His Holiness Sripada Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji - Puttige Swami speaks on Sin and other topics: Part 3.

During Shri Puttige swamiji's visit to Detroit, we had a wonderful Q & A session. I am trying to post some of them for the benefit of others.  If there is any mistake or improper message, it is only due to my poor translation.

     I hope this to lead for further "jijnasa" to enlighten ourselves.

Dear devotees,

  Here is the third part of the Q & A session.  Here we have  good disussion about 'family life'. Please pardon me, for improper translation, if any.

Shri Hari priyatham.

Message: 3
   Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 15:44:11 -0800 (PST)
   From: "GOPALAKRISHNA.B VARNA" <bgkvarna@yahoo.com>
Subject:   Swamiji's Q & A session - Part 3.

Q.1) It is said that for all our good and bad of present janma are due to  'Punya' and sin accumulated in the previous birth? This may be guesswork.! How can we believe this? .

SWAMIJI: There are only two possibilities. Either to believe  "Cause and Effect" theory or not. If you don't believe in this, then no 'vedantha' or 'philosophy' can help you further. There is nothing like "randomly", "accidentally" in this world for anything to happen. Every action is governed by "cause and effect" rule. For no apparent reason, sometimes something good happens to us.  Though two people do similar kind of activities, with  similar efforts they get different results. These are all due to results of our previous  'karma'. Suddenly some people become rich. This is due to their own 'punya'.  Many a times we keep money secretly in some place and forget that. Later on some day we get back that money suddenly and feel happy.  Like that if we see the activities done in several previous births, then we can correlate each and every results. There is nothing like  'luck'. For that, in Sanskrit it is called as "Adhrasta", meaning not visible. The reason is not visible to us. It does not mean that there is no reason at all.  For e.g. many a times we don't realize how we get sickness or disease, but doctors can tell us how we got that, from where and due to what.  Similarly only 'Jnani' can see the reasons and attribute the cause for things happening now.

Q 2) Nowadays we see hundreds of people dying in many accidents and natural disasters.  Does it mean that all of them had the same sin?

SWAMIJI: There are two types in this. One is all those people had committed similar types of sin, which as a result ended in this type of death. It need not be the same sin, but similar degree of sin, resulting in the similar degree of effect. So those people died because of the effect of sin of previous birth and by suffering like this they get rid of their pervious sins.
        Another reason could be that someone is doing a new sin now by killing all those people. For e.g. if a disaster occurs due to negligence of one person or team of person, then they are responsible for this sin of killing so many people and they have created a room for them to suffer later in this birth or next birth. Whenever man made disaster occurs, that person commits new sins and he will suffer later. Sometimes it is difficult for us to decide, whether it is man made or not. But 'jnanis' can tell what is the reason for such tragedies.

Q. 3) In India we can see so many beggars and handicaps, sick people around the temple and many other places. They don't seem to have committed any crime or sin. What is the reason for their sufferings? What is our duty towards them?

SWAMIJI:  Those people are suffering because of their sins committed in the previous birth. They are all millionaires in the previous birth but did not spend even a penny for good cause and never helped any one. Or they have helped wrong people and promoted wrong causes. So they are suffering in this birth. If they don’t commit any new sins in this birth, then in the next birth, they will be all right but if they again commit sin in this life, they will get still worse life in the next birth.
     Though they are getting punished due to their own bad actions of previous birth, we should not neglect them.  We should serve them. Though God is punishing them, we should try to help them. It is our duty. It is not against God's will or their 'karma phala'. For e.g.: in the house, father will punish the son for his mistakes. But then mother has to show love to him, console him and feed him. Mother also should not punish the son again. Similarly though they are getting punished due to their own sins, we need to serve them and help them. It is our duty and we must do this. By serving poor and suffering people we will be accumulating   'punya' and will be pleasing God.

Q. 4) There are some people who are not interested in any religious activities or philosophy. But they are good citizens, sincere and harmless people. What happens to them according to 'sasthra'?

