‘Delayed’ reaction

Q. Why do we get the reactions of our sinful activities in the next birth and not instantly in the same birth? Most of the people complain that If  I have not done anything wrong with anyone then why am i suffering so much.

A. It is simply not true that all the experiences,  enjoyments or sufferings  that we have in this life correspond only to our actions in the previous  lives. The law of karma does not work on some kind of a principle of delayed response, lagging by a time period corresponding to one (or many)  lifetime(s).

The law of karma is like the law of a court. If a person takes a debt from someone and then fails to pay him back, the lender may approach a court. The  court then issues a notice to the debtor that he has to pay back to the lender, the money that is due. However, the debtor in his bankrupt state is unable to comply. Consequently, even though the court has ruled in favour of the  lender, he won’t receive any money from the debtor. In the future, as and  when the debtor acquires money, he is made to pay back the money that is due  to the lender. Till that time, the lender just has to wait.

The Padma Purana explains five stages of karmic reactions beginning with  unmanifest karma (aprarabdha) to its manifest form (prarabdha) in one’s  current life.  The others in between begin with our innate proclivities (kuta) to do something and disliking to do something else, leading to a desire (bija) to act in a particular way  and when we do act, the action  bearing a fruit (phalonmukham), which leads to the fully manifest form (prarabdha) later as mentioned above. (For more information on this, refer purport to verse 9.2 in “Bhagavad-gita As It Is” by His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, www.vedabase.net\bg\9\2\en

When the  reaction comes to the manifest (prarabdha) state, we can perceive it on our lives. This may happen in the same lifetime as in which the action was performed or in a later lifetime, depending on the time it takes for the  result to appear in the manifest form. Like a seed when planted, takes some  time to sprout and then transform into a tree, an action performed takes  some time to bear a reaction to the person concerned. Indeed Lord Shri Krishna informs in the Bhagavad-gita(4.17) – gahana karmano gatih – “The intricacies of action are very hard to understand.”

As simple story illustrates this fact, After the Mahabharata war, when king  Dhritarashtra asked Lord Krishna as to why did he have to undergo such a  tragedy of witnessing his hundred sons being killed in a war, Lord Krishna  gave him divine vision to realise that fifty births back, he had been a hunter and once had thrown a blazing net on a tree full of birds. Most of  the birds flew away, but lost their sight because of the scorching heat  while a hundred young birds perished in the flames. For this, he had to lead  his own life as a blind person and had to undergo the pain of having his own hundred sons killed.  When asked as to why it had taken so long to  experience the pain, Lord Krishna explained that first he had to accumulate  the necessary good karma to become a father to hundred sons in a single lifetime and then would it be possible for him to suffer from the reaction  in waiting, of losing them.

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