Can Prarabdha Karma be Forgiven by God?


Hi, my doubt is whether Prarabdha Karma can be forgiven by God or great masters like Jesus? Context is taken from "the second coming of Christ" by Paramahansa Yogananda. Jesus says that one can escape the law of karma by identifying himself with God. Once he is able to do that, he should get divine forgiveness by forgiving his brothers who sin against him.

—Mathew, India


Dear Matthew,

Karma means action and the results of action. If one is ill, there may be several ways to deal with that illness: surgery, natural means, modern drugs, spinal manipulation, prayer, and grace, just to name a few.

The lives of the avatars and great saints are filled with stories of miraculous and spontaneous healings. Such also occur in the lives of people without there being any outward agency.

What Yogananda is referring to is the essence of the path of liberation: love for God. Krishna says to Arjuna in many passages that devotion to God will lift one above karma. But let me be more specific. “Love for God” is the positive expression of ego transcendence or dissolution. What ties karma to us is that the ego initiated an action seeking results for itself: or, kama karma, rather than nishkam karma!

If instead of waiting for the karma to rebound and waiting, therefore, to deal with it in such a way as to bring it to closure (there are BILLIONS of vrittis, and loads of samskaras to work out; it would take countless lifetimes to work them all out even as we create new karma), if we were to dissolve the identification and attachment to the body and personality (which is the essence of the ego), then when the karma fructifies (ripens) “we” are not there to receive it!

Now, what do I mean about “not being there.” This can take several forms: 1) the karma comes to us but the now bright light shield of our aura, united to God, simply repels that karma or reduces it to “a scratch.” Or, 2) we receive it full force but are emotionally and reactively untouched, seeing it all as God’s love.

There are, one might say, two ways to approach this state of freedom: the negative way of dissolving ego (and awaiting the awakening of Samadhi), or, the positive way of love for God. In truth, these are one and the same though they are often described differently or emphasize the letting go versus self-offering. Furthermore, the very term “God” is limited at least in that countless other terms are used: some personal; others, impersonal or abstract.

As the ego dissolves and the soul awakens and is expanding toward Infinity the vrittis (psychic results of past actions, or karma) are dissolved just as an eddy at the edge of stream is dissolved in a great flood. Kriya yoga acts directly upon these vrittis and, with the grace of God and guru, constitute a rapid awakening of the soul when properly practiced with devotion and attunement.

The power of divine grace is what uplifts us and hence “forgives” our “sins” (i.e., our karma). We must attract that grace, however, with our own committed energy and devotion, guided by a true guru, correct practice, and truth teachings.

There is further good news: to achieve Nirbikalpa samadhi or liberation, we need not work out ALL of our past karma. We can do that AFTER we achieve enlightenment.

May the grace of God be ever yours,

Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA