Tag Archives: karma

The Effects of Karma – Individual and Collective

According to modern science, the world is made of matter, which follows certain natural laws. One of the most important natural laws is the cause-and-effect relationship. A cause is that which must exist before the effect comes into existence. Causes are of two types, namely, the ingredient or material cause, upādāna kāraṇa, and the instrumental cause, nimitta kāraṇa. The material cause is that which constitutes the effect or the product, and the instrumental cause is that which brings out the effect, utilizing the material cause. For example, the material causes of a vegetable soup are the vegetables, spices, and water. The instrumental cause is the cook. Besides these, there are assisting causes, such as the fire, a cooking pot, and a ladle in the case of soup.

There is no product or effect that does not have a cause, and there is no cause that does not have an effect. Science primarily studies the causes behind perceived effects and vice versa. The laws of nature are believed to be fixed and based on these laws; science can therefore make predictions. However, the rules become less certain and thus less predictable at the quantum level. Predictability then acquires an element of probability. 

The Complexities of the Karmic Cycle

Consciousness is even more subtle than quantum particles. Thus, the cause-effect relation becomes even more complex when a conscious being is involved. In Sanātana Dharma, the cause-and-effect pertaining to matter is called svabhāva, and that related to the actions of a human being is called karmaKarma is used for both the cause and the effect. 

Karma, therefore, is a cause-effect relationship but it is more intricate than svabhāva, the cause-effect relationship that applies to matter. Kṛṣṇa says that the outcome of karma is difficult to understand, gahanā karmaṇo gatiḥ (Gītā 4.17). It can be understood only with the help of śāstra. The complexity arises because actions involving consciousness do not follow the mechanical laws of science. One of the major differences is that karma is cyclic. In the case of a material product, it does not become the cause of another product on its own. But in the case of karma, the effect does not remain an effect. Rather it becomes the cause for another karma (except for yogīs.) Thus, the cycle of karma continues. The effect of karma is what we call fate. Fate is nothing but past karma; it generates more karma. Thus, it can be said that a cause-and-effect relationship is that which governs matter, and karma is that which governs life. Since the world not only consists of matter but also includes forms of life, it is important to understand the working of karma

Everyone engages in karma, or action. We are always engaged in some karma. Even when we are not doing anything knowingly, some karma is involved. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa says that no one can remain without doing anything, not even for a moment—na hi kaścit kṣaṇam api jātu tiṣṭhaty akarmakṛt (Gītā 3.5). 

Two Types of Karma

There are two types of karmalaukika and Vedic. Laukika karma is an action that is not prescribed in the Vedas as one’s duty to be executed. This includes secular activities such as eating, sleeping, walking, talking etc. Vedic karma, on the other hand, is that which is ordained by the Vedas, such as performing an agnihotra yajña.

Both types of karma have two types of effect, namely immediate and delayed. For example, a laukika karma such as eating gives the immediate effect of quelling one’s hunger, and of satisfaction to the mind. Its delayed effect is nourishing the body. There may be other effects, such as causing an ailment if the food was not salubrious. Similarly, a Vedic act such as performing an agnihotra or chanting mantras gives the immediate effect of good mental health, and the delayed effect of going to Svarga (heaven), etc.

How Karma Manifests

How do these effects of karma manifest? Karma brings a change inside the agent as well as in the outside environment. Whenever we do something, it brings a change within. It creates a saṁskāra (subtle impression), which is stored in one’s citta (unconscious mind, or heart). This saṁskāra influences one’s future in two ways. Its first influence is that it generates thoughts, desires, and emotions that lead to further action. Although a saṁskāra is an effect of a past action, it becomes the cause of future action. 

The second influence is external. For a particular karma in the form of saṁskāra to manifest, there must be a suitable external situation. For example, if you do a charitable act, then it gives the immediate effect of satisfaction, which creates a saṁskāra in the citta. In the form of a delayed effect, the charitable action will present a favorable or happy situation externally. This external effect is brought out by the divine beings or devas under the supervision of Paramātmā.

