A man, named Amrit, living on earth,one day thought that the one thing he feared most ,was DEATH.
To avoid death, Amrit practiced austerities and concentrated his mind upon Lord Yamarāja, the Lord of Death.
Lord Yamarāja thus becoming pleased granted special vision to Amrit.
Lord Yamarāja said: “My presence is only available to those who are about to die or already dead. Yet I have granted you my vision while you are still living as I am pleased by your penances”.
Amrit said: “I just ask one favour from you. I know that Death is inevitable therefore I wish that when I shall be going to die, then at least send me a letter before death so that I can make proper provisions for my family before departure and also prepare myself for my next life with proper sadhana and worship of Kṛṣṇa.”
Lord Yamarāja said, “Sure, I shall certainly do this. But as soon as you get the message, please make the arrangements.”, and thus benedicting Amrit in this way he disappeared.
Many years passed. Amrit’s hairs gradually started turning grey, but still he was leading a life full of sinful activities without thinking about the fear of death.
He was pleased that so far no letter had arrived from the Yamarāja. Some Vaiṣṇavas approached him and advised him to take to devotional service but he did not show any sign of interest in their instructions as he thought he has got so much time with him.
Some more years passed and by this time Amrit had lost most of his teeth and the devotees came again to warn him about the real problems and aim of life. Still he did not bother because no letter had come from Yamarāja.
As the years rolled by, Amrit’s eyesight became dimmer. However he continued his sensual life thinking Yamarāja had still not sent any letter to him so far.
Some more years passed and Amrit was now a very old man and with his back bent forward, he could not walk without the support of stick. His skin was all wrinkled. One day he suffered a stroke and became paralyzed. People said his condition had become very critical.
But Amrit was still in a happy frame of mind, since he did not receive any letter from Yamarāja.
Then his destined end of life came and Lord Yamarāja, the god of death, entered the room.
Amrit was shocked and his mind was seized with fear.
Yamarāja said, “My friend, come now, your time is over now! Today I have come to take you with me.”
Amrit trembled in fear and said, ”My lord, you have betrayed me by breaking your boon. You have not sent me any letter as you promised. Now all of a sudden you are taking me from this world. You are a cheater”.
Yamarāja said, “Amrit! You spent all your life in sense gratification with no interest in spiritual life. How could you then know the letters I had sent to you? Not one, but I sent you four letters. But you ignored all of them.”
Amrit was greatly puzzled: “Four letters? But not even one letter reached me. It might be possible that the postman forgot to deliver it!!”
Yamarāja said, “My friend, did you think I would take a paper – pen and write a letter to you? No, with your body as paper, with the pen of bodily changes I wrote my letters and time was the messenger who delivered those letters.
1⃣ Years ago, your hair turned grey. That was my first letter. You ignored it.
2⃣ Falling of your teeth was my second letter.
3⃣ My third letter was sent to you when your eyesight failed.
4⃣ The fourth message was when your body became paralyzed.
You comfortably ignored all these letters. Now I have come not as your friend but as the dispenser of the Laws of God.”, and Yamarāja tied the rope around Amrit’s neck and pulled it hard.
People around Amrit said, “Amrit is now dead”.
Moral of the story:
When the body is young and robust and when we don’t get any letter from Yamarāja, we should start our preparations for facing his lethal blow.
When we completely ignore his letters, then we come under his control.
Different people are afraid of different things in life and one person’s object of fear may not be an object of fear for another person. However generally this fear of death is common amongst all. Some people may boast that they are not scared of death.
However when people are in great danger or when they suffer from some fatal disease which paralyze them, the fear of death is clearly visible in their eyes.
There is no material solution to this attack of Yamarāja and his punishments after death.
Though death is formidable and unconquerable, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (2.3.17) gives a very simple solution:
“Both by rising and by setting, the sun decreases the duration of life of everyone, except one who utilizes the time by discussing topics of the all-good Personality of Godhead.”
Elsewhere in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.3.29), Yamarāja himself identifies who are the candidates for his punishment:
“My dear servants, please bring to me only those sinful persons who do not use their tongues to chant the holy name and qualities of Kṛṣṇa, whose hearts do not remember the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa even once, and whose heads do not bow down even once before Lord Kṛṣṇa. Send me those who do not perform their duties towardsa Viṣṇu, which are the only duties in human life. Please bring me all such fools and rascals.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda’s program of chanting, hearing and offering obeisances to the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, will empower us to escape the punishment of Yamarāja, which is otherwise unconquerable.