bahu-sakha hy anantas ca
Those who are on this path are resolute in purpose, and their aim is one. O beloved child of the Kurus, the intelligence of those who are irresolute is many-branched.
There is a huge difference between the mentality of those who are involved in actions with their intelligence seeking fruits of reward and the mentality of those spiritually evolved engaged in selfless actions not seeking rewards and totally devoted to the Lord Krishna. In the case of those enacting actions with desires of rewards, their thoughts are endless due to their desires being endless. To a seeker of God-realization, the intellect is determinate and single-pointed viz., he has only one decision and that is to attain equanimity in the form of God-realization. Attachment to the world is the main obstacle to this attainment of equanimity, and that can be removed, through determinate intellect. The infirm in mind being desire-ridden, clings to pleasure and prosperity.
The real aim is only one. Unless a man has a singular aim, he has endless aims and desires and the means for the fulfilment of each desire are also many.
Gita 2 (42-43)
yam imam puspitam vacam
nanyad astiti vadinah
Arjuna, those who are obsessed by desires, who look upon heaven as the supreme goal and argue that there is nothing beyond heaven and pleasures and who are devoted to the letter of the Vedas are unwise. They make this type of flowery speeches recommending many acts of various kinds, for the attainment of pleasure and prosperity, and with rebirth as their fruit.
Desire-ridden are those, whose sole aim in life is to hunt after enjoyment. They think that it is nothing but desire, which inspires a man to action and without it, a man is stone-dead. Moreover, they identify themselves with desires. But the fact is that a man himself is a fragment of God and thus, is eternal while desires are fleeting and these increase and decrease. They look upon heaven and its pleasure, as their supreme goal and all their efforts are directed towards that base end. They are interested in the Vedas, only for the sake of the ritualistic contents, which deal with earthly and heavenly pleasure. The aim of their life is to enjoy celestial pleasure here, and hereafter, rather than to attain God-realization, or emancipation. They cannot discriminate between, the real and the unreal, the perishable and the imperishable. Such unwise persons utter flowery words of the Vedas, which describe and recommend various acts, for the attainment of pleasure and prosperity. That flowery way instead of giving any permanent and eternal fruit, gives fruit which prolongs the wheel of birth.
Why is it that the scholars who have studied the Vedas so fastidiously fail to possess the resolute intelligence? It is because they could not comprehend the essence of the Vedic scriptures and subsequently they missed understanding the true purport of the Vedas. This Lord Krishna emphasises with the word ‘avipascitah’ meaning the ignorant who are not knowledgeable are attracted to flowery descriptions in the Vedas even as a beautiful flowery creeper may be attractive although it is poisonous. But these living entities are ignorant and not actual scholars of Vedanta because they are only devoted to those parts of the Vedas which help them secure material opulence in this life and the next. Such statements like by performing some ritual one can obtain imperishable merit or by drinking Soma nectar one can become immortal, etc. Their conception of devotion is being devoted to pursuing heavenly delights and they even foolishly argue that there is nothing more beyond the rewards of heavenly pleasures to attain. Why is this so for them? It is because their minds are obsessed by desires due to addiction to material pleasures experienced by contact with the senses of taste, touch, seeing, hearing and smelling. So they look upon heaven although heaven is still in the material existence as being the supreme goal. This is because in heaven there is neither old age nor sickness, everything is beautiful and a wonder to behold and the facility to enjoy fully is increased a thousand fold. So all their activities in this life are enacted solely for the sake of accruing benefits in order to reside in the heavenly spheres where they can enjoy and enjoy for a seemingly unlimited time span. But when their merit has expired after enjoying the delights of heaven in various wonderful ways to their hearts content they will again take birth on earth in a rich and learned family who also are following the flowery phrases of the Vedas and they will again follow this path and at life’s end transmigrate to the heavenly planets once again to enact the process.
samadhau na vidhiyate
Those, whose minds are carried away by such flowery words (who are attracted towards pleasures and who are deeply attached to pleasure and prosperity), cannot attain the determinate intellect, concentrated in God.
Pleasures of five senses – sound, touch, colour, taste, smell, comfort to the body, and desire for respect and praise are ‘bhoga’, (the worldly enjoyments). Accumulation of money and material to enjoy those worldly pleasures is called ‘aisvarya’ (prosperity). Those who cling to pleasure and prosperity are called ‘Bhogaisvaryaprasaktanam.’ Such people are called demoniacal (asura). Such people, who instinctively cling to pleasure and prosperity, cannot attain the determinate intellect to realize God, because their intellect has become impure. Similarly, the people who have pride for their being learned, by acquiring the worldly arts or science or knowledge etc., cannot attain the determinate intellect, (decision), to realize God.
We forget that enjoyment of pleasure is not the goal of human life, but its supreme object is the attainment of perfection and God realization, and all the circumstances, whether favourable or unfavourable, they are placed in, are means to attain perfection. The fact is that worldly pleasures and objects are not real obstacles to God-realization, but attachment to these, is the main hindrance. So long as, this attachment continues, not to talk of God-realization the people cannot even make up their minds to attain God, because their minds are drawn away, by worldly pleasure and prosperity etc.
The Vedas mainly deal with the subject of the three modes of material nature. Rise above these modes, O Arjuna. Be transcendental to all of them. Be free from all dualities and from all anxieties for gain and safety, and be established in the Self.
If the rewards like heaven are of such an impermanent nature then why do the Vedas which are eternally perfect and beneficial for all beings enjoin practices aimed at achieving heavenly spheres? To answer this Lord Krishna states that the Vedic scriptures deals with the three modes of material nature which are goodness, passion and ignorance and all beings are born into these three modes of material nature. Some beings have preponderance for goodness, others for passion and others for ignorance while some are mixed. These modes are conditioned within the mind and they typify the three types of created beings. With exception of the Upanishads the Vedic scriptures dealing with the three modes gives prescribed activities and their results. Whatsoever one desires to obtain in heaven the prescription is enjoined for them to achieve it and the description of the various rewards are eulogised as well as the rituals for their fulfilment.
One should always be tempered by patience for one without patience is easily overpowered by passion and ignorance and becomes uncontrolled and fearful in situations involving the three modes of material nature. So we should overcome the hindrances of passion and ignorance and maintain a balanced state of equilibrium.
The Vedas do not only deal with means to satisfy desires of the worldly minded people, but they also contain sublime and elevating ideas on God and the means to realize Him.