At the present moment almost everyone is engaged in some kind of fruitive activity. Those who are desirous of gaining material profits by working are called karmīs, or fruitive workers. All living entities within this material world have come under the spell of māyā. This is described in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa (6.7.61, CC Madhya 6.154):
- viṣṇu-śaktiḥ parā proktā
- kṣetrajñākhyā tathā parā
- tṛtīyā śaktir iṣyate
Sages have divided the energies of the Supreme Personality of Godhead into three categories—namely, the spiritual energy, marginal energy and material energy. The material energy is considered to be the third-class energy (tṛtīyā śaktiḥ). Those living beings within the jurisdiction of the material energy sometimes engage themselves like dogs and hogs in working very hard simply for sense gratification. However, in this life, or, after executing pious activities, in the next life, some karmīs become strongly attracted to performing various kinds of sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas. Thus on the strength of their pious merit, they are elevated to heavenly planets. Actually those who perform sacrifices strictly according to Vedic injunctions are elevated to the moon and planets above the moon. As mentioned in Bhagavad-gītā (BG 9.21), kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti: after exhausting the results of their so-called pious activities, they again return to the earth, which is called martya-loka, the place of death. Although such persons may be elevated to the heavenly planets by their pious activities and although they may enjoy life there for many thousands of years, they nonetheless must return to this planet when the results of their pious activities are exhausted.
This is the position of all karmīs, including those who act piously and those who act impiously. On this planet we find many businessmen, politicians and others who are simply interested in material happiness. They attempt to earn money by all means, not considering whether such means are pious or impious. Such people are called karmīs, or gross materialists. Among the karmīs are some vikarmīs, people who act without the guidance of Vedic knowledge. Those who act on the basis of Vedic knowledge perform sacrifices for the satisfaction of Lord Viṣṇu and to receive benedictions from Him. In this way they are elevated to higher planetary systems. Such karmīs are superior to the vikarmīs, for they are faithful to the directions of the Vedas and are certainly dear to Kṛṣṇa. In Bhagavad-gītā (BG 4.11), Kṛṣṇa says: ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham. "In whatever way one surrenders unto Me, I reward him accordingly." Kṛṣṇa is so kind that He fulfilled the desires of the karmīs and jñānīs, not to speak of the bhaktas. Although the karmīs are sometimes elevated to higher planetary systems, as long as they remain attached to fruitive activities they must accept new material bodies after death. If one acts piously, he can attain a new body among the demigods in the higher planetary systems, or he may attain some other position in which he can enjoy a higher standard of material happiness. On the other hand, those who are engaged in impious activities are degraded and take birth as animals, trees and plants. Thus those fruitive actors who do not care for the Vedic directions (vikarmīs) are not appreciated by learned saintly persons.