Citragupta Keeps Records

In the Purāṇas, it is described that after a person dies, he is carried to Yamaloka, the abode of Yamarāja, the god in charge of death. He has an assistant named Citragupta, who maintains a record of each person’s karma. Yamarāja summons Citragupta, who reads out the good and bad deeds performed by the person, and based on this, Yamarāja metes out the outcome of one’s karma

The name Citragupta is a compound word made from two words—citra and guptaCitra means “a photo or imprint,” and gupta means “hidden.” Thus, Citragupta literally means “a hidden imprint or photo.” What it signifies is a saṁskāra in the citta, which is like the hidden photo of one’s action. The citta is like a hidden camera in every person’s heart region, which records everything. Every experience in one’s life becomes recorded in the citta in the form of saṁskārasSaṁskāras are responsible for manifesting one’s karma in the future and thus they constitute one’s fate. When a particular situation or action is meant to happen in one’s life, the specific saṁskāra, being impelled by the force of time, will give a particular thought or emotion in the mind, and then the person will act on it. This is how our life is shaped by our past karma or fate.

The External Effect of Karma

Besides creating an internal change, karma also has an external effect. We are always influencing outside nature by our actions. The universe is a closed unit. If one smokes on a plane or in a closed room, everyone present in the room is influenced by the smoke. In the same way, performing agnihotra or chanting japa brings a benevolent external effect, which will influence others. Thus, the immediate, external effect of one’s karma is what impacts others and can thus be called common karma. The delayed external effect will come in the form of good or bad external situations. While the internal effect is related and attached to the specific ātmā, or soul, who performed the act, the common karma does not adhere to a specific ātmā. It is embedded in nature. Nature also has an ātmā, which is cosmic. A change in nature or the environment, such as global warming, pollution, or the current pandemic is the outcome of our collective karma; it influences us collectively. 

It is observed that when people do a certain activity in a particular area, it produces a change in the environment such that it becomes easier for new people to learn and perform that specific activity. For example, if one wants to learn how to play tennis, it will be easier to learn it in an area where a lot of people play tennis than in a place where no one plays it. It is based on this principle that we have holy places, tīrthas, like Vrindavan in India. It is easier to do sādhana in such places because many people have done sādhana in these same places and attained perfection. They have created a sacred atmosphere in these places. For this reason, it is said that chanting a mantra once in Vrindavan is like chanting it one hundred times outside Vrindavan.

The Benefit of Saintly Association

The principle of the external effect of karma is also the reason behind satsaṅga or sādhu-saṅga, and behind festivals like the Kumbha Melā. People benefit just by the presence of sādhus. In the Yoga-sutra (2.35), it is stated that a yogī who perfects the principle of ahiṁsā influences his vicinity such that people who come into his association give up enmity, ahiṁsā-pratiṣṭhāyāṁ tat-sannidhau vaira-tyāgaḥ. Therefore, we hear in the Purāṇas that tigers and deer would play together in the āśrama of sages. According to modern neuroscience, our brain has certain neurons called von Economo neurons (VENs), or spindle neurons. These neurons become influenced when we associate with others.

The two influences of karma can be further understood from the two divisions of māyā called nimitta and upādāna. These two divisions are also called jīva-māyā and guṇa-māyā, respectively. Jīva-maya is that which influences our inner senses, the antah-karaṇa consisting of manasbuddhicitta, and ahaṅkāraGuṇa-māyā is that which presents things externally for us to experience. A typical manufacturing company runs exactly like these two divisions of māyā. As guṇa-māyā, they manufacture a product, for example, Coca-Cola. Then as jīva-māyā, they advertise so that people become desirous to drink it. Advertisements are meant to influence our antaḥ-karaṇa, to create a desire within us, and then to influence our buddhi to buy it. Once that is achieved, the company must make its product available for sale. This matches with the two effects of karma—internal and external. After all, karma is part of avidyā, or māyā. That is why sometimes it is called avidyā-kāma-karma

Working on our Saṁskāras

In essence, individual karma is stored within us but needs an external environment to manifest. What is stored within is individual whereas the external karma one is communal. That becomes the common karma which influences in two ways. One is the neutral way. For example, people around a smoker will be influenced by the smoke. The other way it influences us is by our identification—either positively as an attachment, raga, or negatively as dislike, dveṣa. For example, if I identify myself as Indian, then any positive thing that happens to India has a bearing on me. People in India go crazy when there is a cricket match, especially between India and Pakistan. This type of influence is due to identification with an entity beyond one’s individuality. You can thus assume that the bigger entity has an ātma. So, a country also acquires an ātma, as much as rivers and mountains do. It is just a matter of identification.

