The Laws of Karma

The next sutra is Kleshamoolaha karmashayo drushtadrushta janmavedniyaha  meaning “Suffering has to be undergone because of the karma bank; Some bear fruit in this birth itself whereas some bear fruit in their next.”


Patanjali Maharishi says that there is no other way and you will have to suffer this in this life. You have to undergo this suffering, this misery, not only in this life, but also in the coming life, because they form as karmâshaya, as a bank of karma which is reserved!


But through meditation this karma can be washed off right now, here. Before the body drops, you get rid of the karma and lessen the sheaths of ignorance over you. Otherwise there is no escape for you from there. Drishta adrishta janma vedanîyaha means some will give you fruits in this life itself and some will stay back with you to give fruits in the next life. Now, some people have an argument. They ask, “If you put your fingers in a fire, will it burn today or tomorrow or in your next life? There is nothing like karma. Every action has got its repercussion, but it has to happen immediately. It does not come with you to your next life.”


Not all the seeds you sow take the same amount of time to reap. Some seeds sprout in two days. Peanuts take five days. A coconut takes several months. A mango tree takes ten years to give fruit. Similarly, different karmas will give fruit at different times. As you sow, so shall you reap.


The next sutra is Sati moole tadvipako jatyayurbhogaha meaning “If the roots of karma are existing, they ripen and result in the body into which you are born and the fruits of the karma are experiences throughout life.”


Patanjali goes on to explain about our births. Jati is the body you come from. Your birth is determined. The length of your life is determined. What you will get in your life, your joy, your miseries are also determined. Why is someone born in Ethiopia and someone else in Switzerland? Is there any explanation?


Patanjali has an explanation for this. This is the usual question asked, “Why is it that one person was born a pauper and another a prince?” “Why is one person’s life full of pain and suffering while another’s is full of joy and comfort?” These are big questions. There is no logic that can give you any understanding or explanation. Patanjali Maharishi says that it is because of your past karmas.


It is the strongest impression in the mind that persists. Try this tonight. Just before going to bed, think of something. Think very strongly about it. As soon as you get up in the morning, it will be your first thought. The same thought will also come up in the dream. If you practice this for four months or six months, they will assume those qualities in you. Those thoughts will begin to take control of you. It gains such a pattern inside you because that karma, that impression has become so strong. So, the wise people say that the last days of your life is much more important than your whole life.


To emphasise this in India there are many, many stories. There is a story about a king called Ajamila. He was an atheist until his death. When he was dying, he called out: “Narayana, Narayana’’. His son’s name was ‘’Narayan’’ and he was calling his son. God thought that he was being called and he came and liberated him. This is a story. It is an extreme way to say that the last impression carries much weight in spite of whatever one does the whole life.


There is another story about a saint, a very enlightened rishi named Jadabharatha who was on the bank of a river in meditation. He saw a young deer caught in a flood. So he jumped into the water and like any one would and have done, he saved the deer from drowning. The deer had hurt its leg. He cared for it. He got so attached to the deer. When he died he became a deer. This is the only instance where an enlightened person became an animal. It is said that it is almost impossible for a liberated man to be driven back into an animal’s body. This is one of the impossibility. This example of Jadabharatha is quoted through out just to tell you that the last impression is most important.


Same thing, when children go to bed in the night after watching horror movies, they get nightmares. They cry and shout and do all sorts of things. How do you get rid of this?


That is the next sutra.

The End of Misery

The series on Patanjali’s yogasutras continues

The next sutra is Swarasavahi vidushopi tatharoodo abhiniveshaha, which means “fear flowing even in the wise is established in them as carefulness”.

The Sanskrit word for fear is Bhaya, but here Patanjali has used the word Abhinivesha, which in its most intense form is fear and in its most diluted cautiousness. Like for instance, when you walk on edge of a lake and you tread carefully so as not to fall in. If this care was not taken, the body would have vanished. It is like, “When I am not the body, I will not attend to the body at all”. In that case, “I will not have the body to speak longer or to do anything”.

