Why do we face our karma in the next birth in which we don't even know what mistakes we have done and how does one realize his/her mistakes in the next birth, as we don't remember our previous lives? My concept would be facing the karma in the same life would help people realize their mistakes and might change them

Is there any reason why Sanātana Dharma to be designed this way?

  • Within 14 years one accumulates karnataka next 10 birth what to say of whole life
    – Prasanna R
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 11:00
  • It would be better if one who believes in karma and rebirth might justify this?
    – Shashaank
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 15:44
  • 3
    some Karmas can be fulfilled in next birth only.. suppose that you have a deep desire to become tiger.. now as per karma theory you can get body of tiger in next birth if you are too attached to it.. how are you going to be tiger in this very birth, by what mechanism? .. suppose a person kills by hitting him with stone.. while being hit the victim would have a revenge feeling against him to kill him also.. (but he already died).. so he should resurrect to kill/punish him in this very life? it is not possible to nullify all karmas in single life...
    – Tezz
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 16:38
  • Karma is classified into sanchitha, prarabdha and agameya speakingtree.in/blog/…
    – Prasanna R
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 5:50

2 Answers 2


yaḥ sarvajñaḥ sarvavidyasya jñānamayaṃ tāpaḥ |(Muṇḍakopaniṣhad 1.1.9) Ishwara is all-knowing and omniscient. His austerity consists of knowledge.

Ishwara though a non doer (karta), is possibly the karma phala dhata.Corollary is that, Ishwara certainly mustn't be overlooked in the framework of karma and rebirth.

Rigveda 1.105.12 details the order that preexist in nature ,and it's interdependence on the physical universe. (Owing to the understanding of the cosmic harmony), Law of karma setforth by Ishwara, (all-knowledge, omniscient) ensures the basis for the rhythm of the grand order.

Karma Phala can be either drishta (knowable) or adrishta(hidden).If a prayer (Manasika karma) is done , peace of mind so obtained could be the drishta phala, although the grace of Iswara is an adhrishta phala.

If only direct sense perception through observation suffices, shaastras and scriptures would be redundant. Here the adhrishta phala is beyond any human scrutiny. But ofcourse the concept freewill suggest that one can steer in the guidance of scriptures,whatever extent possible, alongside the preordained karma phala.,(akin to prayers conferred upon Ishwara for grace)

Srimad Bhagavadam 10.24.13 says

sri-bhagavan uvaca karmana jayate jantuh  karmanaiva praliyate sukham duhkham bhayam ksemam  karmanaivabhipadyate

Lord Krsna said: It is by the force of karma that a living entity takes birth, and it is by karma alone that he meets his destruction. His happiness, distress, fear and sense of security all arise as the effects of karma.

Bhagavad Gita 15.2 says

secondary roots (karmic actions) generates impressions ,(known as vasanaas) that manifests in the creature /Jiva. These vaasanas are the precursor that determines Jivas innate nature,which truly has stake over it's later actions.

Past karma determines a Jivas innate nature(Prakrithi) according to BG 15.2.. Chapter 16 on Bhagavad Gita is based on vasanaas.

The whole of Chapter 16 expounds broadly on two types of Jivas (innate) nature ( vaasanas.) namely daivī sampatti (Noble Natured ) and Aasuri sampatti(Demoniac Natured)

chapter 2 of Brahma Sutra avirodha Adhyaya reasons rebirth

Vaishamyanairghrinye na sapekshatvat tatha hi darsayati 2.1.34

Bhagavad Gita 7.26

vedāhaṁ samatītāni vartamānāni chārjuna bhaviṣhyāṇi cha bhūtāni māṁ tu veda na kaśhchana

O Arjun, I know of past, present, and future, and I also know all living beings; but Me no one knows.(English Translation by Swami Mukundananda)

Bhagavad Gita 2.22

As a person sheds worn-out garments and wears new ones, likewise, at the time of death, the soul casts off its worn-out body and enters a new one.

Bhagavad Gita 2.27

Death is certain for one who has been born, and rebirth is inevitable for one who has died. Therefore, you should not lament over the inevitable.