Due to the nature of our ahaṅkāra, we identify with what is good about our country, our team, or our very own self. We do not like to see negativity about something with which we identify. It is good that the citta keeps a record of everything so that we can introspect. We have the choice to go beyond our ahaṅkāra, and to truly look at those saṁskāra lying in our citta that we deny or avoid. If we work on these saṁskāras in this present body, then we are great persons who have taken responsibility for our anger, jealousy, possessiveness, pride, and selfishness. If we avoid working on our saṁskāras, we will have to wait for Citragupta to point them out to us after death. 

However, if we want to get rid of our karma altogether, we should take to bhakti in the true sense, as servants of Kṛṣṇa. This will make us free of karma because we will not identify with our bodies independently anymore. 

Karma, Guru–Disciple, Mantra-diksha

Question: What is the use of karma if person cannot remember what he has done wrong in a past life, but his karma fructifies this life? The lesson is likely not to be learned.

Answer: Suppose a person is heavily drunk and is driving. He loses control of his car and kills a pedestrian. In the accident, he also gets injured and is taken to hospital. Afterwards, when he comes to consciousness, he does not remember what happened. My question to you is: Should this person be punished for drunk driving and killing a person? If you say “yes,” then you have the reply to your question. If you say “no,” then please give me the reason. This also implies that forgetfulness is a good way to escape punishment for one’s misdeeds. Punishment for a wrong deed has many reasons. Rectification is only one among them but not the only one. Your question assumes that punishment is only for rectification.

Secondly, there are many criminals who are punished for their crimes. After they have completed their punishment, did they learn any lesson, i.e., not to repeat the crime? Maybe you can research it, but my guess is that most criminals continue their crimes. So, this defies your premise that remembrance of one’s crime is necessary for improvement. If this were true, then most criminals would not be criminals because they all know that they would be punished for their crime if proven guilty. Knowledge of punishment does not deter them.

What really matters is one’s understanding of the principle of karma, and śraddhā in śāstra, and not remembrance of one’s past misdeeds. If one does not have śraddhā, then one will continue to act frivolously.

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Question: Throughout my years of hearing from devotees, I have heard that the guru’s connection to the disciple is so deep that the guru is prepared to be endlessly reborn into this world until the disciple is relieved from the material condition. Can you help me understand this?

Answer: This sounds appealing, but it does not make much sense. It sounds like a big punishment to be a guru! If this were true, the guru would probably remain in the material world eternally. There is a high probability that at least one disciple would not attain liberation, and then the guru would have to come back to deliver him or her. This means that he would again become a guru and surely make more disciples, some of whom would again fail to attain liberation. The cycle could continue forever! 

The fact is that anyone who has attained bhāva-bhakti will not take birth again, regardless of whether he or she is a guru. This is very clearly stated by Śrī Kṛṣṇa in Bhagavad Gītā 8.5–7 and 12.6–7. There is no scriptural proof for the statement that the guru will come back to deliver the disciple. But there are plenty of statements that a perfected devotee never takes birth again.

However, you can understand the statement that the guru comes to deliver the disciple as follows. Kṛṣṇa is the original guru. He comes in the form of a guru. So, if a disciple does not make his life successful in this lifetime, then such a disciple will get a guru in the next life. That guru will also be a representative of Kṛṣṇa. In that sense, the guru comes to deliver. 

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Question: Is it necessary that mantra-dīksa be taken from the same guru from whom harināma is taken? 

Answer: Yes. 

Question: If a devotee wants to take mantra-dīksā from another guru, is it necessary to take permission from the guru who gave harināma?

Answer: Yes.

