Two Instances In Ramayana Which teach that Karma is Supreme

In Sanatana Culture, past Karma drives life incidents. Whatever good or bad action you perform, it will have an effect on your future life. You will have to live the Karmafal of your past actions. 

यज्ञशिष्टाशिन: सन्तो मुच्यन्ते सर्वकिल्बिषै: |

भुञ्जते ते त्वघं पापा ये पचन्त्यात्मकारणात् ||Gita 3.13||

Some people know this philosophy of life at some point and start living as a Karma Yogi. They offer all their actions to the supreme being or Parmatma whatever you call him. Other people keep getting stuck in the Cycle and keep building the Karmic imprints. Thus they have to bear this human body for not one but many lives. 

Whatever action you have performed in the past will definitely have an effect on your future. But, With right mindset, you can come out of any mistake which you have made in the past. In Ramayana, there are two Instances which lead us to understand this philosophy of life. 

Instance One: Mata Ahilya and her Penance

Mata Ahilya was Wife of Sage Gautam and Mother of Shatanand. Sage Gautam is worshipped as one of the Saptarishi, while Shatanand was Rajguru of Mithila.

Sculpture of Mata Ahilya

Back in time, Sage Gautam was performing extreme Tapasya. In our Scriptures, It is mentioned that By doing Tapasya and Anushthana you can even be eligible to conquer Lok or realms. There are many Lok mentioned in our Itihas such as Bhu Lok, Swarg Lok, Vaikunth Lok, etc. Do these realms actually exist? Are they Ancient names for some portion of earth? Do they only reside in Consciousness of a Yogi in Upper Koshas in Panchkoshi Bodies and Mind? These all are different speculation and there are philosophers who give different explanations on basis of their understanding and level of their enlightenment. 

Anyways, somehow Indra became insecure of his post. He thought that Sage Gautam might attack his Loka to attain Indra position if he is successful in his Tapasya. Thus, Indra made a suicidal plan to break the Tapasya of Sage Gautam. He disguised himself as Sage and went to Ahilya in Brahma muhurta when Sage was out for Pratah Sandhya. He asked Ahilya to do Sanyog with him. 

मुनिवेषं सहस्राक्षं विज्ञाय रघुनन्दन।VR 1.48.19

मतिं चकार दुर्मेधा देवराजकुतूहलात्।।

Even though Ahilya recognised Indra, She agreed out of curiosity. She also got carried away with the misunderstanding that Indra the King of Deities has come just for him. This was her mistake which was going to change her life. Sage Gautam became aware of this act of Indra with his Divine sight. 

First, He cursed Indra to become impotent. Though Indra had to suffer because of his crime, he became successful in his motive to make Sage angry. Anger broke the Penance Sage Gautam was performing. 

Anger is something you must conquer if you want to walk on the past of Spirituality and Tapasya. In Yoga, There are primary steps like Yam and Niyam which you have to follow. They make your body and mind ready and eligible to walk on next steps. Controlling your anger is one of those first things you must do in order to walk the path of Yoga.

इह वर्षसहस्राणि बहूनि त्वं निवत्स्यसि।

तथा शप्त्वा स वै शक्रमहल्यामपि शप्तवान्।।VR 1.48.29।।

वायुभक्षा निराहारा तप्यन्ती भस्मशायिनी।।VR 1.48.30।।

अदृश्या सर्वभूतानां आश्रमेऽस्मिन्निवत्स्यसि।

Sage Gautam Gave extreme orders to Ahilya to do Penance for her Shuddhi and prayashchit. During that period, She had to live alone in the Ashram. She had to live and do Tapasya while no one could see or find her. Sage told her that she couldn’t eat or drink anything but had to survive only on air. 

शापस्यान्तमुपागम्य तेषां दर्शनमागता।। VR 1.49.16।।

राघवौ तु ततस्तस्या: पादौ जगृहतुस्तदा।

Sage Gautam said that Penance of Ahilya will be completed only when Shri Ram will pay a visit to the Ashram and She will host him. When Shri Ram visited the Ashram along with Sage Vishwamitra and Laxman, He touched her feet with utmost respect. Thus, her Penance was successful and Sage Gautam came back to take her with him.

Even though her mistake was not of low intensity, Mata Ahilya is worshipped even today because she is an example that anyone can become a divine being and his one mistake doesn’t decide his entire life.

Instance Two: Dasharath and Shravan Kumar. 

यदाचरति कल्याणि शुभं वा यदि वाऽशुभम्।

तदेव लभते भद्रे कर्ता कर्मजमात्मनः।।VR 2.63.6।। 

Shravan Kumar (Muni Kumar) was a Rishi who was an ideal for any Son of this world. He was living with his parents who were Sages too on the banks of Saryu River. 

Shravan was the son of a Shudra Mother and Vaishya Father. He was living the life of an ascetic. 

This was the time, when Dasharath was prince of Ayodhya. He was an expert of Archery and could hit the target by just hearing the sound. On a fine day in Varsha Ritu, He was waiting for some animals to come on the bank of Saryu River so that he could hunt them with his special skill. 

Prince Dasharath and Shravan Kumar

Mistaking Shravan Kumar for an elephant, Dasharath killed him with his bow. Since, Dasharath had unintentionally killed the Rishikumar So, He was not cursed to instant death by his father. His father even being a Vaishya by birth had accumulated very much Tapas by his penance and He had the power to curse Prince Dasharath. 

The Sage who was blind was so much attached to his son that he couldn’t bear the news of his death. He died but cursed Dasharath before dying. Dasharath was cursed to die like the Sage was dying while his son was not there with him.

This was the fruit of his karma that when Dasharath was dying in his chamber, Ram and Laxman were out on Vanvas. Bharat and Shatrughn were in kaikeya. 

What Karma we are performing is going to show results as the karma fal at some point of time. If we all keep this in mind, we can save ourselves from continuous life cycles. We can Consciously live this life as a Yogi and leave this Loka after burning all our past Karmic imprints. 

Jai Shri Ram

About The Author

Prabhakar Kumar is Founder of The Indian Rover. He loves to ask questions from himself and seek the answers. he is an enthusiast on Sanatana and its rich heritage. check More Info on About Page.

5 Replies to “Two Instances In Ramayana Which teach that Karma is Supreme”

  1. You can also add the Bali vadh by SriRam, where SriRam shot the arrow from hiding when Bali was in duel with Sugriv. Karma hit back in next incarnation as lord Krishna was killed by the hunter Jara who shot the arrow at his toe mistaking as an animal.

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