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Inspiring Articles by Sacinandana Swami

Cutting Through Impenetrable Karma

By Sacinandana Swami

Have you ever asked yourself:

What keeps holding me back despite my best efforts to advance and break the chain of undesirable habits? The answer, more often than not, is our karma. To be more precise, it’s the part of our karma that must be experienced and cannot be mitigated even through various methods like austerities or sacrifices. Such unavoidable karma is called prarabdha karma.

Prarabdha karma is so strong that even a Brahman-realised soul, who directly and uninterruptedly perceives the eternal spiritual reality behind the material manifestations, needs to experience its results – at least as long as his or her current body remains.
However, even this otherwise immovable obstacle gets washed away for those who are one-pointedly dedicated to chanting the Holy Name! If that sounds like too big of a claim, consider the power of He who created the law of karma in the first place. The creator can undo His creation easily and free us!

The question may then arise: Where does the karma, both good and bad, of such liberated souls go? Does it evaporate into thin air? The Upanisads answer this question by stating that the good karmic results go to the chanter’s friends and well-wishers, whereas the bad karmic results attach themselves to his enemies. Thus, the enemy of the devotee serves also a purpose, unfortunate as it may be. (See Kausitaki Upanisad 1.4, quoted in Srila Baladeva Vidyabhusana’s commentary on the Sri Namastakam Verse 4 of Srila Rupa Goswami).

That means that even a person rejected by the society of men (meaning someone who is given up by one and all as a social outcast), becomes free from the bondage of karma by chanting the Name of the Lord (see Srimad Bhagavatam 5.1.35). This indicates that the karmic reactions to be experienced now or in the future are removed by the Lord.

Krishna likes to be addressed

One of Krishna’s qualities is that He likes to be called for by one who truly turns to Him. Thus, Krishna is also named sambodhana-priya (sambodhana – to be called; priya – dear). In fact, He becomes extremely happy when someone addresses Him. He is not indifferent to any chanter. He’s completely personal!

Every conditioned being is whipped by lamentation, illusion, old age and death, as well as many insatiable desires of the mind. But a one-pointed chanter who takes exclusive shelter in the Holy Name, longing for Radha and Krishna at each recitation, safely crosses the ocean of material existence. That is for sure. If even occasional chanting reaches the ears of the Lord, we can hardly imagine how Krishna reacts when He hears someone call for Him with sincere longing.

It must be emphasized again and again that prarabdha karma does not dissolve by one’s own strength. It’s too powerful for us. But the Lord who is pleased when someone sincerely turns to Him, effortlessly takes away everything inauspicious from His devotee. He does this as easily as He crossed the universe in the form of His Avatar Urukrama. With one step, He pierced a hole into the dense covering of the universe. Through this new opening, the all-purifying Ganga flowed into the prison-like world of matter for the deliverance of everyone. Moreover, the Holy Name is even more powerful than the Ganga because one can experience the power of the Ganga only after repeated baths, whereas the Holy Name delivers someone who chants even once.

Don’t cause disappointment

In closing, let us be mindful how unfortunate that chanter is who sins on the strength of chanting, for the Holy Name turns His face disappointedly from such a wrongdoer. To correct this tendency, the Holy Name lets the deliberately sinning soul experience the fruits of his harmful actions. Imagine a great influential person who is supporting his dependent suddenly notice how his protégé has acted criminally, misusing their relationship under the premise that this powerful well-wisher will just help him out of any mess. Will the mentor who desires the benefit of his dependent not shake his head and consider how to teach him a valuable lesson?

In our lives we are sometimes overwhelmed by unpredicted events which suddenly shatter our peace and upset us. At such times we find ourselves in a helpless condition – and wonder if that was unavoidable karma. Take courage – with one flick of His hand, the Holy Name can dispel even the heaviest karma – He might have waited all this time only for you to sincerely start chanting.

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