Bhagavad Gita 4.5

The Supreme Lord said: Both you and I have had many births, O Arjun. You have forgotten them, while I remember them all, O Parantapa.



Swami Madhusudhana Saraswati s commentary -translation Swami Gambirananda for 15.2

Further, the secondary mülāni, roots, as it were, of that Tree of the world; which are comparable to the tendencies of attach- ment, aversion, etc. that arise from various experiences, and which are the causes of engagement in righteousness and unrighteousness, anusantatāni, spread; adhah ca, downwards also-from the (use of the) word ca, also, "upward' too (is un- derstood). The tap-root, however, is Brahman Itself. Thus there is no defect. Of what kind are the secondary roots? Karmānu- bandhini, they are those that are apt to produce later (anu- bandhini) the actions (karma) characterized as righteous or un-righteous;-where?-manusya-loke, in the human body, etc. and which has eligibility manusyaloka is derived in the sense of 'that which is human (mausya) and is a body (loka)'. In that body they are apt to produce actions later in abundance.

Swami Madhusudhana Saraswati s commentary -translation Swami Gambirananda , Introduction Chapter 16

In the preceding chapter, in, "The secondary roots, which are apt to produce actions later in the human body, spread downwards also" (15.2), the vāsanās (impressions) which get manifested in the human body according to the actions that had taken place before have been spoken of as the secondary roots of worldliness. And those (vāsanās), viz. divine, demoniacal and fiendish, which constitute the natures of creatures, have been indicated in the ninth chapter (in verses 12 and 13). Presently, however, the sixteenth chapter is begun for showing the difference between the good and the bad vāsanās by grouping them under two heads thus: the divine nature consists of the good sāttvika vāsanā, ); the demoniacal nature, where the demoniacal and fiendish (natures) are clubbed together, consists of the bad rājasika and tämasika vāsanās,

Ishwara is Karma Phala dhaatha according to Brahma Sutras

From this,” i.e. from Brahman alone, arises “the fruit” accruing to different individuals, in accordance with the particular duties to which they are entitled,—as He alone can be such a giver of fruits.(BS3.2.38)

dharmaṃ jaiminiḥ, ata eva . dharmaṃ—Religious merits; jaiminiḥ—(sage) Jaimini; ata eva—for the same reasons..(BS3.2.40)

  • My question is why doesn't one face the consequences in the same life, why next life? In next life people don't remember their mistakes and they won't be able to realize what is the point of suffering then is my question?
    – Shashaank
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 17:43
  • quite true.Though(according to shaastras) it is adhrishta , beyond scrutiny.The same life if not conducive , the experience of the effect is carried forward to future lives. The B.upanishad, also quotes , Jiva leaves a life after (knowing) holding on the next life, through an analogy of thruna(grass) jhulaka(insect), that leaves it hind legs after catching hold of the next grass with its forelegs. So as far as I know, nothing happens haphazard , there is a plan/law of Ishwara, which seers may perceive though a normal person can't.
    – Athrey
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 18:14
  • You wrote - "Bhagavad Gita 15.2 says 'secondary roots (karmic actions) generates impressions ,(known as vasanaas) that manifests in the creature /Jiva. These vaasanas are the precursor that determines Jivas innate nature,which truly has stake over it's later actions.'" - But that is not evident from Bhagavad Gita 15.2; Can you please provide the source from where you obtained this sentence? Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 22:48
  • The source is from my understanding of Swami Madhusudhana Saraswati s commentary on Srimad Bhagavad Gita.Ive updated it in the end of the answer. Also for Ishwara is Karma Phala dhaatha(In view of vedanta) @VijaySharma
    – Athrey
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 12:21

First things first, truly speaking there's no karma and rebirth in reality.

In true Sanatan Vedic Dharma, there's no concept of God who keeps track of the karma of Jiva and punishes them according to those.

Then from where do karma and rebirth come? I will discuss that later on. But before that let me establish why there can't be any karma or rebirth.

