Swami Sivananda Saraswati
1. Law of Karma
Every man should have a comprehensive understanding of Nature’s
laws, and their operations. Then he can pull on in this world
smoothly and happily. He can utilise the helping forces to
serve his ends in the best possible manner. He can neutralise
the hostile forces to serve his ends in the best possible
manner. He can neutralise the hostile or antagonistic currents.
Just as the fish swims against the current, so also he will
be able to go against the hostile currents by adjusting himself
properly and safeguarding himself through suitable precautionary
methods. Otherwise he becomes a slave. He is tossed about
hither and thither helplessly by various currents. Various
hostile forces drag him in different corners. He drifts like
a wooden plank in a river. He is always very miserable and
unhappy although he is wealthy and possesses everything that
the world can offer.
The captain of a steamer who has a mariner’s compass,
who has knowledge of the sea, the routes and the oceanic currents
can sail smoothly. Otherwise his steamer will drift here and
there helplessly and be wrecked by being dashed against some
ice-bergs or rocks. Likewise, a wise sailor in the ocean of
this life, who has a detailed knowledge of the laws of Karma
and Nature can sail smoothly and reach the goal of life positively.
Understanding the laws of Nature, you can mould or shape your
character in any way you like. “As a man thinketh so
he becometh” is one of the great laws of Nature. Think
you are pure, pure you will become. Think you are noble, noble
you will become. Think you are a man, man you will become.
Think you are Brahman, Brahman you will become.
Become an embodiment of good nature. Do good actions always.
Serve, love, give. Make others happy. Live to serve others.
Then you will reap happiness. You will get favourable circumstances
or opportunities and environments. If you hurt others, if
you do scandal-mongering, mischief-mongering, backbiting,
talebearing, if you exploit others, if you acquire the property
of others by foul means, if you do any actions that can give
pain to others, you will reap pain. You will get unfavourable
circumstances, conditions and environments. This is the law
of Nature. Just as you can build your good or bad character
by sublime or base thinking, so also you can shape your favourable
or unfavourable circumstances by doing good or bad actions.
A man of discrimination is always careful, vigilant and circumspect.
He always watches his thoughts carefully. He introspects.
He knows exactly what is going on in his mental factory, what
Vritti or Guna is prevailing at a particular time. He never
allows any evil thought to the gates of his mental factory.
He at once nips them in the bud.
When the mind raises its hood of Vritti, he takes the rod
of Viveka and strikes at the hood. Just as the soldier kills
his enemies one by one with his sword when they enter the
fort, so also the man of discrimination kills the evil thought
with his sword of Viveka when it tries to enter the fort of
the mind. Thus he builds a noble character. He is careful
in his speech. He speaks little. He speaks sweet loving words.
He never utters any kind of harsh words that can affect the
feelings of others. He practises Mauna (vow of silence). He
develops patience, mercy and universal love. He speaks the
truth. Thus he puts a check on the Vak Indriya and the impulses
of speech. He uses measured words. He writes measured lines.
This produces a deep and profound impression on the minds
of the people. He practises Ahimsa and Brahmacharya in thought,
word and deed. He practises Saucha and Arjava (straightforwardness).
He tries to keep balance of mind and to be always happy and
cheerful. He keeps up Suddha Bhava. He tries the three kinds
of Tapas (physical, verbal and mental) and controls his actions.
He cannot do any action that is evil.
He who spreads happiness will always get such favourable circumstances
as can bring him happiness. He who spreads pain to others
will, doubtless, get such unfavourable circumstances, according
to the law of Nature as can bring him misery and pain. Therefore
man creates his own character and circumstances. Bad character
can be transmuted into good character by means of good thoughts,
and unfavourable circumstances can be changed into favourable
circumstances by doing good actions. O Ram! You must understand
the laws of Nature and become wise and happy.
Your births and environments are determined according to the
nature of your desires. Prarabdha places you in such suitable
environments as are favourable for the gratification of your
desires. The man is dragged to places where he can get his
objects of desire. A man may be born in India as a poor Brahmin
in one birth. If he desires to become a multi-millionaire,
he may get his next birth in the United States of America.
Suppose there is a poor intelligent boy in India. He has an
intense desire to go to England for his I. C. S. examination.
