While the root is there, it will bear the fruit of birth, life span and experience
While taints are there, the karma-stock will come to fruition, but not when the root of taints has been cut. It is like rice grains still encased in the husk, not having been scorched, which are seeds with the power of growth; not so when they have been husked, or have been scorched.
While the root is there, it will bear the fruit of birth, life span and experience. The root is the taint of karma. While this root is there, meaning while the taints are there, it the karma-stock of good and bad, born of greed and anger will bear the fruit will come to full fruition. What is that fruition? birth, life span and experience. With the words While the root is there, the karma-stock will come to fruition, but not when the root of taints has been cut, the commentator explains what is meant by the root. He then gives an example to show how while there are taints, the karma-stock will come to fruition: It is like rice grains still encased in the husk, not having been scorched, which are seeds with the power of growth.
So the karma-stock encased in taints grows to fruition; but not when the taints have been removed from it, or when the taint-seeds have been scorched. The fruition is of three kinds: birth, life span, and experience.
Now an inquiry is made into different views on the subject.
Even though still in the husk, if at some time the seeds have been scorched, they are without the power of growth. Again, without scorching, if the husk is removed they are incapable of growth. The example has been selected to act as a simile in both ways.
How so? the karma-stock encased in taints grows to fruition, enclosed in taints, like grains encased in the husk, but not when the taints have been removed from it, or when the taint-seeds have been scorched. As with husked rice grains, when the taints are removed, it does not grow to fruition.
For a yogin of right vision attained after destruction of his taints by the practices of yoga, and also for one whose taints have not been removed but, like unhusked rice whose fertility has been scorched away, have been made sterile, burnt by the fire of pure right vision alone, attained through the yoga practices – (for them) there is no growth (of the karma-stock) to maturity.
So it is that Vyāsa describes release (mokṣa) of the Sāṅkhya-s and of the yogin-s as different:
‘As seeds scorched by fire do not sprout any more,
So with taints scorched by the fire of knowledge:
The self meets them no more.’
Ś. Gītā Bh. XIII.23, Br.Su. Bh. 3.2.32)
‘Having gone beyond the yogic powers, the yogin is released.’
(Mahābh, XII.228.3k), and other such texts
In the present work too he will speak of Transcendental Aloneness (kaivalya) both for yogin-s who attained powers and for yogin-s who did not (i.e. Sāṅkhya-s) (comm. to III.55).
How many kinds of fruition are there? He answers, The fruition is of three kinds: birth, life span, and experience. An inquiry is made into different views on the subject. For what purpose? He points out that actions are done by a single living being in a single life which would merit incompatible results. As it is said: ‘By ill actions done by the body, man goes to the state of plants; by those of speech, to that of birds and beasts; by those of thought, to birth in the lowest caste.’ (Mahābh, XIII App. 15 1773).
(First question:) Does each single action cause a single life, or does a single action produce more than one life? The second question is: Do several actions bring about several lives, or do several actions actuate a single life?
In order to attain heaven, one will undertake more than one action, and there are groups of actions which will bring one to hell. Then too scripture says that a single action such as murder of a Brahmin causes more than one life, and tradition also says (Manu XII.55), ‘The killer of a Brahmin goes to the wombs of a dog, a pig, an ass, a camel’, and other such.
Now if actions which ought to cause life-circumstances incompatible in time and place were to fructify as a single life, then the properly contradictory nature of the fruitions would be lost. The karmic drive towards proper correspondence of results would be nullified.
If the lives are to be successive, still inasmuch as actions are innumerable, there would be nothing to determine which one among them should produce the next life, rather than others – that is to say, by which it should be caused and by which not. There would be no confidence among performers of action in regard to the results, and enthusiasm for pursuing man’s highest goal (niḥśreyasa) would be destroyed.
If it be argued that some one of them operates as the cause and the others are destroyed, there is still the same difficulty, that there is nothing to determine which are to be destroyed and which remains operative.
If they are not to be destroyed, then there can be no release, because there will have been no opportunity for the working-out of that remainder. This is why the present inquiry is made, to show that the scriptures on karma and on the cessation of karma are meaningful.