सदृशं चेष्टते स्वस्याः प्रकृतेर्ज्ञानवानपि। प्रकृतिं यान्ति भूतानि निग्रहः किं करिष्यति।।3.33।।

3.33 Even a man of highest knowledge (jnani) acts in accordance with his own nature (prakriti); all beings follow their own Nature; what can restraint do?

Now you see, whether you are an ordinary person following him/her whims or a person of perfect knowledge, you cannot act differently from your prakriti.

Abhinavagupta makes it more clear in his commentary.

।।3.33।।सदृशमिति। योऽपि च ज्ञानी न तस्य व्यवहारे भोजनादौ विपर्यासः कश्चित्। अपि तु सोऽपि सत्त्वाद्युचितमेव चेष्टते एवमेव जानन्। यतः ( N अतः) भूतानां पृथिव्यादीनां प्रकृतौ विलयः आत्मा च अकर्ता नित्यमुक्त इति कस्य जन्मादिनिग्रहः।

3.33 Sadrsam etc. There is hardly any difference in the worldly activities like eating etc., of him who is a man of wisdom. But he too acts only in conformity to the Sattva, etc., Therefore knowing that: 'Because the elements like the Earth, etc. get absorbed into the prakrti; and the Atma is also a non-doer and ever-freed; therefore the eradication of birth etc., is for whose sake?' Then how can there be bondage at all? That is as follows, it is said :

Here Abhinavagupta points out two interesting facts here. One, that when a person dies, all the elements go back to prakriti and Atma is forever free, so how can there be things like rebirth which need to be get rid off. And the other more interesting question which arises now is that if Atma is non-doer and Jivas only follow their inner instinct (prakriti), why should anyone be in bondage? Because looking at all this, there shouldn't be any bondage in nature but still we experience bondage. Now, that's a million-dollar question.

In Brihadaranyak Upanishad, this question is asked - If elements of body merge back to prakriti and Atma is forever free, why is Jiva reborn? In Chandogya Upanishad, shvetakatu asks a similar question that when manas (mind) merged back to Brahman in deep sleep, how can the Jiva be born again the next day. The answer to both these questions is gives as - karma.

It is because of this karma that Jiva are reborn. But what is this karma? Let me tell you its not how its told today. These days its told that its like an account of good and bad acts which you reap. This is an oversimplification and doesn't help anyone. The truth is more than this.

Let's now see what this karma truly is, from Niralamba Upanishad. And here lies key to your question -

कर्मेति च क्रियमाणेन्द्रियैः कर्माण्यहं करोमीत्यध्यात्मनिष्ठतया कृतं कर्मैव कर्म कर्तृत्वभोत्त्कृत्वाद्यहंकारतया बन्धरूपं जन्मादिकारणम्॥ अकर्मेति नित्यनैमित्तिकयागव्रततपोदानादिषु फलाभिसन्धानं यत्तदकर्म॥ ||११||

The actions are performed by indriya (sensory organs), when one starts believing that I am the doer, only that action counts as karma. And this karma done with the feeling of being karta (doer) and bhokta (enjoyer) is the cause of bondage and rebirth. The actions which are done on a daily basis as they fall upon oneself, (even) for attaining a fruit doesn't count as karma. (because one knows they are not doer and doing it just because they have a body)

Read the above again and again and again. That's very very very important point.

The same idea is reflected in nyaya sutra 1.1.2 -

दुःखजन्मप्रवृत्तिदोषमिथ्याज्ञानानाम् उत्तरोत्तरापाये तदनन्तरा पायात् अपवर्गः।

According to nyaya sutra, mitha jnana (false knowledge) leads to dosha (that which can cause problem), dosha further leads to pravriti (the impulsion to do something/karma), pravriti further leads to birth and birth leads to suffering.

As you can see in Vedanta as well as Nyaya Sutra the fundamental principle is that suffering of Jiva is a result of ignorance only. On the surface level, Sanatan Dharma says that suffering is a result of bad karma but truly speaking, all sufferings are a result of ignorance.

