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Scenario: A devotee prays to Tirupati Venkateswara Swamy for accomplishing some task. He takes a vow (mokku) that he will visit the Temple after his task gets accomplished without any obstacles. His/her task gets accomplished without any obstacles and the devotee forgets his vow (mokku). Now something bad happens to him/her.

I'm not assuming anything here. These are the experiences shared by my family and friends. I don't know about other temples but certainly bad happens if someone forgets a vow made to Lord Venkateswara.

Most of the people pay visit to the temple immediately after planning a certain task. They generally don't defer the plan to visit temple. Also people generally don't return without darshan when they go to Tirumala (hilltop where the temple is located) even if it takes long hours. Some people literally fear while taking their vow.

In most cases, the vow would be to pay a visit to the temple.

Why does something bad happen to people who don't fulfill their vow?

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    Well, I don't know what personal experiences you've had. But I think the general answer is karma - breaking a vow to Vishnu will lead to negative consequences. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 12 '15 at 14:41
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    Can you ever repay your debt to your father? You can not. Do you tell your father, if you do this for me, I'll do something in return for you? If you fail to keep your promise, will your father punish you? No. – sv. Oct 12 '15 at 15:28
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    @sv. Well, your father is presumably not responsible for maintaining the moral order of the universe :-) So he may not care if you break a promise. But the gods certainly care. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 12 '15 at 15:48
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    @sv. Well, there's two separate issues. There's the issue of whether making a vow like "If my son gets better from the ilness, I'll go to Tirupati" can lead to Vishnu making your son get better. The answer to that is yes, because by making such a vow you're signalling that you're taking refuge in Vishnu, so Vishnu will see your devotion and cure your son's illness. Then there's the issue of what the consequences will be if your son gets better (regardless of whether your vow led to him getting better) and you decide not to go to Tirupati. And the answer is you'll suffer negative consequences. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 12 '15 at 16:40
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    Because the person committed asatya dosha. Since something bad has happened in this lifetime when we are fully cognizant of the reasons, it is also a chance to redeem oneself. Venkateswara punishing is in fact a blessing designed to steer us back to the path of truth (sat). Lord is benevolent and loving not petty and vengeful. – user1195 Oct 17 '15 at 10:35
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It does not happen to you, you beget it through your own actions or lack thereof. Such beliefs and traditions serve a more functional purpose, in addition to the divine context they are wrapped in. So, even if one is unable to understand the action of God, one can always understand it in the context of one's own actions or lack thereof.

Such vows, and beliefs and traditions about them, are meant to inculcate two things. (a) You should understand and hence avoid frivolity of promise . (b) It helps you inculcate discipline, in some cases, sense-control, dispassion and self-sacrifice.

Frivolity of Promise :

Consider the first. The scriptures abound with instances where X promised something to a Rishi or a God, and failed to do so and met with consequences.

The Kauravas said that the punishment for the Pandavas was staying in the forest and then staying incognito for a year, which Pandavas did, but the Kauravas didn't keep their end of the promise.

In contrast, Sri Rama, fulfilled a promise, that his father made to Kaikeyi, and Dasaratha himself fulfilling a promise that he made to Kaikeyi years back during a war. Such strong adherence to Truth, may be unheard of and laughable in the current times, the sons may not even pay up the credit card debt, but such is the high standard set by the ideals of the seers.

You can see this in everyday life too. Assume this situation. You assure your boss, that : " I shall work 8 hours every day for the next three months and complete this project by the end of February. " . But in the upcoming weeks, say, you spend your time browsing the internet, reading and writing answers on hinduism.stackexchange and a million other websites, spending away your time. Everyday the clock is ticking, you are remembering that, but ignoring it. On the appointed day, the boss calls and fires you. Now, who is responsible for this plight ? You! Boss didn't make special bad things "happen" to you, he is couriering you the result of your own inertia. You dug your own pit, a bit everyday. If anything, bosses have to do that, so as to set a benchmark standard for moral order, so that others know what it means to promise and what it means to breach it knowingly.

God didn't request you to make a deal with Her. You had the need, so you went to God, had faith in Her. She did it for you. That's your belief too. If you had a belief that a certain event will occur because of Her, after the good event occurs, you can't conveniently say, it occurred because of your own effort, right ?

Remember, God is not worried about whether you visit her temple, but you being her son, She may be more worried about the indiscipline, breach and betrayal that you have allowed yourself and those may not work well for you in the world, in your work, in your relationships and even for yourself as a matter of guilt in your mind and conscience.

The mother has to say, 'Write the homework or no ice-cream'. She may occasionally give the ice-cream to you without the homework, but if it's recurring, she will be worried about homework pattern than about icecream liking.

If you make a habit keeping your promise to God, because you know She is all-powerful, one day, we may grow up keeping our promises to men, because God is watching us through them. Swami Sivananda used to say that the karmic effect of breaking one's promise is mental agony and pain, which is true, both for divine promises and those in the material world.

http://www.dlshq.org/download/karmadisease.htm

Inculcation of Discipline :

Setting aside the vow of just visiting a temple, in many cases, the vows are also accompanied by a certain Vratham, a daily code of conduct, abstaining from something impulsive or commonplace. A pilgrimage to Sabarimala, for example, presupposes restrictions on one's behaviour. Sometimes, it even invokes a certain behaviour towards us, from others. http://www.ayyappaseva.org/Sabarimala/AyyappaVratham

Simple people, avoid smoking, are conscious about hurting others, avoid certain kinds of foods etc. http://www.dlshq.org/download/20instrch.htm#_VPID_28 Some of them require giving up comforts, it teaches you dispassion about worldly things, for that period. Some people give up things that are dear to them otherwise in a material sense, (such as tonsuring their head), because it helps to know the transience of external appearances and who would do it, if not out of devotion to a higher being ?

It's like jogging in army training, you don't jog all the time after posting, but it keeps you fit and trim for a moment of readiness in uncertain situations. Such periods give you a small window to show you that you can be a master of your senses with conscious application of will power, if you are tuned to a higher ideal.

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    A person prayed God to fulfil his one wish and in return he took the vow that if his wish gets fulfilled then he will again pay a visit to tirupati. But later he paid a visit to tirupati before fulfilment of his wish. Means he visited tirupati in advance before fulfilment of his wish. Will that be considered fulfilment of his vow/promise ? I am asking this because earlier he vowed to visit tirupati again if his wish gets fulfilled but later he visited tirupati in advance ,before fulfilment of his wish? Will that be considered fulfilment of his vow/promise by God? – Amit Nov 29 at 17:48
  • From a traditional standpoint, yes, he has to visit again after the wish is fulfilled. Because the Word is considered sacred in the idea of a vow. My personal belief, though, isn't as strict as it ought to be. I guess, God is cool about it. :-) It helps you to strengthen your belief. Also, if something untoward were to happen, a thought surfaces, "may be it is due to this". That thought is more of a punishment, better to get it out by fulfilling the vow. – Whirl Mind Nov 30 at 12:19
  • ..The person is one of my friends.He visited tirupati in advance before fulfilment of his wish and prayed God to accept this as fulfilment of his vow/promise. He prayed God that he was supposed to fulfil his vow(tirupati visit) if his wish gets fulfilled but he is fulfilling it in advance only. He did not break his word. He vowed to visit tirupati if his wish gets fulfilled and he did the same, but before fulfilment of his wish.Only the timing was different. He fulfilled it before fulfilment of his wish. Will God not accept his vow/promise which he fulfilled in advance? – Amit Dec 2 at 5:49

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