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Karma - Not Always

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For most of us misfortunes are unwelcome. These are popularly believed to be the result of past sins and displeasure of God. However, this view is only partially correct. It is true that one of the reasons for unhappiness is past sins, but all unhappy events do not necessarily have their roots in past misdeeds. It may appear paradoxical, that at times misfortunes also befall us because of the grace of God and accumulation of past virtues. Unhappiness may also be felt while undergoing hardships in course of virtuous activities. When God shows His condescension towards a highly evolved soul and wills to release that soul from the bondage of sins of materialism, He creates distressful situations in life. Such unhappy events jolt the individual out of his slumber and to realize the futility of attachment to worldly things. The shock of unhappiness in such cases serves as a Divine Wake-up-Call.


Our addiction to worldly attachments, infatuations and passions is so strong and alluring that we cannot be easily de-addicted by casual approach. There are fleeting moments of wisdom in life when man thinks that life is extremely valuable and must be used for achieving some lofty objective, but soon thereafter attractions of the world drag him back to the erstwhile lowly routine of animal-like existence. Through misfortunes, God exerts a strong pull to extricate the devotee from the self-created quagmire of ignorance. Mishaps wake us up from our slumber in ignorance and darkness.


Sometimes, the virtuous smaskars accumulated on account of our past karmas also produce unhappy events. Virtuous karmas also act as shields to ward off sinful temptations. The former do not permit the sinful tendencies to dominate and offer stiff resistance. Many a times commitment of sin is foiled by some unforeseen obstacle. If a thief break his leg while going for theft, it should be taken as a consequence of his past virtuous karmas.


Those who work hard for moral or social upliftment of the society and meticulously follow their course of duty, face stupendous problems, hardships and lack of resources. They also have to face antagonism of people who find such activities detrimental to their vested interests. Besides, they are tormented by unscrupulous in many ways. Persons treading the royal highway of righteousness have to face hardships at each step. Misfortunes are like goldsmith’s furnace, in which the validity of past virtues and tolerance to hardships undertaken for virtuous deeds are tempered. After going through misfortunes, the character and personality of an upright person because all the more lustrous.


Hence while going through misfortunes, do not be under impression that you are a sinner and a wretched person deserving Divine Wrath. It could be that the distress is a blessing in disguise, with hidden boons, which you are unable to foresee at the moment because of lack of clear vision.


Innocent persons may be found suffering because of unfair ideologies or oppression by others. Any one may become a victim of exploitation, suppression and injustice. The exploiter has to face the consequences for his karmas in due course of time, but the sufferer should not take such trials as outcome of his prarabdha.


A student has to face many hardships in course of his education. A mother suffers while bringing up the child. Ascetics, social reformers and righteous person undergo unbearable hardship while working for reformation of the society and evolution of the human soul. Such voluntarily undertaken hardships, confrontations and problems faced in course of fulfillment of self-assumed responsibilities cannot be considered as consequences of past misdeeds.


It would not be proper to regard every “happy-go-lucky” person as a virtuous person in his past life or every sufferer as a sinner of his past birth. Such a concept would be unjustified and misleading. There is no reason for someone to have self-pity or feel remorseful on such a false premise. The course from karma to prarabdha follows an occult and mysterious process known only to the Creator.


We have to remain ever vigilant towards our duties and responsibilities and leave the rest to impartial Supreme Justice of God. Let us face the misfortunes and good fortunes of life with equanimity. God has made us responsible only for our duties as human beings. There could be many reasons for success-failure and happiness-unhappiness. Only the Creator knows their purpose in His Absolute Wisdom.

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The law of Karma is inexorable. Everyone reaps the fruits of his previous births. A good man only will suffer a lot, because he is hurrying up in the spiritual march. Many of his evil Karmas have to be worked out and purged out quickly to hasten his salvation in this very birth. But, God gives him extraordinary power of endurance through His grace. An aspirant or a good man gets many difficulties and sufferings. But he rejoices even in sufferings and destitution on account of the descent of the Lord’s grace. He voluntarily welcomes these sufferings. The only best thing in this world is pain or suffering, because it is the eye-opener towards God.


