(Note: I wrote this essay for the old Saragrahi.org in 2004. I am now presenting again in an up-dated form, with some slight additions to the contents, and of course more intensive spelling and grammar checking by my buddy, Bhakta MS Word.)
My daughter died after a horrible automobile accident. I attended many kirtans and prayer meetings at which my own God brothers and sisters, and disciples of my God brothers spoke about the life and death of my daughter. While my daughter was a wonderful person and mother, who deeply touched and impressed many persons who came across her life, she still had not fully embraced the process of devotional service. In every case, they would always say that we should now celebrate because my daughter is now with Krishna in the Spiritual world. One young fellow from Mexico said to my daughter’s mother:
“Do not lament anymore; be glad for now your daughter is with Krishna in the Spiritual World. Be happy for yourself because she is with Him, and that is a guarantee that you will also will be with Krishna after your death”.
Why did they believe this so much? My daughter had an earphone plugged in her left ear, which was playing Prabhupada chanting the maha-mantra. Devotees performing hari-nama kirtan surrounded her.
She had prasadam garlands of flowers and tulasi from Rukmini and Dwarakadhish. She was surrounded by all kinds of pictures of Lord Krishna, etc. All this in itself guaranteed that she would go to Krishna when she died. Every devotee there believed like that. Never mind that she had been unconscious since the time of the accident when the collision with the other car occurred. Never mind that she sustained very serious brainstem damage and she never regained consciousness. Never mind that the only way that her body was kept alive was due to the machines that keep her lungs breathing and her heart pumping.
Never mind that my daughter was still under the clutches of the three modes of material nature. All this did not come into consideration in their understanding and belief that now she is with Krishna.
I kept a humble profile and withheld my thoughts:
“How do you know that? Neither you, nor anyone present in this assembly knows what her next destination is. How can you have such a sentimental belief, and then try to make everyone else believe it? This is nothing but a poor-fund of knowledge; our Krishna-consciousness philosophy, and siddhanta (essential-conclusions). It reminded me of a mutual-admiration society, where everyone is reinforcing this belief in his or her mind, that it is that easy to attain the ultimate abode: Yes! Everyone must have been thinking, that if they are surrounded by a similar environment at the time of my death, then they too will be with Krishna when they die!”
When my Godbrother Jayananda Dasa died, Prabhupada did not say that Jayananda was now with Krishna in the spiritual world. Prabhupada basically repeated his preaching, that if he was thinking and remembering Krishna at the time of death, then that is one result.
And if he was not, due to his circumstances, then in his next life he would attain a favorable condition to resume his devotional service. Prabhupada did not say Jayananda was now here or there. Prabhupada only explained the possibilities.
Now, every time a ISKCON devotee dies, and especially if the individual was, now or in the past, some so-called big-time devotee, like a big book distributor, sannyasi or a guru, it is enthusiastically proclaimed that they have returned to Krishna, and is now a residence of the Spiritual World.
If you are not aware of this, then research the announcements, and sentiments published, in websites like VNN.org and CHAKRA.org, in regards to devotee’s who have passed away. However, I will warn you to bring along your “vomit bag” ,or your headache pills. In my opinion, you will read a lot of “Horse Puckey” par-excellence. Here is one quote, about a God Sister, who passed away, taken from VNN. I assume that since she went to the spiritual world as they claim, it aided their sales pitch, in an effort to sell this taped interview, which went on sale after this post. My questions are, the same as for my daughter’s death,
“How in the hell do they know her next destination with so much certainly?”
The Article goes like this:
“It is with great pleasure to share with the world , XXXXXXXXX’s Memories of Srila Prabhupada. Two weeks before she departed this world, for the spiritual world, XXXXXXXXX devi dasi, sat down for an interview ,and shared her direct experiences with Srila Prabhupada, as well as remembrances she collected over the last few years of Prabhupada’s associates ,before he came to the west.”
FYI, I met this young lady, in her late teens or early twenties, when she came to Vrindavana to leave her body. She was definitely a neophyte Vaisnava, yet sincere and seemed to be a honest and decent person. She was a disciple of one of the ISKCON Rubber-stamped Gurus. No doubt that her understanding of Krishna-consciousness was on the sentimental platform; no different then her Guru who I knew well.
There appears to be a very large majority of ISKCON devotees, who have such a sentimental and “easy” belief that they basically have a free ride back to the ultimate abode; simply because they are an ISKCON devotee. While so many spiritual surroundings at the time of death are favorable, my understanding is that the only way one will attain the ultimate abode is that one be 100% Krishna conscious, a 100% pure devotee. There can be no tinge of the three modes of material nature; none at all. And this requires a lot of hard work, and probably many, many, lifetimes too for the majority of us. It requires the application of a very scientific process, called bhakti-yoga. It has to be practiced scientifically, and perfectly, until one achieves the ultimate goal, Krishna-prema. The only way to be Krishna conscious at the time of death is to be Krishna conscious while you are alive. There is no short cut or “easy” way. If one attains this platform then he/she can die anywhere, even while laying, in the open sewers in the middle of Calcutta. Therefore, in regards to the current ISKCON mentality, regarding the death of its devotees, if there is smoke, then there must be a fire, if it barks then it must be a dog, and if I see that, it is commonly accepted, that it is so “easy” to achieve the ultimate destination, as described, then it must be sahajiyaism.
Therefore if I see devotees who preach in a way, that causes other persons to believe, and think “easy,” then these preachers are guilty of sahajiyaism, and are committing spiritual-life murder. If this is the prevailing view, and understanding of the ISKCON devotee community, then I can safely assume that this sentiment has been propagated and encouraged, by the leaders and preachers; because it is not part of our Krishna-consciousness philosophy, nor will you find any sastric evidence to support such a notion.. ISKCON obviously will go to great length, to hold on to its members, and this is one aspect that will do the job. Free or should I say “easy” tickets to Vaikuntha.