His desire to go in this birth cannot be fulfilled. Suppose
also that there is a rich lady in England who has no son and
has intense desire to get an intelligent one. The poor boy
may get his next birth in London as the son of the rich lady
according to the law of coincidence. He will thus have his
old strong desire gratified now. God gives suitable surroundings
according to the nature of the desire of the man for his growth
Suppose a shepherd boy gave a tumbler of water to a rich man
to drink when he was very thirsty and when he could not get
any water in a thick jungle. This boy may get his next birth
as the son of this rich man for this little good action that
he had done. But he may be ignorant because he was a shepherd
boy in his previous birth. According to the nature of desire
the man gets environments. The desire drags him to such places
where the desired objects can be obtained. This is the law
of Nature. Entertain holy desires. You will be placed in holy
surroundings as Uttarakashi, Himalayas and Benares, where
you can perform Tapas, Sadhana and meditation amidst holy
persons and can have Self-realisation. Entertain unholy desires—you
will be placed in places like Paris and Hollywood where you
can have cinemas, restaurants, ballrooms, etc. It is left
to you to select the desires, either holy or unholy. If you
want to move as a man-beast in the streets of Paris, select
the unholy desire. If you want to shine in divine glory and
move as a man-god, select the holy desire.
Dr. M. H. Syed, M.A., Ph.D., D.Litt. writes in the Hindu Mind:
“There is nothing which has wrought so much havoc in
the practical life of the Hindus as the misconception of the
Law of Karma—the eternal law of cause and effect—that
works with unerring precision in all the departments of human
life. It is said that it is a gloomy doctrine and that it
tends to paralyse human effort, and closes the spring of all
right action. In popular language this doctrine means predestination,
pure and simple. It is believed that a man is a creature of
his past actions and that all his present life with its activities,
joys, sorrows, pain and pleasure, success and failure, gain
and loss, are predetermined by his past doings over which
he has no control, and therefore he should be utterly resigned
and waste no time in improving his or his neighbour’s
“There is only an element of truth in this attitude.
In other words, it is only half a truth that is understood
and followed. Unless the whole truth is grasped with regard
to this doctrine, it will always prove a source of confusion
and cause a great deal of harm. If Indian people are to rise
from their present state of degradation and shake off the
fetters of their thraldom, it is time that they clearly tried
to understand the true meaning and philosophy of actions and
the reign of the Law of Karma, by which the whole human race
has to evolve.
“It is true that a man’s present abilities are
the direct outcome of his own thoughts and actions in the
past: his cogitable endowments, his physical heredity, his
moral and mental instincts and capacities are the results
of his own thoughts and feelings of his previous births. A
farmer reaps rich harvests only when he labours in his field
for a long time. Unless he cares to till the ground, sow the
seed, water and manure it, he would not be in a position to
enjoy the fruit of his toil. What he sows today he will reap
tomorrow. This is an immutable law and holds good in everything
without exception. To say that one’s capacity for fresh
effort and new lines of action is paralysed or doomed by one’s
past doings is as futile and groundless as to say that because
one sowed yesterday, one cannot sow fresh seeds in new grounds
today. The fact of the matter is that free-will is never choked
and stifled by any past action. The only thing is that a man
cannot achieve what he wants all at once, and without delay.
The good law pays every person according to his need and in
due time. The law runs its own course. The results of past
actions, thoughts and feelings appear to us as effects of
causes we set up from our own free choice. Similarly, we are
equally free and unfettered to choose a line of action which
is sure to bring its fruit in due time. A man is bound by
the past debts he incurred or contracts he made. As soon as
he pays up his liabilities he is once more free to choose
whether he should incur fresh debt or not. Over the inevitable
he has no control and if the law is to be justified, he should
have no reason to complain against it. It is always open to
him to mould the Karma which is in the course of making, in
any way he likes. Under the security of the changeless law
of cause and effect a man can serenely proceed to achieve
anything he desires to accomplish. Sooner or later he is sure
to succeed in his well-directed efforts. In Nature nothing
is lost. Again, as Bacon said: ‘Nature is conquered
by obedience.’ By Nature he meant natural laws.
“If once we understand the law that guides our life
and action, we shall be able to act in such a manner as to
make this law our ally and helpmate rather than our adversary.
So long as the conditions laid down by the law are meticulously
fulfilled and observed, we have fullest certainty of our success
in any direction.
