Based on Bhagavad Gita Chapter 02, Text 42
By Chaitanya Charan Das
Gita wisdom offers an inclusive spiritual program that allows people with varying spiritual drives to choose a path that suits their level of commitment. Thus, for those who are too enamored by material pleasures and are not yet ready for the supreme joy of spiritual love, it offers the pathway of karma-kanda, material religiosity that yields better material enjoyment in this world in this life as well as in the heavens in the next life.
Such religionists experience abundantly in heaven the pleasures that have caught their imagination. Also, their obedience to scripture promotes the gradual awakening of higher consciousness in them. Thus they eventually realize the hollowness of all material pleasures, earthly and heavenly. Due to the faith they have developed in scripture due to seeing its material promises come true, they will turn to scripture for something higher. When they discover scripture’s highest teaching of spiritual love for Krishna, they will adopt those teachings and thereby progress towards the supreme perfection of eternal life with Krishna.
A major pitfall in this multi-life progression is the practitioners’ misconception about the destination. If material religionists become close-minded and insist that their present understanding of scripture is its final understanding, then they sentence themselves to stagnation at the level of material religiosity, where they oscillate lifetime after lifetime between the earth and the heaven, never finding material pleasure fulfilling, yet never looking for any higher pleasure. Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (02.42) warns that those who mistake heaven to be life’s ultimate destination cheat themselves of life’s supreme satisfaction.