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. As stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 5.5.4):
- nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute vikarma
- yad indriya-prītaya āpṛṇoti
- na sādhu manye yata ātmano 'yam
- asann api kleśada āsa dehaḥ
"Materialists who work hard like dogs and hogs simply for sense gratification are actually mad. They simply perform all kinds of abominable activities simply for sense gratification. Materialistic activities are not at all worthy of an intelligent man, for as a result of such activities, one gets a material body, which is full of misery." The purpose of human life is to get out of the threefold miserable conditions, which are concomitant with material existence. Unfortunately, fruitive workers are mad to earn money and acquire temporary material comforts by all means; therefore they risk being degraded to lower species of life. Materialists foolishly make many plans to become happy in this material world. They do not stop to consider that they will live only for a certain number of years, out of which they must spend the major portion acquiring money for sense gratification. Ultimately such activities end in death. Materialists do not consider that after giving up the body they may become embodied as lower animals, plants or trees. Thus all their activities simply defeat the purpose of life. Not only are they born ignorant, but they act on the platform of ignorance, thinking that they are getting material benefits in the shape of skyscraper buildings, big cars, honorable positions and so on. The materialists do not know that in the next life they will be degraded and that all their activities simply serve as parābhava, their defeat. This is the verdict of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 5.5.5): parābhavas tāvad abodha jātaḥ.
One should therefore be eager to understand the science of the soul (ātma-tattva). Unless one comes to the platform of ātma-tattva, by which one understands that the soul and not the body is oneself, one remains on the platform of ignorance. Out of thousands and even millions of ignorant people who are wasting their time simply gratifying their senses, one may come to the platform of knowledge and understand higher values of life. Such a person is called a jñānī. The jñānī knows that fruitive activities will bind him to material existence and cause him to transmigrate from one kind of body to another. As indicated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam by the term śarīra-bandha (bound to bodily existence), as long as one maintains any conception of sense enjoyment, his mind will be absorbed in karma, fruitive activity, and this will oblige him to transmigrate from one body to another.