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  • Writer's pictureAshok Kumar Burra


Updated: Feb 5

By B.E.Sampath Kumar, Sri Ramachandrji Seva Trust, Kadapa.

The word Karma means action.  It comes from the Sanskrit root ‘KRI’.which means to act. It refers to the result of past actions, present actions and actions we will perform in the future. The karmas of the past, present and future are called Sanchita, Prarabdha and Agami respectively.

SANCHITHA:  These are the result of actions that have been gathered in this birth and all other previous births. 

PRARABDHA: These are the present actions that we are doing now in this lifetime and their results.

AGAMI:  These are future actions that result from our present actions.

Lord Srikrishna in Bhagavat Githa said that everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature and therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment. Even for the most highly educated person on the mundane plane, it is impossible to get out of the entanglements of Maya, simply by theoretical knowledge.


When a living entity is without attraction or hatred, he becomes flawless and eligible to enter into the spiritual sky. Such persons are to be considered already liberated.  The  symptoms of such a person are that he is not illusioned by the false identification of the body with his true self, he  knows perfectly well that he is not this body, but is the fragmental portion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead  and   he is therefore not joyful in achieving something, nor does he lament in losing anything which is related to his body.

Our holy books emphasize that a good action has its reward and a bad action leads to punishment. If the bad actions do not yield their consequences in this life, the soul begins another existence and in the new environment undergoes suffering for its past deeds.

Actually, the Vedas and Puranas do mention Swarga (Heaven)  and Naraka(Hell).  If we do good deeds in this life, we will be sent to Heaven(Swarga), where we are endowed with subtle celestial bodies, adorned with shining garments, move one place to another without any conveyance, allowed to sit in the Hall when celestial beautiful dancers like Rambah, Ursavi, Menaka, Tilothama, etc., dance before Indra, the Ruler of Heaven,  no suffering from diseases, no trouble of hunger and thirsty, etc., Heaven is a place where whatever one wishes, he gets it at once by immediate materialization.  So it is a higher world than the earth plane.

It is said that if you do bad deeds in this life, you will be sent to Hell(Naraka), where the soul will be given a sukshma(subtle) sareera(body) and put to endless tortures during  the punishment period. Several types of punishments are mentioned in Garuda Purana, Maha Shiva Purana, Bhagavatha Purana and other Puranas.    As per Garuda Purana, the following are some out of 28 types of punishments imposed in Hell.

TAMISRAM: Intended for those who rob others of their wealth are bound with ropes by Yama’s servants and cast into this  Naraka known as Tamisram. There they are given a thrashing until they bleed and faint and when they recover their senses, the beating is repeated.

SALMALI: Intended for men and women who have committed adultery.  A figure made of ion, heated red hot is placed there.  The sinner is forced to embrace it, while Yama’s( the ruler of Hell) servants flog the sinner from behind.

VAITARENI: Intended for the  Rulers who abuse their power and adulterers are thrown here.  It is a river that is filled with human excreta, blood, hair, bones, nails, flesh  and all kinds of dirty substances. There are various kinds of beasts as well. The sinners are mauled by these beasts from all sides. The sinners have to spend their punishment by eating the contents of the river.

PRANARODHAM: Intended for those who kill animals for food. Here the servants of Yama, cut the sinner’s limbs  while subjecting them to constant insult.

AVICI: This is for those who are guilty of false witness and false swearing.  They are hurled from a great height and they are utterly smashed into dust when they reach the ground.  They are again restored to life and punishment is repeated till the end of the punishment period.

AYAHPANAM: Those who consumed alcohol and other intoxicating drinks.  They are forced to drink melted iron in liquid form.

SUCIMUKHAM: This is intended for proud and miserly people who refuse to spend money even for the basic necessities of life like better food or buying food for their relations or friends, will find their place in the  hell and also  those who won’t repay the money they have borrowed. Here their bodies will be constantly be pricked and pierced by needles.

ANDHAKUPAM: This is intended for those who oppress the good people and not helping them if requested despite having the resources. They will be pushed into a well, where there are beasts like Lions, tigers, eagles and venomous creatures like snakes and scorpions.  The sinners have to endure the constant attacks of these creatures until the expiry of the period of their punishment.

According to our Puranas, Hell and Heaven are temporary states in which our Karma is fast-tracked either good or bad. There are some other Planes where the pious people go after death according to their deeds in the present life. But since these are compounded states and temporary and are undesirable, once exhausted our credit or deficit, we have to return back to the earth to continue our spiritual evolution.

Nobody is sure of the existence of Hell or Heaven to reach  after death but it is certainly in our own hands to make a Hell or Heaven of our lives by the way we live. So far no one came back and explained to us that what is happening after death and where the soul goes and about its journey after leaving the physical body.

If we keep aside for a while about Hell and Heaven concept, and if we live pious lifelike King Janaka( father of Sitha,  wife of Lord Rama, the hero of Indian epic Ramayana), who is said to be a self-realized soul, and that if we earn honestly for our family without deceiving or hurting others and do good deeds by helping the poor and other living beings without expecting anything in return and that we at bedtime feeling the presence of God repent for the wrongs committed and beg forgiveness in a supplicant mood, resolving not to allow repetition of the same, it is sure that after leaving our body,  we can escape going to the  Hell,  if it is in existence as stated in our Puranas. If we lead such a life throughout, go to bed and have good sleep at night, it is Heaven.

 If we live like  Duryodhana( the son of Dhritarashtra),  the villain,   who is Greedy, jealous,  cheater, etc., towards Pandavas narrated in detail  in an Indian epic Mahabharath,  and if we won’t get good sleep during nights even on cushion beds, it is Hell.

At the time of death, one gets a reel of pictures relating to his past happenings at which he has acted rightly or wrongly i.e, with selfish motive or served selflessly. Therefore what we want is, we should not be in a condition of repentance at the time of death for the bad Karma committed during the course of life and subjected to undergo tremendous punishments as aforesaid in Hell.

Bhagavathe Githa taught us that God resides as Soul  inside of all living beings. So he is called ‘bhutathma'( one of the names of Lord Vishnu). When we believe this and surrender to Him that He is leading us from within and by hiding ourselves and expose Him in all our activities, He will take the responsibility of us  and grant Moksha(liberation) which is the real and ultimate goal of human life.

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