Prarabdha can be overcome by the grace of the Lord. The Lord’s grace descends when there is sincere devotion and when man does Purushartha. Purushartha is possible when the mind is pure. The mind becomes pure when one does acts of kindness and charity. The laws of nature do not operate when there is the grace of the Lord. His grace is all-powerful. We have the instance of Markandeya who conquered death by his Purushartha, by sincere devotion to the Lord. He was destined to die young, but when the Lord’s grace descended, Lord Yama had no power to carry out his wish. So it is possible to overcome Prarabdha by Teevra Purushartha.


It is true that everything is predestined and pre-planned by the Lord; and only in accordance with the holy writ, everything takes place. God has given free will also to the individual to do right or wrong, to discriminate between the Preyo Marga and the Sreyo Marga. If one is endowed with true wisdom as to the fleeting and painful nature of the worldly enjoyments, one can exert oneself in the right direction to do or undo his Prarabdha, the portion of Karmas ripened for actual experience in this current birth. Without the Lord’s special grace, none can make or mar himself. Even for realization, the Lord’s grace is necessary. For obtaining the Lord’s grace, intense Purusha Prayatna, otherwise known as Purushartha, which is voiced forth throughout the famous "Yoga Vasishtha" is to be put forth..


Whether it be failure or success in any undertaken work, it is but the effect of the Lord’s grace and will alone. Accept everything in the light of Vedantic indifference. Be a silent witness and rejoice over the mystery of the Lord.


Everybody gets what he actually deserves; nothing more, nothing less. The Divine Law is altogether different from man-made law. The Law and Verdict and Judgement of the Lord is final and unquestionable. No bribing business there. His Law is always impartial and uniform and even, with the whole of mankind, why only mankind, with the whole of His own creation.


Aspiration on the mundane side is but an expression of egoism that bursts forth in every moment of man’s life through actions, thoughts and speech. Unless it is, as already stated, willed by the Lord, nothing mundane or spiritual is possible of attainment by any human being on earth. God actually helps those that help themselves, provided that the thing aspired for is in strict conformity with the injunctions of the holy writ. From the cradle to the grave, from birth till death, from the moment of awareness to that of eternal rest, the guiding factor of man should be self-effort, self-effort, self-effort and self-effort alone, based on surrender, without minding the results. "Ati Sarvatra Varjayet". Excess should ever be given up in any matter


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All our past karmas which lead to all our miseries will be exausted only when our senses are controlled & all our vasanas are exausted. To do that pray to God sincerely. Be kind , talk sweetly,& help others. May god bless!

Hari Bhol!

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<font color="blue">Karma</font color>


Karma is one of the most basic doctrines of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) and a thorough understanding of the dynamics of Karma is essential for any degree of Spiritual advancement.


Sanatana Dharma takes for granted that there is order pervading the universe. Karma is the doctrine of the economy of action.


The word karma means 'action' and refers to the entire cycle of action and its consequences. Every action in addition to its physical goal produces a moral consequence which manifests as either joy or sorrow.


All good actions produce happiness and all evil actions result in suffering. This law operates whether we are conscious of it or not. It is the process by which we shape our own destinies and build up our own reality. Through ignorance we bind ourselves through selfish actions, feelings or thoughts. As long as our actions are directed towards self gratification alone there is not the slightest possibility of working towards liberation from the cycle of reincarnation. Even the smallest thought or act has consequences which are not settled with death.


<font color="blue">Cause and Effect</font color>


In this life we experience the effect and often feel resentful that we are now suffering for the course of action set into motion by someone else.


But when one looks at life from the point of view of immortality, and the soul or Self as an eternal imperishable spiritual entity then everything falls into a pattern of cause and effect.


Karma as the law of spiritual dynamics makes us self-reliant beings with the realization that we can never escape responsibility. We can never plead ignorance of the law nor take the attitude - this time it won't matter. In fact the effect is inherent in the cause and therefore the two are in fact one continuum. In the inviolability of the law lies our potential freedom. It enables us to modify, change and remold our character which is the result of our past lives and to create our future character in greater perfection - improving on our mistakes from the past knowing that not one single iota of effort goes to waste.


