He executes the orders of Lord Krishna in the work of creation, and in the form of Lord Shesha He serves Krishna in various ways.
BHAKTIVEDANTA PURPORT: According to expert opinion, Balarama, as the chief of the original quadruple forms, is also the original Shankarshana. Balarama, the first expansion of Krishna, expands Himself in five forms: (1) Maha-shankarshana, (2) Karanabdhishayi, (3) Garbhodakashayi, (4) Kshirodakashayi, and (5) Shesha. These five plenary portions are responsible for both the spiritual and material cosmic manifestations. In these five forms Lord Balarama assists Lord Krishna in His activities. The first four of these forms are responsible for the cosmic manifestations, whereas Shesha is responsible for personal service to the Lord. Shesha is called Ananta, or unlimited, because He assists the Personality of Godhead in His unlimited expansions by performing an unlimited variety of services. Sri Balarama is the servitor Godhead who serves Lord Krishna in all affairs of existence and knowledge. Lord Nityananda Prabhu, who is the same servitor Godhead, Balarama, performs the same service to Lord Gauranga by constant association.
Cc. Adi-lila. 5.11
In all the forms He tastes the transcendental bliss of serving Krishna. That same Balarama is Lord Nityananda, the companion of Lord Gaurasundara.
Cc. Adi-lila. 5.12
I have explained the seventh verse in four subsequent verses. By these verses all the world can know the truth about Lord Nityananda.
Cc. Adi-lila. 5.13
I surrender unto the lotus feet of Sri Nityananda Rama, who is known as Shankarshana in the midst of the chatur-vyuha [consisting of Vasudeva, Shankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha]. He possesses full opulences and resides in Vaikunthaloka, far beyond the material creation.
BHAKTIVEDANTA PURPORT: This is a verse from Sri Svarupa Damodara Gosvami’s diary. It appears as the eighth of the first fourteen verses of Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita.
Cc. Adi-lila. 5.14
Beyond the material nature lies the realm known as paravyoma, the spiritual sky. Like Lord Krishna Himself, it possesses all transcendental attributes, such as the six opulences.
BHAKTIVEDANTA PURPORT: According to Sankhya philosophy, the material cosmos is composed of twenty-four elements: the five gross material elements, the three subtle material elements, the five knowledge-acquiring senses, the five active senses, the five objects of sense pleasure, and the mahat-tattva (the total material energy). Empiric philosophers, unable to go beyond these elements, speculate that anything beyond them must be avyakta, or inexplicable. But the world beyond the twenty-four elements is not inexplicable, for it is explained in the Bhagavad-gita as the eternal (sanatana) nature. Beyond the manifested and unmanifested existence of material nature (vyaktavyakta) is the sanatana nature, which is called the paravyoma, or the spiritual sky. Since that nature is spiritual in quality, there are no qualitative differences there: everything there is spiritual, everything is good, and everything possesses the spiritual form of Sri Krishna Himself. That spiritual sky is the manifested internal potency of Sri Krishna; it is distinct from the material sky, manifested by His external potency.
The all-pervading Brahman, composed of the impersonal glowing rays of Sri Krishna, exists in the spiritual world with the Vaikuntha planets. We can get some idea of that spiritual sky by a comparison to the material sky, for the rays of the sun in the material sky can be compared to the brahmajyoti, the glowing rays of the Personality of Godhead. In the brahmajyoti there are unlimited Vaikuntha planets, which are spiritual and therefore self-luminous, with a glow many times greater than that of the sun. The Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna, His innumerable plenary portions and the portions of His plenary portions dominate each Vaikuntha planet. In the highest region of the spiritual sky is the planet called Krishnaloka, which has three divisions, namely Dvaraka, Mathura and Goloka, or Gokula.
