“The living entity in this frightful condition of life, bound by seven layers of material ingredients, prays with folded hands, appealing to the Lord, who has put him in that condition.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.31.11)
नाथमान ऋषिर् भीतः
स्तुवीत तं विक्लवया
वाचा येनोदरे ’र्पितः
nāthamāna ṛṣir bhītaḥ
stuvīta taṁ viklavayā
vācā yenodare ’rpitaḥ
“You might hear someone describe how they wish they could return to the womb. I realize that it is a weird thing for a person to admit. How would you even get on the subject? You would need to find a trustworthy ally to speak in such a free manner, knowing that they will safeguard your secret. After all, information is power.
“But I think you know what I mean. A person wanting to return to someplace safe. In the womb, under the protection of the mother, no one to bother them. Everything taken care of, for nine months. No day job. No crying children. No nagging spouse. Just food and comfort.
“I bring this up because isn’t it possible for someone to have the same longing for the material world? I understand that sadhu, shastra and guru speak in the opposite way. They highlight the illusion that is maya, and how repeated birth and death is the worst thing that could happen to the individual, who is spirit soul.
“Yet people are comfortable here, enough that they are desperate to prolong life. Why would God torture us in this way? Why not let us stay? Why not promote the idea of reincarnation?”
Whether it is promoted or not, the result remains the same. Everything is based on consciousness. Shri Krishna reveals that it is the state of being at the time of death which determines the next kind of existence.
यं यं वापि स्मरन् भावं
त्यजत्य् अन्ते कलेवरम्
तं तम् एवैति कौन्तेय
yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ
tyajaty ante kalevaram
taṁ tam evaiti kaunteya
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, that state he will attain without fail.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 8.6)
Sort of like life flashing before your eyes, the quickest review of thousands of days, like the movie played on super-fast-forward, the time of quitting the body has an associated consciousness. That consciousness was developed over significant time in activity, both good and bad. Guna and dosha, a collection of pious credits and impious demerits, there will be punishments and rewards moving forward.
The acharyas warn against taking the risk. These spiritual leaders by example understand the inherent problems with taking birth again. Through speculation we might consider a return to the womb to be a positive thing, but Shrimad Bhagavatam explains that the experience is entirely miserable. Forced into a ball, surrounded by unpleasant fluids, the living entity promises to finally be devoted to God in full.
The entry into the world is so traumatic that the individual forgets their time in the womb. We can use a basic example from everyday life to explain the same principle. Suppose someone plans to move. They are okay with the current living arrangements, but they are looking for an improvement.
After a lengthy process in finding, offering on, and purchasing a new home, they finally make the move. On the first night in the new place, they are terrified. They want to return to the old place. Never mind the earthquake-like sounds caused by the walking of the upstairs neighbors. They will tolerate the foul odors emitted from the other residents. The sounds from outside are okay; they just want to go back to a place that is comfortable.
Indeed, with enough time the same person will become attached to their new place. Hence the cycle repeats, in the same way that in the material existence the individual becomes attached to their temporary surroundings and the relationships formed through the journey of life.
Vairagya is like the sharpest knife to cut through the knot of attachment. This may seem like a dangerous change, severing the link to something known and familiar. In truth, the other side is the most familiar, since it is the original home.
It is the dharma of the individual to be a servant of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Asking what He wants instead of what we want. Seeking His pleasure instead of our own. The reciprocal benefit is too great to measure, and so saintly people never tire of singing the glories of the one who lives in the spiritual land of Vaikuntha: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
To become attached inevitable,
Dreading impending severable.
But again the pattern to repeat,
Same fear soon to meet.
Spiritual home original surrounding,
Created again through sounding.
Holy names of Shri Krishna pronounced,
So that easily the temporary renounced.