Question: What should one do if the harināma-guru does not give his personal time, rāganugā-sikśā, or permission to take sikśā from others?

Answer: Not much. It is you who accepted him as your guru. I do not believe that he coerced you to take dīkṣā from him. It was your choice. You should have considered all these things before accepting him as your guru. So do not blame him; take responsibility for your decision. Pray to Kṛṣṇa that He show you the light. That is all I can say. 

Question: Is there a reference stating that both harināma-dīksā and mantra-dīksā should be taken from the same guru?

Answer: As there is no śastric reference that I know of, I answer on the basis of tradition. Not everything is written in black and white. Certain things are known from tradition. That is why it is said, “mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ”—follow the path followed by great devotees (Mahābhārata, Vana-parva 313.117), and “sādhu-vartmānuvartanam”—follow the path of the sādhus (BRS, Purva-vibhāga 1.2.100).

I don’t know any examples where the harināma-dīksā and mantra-dīksā gurus are different. Therefore, I see no reason why they should be different. Why should one not take mantra-dīksā from the same guru that one took harināma-dīksā from? I don’t think there is a distinction that one guru is specialized only in mantra-dīkṣā and another guru only in harināma-dīksā, like modern specialist doctors.

 

How to Avoid the Miseries of Bad Karma

Every human being suffers from three types of misery: ādhyātmika, ādhibhautika, and ādhidaivika roga. The word ādhyātmika means that which is related to the ātmā. The word ātmā in Sanskrit has various meanings such as body, mind, senses, essence, nature, God, vitality, courage, character, self, intellect, and so on. However, in relation to ādhyātmika suffering, the word ātmā refers to the body, mind, and intellect. Thus, ādhyātmika miseries are those that come from one’s own body, mind, or intellect. Similarly, ādhibhautika miseries are those that come from other bhūtas or living beings. These living beings can be humans, animals, birds, reptiles, or aquatics. The ādhidaivika miseries are those that come from the devas. Devas here means the divine beings who are in charge of managing of the universe. Ādhidaivika miseries include suffering that may come from natural calamities such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, drought, storms, hurricanes, extreme heat or cold, wildfires, pandemics, and so on. Now the question may be raised as to why the devas give us suffering? Devas are supposed to be benevolent beings who are compassionate by nature. Why would they want us to suffer? What is the benefit in giving us suffering?

To understand the answer to these questions, we need to know how the universe functions. Modern science informs us that the universe was born from a big bang. Science as such does not believe that there is a creator of the universe. This implies that the universe has no intrinsic purpose. It just happened accidentally, and there is no one in control. This further implies that our life has no purpose. But if we accept this, then there is no need to follow any rules. Then is no need to achieve anything in life since it is meaningless. Therefore, the modern concept of YOLO, “You Only Live Once,” has become popular. People try to enjoy as much as they can—sex, liquor, drugs, money, possessions—because they have no purpose in life other than to enjoy. One may say, what is wrong with that? The answer is that this mentality simply brings degradation in human society. In such a concept of life, there is no basis for human values and morals.

However, the scriptures of India inform us that universe was created by Īśvara, God, who has established certain laws that keep the universe running. The managers of the universe are called devas. Just as every country has a management system, so does the universe. One of the most important laws of the universe is the law of karma. Everyone is under the influence of this law. Just as we are under the influence of the law of gravity, so are we under the law of karma. Just as we do not see gravitational force, similarly we do not see karma. Whether we believe in gravitational force or not, it influences us. Similarly, whether we believe in the law of karma or not, it acts upon us.

Whatever action we perform gives some result. This is not very hard to understand. Some of the results come immediately whereas others take some time. If you put your hand in fire, the result is immediate. If you drink wine, the result may take a little time. Other results may take many months to fructify. A child is born nine or ten months after conception. There are also some actions which may not give a result in this lifetime but may manifest in a future life. Karma, or action, is like a seed. A seed fructifies within a specific environment. It needs certain moisture, heat, and air to sprout and then to grow. Different seeds produce their fruits in different seasons. Similarly, karma needs a suitable situation to manifest its result. If a suitable situation is not available in one lifetime, then it will give its result in another life.