To a gross materialist this kingdom of God, Vaikuntha, is certainly a mystery. But to an ignorant man everything is a mystery for want of sufficient knowledge. The kingdom of God is not a myth. Even the material planets, which float over our heads in the millions and billions, are still a mystery to the ignorant. Material scientists are now attempting to penetrate this mystery, and a day may come when the people of this earth will be able to travel in outer space and see the variegatedness of these millions of planets with their own eyes. In every planet there is as much material variegatedness as we find in our own planet.
This planet earth is but an insignificant spot in the cosmic structure. Yet foolish men, puffed up by a false sense of scientific advancement, have concentrated their energy in the pursuit of so-called economic development on this planet, not knowing of the variegated economic facilities available on other planets. According to modern astronomy, the gravity of the moon is different from that of earth. Therefore one who goes to the moon will be able to pick up large weights and jump vast distances. In the Ramayana, Hanuman is described as being able to lift huge weights as heavy as hills and jump over the ocean. Modern astronomy has confirmed that this is indeed possible.
The disease of the modern civilized man is his disbelief of everything in the revealed scriptures. Faithless nonbelievers cannot make progress in spiritual realization, for they cannot understand the spiritual potency. The small fruit of a banyan contains hundreds of seeds, and in each seed is the potency to produce another banyan tree with the potency to produce millions more of such fruits. This law of nature is visible before us, although how it works is beyond our understanding. This is but an insignificant example of the potency of Godhead; there are many similar phenomena that no scientist can explain.
Everything, in fact, is inconceivable, for the truth is revealed only to the proper persons. Although there are varieties of personalities, from Brahma down to the insignificant ant, all of whom are living beings, their development of knowledge is different. Therefore we have to gather knowledge from the right source. Indeed, in reality we can get knowledge only from the Vedic sources. The four Vedas, with their supplementary Puranas, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and their corollaries, which are known assmritis, are all authorized sources of knowledge. If we are at all to gather knowledge, we must gather it from these sources without hesitation.
Revealed knowledge may in the beginning be unbelievable because of our paradoxical [AMBIGUOUS] desire to verify everything with our tiny brains, but the speculative means of attaining knowledge is always imperfect. The perfect knowledge propounded in the revealed scriptures is confirmed by the greatacharyas, who have left ample [UNAMBIGUOUS] commentations upon them; none of these acharyas has disbelieved in the shastras. One who disbelieves in the shastras is an atheist, and we should not consult an atheist, however great he may be. A staunch believer in the shastras, with all their diversities, is the right person from whom to gather real knowledge. Such knowledge may seem inconceivable in the beginning, but when put forward by the proper authority its meaning is revealed, and then one no longer has any doubts about it.
Cc. Adi-lila. 5.15
That Vaikuntha region is all-pervading, infinite and supreme. It is the residence of Lord Krishna and His incarnations.
Cc. Adi-lila. 5.16
In the highest region of that spiritual sky is the spiritual planet called Krishnaloka. It has three divisions—Dvaraka, Mathura and Gokula.
Cc. Adi-lila. 5.17
Sri Gokula, the highest of all, is also called Vraja, Goloka, Shvetadvipa and Vrindavana.
Cc. Adi-lila. 5.18
Like the transcendental body of Lord Krishna, Gokula is all-pervading, infinite and supreme. It expands both above and below, without any restriction.
BHAKTIVEDANTA PURPORT: Srila Jiva Gosvami, the great authority and philosopher in the line of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, has discussed the abode of Krishna in his Krishna-sandarbha. In the Bhagavad-gita the Lord refers to “My abode.” Srila Jiva Gosvami, examining the nature of Krishna’s abode, refers to the Skanda Purana, which states:
ya yatha bhuvi vartante puryo bhagavatah priyah
tatha santi vaikunthe tat-tal-lilartham adritah “The abodes of Godhead in the material world, such as Dvaraka, Mathura and Gokula, are facsimiles representing the abodes of Godhead in the kingdom of God, Vaikuntha-dhama.” The unlimited spiritual atmosphere of that Vaikuntha-dhama is far above and beyond the material cosmos. This is confirmed in the Svayambhuva-tantra, in a discussion between Lord Shiva and Parvati regarding the effect of chanting the mantra of fourteen syllables. There it is stated:
nana-kalpa-latakirnam vaikuntham vyapakam smaret
adhah samyam gunanam cha prakritih sarva-karanam
“While chanting the mantra, one should always remember the spiritual world, which is very extensive and full of desire trees that can yield anything one desires. Below that Vaikuntha region is the potential material energy, which causes the material manifestation.” The places of the pastimes of Lord Krishna, such as Dvaraka, Mathura and Vrindavana, eternally and independently exist in Krishnaloka. They are the actual abodes of Lord Krishna, and there is no doubt that they are situated above the material cosmic manifestation.
