in their spiritual from by their yearning for and identification with Him. This is the key to liberation from the transitory material plane and promotion to the eternal spiritual worlds. Knowledge is the key to remembrance which is the means for attaining Lord Krishna which automatically promotes one to the eternal spiritual without any separate effort.
Commentary by Sri Madhvacharya of Brahma Sampradaya:
The words mad bhavam denotes under the Supreme Lord Krishna’s control without any duality in perfect spiritual consciousness and full blissful existence. The Moksa Dharma explains that for the liberated the goal is conceptualised as the Brahman or spiritual substratum pervading all existence which is the spiritual reality of the impersonal conception of the Supreme Lord.
Now begins the summation.
In exact terms the words mad bhavam means under my nature. Only when the nature of Lord Krishna’s transcendental qualities and attributes and pastimes are recollected at the time of departing from the physical body at the moment of death will one achieve the cherished goal and attain Him. Otherwise if there is no knowledge of His transcendental nature there can be no remembrance. Naturally one acquires the state of consciousness upon whatever one meditates upon and this is an absolute essential fact applying itself to the destination of one’s subsequent lifetime at the moment of death. The remembrance of mundane corporeal things at the time of death assures in the next life a mundane corporeal existence accordingly. But those enlightened and exalted beings who remember Lord Krishna at the moment of death attain Him without fail and the means to this are given by the words mam eva smaran meaning remembering Him alone emphases that by constant remembrance spiritual realisation is attained.
The Sat Tattva states that devotion, knowledge, renunciation of activities prohibited in the Vedic scriptures and performance of recommended activities in the Vedic scriptures, constant remembrance of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His Vedically authorised incarnations and non- attachment; all these things combined grant transcendental vision beyond the influence of the senses and not any other way.
Commentary by Sri Keshava Kashmiri of Kumara Sampradaya:
Now Lord Krishna answers the seventh question with the words anta kale meaning at the time of death, one who leaves their body mam eva smaran meaning remembering Him exclusively, He who is the presiding diety over all dieties, the granter of all wishes and the fulfiller of all desires attains his state of sat-chi-ananda or eternal existence, transcendental knowledge and unending bliss. This verse confirms and explains in what manner the Supreme Lord Krishna is to be known at the moment of death.
Commentary by Sri Adi Shankaracharya of Advaita Sampradaya:
8.5 Ca, and ; anta-kale, at the time of death; yah, anyone who; prayati, departs; muktva, by giving up; the kalevaram, body; smaran, while thinking; mam eva, of Me alone, who am the supreme Lord Visnu; sah, he; yati, attains; madhavam, My state, the Reality that is Vishu, Asti, there is; na, no; samsayah, doubt; atra, about this, in this regard, as to whether he attains (Me) or not. ‘This rule does not apply in relation to me alone.’ ‘What then?’
Commentary by Sri Abhinavagupta of Kaula Tantra Sampradaya:
8.5-7 Antakale etc., upto asamsayam. At the time of departure also : i.e., not only as longs as [one is] in the healthy and unmolested condition. Me alone : Me, with all attributes undistinguished. But at the time of unhealthy state (at the time of death) of a person, how cloud the Bhagavat enter the path of his memory, when all the activities of the senses of that person have totally ended ? Hence [to achieve this result the Lord] teaches also the means or device by ‘Therefore’ etc.: The Bhagavat surely, on His own accord, becomes [even at the time of death] the object of memory of that person from whose heart (mind) the Bhagavat has never gone away in any cirucumstance connected with the mundane life also; who has [thus] renounced all his actions to the Bhagavat alone; and who is full of (fully absorbed in) the Bhagavat. For this end, the means is to remain constantly absorbed in the thought of the Bhagavat. That is why He Says : ‘With whatever object the internal organ of a person is filled up always, that object alone is remembered by him at the time of death, and the state of that being alone is attained [by him]. Hence, let a person, by all means, have Me alone as his goal and be desirous of attaining Me’. This is the idea here. The idea [intended here] is certainly not ‘What is remembered, without fail, at the last moment that being alone is attained by him’. Because in that case the attainment of the man of wisdom would also be just like that of an ignorant man. For, the former too [at the time of death] gets [complete] dulness of mind that is benumbed by the disorder (or defect) of he elements existing in his entire body. Certainly it is not proper to accept this here. For, it would go agains the authority of the scriptures. For, the fact is- ‘He who has attained liberation simultaneously with realisation [of the Self], and whose sorrows [therefore] have been destroyed – he attains completely unity [with the Absolute] even though [at the time of death] he has lost his memory and abandons his body in a sacred place or in the house of a dog-cooker (i.e., man of a low