What is Smaraṇa?

Smaraṇa  directly translates as “remembrance.”  For many schools of bhakti, especially those informed by literature like Bhagavad-Gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, (or the “Bhāgavat School”) remembering the Godhead at the time of death is the ultimate fruit of a successful human life:

The highest perfection of human life achieved either by complete knowledge of matter and spirit (sāṃkhya), by practice of aṣṭāṅga-yoga (yogābhyām), or perfect discharge of occupation duty (sva-dharma-pariniṣṭhaya), is remembrance (smṛti) of Nārāyaṇa at the end of life.1

In Bhagavad-Gītā [BG], which is one of the “three foundations” (prasthānatrayī)2 of sacred literature (śāstra) informing traditional Vedāntic thought, Arjuna enquires from Kṛṣṇa, “[How] are disciplined souls to know You at the time of passing [from this world]?”3 In answering this question, Kṛṣṇa first responds by saying that one who remembers Him at the time of death attains a nature like His own (mad-bhāvam) (BG 8.5), a nature which He will later describe as being transcendental to the creation and dissolution of the material worlds (BG14.2).  This echoes an earlier declaration of Kṛṣṇa’s wherein liberation from the death-rebirth cycle (saṁsāra) was said to be the fruit of one who knows the true nature of His appearances and activities (4.9) and that many had attained a nature like his own (mad-bhāvam), by taking shelter of Him and giving up attachment, fear, and anger (BG 4.10).  

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