The abode known as Vrindavana or Gokula is also known as Goloka [According to Dhama-Tattva there is NO difference between these two realms. However, the pastimes or eternal lilas of the Lord PERFORMED in theM ARE differenT]. The Brahma-samhita states that Gokula, the highest region of the kingdom of God, resembles a lotus flower with thousands of petals. The outer portion of that lotuslike planet is a square place known as Shvetadvipa. In the inner portion of Gokula there is an elaborate arrangement for Sri Krishna’s residence with His eternal associates such as Nanda and Yashoda. That transcendental abode exists by the energy of Sri Baladeva, who is the original whole of Shesha, or Ananta. The tantras also confirm this description by stating that the abode of Sri Anantadeva, a plenary portion of Baladeva, is called the kingdom of God. Vrindavana-dhama is the innermost abode within the quadrangular realm of Shvetadvipa, which lies outside of the boundary of Gokula Vrindavana.
According to Jiva Gosvami, Vaikuntha is also called Brahmaloka. The Narada-pancaratra, in a statement concerning the mystery of Vijaya, describes:
tat sarvopari goloke tatra lokopari svayam
viharet paramanandi govindo ’tula-nayakah “The predominator of the gopis, Govinda, the principal Deity of Gokula, always enjoys Himself in a place called Goloka, in the topmost part of the spiritual sky.”
From the authoritative evidence cited by Jiva Gosvami we may conclude that Krishnaloka is the supreme planet in the spiritual sky, which is far beyond the material cosmos. For the enjoyment of transcendental variety, the pastimes of Krishna there have three divisions, and these pastimes are performed in the three abodes Dvaraka, Mathura and Gokula. When Krishna descends to this universe, He enjoys the pastimes in places of the same name. These places on earth are non-different from those original abodes, for they are facsimiles of those original holy places in the transcendental world. They are as good as Sri Krishna Himself and are equally worshipable. Lord Chaitanya declared that Lord Krishna, who presents Himself as the son of the King of Vraja, is worshipable, and that Vrindavana-dhama is equally worshipable.
Cc. Adi-lila. 5.19
That abode is manifested within the material world by the will of Lord Krishna. It is identical to that original Gokula; they are not two different bodies.
BHAKTIVEDANTA PURPORT: The above-mentioned dhamas are movable, by the omnipotent will of Lord Krishna. When Sri Krishna appears on the face of the earth, He can also make His dhamas appear, without changing their original structure. One should not discriminate between the dhamas on the earth and those in the spiritual sky, thinking those on earth to be material and the original abodes to be spiritual. All of them are spiritual. Only for us, who cannot experience anything beyond matter in our present conditioned state, do the dhamas and the Lord Himself, in His archa form, appear before us resembling matter to give us the facility to see spirit with material eyes. In the beginning this may be difficult for a neophyte to understand, but in due course, when one is advanced in devotional service, it will be easier, and he will appreciate the Lord’s presence in these tangible forms. Cc. Adi-lila. 5.20
The land there is touchstone [chintamani], and the forests abound with desire trees. Material eyes see it as an ordinary place.
BHAKTIVEDANTA PURPORT: By the grace of the Lord His dhamas and He Himself can all be present simultaneously, without losing their original importance. Only when one fully develops in affection and love of Godhead can one see those dhamas in their original appearance.
Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, a great acharya in the preceptorial line of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, has said for our benefit that one can perfectly see the dhamas only when one completely gives up the mentality of lording it over material nature. One’s spiritual vision develops proportionately to one’s giving up the debased mentality of unnecessarily enjoying matter. A diseased person who has become diseased because of a certain bad habit must be ready to follow the advice of the physician, and as a natural sequence he must attempt to give up the cause of the disease. The patient cannot indulge in the bad habit and at the same time expect to be cured by the physician. Modern materialistic civilization, however, is maintaining a diseased atmosphere. The living being is a spiritual spark, as spiritual as the Lord Himself. The only difference is that the Lord is great and the living being is small. Qualitatively they are one, but quantitatively they are different. Therefore, since the living being is spiritual in constitution, he can be happy only in the spiritual sky, where there are unlimited spiritual spheres called Vaikunthas. A spiritual being conditioned by a material body must therefore try to get rid of his disease instead of developing the cause of the disease.
Foolish persons engrossed in their material assets are unnecessarily proud of being leaders of the people, but they ignore the spiritual value of man. Such illusioned leaders make plans covering any number of years, but they can hardly make humanity happy in a state conditioned by the threefold miseries inflicted by material nature. One cannot control the laws of nature by any amount of struggling. One must at last be subject to death, nature’s ultimate law. Death, birth, old age and illness are symptoms of the diseased condition of the living being. The highest aim of human life should therefore be to get free from these miseries and go back home, back to Godhead.
Cc. Adi-lila. 5.21
prema-netre dekhe tara svarupa-prakasha
gopa-gopi-sange yanha krishnera vilasa But with the eyes of love of Godhead one can see its real identity as the place where Lord Krishna performs His pastimes with the cowherd boys and cowherd girls.
Cc. Adi-lila. 5.22
lakshavriteshu surabhir abhipalayantam
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami “I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, the first progenitor, who is tending cows yielding all desires in abodes built with spiritual gems and surrounded by millions of purpose trees. He is always served with great reverence and affection by hundreds and thousands of goddesses of fortune.”
BHAKTIVEDANTA PURPORT: This is a verse from the Brahma-samhita (5.29). This description of the abode of Krishna gives us DEFINITE information of the transcendental place where not only is life eternal, blissfuland full ofknowledge, but there are ample vegetables, milk, jewels, and beautiful homes and gardens tended by lovely damsels who are all goddesses of fortune. Krishnaloka is the topmost planet in the spiritual sky, and below it are innumerable spheres, a description of which can be found in Srimad-Bhagavatam. In the beginning of Lord Brahma’s self-realization he was shown a transcendental vision of the Vaikuntha spheres by the grace of Narayana. Later, by the grace of Krishna, he was shown a transcendental vision of Krishnaloka. This transcendental vision is like the reception of television from the moon via a mechanical system for receiving modulated waves, but it is achieved by penance and meditation within oneself.
Srimad-Bhagavatam (Second Canto) states that in Vaikunthaloka the material modes of nature, represented by the qualities of goodness, passion and ignorance, have no influence. In the material world the highest qualitative manifestation is goodness, which is characterized by truthfulness, mental equilibrium, cleanliness, control of the senses, simplicity, essential knowledge, faith in God, scientific knowledge and so on. Nevertheless, all these qualities are mixed with passion and imperfection. But the qualities in Vaikuntha are a manifestation of God’s internal potency, and therefore they are purely spiritual and transcendental, with no trace of material infection. No material planet, even Satyaloka, is comparable in quality to the spiritual planets, where the five inherent qualities of the material world—namely ignorance, misery, egoism, anger and envy—are completely ABSENT.
