Futility Of Material Enjoyment

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.10.23-29 - Futility Of Material Enjoyment (download mp3)
by Atmarama Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 11.10.23
istveha devata yajñaih
 svar-lokam yati yajñikah
bhuñjita deva-vat tatra
 bhogan divyan nijarjitan

If on earth one performs sacrifices for the satisfaction of the demigods, he goes to the heavenly planets, where, just like a demigod, he enjoys all of the heavenly pleasures he has earned by his performances.

SB 11.10.24
sva-punyopacite subhre
 vimana upagiyate
gandharvair viharan madhye
 devinam hrdya-vesa-dhrk

Having achieved the heavenly planets, the performer of ritualistic sacrifices travels in a glowing airplane, which he obtains as the result of his piety on earth. Being glorified by songs sung by the Gandharvas and dressed in wonderfully charming clothes, he enjoys life surrounded by heavenly goddesses.

SB 11.10.25
stribhih kamaga-yanena
kridan na vedatma-patam
 surakridesu nirvrtah

Accompanied by heavenly women, the enjoyer of the fruits of sacrifice goes on pleasure rides in a wonderful airplane, which is decorated with circles of tinkling bells and which flies wherever he desires. Being relaxed, comfortable and happy in the heavenly pleasure gardens, he does not consider that he is exhausting the fruits of his piety and will soon fall down to the mortal world.

SB 11.10.26
tavat sa modate svarge
 yavat punyam samapyate
ksina-punyah pataty arvag
 anicchan kala-calitah

Until his pious results are used up, the performer of sacrifice enjoys life in the heavenly planets. When the pious results are exhausted, however, he falls down from the pleasure gardens of heaven, being moved against his desire by the force of eternal time.

SB 11.10.27-29
yady adharma-ratah sangad
 asatam vajitendriyah
kamatma krpano lubdhah
 straino bhuta-vihimsakah
pasun avidhinalabhya
 preta-bhuta-ganan yajan
narakan avaso jantur
 gatva yaty ulbanam tamah
karmani duhkhodarkani
 kurvan dehena taih punah
deham abhajate tatra
 kim sukham martya-dharminah

If a human being is engaged in sinful, irreligious activities, either because of bad association or because of his failure to control his senses, then such a person will certainly develop a personality full of material desires. He thus becomes miserly toward others, greedy and always anxious to exploit the bodies of women. When the mind is so polluted one becomes violent and aggressive and without the authority of Vedic injunctions slaughters innocent animals for sense gratification. Worshiping ghosts and spirits, the bewildered person falls fully into the grip of unauthorized activities and thus goes to hell, where he receives a material body infected by the darkest modes of nature. In such a degraded body, he unfortunately continues to perform inauspicious activities that greatly increase his future unhappiness, and therefore he again accepts a similar material body. What possible happiness can there be for one who engages in activities inevitably terminating in death?

In the Vedic analysis of civilized life there are two paths. One who takes to the path of nivrtti-marga immediately renounces material sense gratification and purifies his existence by performance of austerity and devotional activities. On the path of pravrtti-marga one furnishes a steady supply of sense objects to the senses, but one consumes such sense objects under strict regulations and through ritualistic ceremonies, thus gradually purifying the heart and satiating the material senses. Unfortunately, as explained in this and the previous verse, the path of pravrtti-marga is extremely volatile because rather than becoming detached, the living entity often becomes uncontrolled and fully addicted to further sense gratification. In the previous verse the path of regulated, authorized sense gratification was described, and in this verse the path of unauthorized, demoniac sense gratification is described.

In this verse, the words sangad asatam vajitendriyah are very significant. One may fall down into sinful life by bad association, or even in good association one may fail to control his senses. Ultimately each living entity is responsible for his existential situation. The word adharma-ratah in this verse indicates those engaged in excessive sex life, meat-eating, drinking and other inauspicious activities that transgress the codes of civilized human life. Being in the mode of ignorance, these persons develop such a cruel mentality that they do not consider any festive occasion complete without the consumption of large quantities of meat obtained by slaughtering helpless animals. Eventually such persons become influenced by ghosts and spirits, who deprive them of all ability to discriminate between right and wrong. Losing all sense of decency, they become fit candidates for entrance into the darkest modes of material existence. Sometimes these lusty, intoxicated carnivores, considering themselves pious, pray to God in a useless way. Afflicted by innumerable material desires, they rotate from one material body to another without experiencing true happiness. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has noted that material life is so disturbing that even if one is allowed to live for an entire day of Brahma — approximately 8,640,000,000 years — one will eventually be afflicted by the fear of death. In fact, Brahma himself is disturbed by fear of death, what to speak of tiny human beings who live a paltry seventy or eighty years at most. Thus, as stated here, kim sukham martya-dharminah: what possible happiness can one find within the painful grip of material illusion?

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