tribe)’. (PS, 83). Therefore the matter-of-fact statement (or explanation) and injunction [that are meant here] are the following : If a person’s internal organ is absorbed incessantly in the thought of a particular being, the same being is attained by him at end after departure. It is immaterial whether [at the time of departure] that being is remembered or not. This secondary importance [of the remembrance] is indicated by the word api ‘also’. The word va ‘or’ makes it clear that the rememberance does not exist in each and every case. The Sage (Vyasa) himself clarifies his idea ‘Let a man always remain by all means keeping Me (the Absolute Lord) as his supreme goal’. Since the Sage says : ‘Therefore at all times keep Me (the Absolute) in your mind’. Therefore, the following is the combination of words [of the verse intended here] : If a person, remembering always, or at the last moment – the use of or denotes ‘or not remembering [at the last moment]’ – a particular being, leaves his body, he attains that particular being alone. For, he is always absorbed in the thought of that being. But others [interpret the verses as follows] : When one leaves his body as the end, just at the moment of leaving the body i.e., at that moment which is not cognizable to the perceivers like relatives, sons etc. [standing nearby]; at that moment that comes last after the limb-movements, like [heavy] breathing, exertion, hiccup, convulsive utterance etc., [have endred]; at that fraction of time when the bondage of pleasure, pain and bewilderment is weakened as a result of the weakening of the control of the bodily strength; at that time that goes by the term dehatyajana ‘the moment of casting the body off’; at that moment whatsoever being a person remembers, his nature becomes entriely identical with that being, favoured (taken as an object) by the First Consiousness. the cause for remembering [the Lord] at that moment is to remanin ever absorbed in the thought of Him. The word tyajati [of verse 6] is to be construed as the seventh case [meaning ‘at the time of abandoning’]. Hence, the purport [of the passage] is only what has been said above. What is the use of such a remembrance of Him at the last moment ? But, who told that [there] is a use [for it] ? But, the remembrance is certainly brought about as a natural course at the last moment. But this [proposition] would lead to an undersirable consequence. For, it has been observed that a person [usually] remberances at the last moment either the maintenance of his children, wife and relatives, or drinking of cold water and so on. So, he would become identical with those things. It is not so. The moment, you speak of, is not the last moment. For, at that moment the existence of body is being clearly felt. Really that last moment, which we would like to speak of, can’t be perceived by persons like you. In what form alone the remembrance should be there at the last moment is decided by [its cause], a potential mental impression certainly arising at that time – even though it is far off – according to the general principle : ‘The remembrance and the potential mental impression [that causes it] being identical in form, there should be a sequential immediacy [between them], even though they are removed [from one another] by many births, by long distance and by long passage of time’. (YS, IV, 9). Thus, depending on the potential mental impression, there arises remembrance of a particular being, and becuase of its remembrance one attains the identity of that being. However in the case of certain body the same [process] is accidentally indicated even at the stage of healthy body-condition. See for example, the remembrance of a deer etc., [both in the healthy conditions and in the dying moment] and the consequential attainment of the deerhood, as described in the Puranic literature. That is why api ca ‘and also’ is employed in [the statement] like ‘and also at the time of journey.’ Therefore, those who constantly think of the Bhagavat with intention ‘Let us become this Being’; they attain [in the following order] the identity with Absolute Lord, of the exclusive nature of Consciousness : [First] there arises the thought (smarana) of the Lord at the moment when the bodily existence is felt; then at that unperceivable last moment the potential mental impression, born of the said thought, gives rise to the remembrance of the Lord by striking down all the other potential mental impressions, according to the principle : ‘The potential mental impression, born therefrom , make all other potential mental impressions powerless (YS., I, 50). Then only at the moment of the fall of the body, because at that time the mental impression created by [the sense of] time has come to an end and because the differences of the objects like ‘this’, ‘that’ etc., are not felt-at that moment he attains identity with the Lord. This much of discussion is enough. Without doubt (verse 7) : one should not entertain any doubt in this regard.
Sanskrit Shloka Without Transliteration Marks:
anta-kale ca mam eva
smaran muktva kalevaram
yah prayati sa mad-bhavam
yati nasty atra samsayah
Sanskrit to English Word for Word Meanings:
anta-kāle — at the end of life; ca — also; mām — Me; eva — certainly; smaran — remembering; muktvā — quitting; kalevaram — the body; yaḥ — he who; prayāti — goes; saḥ — he; mat-bhāvam — My nature; yāti — achieves; na — not; asti — there is; atra — here; saḿśayaḥ — doubt.