• Karma gives the situation, parents, physical body,etc,... to a soul according to type of Karma that it accumulated.
  • Living beings face untimely death and face unexpected problems in which they didn't involve.
  • People say that these are due to their previous life's bad Karma and his age is only upto it.


  • Does Karma of our previous lives determine the lifespan of our present birth?
  • 1
    variations on this question have already been asked. Do a search. Should be closed. Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 6:54
  • In every birth, no of breaths are fixed. They decide life span. A smoker takes more breaths and reduce his life span and a Yogi who does Pranayama has more life span.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 13:45
  • @TheDestroyer thanks friend and Can you give with scriptures that Birth is only determined by Previous Life Karma and Death is not affected by Previous Life Karma
    – Sakthi
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 14:06
  • 1
    Yes it is, see this answer: hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/7795/2790 See also a related question: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/8093/2790 Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 5:07

3 Answers 3


Upon doing bad karmas the jeeva first suffers the torments in hell and then , with the remnant karmas, gets born into animal or plant's yoni. Or, if it gets a human birth, then the body or mind will be diseased or deformed.

A sin, committed in a previous birth, assails people in the shape of a disease after the termination of the sufferings in a hell. It is dissipated by recitation etc., (5)

Leprosy, consumption, gonorrhoea, diarrhea, ob- struction in urination, stone, cough, dysentery, fistula, obstinate ulcers, inflammation of the glands, paralysis, loss of eyes, these diseases, says the Smritis originate from the perpetration of heinous crimes. (6 7)

Dropsy, liver, spleen, colic, ulcer, short-breathing, dyspepsia, fever, cold, forgetfulness, distraction of the senses, Galagraha (a kind of disease), bloody tumour, dry spreading itch, are the diseases begotten of minor sins ;

convulsive fits, appearance of circular figures of various sizes on the body, trembling of the body, itches, elephantisis, Poondarika (a kind of leprosy), and other diseases, originate from Unupata-sins. The diseases of mankind, heard by [the name of] piles, originate from Atipapa (heinous crimes). (8 la)

Various other diseases originate from the combination of sins. Their symptoms and penitentiary rites should be spoken of in due order,

Satatapa Smriti, Chapter 1.

Now, that many of these diseases can shorten lives is well-known. So, most definitely bad karmas done in our previous lives affect or influence the longevity of our current life.

But determine is not entirely the correct word to use. Because, we can do many things in our present life itself that will affect our longevity in either ways.

For example, if an ignorant (unworthy of receiving gifts) person accepts gifts of food or gold he thereby shortens his life. Also it is well known (from various scriptures) that committing adultery with another person's wife also shortens once lifetime.

4.189. Gold and food destroy his longevity, land and a cow his body, a horse his eye (sight), a garment his skin, clarified butter his energy, sesamum-grains his offspring.

4.237. By falsehood a sacrifice becomes vain, by self-complacency (the reward for) austerities is lost, longevity by speaking evil of Brahmanas, and (the reward of) a gift by boasting

4.134. For in this world there is nothing so detrimental to long life as criminal conversation with another man’s wife.

Manu Smriti.

And, on the other hand, one can increase his longevity by following good conduct too.

Manu Smriti 4.156. Through virtuous conduct he obtains long life, through virtuous conduct desirable offspring, through virtuous conduct imperishable wealth; virtuous conduct destroys (the effect of) inauspicious mark

So, it is more appropriate to use influence or affect instead of determine.



Karma of one's previous births (not just the last one, but the millions of past births) influences one's present birth.

This is particularly seen in which varNa one is born in.

From the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 14, Verse 14, Krishna says

http://www.bhagavad-gita.org/Gita/verse-14-14.html (all the verses I am quoting, translations, and commentaries are derived from this same website)

yadA sattvE pravRuddhe tu pralayam yAti dEha-bhRut tadottama-vidAm lokAn amalAn pratipadyatE

When the embodied being transitions death, predominated by the mode of goodness – at that time, the pure worlds with the highest knowledge are attained.