As we have individual karma, there is also collective karma. People of a family, village, or country have some karma that is common to all of them. Therefore, it is seen that sometimes a particular situation, good or bad, may be faced by an entire family, village, or country. Pandemics are an example of collective karma.

According to Ayurveda, we get sick either because of wrong action in our present life or because of past karma. The diseases that arise because of past karma cannot be cured by normal treatment, which is called yukti-vyapāśraya. They need to be treated by daiva-vyapāśraya. There is a saying in Sanskrit, yādṛśo yakṣa tādṛśo baliḥ—the solution should be in accordance with the problem. If the problem is coming from past karma, which is also called daiva, then its treatment should also be daivika. The daivika treatments include activities such as performing a yajña (sacrifice), the chanting of specific mantras, giving in charity, and engaging in a religious activity such as fasting.

Which daivika activity is needed for a particular sickness must be known from śāstra. Similarly, we can’t take just any Ayurvedic medicine for our asthmatic condition. It is only a specific Ayurvedic medicine that will treat a specific problem. At present, people do not have much faith in daivika treatments but that does not mean they are not efficacious. Of course, if we do not have faith in daivika treatments, then we will not use them and thus not get the benefit. The choice is ours. People enjoy new experiences, so this would be good experiment to try. According to modern research, it has been observed that people who believe in some supernatural power such as Īśvara have a better chance of recovery even while using modern medicine. Thus, faith also has its role to play in the curing of disease. Along with faith, if one uses daivika treatments, they will surely have an effect. For centuries, these methods have been used successfully in India. We should not neglect such time-tested gems of Vedic culture.

The chanting of specific mantras is one solution to ādhidaivika sufferings. But to root out the problem, we should live in harmony with the principles of nature and not create bad karma in the first place. Actions which bring fleeting pleasure but result in suffering should be avoided. This is proper use of the wisdom.

 

Satyanarayana Dasa

 

Dealings among Devotees, Krishna’s Involvement

Question: How shall I deal with a situation when a person in the position of an authority is acting inappropriately? As I consider you an authority in spiritual literature, Vedic spiritual history and so on, perhaps you can give me some new aspects or views. 

Answer: If it does not concern you directly, and if you do not have a good relationship with the person in authority, then the best action is no action. My experience is that people do not take advice from others, especially if they are senior to them, or in a position of authority.

You will get into debates and arguments and the end result will be bitterness and spoiled relations. The general principle is: Do not speak unless asked – nāpṛṣṭam brūyāt kaścana.

Giving advice to an authority will only create trouble for you because somebody who is senior to you will not accept your advice. Unless you are looking for trouble, just be indifferent.

People in general are averse to taking instruction from others. If you really want to bring a change in their thinking, then you have to be very diplomatic about it. You may need to allude to it and not speak directly of it; tell a story or give an example of someone else. This way the person will not feel offended and may get the hint. This is a principle of pedagogy. 

This is what Kṛṣṇa has done in the Gītā. He is teaching Arjuna but He actually wants to teach us. Arjuna does not really need His instructions. He is Kṛṣṇa’s dear friend and already knows.

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Question: I understood that Kṛṣṇa manages our karma in such a way so we can  come close to Him, but on other hand I also heard that Kṛṣṇa Himself doesn’t interfere with the material word at all as He is located in Goloka Vṛndāvana and is busy with other things.

Answer: This means what you understood about Kṛṣṇa managing karma is either not right or He does manage karma and is not just busy in Goloka Vṛndāvana. The answer is that Kṛṣṇa does not interfere with the karma of non-devotees. However, He does interfere with the karma of His devotees. He says in Bhagavad Gītā 9.29,

samo ‘haṁ sarva-bhūteṣu   na me dveṣyo ‘sti na priyaḥ
ye bhajanti tu māṁ bhaktyā   mayi te teṣu cāpy aham

“I am equal to all beings. There is no one hateful or dear to Me, but they who worship Me with devotion are in Me and I am also in them.”

When He says He is equal to all, it means to non-devotees. He Himself says later that He takes care of His devotees. Therefore devotees cannot be included in what He calls “all.”

