Counteracting Bad Karma

Q. Many people have the idea that the bad karma can be reduced or removed through meditation, worship, samskara or sacrifice. What do you think?

A. Sukadeva Gosvami gives a similar answer to Maharaj Pariksit when he asks how to mitigate the hellish sufferings and sinful reactions. Sukadeva Gosvami prescribes that by performance of atonement to the sinful activities and by cultivating tapasya, brahmacarya, truthfulness, control of mind and senses etc., one can counteract the sinful reactions. So it is possible to reduce one’s sinful actions if one follows the prescribed way. However, this is hardly possible, especially in this age of Kali, when performance of the prescribed methods of atonement according to Vedic rituals  under the guidance of qualified brahmanas or strictly following the above-mentioned processes  is very difficult  to say the least. Further King Pariksit asks, “But how can atonement really help if the sinful tendencies are not removed from the heart of the living entity?” He will be driven by those tendencies to keep committing the same sinful activities again and again and will thus be bound to suffering. Pariksit Maharaj compares this to the bathing of an elephant, which after a nice bath, comes ashore and throws mud all over its body again. The real remedy is therefore to remove the root cause of bad karma, i.e. sinful tendencies. Sukadeva Gosvami confirms this. And he describes how to do it: by surrendering to the Supreme Lord and performing devotional service all sins are completely eradicated, just as darkness is immediately dissipated by sunlight. Krsna will automatically take away all of one’s sinful reactions at one stroke  as He promises in the Bhagavad Gita, without our having to undergo much trouble for atoning the untold amount of sinful reactions we have. Cf SB Canto 6, Ch. 1.