Gita Series – 105: Bhagavad Gita Chapter IX. Verse 20 – 21

Worshipping Me through rituals and sacrifices makes one get rid of sins and leads him to heaven, where he enjoys celestial pleasures of gods. Having enjoyed such pleasures in the heaven for some time, he returns to the earth to perform rituals and sacrifices again, only to go back to heaven. He thus shifts between heaven and earth frequently.”

Krishna explains the merits of performing rituals and sacrifices. Performing such rituals and sacrifices do not go waste. Sacrifices are always preceded by a list of desires, which is generally known as saṃkalpa. One prays to God for whom sacrifices are done, to sanction the list of desires, for the fulfilment of which the oblations are offered into the fire. The concerned deity is invoked in the fire, which is known as sacrificial fire. Generally such rituals are done only to get certain desires fulfilled or to appease a certain deity who presides over such desires. These desires and rituals are performed only to enhance individual material prosperity. The prayers of the performer are fulfilled, provided they are performed as per the rules and regulations prescribed by the sacred scriptures. There is no abridged version for these rituals, though they are resorted to, in the present days. Such prayers are often granted, provided they are done with devotion, sincerity and strictly in accordance with the procedures. If the prayers are answered by the concerned gods or goddesses, the performer’s desires are fulfilled and he lives happily. By having resorted to such rituals, his sins also get reduced in proportion to the sincerity with which he has performed the rituals. As a result of appeasing celestial gods and goddesses, at the time of his death, his soul reaches the heavens and enjoys all the associated celestial pleasures. Once his karmic account is fully exhausted, he is born again as a human and begins from where he had left in his previous birth. As he has not resorted to realising the Brahman, he is being shunted between heaven and earth. It is important to remember that only his sins get reduced and not his karmic account. Realisation becomes possible only if one’s karmic account is close to zero.

Krishna says that rituals and sacrifices do not in any way cause the cessation of transmigration, which stops only if the soul merges with That Self Effulgent Brahman. It is said that souls have seven levels of existence, probably referring to the seven worlds of Gāyatri mantra. The first level is the mundane existence of the soul and the seventh level is the merger of the soul with the Lord. Those who perform these rituals are neither ignorant nor wise. Still there is a lot of scope for their spiritual evolution.

Further Readings:

Bhagavad Gita Chapter IX. 16 - 19

Bhagavad Gita Chapter IX. 22 - 24

E-Book - Bhagavad Gita - Chapters I and II