16.18 – Hell is not meant to cause us suffering but to save us from suffering
Some exclusivist religions claim that those who don’t accept their dogmatic beliefs will be sent by God to hell forever.
In refreshing contrast to such narrow-minded uncouth conceptions, Gita wisdom presents a broad-minded, refined understanding of the universe as a university in which Krishna is a constant benevolent guide to help us learn the art of eternal spiritual happiness. Those who learn this lesson graduate from the university and regain everlasting joy in Krishna’s personal abode.
Unfortunately, some people adamantly refuse to learn this lesson. Instead, as the Bhagavad-gita (16.21) indicates, they become deranged by fantasies about temporary material pleasures, which they hope to get by indulging unrestrictedly in lust, anger and greed. By their mental derangement, they deprive themselves of their innate spiritual happiness and sentence themselves to repeated misery in material existence. To shorten their suffering and to accelerate their learning, nature sends them to a severe transitional classroom named hell. This classroom makes apparent the miserable nature of material existence and the terrible consequence of wanton indulgence – twin lessons that they couldn’t grasp in more congenial classrooms.
Thus the primary purpose of hell is not condemnation but education, by which they can free themselves from the suffering that they would otherwise have inflicted on themselves.
And hell is a non-mandatory classroom. A far better classroom is our present world. And Krishna goes out of his way to help us learn the art of happiness here itself. The Gita refers passingly to hell, but reveals elaborately a concerned, committed, compassionate Krishna who through his educational message does his best to not only protect us from hell but also pave our way to attain eternal happiness.
To conclude, God doesn’t cast anyone to hell forever; instead, he does all that he can to carry everyone to his abode forever.