To maintain the body certain amount of care is essential. Is this clear? When this care becomes little more than what is needed, then it becomes insecurity. If it becomes more, a little more, it is being paranoid. It is just like salt in the food. If there is more salt in food it becomes impossible to eat. At the same time, you cannot justify the presence of ignorance here. You cannot say, “Oh! Let it be there. A little ignorance can be there. So what?.” You have to thin them down and reduce it to its minimum.

That brings us to  pratiprasavaheyaha Sukshmaha.

When you make these miseries more and more subtle, they let you return to yourself. They bring the mind back to the source. When these miseries are very intense, they bother you and captivate your mind. When you crave for someone, the mind is not stable. The mind is not capable of meditating. But once the craving is limited, then, you are able to sit down and meditate. Now, what is the way to get rid of these miseries?

Dhyana heyahastad vruttayaha or meditation.

Of Love and Misery

The next sutra is Avidyakshetramuttaresham prasupta tanu vichchinnodaranam  which roughly translated means that ignorance is the field of the dormant, feeble, separated or fully active.


Prasupta means sleeping or dormant. Thanu means feeble, while Vichchinna means when one of them dominates. When a craving is present, aversion is also present, as is fear, but in the background.


Among these five things, when ignorance is present, you are not even aware of these two things in you. You are so totally caught up in the situation.


A person who has gone mad will never believe that he is crazy. Do you see what I am saying? There are times when you get angry but do not express your anger. You know that you are angry but there is nothing you can do about it.


It’s not the same when you become full of lust. At that point, you are aware of your lust. The angry person may not know it, but the one full of lust knows.


Sadhana or practice makes these kleshas (difficulties) or the five sources of misery seem less. Before you got on the spiritual path, you would get angry. Even now you get angry but there is a difference. You will find that the anger is much less.


There should be a little fear in the body to maintain it. It should be just as much as the salt in food.


The next sutra is Anityashuchi dukhanatmasu nitya shuchi sukhatmakhyaathiravidya.


What is ignorance? It is when the impermanent is thought to be permanent. For example, a person’s opinion is not permanent, it keeps changing. But thinking it is permanent is ignorance. An event can never be permanent. What is impure can later be considered pure or vice versa.


Another example is that of junk food. It is not food at all. It drains the energy of the body, which is why it is called junk food. Considering junk food good food is ignorance. Similarly, we don’t really know what pain is and what pleasure is. Pain is considered pleasure in some cases and pleasure considered pain.


To sadists and masochists pain is pleasure. People become alcoholics and drug addicts because they think of alcohol and drugs as pleasures. Actually it is such a painful thing. Ignorance is not knowing that the body is made up of five elements and it will go back to the five elements. The self is eternal and non-changing.


The next sutra is Drigdarshana shaktyorekatmatevasmitha, which means asmita or ego is thinking that the self or the intellect and the instruments of perception are the same. Have you noticed that in a meeting some people make a point and keep sticking to it and argue about it senselessly. They do not have the ability to see the self and the buddhi or the intellect and the instruments of perception as separate. This is asmita.


The next sutra is Sukhanushayee ragaha, which means that the attraction to a pleasant experience results in craving.


This craving makes you miserable. Patanjali says that there are only five sources of misery. Ignorance is thinking that which is changing as non-changing. We try to control others mind. How is it possible? Someone may have had love for you yesterday, but not today, or tomorrow?


We expect enlightened behaviour from everybody around us. And when we do not see it, we become unhappy. When you do not behave in an enlightened way, how can you expect everyone else too.


You expect unconditional love from everyone around you. Well, they expect the same too.


The next sutra is Dukhanushayee dweshaha, hatred or aversion comes with an unpleasant experience. Aversion also brings the same misery as happiness. Craving and aversion are both sources of misery.