SWAMIJI:  They are failure both here and there i.e. in this world and also in the after-death world. In Sanskrit "itho bhrasta, thatho bhrasta:". According to 'sastra', if some one does not believe in God, then he is not a good man at all. According to 'sastra', the root cause or fundamental reason for good character and conduct is the faith and belief in  "Dharma", and for the "Dharma", the root cause or foundation is "God". So if you don't believe in God, then there is no strong conviction for your good character and conduct. It can change at any time.  Secondly we should have some aim and meaning for this life. Without that there is no meaning for character and conduct. It is just like driving on a road without any specific destination, just going on where the road goes. Sometimes we also do like this, for e.g.: going for walking.  Without having any specific thing in mind, just for time pass we roam around and when got tired, we come back to home. Similarly those people waste their life and when they got tired, at the old age, come back to 'sastra' and start believing God.

Q 5) We see some good people becoming bad and bad people becoming good. Also we see some poor people become very bad once they are rich. What is the reason for these things?

SWAMIJI: In everyone's life, for every action, there are four deciding factor: "svabhava"- Intrinsic nature, "prabhava" - external influence, "yoghyatha" - capacity or qualification, "sadhana" - efforts or achievements.  Many a times,  "intrinsic nature " will not be revealed immediately. It will be covered by external influences.  It gets revealed later when the time is ripe for that. For e.g.: there are some handicap people who are very mild, but there are others also who are short tempered. This is not due to physical disability or any other reason. It is their intrinsic nature. There are many poor people who are very arrogant and cruel. It is their nature not due to poverty.

Q 6) We are all now born here in this 'Kaliyuga'. Does it mean that we have all done sin in previous birth?

SWAMIJI: It need not be. It only indicates that we are not yet qualified for 'moksha' and we still need to do 'sadhana'. It need not mean anything negative. Each and every soul has to take one or other form of birth till its 'sadhana' is completed. We need to have some or other form of body to do 'sadhana'. Human body is the best one to do 'sadhana' and so we are all here to do our best 'sadhana'. Actually ‘Kaliyuga’ does not mean 'bad days'. This is the best 'yuga' for  'sadhana'. In this yuga, we get lot of  'punya' for doing small good things. In 'kratha Yuga', one has to do lots of  'tapas' and yajna to get good result, but in this Yuga, with little good actions we will get lot of 'punya' or 'good results'. For e.g.; in this kaliyuga we need not do any Tapas or Yajna. We can get the same results by simple chanting the God's name with devotion.  So this is the best time for doing 'sadhana'.

Q 7) What is the 'result' of telling lies according to 'sasthra'?

SWAMIJI: There are different types in lies; namely 'satvic',  'rajasic' and 'tamasic'. It depends on the result what happened with that lie.  We should not lie to do great damage to other person or property. We should not lie to trouble others. But we may tell lie to get some good results. Many a times we tell lies to kids to keep them under control. Another good example is consider a case of some guest coming to house without informing, at midnight. Then though he hasn't finished his dinner, he may lie that he doesn’t feel hungry just to avoid troubling the housewife starting cooking at midnight. There is no harm in that and no sin for telling that lie. It is 'satvik' lie. It is  a lie for good cause, not to trouble others or to do any damage to others. So we should always see the circumstances and the effects, before deciding it as good or bad. Similarly 'dharma' and  'adharma' also depends on the situation and the result. For e.g. consider a group of thieves chasing a rich man. We should not tell truth and reveal the place where the rich man was hiding.  We need to see what is good for that situation. So it is said that "dharmasya gahana gathi:” meaning the path of  ‘dharma’ is very complicated or very illusive.

Q. 8) In this modern age, ladies feel like working outside in offices. Is it acceptable according to sastra or she has to limit herself  as housewife?

