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Title: how to help someone on death's door
User: Swami Gaurangapada Date: 2007-03-13 15:58:32
Dear Swami Gaurangapada,
Please accept my humble obeisances
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna!
Please could you tell me what is the best thing, for their soul, that one can do for a very elderly friend who is critically ill and about to die due to old age?
I know the main thing would be to have kirtan or tell the person to chant Nityananda Gauranga and Hare Krishna, but in a situation where such overt preaching is not possible, are there any subtle things or auspicious articles I could give to such a person to help their soul?
It's ironic; death is the ultimate inevitability of life and yet to openly talk about the reality of it is considered rude and offensive. But most of all one would not wish to upset the person by suggesting that "I think you're going to die so better do this for good preparation" in any way.
Answer by Swami Gaurangapada:
Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Just like a doctor does not hesitate to break the boil on the hand of a patient even if it is painful because he knows it will be good for the patient in the long run, similarly, you should not hesitate from telling the plain vanilla truth about the reality of death to anyone and everyone in a very palatable manner irrespective of whether they are old or young because no one is actually preparing for their final exam of death which is can come any moment and it is thus the duty of the devotee to remind them for their eternal benefit. And we should all tell them about the means on how to conquer death by chanting Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna. When his friend Dhritarashtra became old, Shrila Vidura came and spoke strong and harsh words of the painful reality of death and re-birth which awakened Dhirtarashtra who went and performed astanga yoga meditation on the Lord's form in his last days and got delivered along with his wife Gandari.
There will be many relatives who will meet an old or very sick person and speak goody goody words inquiring about the health and so on. But their words will have no eternal benefit for the soul as the body (which the words are meant for) is going to be left behind at the time of death. So devotees have a bigger responsibility to save the person's soul by going to him or her and palatably, sweetly and intelligently putting forward the stark truth about the cycle of birth and death and requesting them to start chanting Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna. At least make them chant once when you go to meet them. That will also benefit them greatly. And if they are not willing to chant even once, make them at least hear the Holy Names of Nityananda, Gauranga and Hare Krishna by some trick. If they are not even willing to do that, offer some prasadam to Lords Nityananda Gauranga and take to them. Like Shrila Prabhupada used to say, push but with a smile on your face.