Need for repentance

CHENNAI: Karma, which is one of the fundamental concepts of the Vedic tradition, is posited as the rationale for experiencing joy and sorrow, and also for rebirths. All actions result in Karma as merit (Punya) or sin (Papa) which has to be experienced as joy or sorrow respectively. The Puranas describe in detail how the soul experiences its Karma in other worlds (Swarga and Naraka) and also recommend various atonements (Prayaschitta) for a person’s sins if he repents for his misdeeds and wishes to reform.

In her discourse, Kumari Subadhra said those who were spiritually evolved would rather undergo suffering for their sins than resort to atonement, the reason being that they would never transgress intentionally. King Pareekshit is a case in point. Pareekshit, who was blessed with the vision of the Lord even before he was born, was an exemplary king. It was out of fatigue while hunting that he offended a sage and was cursed by the sage’s son to die of snakebite. Even though the sages could have recommended atonement, he did not seek it; he repented for his act and went to the forest to spend the remaining days of his life in listening to the glory of the Lord which the sages said was the reparation for even a heinous sin.

On the other hand, there are some who gain confidence after expiating for their sin once, and commit the same offence again and again, as scriptural sanction for amends is available. One should not resort to scriptural prescriptions to suit one’s convenience as the very logic of making amends for one’s misdeed must be the feeling of repentance, which should make one determined not to commit it again.

The reason why there is a constant tussle between one’s resolve not to perpetrate sins and the urge to commit them is due to latent tendencies in the mind (Vasanas). Vasanas are imprints in the mind from previous births which influence a person strongly. Only the grace of the Guru or God can intervene and save a person from falling into the vortex of self-destruction by the pull of his Vasanas. The Bhagavata Purana illustrates how Ajamila who was born in a pious family succumbed to his Vasanas.

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