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I am able to accept that karma from past lives creates circumstances in our current life. Over the course 1000 lives, I may have done some good and bad. and a combination of that has put me in this life with two caring parents etc. I can also see the reason for free will. Karma brought a friend into my life. my free will kept him in once I saw he was a positive person

My question is how can I use karma to explain the holocaust? Did every Jew in that exact period of time do some sort of bad action in the previous life? It's hard for me to grapple with this. My best explanation for genocides etc. is that there is a part of it that is simply free will of Germans?

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    Why single out the Holocaust? Why not mention other mass casualty events like mass shootings, other genocides, natural disasters, pralayas, diseases like covid, etc. You could've even used covid pandemic as an example, but you have a special fixation on the Holocaust, presumably due to a Western education. – Ikshvaku Feb 22 at 15:15
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    People who eat meat unlawfully (not sacrificed in a vedic yajna) die violently. This is an example of the kind of sin that leads one to die violently. Jews are no exception. You cannot handle this fact because you seem to think that Jews are "God's chosen people" (as is falsely claimed in the Jewish Old Testament), and so it's impossible for God or karma to have punished Jews in that manner. – Ikshvaku Feb 22 at 15:15
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    Sorry, which Holocaust? – Lucky Pashu Feb 22 at 15:24
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    @LuckyPashu There is only one "Holocast". The Holocaust is a proper name referring to Hitler's genocide of the Jews and others in the 1940s. Others are simply called genocides. – Ikshvaku Feb 22 at 15:37
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    @LuckyPashu "What about other holocasts", again, there is only one "Holocaust", it is a proper name given to Hitler's genocide of the Jews. What you want to say is, "what about other genocides?" Genocides have their own names depending on the genocide, like "Armenian genocide", etc. – Ikshvaku Feb 22 at 15:56
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My question is how can I use karma to explain the holocaust? Did every jew in that exact period of time do some sort of bad action in the previous life? Its hard for me to grapple with this.

In the same way that you use karma to explain other periods of intense suffering or intense happiness: the victims are experiencing the results of their past actions.

It's hard for me to grapple with this.

Why? Because it's the Holocaust with Jewish victims and it's portrayed (falsely) in Western public schools as the most evil, worst possible thing to have ever happened in humanity that cannot be justified by anything, even karma?

Why would you accept suffering of others as the result of past karma but not Jewish victims in the holocaust? It makes no sense.

In reality, all victims including Jews are being punished by God as a result of their past sins. For example:

Manu 5.38 - As many hairs there are on the body of the animal, so many times after dying does its needless killer suffer violent death, birth after birth.

This is an example of the kind of sin that leads one to die violently. Jews are no exception. You cannot handle this fact because you seem to think that Jews are "God's chosen people" (as is falsely claimed in the Jewish Old Testament), and so it's impossible for God or karma to have punished Jews in that manner.

But Jews are not God's chosen people. They are Mlecchas according to the Vedas:

Manu 2.23 - But the region where the spotted deer roams by nature is to be known as the ‘land fit for sacrificial acts’; beyond that is the ‘land of the Mlecchas.

Did every jew in that exact period of time do some sort of bad action in the previous life?

Yes. Why single out the Holocaust? Why not mention other mass casualty events like mass shootings, other genocides, natural disasters, pralayas, diseases like covid, etc. You could've even used covid pandemic as an example, but you have a special fixation on the Holocaust, presumably due to a Western education.

But to answer your question yes, all souls, including souls of Jews, have done an infinite amount of past sins and past merits. So, God, Brahman, has chosen to bring to fruition the consequence of some of their sins at one point in time in the form of the Holocaust.

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There are two factors that affect the life of a Jiva. The first factor is past karma and the second factor is suffering inevitable in life called tapatraya. Otherwise one is forced to partially blame the victim for the crime committed against him. Normally the second factor is not very important and in benign condition one's good past karma may be enough to neutralize the effect of tapatraya. However, in the case of genocide involving millions of victims the second factor is very important and one’s good karma may not be enough to neutralize the effect of the second factor. Just as good karma maximizes protection against tapatraya, similarly bad karma lowers protection against tapatraya.

What is Tapatraya?

Adhibhautika, adhidaivika and adhyatmika are known as Tapatraya.

The three words respectively mean: pertaining to (a) the bhuta or living beings; (b) the daiva or fate, unseen forces and gods; (c) the body (and the mind).

Sorrow and suffering (duhkha, 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 effect if not eradicate them. The Hindu religious works usually call them 'tapatraya', 'the three miseries'. They are: adhyatmika, adhidaivika and adhibhautika.

