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Law of Retribution

by Swami Sivananda

Every wrong action or crime brings its own punishment, in accordance with the law of retribution. The law of causation, the law of action and reaction, the law of compensation and the law of retribution-all these operate together. He who robs another man robs himself. He who hurts another man hurts himself first. He who cheats another cheats himself first. Every wrong action causes punishment first in the inner nature or soul and externally in circumstances in the form of pain, misery, loss, failure, misfortune, disease, etc.

Man is ignorant. He is swayed by impulses, wrath, passion, attachment, pride and repulsion. He does various sorts of wicked actions. His intellect becomes perverted. He loses his memory. His understanding gets clouded by selfishness and greed. He does not know what he is exactly doing. Later on he repents. Discipline of the Indriyas is necessary. He should remember the law of causation, the law of action and reaction, and the law of retribution at every step, at every moment of his daily life. He should control his emotions and impulses through the practice of Pranayama and meditation. Then only will he not do any wrong action.

Remember that God is neither partial nor unjust. You suffer on account of your own wicked actions. Sow the seeds which will bring pleasant fruits and which will make you happy herein and hereafter. Do not sow the seeds which will bring unpleasant fruits and which will make you miserable and unhappy in this life or hereafter. Be cautious in doing your daily duties. Watch every thought, word and action. Go to the root and purify the thoughts first. Prayer, Japa, meditation, study of philosophical books, pure food, Vichara and Satsanga will purify your mind and eradicate ignoble and wicked thoughts. Observe the vow of silence, you will then be able to control your speech. Practise Yama and Niyama, Ahimsa, Satyam, Asteyam, Brahmacharya and Aparigraha. Develop Sattvic qualities. Slowly eradicate negative qualities. By these practices you will not be able to do any wrong action. The force of Sattvic habits will goad you on to do virtuous actions only.

Orthodox Christians and theologians believe that God settles and fixes the destiny of a man before his birth. This is not logical and tenable. The hypothesis falls to the ground on account of its unsound nature. Man becomes like a piece of straw that is tossed about hither and thither in the wind. He has no independence and freedom. This makes God partial, unjust and whimsical. The moral responsibility and liberty of a man are destroyed. The man becomes like a prisoner whose hands and legs are tied with chains. Why should God make one happy and another unhappy? Is He so whimsical and eccentric? Why should one get His Grace before he is born? Is he so biased? If God is all-merciful why can He not make all equally noble, virtuous, happy, good, moral and spiritual? Why is one born blind? Why should a sinner be responsible for his actions? Is he pre-ordained to sin? Why should he suffer owing to the whim of such a Creator? Questions like these remain a puzzle if you accept the theory of 'pre-ordination and Grace'. The doctrine of Karma alone will give satisfaction. It is sound. It appeals to reason. It throws a flood of dear light. Everyone reaps the fruits of his own actions. Man can do and undo his destiny by his own thoughts and character. He is a free agent. He may be a bad man in this birth, but he can change his thoughts, habits, tendencies and character and can become a good man or a saint in the next birth. He has free will. He can choose between two alternatives at every step. The theory of 'preordination and Grace' cannot be accepted. It falls to the ground as it is unsound and untenable.

The doctrine of Karma only can explain the mysterious problem of good and evil in this world. The doctrine of Karma only can bring solace, contentment and strength to the afflicted and the desperate. It solves our difficulties and problems of life. It gives encouragement to the hopeless and the forlorn. It pushes a man to right thinking, right speech and right action. It brings a brilliant future for that man who lives according to this universal law. If all people understand this law correctly and discharge their daily duties carefully they would rise to sublime heights in the ladder of spirituality. They will be moral and virtuous and have a happy, peaceful and contented life. They can bear the burden of Samsara with patience, endurance and strength of mind. There will not be any room for complaint when they see inequalities in birth, fortune, intelligence and capacities. There will be heaven on earth. All will rejoice even in suffering. Greed, jealousy, hatred, anger and passion will vanish. Virtue will reign supreme everywhere. We will have a glorious Satyayuga now with peace and plenty everywhere. Blessed is the man who understands and lives in the law, for he will soon attain God-consciousness and become one with the Law-giver. Then the law will no longer operate on him.


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