- If Krishna is the Self in everyone, why do people commit sinful deeds and suffer thereafter?
- Why should He even allow such sins to take place?
- How can we stay away from committing wrongful deeds?
Please explain in detail:
In order to answer the questions, it would be necessary, at the outset, to understand the ‘God’ concept as per Vedanta and make it clear that according to Vedanta, Krishna is not some theistic being separate from nature residing elsewhere, but He is the personification of the eternal, timeless, beginningless, and All-pervading God principle known as Brahman. This is an extremely important point to be borne in mind so that the seeker comprehends the metaphor in the Shlokas while studying the Srimad Bhagavad Gita.
Now, the main natural law on which all other laws stand is that of Cause and Effect, or simply Karma. There are no beginnings or ends, but a cyclical continuum of existence with different points or stages, of which one point or stage is the effect of the previous one and, at the same time, the cause of the next one.
Understanding and internalising the teaching of Krishna that it is your own Karma, your own inherent nature and your attitude that cause everything in your life, can straight away free you from the feeling of victimhood that could make you think that it is an unkind God, bad planets, curses or black magic by those who do not like you, or simply bad luck, that could be the cause of the challenges you face in your life. Just remember Cause and Effect, and you will come out of the non-productive and highly destructive mental feeling of being a victim. Take responsibility, and you will feel empowered because you will realise that it is you and only you who could change things in your life.
How Karma is ‘transported’ between different Janmas or lifetimes has been briefly explained in Shloka SBG 15:08. I also have a separate video on this topic titled, “Transmigration of the Atman and the Transport of KARMA between Janmas”.
Shloka SBG 15:08.
शरीरं यदवाप्नोति यच्चाप्युत्क्रामतीश्वरः |
गृहीत्वैतानि संयाति वायुर्गंधानिवाशयात् || १५ ८ ||
vaayur-gandhaa-nivaa-shayaat (SBG 15:08)
When the soul, which is the master, acquires a body, it takes the mind and the five senses from the body it has left, just as the wind takes different odours along with it.
Pain and pleasure are not the results of ‘punishments’ or rewards, respectively, given by a totalitarian, tyrannical, and egotistical theistic being called God, but they are components in the process of learning and self-development.
Just as the number of processes that gold undergoes right from the time of its extraction from goldmines, to refinement, and finally to being created as fine jewellery, it can be said that a Jivatma also goes through thousands and thousands of Janmas in its process of Karmic evolution in order to become fit for attaining Brahman and ending the cycle of its manifestations in countless perishable bodies that go through births and deaths.
I suggest that you pay close attention to the Shlokas that I quote because they not only back whatever I am saying, but they are in fact the prime source of the Vedanta philosophy that I so passionately teach.
In Shloka SBG 3:36 Arjuna asks Krishna
अर्जुन उवाच |
अथ केन प्रयुक्तोऽयं पापं चरति पूरुषः |
अनिच्छन्नपि वार्ष्णेय बलादिव नियोजितः || ३ ३६ ||
atha kena prayuktho ‘yam
paapam charathi puurushaha
balaadiva niyojitaha (SBG 3:36)
What prompts a man to perform sinful deeds, O descendant of Vrshni? Why does he commit such acts even without desiring to do them, as if he were forced?
Krishna answers as follows in SBG 3:37
काम एष क्रोध एष रजोगुणसमुद्भवः |
महाशनो महापाप्मा विद्ध्येनमिह वैरिणम् || ३ ३७ ||
sri bhagavaan uvaacha
kaama esha krodha esha
mahaashano mahaa paapmaa
viddhyena-miha vairiNam (SBG 3:37)
Shri Bhagavan Krishna said:
Lust and anger are born out of the material nature called Rajoguna, which is insatiable and prompts man to commit sin. You must know that this is the greatest enemy in a man’s spiritual life.
धूमेनाव्रियते वह्निर्यथादर्शो मलेन च |
यथोल्बेनावृतो गर्भस्तथा तेनेदमावृतम् || ३ ३८ ||
yathaadarsho malena cha
thathaa thenedha-maavrtham (SBG 3:38)
Just as a fire is covered by smoke, a mirror by dust and the foetus by the womb, the living being is covered by lust.