In the material world, everything is a creation. Anything we can think of within our experience, including even our own bodies and minds, was created. This process of creation began with the life of Brahma, and the creative principle is prevalent all over the material universe because of the quality of passion. But since the quality of passion is conspicuous by its absence in the Vaikuntha planets, nothing there is created; everything there is eternally existent. And because there is no mode of ignorance, there is also no question of annihilation or destruction. In the material world one may try to make everything permanent by developing the above-mentioned qualities of goodness, but because the goodness in the material world is mixed with passion and ignorance, nothing here can exist permanently, despite all the good plans of the best scientific brains. Therefore in the material world we have no experience of eternity, bliss and fullness of knowledge. But in the spiritual world, because of the complete absence of the qualitative modes, everything is eternal, blissful and cognizant. Everything can speak, everything can move, everything can hear, and everything can see in fully blessed existence for eternity. The situation being so, naturally space and time, in the forms of past, present and future, have no influence there. In the spiritual sky there is no change because time has no influence. Consequently, the influence of maya, the total external energy, which induces us to become more and more materialistic and FORGET OUR RELATIONSHIP with God, is also ABSENT there.
As spiritual sparks of the beams emanating from the transcendental body of the Lord, we are all permanently related with Him and equal to Him in quality. The material energy is a covering of the spiritual spark, but in the absence of that material covering, the living beings in Vaikunthaloka are never forgetful of their identities: they are eternally cognizant of their relationship with God in their constitutional position of rendering transcendental loving service to the Lord. Because they constantly engage in the transcendental service of the Lord, it is natural to conclude that their senses are also transcendental, for one cannot serve the Lord with material senses. The inhabitants of Vaikunthaloka do not possess material senses with which to lord it over material nature.
Persons with a poor fund of knowledge conclude that a place void of material qualities must be some sort of formless nothingness. In reality, however, there are qualities in the spiritual world, but they are different from the material qualities because everything there is eternal, unlimited and pure. The atmosphere there is self-illuminating, and thus there is no need of a sun, a moon, fire, electricity and so on. One who can REACH that abode does not COME BACK to the material world with a material body. There is no difference between atheists and the faithful in the Vaikuntha planets because all who settle there are FREED from the material qualities, and thus suras and asuras become equally OBEDIENT loving servitors of the Lord.
The residents of Vaikuntha have brilliantly black complexions much more fascinating and attractive than the dull white and black complexions found in the material world. Their bodies, being spiritual, have no equals in the material world. The beauty of a bright cloud when lightning flashes on it merely hints at their beauty. Generally the inhabitants of Vaikuntha dress in yellow clothing. Their bodies are delicate and attractively built, and their eyes are like the petals of lotus flowers. Like Lord Vishnu, the residents of Vaikuntha have four hands decorated with a conch-shell, wheel, club and lotus flower. Their chests are beautifully broad and fully decorated with necklaces of a brilliant diamond-like metal surrounded by costly jewels never to be found in the material world. The residents of Vaikuntha are always powerful and effulgent. Some of them have complexions like red coral cat’s eyes and lotus flowers, and each of them has earrings of costly jewels. On their heads they wear flowery crowns resembling garlands.
In the Vaikunthas there are airplanes, but they make no tumultuous sounds. Material airplanes are not at all safe: they can fall down and crash at any time, for matter is imperfect in every respect. In the spiritual sky, however, the airplanes are also spiritual, and they are spiritually brilliant and bright. These airplanes do not fly business executives, politicians or planning commissions as passengers, nor do they carry cargo or postal bags, for these are all unknown there. These planes are for pleasure trips only, and the residents of Vaikuntha fly in them with their heavenly, beautiful, fairylike consorts. Therefore these airplanes, full of residents of Vaikuntha, both male and female, increase the beauty of the spiritual sky. We cannot imagine how beautiful they are, but their beauty may be compared to the clouds in the sky accompanied by silver branches of electric lightning. The spiritual sky of Vaikunthaloka is always decorated in this way.
The full opulence of the internal potency of Godhead is always resplendent in Vaikunthaloka, where goddesses of fortune are ever-increasingly attached to serving the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead. These goddesses of fortune, accompanied by their friends, always create a festive atmosphere of transcendental mirth. Always singing the glories of the Lord, they are not silent even for a moment.
