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What happens to an unsuccessful yogi?

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What happens to an unsuccessful yogi?

I used to always wonder what is the destination of an unsuccessful yogi? If someone starts practicing yoga or spirituality but gives up the practice after few years then what will happen to him? Or if someone is practicing yoga for a long period of time and then falls down then what will be his destination?

Will he be considered sinful because he has given up yoga? Will he suffer like a materialistic person who is only busy in sense gratification? Or will he suffer more than a materialistic person because he is a failed yogi?

Krishna answers this question in Bhagavad Gita 6.41 – 42. He says that the unsuccessful yogi is not doomed, he is not destined to suffer. Instead, a yogi who fails to attain complete perfection gets an opportunity to enjoy heavenly pleasure. And also gets an opportunity to again start practicing yoga in next life so that he can attain complete perfection.

There are two types of unsuccessful yogis. They have been described in Bhagavad Gita.

One who falls after practicing yoga for a short period of time and has made little progress.

  • One who falls after practicing yoga for a long period of time.
  • Based on their progress in yoga their destinations are also different. Let us see in detail what future awaits them.

Destination of an unsuccessful yogi who falls after little progress

Many people may take to yoga but they may give it up after short sincere practice.  They may fall down because of material attachment. Or they may fall down because they are so materially conditioned that for them to follow the rules and regulations of yoga is difficult.  Krishna bestows his mercy upon such unsuccessful yogi also. He says,

“The unsuccessful yogī, 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.” Bhagavad Gita 6.41

There are two destination of unsuccessful yogi who falls after little progress.

They go to heavenly planets

The unsuccessful yogi who falls after short practice of yoga goes to the heavenly planets where pious people go.  They get heavenly body and enjoy heavenly pleasures for a long period of time.  Whatever material desires they had gets fulfilled in heavenly abode. 

They take birth in the family of a righteous person or aristocratic family

After enjoying heavenly pleasures, they again take birth in this material world. In this world they are born either into the family of a righteous person or into a rich aristocratic family.

  • If they take birth in the family of a righteous person then from beginning, they will get favorable environment to practice yoga or spirituality.
  • If they take birth in a wealthy family then they will not have to worry much about their material needs like food, clothing and shelter. Instead, they will have ample time to practice yoga and perfect their life.

For example, we see in ISKCON there are many devotees who have strong financial background. Alfred Ford is the great grandson of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company. And he is practicing devotion to Krishna so sincerely.  Similarly there are other devotees who are very rich. Such devotees are able to devote lots of time in practicing devotional life.

Destination of an unsuccessful yogi who falls after long practice of yoga

In BG 6.42, Lord Krishna explains the destination of unsuccessful yogi who falls after long practice of yoga.

Or [if unsuccessful after long practice of yoga] he takes his birth in a family of transcendentalists who are surely great in wisdom. Certainly, such a birth is rare in this world.” Bhagavad Gita 6.42

If a yogi falls after long practice of yoga, then he gets an opportunity to take birth in the family of transcendentalists. These transcendentalists are pure devotee of God, Krishna. They have lots of wisdom. So, if an unsuccessful yogi gets birth in such a family then from childhood only he will get the chance to practice yoga.

He will always be surrounded by devotees of Lord.  He will hear devotional stories in the house, hear kirtan, eat prasad (spiritual food. His family members will take him to holy places, to the temples. He will always be exposed to spiritual culture. From his spiritual family, he will learn how to practice spiritual life. And under their guidance he will practice yoga or devotion to Krishna with utmost sincerity. In this way he will become a pure devotee of Krishna and attain complete spiritual perfection.

Example

In the purport of this verse Srila Prabhupada tells that his guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, and he himself was fortunate to take birth in the family of pure devotees.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was son of Bhakti Vinoda Thakura, an exalted devotee of Krishna. Bhakti Vinod Thakura was an exalted devotee of Krishna. He was a great spiritual scholar and a profound spiritual writer. Under his guidance, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura practiced devotion to Krishna since childhood. Later he became one of the most prominent spiritual leaders of India and preached to millions of people.

Similarly, Srila Prabhupada’s father Gaur Mohan De was a pure devotee. Since childhood his father encouraged him to practice devotion to Krishna and Radha. Whenever anyone visited his house, his father would ask him to bless his son so that he becomes a devotee of Srimati Radharani. As child, he saw his father always engaged in devotional activities which inspired him a lot.

He was so motivated that when he was just a small child, he organized a grand Rath Yatra festival. In the festival his family members, his little friends and people from neighborhood participated. They would pull the rath (cart) of Lord Jagannath, sing, chant, dance and distribute prasad. Prabhupada was always grateful to his father for encouraging him to become a devotee of Krishna since childhood.

Conclusion

Anyone who practices yoga or spirituality sincerely as given in the Vedic scriptures gets the mercy of Krishna. Even if a yogi falls during the practice of yoga still he has a great future. He is never lost and he is able to free himself from material miseries. Eventually an unsuccessful yogi becomes successful. Krishna makes their life glorious.

In these two verses BG 6.41 – 42, Krishna is giving us lots of hope.  He is encouraging us to take to the path of spirituality. So, we should try our best to be situated in yoga. Success is guaranteed. Krishna himself confirms.

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