Does each single action cause a single life? But one who desires heaven undertakes many actions for it. Or does a single action produce more than one life? This is the first question. As embracing the two alternatives, it forms a single question.
The second question is: Do several actions bring about several lives with compatible or incompatible fruits? Or do several actions actuate a single life, compatible or incompatible in fruits?
It is not that a single action is the cause of a single life. Why not? Between the innumerable remaining actions accumulated from time without beginning, and the actions of the present life, there is nothing to determine in what order their results will come, and so people will lose confidence, which is undesirable.
What follows? It is not that a single action is the cause of a single life. Why not? There are so many actions that it would be impossible for each one to bring about a life. If from just one there was a life, then between the innumerable remaining actions accumulated from time without beginning, since saṃsāra is without beginning, each man in his individual lives has been piling up an incalculable amount of karma whether of compatible or incompatible fruit; between the remaining karma, all except what is now in operation, which remainder has been accumulated over so many lives that it is incalculable, and the actions of the present life, karma created in the present life which has not yet begun to produce its effects, there is nothing to determine in what order their results will come, whether what brings about the next future life is only some block of karma laid down in a previous life, or some block of karma of the present life – the order of fruition would not be certain.
And so people will lose confidence: they would be in doubt whether it would be karma of some previous life, whether bad or good, or else karma of the present life, bad or good, which would be going to fructify, and in such a quandary, no one would engage in a rite like the fire ceremony. The result would be despair, as even release would not be striven for. And that is an undesirable conclusion.
Now he rejects the second alternative of the first question:
Nor does a single action produce several lives. Why not? In each of these lives a number of actions will be done, each one of which would itself be a cause maturing into a corresponding life. There will be no scope for the fruition of all the actions. This too is undesirable.
Now he rejects the second alternative of the first question. Nor does a single action produce several lives. Why not? Inasmuch as in each of those lives a number of actions are performed each one of which would itself be a cause maturing into a corresponding life, it is transformed into a life, and the effect is that there will be no scope for the fruition of all the actions other than the one which is actually producing its effect.
This too is undesirable. The absence of any control over the order of fruition of the karma is the same defect as before, and as an unacceptable conclusion is not to be allowed. But as to the fact that an action like Brahmin-murder does cause several lives, this is in the field of scriptural revelation, so that in the realm of such things as Brahmin-murder, it is to be accepted.
Nor do a number of actions cause that number of lives. Why not? The lives cannot be simultaneous, so it must be held that they come in succession, and that involves the same defect as before.
Now the first alternative to the second question is refuted: Nor do a number of actions cause that number of lives. Why is that not accepted? He replies: The lives cannot be simultaneous for one who has not got divine powers, and so it must be held that they come in succession, and that involves the same defect as before. Whether it is one or several actions that actuate the lives, it is always the same difficulty, that there is nothing to determine the order of fruition and people would lose confidence.
Thus these alternatives are unacceptable, and now the approved conclusion is given:
A stock of karma good and bad, made to converge on a birth and death, in accumulated variety and in relations of dominance and subordination, is manifested by death; by one impulse, as a block, it makes a single birth. That birth has its life span by that karma alone: in that life span comes experience, by that karma alone.
Made to converge on a birth and death on a birth-and-death a stock of karma good and bad, the qualification ‘which can be compatible as the cause of the circumstances of the new birth’ is to be supplied; those which would be incompatible with the circumstances of the birth are to be felt in a future birth and their fruition is not yet determined. He will speak later about the three-fold distribution (viniyoga); here he is only speaking of the determination of a karma-stock of good and bad in so far as their fruits are not inconsistent with each other.
accumulated variety: it is so varied because it is a piling up of many karma-s of similar and dissimilar kind; in relations of dominance and subordination, one karma is dominant over another, but itself subordinate to yet another, so that though subordinate it is also dominant – in this way many karma-s are in relations of many different kinds.
manifested by death: as the conjunction of seed and field and potential (saṃskāra) is the cause of the manifestation of the being of the sprout, so is death the impelling cause of the manifestation of those karma-s which are not incompatible. And by one impulse becoming one single impetus as a block unified it makes a single birth. That birth has its life span by that karma alone which was manifested at the death; in that life span comes experience by that karma alone by which were created the birth and span of life. As by that same seed from which the sprout was sent forth, there come also the fruit and flowers and the rest.