The adhyatmika duhkha or tapa is that which is caused by bodily suffering and mental anguish. Hereditary diseases like leprosy, disabilities like blindness or lameness and diseases caused by the violation of the rules of health and sanitation are classed under this. The mental agony caused by worries and anxieties, attachment and aversion, also comes under this group.

The adhidaivika duhkha or tapa is that which is caused by daiva. The word daiva includes the power of time, nature and the unseen hand of fate. Diseases caused by the changing seasons, misery caused by the elemental forces like floods and fire, suffering caused by black magic or gods who are displeased, natural tribulations due to hunger, thirst and old-age belong to this group.

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

Some of these, like hereditary diseases or physical disabilities cannot be got rid of. Hence they must be endured. Some like the diseases caused by change of seasons or the machinations of enemies can be countered by taking appropriate precautions. However, raising the mind to the level of the spirit, thus transcending the limitations imposed by the body-mind complex, is the best solution to offset the effects of tapatraya.

A Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism by Swami Harshananda

What does this mean? Isn't Karma the only thing that governs life?

It means that if you consider life as a theater then you also have to consider the effect of the stage in which life is lived. Karma is certainly one factor but the world we live in is also a factor. I will give two examples of the world playing a role in our lives. We have lived through a pandemic since the beginning of 2020. Everyone regardless of their karma has suffered at least mental anguish due to this pandemic. Another example is the change brought about by the discovery of antibiotic. Before the discovery of antibiotic everyone regardless of their karma would have to suffer diseases due to bacteria. This suffering has been greatly reduced due to the discovery of antibiotic. So one cannot say that karma is the only factor that determines experiences although normally the effect of the stage can be ignored.

The world is a dangerous place to live in regardless of one's karma although a good karmic history minimises the dangers. The theory of Karma cannot alone satisfactorily explain events such as genocide seen in the last century. Did the 2 million murdered Cambodians or the 6 million gassed Jews all deserve this? Did the colonised Indians deserve the colonisation? One is pretty much forced to bring in the dangerous nature of the world to explain industrial scale oppression. The only way to avoid the dangers of this world is by attaining moksha.

Dangerous World – Need for Moksha

"That Ocean, so terrible has sorrow for its waters. Anxiety and grief constitute its deep lakes. Disease and Death are its gigantic alligators. The great fears that strike the heart at every step are its huge snakes. The deeds inspired by Tamas are its tortoises. Those inspired by Rajas are its fishes. Wisdom constitutes the raft for crossing it. The affections entertained for objects of the senses are its mire. Decrepitude constitutes its region of grief and trouble. Knowledge..is its island. Acts constitute its great depth. Truth is its shores. Pious observances constitute the verdant weeds floating on its bosom. Envy constitutes its rapid and mighty current. The diverse sentiments of the heart constitute its mines. The diverse kinds of gratification are its valuable gems. Grief and fever are its winds. Misery and thirst are its mighty eddies. Painful and fatal diseases are its huge elephants. The assemblages of bones are its flight of steps and phlegm is its froth. Gifts are its pearl-banks. The lakes of blood are its corals. Loud laughter constitutes its roars. Diverse sciences are its impassibility. Tears are its brine. Renunciation of company constitutes the high refuge (of those that seek to cross it). Children and spouses are its unnumbered leeches. Friends and kinsmen are the cities and towns on its shores. Abstention from injury and Truth are its boundary line. Death is its storm-wave. The knowledge of Vedanta is its island (capable of affording refuge to those that are tossed upon its waters). Acts of compassion towards all creatures constitute its life-buoys, and Emancipation is the priceless commodity offered to those voyaging on the waters in search of merchandise. "

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCCIII

Doesn't good karma protect a Jiva completely from suffering in this world?

No, only persons practicing spiritual disciplines are assured of complete protection.

Whoever, being devoted to me solely, engage themselves always in contemplation and worship of Me - to such ever steadfast devotees I ensure the procurement of all their wants (salvation) and the preservation of their assets.

Gita 9.22

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  • We all pollute the world by driving cars. So we have a collective sin in global warming. So there is nothing wrong in suffering a collective punishment. What is the proof for your claim that Tapatraya is 'regardless of one's karma' ? – mar Feb 21 at 19:50
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    This answered it for me. thanks! – Mr Iyer Feb 23 at 19:02
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    Excellent answer sir! – Sethu Srivatsa Koduru Feb 25 at 11:50

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