Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Conquest of Karma and Reincarnation

Posted by Manju-Ganesh | Sunday, May 9, 2010 | Category: |

If one can reverse fate, one can certainly reverse karma and its consequences. In fact in severe! chapters of the oldest Puranic writings one can read how a sinner can save himself from going to hell. A sinner can save himself by giving gifts (various types) to Brahmins. By giving gifts one can acquire merit and thus abolish even rebirth 64.
Yoga became another means of overcoming karma. Thus for example, in the Markandeya Purana, after setting up an inexorable karma process, it proceeds to undermine it completely with a long chapter on the way that the practice of Yoga releases people from karma 65. Meditation and renunciation are equally effective as karmic antidotes 66. The glorification of shrines (tirthamahatmya), pilgrimage and bathing at the holy shrines can wipe away one's past bad karma. Thus when Parvati asks Siva how evil that has been accumulated in a thousand former births can be worn away, Siva replies that this evil is worn away when one enters the Avimukta shrine at Banares 67.
Though the functions of karma and the mechanisms of rebirth are discussed at great length, the major thrust of the texts is to exhort the worshipper to undertake remedial actions in order to swim like a salmon upstream against the current of karma68. Almost every chapter on Karma-vipaka (ripening of karma), which explains how people get to hell by committing sins 69, is followed by a chapter on expiation.
By Bhakti (loving devotion) worship of a personal God (Vishnu or Krishna) is a sure means of overcoming one's bad karma and its consequences. The Puranas abound in stories in which the unrepentant sinner, about to be dragged away by the minions of Yama, is saved at the last minute by the arrival of the chariot of the servants of the sectarian god. By worshipping Vishnu, one can be "dispensed', with karma and karma can be conquered by those whom Krishna loves70.
A Promise to Remember