Let me give more evidance because no one believes me when I tell them this -

अहं ब्रह्मेति विज्ञानात्कल्पकोटिशतार्जितम् । सञ्चितं विलयं याति प्रबोधात्स्वप्नकर्मवत् ॥ ४४७ ॥

  1. Through the realisation of one’s identity with Brahman, all the accumulated actions of a hundred crore of cycles come to nought, like the actions of dream-state on awakening.

यत्कृतं स्वप्नवेलायां पुण्यं वा पापमुल्बणम् । सुप्तोत्थितस्य किं तत्स्यात्स्वर्गाय नरकाय वा ॥ ४४८ ॥

  1. Can the good actions or dreadful sins that a man fancies himself doing in the dream-state, lead him to heaven or hell after he has awakened from sleep?

The above is from Vivekachudamani. This answer has gone too big and I'm not even sure whether anyone appreciate what I'm writing or not. So, I will stop here. If anyone is interested I can explain the 2 points which are still left to explained - first, how can illusion of rebirth and karma arise when its not present in reality. Second what causes the bondage in a living being when all their work are indeed a result of prakriti, and why there's so much importance given to doing the right action. And another side question is what is the right action which leads to liberation aka स्वधर्म.


Let me answer the remaning questions below.

Question: What causes bondage in a living being when all their work are indeed a result of prakriti?

Answer: The bondage in a living being is caused by राग (affection) and द्वेष (repulsion) towards objects. The likes and dislikes for objects should belong to the sense organs but because of ignorance, a living being starts thinking that it belong to His Own Atma. This is the bondage for a living being, nothing else. When such a person doesn't get what they want to get, or they get what they dislike, it causes suffering because they have assumed they are suffering instead of understanding that its their sense organs only which are suffering not them. It's the same as a person hooked to a dream or video game. In reality he doesn't suffer but he thinks he suffers. If one can get rid of superimposing likes and dislikes in their Atma, then one is competely free. By default people are like that only as you can see a child. In Yoga also, a perfect Yogi is one who acts like a transparent gem (स्फटिक मणि) ie he doesn't take the impressions of the world to his heart. Therefore the bondage of living beings is not something unseen or some sort of karma balance but it is one's ignorance that forces them to superimpose affection towards objects of desire onto their own Atma. That's why Shri Krishna says

इन्द्रियस्येन्द्रियस्यार्थे रागद्वेषौ व्यवस्थितौ। तयोर्न वशमागच्छेत्तौ ह्यस्य परिपन्थिनौ।।3.34।।

3.34. [For a man of worldly life] there are affection and repulsion clearly fixed with regard to the objects of each of his sense organs. These are the obstacles for him. [The wise] would not come under the control of these.

Shri Abhinavagupta commentary -

कथं तर्हि बन्धः इत्थमित्युच्यते (N omits इत्थम् K omits इति)।इन्द्रियस्येति। श्रेयानिति। संसारी च प्रतिविषयं रागं द्वेषं च गृह्णाति यतः कर्माणि आत्मकर्तृकाण्येव विमूढत्वादभिमन्यते इति सममपि भोजनादिव्यवहारं कुर्वतोः ज्ञानिसंसारिणोरस्त्ययं विशेषः।

A person living the worldly life does entertain affection or repulsion towards every sense-object. For, due to his ignorance he imagines that actions are performed only by him. Thus there is this difference between a man of knowledge and a man of worldly life, eventhough they perform alike their [respective] worldly activities such as eating etc.

Second question: How can illusion of rebirth and karma arise when its not present in reality?

Answer: The bodies of living beings are continously arising and merging back in the flux of prakriti, just like waves arise and subside in the ocean. When a being dies with a certain sort of samskara / vritti (conditioning or tendency) and when the same sort of samskara (conditioning or tendency) is seen in another being we call it rebirth. This is rebirth nothing else. As long as the vritti or samskar keep arising we say Jiva is taking birth. Jiva is also nothing but certain tendencies or vasanas. This tendency is hard to defeat. The only way to defeat it is by first accepting that it exists (although it doesn't). Then we kill it by using its force against itself. That is we kill the karma by first accepting karma is there and then doing satvic karmas to get rid of all karma. Similarly although Atma is free from vritti, satva vritti has to be first developed inorder to kill all other vritti. That's why doing the right karma is very important. And as long as one is not at a certain level a traditional Guru never encloses the knowledge of तत्त्वमसि (You are Brahman) his shishya (disciple). A traditional Guru you will find will keep insisting on the reality of karma and rebirth.

