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Heavenly Bliss Is Not The Apex Of Spiritual Pyramid

Desires are of various sorts. There is, first of all, the all-too-common desire for sense enjoyments. Weakness for sense pleasures is the Achilles’ heel of human beings. Kama brings the vast majority of humanity under his thumb by dangling before them the bait of varied sense delights here and now on the terrestrial plane. Second, there is, for a small minority, the thirst for post-mortem felicities in heaven. Kama does not spare them. He catches and entangles them in his dragnet by pandering to their craving for celestial pleasures. He generates in their minds an insidious addiction to Vedic ritualism, which is believed to be the passport to the post-mortem joys of heaven.

Thirst for terrestrial sense pleasures is bad enough but yearning for post-mortem felicities is worse. The former is a drag on spiritual progress, as it deflects one’s orientation away from the Divine. The seekers of sense pleasures are conscious of their foibles and, in their inner minds, rue their fate in having fallen into their strangle hold. They know for certain that in the spiritual realm they are outcasts because of their addiction to earthly sense delights.

The lovers of post-mortem bliss in the hereafter are, on the other hand, guilty of a double crime. They are guilty of both turpitude and hypocrisy – turpitude because of their relish for heavenly delights, albeit post-mortem, and hypocrisy because of their pretensions to spiritual impeccability. By choosing to chase the impermanent raptures of heaven, they jettison the spiritual goal of God-love and God-vision. They miss the spiritual goal no less than the unabashed devotees of the sublunary sense delights.

The tragedy is that they mistakenly consider heavenly bliss as the apex of the spiritual pyramid. They refuse to acknowledge that what they are pursuing is not the immortal bliss of God-experience but only evanescent thrills of a higher order in the celestial regions. Again, they refuse to accept that in the purely spiritual realm where God-vision is the desideratum they are persona non grata. They pose as genuine spiritualists and entertain a sense of superiority and condescension which they hardly have the right to. Their obsession with ritualism and the benefits it is supposed to confer on them clouds their spiritual vision and erects an impenetrable barrier to God-vision. They are so puffed up with pseudo-spiritual pride that even when God, in His flesh and blood, appears before them, they fail to recognize Him. Their blind addiction to ritualism is so shocking that Bhagavan inveighs against them in strong terms:

O Arjuna! There are people who delight in the eulogistic statements of the Vedas and argue that the purport of the Vedas consists in these and nothing else. They are full of worldly desires; paradise is their highest goal; and they are totally blind in a spiritual sense. They expatiate upon those florid Vedic texts which describe the means for the attainment of pleasure and power, which provide attractive embodiments as the fruits of actions, and which are full of descriptions of rites and rituals (through which these fulfillments are obtained). In the minds of these votaries of pleasure and power, addicted to enjoyments of the above description, steadfast wisdom (capable of revealing the Truth) is never generated.

Sourceexcerpts from article titled The Leaf and the Leaping Fire by N Hariharan in August 2005 issue of Prabuddha Bharata magazine.