Selections from THE ABSOLUTE LAW OF KARMA by PANDIT SHRIRAM SHARMA ACHARYA
Misfortunes are not always Results of Past Misdeeds
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 a 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.
Unpleasant, heartbreaking happenings, such as a near fatal accident or disease, death of an intimate friend or relative, sudden financial loss, humiliation, or treachery by a trusted friend, may occur to give a strong shock treatment so that one may correct the course of his life.
Sometimes, the virtuous samskars 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 time, commitment of sin is foiled by some unforeseen obstacle. If a thief breaks his leg while goings 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 becomes all the more lustrous.
Hence while going through misfortunes, do not be under the 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 of 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 persons undergo unbearable hardships 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 successes-failure and happiness-unhappiness. Only the Creator knows their purpose in His Absolute Wisdom. Let us entirely offer ourselves to the Divine to be used for the free and unobstructed flow of His Will through us.