The following is an excerpt from a darśana with Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja in India, on 28 April, 1983, published on http://www.srilasridharamaharaja.com
Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja: Citragupta, he’s the record keeper of Yamarāja. What do you now want to say?
Devotee: Does he have some special connection with Paramātmā? His recording system is so intricate he must have some connection with Paramātmā.
Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja: Some sort because he must have eligibility of recording, of reading all the movements in this mundane world. By the vibration, whatever is happening he can record it, his heart automatically, that real vibration he touches or it beats in his heart, ‘that this is happening there.’ According to that vibration, Paramātmā can control, can have independence. But this man is keeping with that, like a computer he can record all vibrations of different types that are taking place in this mundane plane, in this mortal world. And he’s not a record keeper of Svarga; Svarga-loka, Maha, Jana, Tapa, but only this human [plane] where the free action has got to be recorded for one’s future punishment or reward, something. That type of computer, his heart.
Whenever he has got any doubt he refers to Brahmā, “I can’t understand this vibration of the telegraphic movement, I can’t read this. What is that there?” Then Brahmā will come and he will say, “This is the record, keep it.” He will consult with Yamarāja. And from Yamarāja, if he also cannot find out, it goes over to Brahmā and they will come and accept things. And mainly with the human section, neither the beasts etc, nor the gods etc, the siddhas, rṣis, all these things. He’s only a departmental charger of these humans that have got free action, the possibility of going to three worlds, lower world, higher world, and also movement towards general emancipation, mukti or kṛṣṇa-bhakti. In the background of that he keeps the record.
The Viṣṇudūtas charged against him, Citragupta, and even Yamarāja, that, “They have not taught you this lesson that when the jurisdiction changes? They have taken the name of Nārāyaṇa and immediately the jurisdiction has been changed. Your Citragupta and Yamarāja are no longer within [their] jurisdiction. He will have to have his charges from Vaikuṇṭha, whatsoever, but not from your office. Because he has taken the name of Nārāyaṇa, nāmabhāsa has occurred here. And your officers did not teach you all these things?” This charge was brought by the Viṣṇudūtas against the Yamadūtas. “Your guiding officers they have not instructed you in this thing? What do you say?”
Then they returned to Citragupta and Yamarāja, “That we are charged, being blamed against you.”
“Yes, they are right. Such a case occurs very rarely, so I did not find it necessary to inform you that [when] such things occur you will leave the culprit and come away. I did not say because very rarely such occurrences are here.” Yamarāja answered in this way.
So in a limited circle, he’s working. After the death of …………. immediately within twenty-four hours he is to be present in the court of Citragupta and, recording his name he’ll be left for one year. Come after one year, the date will be fixed and on that date his case will be taken up and the final decision — “Go for these years to hell, or these years to heaven, or this plane.” After one year, this is Pretaloka, the one year the soul he will be like on bail for one year, he’s left outside. After death, within twenty-four hours, he is to present himself and record his name, “I am dead, I have left that period of my duty and now what to do?” Then Citragupta will say, “Come, your date fixed after one year.” Then so long as a preta [ghost] he will move.
Devotee: Preta is like a bhūta, like a ghost.
Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja: Like a ghost, of different disposition but like a ghost. It is general, a special case may be there, but in the general case one year is given to him and he’s allowed to move. When the criminal is kept in custody before the final decision he’s kept on bail and released for one year and after one year he will present himself. And the final decision, “We have calculated your right and wrong deed, or your wrongdoing is so much so you will have to go first to suffer into the hell for such years. Then you will be transferred to heaven for your good activity and then you will come again to the Pretaloka. And, if you will be asked, to go again to the working field to get some birth from some karma.”
The following is an excerpt from Loving Search For The Lost Servant by Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja, published on http://www.bvmlu.org
When our spiritual master, Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, was a young boy, both he and his father, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, went to visit the holy place of Kulīna-grāma, which is located in the Hoogly district near Calcutta. Kulīna-grāma was a village where the great devotee Haridāsa Ṭhākura, as well as other famous Vaiṣṇavas, used to live and was the home of four generations of devotees.
They went to visit that ancient holy place, and just on the outskirts of Kulīna-grāma, as they were entering the village, they passed by an old temple. Suddenly a man came out of the temple and humbly asked them, “Please stay the night here. In the morning you may enter the village and take darśana of all the places there.” Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and our Guru Mahārāja, who at that time was a young boy, stayed the night in that temple house.