It is declared that experience and life span come into operation by that karma alone, but it is not that no other cause of life span and experience and so on operates as to getting a son who will live, and the other objects of sacrifice for sons or cattle and other desires. Otherwise all scriptures and traditions would be vitiated. So when it is said by that karma alone, the point is only to remove any suspicion that having originated the birth, it might have had its effect and so cease.
This block of karma, as causing birth, life span, and experience, is declared to have three-fold fruition, and for this reason is called a one-life karma-block. But karma which produces a single result as an experience to be felt in the present life is called of single fruition; or if two results, namely experience and life span, it is of double fruition; or if with three results, it is as with Nandīśvara and Nahuṣa.
This block of karma, as causing birth, life span, and experience, is declared to have three-fold fruition namely three fruits, birth and the other two, and for this reason is called a one-life (eka-bhāvika) karma-block meaning that it converges on the one birth. But karma which produces a single result as an experience to be felt in the present life is called of single fruition, as for instance a sacrificial rite to get sons and property, or if two results, namely experience and life span, it is of double fruition, like a sacrifice first for life span and also for desires; or if with three results, it is as with Nandīśvara and Nahuṣa.
(Opponent) Surely it is inconsistent to say that in the cases of Nandīśvara and Nahuṣa it was a three-fold fruition experienced in the present life? The present life of Nandīśvara was a human state, and the (later) divine state of Nandīśvara, as also the (later) serpent state of Nahuṣa, were both future; for that original humanity of Nandīśvara is not to be classed as divinity, nor that original divinity of Nahuṣa as the serpent state. So how can these be a triple fruition felt in a present life?
(Answer) There is no inconsistency. In the two cases, the body perceived in that particular form was changed into another form. For Nandīśvara and Nahuṣa it was not as with others, whose change into another form of existence is by destruction of the particular body of that visible form and acquiring and entering another form of existence. So it is that these are cited as cases of triple fruition felt in the present life.
Thus the karma-block of three-fold kind is to be felt in the present life or in a future life. But what is to be felt in the present birth, of indeterminate fruition (a-niyata-vipāka) is sometimes of single fruition as causing experience, sometimes of double, as causing experience and life span, and sometimes of triple, as causing form of existence, life span, and experience, as in the cases of Nandīśvara and Nahuṣa.
But what is to be felt in a future life is of two kinds: of determinate fruition, and of indeterminate fruition. The determinate (niyata) fruition has been indicated in the passage beginning A stock of karma good and bad, made by actions between birth and death, in accumulated variety and in relations of dominance and subordination, is manifested by death; by one impulse, as a block, it makes a single birth. Indeterminate fruition is three-fold, as he now goes on to say.
Set going by experiences of taints and karma-s and their fruition (which form) saṃskāra-complexes (vāsanā); this mind has been massed in a block from time without beginning, as it were variegated, spread out in all directions like a fishing net with its knots. These vāsanā-s have many lives behind them.
Here something is added about the block of saṃskāra-complexes (vāsanā) produced by the fruition of karma. Set going by experiences of taints and karma-s and their fruition: this means experiences of taints, experiences of karma-s, and experiences of their fruition; saṃskāra-complexes actuated by saṃskāra-s, this mind (citta) has been massed in a block from time without beginning, as it were variegated like a tent of wool and other materials spread out pervading in all directions like a fishing net with its knots.
Now in each single life, when the karma ripens, saṃskāra-complexes with many lives behind them are involved as accessories to it. For unless it were associated with a saṃskāra-complex, the attack in sudden fury (by the antelope father) on the infant masculinity of his new-born antelope son would be inexplicable. Nor could it come about merely from a saṃskāra impression of only one experience.
But this karma-block, created as the cause of birth and circumstances not incompatible between a birth and death, with its elements constituted as principal and subordinate, bringing about three-fold fruition, is said to be of this or that single life. It is not what is still to be felt in the present life, nor the indeterminate fruition in future lives, nor is it the saṃskāra-complexes.
He explains the nature of these last: saṃskāra-s, the causes of memory, form complexes (vāsanā) which go back in time wihout beginning because there is no beginning to saṃsāra whose nature is experience of taints and of karma-s and of their fruition.