There are unlimited Vaikuntha planets in the spiritual sky, and the ratio of these planets to the material planets in the material sky is three to one. Thus the poor materialist is busy making political adjustments on a planet that is most insignificant in God’s creation. To say nothing of this planet earth, the whole universe, with innumerable planets throughout the galaxies, is comparable to a single mustard seed in a bag full of mustard seeds. But the poor materialist makes plans to live comfortably here and thus wastes his valuable human energy in something that is doomed to frustration. Instead of wasting his time with business speculations, he should seek the life of plain living and high spiritual thinking and thus save himself from perpetual materialistic unrest.
Even if a materialist wants to enjoy developed material facilities, he can transfer himself to planets where he can experience material pleasures much more advanced than those available on earth. The best plan is to prepare oneself to return to the spiritual sky after leaving the body. However, if one is intent on enjoying material facilities, one can transfer himself to other planets in the material sky by utilizing yogic powers. The playful spaceships of the astronauts are but childish entertainments and are of no use for this purpose. The ashtanga-yoga system is a materialistic art of controlling air by transferring it from the stomach to the navel, from the navel to the heart, from the heart to the collarbone, from there to the eyeballs, from there to the cerebellum and from there to any desired planet. The velocities of air and light are taken into consideration by the material scientist, but he has no information of the velocity of the mind and intelligence. We have some limited experience of the velocity of the mind because in a moment we can transfer our minds to places hundreds of thousands of miles away. Intelligence is even finer. Finer than intelligence is the soul, which is not matter like mind and intelligence but is spirit, or antimatter. The soul is hundreds of thousands of times finer and more powerful than intelligence. We can thus only imagine the velocity of the soul in its traveling from one planet to another. Needless to say, the soul travels by its own strength and not with the help of any kind of material vehicle.
The bestial civilization of eating, sleeping, fearing and sense-gratifying has misled modern man into forgetting how powerful a soul he has. As we have already described, the soul is a spiritual spark many, many times more illuminating, dazzling and powerful than the sun, moon or electricity. Human life is spoiled when man does not realize his real identity with his soul. Lord Chaitanya appeared with Lord Nityananda to save man from this type of misleading civilization.
Srimad-Bhagavatam also describes how yogis can travel to all the planets in the universe. When the vital force is lifted to the cerebellum, there is every chance that this force will burst out from the eyes, nose, ears, etc., as these are places that are known as the seventh orbit of the vital force. But the yogis can block these holes by complete suspension of air. The yogi then concentrates the vital force in the middle position, that is, between the eyebrows. At this position, the yogi can think of the planet to which he wants to go after leaving the body. He can then decide whether he wants to go to the abode of Krishna in the transcendental Vaikunthas, from which he will NOT be required to descend into the material world, or to travel to higher planets in the material universe. The perfect yogi is at liberty to do either.
For the perfect yogi who has attained success in the method of leaving his body in perfect consciousness, transferring from one planet to another is as easy as an ordinary man’s walking to the grocery store. As already discussed, the material body is just a covering of the spiritual soul. Mind and intelligence are the undercoverings, and the gross body of earth, water, air and so on is the overcoating of the soul. As such, any advanced soul who has realized himself by the yogic process, who knows the relationship between matter and spirit, can leave the GROSS DRESS OF THE SOUL in perfect order and as he desires. By the grace of God, we have complete freedom. Because the Lord is kind to us, we can live anywhere—either in the spiritual sky or in the material sky, upon whichever planet we desire. However, misuse of this freedom causes one to fall down into the material world and suffer the threefold miseries of conditioned life. The living of a miserable life in the material world by dint of the soul’s choice is nicely illustrated by Milton in Paradise Lost. Similarly, by choice the soul can regain paradise and return home, back to Godhead.
