If we have devotional intention do we still get karmic reactions for incidental sins?

by Chaitanya CharanApril 12, 2015

From Vinayak P:
Answer Podcast:

Transcribed by: Keshavgopal Das

Question: If we have devotional intention do we still get karmic reactions for incidental sins?

Answer: For devotees, karmic reactions are not as important as devotional progression. Devotees need not be paranoid about karmic reactions. Devotees should be more concerned about making right choices how best we can serve Krishna and remain fixed in Krishna’s service. If Srila Prabhupada was too worried about karmic reaction, then he would have never gone abroad to preach. More the materialistic society, more sinful the people will be, and more would be chances to get contaminated with such people.

It is not that we should not care for karmic reactions. We should certainly be aware about the law of karma and severe reactions will come if we do something sinful. However, when we practice bhakti, sometimes we may succumb to wrong doings, in such circumstances our focus should be on coming back to the right path.

If we have the right intentions, Krishna can even take away our karmic reactions. However, as devotees, the attitude is that it is my responsibility to behave properly. Since we have been given spiritual knowledge, it is our responsibility to live that spiritual knowledge by setting up a right example. If we act in a wrong way and people know about, then people can get alienated from Krishna.

As a devotee, are we expected to get less or more or same karmic reaction as for a non-devotee? We should not get into those technicalities. As Krishna says in BG 4.17 – gahana karmano gatih – way in which karma works is very complex. There are two important principles for devotees: (i) if you make right choices there will be good result (ii) when we are on the path bhakti we have made a right choice.

If fear of karmic reaction keeps us on the path of bhakti such an attitude is favourable. However, if the fear of karmic reaction is the only thing that weighs on our mind then that is undesirable. We approach god with various motivations – fear, desire, duty, and love – and fear is the lowest of those. We should aspire to approach Krishna at the level of love. Fear is not a bad motivation to approach god, but it is not a positive motivation. Fear could be one motivation but not the primary motivation for a devotee. As a devotee, we should learn to entrust ourselves to Krishna. We should have faith in Krishna that whatever he will do would be good for our spiritual growth. Whether that means a bad reaction, or no reaction, or minimizing a reaction, it is entirely upon Krishna.

We should remember Krishna’s goal is not to punish us but to purify us. If we ourselves chose the path of purification, then he has no reason to give us punishment. Rather than becoming fearful of karmic reaction we should focus more on the mercifulness or love of Krishna and make that our primary motivation for staying on the path of bhakti.

End of transcription.

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Chaitanya Charan

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