“Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.19)
Friend1: You’ve heard of eternal damnation.
Friend1: What do you think of it?
Friend2: What does personal sentiment matter? I can think something. You can think something different. We look to authority for understanding these higher topics.
Friend1: Sorry, I guess that’s what I meant. What is your opinion of the concept of suffering forever in hell, based on what authority teaches?
Friend2: Oh, I see. You want to know if it’s real?
Friend1: Yeah, like if a person does something bad, are they forced to suffer forever? If they don’t believe in God, are they doomed?
Friend2: I think you already know the answer to that.
Friend1: I understand the concept of reincarnation. The outside is always changing. The inside is always constant. As a person goes to prison for committing a crime, so the individual can be downgraded in terms of species in a subsequent life.
Friend2: Up, down, or stay the same. With the mode of goodness you rise to the heavenly planets. With the mode of ignorance you get demoted to a lower species. With the mode of passion you stay where you are. The changes occur within a single lifetime, also.
Friend1: How does that work?
Friend2: Consciousness. Improving, staying the same, or getting worse.
Friend1: If there is a horrible deed, the punishment doesn’t last forever, then? Once the next birth comes then the slate is wiped clean?
Friend2: That is why Vedic culture has the death penalty included. The idea is that if the criminal is punished right now, they won’t have to suffer in the future. If they skate, if they escape the justice that is due them, it will arrive eventually.
Friend1: Alright, that makes sense. I guess what confuses me is hearing about the two natures. Some people are divine and others are demoniac.
Friend2: Good and evil. Yes, Krishna discusses this in the Bhagavad-gita. He describes the qualities of each. He tells Arjuna not to worry, as the great bow-warrior is born with the divine qualities.
“The transcendental qualities are conducive to liberation, whereas the demonic qualities make for bondage. Do not worry, O son of Pandu, for you are born with the divine qualities.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 16.5)
Friend1: And then isn’t there something about the demoniac being cast into lower species, lifetime after lifetime, directly by Krishna?
Friend1: Okay, so wouldn’t that correspond with eternal damnation? Aren’t such people forever shut out from salvation?
Friend2: No, because look at people like Hiranyakashipu and Ravana. They were the worst of the worst. They never changed their ways. They were so bad that they had to die directly at the hands of God, which earns immediate salvation.
Friend1: Okay, but I know they were two gatekeepers in the Vaikuntha spiritual realm originally. They were just playing the role of bad guys in this world.
Friend2: That is the case for every single person. If damnation were ever actually eternal, then Krishna as the Supersoul would not accompany such persons. He would not expand Himself to stay in horrible places. The fact that the Supersoul is always close by means that every person is originally God conscious. Through evil deeds the realization of that original consciousness becomes much more difficult, but the reversal of fortune is always a possibility.
Sinful souls through world dispersed,
But always opportunity to be reversed.
Since Supersoul accompanying inside,
Even within demoniac to reside.
Who repeatedly into worst species cast,
From time’s factor not forever to last.
Like Ravana and Hiranya liberation attaining,
Original consciousness eventually gaining.