“The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.41)
प्राप्य पुण्य-कृतां लोकान्
उषित्वा शाश्वतीः समाः
शुचीनां श्रीमतां गेहे
prāpya puṇya-kṛtāṁ lokān
uṣitvā śāśvatīḥ samāḥ
śucīnāṁ śrīmatāṁ gehe
Though today a fixture of living in an industrialized part of the world, the invention of television is a marvel of technology. Similar to what we view with our own eyes, we can watch something taking place hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Everything delivered on a device with a screen.
We are no longer required to take a seat in an auditorium to watch the next showing of a theatrical performance. We do not need to purchase an expensive ticket for a seat at the championship game in the professional sport. Television is so nice that these sports leagues can run an entire season without a single person in attendance at the arenas.
Introduced in the last two decades or so is the ability to shift time and place. Previously, the user needed tapes and an elaborate system to record what was playing on the television. They would then have to rewind the tape and playback at a later time.
With the dawn of the digital age, recording and viewing can take place practically anywhere and at any time. I can watch previous recordings on any internet-connected device. I don’t need tapes. My bulky machine that recorded everything in my home has been replaced by a cloud service. In other words, the same hard drives, but managed by a third party, who makes everything accessible over the internet.
If an unexpected emergency should arise, I can pause what I am watching. If it is live programming, the action continues in real life. That football will not stay suspended in the air, awaiting my return to resume. But in my universe, in the reality that I create, everything stops. I do not lose progress. I can go back to the broadcast at any time.
This helps explain the concept of the unsuccessful yogi, as described in Bhagavad-gita. The premise is the promise of liberation. Any person who thinks of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, at the time of death achieves an end to the cycle of birth and death.
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)
There are no exceptions. There is no fine-print. There are no special qualifications. The promise follows exactly as it reads. Remember Krishna alone at the end and you will never have to return to the land of birth and death.
Naturally, the serious person takes it upon themselves to set up a lifestyle whereby they remember Krishna as much as possible. This is both easy to implement and rewarding throughout, since Krishna is all-attractive. It is not as if you are torturing yourself with only the hope and a prayer of a better life in the future. Devotional service, bhakti-yoga, is the better life.
We might have a new concern. What if everything doesn’t complete successfully? What if you remember Krishna for ten years in a row, but in the eleventh year you get distracted by outside forces. This vulnerability is always there. It is quite easy to get caught up in the temporary, losing sight of the long-term goal.
Krishna has a response. The yogi gets to pick up where they left off. In the next life, they will get circumstances conducive to devotional practice. Perhaps it is the type of family they live in. Maybe they are in a rich aristocracy that views the Supreme Lord as something of an order supplier, so there is regular worship. Perhaps the parents are scholarly in nature, well-read in Vedic literature such as Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The resumption is more precise than the television technology. The internet connection could break to the point that when you press to “un-pause” the feed returns to live. You have missed out on what you wanted to watch. Krishna’s memory is perfect. He retains everything about our previous lives, and so the promise is true in every way.
The better option is not to rely on the future. Take Krishna’s assurance at face value, but don’t wait until the end. Act like today is the most important day of your life, where you will connect with the Almighty in an unbreakable link: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Assigning to today,
That most important day.
Where Krishna to keep in mind,
In every situation to find.
So that not on future to rely,
Where again in yoga to try.
Promise made that if at the end,
Consciousness well beyond to extend.