Just after nightfall, as they were resting, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura experienced something unusual. He found that brickbats were being thrown about from different directions. He thought, “How is this happening and why? Who would throw big brickbats like this?” Then he had some apprehension that there might be ghosts living there, creating disturbances. He began loudly chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. After some time, the disturbance disappeared, and Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta passed the rest of the night there peacefully. In the morning, they entered the village and began visiting different holy places. After some time, one of the local gentlemen noticed them and said, “You entered our village early this morning. Where do you come from? And where did you spend the night?” Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura explained, “We stayed in that temple just outside the village there.” One of them said, “Oh! How could you stay there? So many ghosts live there and throw stones and bricks at anyone who passes by that place at night. How could you stay there?” Then Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura said, “Yes, you are right. But when I found such a disturbance there, I began to loudly chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, and subsequently the problem disappeared.” The men of the village then asked Bhaktivinoda, “Who are you, and where are you coming from?”
Then they came to know that he was Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. They had already heard of him, and some of them had read his books. They welcomed the two of them and showed them all the holy places they had not yet seen. At one point, they said to Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, “The gentleman who was formerly the priest of that temple was transformed into a ghost after his departure. Since that time, we have regularly seen the disturbances caused by that ghost. Why did he become a ghost? As the priest of that temple, he used to regularly chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa. We are witnesses to that fact; we have all heard him. Why was he turned into a ghost? We cannot understand this. Please explain.”
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura told them that the priest must have only repeated the syllables of the name, the nāma-akṣara. What he was producing was only a māyīka sound, a physical, lip-deep sound. It did not have the spiritual essence; the life of the name was absent when he was chanting. It was nāma-aparādha, offensive chanting. Bhaktivinoda asked them, “What was his character?” They said, “He was not a good man. He committed many sinful acts. That we know. But we can’t deny the fact that he used to chant the name of the Lord almost always. How could he become a ghost?”
Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura explained that the physical sound of the name is not the name proper. The priest had been committing offences to the holy name (nāma-aparādha), and as a result became a ghost. They asked, “Then how can he be released from that wretched condition?” Bhaktivinoda said, “If he meets a bona fide sādhu who has a genuine connection with Kṛṣṇa, and he hears the real name or the proper explanation of Bhagavad-gītā or Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam from his lips, then he may be released from his ghostly condition. It is mentioned in the scriptures that this is the only way to become free from the entanglement of material nature.” After this discussion, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī left Kulīna-grāma.
From that day on, all the troubles caused by the ghost at the temple in Kulīna-grāma ceased. The villagers were astonished. One of them said: “That priest who had become a ghost must have been released from his ghostly condition after hearing the holy name chanted by Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. When the trouble began, Bhaktivinoda loudly chanted the name, and gradually, by hearing the holy name of Kṛṣṇa from his holy lips, that suppressed soul has been liberated from his condition as a ghost.”
After that, many people journeyed to see Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. They would tell him, “We are confident that you are a great Vaiṣṇava – after hearing the holy name of Kṛṣṇa from your lips, a ghost has been released.” This story was published in the newspapers, and Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Prabhupāda used to recount this story of his own experience with Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura.
The following is an excerpt from Bound by Love by Śrīla Gaura Govinda Svāmī Mahārāja (tvpbooks.com)
The Padma Purāṇa states,
vepante duritāni moha-mahimā sammoham ālambate
sātaṅkaṁ nakha-rajanīṁ kalayati śrī-citraguptaḥ kṛtī
sānandaṁ madhuparka-sambhṛti-vidhau vedhāḥ karoty udyamaṁ
vaktuṁ nāmni taveśvarābhilaṣite brūmaḥ kim anyat param
Someone who is very fortunate approaches a Vaiṣṇava, a dear devotee of Caitanya Mahāprabhu, gaura-prīya-jana, and gets harināma from him during his initiation. Like those who approached Prabhupāda Mahārāja who gave it, “Take this mālā and chant hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare, hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare.” Do you know what happens then? When he starts chanting all the sins become afraid, “Now we will all be burnt to ashes, vepante duritāni.” Here it is stated, vepante duritāni moha-mahimā sammoham ālambate, that all sins become very fearful and all his attachments to this material world, this moha, delusion, also become afraid, “All right, I am finished now, bābā. This person will never be attached to me anymore. I will be kicked out.” That illusion, moha becomes so disappointed, “He was embracing me and was very much attached to me, but now that he has started chanting hare kṛṣṇa, he will kick me out.” Moha-mahimā sammoham ālambate sātaṅkaṁ nakha-rajanīṁ kalayati śrī-citraguptaḥ kṛtī – Citragupta, the minister of Yamarāja, is keeping a record of everyone. What this person is doing, what that person is doing, everything, every moment is recorded. But now Citragupta also becomes afraid, “My record of that person is finished now.” Sātaṅkaṁ nakha-rajanīṁ kalayati śrī-citraguptaḥ kṛtī, Citragupta becomes afraid of recording that devotee’s name in the list of the pāpīs, sinful persons.