In the end a very interesting conversation between Yajnavalkya and Artabhag -

याज्ञवल्क्येति होवाच, यत्रास्य पुरुषस्य मृतस्याग्निं वागप्येति, वातं प्राणः, चक्शुरादित्यम्, मनश्चन्द्रम्, दिशः श्रोत्रम्, पृथिवीं शरीरम्, आकाशमात्म, ओषधीर्लोमानि, वनस्पतीन्केशाः, अप्सु लोहितं च रेतश्च निधीयते, क्वायं तदा पुरुषो भवतीति; अहर सोम्य हस्तमार्तभा, आवामेवैतस्य वेदिष्यावः, न नावेतत् सजन इति । तौ होत्क्रम्य मन्त्रयांचक्राते; तौ ह यदूचतुः कर्म हैव तदूचतुः, अथ यत्प्रशशंसतुः कर्म हैव तत् प्रशशंसतुः; पुण्यो वै पुण्येन कर्मणा भवति, पापः पापेनेति । ततो ह जारत्कारव आर्तभाग उपरराम ॥ १३ ॥ इति द्वितीयं ब्राह्मणम् ॥

  1. ‘Yājñavalkya,’ said he, ‘when the vocal organ[11] of a man who dies is merged in fire, the nose in air, the eye in the sun, the mind in the moon, the ear in the quarters, the body in the earth, the ether of the heart in the external ether, the hair on the body in the herbs, that on the head in the trees, and the blood and the seed are deposited in water, where is then the man?’ ‘Give me your hand, dear Ārtabhāga, we will decide this between ourselves, we cannot do it in a crowd.’ They went out and talked it over. What they mentioned there was only karma, and what they praised there was also only karma. (Therefore) one indeed becomes good through good work and evil through evil work. Thereupon Ārtabhāga, of the line of Jaratkāru, kept silent.
  • 1
    I have understood (unfortunately, only verbally). magnificent answer. But HSE doesn't seem to appreciate this line of thinking. @lokesh . Rebirth is obviously in this life - your previous conditioning leads to more conditioning. if you are ever fortunate to be free of conditioning - no more rebirth - IN THIS LIFE or any other life.
    – S K
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 12:35
  • 1
    @SK It's not just about HSE. It's very hard to give up once belief on karma and rebirth because we are so used to working in the framework of cause and effect. We are trained to find cause whenever we see an effect. All religions directly or indirectly whether they believe in karma or not, believe that there is meaning to why they are born, that there's a cause for it. If you tell them there's no cause, its their ignorance that they think they exist, they won't like it.
    – Lokesh
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 14:11
  • true. almost nobody can actually understand this, going beyond the words. Ramana Maharishi,Ramakrishna to name two. But this kind of thinking produces actual hostility at HSE. @lokesh
    – S K
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 14:20
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    Not correct understanding of Scriptures. Forget about Scriptures, Vasanas take up "many lives" in us daily. A person's Vasana for "sweetness" gets experienced one time by eating ice cream (which is like one life) and next time gets experienced through eating Sugar (next life) and so on, unless jiva removes vasana of sweetness from root through "Jnana". It's not logically correct to think "life" ends abruptly, which is nothing but accumulation of many vasanas.
    – The Destroyer
    Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 16:47
  • @SK & Lokesh, don't stop there; look into the evolution of Dopamine in human brains, which scientifically explains why we humans developed this autonomous seeking of 'causes' behind events or occurrences. IIRC atalashAnti prAkraNa of mAndukya upanishad also impresses that causes exist only in the minds of the thinker, and not outside in reality. Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 23:04

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