(Srila Prabhupada with his first three Bhagavatams, Delhi, 1965)
At the last stage of one's life, one should be bold enough not to be afraid of death. But one must cut off all attachment to the material body and everything pertaining to it and all desires thereof.
The foolishness of gross materialism is that people think of making a permanent settlement in this world, although it is a settled fact that one has to give up everything here that has been created by valuable human energy. Great statesmen, scientists, philosophers, etc., who are foolish, without any information of the spirit soul, think that this life of a few years only is all in all and that there is nothing more after death. This poor fund of knowledge, even in the so-called learned circles of the world, is killing the vitality of human energy, and the awful result is being keenly felt. And yet the foolish materialistic men do not care about what is going to happen in the next life. The preliminary instruction in the Bhagavad-gītā is that one should know that the identity of the individual living entity is not lost even after the end of this present body, which is nothing but an outward dress only. As one changes an old garment, so the individual living being also changes his body, and this change of body is called death. Death is therefore a process of changing the body at the end of the duration of the present life. An intelligent person must be prepared for this and must try to have the best type of body in the next life. The best type of body is a spiritual body, which is obtained by those who go back to the kingdom of God or enter the realm of Brahman. In the second chapter of this canto, this matter will be broadly discussed, but as far as the change of body is concerned, one must prepare now for the next life. Foolish people attach more importance to the present temporary life, and thus the foolish leaders make appeals to the body and the bodily relations. The bodily relations extend not only to this body but also to the family members, wife, children, society, country and so many other things which end at the end of life. After death one forgets everything about the present bodily relations; we have a little experience of this at night when we go to sleep. While sleeping, we forget everything about this body and bodily relations, although this forgetfulness is a temporary situation for only a few hours. Death is nothing but sleeping for a few months in order to develop another term of bodily encagement, which we are awarded by the law of nature according to our aspiration. Therefore, one has only to change the aspiration during the course of this present body, and for this there is need of training in the current duration of human life. This training can be begun at any stage of life, or even a few seconds before death, but the usual procedure is for one to get the training from very early life, from the stage of brahmacarya, and gradually progress to the gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa orders of life. The institution which gives such training is called varṇāśrama-dharma, or the system of sanātana-dharma, the best procedure for making the human life perfect. One is therefore required to give up the attachment to family or social or political life just at the age of fifty years, if not earlier, and the training in the vānaprastha and sannyāsa-āśramas is given for preparation of the next life. Foolish materialists, in the garb of leaders of the people in general, stick to family affairs without attempting to cut off relations with them, and thus they become victims of nature's law and get gross bodies again, according to their work. Such foolish leaders may have some respect from the people at the end of life, but that does not mean that such leaders will be immune to the natural laws under which everyone is tightly bound by the hands and feet. The best thing is, therefore, that everyone voluntarily give up family relations by transferring attachment from family, society, country, and everything thereof to the devotional service of the Lord. It is stated herein that one should give up all desires of family attachment. One must have a chance for better desires; otherwise there is no chance of giving up such morbid desires. Desire is the concomitant factor of the living entity. The living entity is eternal, and therefore his desires, which are natural for a living being, are also eternal. One cannot, therefore, stop desiring, but the subject matter for desires can be changed. So one must develop the desires for returning back home, back to Godhead, and automatically the desires for material gain, material honor and material popularity will diminish in proportion to the development of devotional service. A living being is meant for service activities, and his desires are centered around such a service attitude. Beginning from the top executive head of the state down to the insignificant pauper in the street, all are rendering some sort of service to others. The perfection of such a service attitude is only attained simply by transferring the desire of service from matter to spirit, or from Satan to God.
(Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 2.1.15, Translation and Purport)