“The three aspects of the Law of Karma should be grasped
clearly. The first is the Sanchita Karma, the sum total and
storehouse of all our actions, good or bad, in the innumerable
past lives that we have left behind or from the time we began
to discriminate right from wrong and thus started acting on
our own responsibility and with our own initiative. The whole
of it is recorded and preserved: how could it be otherwise
when we live under the reign of an immutable law? The second
is Prarabdha—the inevitable Karma—that portion
of our Karma which is assigned to us to be worked out in a
single life in relation to men and things we met and experienced
in previous lives. This is also called ripe Karma, because
it is a debt which is overdue and it is time that it should
be paid in the form of sorrow and suffering, gain and loss,
to the uttermost farthing, whether we like it or not. The
third form is that of Kriyamana, that Karma which is in the
course of making. It is this which preserves our freewill
with certain limitations and ensures our future success. Because
man is made in God’s image and shares divine life, he
is free to act in any way he likes. By virtue of the same
principle, whatever he intensely desires he is sure to accomplish
in the course of time.
“‘Perform thou right action, for action is superior
to inaction and in inaction even the maintenance of thy body
would be impossible.’ So says the Blessed Lord Sri Krishna.
“Whatever is true in the case of an individual is also
true in the case of a nation, for individuals make a nation.
‘As in small, so in great,’ says ancient Hermes.
“The collective Karma of a race or a nation is as much
a fact in Nature as an individual one. The same principles
underlying the Karmic laws apply, without much wide difference,
to national and collective Karma. Nations rise and fall, empires
flourish and are dismembered on the same ground. The wise
heads in a nation should not neglect the dominating sway of
“In the midst of a national calamity it is well to remember
that nothing can come to us which we have not deserved. We
may not be able to see the immediate cause of the catastrophe,
but it does not follow that it took place without sufficient
“During the last thousand years and more many heart-rending
and humiliating events occurred on the soil of Mother India,
devastating the whole land, robbing her sons of their precious
jewels and even more precious lives.
“The incidents of our own times are too fresh in our
memories to need any repetition. Have these soul-scorching
incidents and cataclysms taken place without any rhyme or
reason? No: there is nothing that can happen to us beyond
the scope of the good and utterly just laws. In our ignorance
we may not be able to trace the immediate cause with certainty,
definiteness and accuracy, but this much is certain beyond
the least shadow of doubt, that nothing unmerited can happen
to us or to our country.
“Our own apathy, indifference, lack of patriotism, communal
and caste dissensions, mutual hatred, suspicion and strife,
have been the main cause of our present and past degradation.
“As our collective Karma brought on us the wrath of
divine justice and fit retribution closely followed in the
wake of our evil deeds, and we deservedly suffered and paid
for them heavily, so we can again exert our collective will
in the right direction and learn to be wise and circumspect
in the light of our past bitter experience and humiliation.
In the course of time, we shall again see the eclipse of downfall,
servitude and thraldom, and we shall once more be free and
great as our forefathers were.”
2. Law of Causation
All the phenomena of Nature are governed by one important
law, the universal law of causation, which is also known by
the name, the Law of Karma. The law of causation is a universal
law that keeps up the inner harmony and the logical order
of the universe. Man’s deeds are as much subject to
this law as the events and occurrences in this physical plane.
Karma is a Sanskrit term that comes from the root ‘Kri’,
meaning to act, and signifies action or deed. Any physical
or mental action is Karma. Thought is also Karma. Reaction
that follows an action is Karma. Karma is a broad term. Attraction,
repulsion, gravitation, breathing, talking, walking, seeing,
hearing, eating, feeling, willing, desiring, thinking—all
the actions of the body, mind and senses are Karma. Karma
includes both cause and effect.
All other laws of Nature are subordinate to this fundamental
law. The sun shines, the fire burns, the river flows, the
wind blows, the tree blossoms and bears fruit, the mind thinks,
feels and wills, the brain and the various organs like the
heart, lungs, spleen and kidneys work in harmony and in strict
obedience to this grand law of cause and effect. This grand
law operates everywhere on the physical and mental planes.
No phenomenon can escape from the operation of this mighty
The seed has its cause in the tree and itself becomes in turn
the cause of a tree. The grown-up father procreates a son,
and the son in turn becomes a father. The cause is found in
the effect and the effect is found in the cause. The effect
is similar to the cause. This is the universal chain of cause
and effect which has no end. No link in the chain is necessary.