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Question: My relatives and I  have noticed that whenever we start chanting more rounds, then some unexpected and bad thing ALWAYS happens,  so we are scared to even chant.

Answer: Your experience proves that chanting works. What you experience is expected because this is the process of bhakti. While describing the progression on the path of bhakti, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī writes, ādau śraddhā tatah sādhu saṅgo’tha bhajana-kriyā tato’nartha-nvṛttiḥ syāt? “One begins bhakti when one has acquired śraddhā. Śraddhā impels one to seek the association of sādhus, which results in the performance of devotional service. When one engages in devotional service, one’s anarthas are dispelled.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.4.15-16)

When you do bhajana, which in your case is chanting more rounds, then the anarthas start coming out. Just like, when you want clean a pot, you pour water into it and scrub it. Then all the dirt that was sticking to the bottom comes up. The same thing happens in the beginning stage of bhakti. What you are calling  “unexpected and bad” is actually expected and good. If you continue with faith, gradually these anarthas or “unexpected and bad” things will start disappearing. But if you do not have faith, you will becomes scared and stop these devotional activities. Faith is very important to transcend the anarthas and progress in bhakti. 

Beyond Logic: The Law of Karma

Question: It seems to me that the law of karma does not adequately explain individuality and differences in phenomenal existence. We need to invoke the events of the previous life, and so on, ad infinitum, which leads to the logical flaw of infinite regress. But how did the karmic process begin? How do we explain what went wrong and why we begin to suffer? The typical reply in Hindu religion is that the process is simply beginningless (anādi), that the karmic process extends back infinitely in time. But this does not adequately explain the matter but simply pushes the problem back.

Answer: The basic principle is that cause and effect relation can never give a satisfactory answer unless one accepts that it has to come to an end at some point. That point is God. God is beyond cause-effect relation. It does not matter how this person explains the phenomenon of the world, he will still run into the same problem which he is pointing out about the anādi principle.

The basic fact is that ultimate reality cannot be explained by logic alone. It is beyond logic, tarko’pratiṣṭhānāt (Vedanta Sūtra). Logic can be used to explain reality, but it is not sufficient. That is why there is need for śabda pramāna. Unless one accepts this one can argue with anything. He is arguing, but whatever solution I may give, he can find flaw with it.

So in India we do not have philosophy, we have darśana. You see the truth and then you explain it logically, as far as possible. But ultimately logic has its limitations. So there is no point in arguing if he does not accept that śabda is beyond logic.

Without accepting God and accepting that He is anādi, there is no solution. It is not a matter of pushing it back but explaining what is real. If it is beginningless then what else can you say about. Why do you think it is pushing it back when it is a fact. Beginingless, however, does not mean that each individual karma is beginningless. Karma is perpetual.

Question:  Could we perhaps say that our material predicament is not logical, but translogical and not illogical? That said, I would like to refer to the important distinction between causes and reasons. If something is outside cause and effect, it can still be within reason. From the individual point of view, the individual carries the moral responsibility and the karmic implications of that in the present moment. So even though there was
no initial cause, there have always been personal reasons.

Answer:  I agree. The karma theory is not to give an ultimate explanation logically. It is translogical. This is how Jīva Gosvāmi begins his Tattva Sandarbha. He outrightly rejects pratyaksa and anumāna in favor of śabda when it comes to explaining the Tattva, the Reality. Nonetheless, the karma theory is a more logical explanation than that of original sin, because it puts the onus on the individual for our plight. It means we cannot blame God or someone else for our suffering, or just feel frustrated (why the heck does Adam’s sin have to make me suffer?). So there is personal reason when we analyze the present situation, and that is important to know.

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Question:  I recently heard a sādhu say that slaughtered cows will continue to be reborn as cows because their deaths did not occur naturally, and therefore, their karma as cows was not extinguished. When the devotee inquired how to rectify the situation, the sādhu replied, “more cow protection.”  Can a jīva in the human condition influence the reincarnation of other jīvas?

Answer: I do not agree with this. What if the karma of the cow was such that it had to be slaughtered and not die a natural death? Not everybody is destined to die a natural death. There are many who are destined to die an unnatural death. So, by this logic, all those people who die in an accident should all be born again as humans.