At the critical time of death, one can place the vital force between the two eyebrows and decide where he wants to go. If he is reluctant to maintain any connection with the material world, he can, in less than a second, reach the transcendental abode of Vaikuntha and appear there completely in his spiritual body, which will be suitable for him in the spiritual atmosphere. He has simply to desire to leave the material world both in finer and in grosser forms and then move the vital force to the topmost part of the skull and leave the body from the hole in the skull called the brahma-randhra. This is easy for one perfect in the practice of yoga.
Of course, man is endowed with free will, and as such if he does not want to free himself from the material world he may enjoy the life of brahma-pada (occupation of the post of Brahma) and visit Siddhaloka, the planets of materially perfect beings, who have full capacities to control gravity, space and time. To visit these higher planets in the material universe, one need not give up his mind and intelligence (finer matter), but need only give up grosser matter (the material body).
Each and every planet has its particular atmosphere, and if one wants to travel to any particular planet within the material universe, one has to adapt his material body to the climatic condition of that planet. For instance, if one wants to go from India to Europe, where the climatic condition is different, one has to change his dress accordingly. Similarly, a complete change of body is necessary if one wants to go to the transcendental planets of Vaikuntha. However, if one wants to go to the higher material planets, he can keep his finer dress of mind, intelligence and ego, but has to leave his gross dress (body) made of earth, water, fire, etc.
When one goes to a transcendental planet, it is necessary to change both the finer and gross bodies, for one has to reach the spiritual sky completely in a spiritual form. This change of dress will take place automatically at the time of death if one so desires.
The Bhagavad-gita confirms that one will attain his next material body according to his desires at the time he leaves his body. The desire of the mind carries the soul to a suitable atmosphere as the wind carries aromas from one place to another. Unfortunately, those who are not yogis but gross materialists, who throughout their lives indulge in sense gratification, are puzzled by the disarrangement of the bodily and mental condition at the time of death. Such gross sensualists, encumbered by the main ideas, desires and associations of the lives they have led, desire something against their interest and thus foolishly take on new bodies that perpetuate their material miseries.
Systematic training of the mind and intelligence is therefore needed so that at the time of death one may consciously desire a suitable body, either on this planet or another material planet or even a transcendental planet. A civilization that does not consider the progressive advancement of the immortal soul merely fosters a bestial life of ignorance.
It is foolish to think that every soul that passes away goes to the same place. Either the soul goes to a place he desires at the time of death, or upon leaving his body he is forced to accept a position according to his acts in his previous life. The difference between the materialist and the yogi is that a materialist cannot determine his next body, whereas a yogi can consciously attain a suitable body for enjoyment in the higher planets. Throughout his life, the gross materialist who is constantly after sense gratification spends all day earning his livelihood to maintain his family, and at night he wastes his energy in sex enjoyment or else goes to sleep thinking about all he has done in the daytime. That is the monotonous life of the materialist. Although differently graded as businessmen, lawyers, politicians, professors, judges, coolies, pickpockets, laborers and so on, materialists all simply engage in eating, sleeping, fearing and sense gratification and thus spoil their valuable lives pursuing luxury and neglecting to perfect their lives through spiritual realization.
Yogis, however, try to perfect their lives, and therefore the Bhagavad-gita enjoins that everyone should become a yogi. Yoga is the system for linking the soul in the service of the Lord. Only under superior guidance can one practice such yoga in his life without changing his social position. As already described, a yogi can go anywhere he desires without mechanical help, for a yogi can place his mind and intelligence within the air circulating inside his body, and by practicing the art of breath control he can mix that air with the air that blows all over the universe outside his body. With the help of this universal air, a yogi can travel to any planet and get a body suitable for its atmosphere. We can understand this process by comparing it to the electronic transmission of radio messages. With radio transmitters, sound waves produced at a certain station can travel all over the earth in seconds. But sound is produced from the ethereal sky, and as already explained, subtler than the ethereal sky is the mind, and finer than the mind is the intelligence. Spirit is still finer than the intelligence, and by nature it is completely different from matter. Thus we can just imagine how quickly the spirit soul can travel through the universal atmosphere.