Karma and devotional service

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    Agrahya Das

    Hare Krishna Sir

    I have heard devotees often remark that astrological predictions fail to be accurate once you take up practising Bhakti. From your blog, I understood that a bag of bodies is fixed for based on our past karma. Can you please explain what is the interaction between Bhakti and this bag of bodies? Can practice of Bhakti significantly alter the bag of bodies as seen from the astrology at birth?

    Thank you.

    Ashish Dalela

    I have explained in detail a few times before. See the below articles:

    Understanding Karma

    Effect of Yoga on Prarabdha Karma

    How Free is the Free Will

    If practicing Bhakti changes the karma, then why did the Pandavas have to undergo so many miserable conditions? Were they not devotees? Queen Kunti prays to Lord Krishna about how they have suffered so many tribulations and how Krishna was there to save them many times. She asks for these tribulations to be repeated again and again so that they will always remember Lord Krishna. Devotion is symptomized by an end to complaining. Everyone is complaining about their problems. But as one progresses, the complaints reduce. When one goes further, one sees problems as the mercy of the Lord. At that point, all the problems are completely resolved. So, it is true, that by pure devotion all the problems of karma are solved. But that is not the case for every practicing devotee. The end of complaining is not the end of problems. It is the end of seeing them as problems. When we can see everything as good, as the mercy and love of the Lord, then there is no suffering.

    This process is also described in the Srimad Bhagavatam through a four-step process, in which karma is destroyed at the last step. They are taken from Srimad Bhagavatam’s 1st Canto, 2nd Chapter.

    Text 18

    By regular attendance in classes on the Bhāgavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.

    Text 19

    As soon as irrevocable loving service is established in the heart, the effects of nature’s modes of passion and ignorance, such as lust, desire and hankering, disappear from the heart. Then the devotee is established in goodness, and he becomes completely happy.

    Text 20

    Thus established in the mode of unalloyed goodness, the man whose mind has been enlivened by contact with devotional service to the Lord gains positive scientific knowledge of the Personality of Godhead in the stage of liberation from all material association.

    Text 21

    Thus the knot in the heart is pierced, and all misgivings are cut to pieces. The chain of fruitive actions is terminated when one sees the self as master.

    The precise term used in SB 1.2.21 is kṣīyante cāsya karmāṇi, which means “karma is destroyed”. This comes after rejecting sattva, rajas, and tamas, after liberation, and after perfect devotional service. The meaning of devotional service is the end of complaining. Because if we complain, then we are thinking that someone is causing our problems. A better stage is to see that all problems are caused by my previous actions. Then an even better stage is to see that all problems are the will of the Lord, and since He is so kind, therefore, there is no evil, no problem, and hence no complaining.

    The body is fixed, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot stop the manifestation of the body. Yogis sit in one state for thousands of years, and they stop aging. They will become old one day, but for the moment they stop it. The devotees don’t stop it. They say: Everything is moving by the will of the Lord. So why should I hinder His will? Let it keep aging as He wants. When that happens, then karma is destroyed. This process is precisely described above, so if we read we can understand it.

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