As Ramanujacharya explains it,

"Lord Krishna explains that when the jIva, or embodied being, is in sattva guNa, or mode of goodness, at the time of death, then numerous blessed regions, where the knowers of AtmA tattva, or knowledge of the immortal soul, reside, are reached. The word amalAn means pure, exempt from blemish, and devoid of ignorance. The understanding is that the fate of a jIva, who dies under the influence of sattva guNa, would be that the next birth would take place in the environment of pious and holy people that have realised AtmA tattva; and so, combined with an inner impulse to pursue this way of life, and with opportunity in abundance, one would continue in sattva guNa, purifying one's existence by performing spiritual activities, until one achieves perfection."

Similarly, in 14-15, Krishna says that

rajasi pralayam gatvA karma-sangiShu jAyatE tathA pralInas tamasi mUDha-yOniShu jAyatE

Succumbing to death in the mode of passion, one takes birth among those beings attached to fruitful activities; similarly, dying in the mode of ignorance, one takes birth from the womb of an animal.

As Shridhara Swami explains it:

"Continuing, Lord Krishna explains that the result of raja guNa, or mode of passion, being predominant at the time of death is that the jIva, or embodied being, is born into families that are involved in vigorous activity. Likewise, the result of tama guNa, or mode of ignorance, being predominant at the moment of death is that the jIva is born in the wombs of irrational species as animals."

Similarly, Ramanujacharya explains this verse thus:

"Now Lord Krishna explains that when a jIva, or embodied being, dies while in raja guNa, or the mode of passion, one takes birth among those who perform activities out of desire for rewards; and having been born as such, will endeavour mightily to accomplish works that would be rewarded by immense wealth and power, even up unto the heavenly spheres. Similarly, if one dies while under the influence of tama guNa, or the mode of ignorance, then such jIvas will be born from the wombs of animals such as pigs and dogs, where one would be completely incapacitated to perform any activity that would give any spiritual benefit."

Likewise, Acharya Keshava Kashmiri explains this verse thus:

"Lord Krishna states that if death comes upon a jIva, or embodied being, while predisposed to raja guNa, or the mode of passion, then one takes birth next from those who are obsessed to perform actions in anticipation of rewards. Also, a jIva dying while under the influence of tama guNa, or mode of ignorance, is forced to take birth as an animal in the next life."

And Shankaracharya explains the verse thus:

"If he meets death when rajas is predominant, he is born among men, who are attached to action. The “irrational” refers to cattle and the like."

("mUDha-yOnishu" means "womb of irrational being," i.e., animal.)

So one's varNa in a future birth (as a sattva-dominant, rajas-dominant, or tamas-dominant soul is determined by the guNa in which one dies. This guNa is the result of one's actions in millions of past births. As is seen in Chapter 18, those who are steeped in sattva guNa are the Brahmana varNa; those who are steeped in rajas guNa are the Kshatriya varNa, and those who are steeped in tamas guNa are the Shudra varNa.

For instance, 18-42 says about the Brahmana varNa:

shamO damas tapaha shaucam kshAntir Arjavam Eva ca jnAnam vijnAnam Astikyam brahma-karma svabhAva-jam

The actions of a Brahmana, arising from his own nature, are serenity, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge of the Vedas, wisdom, and firm faith.

Note that this arises from birth ("arising from his own nature"), not nurture. This is the link between guNa and varNa.

Similarly, 18-43 talks about the nature of Kshatriyas (again, "born of his own nature"):

shauryam tEjO dhRutir dAkshyam yuddhE cApi apalAyanam dAnam Ishvara-bhAvashca kshAtram karma svabhAva-jam

The actions of a Kshatriya, born of his own nature, are heroism; exuberance; determination; resourcefulness; no trace of cowardice in battle; generosity; and leadership.

