Yoga Sutra 2.12 the karma-stock to be felt in present or future lives

Sūtra II.12

Rooted in taints is the karma-stock to be felt in present or future lives

That karma-stock of good and bad is produced from greed, delusion and anger. It is to be felt in the present or future lives.

(Opponent) Why strive to get rid of the taints?

(Answer) To this he says: Rooted in taints is the karma-stock to be felt in present or future lives. To say that the karma-stock is rooted in the taints means that its cause of origin is Ignorance and other taints. The karma-stock (āśaya), so-called because it is in stock (śaya) in the mind until (ā) it has brought forth its karma-fruit, is white or black in nature.

It, that is, its fruits, has to be felt, has to be experienced, in either the present life or a future one. The sūtra means that the karma-stock whose fruit has to be karmically experienced in lives present or future, has its root in the taints.

The karma-stock, of good or evil character, which comes to its consummation in a particular life and whose fruit has therefore to be felt in that life alone, is karma-stock to be felt in the present life, and when it is for another life, that is called the karma-stock to be felt in future lives.

The commentary now explains, that that karma-stock of good or bad is produced from greed, anger and delusion, pointing to the fact of its root in the taints. A stock of good karma may be produced out of greed: ‘Let me enjoy a good reward either in heaven or here’ – this is the spirit of such sacrifices as are performed from desire for heaven or desire for a son. Or it may be produced out of anger, as in the cases of Viśvamitra and Ambā, or out of delusion, as with Draupadī and Kumbhakarṇa. A stock of evil karma also may come from greed, as when they kill the leopard for its skin or the elephant for its tusks. And Karṇa told a lie out of greed to learn the science of weapons. It may come from anger, as with the murder of a Brahmin by Aśvatthāman in the Mahābhārata epic, or from delusion, as with those like ritual murderers (saṃsāra-mocaka), and Nahuṣa.

In each case there is a relation of both I-am-ness and Ignorance to the particular greed, anger or delusion. Why so? It is at the thought ‘I have been insulted’ that one becomes angry, at the thought, ‘I am going to enjoy myself that one becomes greedy and with the thought ‘I am confused’ that one is deluded.

Ignorance too, characterized by deluded vision, is always involved, for without the presence of Ignorance, I-am-ness and the other taints cannot exist. Desire is sheer greed, whereas hate is anger; self-preservation is included simply under confusion (vimoha). But delusion (moha) is said to be Ignorance, because there is the same absence of discrimination. Desire and anger and delusion, independently of each other, are occasions for doing righteousness and unrighteousness, as he will say: Preceded by greed, anger or delusion (to II.34).

It the karma-stock arising from greed, anger and delusion, is to be felt in the present life or in future lives.

A stock of good karma, created by mantra, tapas and samādhi practised with keen intensity, or else perfected through devotion to the Lord, to a divine being, to a great seer (ṛṣi), or to a great saint, comes to fruition immediately.

(Opponent) The karma-s are the same in their nature as cause, so how is it that some are to be felt in the present birth and some in future births?

(Answer) A stock of good karma created by mantra, tapas and samādhi practised with keen intensity with keen intensity of effort in application to them in their traditional forms, or else perfected through devotion to the Lord, to a divine being, to a great seer (ṛṣi) or to a great saint: the Lord has been described previously; a divine being means such as Āditya (the sun); great sages are those like Bhṛgu, and great saints are those whose minds delight in righteousness (dharma) and in knowledge (jñāna). Alternatively perfected merely through very intense devotion to these, that karma-stock comes to fruition immediately in that very birth, as with the boy Nandīśvara.

Then a stock of bad karma, repeated acts of injury, intensely tainted, done to terrified or sick or helpless beings, or done in betrayal of trust, or to great saints or ascetics, comes to fruition always immediately. As the boy Nandīśvara left his then human state and was transformed into divinity, and Nahuṣa, a prince among the gods, left that state of his and was transformed into animality.

Those in hell do not make any karma-stock to be felt in that present life of theirs.

Then a stock of bad karma, constantly repeated acts of injury, intensely tainted from excess of greed and other taints done to terrified or sick or helpless beings or done in betrayal of trust, or to great saints or ascetics, ascetics whose minds delight in righteousness and knowledge comes to fruition bears its fruit immediately, as with Nahuṣa.

In the world too, it is known from the Vṛkṣāyurveda (the science of forestry) that the interval up to the fruiting of trees corresponds to the particular latent potency (saṃskāra) of the seeds in the field. So with actions like going and cooking, experience shows that the nearness or remoteness of their fruit is according to the intensity or slackness of performance.

An example is given of a good karma-stock. As the boy Nandīśvara through perfection of his devotion to Maheśvara left his then human state a birth caused by very intensely tainted actions and was transformed into divinity, and Nahuṣa an example of bad karma-stock, a prince among the gods, left that state of his as a result of the karma-stock created by becoming involved in very intense illusion, and was transformed into animality.

Examples have already been given of how (results of) anger and so on have to be felt in corresponding lives either present or future. On the same principle, births resulting from involvement with taints like greed in mild or very feeble measure, with their good and bad karma-stock, are explained as having to be felt in future lives, as one would expect from experience in the world. So much for that.

In the case of those in hell, who have done actions such as murder of a Brahmin or sleeping with the wife of a teacher, which have merited hell for them and subjected them to its miseries, they do not make any karma-stock to be felt in that present life of theirs by which any fruit could be actualized.

(Opponent) How could those in hell originate karma, or such as animals, or divinities? The qualification for karma is in men (alone); we are told that it is this (earth) that is the stage for karma-action, not states like hell.

(Answer) Not so, for we see that Nahuṣa and others did make karma. And there is the scripture relating how Indra became guilty of killing a Brahmin by his slaying of Vṛtra, and how he engaged in yoga and other (penances).

As for the declaration that it is men who have the qualification for karma, and that the stage for karma-action is this world, that alludes to the speedy success in getting results. As it is said, ‘speedily here in this world of men comes success born of action’ (Gītā IV. 12).

In the tradition, there is the story about the insect seen by Vyāsa, which shows that there is karma even among animals. Furthermore, whatever has body and senses can perform action; in so far as they are accompanied by taints, actions of body, speech or mind must bring about results.

And for those who have got rid of taints, there is no karma-stock to be felt in future lives.

And for those who have got rid of taints who have right vision, there is no karma-stock to be felt in future lives, just because of the absence of taints. For there is no case where one freed from passion is born again. (But as to the present life) there may be a karmic result set going which seems to have been set off by karma arising from taints, because the latter was (indeed) the cause of it. Even for one who has got rid of taints, there is possibility of a karma-stock set going before he attained knowledge, which has to be felt in the present life because the results have begun to go into effect, as with an arrow released from the bow.

 

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