The Karma Kanda section of the Vedas has details of yagnas and rituals by performing which one can obtain pleasure, power and other specific goals. When these rituals are observed with austerity, the individual acquires merits entitling him to enjoy his desires. But all yagnas are to be performed in this world (bhuloka), though there are many ‘lokas’ for other kinds of beings such as the Manes, the spirits, and celestial beings.

Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that a majority of people are carried away by the offer of material benefits and get involved in these rituals without any thought for redemption, pointed out Swami Gautamananda in a lecture. They lack the will and discrimination to strive for salvation.

The people who worship only through rituals seek the lesser deities to obtain benefits according to their aspirations. These may pertain to material gains in this world or can win them a chance to live in the celestial regions. But once the fruits of yagna are experienced and enjoyed, they have to get back to the cycle of birth.

But they do not know the truth that the Lord is the presiding deity and the ultimate receiver of the offerings made in any ritual. Had they desired the highest goal, moksha, they could have obtained it by seeking Him directly.

A jnani is able to see the shortcomings in these rituals that distract people from the highest goal of life. Seeking the grace of lesser deities is more demanding. If the rules and conditions in the rituals are not followed meticulously, all the effort in terms of money and hard work is wasted. For lesser gains we have to strive hard. Should we aspire for the raw fruit when ripe ones are available? Why seek contaminated wells when pure reservoir is accessible?

In comparison, when we seek God, the demands are simpler while the gains are infinite. The Lord says that the highest gain, moksha, is obtained by seeking Him with the simple offering of jnana and bhakti. He is concerned about bhakti and a pure heart alone. He is pleased with whatever we offer — even our daily acts — when these are dedicated to Him with love and sincerity.

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