This world runs on this fundamental, vital law. This law is
inexorable and immutable.
Scientists are carefully observing the phenomena of Nature
and are trying to find out the exact causes of all that take
place in Nature. The astronomer sits in his observatory with
his long, powerful telescope and watches the heavenly map,
and studies the stars and planets very carefully. He tries
to find out the exact causes that bring about the phenomena.
The reflective philosopher sits in a contemplative mood and
tries to find out the cause of this world, the cause of the
pains and miseries of this Samsara and the cause of the phenomena
of this birth and death.
No event can occur without having a positive, definite cause
at the back of it. The breaking out of war, the rise of a
comet, the occurrence of an earthquake or a volcanic eruption,
thunder, lightning, floods, diseases of the body, fortune,
misfortune—all have definite causes behind them.
If you develop a carbuncle or get a fracture of the leg or
arm, this is obviously due to some bad Karma in your previous
birth. The bad Karma was the cause and the carbuncle or fracture
is the effect. If you get some fortune in this birth, the
cause is some good action that you must have done in your
There is no such thing as a chance or accident. The cause
is hidden or unknown, if you are not able to trace out the
cause for the particular accident. This law of cause and effect
is quite mysterious. That is the reason why Lord Krishna says:
Gahana karmano gatih—mysterious is the path of action.
If your finite mind is not able to find out the cause in an
accident or other incident, it does not mean that there is
no cause behind such occurrences.
All the physical and mental forces in Nature obey this grand
law of cause and effect. The law and the Law-giver are one.
The law and God are one. Nature and her laws are one. The
laws of gravitation, cohesion, adhesion, attraction and repulsion,
the law of like and dislike on the physical plane, the laws
of relativity and contiguity, the law of association on the
mental plane, all operate in strict accordance with this law
of cause and effect. From the vibration of an electron to
the revolution of a mighty planet, from the falling of a mango
to the ground to the powerful willing of a Yogi, from the
motion of a runner in athletics to the movement of radio-waves
in the subtle ether, from the transmitting of a telegraphic
message to the telepathic communication of a Yogi in the thought-world—every
event is the effect of some invisible force that works in
happy concord and harmony with the law of cause and effect.
A close study of this law gives encouragement to the man who
has lost hope, and to the desperate and ailing. Destiny is
created by man’s thoughts, habits and character. There
is every chance of his correction and improvement by changing
his thoughts and his habits. The scoundrel can become a saint,
the prostitute can become a chaste lady, a beggar can become
a king. This mighty law provides for all this. The Law of
Karma only can explain beautifully the inequalities of this
world, such as why one man is rich while another is poor,
why one is wicked while another is a saint, one is very dull
while another is a genius or a versatile prodigy, one is born
decrepit while another is strong and healthy, etc. How can
you explain these inequalities? It is all Karma. God can never
be unjust or partial.
This world is a relative plane. It contains good, evil, and
a mixture of good and evil. That is the reason why Lord Krishna
says in the Gita:
Anishtamishtam misram cha trividham karmanah phalam.
“Good, evil and mixed—threefold is the fruit of
action hereafter for the non-relinquisher.” Chapter:
There can be neither absolute good nor absolute evil in this
world. That which gives you comfort and pleasure, that which
is beneficial to you, to the world and your neighbour, is
good. That which gives you discomfort, uneasiness, pain and
misery, that which is not beneficial to the world and to your
neighbour, is evil. That which gives misery and pain to some,
and pleasure to others, is a mixture of good and evil.
Every action that you do produces a twofold effect. It produces
an impression in your mind and when you die you carry the
Samskara in the Karmashaya or receptacle of works in your
subconscious mind. It produces an impression on the world
or Akasic records. Any action is bound to react upon you with
equal force and effect. If you hurt another man, you really
hurt yourself. This wrong action is bound to react upon and
injure you. It will bring misery and pain. If you do some
good to another man, you are really helping yourself. You
are really doing good to yourself because there is nothing
but the Self. This virtuous action will react upon you with
equal force and effect. It will bring you joy and happiness.
That is the reason why sages and Rishis, prophets and moralists
harp on the one note: “Love thy neighbour as thyself.
