Small Favorites

Law of Karma and Rebirth


source V e d a n t a K e s a r i ~ 2 3 5 ~ J U N E 2 0 0 7


A former editor of THE VEDANTA KESARI, the author is presently the Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Chandigarh.


QUESTION: How do we explain why people suffer and how our service to them is a part    of the law of Karma?

ANSWER: Suppose a number of people have suffered loss of life and property due to natural calamity like earthquake. A situation like this, it is believed, arises on account of the collective Karma of the affected people. Though a situation is caused by collective Karma, there can be great differences in how various individuals react to it. One person may be busy in making money by overcharging the injured or looting the helpless or only looking after his near and dear ones, another may engage himself in serving others out of sheer compassion. A person with spiritual inclination may offer his services to the affected people with an attitude of worshiping God through them (narayana seva).

QUESTION: How do the three types of sufferings (viz. adhyatmika, adhidaivika, and adhibhoutika) affect the life after and before death?

ANSWER: Everyone has to face the three types of suffering. Though they have nothing to do with life after or before death, our reaction to all the experiences that we face does make a difference in our life. What is, therefore, important is how you react to them.

QUESTION: If a person has fulfilled all his desires in life, can he escape from rebirth?

ANSWER: Yes. But all desires can never be fulfilled by enjoyment. One has to go beyond all desires by discrimination and prayer and other spiritual disciplines. Pray incessantly to God to make you desire less.

QUESTION: According to the principle of reincarnation, one soul, at the time of death, leaves one body and goes to another body. Then how the population of mankind is increasing?

ANSWER: Indeed when a person leaves his gross body, his subtle body travels, according to the law of Karma, to another gross body. That is how man is reborn, and this continues as long as man has desire, the material that makes a subtle body. But many other animal species are getting extinct. Are they getting evolved into human beings? Says Swami Vivekananda in his Complete Works. (CW, 1: 430-31):

‘. . . only man makes Karma. Karma means work which will produce effect. When a man dies and becomes a Deva, he has only a period of pleasure, and during that time, makes no fresh Karma; it is simply a reward for his past good Karma. When the good Karma is worked out, then the remaining Karma begins to take effect, and he comes down to earth. He becomes man again, and if he does very good works, and purifies himself, he goes to Brahmaloka and comes back no more . . .It is a significant fact that as the human population is increasing, the animal population is decreasing. The animal souls are all becoming men. So many species of animals have become men already. Where else have they gone?’