From a WhatsApp message,

"A dharma adhering king conducted a Yagna. A big feast was prepared. At the end of the Yagna offerings were made to the Lord Yagna Narayana( who is sacrifice himself) and the whole city was invited for Lunch in the open courtyard. Food was served by the chefs who carried large open vessels containing tasty food to the courtyard from the kitchen. At the same time an eagle was flying over with a poisonous snake on it's claws. Eagle were attacked by couple of crows. In it's stress the Eagle dropped the snake which fell into one of the open vessel filled with food. Chefs not noticing this served the poison filled food to some people and many died."

Is there any scriptural reference in Hinduism as to how to assign Karma in such situations? Like Nyaya shastras. This is also a question for readers who can answer this specific question with Nyaya Shastra reasonings. Don't be quick to mark this as opinion inducing question. Wasn't Hinduism always about reasoning in Brahman's perspective? With all the touts of Karma being the root in the Geetha, we must be able to "apply" with all our knowledge of Geetha to solve this elementary situation correct? Who is held responsible and why?

  • 1
    Looks like a Vikram-Betaal question. When I look at it from the modern perspective, I think that the chefs are to be held responsible. They should not have kept the vessels open. It is common sense that if vessels are kept open, something can fall into them.
    – user17987
    Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 18:45
  • @idolworshipper yes. you are correct. but what %? Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 20:04
  • "Chefs not noticing this served the poison filled food to some people and many died" - snake venom is not poisonous so swallowing doesn't kill people it's usually the bite that kills. Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 20:13
  • @sv. Interesting. I didn't know that.
    – user17987
    Commented Sep 11, 2020 at 1:33
  • 2
    According to my understanding, it is the collective prArabdha of the people, who ate the food and died, was responsible for their death. No one else can be held responsible. @GopalAnantharaman Commented Sep 12, 2020 at 6:48

1 Answer 1


The deaths were not planned by anyone. It is an accident. So no body can be held directly responsible for the deaths. Any one who chooses to live in Samsara will have to face tapatraya or three types of suffering. There is no need to bring in Nyaya shastra.

What are the three types of suffering?

Of what avail will be the wealth and the objects of enjoyment gained by great effort for man who is naturally subject to the three types of sufferings caused by his own body and mind (Adhyatmika), by external natural forces (Adhibhautika), and by extra-human agencies (Adhidaivika)?

Srimad Bhagavata Purana VII.13.30

In which of the 3 categories can we fit the incident described in the question?

Sorrow and suffering (dukha, tapa) are inevitable in life. In fact they are a part of life. A knowledge of their origin, causes and even categorisation helps one to minimise their effects. The Hindu religious works usually call them tapatraya. They are adhyatmika, adhidaivika and adhibhautika. .....

The adhibhautika dukha or tapa is that which is caused by other bhutas or living beings, like wild animals, snakes or enemies.

A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism by Swami Harshananda

The incident described in the question is adhibhautika suffering.

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