Never hurt the feelings of others. Ahimsa Paramo Dharmah—noninjury
is the highest virtue. Do good to all. Do as you would be
done by.” He who has rightly understood this law, can
never do any harm to anybody. He will become an embodiment
If you do a wrong action against an individual, it disturbs
the whole atmosphere. If you entertain an evil thought it
pollutes the whole thought-world. That is the reason why occultists
say: “Cultivate good thoughts. Eradicate evil thoughts.”
Every thought has a cause behind it. Every action, every thought,
however trivial and insignificant it may be, affects the whole
world directly or indirectly. That noble soul who always does
good to the world and entertains sublime thoughts, is a blessing
to the world at large. He purifies the whole world.
Suppose for a moment you write some sensational article in
some newspaper. It arouses the emotions and sentiments of
the readers. They begin to do something against the Government.
A serious riot now ensues. Police forces are brought in. Many
people are shot. Many new rules are framed to check and repress
the riots. The parents of those who were killed suffer. This
riot produces an effect on the minds of the people of other
parts of the world also. In fact the whole world is affected
by a single event. A single sensational article has wrought
such disastrous results. One event may be both a cause and
effect at the same time. The endless chain of cause and effect
is kept up all throughout. You cannot say that this link is
useless or unnecessary.
You have now a comprehensive understanding of this grand law
of cause and effect. You can change your thoughts and habits
and mould a new character. You can become a righteous man
and a saint by doing virtuous actions and entertaining noble
and divine thoughts. When you attain knowledge of Self, when
you annihilate this little mind, when you transcend the three
Gunas and the three Avasthas, you can rest in your own Svarup.
You can become identical with the Law-giver and then the law
of cause and effect will not operate on you. You can conquer
Nature. May that invisible Law-giver, Brahman, guide you in
the attainment of final beatitude of life!
3. Law of Action and Reaction
The grand law of causation includes the law of action and
reaction, the law of compensation and the law of retribution.
All these laws come under one general, all-embracing heading
Doctrine of Karma. If there is an action, there must be a
reaction. The reaction will be of equal force and of a similar
nature. The recent Great War has brought out a strong reaction.
There is depression in trade. There is no peace in the country.
People are not happy. The money market is tight. Many lives
have been lost. The death of a just king brings immediate,
strong reaction. Every thought, desire, imagination and sentiment
causes reaction. Virtue brings its own reward; vice brings
its own punishment. This is the working of the law of reaction.
If I radiate joy to others, if I relieve the sufferings of
others, I will doubtless get joy. This is the law of reaction.
If I hurt another man, if I cause misery and pain to another,
I will in turn get misery and pain. God neither punishes the
wicked nor rewards the virtuous. It is their own Karmas that
bring reward and punishment. It is the law of action and reaction
that brings the fruits. No one is to be blamed. The law operates
everywhere with unceasing precision and scientific accuracy.
The law of action and reaction operates both in the physical
and mental planes.
A tennis ball strikes the ground and rises up with equal force.
This is the law of action and reaction. If I strike against
a pillow, the pillow is bound to react upon me with equal
force. This is the law of action and reaction. If I speak
sweet loving words to anyone, the man returns the feeling
of love and speaks sweet words to me also. This is the law
of action and reaction.
Why does a man behave in a rude manner? Why is another man
courteous, civil and polite? Why does one man possess good
moral character? Why does another possess evil character?
Why does one man possess good health, strength and vitality?
Why is another man sickly and miserable? Why is one joyful
and cheerful while another is depressed and cheerless? These
things can be easily explained by the law of action and reaction.
Nobody is to be blamed. It is our own Karma that brings joy,
misery, pleasure, pain, gain, loss, success and defeat. Every
one of us is governed by the law of action and reaction. The
character of an individual is subject to the law of action
and reaction. Each character or personality is the total result
or collective totality of previous mental action. Thoughts
change, habits change, character also changes. Our present
character is the outcome of our past, and our future will
be shaped by our present acts. Man creates his own character
and destiny. He can do and undo his thoughts, habits, character
and destiny. The law of action and reaction operates everywhere.