This, again, is not learned. It is born of his own nature - i.e., is determined by birth. Hence, Kshatriyas = rajas. So if you die in rajas, as 14-15 says, he is to be reborn as a Kshatriya.

And 18-44 talks about the nature of Vaishyas and Shudras (again, "born of his own nature"):

kRushi-gau-rakshya-vANijyam vaishya-karma svabhAva-jam paricaryAtmakam karma shUdrasyApi svabhAva-jam

The actions of a Vaishya, born of his own nature, are agriculture, cow protection, and trade; also, the actions of a Shudra, born of his own nature, consist in service to Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas.

Krishna has already defined the three guNas by their effects in Chapter 14, which leave no room for doubt what guNas the characteristics mentioned in Chapter 18 refer to. For example, in 14-6, Krishna says:

tatra sattvam nirmalatvAt prakAshakam anAmayam sukha-sangEna badhnAti jnAna-sangEna cAnagha

O sinless one, among these, the mode (guNa) of goodness (sattva), being pure, illuminating, and serene, binds one due to the attachment of happiness and the attachment of knowledge.

Note the obvious connection between "pure, illuminating, and serene," "attachment to knowledge" in 14-6, and "serenity...knowledge of the Vedas, wisdom, and firm faith" in 18-42. There can be no doubt that Krishna is talking about the same qualities in both verses. The implication is clear. Die in the mode of sattva and you are born in a community of sAttviks, i.e., Brahmanas. That's clearly what Krishna is saying here.

Similarly, in 14-7, Krishna says,

rajO rAgAtmakam viddhi truShNA-sanga-samudbhavam tan nibadhnAti kauntEya karma-sangEna dEhinam

O Arjuna, know that the mode of passion (rajas guNa) is the source of lust and attachment, and the producer of desire for sense gratification and sentimental infatuation, that enslaves the embodied consciousness by attachment to activities motivated by their fruits.

Note again the connection between "lust and attachment,""sense gratification," and "activities motivated by their fruits" in 14-7, "takes birth among those beings attached to fruitful activities" in 14-15, and "heroism; exuberance; determination" in 18-43.

So, Brahmanas = sattva; Kshatriyas = rajas; Vaishyas = rajas + tamas, rajas dominant; Shudras = tamas dominant. And if you die with these guNas dominant in your past birth at the time of death, you will be born into the corresponding varNas in your next birth.

So yes, karma very strongly influences your fate in the next birth, according to Krishna in the Gita. It certainly determines which varNa you are born into in the next life. And that, as we know, matters a lot in life.

  • @sesehadri Kumar thanks for answering but i didn't ask about Karma's part in one's life. I just asked that can karma determine one's life span. In a clear manner we can say that "Is the age upto we live is determined by our previous life's karma. So sorry your answer has nothing to do with my question.
    – Sakthi
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 13:34
  • Sorry for misunderstanding the question. Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 13:38
  • This Link has the access to many sites which has online scriptures you can make use of them and also see this that "Our Destiny is Pre - Determined or Not"
    – Sakthi
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 13:46

I'm not an expert on the Hindu scriptures but I am familiar with the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda who is considered by many to be enlightened. Karma is just the universal law of cause and effect, everything an entity thinks, speaks and does(actions) have a cumulative effect on one's life situation which of course includes one's health and therefore one's longevity. So I guess the answer to your question would be a yes, the karma of all past lives and the karma and actions of the present life determine the lifespan in general, but of course you can mitigate bad karma by meditation, yoga, proper diet, right actions, ect.

  • 2
    Welcome to Hinduism SE personal opinions are not taken as answer. so try to answer with scriptural evidence
    – Sakthi
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 10:21
  • Aren't you forgetting something ? The great saints of India ARE the living embodiment of all scriptures, that's the WHOLE POINT OF HINDUISM, are you going to make the claim that Yogananda is not a fully realized master ? Good luck ! Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 16:33

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .