Most of you might know, we have to experience the result of any karma(Prarabdha karma)done by us. Any Prarabdha Karma is inevitable.

According to Sri Swami Sivananda: "Prarabdha is that portion of the past karma which is responsible for the present body. That portion of the sanchita karma which influences human life in the present incarnation is called prarabdha. It is ripe for reaping. It cannot be avoided or changed. It is only exhausted by being experienced. You pay your past debts. Prarabdha karma is that which has begun and is actually bearing fruit. It is selected out of the mass of the sanchita karma."

Mostly we assume that whatever is happening in awake state(state of consciousness) that is a result of our Prarabdha Karma. I would like to know about Prarabdha Karma while sleeping.

My question is:

  • What does happens to Prarabdha Karma while sleeping? Or Is sleeping itself a result of Prarabdha Karma?
  • 3
    Nice question. There are differing views on whether karma is experienced and therefore debited in swapna and sushupti avastas.
    – user1195
    Feb 4, 2015 at 12:08

2 Answers 2


Swamiji has quoted great verses in support that waking state karma does not get meted out in dreams state. But as moonstar2001 has commented, there are differing views on this.

Since you mentioned Sri Swami Sivananda's quotes, let us see what the great saint Sri Swami Sivananda Himself has said about this:

Does dream actions result in karma getting generated?

Sri Swami Sivananda says in 'Dream' by Sri Swami Sivananda

The dreamer is not affected by any result whatever of the good and the evil he sees in the dream state. Because in dream the dreamer does not actually do what is holy or evil, he is not chained by either; for, good or evil actions and their consequences are not imputed to the mere spectator of them.

No one regards himself a sinner on account of the sins committed in dreams. Nor do people who have heard of them condemn or shun the person on that account. Hence he is not touched by them.

That is He tells us that dream actions do not result in karma in waking state. However do they result in karma in dreaming state? That is a great question. However that is unrelated to this question so let us not digress.

Does real-world karma affect us in dreaming state?

Sri Swami Sivananda in 'Dream' by Sri Swami Sivananda:

The dream objects are created by the Lord as fruition of the minor works of the Jiva. In order to reward the soul for very minor Karmas, the Lord creates the dreams.

The Universal Soul is the creator of dreams and not the individual soul; for, had it been possible for the latter to shape his dreams, he would never have dreamt a bad dream, but would always have dreamt only propitious ones.

Thus Swamiji says that basically the very minor karmas are meted out in dream state. However no new karma is created (in the waking world) because of actions done in the dream world.

In Mahabharata Anusasana Parva, Section VII (thanks Keshav for the link), Bhishma says that fruits of those actions done with the mind are experienced in dreaming state while those actions done with body are experienced in waking state:

for example, the fruits of actions done with mind are enjoyed at the time of dreams, and those of actions performed physically are enjoyed in the working state physically.

How about Susupti or deep sleep state? Does any karma get meted out there?

In deep sleep there is nothing but undifferentiated mass of conciousness. There are no desires, no objects to enjoy and no actions that can be performed. Thus there can be no karma either generated or meted out.

Mandukya Upanishad verse 5

The third quarter is prājña, where one asleep neither desires anything nor beholds any dream: that is deep sleep. In this field of dreamless sleep, one becomes undivided, an undifferentiated mass of consciousness, consisting of bliss and feeding on bliss. His mouth is consciousness.

Basically in conclusion, everybody agrees that actions performed in dreams do not generate any karma, however with respect to waking state karmas affecting dream state, some saints say that minor karmas do get exhausted in the dreaming state while others say that they do not.

Is sleeping itself result of karma?

Well sleeping is because of partial exhaustion of karma. That is when the jiva in waking state performs all actions and eventually Mind and body gets exhausted by experience. That causes sleep.

Ofcourse this is obvious and no reference is required for this! But still just to follow site guidelines, Sri Swami Sivananda describes the philosophy of sleep by Sri Swami Sivananda:

Just as a kite which flies up in the sky at the dawn of the day and roams about here and there in the high regions in search of food throughout the day, takes complete rest in its own nest on the tree at night, so also the Jiva or the individual soul after having wandered in the dense forest of sense-objects all day long, gets into its abode called the Karana Sarira and enjoys the bliss of Sushupti or deep sleep.

  • 1
    Good answer. I wonder what the scriptural basis is for Sivananda's statement that "[t]he dream objects are created by the Lord as fruition of the minor works of the Jiva. In order to reward the soul for very minor Karmas, the Lord creates the dreams." Feb 4, 2015 at 17:16
  • Thanks Keshav. I added a quote from Mahabharata as well as a possibly scriptural basis hehe. I am not sure which verse He is referring to.
    – Sai
    Feb 4, 2015 at 17:19
  • 1
    OK thanks, the Bhishma quote is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. By the way, you should include a link to that Mahabharata chapter in your answer: sacred-texts.com/hin/m13/m13a007.htm Feb 4, 2015 at 17:35
  • 2
    The resolution of the seemingly small inconsistency of Sivananda's comment and mine are in Gaudapada's Karika IV. Feb 5, 2015 at 12:40
  • @SwamiVishwananda Thank you for the best reference Swamiji, I will certainly go through the text! view on contradictions is this: that it is but the nature of the Mind to analyze and produce apparent contradictions that ultimately all cancel each other out. The Truth expounded by both the great Swamiji's (Sivananda and Yourself) is that just as the Dreamer is unaffected by the actions in dream state, the Experiencer (Atman/Brahman) is unaffected by the karmas of the waking state. The rest of the information is subjective/experience-based and only useful if it leads to this realization. :) :)
    – Sai
    Feb 5, 2015 at 16:35

These questions are dealt with in detail in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV. iii. 10-34.

Verse 15 says that "...He remains unaffected by whatever he sees in that [dream] state, for this infinite being is unattached." - Whatever happens in the dream state has no effect on a person's karma, you are unattached to your body and organs and there is no activity produced by them in the dream state. There is no good or bad karma generated. Karma is only generated in the waking state.

Verse 11 says "The effulgent infinite being who travels alone, makes the body insensible in sleep but himself remains awake, and taking with him the luminous particles of the organs, watches those which lie dormant. Again, he comes to the waking state." - your prarabdha karma remains dormant while you are in the dream state.

Verse 34 says "That entity (the self), after enjoying himself and roaming in the dream state and merely witnessing [the results of] merits and demerits, hastens back in the reverse way to the former condition, the waking state." - former condition means the prarabdha karma becomes active.

All the verses between 10-34 deal with these and similar questions about this.

  • The question is not whether karma is generated, but whether it is meted out during sleep. None of the verses you quoted seem to address that, unless I'm missing something. Feb 4, 2015 at 14:10
  • @keshavsrinivasan Swamiji's answer does address the original question. The answer is that karma is not meted out in sushupti or in swapna. Dreaming of experiencing karma will not nullify it
    – user1195
    Feb 4, 2015 at 14:24
  • verse 11. 'remains dormant'. Means is not meted out in the dream state...what is experienced in the dream state has no bearing on the waking state. Feb 4, 2015 at 14:33
  • verse 15. 'unaffected by what he sees in the dream state.' My answer says karma is only generated in the waking state, a better answer is karma is only generated and reaped in the waking state. I have tried to limit my answer to only those verses that summarized an answer to the questions. There are 24 verses total. If truly interested, suggest reading all 24 verses. Feb 4, 2015 at 14:37

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