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How can we be responsible for our deeds when the planets influence our minds?

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How can we be responsible for our deeds when the planets influence our minds?

Discourse Podcast

 

Shri Parikshit, a lawyer from Delhi asked (on the phone): Are the planets not influencing our minds to do good or bad deeds? The planets have Lordships of houses like wealth, house, issues, wife, job etc., and also have natures (Kaaraka) like knowledge, work, wife, children etc., when their periods come it is said that they influence these aspects. Then, our works are destined by the planets and we shall not receive punishments for our sins done by us due their influence, which is the destiny.

Swami replied: We are doing good deeds or bad deeds based on our own inherent nature. This is stated repeatedly in the Gita as “prakrutim yaanti bhuutaani..., prakrutistvaam niyokshyati..., Prakruteh kriyamanaani, gunaih karmaani..., kaaranam gunasangosya...” and so on. God and the planets are neither the doers of our deeds nor do they influence our deeds. They also never give any fruit to us unless we perform the corresponding deed (Na kartrutvam na karmaani…—Gita). Our nature depends on our qualities which we have picked up from our surroundings in this birth or carried forward from our previous births. The planets are only giving us the fruits of our own deeds. The fruits have been arranged in a regular cyclic fashion by God so that we receive some good fruit followed by some bad fruit of our own actions alternately. This alternate arrangement is done so that we can get maximum enjoyment from life. Enjoying only good fruits i.e. pleasant experiences; one after the other, will lead to boredom. Similarly, experiencing the bad fruits of our actions i.e. difficulties in life; one after the other, will lead to depression. The alternate arrangement provides maximum enjoyment like enjoying a full meal in which one eats sweet and hot dishes alternately. As per our acquired natures, we are born in zodiac signs, whose Lords have a similar nature. Note that we are not referring to the inert planet. We are referring to the nature of its Lord or presiding deity, who is known by the same name as the planet. For example, the Lord of the inert planet, Mars, has a hot and angry nature. So, souls of a similar nature are born in the zodiac signs, Aries or Scorpio, which are ruled by Mars. It is very important to understand that Mars does not induce anger into the soul but the angry soul is born in the zodiac sign ruled by Mars. Hence, our natures are not influenced by the planets. We are merely born in the zodiac signs ruled by the planets having a similar nature. The different astrological periods (dashaas) are the times when we are supposed to receive the fruits of our deeds as arranged by God in our life.

Destiny means that you must receive the fruit of your deed at the appropriate time as decided by God. You can never escape it. You are destined to receive the fruits as per the constitution of God. But the concept of destiny is confined to enjoying the fruits of your deeds. It does not extend to your performing the deeds. You perform the deeds only as per your qualities, which make up your nature. If you kill some person and state in the court that you have killed him due to the influence of certain planets on you, will the judge be satisfied? The judge will say that you are receiving the punishment for your crime based on the influence of the same planets! People often exploit spiritual concepts. For example, some say that every incident happening in this world is destined since it happens only by the will of God. Then the judge will say that he too is giving you the punishment for your crime based on the same will of God!

God is responsible for every deed in the sense of supplying the energy required for the deed. He is not responsible for the direction of the deed, which alone decides the fruit. Electrical energy is supplied to your house by the government expecting that you will use it for good purposes like putting on lights and fans. If you misuse the electricity or if you put your fingers in the plug point, you will receive a shock. The government is not responsible for the electric shock, and will not compensate you for the damage! God is like to horse that carries you from one place to the other. But the direction of your journey is decided only by you, and the fruit, which depends on the direction taken, shall also be enjoyed by you alone. If you go to the forest, robbers will rob your money. If you go to another city where your relatives and friends live, you will be received by them with pleasure. The horse that takes you either to the forest or the city as per your direction, is not responsible for the fruits that you receive. The meaning of the Vedic statement “Abadhnan purusham pashum is that the souls have bound God to their deeds, as a horse is bound to a cart for a journey. Binding the horse to the cart does not mean that the horse is responsible for the direction taken by the cart. The driver of the cart, which is the soul, alone is responsible for the direction.

Swami Vivekananda said that you can change your destiny and that destiny is in your hands alone. This means that you can stop the chain of punishments for your sins provided you put forth the effort to undergo reformation. Reformation has three steps. The first is intellectual and it involves gaining spiritual knowledge and digesting it fully. It naturally leads to the second emotional step which is the repentance for one’s wrong deeds in the past. Finally, the third and final practical step is the non-repetition of the sinful deeds throughout one’s life. The third practical step proves that one has actually reformed. If the spiritual knowledge is gained and properly digested, repentance and non-repetition of the sin are natural consequences. The digestion of spiritual knowledge does not take place simply by gaining it. After gaining it, you have to propagate it in the world. This repeated propagation confirms and strengthens the concepts in your mind resulting in their digestion and assimilation by your soul. i.e. they become part of your inherent nature. Swami Vivekananda made this statement from his own experience. He was involved in the propagation of the true spiritual knowledge preached by Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa throughout His life!

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