He who thoroughly understands this grand law of action and
reaction will never do any wrong action, because he knows
that it will react upon him and bring misery and pain. He
will always be doing virtuous actions as they will bring peace,
joy, strength and unalloyed felicity. Dear friends! Understand
this law. Never violate it. Act according to the law and rest
in peace. May that silent Law-giver who is hiding Himself
behind these names and forms guide you in all your thoughts,
speech, and actions! Glory to the law and the Law-giver!
4. Law of Compensation
The law of compensation operates everywhere in Nature’s
phenomena. The seed breaks and a big tree appears from the
seed. The tree comes out in accordance with the law of compensation.
Fuel burns and is destroyed. But there is heat in accordance
with the law of compensation. Many articles are cooked in
the fire on account of the heat. If there is extreme heat
in Bezwada, there is extreme cold in Mt. Kailas or Uttarakasi
in the Himalayas. This is the law of compensation. If there
are ten scoundrels in a place, there are two Sattvic souls
to bring compensation. If there is flood-tide at Puri, there
is an ebb-tide at Waltair. This is the law of compensation.
If there is day in India there is night in America. Peace
follows a war and vice versa. Water becomes steam and the
steam makes the engine move. The sulphuric acid in a jar of
a battery is consumed but there is electricity produced in
the bulb. You get light. This is the law of compensation.
The law of compensation operates in the mental plane also.
Every effect has a cause. Every consequence has an antecedent.
There must be perfect balance between the cause and effect,
between the antecedent and consequence. The law of compensation
keeps up the balance, and establishes peace, concord, equilibrium,
harmony and justice in Nature. Think deeply. Reflect and cogitate.
You will notice that this law of compensation is operating
beautifully everywhere in the phenomena of Nature. It is inexorable
and relentless. No one can defy this immutable and irresistible
law. If you do an evil act, you will reap a bad fruit in compensation.
Sometimes a man complains: “God is unjust. I have always
been a truthful man. I never do any wrong to anybody. I am
always serving humanity. Yet I have this terrible disease,
asthma.” This is incorrect and unreasonable. You will
have to connect the effect with the cause always. Whatever
you suffer from may appear to be unjust. You may think that
you do not deserve it at all. But if you try to find out the
cause of this suffering, you will doubtless find that it is
perfectly right and a just compensation. Then you will have
satisfaction. Just try in a few cases. Then you will have
no room for complaint or lamentation. You will understand
the beautiful working of the law of compensation. The affairs
of our lives are so very intricate and complicated that we
find it difficult to trace the cause of the present suffering.
Though we are not able to trace the cause, though we are not
able to understand the working of the law, yet the cause is
there. Our intellect is so feeble that it is not able to grasp
the antecedent or cause of a suffering or event.
A man may reap the fruit of compensation for his action either
in this life or in the next. If we deny pre-existence and
rebirth and take into consideration that life begins with
this birth only and ends completely with the death of the
body and there is nothing more, then it will be no compensation
for the virtuous man who has done noble actions and for the
wicked man who has done crimes. The chain of cause and effect,
antecedent and consequence, will be broken abruptly. There
will be terrible injustice everywhere. This cannot be. If
you connect your present life with the past and the future
lives, and then judge the present life from the standpoint
of eternal life, then there will be perfect justice. Then
there will be perfect compensation.
Your present life has direct connection with the past and
the future. There is perfect continuity of life all throughout,
though you take several bodies. There is one common thread
that runs through the whole soul-life of countless births.
The life of the individual soul (Jivatma) consists of countless
earthly lives. There is intimate connection between the past,
present and future and the law of compensation operates with
perfect justice and harmony. The physical body may change
but the events and the law of compensation continue all throughout.
Just as the daily life of a man has connection with the life
of yesterday and the life of tomorrow, so also one period
of earthly life has intimate bearing with the previous and
future lives. Then only will there be perfect justice and
If you take an individual life as an isolated event that begins
with the birth of the physical body and terminates with its
death, you cannot find any correct explanation or solution
for the affairs of life. You will be groping in darkness and
despair. If the virtuous man who has not done any evil act
in this birth suffers, this is due to some wrong act that
he may have committed in his previous birth. He will have
his compensation in his next birth. If the wicked man who
daily does many evil actions apparently enjoys in this birth,
this is due to some good Karma he must have done in his previous
birth. He will have compensation in his next birth. He will
reap the fruits of his evil actions in his next birth. He
will suffer in the next birth. The law of compensation is
inexorable and relentless.