SWAMIJI:  There is no harm in ladies working outside. She only has to decide what is required for her.  Basically someone has to take care of kids and they should be looked after properly and they should be given proper love, care, discipline and education. Father or mother or grand parents can do this. As long as this responsibility is fulfilled and future generation is taken care, then any housewife can work and do any other activities. If you avoid this and do any social service outside, there is no 'punya' for that. It is not acceptable to 'sasthra'. We have seen in few families where the kids are completely taken care by maidservants. The kid calls the servant as mother and loves her more. This is not good. Normally the baby caring is mother's responsibility. Father does not have that patience and calmness to do that. It is born gift to ladies.
    Another important aspect is that in any successful management, there should be 60% love and affection and 40% fear. Mother is symbol of love and affection and father is symbol of fear. There should not be 100% love or 100% fear. Both are dangerous. Both father and mother should show these things properly.  One more important point is that the kids should not know about the difference of opinion within parents. For kids they should look like equal minded and made for each other. This is very important responsibility of parents. Father should advise kid to do namaskara to mother. Mother in turn should tell kid to do namaskara to father.  In previous days, earning was main responsibility of father and household was main responsibility of mother.  It need not be same nowadays as long as both responsibilities are handled properly.

Q. 9) Can we have only love and respect and no fear? Is it good?

SWAMIJI:  No.  Love and respect with fear is only good. Fear is the controlling element. We can not replace that. We can not keep kids under control with love alone. They need fear too. Love is good for happy mind and mental growth. But it can not control them. Since kids are not capable of thinking pros and cons, they cannot take good decision by themselves.  So we need to keep them under control till they develop self-control. It is also difficult to convince them  in many times, because they are not grown enough to understand those things. So we need to control them with fear.

Q 10) Here in this country, they say that we should not threaten kids? Here the kids get up at right time and go to school. But in India we need to plead kids to send them to school? So why controlling is required?

SWAMIJI: Responsibility is of two types. One is dependent responsibility and another one is respectful responsibility. If you ask the boy to get out of the house, somehow he will find a way to live. Basically to be alive is everyone's main urge and for that he will find out some or the other way. It is a forced responsibility. Here kids know that no body supports them later and if they don't study they have to be on roads later. So they try to  be independent from the beginning.
     We should have fear not because of money or power, but of not getting love or affection. We should have strong human relationship inside the family and in the society also.  We should have this kind of fear among husband and wife too.  They should respect each other for love.  Love itself is a human value.  That can not be questioned. We can not ask for the advantage and disadvantages of love. It is a noble quality and a good value for a cultured family.

Q 11) What is the main difference in western and eastern culture in terms of human value?

SWAMIJI:  In western countries, they give more weightage to individual 'feeling'. All behaviors are justified because the mind likes it. Mind is prime for them and they behave and live as dictated by mind.  That is dangerous. Mind does not have any self-control. It behaves very arbitrarily and very randomly.  Mind does not have self-wisdom.  It becomes mad in anger and becomes soft when praised.  So we should not be dictated by mind. The mind should be controlled by 'atma'. Atma with the help of  'prajna' or  'wisdom' should control the mind.  Even though mind does not agree with the 'wisdom', we should force mind to accept that and keep it under control.  If we can keep mind under our control, then we don't loose peace of mind. If we run behind the mind, then we loose not only peace of mind, but whole life.  Mind is very imbalanced. It flies between two sides and makes it difficulty to take any decision. In  angry or sorrow, it forgets what is right and what is wrong. The whole eastern philosophy is to achieve control of mind and then develop concentration of mind. ‘Atma’ should be having always upper hand in deciding what is right and what is wrong.

Q 12) What kind of relationship we have between 'atma' and  'mind'?

 SWAMIJI: It is like a bullock cart with two bulls. If they start fighting among each other, then no body can do anything. They have to solve by them selves. It is like family dispute between husband and wife. They have to solve by themselves. It can not be solved by third person.  Others can help but can not solve. So the 'mind' and 'atma' has to  find a solution among themselves. That's why it is said that 'our mind is the only cause for our freedom or suffering'. In Bhagavadgeetha Shri Krishna says that "We have get liberated though our mind only. Our mind alone is our friend and mind alone is our enemy".

(To be continued ..)

part 1
part 2
part 4


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