[Advaita-l] Prayascitta question

Ramesh Nagarajan rameshnj18us at gmail.com
Wed Aug 4 10:17:05 CDT 2010

Dear Mrs. Bagirathi,

As per the sages, whatever action that is performed with "I am the doer"
sense will have repercussion.   Depending on the nature of action, the doer
will enjoy Punya or Pava, either in this birth or subsequent births.  This
cannot be avoided.

Now as for the prayachittams are concerned it can reduce impact of the
suffering, but the person has to go through their Karmapala.  There were
several stories to illustrate this point.  But doing prayachittams, or
praying to God, lessen the burden to some extent.

Once a devotee asked Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsar, why we should pray to
God, if everything has to happen as it supposed to happen.  Ramakrishnar
replied with a story.  Once there was a lady, who lived in a remote
village.  She had to fetch drinking water, several kilometers away from her
home.  It is her destiny and she couldn't avoid it.  Then as per some sage's
advice she prayed to God.  Even after the prayer she has to carry the water
from the far away village, but with lesser burden.  All this time she had
carried the water on her head.  Now, after praying to God, it struck her to
have a turban on her head and keep the pot on the turban, so that it is less

Obviously, this story may not be applicable for each one of us, but the
point is we are enjoying different karma pala based on the past actions, the
prayachittams help us to bear the karma pala with less burden.

Coming to the victim's family, it is difficult to let go of the pain from
the mind.  The pain can be slowly and steadily eradicated in many ways.  One
of them is surrender to God.

We can also approach this from a spiritual / philosophical point of view.
Once our basic needs are fulfilled, we want to be happy all the time.  We
have three times:  Past, Present and Future.  When we can be happy?  We can
be happy only in the present time.  Nobody can be happy in the past or
future.  The only option is Present.   This is what Yogis and Spiritual
masters do, they live in the present all the time.  The thoughts may linger
on the past and/or future happy moments, but the reality strikes, longing
for happiness at the present moment.

Now thinking about the incident happened in the past, will further enhance
our pain and the mind doesn't want to stop there.  This can lead to
manifestations of bad emotions within ourselves and we fell into this self
destructive vicious circle.  So, to live a happy life, it is not meaningful
to live with the pain (that happened in the past.), whether we pursue
material or spiritual life.  True happiness comes from Atman.  That is why
people are able to overcome the suffering.  For example, the close relatives
of the dead experience sorrow for a while.  This may vary - some may mourn
for days, others for weeks and some others for months.  Eventually, they
return the normal life and enjoy the life.   So, it is up to us to choose,
if we want to live in the past or enjoy the present.  .  When our goal is to
live in the present, then either Prayachittams (for perpetrators) or painful
suffering (for victims) doesn't matter to us.    It is a long journey, but
it is achievable.

For further information about living in the present, please refer to

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