“All of them – as they surrender unto Me – I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.11)
ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
Friend1: Krishna rewards everyone accordingly. There is a verse in the Bhagavad-gita saying something to that affect.
Friend1: Does that refer to only the devotees?
Friend1: Doesn’t the verse come after explaining how great souls from the past achieved the highest perfection?
Friend2: It does, but the statement refers to every single person. Karma itself is a reward system.
Friend1: Hmm. I think people look at it as punishment. People always ask me, “Karma is about being born as like a dog in the next life if you are bad in this life, right?”
Friend2: There is certainly that possibility. Krishna also says that whatever state of being one remembers at the time of death, that state they will attain without fail. [Bg 8.6]
Friend1: Doesn’t that conflict with karma? On the one hand you have the reaction to work and on the other you have the consciousness at a specific time. Which one takes precedence?
Friend2: They are inexorably linked. Your karma affects consciousness. Consciousness is the key factor, but it doesn’t get shaped out of nowhere. Just as if you spend the whole day working on computer programming, you will likely dream about it at night.
Friend1: I see. Let me ask you this. Are the atheists rewarded accordingly?
Friend2: Of course.
Friend1: That is antithetical.
Friend1: Because they are not devoted to Krishna, or God. By definition, they are the opposite of the sura, who is a devotee. If they are against God, how can they be rewarded by Him?
Friend2: They get what they want, which is continued forgetfulness of the Divine. Everyone follows the path of God in all respects. There is nothing that exists which is completely separate from Him.
Friend1: Explain further.
Friend2: The material creation is part of His separated energy. This means that Krishna does not provide direct oversight; He is not interested in what goes on in a playground that is manifest temporarily. At the same time, the rules of that playground come to be through Krishna’s influence. It is said that not a blade of grass moves without Krishna’s sanction.
Friend1: This would include the people who worship the demigods, then.
Friend2: You love talking about that!
Friend1: I do. It’s because the practice is so popular. People might mistake Krishna’s claim to mean that worship of all gods is the same. “Do whatever you want, since everyone is following Krishna anyway.”
Friend2: In one sense they are correct. The thing is, every person is looking for happiness. Therefore a wise person makes an assessment of the different rewards. This is the significance of the “accordingly” word.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: If a person views the material nature as their supreme deity, that is where they stay. If they view the demigods as the ultimate benefactors, they go to them. But know that these destinations are not permanent. Nor is there full happiness available there.
Friend1: How is the path of direct devotion to Krishna different?
Friend2: It brings transcendental love. You hear people urging society to show more love. “Stop the hate. Open your heart. Don’t be so selfish.” They feel compelled to say these things because there is no love. Everything is lust, or kama. There is no satisfaction with kama, as even the deepest affection can break at any moment.
Friend1: What is transcendental love?
Friend2: You have to experience it to know it. That’s what the bhakti path is for. Go to Krishna directly. Even if you are full of desires, He is the one to approach. He is the great purifier. He might actually take away things that you have, if He deems them to be distractions. He may also make you the richest person in the world. He rewards accordingly. So if what you want is continued devotion, He will give it to you. You will experience transcendental love, which is the height of living, in any realm.
Devotee, even if as atheist to call,
Following Krishna in respects all.
Destination same as in path proceeding,
Not all to one place leading.
Demigod worshipers with their deity to stay,
Atheists from personal Divine far away.
Devotees continued service getting,
Transcendental love their work begetting.