Happiness and Suffering

Question: Is there any difference between the happiness and distress caused by karma and the happiness and distress that are caused by the Lord’s mercy in terms of “sense” or the “taste” level of that experience? On the “cause and effect” level, you have already explained that non-devotees get happiness or distress according to their past pious or impious deeds, and have a good or bad result respectively, but the devotees get happiness and distress as the Lord’s mercy with the purpose to intensify their love to the Lord. Do devotees experience the “same” sense of such duality (happiness and distress) as the non-devotess or how does it differ?

Answer: There is no difference in the mechanism of experience of happiness or misery of a devotee or non-devotee. A devotee, like a non-devotee, also experiences through his/her senses. Both have five external senses and mind. The difference lies in the reaction of one’s experience. A devotee sees everything as grace of Lord, an opportunity to learn, advance and become stronger. He/she may see it as an act of purification. He/she will stay composed and fixed in his/her service. You can read the stories of the Pandavas or some contemporary devotees to see how a devotee takes his happy and miserable situations.

Question: If nitya-siddha devotees who appear in this material world according to the Lord’s will don’t have any sense of material duality because they are always absorbed in the Lord’s ananda, how could they know about the jiva’s miseries (and help them to get liberated) if they are not even aware or haven’t experienced the existence of such miseries?

Answer: If they have not experience material suffering themselves ever, then it is not possible for them to empathize with other’s suffering.

Nitya-siddhas like the Pandavas are a part of Lord’s lila. They are not under the influence of maya but seem to appear like that. Even Krishna most of the time appeared as if He was under the control of maya but He also showed that He was not.

Krishna, Balarama and gopas

 

Karma, Sex, Sincerity and Buddhist Mantra

Karma and Destination

Question:  Karma is a complex process in evolution. At what point is the sadhaka, who has a sad-guru and is strictly following the process of bhajan, subjected to karma, and when is the karma nullified and the will of the Lord acting?

Answer:  If one has surrendered to sad-guru, he is out of the law of karma and directly under the control of the law of bhakti. There are only two laws – law of karma and law of bhakti.

 

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Sexuality

Question: Why should spiritualists avoid sex?

Answer: Everyone hankers for love, but it is misplaced. Out of ignorance atma identifies with the physical body, and then the need of atma for love becomes translated at the body level. However, on the bodily level this love cannot be fulfilled, it turns into sex. Even though there is an intense desire for sexual union, the physical act cannot give satisfaction because it does not touch the soul. It is only on the physical level and makes the bodily identification even stronger or intense. Therefore in spiritual societies there are restrictions about sex. One cannot enjoy sex unless one identifies with the physical body. Since we are trying to realize ourselves we try to avoid activities which put us into the illusion that we are this body. Sexual union puts one into complete illusion.

 

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Meaning of Sincerity

Question:  In Bhagavatam I read that as soon as a true representative of the Lord is met by a devotee of the Lord, the devotee is assured to go to Krishna’s abode just after leaving the present body. This however, depends on the sincerity of the devotee himself. What is the meaning of sincerity in this context?

Answer:  Sincerity means full surrender without any material motive.

 

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Om Mani Padme Hum

Question: I’m wondering about the meaning of Om Mani Padme Hum. There is a bunch of stuff on the internet about how special it is within the Buddhist context, but is there a Vaishnava interpretation of the mantra?

Babaji in LithuaniaAnswer: This mantra originally must come from Sanskrit, but in the present form it is not pure Sanskrit and thus it is hard to give the meaning.

Om is the essence of the vedic knowledge. It is also the primeval sound the source of creation. The three sounds a, u and m in Om signify various things, such as Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva; creation, maintenance and dissoultion, three states of life – wakeful, dream and deep sleep; Radha, Krishna and jiva, and so on.

Mani means a jewel.

Padme means in the lotus lower.

Hum is another primal sound or seed mantra.

So it menas, a jewel in the lotus flower. This can be interpreted according to one’s process. This mantra is supposed to be the essence of Buddha’s teachings.