Where Are Seeds of Karma Stored?


In a heading under "can kriya burn up karma" it is stated that karma is stored in the astral spine as Vrittis. I have read in spiritual texts that karmic record is a part of the causal body - seed body - as the name implies. Please advise the source of information on which the above statement of it's being in the astral spine is based. Thank you.

—sandy, usa


Both are true — seeds of karma are stored in the astral and causal bodies. Yogananda implied that the seeds of karma that compel us to keep reincarnating in a physical body are predominantly stored in the astral body, saying:

Although the physical body is discarded in death, the astral body carries the unfulfilled desires, their traces, and discordant vibrations, which must be worked out or dissolved in other embodiments.

In The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, based on what he learned from Yogananda, Swami Kriyananda writes:

One’s past life spiritual attainments are retained enduringly in the astral brain. Like seeds, they sprout when the conditions are right. What triggers a right condition may be almost anything. Sri Ramakrishna, the great master who lived in the nineteenth century, in Bengal, India, had his first spiritual awakening as a child on beholding a flock of cranes flying in graceful beauty against a gray sky.

Of course, seeds of negative past karma can equally be re-awakened by negative environment or influences! That is a very good reason to take care of the environment and influences we place ourselves into.

Yogananda also refers to the seeds of karma in the context of the three gunas, or qualities, which are sattwic, rajasic, and tamasic:

The physical karma or seeds of actions with the three qualities remain hidden in the astral and causal bodies.

In an article on the resurrection of Christ, which took three days, he expands on that idea:

… after the physical body is gone, great masters usually take three days and three nights to overcome the sattwic, rajasic, and tamasic, or good, activating, and evil karmas invading the three bodies of man – the causal, astral, and physical bodies.

There is a fascinating and awe-inspiring account of karma, reincarnation, and the three bodies (physical, astral, and causal) in Autobiography of a Yogi: Chapter 43, The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar. In that chapter, Sri Yukteswar explains that one has to work out the seeds of all causal karma and desires before one can be free even of astral rebirth:

Completing there the work of redeeming all causal karma or seeds of past desires, the confined soul thrusts out the last of the three corks of ignorance and, emerging from the final jar of the causal body, commingles with the Eternal.

Finally, “causal” is not the same as “seed.” Yogananda often loosely translated the causal body as the “idea” or “ideational” body, which much more accurately describes it than “seed body.” Even the term “seed,” in the context of karma, is confusing – because it gives people the idea that these “seeds” are somehow physical or solid. The term vritti is much better in describing those karmas as vortices of energy.