How does prayer affect karma?
Transcribed by: Suresh Gupta
Edited by: Raji Nachiappan
Question: How does prayer affect karma?
Answer: Karma is the mechanical process of the law of action and reaction. God is not the cause of this system. God exists beyond the system and he oversees the system. The purpose of karma is not simply punishment or even disciplining, rather it is reformation. If somebody is willing to reform, then there is no need for punishment. Even in our judicial system, if someone is sentenced to ten years of imprisonment, but if they behave well, then the sentence can be decreased. Similarly, the principle of karma is that an action will beget a reaction. However, there is a purpose to the system, it is not mechanical. The purpose is important and the purpose of the system of karma is to help us live in harmony with our essential spiritual nature which is to become good as well as godly human beings. To the extent we do that, then karma does not need to operate.
How God can intervene amidst the principle of karma can be understood by an example. Suppose there is a strict teacher and then there is a student who has not done his homework. Since the teacher is very strict, the mother knows that the teacher is going to punish the child for not having done the homework. The mother does not want the child to be beaten, at the same time the mother does not want the child to be lethargic and irresponsible. Therefore, what the mother does is, when the child goes to school, the mother puts a thick glove on the child’s hand. Now, when the teacher punishes, the stick will hit the child’s hand but it will not hurt the child, because the gloves are offering the necessary protection. Similarly, the mother is like Lord Krishna, the teacher is like the material nature and we are like that errant child. By our karma, or by not doing our homework, we are supposed to get punished. However, when we pray to Krishna, then the prayer becomes like a glove for us. The distresses of the world may come but they will not hurt us as much, because of our consciousness and absorption in Krishna.
Mac-chittah sarva-durgani mat-prasadat tarishyasi – If you become conscious of Me, you will pass over all the obstacles of conditioned life by My grace (Gita 18.58).
Many times, when problems arise, it is not so much the problem that troubles us, but it is our mind which goes on hyper-imaginative drive. The mind thinks about all that which can go wrong, that troubles us more. Therefore, it is not the reality that hurts us, it is the resentment of reality that hurts us much more. If we were to go for a picnic and just one day before we get flu, then getting flu is not very painful. However, when our mind beats up about why this happened, such resentment hurts us more than the flu.
If we connect and absorb ourselves in Krishna, then such resentments do not come because the mind gets a fulfilling engagement. By Krishna’s intervention, even if some karmic reactions come upon us, they are minimised. That is how Krishna exists above the world and above the law of Karma. He can intervene in response to our prayers to minimise our karmic reactions.
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