“When they have thus enjoyed heavenly sense pleasure, they return to this mortal planet again. Thus, through the Vedic principles, they achieve only flickering happiness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.21)
ते तं भुक्त्वा स्वर्ग-लोकं विशालं
क्षीणे पुण्ये मर्त्य-लोकं विशन्ति
एवं त्रयी-धर्मम् अनुप्रपन्ना
गतागतं काम-कामा लभन्ते
te taṁ bhuktvā svarga-lokaṁ viśālaṁ
kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti
evaṁ trayī-dharmam anuprapannā
gatāgataṁ kāma-kāmā labhante
Friend1: I hope you realize that some people live for drinking.
Friend2: You mean alcohol?
Friend1: Intoxication. Getting drunk.
Friend2: I do know that.
Friend1: On one hand I can’t blame them. Life is difficult.
Friend2: Especially in the modern day.
Friend1: Work hard. Struggle. Barely make enough to get by.
Friend2: So much automatically withdrawn in taxes and fees.
Friend1: An indication of Kali-yuga, for sure. I think I read in the Ramayana that taxes should not be more than one sixth of a person’s income.
Friend2: It is in reference to the qualifications of a king. If they can’t sufficiently protect the people after taxing them at such a rate, they don’t deserve to be leader.
Friend1: Right, and so in the face of such difficulties, it makes sense that people would want to escape from reality, if only for a short period of time.
Friend2: I agree.
Friend1: Then we know that in religious life, you kind of go in the opposite direction.
Friend2: Depends on your definition of religion. At a bare minimum, the practice of religion should have accompanying characteristics.
Friend1: Such as?
Friend2: Austerity, cleanliness, compassion and honesty. The four pillars of dharma. You can tell if you are on the right track by consulting this checklist. Is my religion making me more honest? Is my compassion increasing? Not only for other people, but to the animal community, as well? Do I love my dog but have no problem cutting the throat of a cow, for instance?
Friend1: That is something worthwhile to consider.
Friend2: Any sort of attachment to material life equates to repeated birth. It’s as simple as that. Even if you follow dharma, but with material motives, you are not released from the bondage.
Friend1: Please elaborate.
Friend2: Take the word “libation.” This can refer to consuming an intoxicating beverage, but it can also have religious connotations. If you follow dharma for the purpose of elevation to heaven, the meanings merge. You ascend to the heavenly region after death, and there you enjoy the most intoxicating beverage.
Friend2: Enhancement in pleasure. With the same limitation, however. You do not get to stay there forever.
Friend1: There are term-limits, to use an election analogy.
Friend2: The pious credits expire. Vulnerability to falling back to earth, to repeat the experience in struggle.
Friend1: That seems like an unwise way to go.
Friend2: Seek liberation, instead. The four characteristics previously mentioned put you on the path of liberation. It is a beginning step. Next, take shelter of Muknda. He is the giver of liberation.
Friend1: Who is Mukunda?
Friend2: That is one name for God. There are many names. Too many to count. As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada likes to say, God indeed has no name. But since devotees like to describe Him and glorify Him for activities and qualities, there are so many names. Mukunda references the Almighty’s ability to grant mukti.
Friend1: Where does intoxication fit into that?
Friend2: It doesn’t. Liberation is the state free of attachment to the material world. If you are still attached to something, you can’t get liberation. You may be on your way, but the attachment has to break. That is why the best option is to serve Mukunda directly. Think of Him always. Remember Him. Have faith in His mercy.
अन्त-काले च माम् एव
स्मरन् मुक्त्वा कलेवरम्
यः प्रयाति स मद्-भावं
याति नास्त्य् अत्र संशयः
anta-kāle ca mām eva
smaran muktvā kalevaram
yaḥ prayāti sa mad-bhāvaṁ
yāti nāsty atra saṁśayaḥ
“And whoever, at the time of death, quits his body, remembering Me alone, at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.5)
Be aware of the changing tides of the material world, how up and down trade places too often to keep track. Be confident that if you remember the Supreme Lord at the time of death, you will indeed go to Him.
If through consciousness knowing,
Then indeed to Him going.
Struggling no more,
Liberation in store.
Otherwise always attached,
And by illusion attacked.
Libation only temporary way,
Forced here again to stay.