Predestination Karma is often misunderstood as a synonym for destiny or fate. Karma is neither of these, it is a cosmic law which negates any possibility of luck, good fortune, or chance. Behind every fortuitous opportunity or apparent stroke of luck lies the energy which we ourselves have generated. Likewise behind every loss and misfortune lies the negative energy which we ourselves have created. We are powerless to change what actually happens to us but we have complete freedom to determine how we will deal with each and every situation that arise and turn it to benefit or harm. Predestination, fate or destiny implies that there is an external force which is imposing its own agenda onto us. Karma is the law whereby we create and experience our own agendas. We have the power to visualize, plan, work for and achieve our own certain future.


<font color="blue">Dynamics of Karma</font color>


The actual working out of the law of Karma is extremely complex including millions of fine permutations and tunings affecting the lives of all of those around us and everyone that we have ever known. All these dynamics are controlled by the Devas (Cosmic Forces) of Karma. But there are certain basic principles which we need to understand. We are all acting one three different realms; physical, emotional and mental with energies appropriate to each realm. These energies are known as:


<font color="blue">kriya shakti </font color>- physical realm; physical actions determine our physical environment.


<font color="blue">iccha shakti</font color> - emotional realm; our emotional life revolves around our family, friends and associates and determines our interaction with them, and


<font color="blue">jñana shakti </font color>- mental realm; our world of thoughts, goals and aspirations which determine how we interact with the world around us and ultimately understand ourselves.


All these three energies together make up our character.


<font color="blue">Sin and Virtue</font color>


No action can be said to be neutral; every word, deed or thought has an effect. Our thoughts affect us directly while our speech and physical actions affect our environment. Although the concept of sin (papa) is linked to Karma one must understand that the Vedantic concept of sin is quite different to the Christian concept. Sin is defined in the Mahabharata as follows;


<font color="blue">paropaka:ra:h punya:ya pa:pa:ya para pi:d:anam || Virtue is that which benefits other beings; sin is that which causes pain to others.</font color>


The entire moral theology of Sanatana Dharma rests upon the concept of "benefit of all beings" (sarva-bhuta-hita). Motivation or intention is the deciding factor of the moral nature of an action. Motivation which centers on the welfare of others is of the nature of goodness and purity whereas motivation which centers upon the individual and his needs is negative and leads to suffering and bondage to the cycle of births and deaths.


Sin is an un-skilled use of action, a lack of spiritual understanding which causes one to transgress the Cosmic Laws (Rita). And the means of sinning are the mind, the speech and actions. The unskillful use of thought is manifest in thinking harmful thoughts directed towards others and clinging to irrational and erroneous doctrines. The unskillful use of speech is detected in lying, slandering, gossiping, and abusing others and giving false teachings. The unskillful use of action is causing physical injury to other living beings, and not rendering assistance in time of need. All well-directed virtuous actions leads to spiritual development and happiness, all unskillful actions slow spiritual growth and produce unhappiness.


Types of Karma There are three types of Karma including both negative and positive;


§ 1. <font color="blue">Sanchita Karma;</font color> the accumulated results of acts which have been committed in the past lives and are waiting to come to fruition in the future.


§ 2. <font color="blue">Prarabdha Karma; </font color>acts done in the past which have resulted in the circumstances of the present incarnation and are causing all the joys and sorrows which we are now experiencing.


§ 3 <font color="blue">Kriyamana Karma;</font color> All the actions which are now being performed; the results of which will be experienced at a later date and will condition the circumstances of the next incarnation.


Prarabdha karma is beyond the control of the individual and the results which have produced our present conditions have to be born with patience. It is like the seed which has been planted in the past and is now flowering.


Sanchita karma is like seed which has been stored and can be remitted through the Grace of the Guru or God.


The kriyamana karma or the present actions are entirely under the control of the individual and must be performed with the utmost awareness that each individual is the author of his/her own destiny and each and every action, no matter how trivial will have an effect, unless all actions and their consequences are surrendered unto God, (karma phala tyaga). Once surrendered, all actions are purified and everything is done as service to God alone and thus even mundane actions become the vehicle of Liberation.