But the karma-block of a single life previously mentioned has some elements exempt from fruition in that life. In what way? It has a determinate and an indeterminate fruition. What is the determinate fruition? What is manifested on death and brings about its effect. And this it is that forms the single life.
But what would cause incompatible birth and places and times, that has to be felt in future lives; being of opposite kind, its fruition is indeterminate. Why? Because it is opposed by the determinate fruition. They cannot be all in a single life because of the contradiction between them.
(Opponent) But it was said to be of a single life – the karma-block of a single life.
(Answer) That was only on the basis of the common point that it is all to be felt in a future life.
(Opponent) But it was said definitely that the karma-block, made to converge on a birth-and-death, in accumulated variety and in relations of dominance and subordination, manifested at death and massed in a block, makes a single birth; this is determinate, and that is now being contradicted. (But it must be determinate.) Why? Because death brings into manifestation all the previous karma, by breaking up the supporting container (ādhāra) of the karma-block and providing a new one. Suppose the container of the karma-block is human, it is also the substratum of divine and animal karma-blocks; when the container is broken, there will be no reason why one out of the divine or animal karma-blocks should manifest and not others, inasmuch as death is the common manifesting cause. For a light does not give up a segment of its illumination when it manifests its light.
(Answer) Not so, because it would take the meaning out of action. Actions of many kinds are performed, some in opposition to others. The same man who performs actions leading to heaven also engages in actions to acquire cattle and property, or action in the form of deeds of violence like the murder of a Brahmin, leading to the state of plants and so on. When this last is in the vegetable state or in hell, he cannot possess cattle or property. So the actions to acquire them would have become meaningless.
(Opponent) Let it be that (even in hell) he has the happiness of a property owner.
(Answer) When we speak of the desire for property, it does not mean desire merely for the happiness of having property; having the happiness of property is not the same as having the property itself. And it would vitiate all the scriptures. It would mean that the unseen worlds like heaven and hell were no more than subjective states of happiness or suffering, and that would contradict the sacred texts like ‘From there, by the remainder of his karma’ (Āpas. 220.127.116.11; Gaut. II.31), and the traditions, which declare that the remainder (of unfulfilled karma) does really exist. So not all the karma is manifested at death, because that would entail meaninglessness of some actions directly opposed to others. And if the scriptures about karma were meaningless, there would follow lack of interest in the scriptures on release also.
It is well known that there is variation among manifesting agencies: one may be manifesting while another is not. In the case of the eye making forms manifest, there is variation between the eye of the man Caitra and that of the owl, according to whether it is day or night. Though light ought to be equally a help for all eyes, to the owl’s eye it is no help. Again, though the one body of a beautiful woman can produce happiness, or suffering, or delusion, yet in fact there is manifestation of only one of the three (in an individual case).
(Opponent) The difference there is due to things like karma, so the objection does not hold.
(Answer) But still not all the karma-s will manifest, because of the contradiction between them. If a field in which seeds have been sown is ploughed up, then even when causes like water are supplied to it, the seeds of competing types which may have been sown there will not all produce their sprouts and so on. So when the temporary human body supporting the karma-stock is broken up, there cannot be a simultaneous going into operation of the competing types of divine and animal karma-blocks.
Furthermore the manifesting agent of karma-s is not death alone, because we see that people aim at experiences to be felt in this present life.
(Opponent) There is manifestation of all those of which death alone is the manifesting agent.
(Answer) No, because of the opposition of divine and animal and human karma-blocks.
And there are different kinds of death: there is the present one and there are future ones. Because it has these distinctions, death does not manifest all the karma-s. There are contradictions which make distinct kinds of death, so that there are different deaths. For instance, the text, ‘Whatever state of being he meditates on when he leaves the body at death’ (to that he goes, Gītā VIII.6) differentiates death according to the differences of particular memory at that time. Therefore death does not make manifest all the karma-s; if it did, the distinctions made in it would become meaningless.
And the distinctions like memory (at death) would not alter or destroy what has been already accomplished, for memory is not an auxiliary to bring about destruction or alteration of accomplished karma. Memory should be independent. Consequently (on our theory) karma which has been engaged in is meaningful.
