This is because of the fact that sun is moving between Cancer and Capricorn: if you look at the whole earth moving around the sun, then you will find that when it moves ‘upwards’ it goes right up unto ‘Cancer’; when it moves ‘downward’ it goes right up to ‘Capricorn’; when it goes towards Capricorn nights become longer and longer. When it reaches Capricorn point, night is longest and when you begin to move upwards and rise up to Cancer, the day is the longest and night is the shortest. So, as you move upwards towards Cancer it is called uttarāyaṇa; you are going upwards. So from December 21 onwards there is uttarāyaṇa. June 21 you reach the highest point of uttarāyaṇa, after that the sun begins to move downwards it is called dakṣiṇāyana.
Now, Sri Krishna says that if you die during the period of uttarāyaṇa, you rise to the Divine; if you die in the dakṣiṇāyana, you don’t rise to the Divine, it is a pitrumārga, not a devamārga, devamārga is uttarāyaṇa, and dakṣiṇāyana is the pitrumārga, which takes you to lower levels of the existence. Similarly it says when there is light then there is one kind of an event, when there is darkness it is another kind of event. It is based upon this kind of co-relationship that many of the practises in India have been developed.
If you know the story of Mahabharata, it is said that Bhishma when he passed away, when he was struck down, he said that he should be preserved, he did not allow his soul to pass away because at that time it was dakṣiṇāyana, so his body was supposed to be preserved till uttarāyaṇa begins, then he could leave his body because he wanted to go on the devayaṇa, the paths of the gods.
So, practises of this kind have been developed in India. Therefore we say that we should get up at brahmamuhūrta, when the day begins, when the light begins. To get up at eleven o’clock in the morning or twelve o’clock in the morning is supposed to be not very useful or right because already so much has passed away and now you are beginning to rise only when the sun is about to go down, so it is a kind of a dakṣiṇāyana in a certain sense even during the daytime. During the light movements when there is a light is on, you will find that the energies of the world are rising upwards; when the light is down, the movements and the energies of the world or the sun are all moving downwards.
That is why Sri Krishna speaks of this great doctrine of India as to when exactly the right thing should be done. And your most important moment of your life should coincide with the most auspicious moments of the movements of light and darkness. But the most important thing, whether we accept this theory or not this theory, the one thing Sri Krishna Himself says, the conclusion you derive is: ‘Remember the Divine all the time’, whether it is dark or light. If you continuously remember the Divine all the time, smara, then everything will happen in the right moment in your life.
This is the message of the 8th chapter, which is three fold. One is once you know what is the Reality that automatically what should happen to you is to smara, is to remember the Divine. Secondly that all the time movement in the world’s life have significance. And just as there is alternation between light and darkness, even so in the life of yoga there are alternations between light and darkness, you should make use of both of them. And how to make use of them? That is the third answer: ‘Continuously remember the Divine’. This great knowledge regarding the Bhaktiyoga, the secret of Bhaktiyoga which consists of a small thing: smara. And smara constantly based upon the knowledge of the Divine, on the knowledge of the time, the conclusion is ‘smara’.
So, we shall now rapidly read this chapter n°8, it should not take long because all this is very clear now. We had done already up to the 8th chapter, 4th verse.
antakāle ca māmeva smaranmuktvā kalevaram |
yaḥ prayāti sa madbhāvaṁ yāti nāstyatra saṁśayaḥ ||5|| (VIII)
“Whoever, at the time of death, sheds off his body remembering Me and departs, he attains to My being; of this there is no doubt.”
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaranbhāvaṁ tyajatyante kalevaram |
aṁ tamevaiti kaunteya sadā tadbhāvabhāvitaḥ ||6|| (VIII)
Now He gives a general principle that the moment of passing from the bodies are very important moments and whatever is your desire, whatever is uppermost in your consciousness at that time is a kind of a barometer of all that you have done in your life. It comes to you in a concentrated form as it were, the whole life experience is summarised at that moment. Many people are not there to report as to that happens to them, but if you ask anybody as to what happens towards the time of the death you will find, if you have records, that very often they see many visions as to what has happen to their life like in a flash, or what is it that they have desired most. Even to whatever they have thought as to what best things they have done in their life, what worst things they have done in their life; it comes like a flash to them. And Sri Krishna says whatever happens at that time determines what will happens to you there after, after you have left the body.
“Thinking of whatsoever being, he at the time of death sheds off his body, to that same being does he attain, O Son of Kunti! ever absorbed with the thought of that being.”
Now, this is the most important:
tasmātsarveṣu kāleṣu māmanusmara> yudhya ca | (VIII, 7)
“Therefore…sarveṣu kāleṣu māmanusmara, at every moment remember Me; yudhya ca, even in fighting. When you are fighting, you fight, but remember Me. This is a great combination of Karmayoga with Bhaktiyoga: the synthesis o Karmayoga and Bhaktiyoga…