Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 8, Verse 15

मामुपेत्य पुनर्जन्म दु:खालयमशाश्वतम् |
नाप्नुवन्ति महात्मान: संसिद्धिं परमां गता: || 15||

mām upetya punar janma duḥkhālayam aśhāśhvatam
nāpnuvanti mahātmānaḥ sansiddhiṁ paramāṁ gatāḥ

māmme; upetyahaving attained; punaḥagain; janmabirth; duḥkha-ālayamplace full of miseries; aśhāśhvatamtemporary; nanever; āpnuvantiattain; mahā-ātmānaḥthe great souls; sansiddhimperfection; paramāmhighest; gatāḥhaving achieved

Translation

BG 8.15: Having attained me, the great souls are no more subject to rebirth in this world, which is transient and full of misery, because they have attained the highest perfection.

Commentary

What is the result of attaining God? Those who become God-realized get released from the cycle of life and death, and reach the divine abode of God. Thus, they do not have to take birth again in this material world, which is a place of suffering. We suffer the painful process of birth, crying helplessly. Then as babies, we have needs that we can’t express, and so we cry. In adolescence we have to grapple with bodily desires that make us suffer mental anguish. In married life, we endure the idiosyncrasies of the spouse. When we reach old age, we suffer from bodily infirmities. All through life, we suffer the miseries from our own body and mind, the behavior of others, and inclement environment. Finally, we suffer the pain of death.

All this misery is not meaningless; it also has a purpose in the grand design of God. It gives us the realization that the material realm is not our permanent home. It is like the reformatory for souls like us who have turned their backs toward God. If we did not suffer misery here, we would never develop the desire for God. For example, if we put our hand in the fire, two things happen—the skin starts getting burnt, and the neurons create a sensation of pain in the brain. The burning of the skin is a bad thing, but the sensation of pain is a good thing. If we did not experience the pain, we would not extract our hand from the fire, and it would suffer extensive damage. The pain is thus an indication that something is wrong, which needs to be corrected. Similarly, the pain we experience in the material realm is God’s signal that our consciousness is defective and we need to progress from material consciousness toward union with God.

Ultimately, we get whatever we have made ourselves worthy of through our chosen efforts. Those who remain with their consciousness turned around from God continue rotating in the wheel of birth and death; and those who achieve exclusive devotion to God attain his divine abode.