“Persons who have acted piously in previous lives and in this life, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My service with determination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.28)
Friend1: All sinners, a future.
Friend2: All saints, a past.
Friend1: Beginning, the ending…
Friend2: Alright, that’s enough. The song is popular amongst the fan base, but I don’t really like it.
Friend1: Yeah. It’s got a dance vibe to it. But you know I’m here to focus on those lyrics, as they reference a famous saying.
Friend2: They certainly do.
Friend1: Don’t judge someone so quickly. That horrible human being, the one who has done the worst things imaginable – they have a future.
Friend2: That saintly character, who is respected by so many – they were once in a different circumstance. They may have been a drug addict. Or perhaps they were stealing for a living.
Friend1: Like Valmiki Muni.
Friend2: There you go.
Friend1: My question relates to what happens after you enter bhakti-yoga.
Friend2: Devotional service.
Friend1: Bhagavata-dharma, the eternal constitutional position of the soul.
Friend2: The culmination of jnana, yoga, and karma.
Friend1: The highest end. Got it.
Friend2: What did you want to know?
Friend1: What happens to the sins? I’ve heard it said that they are wiped away.
Friend2: Yes. Shri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, cleans the slate.
Friend1: Is that something like the savior coming to die for our sins?
Friend2: Well, not quite. People use that as an excuse to keep doing bad stuff. “Don’t worry, man. You’re taken care of. Just believe in him and you’ll be fine.”
Friend1: And that begs the question of what is belief.
Friend2: Exactly. Is it showing up to a house of worship each Sunday? Is it identifying with a specific institution? Because any person can do those things and not really be different from your average person.
Friend1: Alright, so I’m glad you explained that. How is it different with Krishna?
Friend2: There is devotion. Even if there are some past issues, He takes care of them. It’s due to the devotion. Would you like a few examples?
Friend2: Goswami Tulsidas mentions them in the Ramacharitamanasa. Sugriva, the king of Vanaras, enjoyed the wife of his brother, Vali. Vibhishana did something similar. These both occurred after they surrendered to Shri Rama, an incarnation of God.
Friend1: Right, because Rama helped them. In each case He returned the kingdom to the devotee.
Friend2: And so there was no sin incurred. Rama accepted the reactions as His own. Being the Almighty, He is obviously above karma. There are no future consequences for Him.
Friend1: So you’re saying that’s it? Once I enter the Divine consciousness, I am done with karma?
Friend2: Yes. That’s what karma-free means.
Friend1: Okay, but isn’t there still death? Don’t devotees go through trying circumstances? Don’t bad things happen to them occasionally?
Friend2: I see what you are asking. The explanation is that there are still some residual effects.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: Think of it like turning off an electric fan. The power is gone. The fan will function no more. But what happens immediately after?
Friend1: It still spins for a little bit.
Friend2: Exactly. There is some residual work from the past presence of electricity. Another comparison is to the construction of furniture, like a shelf. Let’s say you made a mistake. You forgot a few screws. Everything looks fine at first. You put the books on the shelf and leave it at that.
Friend1: There will be trouble later on.
Friend2: Definitely. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but at some point. In between let’s say that you figured out the error. You will no longer incorrectly put together that kind of furniture.
Friend1: You’ve learned your lesson.
Friend2: Right, but that doesn’t absolve the error from the past. At some point the effect will kick in. The idea is that in Krishna consciousness there are no more future consequences. Of course nature will still act. Death is guaranteed to arrive. The protection is for the devotional life. That will continue no matter what the next destination is.
If Krishna sins accepting,
Smooth ride then expecting?
Residual effects from sinning,
Like unplugged fan still spinning.
But not future consequences to see,
Since now of sinful reactions free.
Only when in bhakti life to stay,
Protection in no other way.