आवृतं ज्ञानमेतेन ज्ञानिनो नित्यवैरिणा |
कामरूपेण कौन्तेय दुष्पूरेणानलेन च || ३ ३९ ||
dushpureNaa-nalena cha (SBG 3:39)
Man’s wisdom is covered by this permanent enemy which is in the form of lust, and it is like a fire which cannot be satisfied.
Now comes the Shloka in which it has been explained how past Karma shapes the attitude and actions in a new Janma
In Shloka SBG 18:61 Krishna says:
ईश्वरः सर्वभूतानां हृद्देशेऽर्जुन तिष्ठति |
भ्रामयन्सर्वभूतानि यन्त्रारूढानि मायया || १८ ६१ ||
The Supreme Bhagavan dwells in the hearts of all beings, O Arjuna, and in accordance to their respective Karma, He directs the wanderings of all beings by His Maya or illusive power, as if they were mounted on a machine.
The most important point to be noted and remembered here is that a person always has the choice of either performing a particular action or saying something, or not doing it.
You have the choice.
Think, speak, and act wisely.
The one with a pure intellect; who controls his mind with determination; relinquishes sense-objects beginning with sound; gives up attachment and hatred;
…takes to solitude, reduces food to just what is necessary; has his speech, body and mind completely under control; has his mind always engaged in concentration and meditation; takes refuge in dispassion;
…abandons egoism, false pride, violence, lust, anger and possessiveness; and becomes peaceful; is a person who is fit to attain Brahman or Super-Consciousness.
In Shloka 18:63 Krishna says:
इति ते ज्ञानमाख्यातं गुह्याद्गुह्यतरं मया |
विमृश्यैतदशेषेण यथेच्छसि तथा कुरु || १८ ६३ ||
iti te jnaana-maakhyaatam
yathe-cchasi tathaa kuru
I have taught you the secret wisdom which is deeper than all that is confidential and profound. Reflect fully on what I have declared to you, and do what you wish to do.
I could suggest a simple step, which one could take before saying something or performing any action. It can greatly help in preventing the collection of unnecessary Karma, and in also settling past Karma:
The step consists of two questions that you ask yourself:
- What would happen if I said or did such and such a thing?
- What would happen if I did not say or do such and such a thing?
By asking yourself the two questions above, although your nature, which is based on your past Karmic impressions or Samskaaras, might push you to say or do things, sense will surely prevail upon you, and you will make the right choice which would be most beneficial to you in your life as well as in the process of your Karmic evolution.
Krishna says in Shloka SBG 3:27 that it is the Gunas that cause action.
प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः |
अहङ्कारविमूढात्मा कर्ताहमिति मन्यते || ३ २७ |
gunaihi karmaaNi sarvashaha
karthaa-hamithi manyate (SBG 3:27)
All actions are done by the three Gunas or the qualities of nature. But he, whose mind is deluded by false ego and arrogance, thinks “I am the doer”.
It means that the basic nature of a person is the one that leads them to say things or perform action. That being the case, if a person works on improving their own fundamental nature and infuse it with noble thoughts, it would be immensely helpful in preventing them from committing Karma-attracting unrighteous acts.
Therefore, it can be concluded that despite the Karmic tendencies a person might have that could seem to compel him or her to commit an inappropriate act, the choice of acting, of refraining from acting, or of performing righteous action, always rests with that person, the appropriateness of which, would depend on how calm, composed, balanced, free from emotions, and virtuous their mind is.
रागद्वेषविमुक्तैस्तु विषयानिन्द्रियैश्चरन् |
आत्मवश्यैर्विधेयात्मा प्रसादमधिगच्छति || २ ६४ ||
prasaada-madhigacchati (SBG 2:64)
But the person who controls his senses in spite of being with sense objects is free from both attachment and aversion. Such a person attains serenity of the mind and of the intellect.
MASTER THE ART OF MIND MANAGEMENT AND THE WORLD WILL BE YOURS.
In case you haven’t done it until now, please read and study the Srimad Bhagavad Gita. Please feel free to contact me should you need any help with the studying of the life-changing scripture.
Jai Shri Krishna