<font color="blue">Suffering</font color>


The doctrine of karma explains the universal experience and problem of suffering. There are three factors in suffering;


a ) the person who is suffering


b ) an agent of suffering such as a person, thing, condition etc.,


c.) and the degree of suffering.


Once we have understood the nature of the self as it really is and understood the dynamic of actions and their consequences, then the agent of suffering becomes incidental and secondary. We no longer bear any anger or resentment towards the person or thing that is seen to be causing the suffering because they are merely agents of our own karma.


It is on this basis and this basis alone that we can truly love our "enemy" and return love for hurt, compassion for thoughtlessness. When the experience of suffering is thus understood it becomes an opportunity for self-development and spiritual transformation and its intensity is greatly diminished. The suffering and happiness of each being is in exact proportion to its deeds. And even suffering is meant to correct and rehabilitate the one suffering. Suffering is the source of great lessons and the vehicle of greater understanding and insight if used with awareness and insight into the law of Karma.


<font color="blue">The Three Causes of Bad Karma</font color>


There are three things which cause us to perform sinful actions which lead to demerit and suffering; they are:


Desire (kama), Anger (krodha) and Greed (lobha).


These three are known as the three poisons which retard spiritual growth and the three gateways to hell.


Desire (Kama) primarily and generally refers to the libido which is the strongest drive we have. In specific terms it is the desire which is self-centered and directed purely at self-gratification. It is wrongly directed desire which is unhelpful to spiritual progress, and thus prolongs one's existence in Samsara.


Anger (Krodha) is the reaction towards unfulfilled desires and failed expectations one has of others. This leads to causing injury and hurt to others which in turn results in bad karma and further suffering. Our sages teach us that a moment's outburst of anger destroys heaps of merit painstakingly accumulated over long periods of time.


Greed (Lobha) is the craving for more beyond the limits of necessity or comfort and the inability to share that surplus with others. Its goal is having and possessing for the sake of possession itself without any personal use or benefit to others. Its dynamism lies in the inability to rejoice at the good fortune of others and actually manifests as a desire to obstruct the progress and prosperity of others.


All these three poisons have their origin in delusion. Delusion (moha) is the notion that the body is the Self and that one is a unique and separate entity to all others, this results in craving and clinging. This conviction is the very axis on which the cycle of reincarnation revolves. Until we attain enlightenment and realize that we are not the physical body but eternal spiritual entities which are sparks of divinity, dependant upon and subservient to the Supreme Being then we will continue indefinitely in bondage to the material nature.


<font color="blue">Karma and Grace</font color>


The question which will invariably be asked is what part does God have in this law of Karma. The Lord is known as Karma-Phala-Data the "Dispenser-of-the-fruit-of-action"


He dispenses the fruit of action with perfect justice and impartiality. The Lord is not responsible for the suffering or the happiness of anyone, it is oneself alone that creates and carries out one's destiny. The effects of Karma are considered to be beginningless and it is almost impossible to free oneself from the tangle of actions and reactions, it requires hundreds of births in which a concerted and continued effort is made to reach perfection. So it is only through the grace of God that Liberation from the fetters of Karma can be achieved quickly. God is always ready to forgive and remit all our transgressions we need only request. The way of liberation lies in the path of self-surrender. The ultimate teaching is given by the Supreme Lord in the Bhagavad Gita 18:66


<font color="blue">"Abandon all self-initiated means for obtaining liberation, take refuge in ME alone. I (Krishna) will redeem you from all Karma, and grant you Liberation, do not grieve."</font color>


Posted Image



<font color="blue">In Visistadavaita (or Srivaishnavism)a distinction is drawn between the aspirant that follows the Path of Devotion (bhakta) and the one who renounces the fruit of all action and takes refuge in the Lord (prapanna).</font color> Devotion (bhakti) destroys the residue of sanchita karma but the one who follows the path of Devotion as taught in the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads will have to take one or two more births in order to rid himself completely of the effects of Prarabdha karma. In the case of the prapanna who has renounced the fruit of all actions and taken refuge in the Lord alone, no future births will occur because the anabhyupagata portion of the prarabdha karma is destroyed by the grace of the Lord along with the sanchita karma.


Article by

Sri Rama Ramanujacharya


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