Your present life is nothing when compared with the whole
soul-life. It is momentary. It is a mere fragment. Whenever
you want to find out the cause or antecedent for anything,
you will have to go deep into the affairs of the eternal soul-life.
Then alone will there be perfect balance between the cause
and the effect, between the antecedent and consequence. You
will have to judge from a broad view of the eternal soul-life.
The law of compensation embraces a wide range of the whole
soul-life. Life does not end with the disintegration of this
physical body alone. There is reincarnation. There have been
countless previous lives also. You will have to take into
consideration the widest view of the life of the soul. Then
the line is quite clear. Then you will find a perfect, satisfactory
solution for all the intricate and complicated affairs of
life. Then there will be no room for grumbling or lamentation
5. Law of Retribution
Every wrong action or crime brings its own punishment, in
accordance with the law of retribution. The law of causation,
the law of action and reaction, the law of compensation and
the law of retribution—all these operate together. He
who robs another man robs himself. He who hurts another man
hurts himself first. He who cheats another cheats himself
first. Every wrong action causes punishment first in the inner
nature or soul and externally in circumstances in the form
of pain, misery, loss, failure, misfortune, disease, etc.
Man is ignorant. He is swayed by impulses, wrath, passion,
attachment, pride and repulsion. He does various sorts of
wicked actions. His intellect becomes perverted. He loses
his memory. His understanding gets clouded by selfishness
and greed. He does not know what he is exactly doing. Later
on he repents. Discipline of the Indriyas is necessary. He
should remember the law of causation, the law of action and
reaction, and the law of retribution at every step, at every
moment of his daily life. He should control his emotions and
impulses through the practice of Pranayama and meditation.
Then only will he not do any wrong action.
Remember that God is neither partial nor unjust. You suffer
on account of your own wicked actions. Sow the seeds which
will bring pleasant fruits and which will make you happy herein
and hereafter. Do not sow the seeds which will bring unpleasant
fruits and which will make you miserable and unhappy in this
life or hereafter. Be cautious in doing your daily duties.
Watch every thought, word and action. Go to the root and purify
the thoughts first. Prayer, Japa, meditation, study of philosophical
books, pure food, Vichara and Satsanga will purify your mind
and eradicate ignoble and wicked thoughts. Observe the vow
of silence, you will then be able to control your speech.
Practise Yama and Niyama, Ahimsa, Satyam, Asteyam, Brahmacharya
and Aparigraha. Develop Sattvic qualities. Slowly eradicate
negative qualities. By these practices you will not be able
to do any wrong action. The force of Sattvic habits will goad
you on to do virtuous actions only.
Orthodox Christians and theologians believe that God settles
and fixes the destiny of a man before his birth. This is not
logical and tenable. The hypothesis falls to the ground on
account of its unsound nature. Man becomes like a piece of
straw that is tossed about hither and thither in the wind.
He has no independence and freedom. This makes God partial,
unjust and whimsical. The moral responsibility and liberty
of a man are destroyed. The man becomes like a prisoner whose
hands and legs are tied with chains. Why should God make one
happy and another unhappy? Is He so whimsical and eccentric?
Why should one get His Grace before he is born? Is he so biased?
If God is all-merciful why can He not make all equally noble,
virtuous, happy, good, moral and spiritual? Why is one born
blind? Why should a sinner be responsible for his actions?
Is he pre-ordained to sin? Why should he suffer owing to the
whim of such a Creator? Questions like these remain a puzzle
if you accept the theory of ‘pre-ordination and Grace’.
The doctrine of Karma alone will give satisfaction. It is
sound. It appeals to reason. It throws a flood of dear light.
Everyone reaps the fruits of his own actions. Man can do and
undo his destiny by his own thoughts and character. He is
a free agent. He may be a bad man in this birth, but he can
change his thoughts, habits, tendencies and character and
can become a good man or a saint in the next birth. He has
free will. He can choose between two alternatives at every
step. The theory of ‘preordination and Grace’
cannot be accepted. It falls to the ground as it is unsound
The doctrine of Karma only can explain the mysterious problem
of good and evil in this world. The doctrine of Karma only
can bring solace, contentment and strength to the afflicted
and the desperate. It solves our difficulties and problems
of life. It gives encouragement to the hopeless and the forlorn.
