Wish you had known this about Karma – 14 Questions answered by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Gurudev, many times my intention is not wrong but my action is wrong. Will I accumulate any bad karma for that?

If intention is right then don’t worry about it. Though action does have its repercussions, but it is not much when the intention is right.

Is one lifetime enough to clean all our Karma?

Yes! If a room is locked for 20 years, it does not take 20 years clean the room and bring light there.

What is Karma and how can one enhance the ability to understand Karma?

Everything that you have done till now is Karma. All that you are doing at present is also Karma. And everything that you are going to do in the future; or the inspiration for every action that you are going to do in the future – that is also Karma. Everything that is happening in the World is Karma.

When we read about the bad deeds of people in the newspaper, can it also affect our karma?

No, you should read it lightly. If you take it into yourself, yes it affects your mind. Otherwise, it won’t affect anything else. Read lightly and forget about it. It is all part of the universe.

Gurudev, when time is good, everyone is good to you. So are people actually good or is the goodness of time that makes people good around you? I am confused.

I think you already know the answer.
There are people you have helped day and night and yet they have become your enemies. Haven’t they? How many of you have had this experience? You have not done anything wrong to somebody and yet they have become your enemy. Similarly, you have not done any favor to somebody, yet they have helped you a lot and become best friends with you. Hasn’t this happened?

Getting a friend or enemy happens through some karma. So if your time is good, even an enemy acts like a friend, and if your time is not good, even a friend acts like an enemy.

Gurudev, where does one seek the do’s and don’ts on karma?

You should listen to your own conscience, your inner gut feeling.Don’t do anything which you don’t want others to do to you. That is the criteria. We should do that which brings long term benefit, even if it is at the cost of some short term unpleasant situations. We should not do that which gives short term pleasure but problems in the long run. This is the criteria for karma.

How to get rid of negative karma? How does it come into existence?

I want to ask you a question. When the lights were not on in this room, there was darkness here, right? When the lights came on, where did the darkness go? Did it go to that room? Did the darkness escape through the window? Got it? In the same way, if negative karma is there, there is little darkness, there is no light there. Put the light on, it vanishes. How to get rid of negative karma? By meditation, service and knowledge. Serve the needy. Know that it (the negative karma) does not touch you; a shadow does not touch me.

Gurudev, can fate be changed, if so, how? I want to wash off my bad karma.

You are in the right place, doing the right thing. Meditate, chant, take part in lot of service activities and the past karma will get washed away.

Gurudev, are bodily diseases or disorders linked to our karmas?

Yes, some of them are linked, but not all. Some are linked to your actions of the past, and some are a result of your own wrong deeds that you have done now. That is why it is called Prajnapradha (a wrong deed committed despite having the knowledge or discretion of right and wrong).  So when you are not fully attentive or in awareness, and commit some wrong deed, then your health also suffers due to that.

Gurudev, in the Bhagawat Gita the Lord says that you have to perform Karma(action) as long as you are alive. But one Karma leads to Karma. That is why this cycle never gets over. My question is, which is that Karma by which we can be liberated from the cycle of Karma?

Liberation is acquired by Nishkama-Karma (Action which is done without any feverishness or attachment to the fruits of the action).

Gurudev, do thoughts and feelings affect our Karma (actions)?

Yes, it is indeed correct. One’s thoughts and feelings both determine one’s karma. The way one perceives people and things around himself, they will appear in that very same way to him. People will appear to you the way you perceive them to be. If you see a person as a friend, he will come across as a friend to you. If you consider someone as your enemy he will behave like an enemy to you. Then they will appear as your enemy to you even if they do not do anything. It is said – ‘Yatha drishti tatha srishti’ (Meaning: As is one’s vision, so does the world appear to him).

How does the Karma of our parents and ancestors affect us? Are we also punished because of their bad karmas?

Listen, if your ancestor has left you a house, is it not a boon for you now? Why are you asking such obvious questions?! They have earned a lot of money, toiled and built a home and they left it to you. You are enjoying their karma, is it not?! And if they are gone with a big debt in the bank, and if you have to pay that back then that is your karma too. So naturally it affects you. Not just parents but your company also affects you.
If you keep sitting with very depressed people, you also feel down and depressed as well. If you are in the company of joyful and spiritual people your karma improves.

Gurudev, can the Guru change the karma of a person, and when does that happen?

If a Guru alone could change the karma of a person then he would have changed the karma of everybody in one stroke.  No, you have to do some effort as well. Guru can definitely relieve you of your sins. When you commit a sin and you realize that you made a mistake, you cannot relieve yourself of sin, but the Guru can definitely do it for you. So in that sense, yes!
At the same time, you have to do Purusharth (self-effort). You need to do some good work.
And the sense of love and devotion is equally proportionate to the amount of karma that gets released.

Guruji, how do we avoid ‘Karma Bandhan’ (bondage due to actions) in our daily life?

Karma Bandhan is when there is some craving or there is some aversion. Both craving and aversion we call as ‘Karma Bandhan’. So when you do an action without aversion or craving, with a smile, with a free mind and a clean heart, then there is no bondage. Such kind of action brings that inner freedom too.