Moreover (on your theory) those who having died are now in the embryo state would have to have release (mokṣa), because there would be no operation of karma (before the birth).
(Opponent) In that state they might do actions which could have results.
(Answer) No, because that state is not yet equipped with senses. It is only when equipped with the senses that there can be operations and fruitfulness of action, and the state is not equipped with them.
(Opponent) It can be as in dream.
(Answer) No, because we do not admit any action there either. By the text ‘Whatever he sees there, he is untouched by it’ (Bṛhad. 4.3.15) scripture shows that there is no binding power in an action produced in the dream display. No one becomes a sinner just because his dreams show the senses engaged in something like Brahmin-murder.
(Opponent) He does, for penances are prescribed for wet dreams.
(Answer) No; the reason for the penance is the fact of emission of semen (not the content of the dream).
Even if it were admitted that states like that of the embryo can have a result like a dream state, still since there is no operation of the senses, the result itself is only on the level of dream, and there is no real action and agent. So the corollary of release (mokṣa, on exhaustion of karma) applies only to those who have been born from the womb.
Of these, the determination is only of the karma of determinate fruition due to be felt in a future life, but not of karma of indeterminate fruition due to be felt in a future life. Why? Because karma of indeterminate fruition due to be felt in a future life has three possible outcomes:
destruction of the created karma before fruition,
or merging into dominant karma,
or remaining for a long time in a state of repression by dominant karma already going into its determinate fruition.
Of these, destruction of the karma created but not yet fructifying is like the destruction of dark karma by the rise of bright karma in this very life.
So deaths do not make manifest all the karma-s, because there are distinctions among deaths, as he says: Of these, the determination the determination which was first spoken of by the commentary as what is created between birth and death, which produces the triple fruition (birth, life span and experience) is only of the karma of determinate fruition due to be felt in a future life, but not of karma of indeterminate fruition due to be felt in a future life. Why? Because the karma of indeterminate fruition due to be felt in a future life has three possible outcomes. What are they?
destruction of the created karma before its fruition, destruction of the karma which has not completed the normal course. This would be like the cancelling of created karma by such things as penances.
merging into the dominant karma. There is a blending with the dominant karma which is about to be felt in a determinate way; it is not set aside by the fruition of the dominant karma, but from within that, takes effect in the course of time. As when along with rice grains completely mature, some immature grains are sown, they produce only a small effect.
or else remaining in a state of repression by dominant karma already going into determinate fruition. The determinate fruition of the dominant karma is in the form of results already in operation; subdued by that, it remains repressed, because the place and time and causes are opposed to its own fruition. As when two antagonists fight, one of them is brought into a state of subjection, according to place and time and causes, to the active control of the other.
Of these, destruction of the karma created but not yet fructifying is like destruction by the rise of bright karma by the rise of the pure, consisting of tapas, self-study (svādhyāya), yoga, etc., and also of penances, etc., of the dark karma of impure nature, involving harm to others and so on, which had formerly possessed the mind; in this very life, not to be taken restrictively, for there can be destruction also of bad karma from action which had formerly possessed the mind in a previous life. As with people who have the disease of the nails (Manu XI.49) caused by sin (stealing, in a previous life); when (the sin is) recognized by such marks, its destruction is effected by a penance.
On which it has been said: ‘karma-s are to be known as in pairs; one block made by the good cancels one made by the bad. Seek then to do good actions. Here it is that the sages instruct you on your welfare.’
Then he explains by a citation from established authority, of another scripture: On which it has been said: ‘karma-s are to be known by the man who is qualified as an aspirant as in pairs white and dark, in birth after birth. One block made by the good by good such as self-study cancels another block made by dark karma. Or made by the good may mean the block of white karma of a good man, which destroys the block of dark karma. Seek therefore good actions karma of the white, to make your own karma pure. Why should we do so? Here it is in this very life that the sages (kavi) who know the divisions of karma-s and their fruitions instruct you make known to you your welfare (śarma), your happiness (sukha), your peace (śānti).
Now the merging into dominant karma. On this it has been said: Suppose there is some slight blemish; removing it or thinking about it does not trouble the skilful one. Why not? Because there is for him so much other good fortune in which this will be submerged, that in heaven too it will make but little difference.
