Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 07 May 2019


Where are the fruits of our deeds enjoyed? On earth or in the upper worlds?

Kum. A. V. N. Kishori asked: It is said that we are reborn on this earth to enjoy the fruits of our deeds (karma). But it is also said that we undergo the punishments (fruits) of our bad deeds in hell. Do these two statements not contradict each other? Also, what is the importance of the number 19 in numerology?

Swami replied: Your second question on numerology has no connection with your main spiritual question. This second question is like a black spot on the white moon! Yet, I am answering your second question first since it is the first time that you are posing questions to Me. Our ancient astrological scriptures do not have the numerology that is being followed nowadays. The numerology that is based on the ancient astrology is different from the present system of numerology.

The number 19 is related to Saturn (Shani), which is a very powerful planet in both materialistic life as well as spiritual life. Note that in Vedic astrology, when we refer to a planet, we do not refer to the inert planet but to the deity that rules that planet. The deities are the executives in God’s divine administration and they deliver the fruits of the good and bad deeds of souls. Shani, the ruling deity of the planet Saturn, is said to be the initiator of spiritual knowledge (Jnaana kaaraka). From another angle, 19 also represents the moon (Candra) because 1 + 9 = 10 and the number 10 is related to the moon. The moon controls the mind. So, the significance of the number 19 is the control of the mind (moon) through spiritual knowledge (Shani) and the detachment of the mind from the materialism that is well-established in the world around us. If you are totally dedicated to God, all these details related to astrology and numerology are unnecessary.

Coming to your main spiritual question, heaven and hell indeed exist as separate upper worlds. After the death of a soul on earth, the soul enjoys the fruits of its meritorious and sinful deeds in those worlds respectively, for a stipulated period of time. Thereafter, the soul takes a fresh birth on earth. The person’s life span on earth is separate from the time period spent by the soul in heaven and hell. Earth, heaven, and hell are all separate places. The places are different and the times spent by the soul in each place are also different. So, none is disturbed by the other. Earth is meant for doing deeds with full freedom. Hence, it is known as the world of actions (karma loka). Heaven and hell are known as worlds of enjoyment (bhoga lokas), where the fruits of the deeds done by the soul on earth are merely enjoyed. There is no freedom in those worlds. The fruits have to be enjoyed for the stipulated period, without any choice. No new deeds are done in those worlds.

On earth, while the person is performing deeds, the enjoyment of the fruits of the deeds should not disturb the person. Similarly, while the soul is enjoying the fruits in the upper worlds, the performance of deeds should not disturb the soul’s enjoyment. Hence, the deed and its fruit are kept separate in place and time so that they do not interfere with each other. This is the general rule but there are some exceptions. One exception is that the fruits of very intensive deeds of a soul are to be enjoyed by the soul on earth itself. Another major and overall exception is that God can draw any fruit from the life cycle of a soul and grant it to the soul to enjoy at any particular time. This is done with a view to reforming the soul. The soul is the disciple and God is the Divine Spiritual Preacher. Hence, God closely attends to the activity of reforming the soul. So, the separation of the deed and its fruit in place and time is not a hard and fast rule. The place and time of delivery of the fruits of the soul’s deeds is ultimately decided by God, who is the Supermost Authority and the possessor of the supermost knowledge. His decision is most effective for reforming the soul and for providing eternal benefit to the soul.

Every soul on earth is made of the three fundamental qualities: sattvam, rajas and tamas. Sattvam represents knowledge, softness of nature and devotion to God. Rajas represents ego, greed and activity. Tamas represents ignorance, rigid attachment to worldly enjoyment and inactivity. Each soul has its own specific ratio of these three qualities which remains approximately fixed although there might be slight changes. These three qualities are very intense on earth. Let us take an example of a soul having ratio of 60:25:15 in sattvam, rajas and tamas respectively. Let us say that the quantity of each of these qualities is in kilograms to indicate their high intensities. When the soul returns to earth after going to heaven and hell, this ratio does not change. However, the intensities of each of the three qualities greatly reduce. Thus, the soul which has just taken birth on earth has the same ratio (60:25:15) of the three qualities. The only difference is that now the quantity of each of the three qualities is in grams instead of kilograms. How did the quantity or intensity of each of the qualities reduce? The punishments in hell reduced the intensities of the soul’s rajas and tamas. Similarly, the enjoyment in heaven reduced the soul’s desire for happiness, which means, it reduced the intensity of sattvam. This ratio of the three qualities, as the soul returns to earth, is called Samchita.

