Death, in the context of Krishna-Attainment

अन्तकाले च मामेव स्मरन्मुक्त्वा कलेवरम् |

य: प्रयाति स मद्भावं याति नास्त्यत्र संशय: || 5||

anta-kāle cha mām eva smaran muktvā kalevaram

yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ yāti nāstyatra sanśhayaḥ

At the time of death, anyone who departs by giving up the body while thinking of Me alone, he attains My state. There is no doubt about this.

~ Chapter 8, Verse 5

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यं यं वापि स्मरन्भावं त्यजत्यन्ते कलेवरम् |

तं तमेवैति कौन्तेय सदा तद्भावभावित: || 6||

yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajatyante kalevaram

taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya sadā tad-bhāva-bhāvitaḥ

O son of Kunti, thinking of any entity whichever it may be one gives up the body at the end, he attains that very one, having been always engrossed in its thought.

~ Chapter 8, Verse 6

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Questioner (Q): These verses mention about the thought one has at the time of leaving the body and how this thought determines how and where one goes. What is implied by that, and what is its importance in my day-to-day life?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Good you asked that.

Remember who is talking here. Sri Krishna is talking. I had just said that every word has its meaning colored by the one who is using that word. In that sense, even though words appear to have objective meanings listed in the dictionary, really no word has any objective meaning. Not only do we use words as we are, we also mean words as we are.

Now, the verses here say that “if at the time of death you are thinking of Me, Arjuna, then you will attain Liberation and will not come back to this world”. To take the point further, the next verse says that “the one that you keep thinking of is the one that you get related to in your next birth”. This probably confuses the reader a bit, and therefore they have raised a question.

We have to investigate the meaning of the word ‘death’. When Shri Krishna says ‘death’, what does he mean? Is Shri Krishna looking at himself as a body? No. There is no way the author of these lines takes himself as a corporal being. Is Shri Krishna referring to himself as merely the Ātmān here? Well, yes and no. He does refer to himself as the Ātmān here, but the role that he is playing is not of Ātmān but of Avatar. Had he been merely the non-doer, Supreme Truth, then he would not have been found mortally present on the battlefield instructing Arjuna. So, discount these two and see what you are left with.