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Karma and transmigration

From: Parthasarathy Srinivasan (
Date: Wed Sep 08 1999 - 05:09:08 PDT


Dear Bhagavathas,

I was recently listening to a person talking about the greatness of
Vedanta darsanas vis-a-vis semitic darsanas. A very simple question
that will bowl down semitic darsanas is: If there is no reincarnation
(transmigration) - in other words if this is the first birth for all
souls (as semitic darsanas maintain), what explains the differences in
the just-born babies - some are blind, some are deaf, some are healthy,
some are born into poverty etc.. ? 

Of course, the Vedanta, which maintains transmigration, answers it
quite simply: the jiva reaps the fruits of his past karma in this
birth. At first sight, this answer seemed adequate and satisfying.
However let's intrapolate the question further back - what caused the
jivas to do different kinds of karmas in the past birth reaping
different kinds of fruits in this birth? The Vedantic answer is: the
vasanas (samskaras) accumulated by the jivas in the previous births
impelled them to perform different kinds of karmas in the last
(previous) birth. So here we have a karma-vasana-karma cycle. Extending
it further backwards, if originally all jivas were alike, what caused
them to perform different karmas resulting in different vasanas and
fruits? I truly don't know the answer to his question. I have heard
that karma is anAdi - beginningless. But the question remains: what
causes the difference in the karmas of jivas? I feel that, in this
issue, the current Vedantic answer is not *substantially* better than
the semitic answer. I request our members to give some clarity on this


Alwar Acharya Vaishnava dasan,
               All beings seek happiness.
           Undecaying happiness is Narayana.
    Therefore all beings are indeed seeking Narayana.

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