That devotee directly goes up, up, and up. He has no interest at all in all these phases, material planets. While going up, when he is going to cross the topmost planet in the universe, Brahmaloka, the abode of Brahmā, madhuparka-sambhṛti-vidhau vedhāḥ karoty udyamaṁ, vedhāḥ brahmā, then Lord Brahmā very quickly prepares an ārati tray to offer ārati to him.
The following is an excerpt from Icchā-Mṛtyu Simply by His Will a Pure Devotee Leaves by Śrīla Gaura Govinda Svāmī Mahārāja (tvpbooks.com)
The karmic reactions of those devotees, pure devotees, whose minds are fixed at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, are destroyed. They have no prārabdha-karma. So here in this verse it is said that yamaṁ pāśa-bhṛtaś ca tad-bhaṭān, svapne ’pi paśyanti hi cīrṇa-niṣkṛtāḥ — Yamarāja and his messengers, Yamadūtas never come to them, not even in their dreams. Yamarāja is the superintendent of death. By Kṛṣṇa’s order Yamarāja comes in the form of death. The conditioned souls, jīvas, who die go to Yamapura, the abode of Yamarāja. The Yamadūtas come and take them to the abode of Yamarāja. There the decision is made as to which naraka, hell they will go, and what they will be in their next life. Everything is decided there. Citragupta, the minister of Yamarāja, keeps account. He keeps a book for everyone. Your book is there also. He is noting down what you are doing. Kṛṣṇa has said man-manābhava — “Think of Me. Day and night, twenty-four hours only think of Me.” The name of someone whose mind is fixed, and is constantly thinking of Kṛṣṇa, man-manā bhava, is not recorded there. Citragupta becomes afraid of writing his name down. Then your book will be closed, “Alright, finished.”
ki śayane, ki bhojane, kibā jāgaraṇe
aharniśa cinta kṛṣṇa, balaha vadane
“Whether you are sleeping, eating, or waking, day and night think of Kṛṣṇa and chant His name.”
(Caitanya-bhāgavata – Madhya-khaṇḍa 28.28)
In all conditions, day and night, twenty-four hours think of Kṛṣṇa. While sleeping, while awake, while taking food, do not forget Kṛṣṇa even for a moment. Such a pure devotee, premī-bhakta always thinks of Kṛṣṇa. He never forgets Kṛṣṇa, not even for a moment. Citragupta closes his book. All his prārabdha-karma is destroyed when his mind is fixed at the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. So how will death come to him? Here in this verse [Bhāg. 6.1.19] is stated, svapne ’pi paśyanti hi cīrṇa-niṣkṛtāḥ — that even in dreams Yamarāja and his messengers will not come to you. Otherwise, if you do not think of Kṛṣṇa, then you will be dragged to the abode of Yamarāja.
In the sixth canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam you find the story of Ajāmila. Citragupta had prepared the biggest book for him because he had committed so many sinful activities. At the age of eighty-eight he was going to die. While he was lying on his death bed, three fearful looking Yamadūtas came to take him. Out of fear he uttered the name of his five-year-old son, Nārāyaṇa. That means that such an old man had begotten a son at the age of eighty-three. However, he had the sukṛti that he had named his youngest son Nārāyaṇa, and not Alfred, Tom, Baby, or Puni. This is the reason why we have name-giving saṁskāras, one of the purificatory ceremonies. We give the child a name, one of the names of the Lord or His dear devotees. The name-giving ceremony is one of the ten saṁskāras, daśa-vidha-saṁskāraḥ. So Ajāmila, just by uttering the name of Nārāyaṇa indicating his son, not by addressing Bhagavān Nārāyaṇa, obtained the nāmābhāsa stage. He did not die. As soon as he uttered the name Nārāyaṇa four Viṣṇudūtas appeared before him. The Viṣṇudūtas looked just like the fourhanded Bhagavān Viṣṇu form, with clubs, and weapons in their hands. They told the Yamadūtas, “You cannot take him because all his pāpa, sinful activities have been destroyed now.” This is the result of nāmābhāsa. What to speak of one who is chanting the pure name, why will he die? Why will the Yamadūtas come? Why will he go to Yamapura? Yamarāja comes in the form of death for those who need to go to Yamapura. For them death comes, whereas someone, who goes back home, back to Godhead, does not die. That is not called mṛtyu, death.
A sinful person like Ajāmila did not die; the Yamadūtas could not take him. Rather, his lifespan increased. So you see, for one who attains the nāmābhāsa stage, and chants the pure name, that means that he must have attained perfection in chanting the holy name, nāma-siddhi, bhajana-siddhi, perfection in bhajana, then why would death come to him? Does he die? No, he does not die. He can remain alive for as long as he wants. That is perfection.
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