It pushes a man to right thinking, right speech and right
action. It brings a brilliant future for that man who lives
according to this universal law. If all people understand
this law correctly and discharge their daily duties carefully
they would rise to sublime heights in the ladder of spirituality.
They will be moral and virtuous and have a happy, peaceful
and contented life. They can bear the burden of Samsara with
patience, endurance and strength of mind. There will not be
any room for complaint when they see inequalities in birth,
fortune, intelligence and capacities. There will be heaven
on earth. All will rejoice even in suffering. Greed, jealousy,
hatred, anger and passion will vanish. Virtue will reign supreme
everywhere. We will have a glorious Satyayuga now with peace
and plenty everywhere. Blessed is the man who understands
and lives in the law, for he will soon attain God-consciousness
and become one with the Law-giver. Then the law will no longer
operate on him.
6. Law of Resistance
If you eat a mango, if you do any kind of work, it produces
an impression in the subconscious mind or Chitta. This impression
is called Samskara or tendency. Whatever you see, hear, feel,
smell or taste causes Samskaras. The acts of breathing, thinking,
feeling, and willing produce impressions. These impressions
are indestructible. They can only be fried in toto by Asamprajnata
Samadhi. Man is a bundle of Samskaras. Mind is a bundle of
impressions. It is these Samskaras that bring a man again
and again to this physical plane. They are the cause for rebirths.
These Samskaras assume the form of very big waves through
memory, internal or external stimulus. The sum-total of these
impressions constitutes the character of a man. If you do
virtuous actions, the Chitta will contain good impressions
and you will possess a good character. If you do evil deeds
there will be evil impressions in the subconscious mind, and
you will have a bad character. Good Samskaras force a man
to do good actions and vice versa. If you have a great asset
of good Samskaras, you will not do any evil action at all.
You will have an established good character. Mara or Satan
can have no influence upon you.
Actions produce Samskaras or impressions or potencies. The
impressions coalesce together through repetition and form
habits. Tendencies develop into habits and character. The
sum-total of the tendencies of a man is his character. Karmas
manufacture character and character manufactures will. If
the character is pure and strong, the will also will be pure
and strong, and vice versa.
It is said that habit is second nature. I always say that
habit is all nature. Control of habits is control of nature.
Old, evil habits can be changed into healthy and desirable
habits through the force of the pure irresistible will. A
weak, impotent man is a slave of habits. He always imagines
that habits are innate and that they cannot be changed in
one’s lifetime. This is a mistake. If you want to change
the old, morbid evil habits and establish new, healthy and
good habits, you will have to struggle hard. The old habits
will try to return, resist, persist and recur. Internal fight
will go on between the old and new Samskaras, between old
and new habits. You will have to be very vigilant, careful
and circumspect. You will have to be on the alert like a soldier
who is on patrol duty at a magazine in a military cantonment.
The old habit asserts itself and says: “O friend! You
gave me a seat in your body and mind for twenty long years.
You enjoyed several things through me. Why do you try to drive
me off now? You are very cruel. I have every right and privilege
from Nature, my kind mother, to remain here. Maya works through
me only. The entire world runs through habits only. Man clings
to tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, smoking, cinema, novels,
gambling and playing cards through the force of habits. The
whole world will dwindle into airy nothing but for me. The
Lila of the Lord will stop had it not been for my presence
in your system. I will not leave my seat in your body.”
This is the law of resistance. If the man who is attempting
to eradicate an evil habit is careless, the old habit will
recur again. In the beginning it may recur less frequently
and last for a long time. Or it may recur less frequently
and last for a short time. But you will gain strength and
gradually it will perish altogether and the new good habits
will gain supremacy eventually.
If a new healthy habit is introduced even once and if you
make even a single attempt in planting a new good habit, the
good habit will grow gradually. It will also assert itself
to gain a seat in the body and mind. It will work itself till
it gets perfect success and defeats the old, morbid habit.
This is also another law of Nature. There is always a double
life in Nature, the Asuric and Daivic. The fight between the
Asuras and the Devas is always going on in the body and the
mind. If you struggle very hard, the new good habits will
establish themselves quickly. You will have rapid progress
in the spiritual path. The pure, strong, irresistible will
is bound to succeed ultimately. It can do anything. Its powers
are ineffable and wonderful.
(extract from the book “Practice of Karma Yoga")
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