According to the Hindu Cosmology, death is a systematic process in which the period just preceding the moment we actually die is crucial. This is when the messengers of Yamaraja, the king of death, arrive. Those who have surrendered themselves and all their desires, thoughts, feelings, losses, and achievements to the Divine, however, are visited by messengers of the Divine Being. These are a breed apart from the messengers of the king of death.
The river is deep, and when we swim across it we have to confront the creatures who dwell there. Anything can happen-the water may he clean or it may be contaminated; we may get caught in the current or be chased by a crocodile; we may begin to drown and then be suddenly pushed back to the surface by a friendly fish; perhaps the next moment a shark rips away a chunk of flesh. We may notice our friends or our enemies swimming or drowning near us. If we are lucky, the messengers drop us at crossings where there are special cows,intelligent animals who are expert swimmers. They offer their tail as a rope and pull us safely across the river.
We are then led to specific areas of heaven or hell, some better and some worse. The length of our stay is determined by our karmas. Either by tasting heavenly pleasures or by going through hellish pain, the karmas that brought us here are eventually exhausted. Then we are sent back to the earthly realm to begin life all over again.
The yogis interpret this scenario symbolically.According to their experiences, the messengers of the king of death represent the forces of time. These forces are punctual-time cannot be untimely-and once they have arrived, we cannot avoid feeling their presence. We also know the meaning of their coming: it is time to leave the body and move on.
Desire. worry, insecurity. fear, disease, and old age set the stage for the messengers, but long before they actually arrive we harbor the fear of death at both the conscious and unconscious levels. When death actually comes, these feelings intensify. Those of us who do not willingly accept the message that our time in this body is over,die miserably.
Afterlife : The Propeller Of Death And Rebirth