In the case of this example chosen by us, the soul’s predominant quality is sattvam (60%). It will give a birth to the soul in the family of scholars of spiritual knowledge providing a congenial environment to the soul. This predominant quality (60% sattvam) causing that particular birth is called Praarabdha. As the soul lives on earth, the quantities of each of the qualities will increase from grams to kilograms. The ratio will still usually remain approximately the same (60:25:15). Occasionally, this ratio may even change to a large extent. It may change to a new ratio such as 80:15:5. It means that sattvam increased a lot in that particular birth of the soul. This happens when the soul comes in contact with a divine spiritual preacher. The added and deleted amounts of the three qualities leading to a large change in the ratio is called Aagaami. There is full freedom given to the soul on earth to change this ratio by acquiring spiritual knowledge and performing good deeds. Hence, it is said that even angels are eager to take human birth on earth! If the soul wastes or misuses the precious time of this rare human birth by spending it all in petty worldly matters, such a soul must indeed be given the rare title ‘the most unfortunate soul’.

Why is the Shrimad Bhaagavatam said to be the highest scripture?

[A question by Dr. Annapurna.]

Swami replied: With reference to any action, there is the doer of the action (kartaa), the object of the action (karma), the action or the activity itself (kriyaa) and the fruit of the action (phalam). Shrimad Bhaagavatam describes the life and the divine deeds of God Krishna as He interacted with His devotees, the Gopikās. It is the story of the highest action (kriyaa) done by the highest Human Incarnation (kartaa), to the highest devotees (karma), which caused the devotees to attain the highest divine fruit (phalam). It means that all the four parts of the action, as mentioned above, were the highest. Let us see this in greater detail.

1) God Krishna, whose divine deeds are described in the Shrimad Bhaagavatam, is said to be the highest Incarnation expressing His divinity to the fullest extent. The 1/16th fraction of God’s unimaginable power is called a kalaa. A kalaa means a light or a ray of light. The 16 kalaas also refer to the 16 phases of the moon. In the context of an Incarnation, the kalaas refer to the extent to which divinity expressed by the Incarnation. An Incarnation expressing just one kalaa is said to be a Kalaa Avataara. An Incarnation expressing more than one kalaa is said to be a Partial Incarnation or an Amshaa Avataara. An Incarnation expressing 12 kalās is said to be a Complete Incarnation or a Puurna Avataara. God Krishna expressed all 16 kalaas and therefore, has been described by this scripture as the Most Complete Incarnation or the Paripuurna Tama Avataara. In fact, it is said that Lord Krishna alone is the Most Complete Incarnation of God (paripuurna tamah saakshaat, Shri Krishno naanya evahi). Thus, the doer (kartaa) of the action described in the Bhaagavatam is the highest.

2) The action, mentioned here, was done to the Gopikas. The Gopikas were the cowherd women of Vrindavanam village, who were reborn sages. They were the highest souls, who had done immense penance over millions of births for attaining God. Thus, the Gopikas, who were the recipients (karma or object) of the action done by Lord Krishna were the highest.

3) As a result of the action done by Lord Krishna to the Gopikas, the Gopikas attained the highest divine fruit (phalam). They attained the eternal companionship of the Lord in the highest world called Goloka. Before the Gopikas, there were fourteen worlds altogether. It included seven lower worlds, earth as the middle world and six heavenly worlds above earth. Brahma Loka or Vaikuntha Loka is the fourteenth world and the permanent abode of God. But God created the Goloka especially for the Gopikas even above the Vaikuntha so that the dust from the feet of the Gopikas would fall on Him continuously. Even while He was on earth, God Krishna applied the dust of the feet of the Gopikas on His head to cure His headache.

