Q: It is said that chanting the name of Narayana (Lord Vishnu) in the last moments of our life brings one liberation. Is it true that the last act of life is the strongest in determining our way forward?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Yes, it is true. It is at the time of death that the mind separates from the body. So at this time, whatever impression one bears in the mind become the reason for the next birth. This is a scientific truth. You can see this for yourself. If you observe, the first thought on your mind when you wake up in the morning will be same thought that you had before you went to sleep.
Now, usually your mind is so consumed with thoughts of something or the other, that at the time of death, you may not even remember to chant Narayana. That is why the ancient people have said keep remembering God all the time by chanting His name (Narayana). Remember him every night before sleeping; while you take a shower; even while eating your meals, remember him and thank him for the food you receive. Before starting something new, remember Him to make it an auspicious beginning. The ancient people were very intelligent and they made it a custom.
So, whenever one opens a new shop, the first thing they must do is naam smaran(remember the name of God), and then they start the shop. If one buys something new, they must remember Narayana and then begin. We all do this, is it not so? We do this even today.
If you are going to write an examination, you think of the Divine and pray that the questions in the examinations are easy, and that you are able to write the answers properly. Everyone prays, whether kids, adults or old people; all of them pray. But they do it out of fear. I would say, don’t do it out of fear, rather to do it out of love; out of a deep sense of gratitude. When you pray with love and faith that is when you blossom.
What is the difficulty in remembering the Divine before starting any new work? You can chant and remember the Divine by saying anything that you like. You can say Narayana, or Jai Gurudev, or even Om Namah Shivaya. Whatever name you like, say that. Otherwise you keep singing all sorts of songs in your mind while having bath, or while eating food, like ‘Dafliwaale Dafli Bajao ‘ (O drummer boy, play me the drums!) What else would a drummer boy play for you if not drums? Is this a song?
Now I have not heard any of the recent songs, as I have not gotten the time. But there must be some songs that have come up recently that have no meaning at all.
There is a song called, ‘Kolaveri di’ which seems to have become very popular. Many people do not even know the meaning of the song. Do you know what the meaning is? In Tamil, the expression ‘Kolaveri di’ means ‘I feel like killing someone.’ Is this is a good song, something which means that you feel like killing someone? That is why I say, just do naam smaran. Chant Om Namah Shivaya, or Omkar (Om) mantra. Chant whichever one that you like with a feeling of devotion.
See, I am not putting down any song, if you want to sing, it is okay to sing Kolaveri Di also; no problem. But sometimes a catchy tune like this will keep going on and on in your mind and it will affect you. It is good that most of the people do not understand the meaning of the song. If they knew the meaning, and sang it along with the meaning then there would have been problems. It is in another language; it is in Tamil.
When you know the meaning of a bhajan and you sing it with a feeling of gratitude and devotion, it has a profound effect on your life. Every word has a vibration of its own, and when we speak good words, the vibrations from those words have the power to purify the mind, and purify life.
By chanting and speaking positive, both the mind and the body get energized. That is why it is said to do naam smaran. Do it at least two times in the day. Like I said, in the morning before having the first meal of the day, remember the Divine by chanting his name.
I keep telling everyone that before eating food, chant this mantra, ‘Annadaata Sukhi Bhavah’ (May the provider of my food be blessed with peace and prosperity).Similarly, first thing in the morning, when you wake up say ‘Om Namo Narayana’ or ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. When something goes wrong, say ‘Hey Ram!’ If someone dies, chant ‘Ram Naam Satya Hai’ (The name of Lord Rama alone is the ultimate truth). What is the difficulty in just remembering the name of God? There is no difficulty at all. When you enter the car, say ‘Om Namo Narayana’, and then sit in the car. Before you get out of the car also, do naam smaran (remember the name of God) and then get out.
In this way, you will make it a habit to do naam smaran, is it not so? So during your last moments, at the time of death, when the Prana (life force) is about to leave your body, then also you will do naam smaran because it will come to you naturally at that time, and this will uplift you in a great way.
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