Episode # 127 – The “Karma Theory” – A description of the “Sanchita Karma” & “Praarabdha Karma”!!!

In the previous episode, we had witnessed King Yayaati and Sage Ashtaka starting a conversation with each other. Even as King Yayaati was falling down still from the “Svarga Lokha”, Sage Ashtaka commenced a conversation by asking him the reason for which he was falling down and from where. For this, King Yayaati introduces himself and explains to Sage Ashtaka as to how his tenure in the “Svarga Lokha” got over and how Indra sensed it at the apt time and pushed him out from there very smartly! Upon hearing all this, Sage Ashtaka was wondering within himself as to how could a person return from the “Svarga Lokha” just like that! Loads of questions were running in his mind – Isn’t the “Svarga Lokha” a permanent destination for the “Atman” to reside? How come the “Punya-Karma” account expires and how come people are once again pushed back to the earth to take re-births? We’re going to witness an important accord on this now. But as we go into the conversation and the accord, we’ve to understand one important point here. 

Yesterday, we concluded our episode with a question which readers might remember – Isn’t Sage Ashtaka a great sage by birth? Doesn’t he know this simple thing that nobody can reside in the “Svarga Lokha” permanently, and once our “Punya-Karma” expires, we’ve to come back? If normal people like us know such things, how come great sages do not know? The answer is very simple here – The sages know all these. But when they ask these questions, they ask on behalf of us, and they themselves clarify them. Here, when we say that Sage Ashtaka asks such questions, we should understand that Sage Ashtaka is asking these things on our behalf, so that common people like us will understand. In many places in our “Sanaatana Dharma” literature, we would find such interesting conversations between learned scholars. We might immediately have a doubt as to why are these people talking such silly things! Even in this same Mahabharata text, as we progress further, we’re going to witness many such conversations – One between Yudishtra and Yama-Dharma-Raja (“Yaksha-Prashnam”), an interesting conversation between Yudishtra and Vidura, Bhagawan Krishna and Yudishtra, and finally the Bhagawad Gita between Bhagawan Krishna and Arjuna. Just because Yudishtra is asking many such questions, is it true that Yudishtra doesn’t know anything? He does! Of course he would know much better as he was a great king and is also referred to as “Dharma-Putra” for being an epitome of “Dharma” himself! Yet, why does Yudishtra ask such questions? It is only to highlight all these aspects of “Dharma” to the world, so that the subsequent generations of people would understand. This is just like a mother or father talking to a child. The father might be a well-educated person holding a medical degree or a PhD degree. Yet, when he talks to his child, does he talk all research-oriented stuff? “No”, isn’t it? He would tell some small stories to the child, and if the child says something even silly, the father would listen to it very keenly, isn’t it? 

This is how our ancestors have composed and structured our “Sanaatana Dharma” literature. They’ve done so, keeping us in their minds as their own children, and have explained everything to us just like how we explain to a child! It is for this reason, Sage Veda-Vyaasa is portraying Sage Ashtaka in such a way that he’s asking a naive question to King Yayaati. Thus, the conversation commences with an interesting accord on the “Karma Theory”. Basically, “Karma” can be classified into two types – “Sanchita Karma” and the “Praarabdha Karma”. While the “Sanchita Karma” refers to the sacks and loads of “Karma” that we’ve accumulated all through innumerable births that we’ve taken in this world, the “Praarabdha Karma” is the “Karma” for which we’ve started experiencing the results. The “Karma” can both refer to “Punya-Karma” or “Paapa-Karma”. If our “Praarabdha Karma” by Bhagawan’s grace, is containing more of “Punya-Karma” and very less of “Paapa-Karma”, we would go to the “Svarga Lokha”, experience all the pleasures there until our “Punya-Karma” in that sack is over. Once that is done, we might have to go to the “Naraka Lokha” to experience the results of our little “Paapa-Karma” and once that is over, we’re again pushed back into the earth once again to take a re-birth. Once we take the re-birth, we would again pick up the next sack of “Karma” from the “Sanchita Karma” and depending on which “Karma” is more, we would start experiencing the result! This cycle keeps continuing on and on. 

As we mention this, this is not the end of all! As we take multiple births, we would again be performing both “Punya-Karma” and “Paapa-Karma” in that particular birth too, isn’t it? All these would keep accumulated in the “Master sack” called “Sanchita Karma”, where it would be stored safely! This process can be compared to how we operate a bank account! As we get more and more money, we would deposit them into financial schemes like “Fixed deposits”, “Recurring Deposits”, “Provident Funds”, “Mutual Funds”, etc., isn’t it? All these investments that we make are comparable to the “Sanchita Karma”! However, we would have some amount of money in our “Savings Bank” account, which we would be using for our regular expenditure, isn’t it? This is directly comparable to the “Praarabdha Karma” that we experience! Thus, this cycle keeps continuing on and on and we keep making “shuttle trips” between the “Manushya Lokha”, “Svarga Lokha” and the “Naraka Lokha”, depending upon our “Paapa” and “Punya-Karma” accounts! 

Thus, we can witness here that we would be under constant fear of being pushed out, even if we attain the “Svarga Lokha”, and this is exactly what King Yayaati is replying here! We might be wondering here, as to why should we have that fear when we reach the “Svarga Lokha”, isn’t it? I shall narrate two important things to answer this question, but that is for the next episode! So for today, let us understand the nature of the “Karma Theory”, and let us wait eagerly to understand whether there is a solution for us to get out of this cycle to reach “Vaikunta”! Stay tuned! 🙂 


Published by Dr. Jeayaram

Holds a PhD in Management Psychology from Universite Paris Saclay, Paris, France. Also an Asst. Professor of Human Resources management at Bharatidhasan Institute of Management (BIM) Trichy, India A professional South Indian classical musician (singer) performing concerts. Through this blog, I'm trying to bring out the richness of Indian culture & values and I request your support and feedbacks in making this humble effort a success!!

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