Now the merging into dominant karma is illustrated. Suppose there is some slight blemish the traces of a very small fault. removing it: it needs removal but has not been removed; the sense is that the means for removing it is available to the one who is aware of it. thinking about it paying attention to it, thinking obsessively like the sinner in his distress, ‘How did I come to do that sin? when shall I expiate it? I will never do that again’, does not trouble the skilful one the knower (vidvat), well-versed in all aspects of karma and its fruition and the removal of defects and so on. This very small blemish is not able to reduce the far more numerous good results which are already in operation, or even if it should reduce them, it cannot introduce any effect of its own. Again, it cannot detract from the good karma itself. Why not? The spiritual aspirant feels that because there is for him so much other good fortune and thereby happiness in which great happiness this blemish will be submerged, in heaven too it will make but little difference.
Or remaining for a long time in a state of repression by dominant karma already going into determinate fruition. How is this? There, death is said to be indiscriminately the cause of going into manifestation only of karma-s due to be felt in a future life which are of determinate fruition, not of karma due to be felt in the present life, nor of karma of indeterminate fruition.
Or remaining in a state of repression by dominant karma already going into determinate fruition. How is this? It is a difficult question.
(Opponent) How is this indeed! One feels it is reasonable that there should be subjection of one whose powers are ineffective to another whose power is effective, because the operation of the power derives from different causes. But here death is the manifesting cause of all karma-s alike; at death, all karma-s should go into operation, and it is not reasonable that there should be subjection to dominant karma. So let it be only the possibility of merging (and no other possibility).
(Answer) To this he replies: Death is said to be indiscriminately the cause of going into manifestation only of karma-s due to be felt in a future life, karma-s causing such place and time and fruitions and so on as are not inconsistent with each other, which are of determinate fruition, various karma-s of good and evil character; but not of karma due to be felt in the present life in the shape of sons, property and so on, nor of karma of indeterminate fruition, of that which is due to be felt in a future life, which has been explained above (as excluded by incompatibity).
But that which is due to be felt in a future life and is of indeterminate fruition may be destroyed, or merged, or for a long time may be put aside, as long as no compatible manifesting cause makes it appear.
Since of that fruition itself the place and time and cause are not determinable, this course of karma is complicated and hard to know. It is not that the general rule about it fails because of an exception. The karma-stock of a single life is difficult to understand.
But that which is due to be felt in a future life and is of indeterminate fruition may be destroyed, or merged, or for a long time may be put aside, set on one side, repressed, as long as no compatible manifesting cause some karma of similar kind, consonant with it, makes it appear; for a karma of compatible kind will bring it to fruition.
Since of that fruition itself, of that karma whose fruition is indeterminate, the place and time and cause are not defined, neither in what place or from what cause nor in what time the fruition of that karma will make its appearance, this course of karma is complicated and hard to know. It is complicated because of the various possibilities of destruction and merging and being repressed, and hard to know because in what time and in what place and by what cause the fruition will appear are undefined.
(Opponent) It was said that the karma due to be felt in a future life, manifesting at death, produces only a single life: it makes only one life. Now different possibilities are spoken of: destruction, merging, and a repressed state. The two statements contradict each other.
(Answer) No, because (the proposition) was later completed in the words this is the determination of the determinate fruition due to be felt in future lives. For it is not that the general rule about it fails because of an exception, because of our point about indetermination. Why does it not fail? Because, as it has been said, it is only that the karma-stock of a single life is hard to understand, not that it fails. The meaning is that it is not ruled out that karma of indeterminate fruition also should create a single life.
Or possibly the connection with the negative not is this: if one allows that the general rule does allow of an exception, the karma-stock of a single life will not be difficult to understand. So the exception operates as regards only one part of the general rule but not all, and thereby it is quite easy to understand the karma-stock as of determinate fruition in a single life.
There is another view. The subject here is what is to be understood about the course of karma and this exception says that the karma-stock of a single life is difficult to understand. The word There means: cause. Since there is no failure because of that exception to the causal general rule of the understanding of the course of karma which is the subject, the course of karma which is to be known should be known in that way alone. The phrase hard to understand means that it is supposed to be comprehensible only with pain and great effort.