Why Does Adharma Get Any Victories At All

[Shri Rama]“Just as a tree starts to blossom during the proper season, so the doer of sinful deeds inevitably reaps the horrible fruit of their actions at the appropriate time.” (Lord Rama speaking to Khara, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 29.8)

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अवश्यं लभते जन्तुः फलं पापस्य कर्मणः।
घोरं पर्यागते काले द्रुमाः पुष्पमिवार्तवम्।।

avaśyaṃ labhate jantuḥ phalaṃ pāpasya karmaṇaḥ।
ghoraṃ paryāgate kāle drumāḥ puṣpamivārtavam।।

Friend1: You hear this kind of saying every now and then. “Good eventually triumphs over evil.” “The good will win out in the long run.”

Friend2: Because you see the principle play out in real life. Someone who the entire world knows is guilty of murder gets off on a technicality. Years later, the same person gets successfully convicted on another, less serious crime.

Friend1: Which everybody knows is their karma coming back to them.

Friend2: Karma in the vernacular sense. You and I know the scientific background. Karma is not only the bad people getting punished. Karma-phala, the fruits to behavior that has consequences.

Friend1: You could get fruits or poisonous berries. Depends on what you do.

Friend2: It is difficult to see immediately. You plant a seed in a pot of dirt, and you won’t get a full grown plant the next day. It takes some time.

Friend1: And effort. It won’t automatically grow, either. The communists loved to use that trick on innocent school-children. Take one pot and don’t give it any water.

Friend2: Just pray to God for a successful outcome.

Friend1: Another plant has the effort involved. It belongs to the state. The communists are successful and God-believers are not.

[potted plant]Friend2: Never mind that the communists did nothing to produce the soil, the sunlight and the water. If there was no God, they would be able to make the plant grow without doing anything.

Friend1: Precisely. I also know one of your favorite verses from the Ramayana describes the arrival of punishment to the sinners. How they get their just rewards at the appropriate time, like the flowers blossoming on trees.

Friend2: It is spoken by Shri Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That one verse answers so many questions.

Friend1: It does, but here is a follow-up question. We know that dharma and adharma have been at odds since before anyone can remember. Good against evil. The pious against the impious. Sometimes evil rises to prominence, but it never stays there.

Friend2: Such as with Ravana and Hiranyakashipu, of Vedic fame.

Friend1: My question is why does adharma stand a chance at all? Why does it ever rise to prominence?

Friend2: You mean why do the cheaters sometimes win?

Friend1: You could put it that way. If dharma is the proper way, shouldn’t it remain in the dominant position?

Friend2: This is the land of illusion. This is a shadow copy of the spiritual world. In this place it is possible for adharma to manifest. In the spiritual world there is no concept of sin or adharma or going against God. It is simply not possible.

Friend1: If you want to turn against Him, you have to fall to the material world.

Friend2: Adharma is something like the shadow produced by the light. The sun shines its light everywhere, but there are shadows produced as a result. The shadow is darkness, the absence of light. But that darkness has no bearing on the sun. To the sun, it doesn’t matter what the external viewpoint is.

Friend1: And so even though adharma can rise for a period of time, it has no bearing on dharma itself? But aren’t people hindered in their pursuit towards perfection?

[Shri Rama]Friend2: That is one of the temporary effects, for sure. Dharma does not change, however. In a sense, adharma is not real. It is another aspect to the illusion, part of the dreamlike experience in this land of birth and death. Stay with dharma long enough and you will be able to see. The Supersoul is everywhere, giving sanction to the choices made by the individual soul. In that sense it is always the will of the embodiment of dharma that wins. In other words, Rama is always supreme, even if it may seem that Ravana has eliminated the influence of good in the world.

In Closing:

Though dominant those sinning,
Where seems like Ravana winning.

Dharma to emerge in the end,
Like Rama’s bows to extend.

Adharma like shadow not real,
The illusion temporarily to feel.

But Supreme dominant throughout,
Since always blemish without.

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