4) The activity (kriyaa) done by the highest doer Krishna to the highest objects, the Gopikas, which yielded the highest fruit called Goloka, must also be the highest. What was this activity involving these three highest items? The activity was stealing butter and dancing with the Gopikas secretly at midnight! How can this activity be the highest? It does not even seem to fit in with the other three highest items mentioned above. In fact, this activity seems to be the lowest. If at all it has to be called the highest, then it must be called the highest sin!

Actually, it is the lack of proper analysis which makes people think of this highest activity as the lowest. This activity of Lord Krishna is related to salvation. Salvation means the liberation from worldly bonds. The highest salvation means the liberation from the highest or strongest worldly bonds. What are these strongest worldly bonds of a soul? The three strongest worldly bonds, which are known as the three eshanas are: (i) the attachment to wealth (dhaneshana), (ii) the attachment to one’s issues (putreshana) and (iii) the attachment to one’s life-partner (daareshana). God Krishna tested the sages who were reborn as the Gopikas for their ability to overcome these three strongest or highest worldly bonds for His sake. These were tests of whether the Gopikas were more attached to God Krishna or to their worldly bonds.


To test the Gopikas’ ability to overcome their attachment to wealth, He stole their butter. Butter was the wealth of the cowherd women. They would sell it in the nearby Madhura city (Mathura) in order to procure household provisions. A portion of the butter was stored in earthen pots as food for their own children. By stealing the butter, both the attachments to wealth and issues were simultaneously tested by God. The Gopikas who could not overcome their worldly attachments for the sake of Lord Krishna, went to His mother and complained to her about His theft of their butter. They clearly were more attached to their worldly bonds than God Krishna and they failed the test of God. The successful Gopikas were the ones who were not only happy about the theft, but they also, gave extra butter to Krishna secretly on their way to Madhura city. Their attachment to God Krishna clearly exceeded their attachment to the worldly bonds. The third strongest worldly bond is the bond with one’s life-partner. Lord Krishna tested the Gopikas’ ability to overcome this bond by inviting them to dance with Him secretly at midnight. The successful Gopikas willingly left their husbands and their families for the sake of Krishna. All the Gopikas who succeeded in overcoming the three strongest worldly bonds due to their attachment to God Krishna, were granted liberation from the worldly bonds. They reached Goloka, the highest world.


God Krishna performed this secret dance not out of lust, but with the attitude of an examiner evaluating His students, the Gopikas. He was like the male doctor who helps a pregnant lady deliver a child. The doctor’s focus is only the medical treatment of the lady and not lust. Once the examination was over, Krishna neither returned to Vrindavanam throughout His life nor did He ever repeat such an examination elsewhere since eligible candidates for such examination were not available at any place. Had there been lust in the mind of Krishna, He would have either returned to Vrindavanam sometime to repeat it or He would have repeated the same elsewhere in His life.


So, we see that the theft and the secret dance of Lord Krishna were not the lowest sins. Instead, they were the highest tests to prove the devotees’ detachment from their three strongest worldly bonds. The tests were necessary to give the devotees, the highest salvation, which is the liberation from the three highest worldly bonds. The action done by Lord Krishna to the Gopikas was thus, the highest divine action.


In short, Shrimad Bhaagavatam describes the highest divine action done by the highest Incarnation of God, to the highest devotees, in order to grant them the highest divine fruit. Hence, Shrimad Bhaagavatam is treated as the highest spiritual scripture. In order to correctly understand the essence of this scripture, the highest analysis is also required. As a result, it is considered to be the acid test of the spiritual knowledge of scholars (Vidyaavataam Bhagavate pariikshaa).


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