Dharma and karma form the very hub of the cycle of birth and death. While questions about how this phenomenon came about, or how and when the individual Self got attached to karma continue to baffle mankind, scriptures affirm that desire is the cause of birth. As long as an individual nurtures desires, he is paving the way for further births and its attendant woes, said Sri B. Sundarkumar in a lecture.
As a child of five, Dhruva desired to sit on the lap of his royal father but was prevented by his stepmother. He propitiated Vishnu and after severe penance, engaging in single-minded meditation, attained direct vision of the Lord. Pleased with the child’s determination, the Lord blessed him with kingship for 36,000 years, after which he would enjoy a permanent place in the celestial region.
The Bhagavata Purana says Dhruva wonders if this kingship was a boon or a bane. He wanted to remain devoted to God at all times. But even after obtaining the vision of the Lord, which even realised souls find it difficult to obtain, he had to accept this wholly worldly attainment. The reason for this is that although the child had an innocent desire to sit on the lap of his father, by extension, this also implied a desire to sit on the throne and God granted it.
If this is the case with Dhruva, one can imagine the innumerable desires in individuals (both expressed and unexpressed), for which we have to suffer many more births to get them fulfilled. Each desire in us adds a distance and delay in our attempt to see God.
The Lord is the embodiment of dharma and His promise to mankind is that there is no one who is so fallen that he cannot be redeemed. Sin need not be thought of as leading to eternal damnation.
In the case of Ahalya, it is shown that she was proud of her beauty that had attracted Indra and she had succumbed to desire in a moment of weakness. She underwent a period of punishment and was redeemed by God’s grace.
The answer to the ills of Kali Yuga is to remain devoted at all times to the Lord whose promise to protect those who seek Him frees the devotee from fear of sorrow, disease and death.